Unguided is an experimental space. It is designed to be, in practical terms, a place to project a professional profile and house some past works–a sort of interactive CV for anybody who cares. But as an evacuee from higher education into the much described but ill understood gig economy, it’s also by necessity a space to share some adventures and, likely as not, misadventures. The precise media, genre, and form these may take remains, as yet, unclear. And I welcome input and contributions from anyone who wants to lend shape, content or critique.
We live in cynical times. I have found in the past that my frustrations and ennui have made for great inspiration. Whether to exorcise demons through exposition or just to vent to an anonymous readership I have harnessed cynicism to explore issues in teaching and research and within the broader culture as well, and somewhat curiously, through the enterprise, I find myself in a far more hopeful place.
When I moved to Maine a decade ago I rewarded myself for holding my nose and enduring a cubicle life in Boston for two years by becoming a guide and leading sea kayak trips along the coast. It seemed like a solid side gig for an academic–and lo and behold a great many of my colleagues are also educators. When you’re taking a group out on the water you always have a plan, based on the tide, the weather, and the group itself, as best you can know it in advance. But because only so much can be known in advance, your actual route, the sights, the stories, and the speed are being constantly reshaped as the trip progresses, conditions change, winds shift, and people tire. When people first meet their guide their natural first question is, “where are we going?” The proper response is a necessarily long-winded version of exactly what I just said. But the ironic answer that often comes from the guide who is busily prepping for the trip is, “I don’t know!” It’s equal parts entertaining and unsettling–well for me, for them probably much more the latter! Guiding is a balance of preparation and adaptation–and thus the metaphor of a guide unwilling to commit to a route has shaped this site both in name and method. There will be argument and storytelling, and from there we will let conditions and participants dictate the direction and the experience.