One of my assignments in my Intro to Lit courses was to take a blog post that I gave them and then convert that into a poem, a short story of any length, or a short play or scene from a play. And to be fair, since they are not practiced or professional writers, I also offer an alternative: describe how you might go about creating a poem, short story, or play from the blog post. Students were always grateful to have this alternative and would often write the creative piece afterwards.
I am thinking the same way this morning about this blog post. I wanted it to be about the Wikipedia Newsletter called “Weeklypedia Digest”.
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Specifically, it is the obituaries there that interested me. I focused on the March listings so far.
First, I skimmed through the names and discovered only these which I had highlighted using Hypothes.is and then scraping them from the margins with the Hypothes.is extension called “Fetch”:
Deaths in 2021 – Wikipedia
– Ed Armbrister, 72, Bahamian baseball player (Cincinnati Reds), complications from diabetes.
– Timur Faizutdinov, 19, Russian ice hockey player (HC Dinamo Saint Petersburg), hit by puck.
– Yaphet Kotto, 81, American actor (Live and Let Die, Alien, Homicide: Life on the Street).
– Ehrling Wahlgren [sv], 74, Swedish weightlifter and reality television contestant (Expediton Robinson).
– Marvelous Marvin Hagler, 66, American Hall of Fame boxer, undisputed middleweight champion (1980–1987).
– Boston Harbor, 27, American Thoroughbred racehorse.
– Roger Mudd, 93, American broadcast journalist (Meet the Press, NBC Nightly News), complications from kidney failure.
Then I scribbled down these questions that arose in my head:
How many people die planetwide every year?
How many were judged worthy of notice in Wikipedia’s “Deaths in 2021:March”?
What does this say about our values as a culture?
What does this say about my values?
Why did I pay attention to ones above? (Some were familiar to me, others were just bizarre like death by hockey puck.)
How many from COVID 19?
Finally, I began to wonder why I paid attention to some things in the original skim that I did and not to others like this one. I don’t understand how I missed it. Such an amazing book and life.
– Norton Juster, 91, American author (The Phantom Tollbooth, The Dot and the Line, The Hello, Goodbye Window), complications from a stroke.
Why don’t we published half-baked stuff more often as a way of sharing the raw, uncooked quotidien realities we all experience every day. Not every set of observations and curiosities needs to become a finished artifact, does it? No. It can stay raw if you like. Hell, it’s on a blog so who is ever going to see it. Maybe my student might like to see that noting the meta is actually a good thing, a fun path.