Friday, October 28, 2016

Maria Popova's Brain Pickings is a Learner's Dream

My goal with A Teacher's View has always been in pursuit and support of Henry James' idea of being "a person on whom nothing is lost." Curating and disseminating information, knowledge, and perhaps even some insight is the reason I blog - in fact, it's the reason I teach as well. I've always wanted for this site to be that place where people know they can go to learn something new and cool and interesting. It hasn't always been that, of course. And I had attempted to branch out in other directions with different blogs and twitter accounts. But, at the end of the day, this blog and its sense of purpose is simply educational and cultural. While it's never really grown beyond what it currently is, I am always discovering new sources for inspiration. Within the last year or so, I ran across a twitter feed and blog that truly is a source of cultural knowledge and experience - that site is Brain Pickings curated and written by Maria Popova. Popova tells her story best in this recent post on the one-decade anniversary of Brain Pickings. Check it out - I'm sure you'll learn somthing.

I left Bulgaria for America, lured by the liberal arts education promise of being taught how to live. As the reality fell short of that promise, I began keeping my own record of what I was reading and learning outside the classroom in mapping this academically unaddressed terra incognita of being.

All the while, I was working numerous jobs to pay my way through school. What I was learning at night and on weekends, at the library and on the internet — from Plato to pop art — felt too uncontainably interesting to keep to myself, so I decided to begin sharing these private adventures with my colleagues at one of my jobs. On October 23, 2006, Brain Pickings was born as a plain-text email to seven friends. Halfway through my senior year of college, juggling my various jobs and academic course load, I took a night class to learn coding and turned the short weekly email into a sparse website, which I updated manually every Friday, then, eventually, every weekday.

The site grew as I grew — an unfolding record of my intellectual, creative, and spiritual development. At the time, I had no idea that this small labor of love and learning would animate me with a sense of purpose and become both my life and my living, nor that its seven original readers would swell into several million. I had no idea that this eccentric personal record, which I began keeping in the city where Benjamin Franklin founded the first subscription library in America, would one day be included in the Library of Congress archive of “materials of historical importance.”
And now, somehow, a decade has elapsed. 

No comments: