Author Archives: By Emily C.

Week 6: Process Post

This week I received feedback on my blog from the peer review that was both complimentary and constructive. I had made changes to the theme I was using a couple of weeks ago and I discovered that all the CSS work I had done was completely overridden back to the original theme. I had lost all the code I changed. Thus, I began to work through my CSS again: this time I made sure to copy and paste all the CSS into a separate text file in the case that it may get overridden again. I’m not sure what and when my changes had been overridden, but I’m guessing it was when I updated my WordPress before the peer reviewing happened.

Besides that, my peer reviewer didn’t have any major issues, but suggested I make the titles of my entries larger so it visually catches the reader’s attention while helping keep each entry distinct from one another. I was quite happy with what I had, but I decided to make the font size larger and slightly heavier. I also made my header image smaller because it was appearing too large and took up too much of the screen. Overall, I am happy with the ample whitespace and light accents.

Essay 1

With the rapid growth and development of technology, there is no doubt that social media platforms continuously influence the public opinion, touching on the economic, cultural and social aspects of society. Stated from News Use Across Social Media Platforms, “two-thirds of Americans report they get at least some of their news on social media” (Shearer, 2017). Because of Facebook’s large user base, being a dominant force, it takes the lead on every other social media site as a source of news: a whopping 66% of Americans use Facebook on a daily basis (Shearer, 2017). For many, the social media site remains as an important news outlet source that has made digital communication more transparent and malleable. As a regular social media user, it is crucial to understand the impact of social media because of its creation and impact on social life.

Digital communication tools are the source of facilitating the exchange of information across platforms, resulting in the manipulation and distortion of truths. Consequently, the misinformation leads to what is known as the creation of “fake news”. False stories have been becoming hugely popular online with deceptive titles that attract the reader into believing as real news. Recently, in the last three months of the US presidential campaign, fake news outperformed real news. As a result, a blur between what is genuine and what is false is increasingly becoming harder to differentiate because in a world of easily accessible digital devices, consumers have the ability to play a role in being producers of information. The creation and circulation of public opinion affects social life on two standpoints: cultural and social. Not only does public opinion have the competency to corrupt traditional values, it can alter the audience’s perspectives. Thus, public opinion is ever-changing: it is persuaded and influenced through social media — making it more achievable, yet uncontrollable.

The distribution of fake news on Facebook carries uncontrollable and disruptive ramifications on an individual’s life. Take for example: a photoshoot to promote plastic surgery became viral when false stories began to spread quickly on Facebook, leading to a long-term consequence of a Taiwanese model, Heidi Yeh’s career. The photo shows Yeh posed in a family photo with three kids who were purposely made to appear “ugly” with small eyes and flat noses. Little did Yeh know, she would soon became a victim of a viral internet meme that put a toll on her personal life and career. False claims stated that her supposed husband in the photo sued her (his wife) for deceiving him when he discovered that she had undergone plastic surgery before they met because the image shows a lack of resemblance between the children and the parents. The Taiwanese model felt destroyed by the media, claiming she felt hesitant to continue her modelling career because of the public embarrassment. Serving as a real-life example of the uncontrollable outcomes of public opinion, as a result, the model’s job offers slowed down for three years and shattered her relationship with her then-boyfriend. Subsequently, the situation clearly got out of hand when threats to sue began to emerge.

How did the photo get distributed to become a global meme? The talent advertising agency stated the ad would be featured in newspapers and magazines by the initial cosmetic clinic only, according to Yeh (Willett, 2015). However, the agency later allowed another clinic access to the image for their website, claiming their copyright ownership and intention to promote plastic surgery in a humorous manner. When Yeh threatened to sue the cosmetic clinics, they responded by claiming that she damaged their reputation and demanded for an apology from Yeh. Soon enough, it was all over Facebook news feeds and it is because of these stories that Facebook has moved towards the implementation of algorithms to optimize users’ news feeds in order to cease the prioritization of fake news without restricting the accurate content. The attention that has caused Facebook to take action proves that public opinion is largely influential and is not taken lightly. Therefore, social media and the internet encourages and enables collaboration through the exchanging of knowledge that builds and influences societies.

