Eric Banisadr my blog

The Lost Art of Making a WISE Blog

This year, WISE has moved journals to Google Docs. This is a travesty, which I refuse to accept. Not only are blogs cool, but being able to make one is a decently useful skill, and they make WISE experiences more accessible. Luckily, we’re still given the option to make blogs, but we’re just heavily discouraged from doing so. Here are some of the reasons I support blogging.

Web design

Web design isn’t easy. Being able to properly put together a website is a very useful life skill. Just ask Mr. Biezad; apparently his wife runs a small online website selling handmade something-or-others, and is decently successful. As a computer-science-oriented student, it’s pretty much expected that I have a website by the time I graduate college. Might as well start making it now. Artists will want to host their portfolio online, and if you try Googling a contemporary author you’ll probably find their website as well. As young students starting out in any of those fields, none of us will want to pay to have a website made for us, and even if we did, when we’re taught how to update the site with time, we might as well have learned the whole thing from the beginning.

Another advantage of making a website is the expressivity. Take a glance at the two blogs Mr. Poling gave us as examples this year, Will Fehrnstrom’s and Keren Eberman’s. If I asked you which of them did a coding-based, computer science project and which of them did yoga, I bet you’d have no doubt as to who did what. On the other hand, take a look at these screenshots from two of my WISE team’s members, Maxx Bizjak, and Sophie Smith. Could you tell at a glance which of them is in business administration and which is in the youth ministry? Screenshot of two journals side by side

Sure, WISE is first and foremost an English class, but when but when have we ever let that relegate us to assigning reading material and writing essays? WISE is all about soft skills, and real life tasks, and I contend that website-making is one of those skills.

Shareability

On the surface, it’s easy to share Google docs. WISE stems from an ecosystem where every student and teacher has a school-assigned Google account. Just plug in the first few letters of their name, Google autofills the rest. But, that simple share feature becomes a lot more complicated outside of academics.

I couldn’t read my own journal on my phone, if I kept it as a Google doc. The fact of the matter is that the (currently) 50-page behemoth is slow on my laptop, and all but unusable on my phone. That’s to say nothing of the fact that my Mom couldn’t read it at all, because she doesn’t have the Google Drive app.

Additionally, when my Mom wants to show my grandmother (an avid seamstress) about my project, she’d have to somehow share the Google doc, and guide my grandma through the process of opening it. It’s much easier to have her type in ericbanisadr.com.

This feature is fairly under-appreciated too. This year, Mr. Poling sent us links to each of those two examples. Those links are still live. When I graduate in a month and a half, my Google account will be wiped out, and my journal lost unless someone makes an effort to save it. It was also pretty convenient to be able to link the blogs rather than have to take screenshots of each.

Practicality

This is where I’m losing the argument. Mr. Poling likes to joke that students spend hours deciding on the right shade of pink for their background, which unfortunately isn’t too far from the truth. Of course, that problem can be solved through the adequate use of templates, and services like Wix or WordPress.

This year, I doubt many students are enthused by the idea of putting hours more into designing a website, when clearly a Google doc will suffice. That effort that won’t be made is a real-life opportunity to learn something that’s otherwise reserved for STEM kids or Comp Sci nerds.

Sure, it’s not as easy to leave comments on a website. Yes, it’s inconvenient that they’re usually public. Of course, sending feedback via email makes it harder to correlate the comment to the section it was written about. Websites aren’t perfect, but I still think they’re important.

Hopping off my soapbox

Sorry for the kinda combative entry. I personally enjoyed the process of making a blog, and I think the knowledge I gained is worth something. Mr. Poling, there are some things I learned in your classes that have stuck with me. While I may not remember much about themes in the Odyssey, reading Gladwell’s Outsiders left me with a permanent appreciation for watching the tone of my voice, and a keen eye for speech mitigation. While I may not end up as a tailor, the web development experience I got through WISE will certainly serve me well later in life.

I truly don’t mind doing the journal in a Google doc either, because it clearly hasn’t stopped me from making my blog.

While blogging has been on my mind for a while, things are slowing down at my actual third space. Not because there’s less work for me to do, but because I don’t have to learn as much each time I do something. Now, if I’m given a set of pants to take apart, it’s not worth writing about, and if I’m given a set of curtains to hem I won’t pull my hair out.

Actually, the biggest thing I’m unfamiliar with now is Carlos’s system of organization. Really, I think it’s Ceci’s system that Carlos uses, because she’s mostly in charge of maintaining the calendar and tagging all the new garments. I don’t quite know how they manage to keep track of everything, but they seem to do a good job.

I’m getting better at controlling the sewing machines, faster at opening seams, and my skills are transferring home pretty well. Overall, I’m a pretty happy camper when it comes to the project portion of WISE. I have to add the project-portion qualifier because I’m a good deal behind on my annotated bibliography now, and I could always do some bonus journaling.