On the complexity of change
Yes, I have never signed these blog posts. I did not think it necessary. I write a lot more than a signature about myself in two other places: the short version and the long version. No signature on these pages either. I guess, one just does not do that. People put their sign in other places. I sign emails. And so do my colleagues. The other day, one colleague told me that he and a few others did an informal study of these automatically added bits of text, and they all agreed they liked mine. I really appreciated the comment. I had had comments on my emails on occasion, but never on the signature. This is what it looks like during the – work – day.
================= Mathias Schulze, PhD https://texterium.org/ and @mat_schulze and https://pantarhei.press/ he works at SDSU-LARC and the Dept. of European Studies and now lives on the land of the Kumeyaay [SDSU logo]
The full name, three short lines of text, and a small picture of four letters. Others have shorter signatures or no added auto-text at all. And yet others, have auto-text that is longer than the text body. So, what does it say? I sign – from Latin signare “to set a mark upon, mark out, designate; mark with a stamp; distinguish, adorn.” There often is a lot in a word, and I believe it is useful to play with words.
A tiny piece of canned text. Where is the complexity? What does this have to do with change? The change makes it complex.
In the beginning, I had no signature. Well, before that I had no email. In the early 1990s, I started with Pine and then Elm. I subscribed to some distribution lists to get at least an email or two a day. The list I remember fondly got me one or two essayistic and narrative texts from Mark Warschauer each week. In the late 90s – I still had no signature – the IT staff told me that I should delete some read and saved emails in my folder structure, because I was getting very close to my quota of 10 Megabytes on the mailserver. [Exponential growth in storage space, the staff could not predict!] And then the signatures came, giving complete mail addresses and telephone and fax numbers. Was I hoping to get a letter or phone call instead? And then, titles. Others added accolades. The fax number, I deleted soon from the “bottom lines”. Address and phone number were longer than the URL of a home page and my sig was shorter again. I like it that way.
Colleagues began to add quotes, statements, and stories. I added links. I like traffic on the blogs, on a website, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, still hoping there will be days on which I which I am using more time writing and reading for these media than for email. And colleagues added gender identification, job titles, and land acknowledgements.
I have lived in many different places; does it still matter what I am a native of? As a boy, I watched East German Westerns, in which the Sioux, the Delaware, the Mohicans, the Apache, and the Seminoles were the main characters. Courageous, strong, smart, and true. I wanted to be like them. And in 2001, I got much closer. For sixteen years, I lived on the Haldimand Tract, six miles on each side of the Grand River, the land of the Haudenosaunee. I like to acknowledge that I am now beginning to learn about the Kumeyaay.
With many first names, I am unsure about the person. Should I use he or she when I email about Pat? Or Sasha? It’s a new custom to list pronouns after the name. They are short and clear. As a linguist, I did not want to list them; these little words live from their context, and I did not want to deprive them unnecessarily. So, I wrote a little sentence in the signature. The subject pronoun got an antecedent (a word to which it refers back) – the signer of the email by name – and it hooks up with the verb work, which makes it happy, grammatically speaking. And that’s what I do during the day – work. Like many, many others. I try to do my work as best I understand, as they do theirs. And then I write and read emails. With a short signature. On the weekend, I carve out some time to write other texts. No signature. Yet.
I am getting back to writing these short – or longer – texts on the complexity of change, exploring different examples and grappling with necessary concepts. Using my theoretical lens to better understand practical things, stuff I stumbled over, processes that proceed or peter out, … You can look at them in the order in which I wrote them, and once in a while, I make an attempt to sort them in a linear order.