Citations

B. (2014, July 18). What’s the impact of social networks on public opinion? Retrieved October 11, 2017, from https://medium.com/@behradj92/whats-the-impact-of-social-networks-on- public-opinion-fe148ce89a6

Franz, J. (2016, December 10). What’s the role of social media in the news media? Retrieved October 11, 2017, from https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-11-26/whats-role-social-media-news-media

Shearer, E., & Gottfriend, J. (2017, September 7). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news- use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/

Social Media: Shaping The Way We See the World or Shaping the New World Itself? (2013, February 19). Retrieved October 11, 2017, from https://astanatimes.com/2013/02/social- media-shaping-the-way-we-see-the-world-or-shaping-the-new-world-itself/

Willett, M. (2015, November 06). A Taiwanese model said her life was ‘ruined’ after she was turned into a plastic-surgery meme. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/taiwanese-model-plastic-surgery-meme-2015-11

Finding my Career Path

When I was a young child, I was gifted a workbook that prompted me to draw what I wanted to be when I grew up. To this day, I still clearly remember the colourful butterfly I drew on that page.

Remembering the blissful days of my childhood when things were so much more simple and all I wanted to be when I grew up was to be a colourful butterfly one day. If it was only that easy. If only I could fly off, care-free and explore the world… No, I’m not a butterfly, but that beautiful butterfly I drew may have signified my exploratory phase into the beginnings of my career: venturing further into the world of visual arts.

Thus, I grew up to love drawing: something that had never ran in my family background. I would draw on any surface I could set my hands on (yes, I remember drawing on the headboard of my bed with a ballpoint pen) and I spend hours on the internet looking for tutorials when I was in middle school. My cute cartoons and illustrations became more detailed, attempting to replicate a photograph on a blank piece of paper. Realism drawings of still objects became hyper-realistic until people thought I had suddenly become a photographer. I naturally developed an eye to see the world and the spaces around me differently, converting the three-dimensional world into a two-dimensional realm in front of me. I thrived in it and it didn’t take long for me to find a sense of identity through drawing and sketching. Everyone around me was certain I was going to be the next Emily Carr. It seemed like I had my career mapped out for me after many long nights of practicing in my bedroom: my professional career path had already been set for me.

The last hyper-realistic drawing I have drawn to date. — March 2015

 

So it began: my senior year in high school and I was one of the handful of students who had gotten a letter of acceptance into Emily Carr University on the spot. This was what was deemed to happen my whole life by my peers. Was it fate?

Not too long after I received a letter from Simon Fraser University, informing me of my acceptance into their School of Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT), I had to make a big decision. I had never heard of this program and didn’t know of any graduates or alumni from SIAT. I spent my whole childhood moving a pencil around on paper, was I really going to make the transition to digital design? I thought, and thought hard for awhile, but I sensed an urge to explore my skillset: where could digital design take me? At the end of the day, I followed my gut and took the leap into the realm of design. This period marked my transition into technology and design, pushing my sketching pencils into the back of the shelf.

I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know how to code and I only had intermediate experience with Photoshop. The summer before my first year in university, I spent hours and days going through online tutorials to learn as much of Adobe Illustrator and InDesign as I could. But I loved it. I loved that making a mistake was a simple and quick CTRL/CMD + Z to fix. Strokes and lines were so much smoother, cleaner and there was no accidental smudging — this was fool-proof.

Illustrations done on Adobe Illustrator for a freelance project — October 2015

Slowly, the time and demand I had for sketching decreased and since my second year, I have not posted a single photo of a drawing. Do I miss it? Yes — I can recall the nights when I was upset and drawing took me into a place of serenity, a place where my worries did not exist. It will still always be a part of me: when I brainstorm for my designs, knowing how to sketch is always at the core and every time, it brings me back to my roots — where I started and came from: pencil and paper.

Rough sketches for a game design.

I have made my transition from an artist to a designer and I’m not turning back.

– E

Check out my portfolio work!

