on blank spaces, being human, and the amazingness of Virtually Connecting

This post by Lisa Hammershaimb was originally published on her blog Pixles & Tweed on June 7th, 2016

To continue this season of firsts…tomorrow is my first foray into the world of being a remote panelist as part of the Virtual Connecting session at the T3 Conference. Two weeks ago I led my first panel in person at the UCDA Graphic Design Education Summit and had two remote panelists as part of my panel so…it’ll be an interesting experience to be on the other side and see how it feels.

As I’ve been both on vacation and pre-occupied (or perhaps obsessed) with what feels like the never-ending quest to write my dissertation proposal I had thought a bit about what I will say about Virtually Connecting, my questions for the others, etc. but I hadn’t yet visited the conference site to know the larger context for the panel. This morning I thought perhaps that would be prudent so I logged in, read a bit, and eventually found the following image:

Screenshot 2016-06-26 18.44.19

Apparently the panel will be composed of three amazing ladies who do cool stuff like teach and write and start things and one name who is basically a blank space–an empty circle of nothingness. Though I know this lack of information has everything to do with the fact that I’d not updated my conference profile and was in no way a prophetic reflection on my own identity, in darker moments (which as a doctoral student who is, as mentioned above, on the never-ending quest to write a dissertation proposal seem to happen like clockwork) this feels exactly the right descriptor of me: blank, empty nothingness nested between people who are parsimonious and winsome—generally way more grounded than I am and probably ever will be.

Which, crazy as it sounds, is a perfect segway into why I am such a fan of Virtually Connecting.

As someone with very limited income, being part of Virtually Connecting has given me access to events that I otherwise would have no chance to attend. With this access comes pretty amazing content but even more comes invaluable exposure to the “human creator” that is behind behind every idea. This latter element is admittedly what I love the most. Three years of being a doctoral student means I am getting the hang of how you write as an academic, engage with ideas, etc. but…I’m still super curious as to how one actually lives as an academic.

One of my favorite parts of Virtually Connecting is its casual immediacy and spontaneous insight. Seeing the kind of “unplugged” version of people I’ve previously only encountered in highly polished + edited perfection is so refreshing. Perhaps it’s just me but…I think this modeling of open sharing and community amongst participants as all are willing to jump into an experience that is fully unpredictable and emergent is so inspiring because it reminds me that behind all of these ideas are humans who actually aren’t all that different than me. If they’ve done it…perhaps someday I too will find my way and be able to help others along.

And so tomorrow as I am a panelist amongst three amazing ladies who do cool stuff like teach and write and start things, may I model open sharing, be willing to jump in to an experience that is fully unpredictable and emergent and remember how amazing it is to share being human as…we all find our way together.

CC BY-NC-ND Image Credit chinwei 100206 Day 231 blank canvas

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