A is for A is for Education

| March 2, 2014

I’ve been finding it interesting how much time we’ve been spending on the logistics of Pressible at the beginning of class. People always seem to have questions, and answering someone’s question always seems to lead the discussion down the WordPress rabbit hole, where one blogging issue reminds you of another coding issue which reminds you of another publication issue and all of a sudden we’ve blown through a chunk of class talking about HTML.

So part of me wants to say this wastes too much time and the class is about education and aesthetics and not about technical blogging skills and blah blah blah. And then I think about it and I start thinking that this has to relate to education or aesthetics or both in some way and sure enough it does if I try hard enough and call our blog troubleshooting a case study of where education meets aesthetics. (Yes, I know I just dropped two big run-ons. That was on purpose. You know, stream of consciousness or something. The uncleanliness of the thought process or whatever.)

Let’s think of the back-end experience of our blog—as in, the coding/publication side of the website, where we put together and edit our posts—as “education.” Technical (“practical”?) education, to be more specific. Education in the traditional sense of involving hard knowledge to be applied. Then let’s think of the front end of the site—that’s the part that we see when we type in the web address and read the posts—as “aesthetics.” Because it’s what we see, what we take in, how we experience the website.

Here’s the interesting part: there’s no aesthetics without the education, and there’s no education without the aesthetics. I actually do mean two different things by that…

(1) “There’s no aesthetics without the education.” By this, I mean that there’s no aesthetic experience of A is for Education without the technical education of “how to blog,” “how to use WordPress,” etc. In this respect, we need a certain type of education to put together an aesthetic experience, or create an aesthetic experience for a “reader” of our “art.”

(2) “There’s no education without the aesthetics.” By this, I mean that a reader of our blog is not going to have a positive learning experience of the content of our posts without a positive aesthetic experience of the website. If the posts do not look good, if the website looks sloppy—if, say, people mess up HTML tags and they show up in the actual body of the posts—then people will reject the content for its presentation. How do I know a bad aesthetic experience will interfere with a good educational experience? Just think about our class complaints about Relationscapes for an example. People were complaining that the dense language and style made it difficult to comprehend and even to just access the reading. So the aesthetics of the book restricted the experience of its educational content. (Side note: it’s interesting, and maybe a little ironic, how a book about aesthetics could possibly alienate readers because of its aesthetics.)

So really, what I’m saying is, let’s keep talking about the blog at the beginning of class.