Week 5: Process Post

Thus far, I have been imagining my blog to be catered towards creative teens and young adults who are looking for a platform for personal inspiration and motivation. Because I tend to be a more introverted and reserved individual, I really enjoy having a digital space for me to express myself and for people to get to know who I am. Catering to this audience I have in mind, I have created my blog to convey simplicity through a minimalist design — to be organized with the least distractions possible.

My hope is that visitors will see the world in another perspective through the online space I have created and through my personal thoughts and experiences, will find relevance in their own lives. As Warner states,

To address a public we don’t go around saying the same thing to all these people. We say it in a venue of indefinite address, and hope that people will find themselves in it. (Warner, pg. 418)

 

Peer Review #2

All Things Pacific Northwest, created by Rachel Fung, is a blog that is dedicated to her personal and authentic experiences living in the pacific northwest. The overall appeal is very organized and clean, with a well-structured main menu that lets the audience get a sense of the topics she writes about. On the homepage, there are beautiful images, filling the whitespace with bright green and blues, rightfully depicting the natural beauty of Vancouver. One suggestion I have is to create a header that is consistent in any page the viewer may navigate to. Clicking into another page, there seems to be no website/blog title or header image that tells them what website the user is on, which contributes to increasing the viewer’s cognitive load. Questions such as “What website am I on again?” “What is this website about?” should be answered through a header/title that sets a brand for the blog. Another design suggestion would be to differentiate the Featured Posts from Recent Posts in the homepage. The consistent gridded structure between these two sections cause it to seem like they organized under one category. Perhaps Featured Posts could incorporate larger images in a carousel that catches the audience’s attention first.

I am quite impressed with the amount and frequency of posts Rachel has written in the past few weeks. It really shows how much she enjoys writing and being persistent with putting up content on a regular basis. I loved reading about the hikes because it gives the viewer a good sense of what the whole experience is like. As more hiking posts are written, I would suggest creating a visual scale that indicates her personal difficulty ranking of each of the hikes to let the viewer know if that hike may be suitable for them. All Things Pacific Northwest is a blog that presents Rachel’s genuine opinions and experiences, depicting her true self on an online digital platform through her personal and cultural values: it may be an aspect that one can only see if they read her blog. It’s also great that she has linked her Instagram account to her blog that let’s the audience have a better sense of who she is and gives more content about her personal life. Without the social linking, her identity is almost anonymous without a photo or revealing too much information in the About section so the images from her Instagram really adds a more personal touch. Overall, the blog is being produced very professionally and consistently!

How I edit my Instagram Photos

 

Once in awhile, I’ll get questions about how I maintain my ‘Instagram theme’ and how I edit my photos. I have to admit: it does take some time and effort but I like to try and maintain a certain branding style to my instagram feed. Yes, I strive to live the #aesthetic life — it’s a part of who I am.

This may not work for everyone and people have different preferences and different tastes, so adjust accordingly to your liking! To keep a theme, I find that editing the same way (using the same filter) helps to keep all your photos consistent.
For reference, I work from an iPhone 7. In my photos, I tend to stick to bright whites, decently contrasted, soft shadows and less saturated photos. It works best when there’s natural lighting going on. Overcast days are the best days for outdoor photos. Bright sunlight creates darker and harsher shadows that takeaway from the photo and is also a cause of over-exposure.

First, I use the Photos in-app editor (found on all iOS devices) and put on the “Fade” filter. I’ll always have to adjust the brilliance, shadows, brightness, contrast, highlights and saturation until I’m more satisfied with it. If there’s any unnecessary distractions along the edge of the photo, I’ll just crop it out here.

Next, I’ll go into my app: Facetune. I really only use it for whitening light backgrounds that aren’t completely white and to de-saturate certain areas. I’ll bring that photo into the app and use their “whiten” tool to go over certain areas that are still too saturated.

After I’ve saved that photo, I bring it into UNUM, a very helpful app that organizes and helps me plan how a photo will look in my feed. Some may think it’s excessive, but I find that it is so useful to ensuring that your photos are cohesive with one another before you post it! Once I’ve planted my photo in there, I adjust it accordingly, using the UNUM in-app editor. And that’s about it!

