Student blogging: Expression without the formalities

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Although blogging has been around for some time, it has only recently begun to play a more active role in people’s lives in response to the continuing surge of technology around us. Millions of people blog about a wide range of topics, whether it is for business or simple personal expression. November is known as National Blog Posting Month or “NaBloPoMo,” created

A few students actually own a personal blog outside of school. Sophomore Jasmine Mahabir has been blogging since the seventh grade. “At first, I used it to express my thoughts that I could not get myself to say aloud, but then I decided to open it up to my peers, and soon the rest of the world.” She further stated, “Blogging is a great way to communicate ideas, as long as you know who your audience is. For instance, if you enjoy writing about food and want to share your thoughts on it, people who share the same interest will read it and reciprocate the same ideas back. From there on, you create a network of people who understand your views on a subject. ”

For many freshmen, blogging is a necessary requirement for Writing Process class. In regards to blogging as classwork and homework, freshman Steven Sebastian says, “I find it fun and entertaining because you get to express your thoughts in another way than taking tests or quizzes.” When asked if he would blog outside of school, Steven replied, “I probably would not do it alone.”

Freshman Cerissa Huggins felt the same way. “I find it cool and an interesting way of learning,” she said. She also agrees that it is an effective way of communication. When asked if she would blog outside of school, Cerissa replied, “If I find it interesting and if I have the time, I’d blog.”

For some teachers, blogging is a valuable and useful way to involve students through technology. Writing Process classes, English teacher Katherine Yan, who had taught the class last year, said, “[Blogging] gets students engaged in writing. It’s a great way to practice. Students get to write for an audience and communicate. It is more informal and they get to write about what they’re interested in. It’s more enjoyable.”

Social studies teacher Franco Scardino requires his AP Government students to run a blog about political current events. “Students are required to post a news article weekly, reflect on their post, and comment on a minimum of three other posts,” he said. Additionally, he explained that his research students run blogs “mainly to post, share, and peer edit work.” When asked why blogs are a good way to express ideas, he said, “We mostly use it as a common venue to communicate. I am sure there could easily be another platform to accomplish these ends.”

Mr. Scardino also writes a personal blog. “My personal experience with blogging is limited to the food industry and NYC restaurant scene. It is very different than the blog set up for my classes.”

Some students, while not active bloggers themselves, could envision the direction they might take a blog if they were to start one. Sophomore Shania Dhani said she thought hers would be about “creative ideas like different ways to braid your hair, different nail designs you can do. That’s what I look for when I look for blogs.” When asked if she misses blogging for Writing Process, she said, “I actually do, I thought it was fun.”

Junior Joanna Huo replied that she has read blogs about “beauty and cooking,” and would consider writing one herself if she “had the time.” On the other hand, Sophomore Christine Lee said she “[doesn’t] miss blogging. It was a weekly thing and because it is graded, it is going to be judged by the teachers.”

Senior Karen Su runs what she describes as a casual, fashion-politics blog, saying that it’s “a peek into the interworking of [her] mind.” An avid fan of reading both fashion and political blogs as well as keeping her own, she explained that she finds blogging intriguing because of “the casual aspect of sharing ideas.”

Another senior, Rebecca Duras, also admires the sharing aspect of blogging, and enjoys exploring cultural topics, TV shows, and art tutorials online. She believes that the blogs she follows have changed her point of view, explaining that “[social-justice-oriented blogs] have made me a more open-minded person and aware of my privileges.”

A popular blogging forum for some Harrisites is Tumblr. Created in 2007, Tumblr is a microblogging, social network owned by Yahoo. Using the site, people can follow other blogs, reblog and customize their own pages. Sophomore Nicolas Barrios has a Tumblr of his own. He got involved with Tumblr due to “peer pressure” but ended up loving the online network. He prefers his own Tumblr over the ones required for Writing Process, saying, “I personally think that takes the fun out of blogging…. [Blogging] is finding that funny post or that post you can really get behind and then reblogging it… or it could be having that amazing idea and wanting to share it with the internet.”

Of course, with sites like Tumblr that connect highly opinionated people with varying ideas, blogging can sometimes get out of hand. Sophomore Denise Obaji, however, doesn’t think that should hold users back – “You never know, that idea might spark a flame,” she explained. This is the case with many bloggers who have risen to internet stardom, due to their microblogs.

Whether it be a themed blog, a picture blog, or a text blog, online blogs come in all genres and are becoming an increasingly-popular way to communicate ideas. Some spark controversy while others inform, but regardless, they are a great way for people to get their ideas out there and publish their own thoughts or tell their stories. They allow us to explore interests and the experiences of others right from the comfort of our very own computers.