Site Redesign #2: The Importance of a Blog

Well, well, well. It’s been 1 year since I have slowly begun to update my original site while balancing many other things including work and putting together a portfolio of said work. Great segue as it leads me into why I feel it is necessary to talk about the importance of having and maintaining a blog. Well, not just any blog, but a blog that you can put together from previous work to start a conversation or perhaps show to the world what you have been putting out during some formative years of learning about anything. Let’s get specific: I’m talking about college – the work I did in college and even a tiny bit from high school. Why after so many years should I revisit my past work if it was all for a grade and to further my education?

To that I say, why not? You never stop learning throughout life. And oftentimes, a lot of what we learn as people has to be relearned through previous experiences or materials. Fortunately, I have my memory and fortunately too, I also have my discussion responses saved from the many years of higher education I put myself through covering a wide range of courses and their topics. These include mostly the creative arts, technology and the humanities.

Given the fact that these discussion questions and responses derive from an online component to my courses, I was lucky to have had digital access to that material to then save and store through lots of copying and pasting on an archived document. But in all seriousness, why go through all that trouble to save one’s work like this beyond the reasons I just mentioned?

Alright, you want to know what is the biggest motivator for me? Having content. Meaningful content. Content that you can essentially take from an academic experience and use for showcasing a body of work for an audience – a readership. I mean how is it that those of us who go through college, and the many of us who go through grade school never really think about saving those writing assignments or projects for future use like this? Is it that we just don’t care about holding onto these papers because they are meaningless with respect to making a mark on the world? It’s not like that saving an essay from the 9th grade will serve as basis for one’s intended career path, or will it? It’s not like that it will be revisited and later expanded on for career purposes, or will it? But even so in either case, what are the odds?

Or perhaps, we don’t feel the need to keep something from school that didn’t get a good grade. Perhaps, we are not incentivized to hold onto schoolwork from subjects that do not have any relevance to our core interests as grade school and college electives will often tell you about everything that goes on in the world except for your own concerning interest in a career field.

I can tell you personally that almost nothing from my grade school days has survived save for my history notebook containing class lecture notes from my favorite history teacher in high school spanning 2 back to back years in U.S. History and my senior year Ethics course materials and essays. Everything else involving Math, English, Science, Spanish and any extracurricular work is long gone. I certainly at the time didn’t feel that there was a use for saving a ton of these papers (which would amount to a ton of binders covering 4 years of high school let alone 1 year) but then again, what led me to save some of my materials from the social sciences? I didn’t have any career aspirations in that field (I wanted to be an engineer at the time, which you would think should have had me save my math and science work for reference to prepare for college).

I did at the time think about saving my work for a purpose, whether or not I knew at the time what that purpose was besides keeping my notes as a souvenir of sorts and using them as educational reference. I knew that some materials weren’t worth keeping like my mathwork because honestly, it’s just numbers and problems page after page… why would anyone besides me and a mathematician want to look at that? There’s no narrative, there’s no breaks between pages. My English (Literature) work… I should’ve kept. That was a mistake. Sorry Kathy and sorry Jared (my high school English Lit teachers).

Fast forward to college where I was majoring in graphic design and later, digital media, my non-project work involving commentary on subjects relating to those fields finally gave me a greater incentive to save a lot of my work, even in areas not related to my major course of study – namely being electives. Why then though? Because by this time, everything I was doing over the web was through an online portal called BlackBoard. Everything between receiving lecture notes, taking exams and of course, replying to message threads posted by an instructor was done via BlackBoard.

I love this infographic. Why don’t schools widely incorporate blogging as part of a curriculum? Even if said blogs were just made up of saved assignments that classmates can comment on?

There was no longer a need to use physical papers and to stash them in a binder given this method of learning and creating work through graphic design and digital media using creator programs. For the first time, my written (or in this case, typed) work now could be saved digitally, which gave me all the reason I needed to later start a blog (this blog) using the work I had posted and submitted through BlackBoard during this decade.

To put it bluntly, why I started my blog with the work I produced in college was to essentially have content up before having to create new content. I came to a point immediately following graduation (for the 2nd time after grad school) where I felt it was necessary to fill up my website with the work I put towards getting an education. I wasn’t getting any work and it would be a whole other conversation to talk about the infamous catch-22 problem that is and has been plaguing many young adults looking to find entry level work. That was a huge part of why I decided to reuse my college material (with a lot of editing through and through) to populate my blog. Lots of editing in fact had to be done in grammar, presentation and even expansion on some of my original responses, so to keep certain overlapping posts from the same courses from being read too similarly.

I publicly share this information to not only help motivate others in my situation to be smart about saving your work (though granted, during my college years, I was helped tremendously by the online aspect of my work being recorded) but to also think about how to create an online presence in making a blog or even a visual website and why that matters and why that is a great thing that you can do.

I can’t speak for many of the vast occupations and majors one can obtain from higher education but what I will say is that for anyone who has in the past had an interest or by some circumstance delved into a subject that sparked interest, intrigue or commentary, why not share those thoughts? If you are a good writer, share it! If not, work on it and then share! We live in a world where almost anything online is knowledge even through opinions, controversial or not – as long as the discussion is civil. I think that showing your work, whether it be a research paper, a response to an observational question or what ever, is a great exercise for a lot of things in life that can be used as a skill. Conversations between people, career professionals, causals or those who are not familiar with a subject is one of those skills as is gaining a voice through the opening of senses of the world around you.

Take it from me: prior to high school and even during, I had a very narrow sense of world beyond what I was taught and what I had to read for study. Gradually that changed. My history and ethics courses in high school (maybe that’s why I kept my notes) started to open me up. And actually, those were the most interesting courses that I ever had, looking back. I did participate in those oral discussions, albeit passively due to shyness. But inside of me, I was starting to absorb information and opinions and I was starting to open up about topics I previously hadn’t given interest to (you know what, also my English courses had something to do with that).

And back to my BlackBoard discussion topics, I again was given the opportunity to participate by providing an opinion on an educational problem or providing an answer or an interpretation to a simple or complex question. Coupling this now with the forms of media that I have for many years divulged in (TV, podcasts, books, film, music) I feel that I have more than ever before acquired a sense of awareness to how the world works at large in all of its complexity and how enjoyable it is to share the experience while mingling in it and even to motivate readers to face adversity, contribute to a conversation and learn from my own experiences for positive growth (and at any age).

Yeah, it’s great that I saved some good material from college and high school to revisit and repost on my blog. But it’s even better to use that basis not necessarily for leverage towards employment opportunities only but to also continue the conversation I have with myself and the Internet (or between myself and you, the reader) through other topics during my journey throughout my own career and personal life. I’m writing this at age 26 knowing full well of what I have accomplished and what there is to accomplish, small or big. My blog and my website as a whole is an outlet for showcasing who I am and how I can hopefully relate to many of you out there reading today, tomorrow or sometime in the future.

As for finishing my thoughts about why have a blog and why I spent significant time posting and updating over 150 blog posts in almost a year’s time on my online platform, I hope there is something to be learned here. My gripe that I need to let out is that I wish schools did a better job at archiving materials for their students so there can be more folks like me who can go back to a younger version of oneself and use previous work as a starting point for more to come in the future. Not everyone is reflective or savvy about their situations in life like me (at this point) but it doesn’t mean we can’t allow that to happen any longer, if it helps people find themselves and acquire a voice like it did for me.

Spread the good word and contribute to the community!

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