 

Week 4: Design Decisions

We are all familiar with Buzzfeed, the social news and entertainment site that drives students into a seemingly unending procrastination train. Plastered all over our Facebook newsfeeds, Buzzfeed produces over 700 pieces of content every day with an average of 7 billion views a month. With the impressive amount of traffic it’s quite crucial for Buzzfeed to maintain a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing online presence.
Upon first glance, the home page (shown above) is crammed with bright, colourful photographs. It screams “Read me!!!!”: from the small carousel under the navigation menu to larger images in the main feed section to the blocks of images in the right side bar, Buzzfeed clearly wants the reader to indulge themselves into their endless collection of articles. Where do I start first?

Are those buttons? Are they just decorations? What is “LOL”? “WTF”??
If you’re not a millennial, or someone who is up with the lingo these days, how is one supposed to know what these acronyms stand for? Are they clickable buttons or just static icons? What does the red one with the arrow pointing up mean? These aspects of the site doesn’t seem to speak the user’s language, but luckily the feedback of them (when I hover over them, they have a ‘bounce’ effect) tells me that it is in fact clickable, taking you into a different feed. Out of curiosity, I wondered how this effect would translate into the mobile version when a user can’t have the same hover interaction. To my surprise, they aren’t even present in the mobile site. Completely gone. Vanished.

An aspect that I see is done quite well is the navigation/menu bar. With a good amount of contrasting colours on a white slate, the bold and bright colours of the type is representative of Buzzfeed’s branding that is fun and exciting. Clean, legible type and a concise system of labelling gives the user at least some hopes of navigating through heaps of content and images.


 

This week, I dove into the CSS of the WordPress theme I am using to start to personalize my aesthetics into the theme. I am aiming to incorporate some of the natural & earthy tones as light accents and tinker around with the letter-spacing and padding of the elements. I’ve come up with a list of topics to write about so I am hoping to set a schedule to be more consistent with the frequency of posts.

Peer Review

From an initial glance, Jason’s blog — From Hong Kong to Vancouver — is visually simple and pleasing to the eye. The header image clearly gives the reader a sense of who he is and what his blog is about: his journey and transition from his childhood in Hong Kong to his university experience in Vancouver. He briefly shares with the reader the challenge of language barriers and experience of stepping into a foreign environment within a crowd of strangers. As Suler explains in The Online Disinhibition Effect,

“to convey thoughts and emotions that go “deeper” than the seemingly superficial persona of everyday living” (Suler, 2004)

is a valuable aspect of the Internet as a web platform. I would encourage him to share and explain more in-depth about how he faced the challenge of approaching people — an act that is inevitable being an international student in a new school surrounded by undoubtedly many cultural differences from where he grew up. This could be thinking about the emotional aspects of leaving home, perhaps family and friends, and living in a country that has its many social, economic and cultural differences. How did he deal with the anxiety of approaching people and feeling more comfortable doing so? What steps did he take to improve his English speaking?

His sharing about the feelings of nerves and anxiety shows us an example of the inhibiting self (Suler, 2004) in a real-life context. Perhaps the initial language barrier and nerves took over to inhibit his true self and the personality that he displays in his hometown, appearing to be shy and introverted, when his true personality in a space he is comfortable in may show a more outgoing side.

In a visual aspect, I appreciate the sidebar that provides a path for the visitor to explore his Instagram and Facebook profiles and sharing a weekly Chinese pop song that shares a side of his interests. I encourage Jason to use his this section to provide a short and concise bio that gives the reader a brief background to who he is and what his intentions of this blog is. The longer description in and a photo in the About Me category would further enhance his character through his platform. In addition, reinforcing a sense of branding or personality could be done through the use of colours, textures or patterns throughout the site.
Overall, it is a good start to a meaningful blog that serves as an opportunity to log about your personal experiences and share with friends and family in Hong Kong and in Vancouver an update on your growth.

Life after Co-op: Transitioning Back to School

Returning to school after an eight-month co-op placement is not an easy transition and I’ve come across a lot of people have asked me whether I prefer working or being in school. To be quite honest, I don’t have a definite answer, but here are some of my thoughts and opinions based on my experience.

