Color Me Purple

One of the first things that stuck out to me while going through the e-portfolios and blog posts of last semester’s cohort was this line:

“…In any aspect of life it’s important to be a versatile person.” 

I agree with this 100%. One of the most challenging tasks for prospective employees in today’s job market is showing how they are significantly different from others and how versatile they are, and are often faced with a similarly difficult task of compiling a concise but creative and representative set — in a portfolio, resume, what have you — of their accomplishments and past work. I think working on this e-portfolio will be a great experience and, in the end, a big advantage with respect to showcasing our writing skills and  technological know-how.

 

That said, I explored these e-portfolios keeping in mind the suggestions Tierney and Pearson laid out in the piece my blog group read for Monday. For each e-portfolio, I tried to ask myself what the creator’s intent was, clicking around and revising my “reading” of the portfolios at every turn: Why did they include this picture? Why did they include this quote? How did they decide on each piece of writing to include? What does this say about what/how they think of themselves as a writer? Each question led to a revision of purpose as I read; even though it’s sometimes hard to actively think about what you’re reading this way, I realized you do get much more out of the whole experience when you ask questions as you go.

 

I could definitely tell that many of the students had a particular agenda with their e-portfolios: many focused on the artistic and aesthetic value of their portfolios, which is just really awesome. Others were heavily research-focused, with the bulk of their showcased work emphasizing their academic work. I think I’m going to try to have to strike a balance between making my e-portfolio aesthetically pleasing as well as diverse; what else am I going to want to show off besides essays I’ve written for classes? This is going to be something I’ll have to really think about as the semester progresses…

 

I’m really excited to see where my e-portfolio goes by the end of the semester. I hope it looks as cool as most of last semester’s do; they’ve definitely set the bar high for us!

Also… did anyone else realize we could use colors here???!!!

All the Pretty Little Pictures

I know I should marvel most at the writing, at the accomplishment, at the hard work of the e-portfolio blogs, but to tell the truth, what truly impressed me was how some blogs managed to combine their words with visuals. They didn’t look like the chunky and plain web pages I imagined. Many of them are beautiful and professional. Tell the truth, if, without knowing it was for a class, you’d seen this:

From Katy Sharf’s E-Portfolio

Would you think it was for a class? Click on the picture if you want to go to the E-portfolio and see more. What I truly want to know is where they got there pictures like this one (which you can also click and be led to the original blog):

From Rachel Kalayjian’s E-Portfolio

Excuse me, there is a point to my gushing over things that ostensibly have nothing to do with writing. Why I am so impressed with much of their work manage to fuse the purpose of the portfolio with the appearance of it; function infused with form, form infused with function. Blogging and e-portfolios allows for regular people, not just magazines and yearbooks, to have the physical appearance of what you read reflect something about what you’re reading. The picture above reflects the passion and drive the e-portfolio compiler had throughout her essays. Of course, all writing should (to the extent it’s save to use words like “all” and “should”) reflect physically its purpose, if in no other way than in its length. Now there are things that take this too a little too far:

However, if you think about it the whole concept of writing a paper is connected with this. Whenever you hit enter and tab to create a paragraph you’re physically differentiating it because of a change in content.

Enough about the pretty pictures and the formats though, ultimately it’s all about the word (mostly). The words were the content, the most important part or to use food metaphors, the pictures blog design is the frosting and the shape of the cake, and the essays and info are the cake and filling. Each blog was unique because it is reflected the interests of the writer and every essay justified the existence of the pretty websites. There is substance; whether about the general topic of “Why I Write”, political activism, fiction pieces, and other work for classes. Moreover there is ownership; each writer did more than put their name on the top of the page, they did about me pages. There’s a lot of talk about how the internet can be a haven for anonymity that allows people to get up to no good but these e-portfolios show that in some ways, when you make a website, fill it with your words, put yourself out there, you can be known as an individual and have a positive impact.

I have no idea what I’m doing

There are a lot of things I don’t know how to do: I have no idea how to surf, I can’t draw people (although my stick figures are delightful), and I can’t snap my fingers (don’t laugh).   But I know that I’m bad at those things.  I’ve had a lifetime—well, 20 years of one—to get past it.  I only draw stick figures, and I move my fingers in a snappy-like motion if I ever need to be involved in a group snap ritual.

Now I have to create an e-portfolio.  I’ve never created my own website, blog, or anything like it.  I have no idea what I’m doing, and yet this project will put me on display for the world to see (okay…maybe like twenty people).  That’s the scariest part…I don’t have a clue how to make this e-portfolio, and if it sucks there’s no turning back.

Exactly.

Still, the fact that this project is so unknown is exciting.  I can do anything I want with my e-portfolio.  As I saw in examples from the fall cohort, their portfolios were a representation of the things they are passionate about.  Many of them had essays on topics related to their major, while others contained topics it seemed like the authors loved.  As I’ve seen through the Writing 200 class so far, writing is an open exercise.  Writing prompts that are too strict often lead to misguided writing, as the authors are not able to fully express their ideas.  I look forward to having the freedom to create an e-portfolio that is entirely my own, full of things that I’m passionate about.

