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Nomenclature notwithstanding, here are three key factors that point to the
blog’s allure and appeal for educators and students:
1. Resource: Information on graphic design is hard to find in libraries and
bookstores; it’s even more difficult to find anything relevant online. Blogs,
however, are quickly filling that void. No matter what subject students look
for, there is a good chance Google will return results pointing to any of the
above-mentioned Web sites. Speak Up alone has over 900 posts (posts =
articles, if you will) covering a wide range of topics from business issues to book reviews to discussions on the why and how of graphic design. Once
there, with links and comments from site participants, the resources quickly
multiply. A good example are posts covering designers like W. A. Dwiggins,
Alvin Lustig, Ladislav Sutnar, and others, about whom information does not
abound. On any of these blogs, an initial post will generate anecdotes, links
to other Web sites, or book recommendations that add breadth to the original
2. Network: Students are usually limited to classmates, teachers, and visiting
designers in their schools; interaction with other students or professionals in
other parts of the world is rare. With blogs, these boundaries are nonexistent.
Any designer with an Internet connection can participate in discussions,
bringing varied points of view and perspectives, regardless of location,
background, professional accomplishment, or spelling abilities. Students can
also interact with experienced professionals in a very organic manner. For
instance, at Speak Up there are many inquiries received from students that are
published to provide feedback specifically for their theses, class projects, or
just for curiosity’s sake. And once school is over, relationships established
online can prove fruitful in the long run.
3. Dialogue: As with anything in life, it is always better to “talk about it.” Blogs provide a forum where students can ask questions and receive feedback; where they can express an idea and have it rebutted or seconded; where they can observe the nuances of talking about graphic design; and, simply, where they can speak with like-minded individuals. By encouraging thoughtful comments, conversations in Speak Up, Design Observer, and voice help expand students’ ability to speak eloquently about their profession whether they are interacting with a client, a fellow designer, or their neighbors. It would seem simple to talk about graphic design; however, it is at times surprising how many designers do not know how to explain their work or what they However, these favorable elements can easily turn counterproductive. The on-the-fly nature of blogs gives way to incorrect information, poor references, inconsequential rants, airings of personal grudges and biases, absolutely terrible spelling and grammar, as well as confrontations with all kinds of people, from bullies to overly sensitive and stubborn individuals. Just like real life. Nonetheless, blog participants acknowledge their potential as influential sources of education and do make an effort to create a healthy environment where information can reside and conversation So far, “independent” blogs are the most successful, attracting many contributors, readers, lurkers, and attention. A handful of design programs like Cranbrook, Yale’s 2005 Graphic Design thesis students, and the Rhode Island School of Design’s Design Crit5 have taken a stab at blogs as a way to enhance communication between faculty and students and as a companion to their daily classes and crits. But judging by the low comment counts and lack of outsiders, inschool6 blogs fail to excite students, as they once again minimize the scope to the same, everyday people—and as students, the last thing one could want is “hanging out” online with their teachers during off-school hours. This clearly establishes the community aspect of blogs as one of its most valuable features—without a community, conversation