  1. Working was not as stressful as being in school.

    I found a relief from stress the eight months I was working: no studying, no exams, no papers! The work environment was relaxed, flexible and I never felt too overwhelmed trying to meet my deadlines. I would spend most of my day in the office but would go home and not have to think about work rather than coming home from class and still having work in the back of my mind. My weekends were a question of “What should I do with my day today?”.

  2. I found it easier to focus on my own personal goals/growth rather than feeling external pressure.

    My first week back at school, I sat in a lecture while my prof introduced himself to the class and all my mind could remember was him going on about successful students in my program who have gone achieving great things in Silicon Valley. That’s great, don’t get me wrong: it’s an opportunity of a lifetime to work in Silicon Valley. But I find that my program has the tendency to focus on students who have gone off working for large companies that it starts to create a burden for undergraduate students to mold themselves into this standard that somehow Silicon Valley equals success and increased recognition. But the truth is, not every designer/developer ends up working in Silicon Valley and that doesn’t make them any less successful.
    When I was out of school and working, trying to fit into this celebrated mold escaped from my mind and found that I was able to find joy and contentment from within myself. I found it much easier to focus on my personal growth as a designer rather than comparing myself to other students. I was working in a small start-up, but I was proud of what I was learning and how fast I was learning and in that way, yes — I found success in what I was doing and it didn’t matter where I was.

  3. I focused on saving, saving, saving.

    Of course, working meant that I had a source on income and didn’t have to worry about how much I was spending on food or clothes. I wasn’t a broke college student — at least not for the eight months I was working. It doesn’t mean that I splurged on every meal, but generally I wasn’t counting how much I was spending by the dollar. I took the opportunity to build up on my savings so I could have a more comfortable future post-graduating.

  4. I felt disconnected from the school community.

    Working full-time also meant that I didn’t get as many chances to see my friends from school, and I really missed that the most. It took more effort to try and make plans with my friends who were in school, taking classes I was falling behind in because of my absence. It made me realize how much fun school can be when you have the opportunity to take on projects and bond with friends from school. I always felt like I was falling behind on what has been happening in the school community.

  5. I felt like I had more creative freedom in school.

    Working in a company means that as a designer you need to abide by the company’s branding guidelines when creating work. At school, there is a lot more freedom in projects such as choosing your own typefaces, colours and images: most of the time you are free to explore and create in your own style of choosing.

Overall, I’m glad to be back in school but I know I’m going to miss working once midterms and papers hit me. Finishing my first co-op placement, I definitely have a better sense of what I’m looking for for my future co-op placements and what kind of work I like to do. A word of advice? Just because someone is working at a well-recognized company, does not make their life perfect because everyone struggles with different aspects of their life: focus on yourself and your own growth, not on others.

-E

 

Week 3 Process Post

This week I installed and activated Google Analytics and the Ultimate Category Excluder plugins to WordPress so I can easily track my views and prevent these posiel posts from appearing on the front page of my blog. I planned the layout of my blog so that #posiel posts would be accessible on the sidebar rather than the main navigation menu.

One of the readings this week came from Craig Mod, “How I Got My Attention Back”. I would like to share a quote from his article:

“Our measuring sticks for life tend to be optimized for material things, things easy to count. Houses, cars, husbands, babies, dollar bills. Attention is immaterial, difficult to track.” (Mod, 2017)

This quote resonates with me because I can often see how our world is radically becoming more advanced and how visual media is increasingly becoming a the cause of consumerism. In a world where we seem to live thriving off material and physical objects, it is so easy to become absorbed into this culture of consumerism as a means to measure the satisfaction of our personal life. As a result, people are increasingly less aware of the every day situations that are occurring around us as they pay more attention to their own lives and personal obsessions. Attention, like time, cannot be bought or exchanged.

I find that whenever I put my phone down for a few hours, I tend to feel more productive with my time and feel more mentally invested in the work or activity I am doing without constant distraction. That being said, I don’t think I can be offline for a month even if my life allowed it without harming me. For being someone who relies on social media to stay in touch with friends who live hours away, I can’t imagine the time needed to transit to them just to discuss a couple of things with them that could easily and quickly be done in a matter of minutes.