Writing only crosses into the territory of “good writing” when the author is writing about something they actually care about.  This is the kind of writing I want in my e-portfolio.

Better Get Started…

Wow. After reading through some of the portfolios from the fall cohort, I am left completely speechless. I have never been an avid blogger, or for that matter writer, so the thought of creating a portfolio as polished and put together as those I have seen seems quite overwhelming. Although I look forward to seeing where this projects takes me, and where it ends up, in all honesty, it seems pretty unattainable as of this moment.

I’d have to say the thing that surprised me the most was variety of writing I saw in the portfolios. It appears as though we are able to include any piece of writing in our portfolio that we choose, which I think will be challenging, yet expressive of our own unique personalities and styles outside of this particular course. Although we haven’t done a ton of writing for this course as of yet, the writing we have done, specifically the “why I write” piece will be very helpful, and more or less the foundation for when we create our portfolios.

However, I definitely think that I am worried about the process of creating the online portfolio more so than the assembly of the actual content. I am not a tech savvy person, so the idea of creating a webpage with pictures and drop-down menus seems pretty much impossible. Just the other day in class, Joey and Sal had to teach me how to rotate a PDF file on my computer so I could read it without turning my computed sideways. Like I said, technologically challenged. On an average day, my relationship with technology usually ends in the same manor as the scene in office space with the fax machine. If you haven’t seen this movie, you should (I would link the full clip, however the language is rather vulgar, so if you’re interested, check it out for yourself!). That being said, I think the portfolio will be a great way for me to explore new horizons in the field of technology…perhaps with a little help from a friend!

In terms of the actual content in the portfolio, I am slightly concerned about showcasing my rough drafts. I am a bit self-conscious about my writing, and I know that my first draft, second draft, third draft etc. are simply not good. Thus, I feel as though having others read these pieces is not an accurate reflector of my writing capabilities. However, I know that drafts are an important part of the writing process and it may be interesting for readers to see how certain pieces of writing developed from start to finish. Realizing how much work I will need to put into this portfolio has been an extremely important part of this blog assignment, because I think I severely underestimated the amount of time it is going to take. So, I guess I better get started!

Hello, E-Portfolio.

Here it comes.  Another horribly daunting assignment.  Another chance for me to ponder a multitude of, mostly terrible, ideas before I decide one.  Except this time, unlike the “Why I write” paper, the process will be dragged out from now until the end of the semester.  Hello E-Portfolio.  Welcome to my life.

As of now, I see my E-Portfolio being somewhat professional.  I would like to include it on my resume as another outlet for potential employers to get to know me.  However, I think it would be a great idea to include all sorts of writing.  Anything the I am proud of and shows “me.” Whether that is a poem, a research paper, or that repulsive “Why I Write” essay.

I want to make my E-Portfolio simple.  I want to make it to be aesthetically appealing and easy to navigate.  Mostly easy to navigate.  It shouldn’t be as complex as this (aaand here’s my obligatory media in my blog post).

But seriously.  I don’t know what I’m going to make out of it.  I think I’ll just have to go through trial and error.  I need to choose an audience and run with it.  We’ll see.  I wonder what it will look like in the end…

 

New territory! Uh-oh.

When I first visited this blog some time ago, I clicked on some of the posts that the Fall ’11 cohort made at the end of the semester. I went to check out the e-portfolios (now I feel weird saying this because it sounds like I am a silent stalker – maybe it’s just my Facebook paranoia kicking in) and I thought, “Wow, these are so impressive!” Each blog had a different theme going on. Each blog housed a different range of topics. I loved the layouts and, especially, the contents that I saw.

Over time, I forgot that sooner or later, I’d have to start working on my own e-portfolio – until the other day when we were told to take a look at the e-portfolios that the Fall ’11 cohort had produced. This time, while I looked through the blogs again, I couldn’t help but think, “How can I do this?” Cue alarm bells ringing in my head. Not good.

Photo credit to: chris.pirillo.com

Suddenly, I started worrying about anything and everything. How do I even make new sections in a WordPress blog? What if I can never make up my mind about which theme or layout to use (I always have this problem)? What if my site comes off looking, and worse yet, sounding, really unprofessional and uninteresting? Ugh, who would want to read it? And this was perhaps my biggest concern: How can I have the guts to post my ugly drafts?

I suppose it’s easy to get into a panicky mode when we’re faced with a new task. So I guess I just have to calm down and trust that I’ll get somewhere, somehow, with guidance from my instructor and peers. I think that, in many ways, starting my e-portfolio will be similar to forcing myself to sit down to write a bad first draft. And if there’s anything that our class readings so far have taught me, it is that it is okay to write bad drafts!

