It is far beyond Day 3 of Blogging 101 and I this is my first catch-up post. The Day Three assignment was to “say hello to the neighbors,” something I have been doing for some time. Among other things, we were asked to check out the Reader facility, which lists a broad range of broader topics. We were asked to select five topics and select a few blogs to read over and possibly follow, if they are of interest to us. In addition, we were asked to add a tag of our own to the site to see if it “takes.” (I believe the purpose of the latter is to help narrow the scope of broad topics and to help add “subthemes” to some of the major Reader categories.) Lastly, we were invited to introduce ourselves to at least five course-mates and read and comment on their sites.
First, the Reader list. From the list of topics available from the major Reader category selection, I chose the following: Education, Photography, Photos, Writing, and Art. Why these five? Well, if you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that I am first and foremost an educator. Most of my adult life has been spent in one form of education or another, including educating and training teachers, school administrators, and educational researchers. Then there was the education part of the jobs I held as a computer programmer/analyst (high level executives don’t always know how to use the latest tools at their disposal, if they are even away of them).
Photography and Photos were chosen because I have loved the “art” of the camera all my life, but have only recently made an active effort to take up photography as a hobby. As with the category “Art” (largely because I’m taking drawing and painting lessons now), I’m learning a great deal about what it takes to have an artist’s eye—and that I don’t have one, at least not yet (my art instructor insists that I will develop one, even if it takes time. Of course, the fact that I’m already 65 and may not have that many more years left to develop that eye never enters the conversation, for which I am grateful!).
As for “Writing”…a huge portion of the 13 years I spent in teaching K-12 students centered around the two-sided coin of reading and writing. Teaching students to read and/or improve their reading skills gets them nowhere if they are not learning to write at the same time. Aside from speaking, these are the two greatest tools of communication we have at our disposal. Yet, even at the college level, far too many students have trouble writing a good sentence, much less writing a solid paragraph—and let’s not talk about what goes into writing a decent and cohesive essay. I’ve taught bright college students who had no idea that writing needs to be organized: sentences in a paragraph need to be related to a topic, and an essay should contain an introduction, a body that expands on the introduction, and a concluding section that summarizes the essay and, if possible, leads the reader to want to know more.
The problem with the Reader topics, I soon discovered, is the vastness of the subtopics tagged to the categories. Take, for example, the category “Photography.” The blogs in this category range from newbies like me struggling with taking a solidly acceptable photo, to experienced photojournalists with a blog on WordPress and a huge following. A few sites appear to be dedicated to helping the newbie photographer learn to take a decent and interesting photo, while most of the sites appear to be the online version of a one-person gallery exhibit. Certainly, over the years I’ve learned to discern what I believe is “good” photography, just as I’ve learned to appreciate certain forms of “good” art. That doesn’t mean that other photography blogs are not worth mentioning; it just means that much of the work displayed may not be to my personal taste. Unfortunately, I need to visit a lot of sites before I can figure out which I would like to follow—sites from which I can learn even if the intent of the photo blog is not to teach.
Another example—“Writing”—sends the viewer on a different journey of figuring out if the site is there to help the novice, a blogger’s personal development site for writing that may lead to a short story, novel, or collection of poetry; a mish-mosh of a writer’s experiments with different styles, a shared site by a host of different writers either within a genre or doing their own thing, etc.
To my way of thinking, this may be one of the things WordPress may be trying to address through the Blogging 101 assignment to add one’s own tag to the list. My tag would be along the lines of “learning to write,” but I am having some trouble getting a tag to stick outside of a personal list. Clearly, I’m either misunderstanding the directions provided to add a tag (most likely scenario), mistaking the tag for a category (also highly likely), under-qualified in basic online and PC programming to understand the logic (very likely), or something else. Perhaps WordPress has moved ahead without informing its course facilitators of changes to the basic platform on which it is built (unable to judge the likelihood of this conjecture).
For now, I think I will leave the options and opinions until the (probably) third attempt at taking this class. Although not new to blogging, I am new to all the options available within the WordPress platform, and I don’t want to prejudice anyone’s opinion about the Reader and what will be found under its various categorical headings.
On to the “Meet the Neighbors” part of the assignment…
I’ve classified five neighbors by broad category. In the category of photography, I’ve gotten to know two blog sites: http://sakurajunction.com/ where the theme appears to be architecture—exterior, interior, and everything in between. The photos are delightful to view and creative in their own right. The other site is http://www.sylvain-landry.com/ where one will find everything from the political to the mundane. I became aware of this site while taking the Photo 101 class here, and have been a follower ever since. (This latter blog is also the only one among the five that I came across before the current Blogging 101 class started.)
Among the writing blogs are http://aopinionatedman.com/ , or HarsH ReaLiTy, which is a site containing poetry, one-line observations of self and life, occasional short rants, and just general glimpses into the blogger’s life and state of mind. Following along on the theme of life lessons is https://jonasessentials.wordpress.com/ which comprises general views of life and lessons learned from personal and others’ experiences. The blog at http://japanorama.me/ presents interesting views of life in Japan—activities, festivals, tand he author’s cultural interpretations and personal reactions to these. It interests me because I know so little about Japan and its culture. The difference between sushi and sashimi just doesn’t go far enough to describe a society.
It’s interesting that what I’ve termed “writing blogs” are not about the actual process of writing, although I know that several exist from past perusal of the Reader. There are a few blogs by professors or teachers on writing style and writing correctly—these are true “how to” blogs rather than what I’m writing, which is a general “here’s what I’m doing and why, and ways to avoid my mistakes” sort of thing. My writing skills in general are strong enough, and should be after strict academic reinforcement for much of my teenage and adult life. However, my skills are far from perfect: no matter what anyone says, you cannot write an acceptable dissertation without having all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted (there are Style Police that carefully read each manuscript submitted and flag everything that deviates from the university style manual). Unlike many graduate students, I could not afford a professional editor to review my work. Yet, there have been excellent teachers throughout my life, and I would rather look up a rule than chance that I haven’t written a sentence in the prescribed manner—except for ending sentences with a preposition or other annoying irritant to English and/or journalism majors. Fortunately, I don’t get too excited about perfect grammar when what I’m writing just sounds better than either modifying the sentence to conform to the rules, or writing a whole new sentence or two that just doesn’t sound right to me or becomes tedious and falls heavily on the reader’s “ear.”
At this point, I’ve accomplished all of the Day Three assignment requisites except for that infernal tag addition.
On to the Day Four assignment!