The thought of displaying my rough drafts doesn’t appeal to me very much, honestly, but I do see how it can add value to my work to show my progress. I have not given this much thought before, but, simply looking at the previous cohort’s posts of rough drafts and reflections, I think that the display of works in progress makes me feel more appreciative of the effort that the writer has put into a project. I guess, oddly enough, one of the aspects that I’m most concered about in starting the e-portfolio is also one that I think makes the e-portfolio really special and interesting.

What About You “Barney”

It’s easy to be Barney, especially as a writer. I wrote a whole paper about Why I Write, and I still don’t even know who I am as a writer. What do I sound like? Am I consistent in all of my writing? It’s hard to answer these questions because I often don’t listen. If I have a paper due at 11:55 pm, I get it done and never look at it again. I check for errors but I rarely analyze my writing as if I was the reader. I should because it would definitely help me grow as a writer. But like Barney and his flaws, I just don’t even listen.

After glancing over the fall cohort’s eportfolios, I’ve determined that my eportfolio will need to present me as a writer. It will need to go beyond simply Why I Write (although that’s part of me as a writer) and present material that explores who I am as a writer.

So that brings up a new question. What do I want to sound like? Unlike Barney, I can’t just ignore the truth (although it would be easier). As of right now, I think my eportfolio will center around this question. Maybe for a job application, I will want to show more of my research-based and argumentative style of writing. Or show blog posts for my friends. There are many different aspects of my writing that I want to show depending on my audience. Perhaps I should start there and look over all of my writing. Now that they have faded out of my memory maybe I can be the reader this time.

Am I Ready For This?

I am technologically inept, and I am comfortable admitting this much. This attitude often saves me from embarrassing myself when trying to keep up with others talking about specific aspects of this foreign subject. The idea that I will be creating my own e-portfolio is quite intimidating at this point. I have my own comfort zone, and this new media aspect is something that is constantly pushing me to use skills that I am not as confident in. Although, I have a fairly laid back personality, and rarely feel stress about much of anything, I could see how this constant uncomfortable feeling could grow on me. Yet, after reading a couple of the previous cohort’s reflection notes, and recalling what Anne Lamott said, an aura of calm suddenly hit me.

 

At this point, nobody is expecting me to be a professional with this type of work. I am not applying for a job as Webmaster of The New York Times, or much less any professional aspect. I need to have faith that with practice, I will soon be successful in this new media form and hopefully, it will become something that I am excited to partake in.

 

I always enjoy a challenge that pushes me into previously foreign areas of learning. However, knowing this, I realize that I still absolutely hate that initial time period where I am running around like a chicken with their head cut off. I also love to meet new people, yet I always get butterflies when walking into a room with zero familiar faces. When I walk out of that room, the majority of the time, I am smiling because I have met new people, but also because I recognize that there was not really anything to worry about in the first place.

 

When I think about my e-portfolio, I think about Lamott’s piece. I simply need to get something down, and maybe it will be incredibly awful, but I have a feeling that there will at least be some building blocks for future success. Failure is not eminent, as I often feel initially (except for the Scarlett and Gray). I need to trust my abilities, and Lamott, as well as the previous cohort, may have given me the necessary boost to avoid these unnecessary feelings.

Yikes!

After looking through e-portfolios of the fall 2012 students, I find myself a little overwhelmed. With blog post titles such as “Done Done Done Done Done,” “dddDDDoooOOOnnnNNNeeeEEE,” and “Halleluja,” I understand putting together the portfolio at the end of the semester will be stressful. The results, though, are quite impressive. It is evident that the students who finished the portfolio completed similar assignments my cohort and I continue to work on now. Many of them show their willingness to put up very rough drafts and blog posts. The typical writer would caution against publishing such personal writings and opening themselves up to scrutiny. This course has taught shown us all–through readings and our own writing–not to be afraid of making mistakes or publishing weak first drafts.

Fine, I won't judge a book. But can I judge a blog?

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We Have Not Yet Begun to Write!

In looking over some sample e-Portfolios from years past, I started to think about the writing I’ve done thus far this semester and at the university.  I considered not only how I’ve grown as a writer, but also the amount of work that goes into the process of converting a page full of brainstormed ideas into a written draft and ultimately a “final” copy.

I took into mind the profile formats of each person’s e-Porfolio in terms of the drop-down tabs categorizing each unit.  In doing this, I was amazed at how many links to their work were available and how much writing we still have to do in this class.  I did find it interesting, though, that an assignment that they too had to complete was that of “Why I Write.”

I am definitely looking forward to this project, but I don’t want to fool myself into thinking it’s going to be easy.  Just in the 5-10 minutes I spent viewing some of the portfolios, I got a sense that the hour count on this assignment is going to rack up quickly; but like I said in my “Why I Write” final draft, “with great struggle comes great reward.”