Author Archives: mmonicaalvess

Process Post (6) Digital Literacy & Trusting Sources

From Peer Review to Plugins

Last week, my blog was peer-reviewed for its design by my fellow classmate, Jade. She suggested I try to make my pages more interactive and dynamic. “She can try plugins for carousels, or someway incorporate some movement between the site visitors and her pages/content.  I think this could really add excitement to what she has already put out.” In light of Jade’s advice and after some of my own personal reflection on the style of my blog at the time, I implemented a couple new changes. I first reformatted my social media icons, placing them into a sidebar along with three of my most recent music playlists in which I displayed as a carousel-like slider. I achieved this look by using the MetaSlider plugin. I am also currently working on a new layout for the photos I feature in my Travel category. I was using the plugin Photo Gallery to post my photos from my trip to Sechelt, but I wasn’t fully satisfied with this plugin’s features and lack of flexibility. The font for my captions was grey and hard to read, and each photo was significantly cropped unless you clicked to expand it. I decided to switch to Elementor, a much more comprehensive and visually pleasing plugin with far fewer limitations than the previous plugin I used.

 

Combatting Fake News & Misinformation

Our lecture this week was focused on confirmation bias and digital literacy, which got me thinking about the kind of information I publish online and will in the future. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer tells us that nearly seven in 10 respondents worry about fake news and false information being used as a weapon. This is something that’s largely out of my control, as I am just one tiny personal blog in a sea Internet news and opinion sources. But I can do my part to help combat this era of fake news. How? I am not a news source website. I identify as more of an opinion and personal experience source. But by communicating with as little bias as possible, being honest and reliable with any facts I include and linking these facts to credible sources of expertise, I can build up my own credibility and genuinely become a trusted source of information.

 

In Mike Caulfield’s article “Yes Digital Literacy. But Which One?” he stresses “domain knowledge is crucial to literacy”. This goes beyond the C.R.A.P detector we discussed in class. We must consider and understand the environment which our website sources act in, and using our tools and skills, critically analyze the info online that many of us are quick to consume without batting an eye. 

 

Online Community

My process of growing my blog and developing my publishing skills continues to build each week. This week, I thought back to a concept from my CMNS 353 course on Issues in Technology and Society. We discussed five characteristics of online communities, with one that I feel is quite relevant to the knowledge I am gaining in this course. Online communities contain an element of shared resources and support. My ideal blog would foster a sense of community and be a utility resource. It would be a place where my audience was more than just that – an audience or a readership. They would be treated as members of my website who feel securely able to share their insights and experiences with one another, as a supportive exchange of resource.Through this process, social capital (the resources people obtain because of their network of relationships) is exchanged.

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Process Post (5) Defining My Audience

Will my Content Connect with a Crowd?

Over the course of these past five weeks, I’ve started to establish myself as a blogger more and more with every new blog post. I hope that by building up my content and continuing to develop my online self, I will also start to form an audience. Through sharing the most authentic version of myself I can express online, and creating a variety of content that I’m excited about publishing, I’m curious to see who my blog will connect with. My blog is personal and I will continue to write about topics that I’m passionate about. It’s important to also be aware of who my reading demographic is, and what their interests are as well. By posting blogs about travel, music, and trying new things, I hope to simultaneously attract an audience that can appreciate my content. One question that came up in our PUB 101 lecture on publics, digital publics, and the public sphere, was “how do I create marketable content without sacrificing my morals?” In this internet era of shock value content and Logan Paul controversies, I believe it’s important to stay self-aware of what you share online and consider why you’re sharing it. The day I begin to compromise what I truly want to publish online for the sake of more readers is the day I should probably take a break from the internet.

Reader Persona

The audience I have been imagining thus far are primarily young women in their late teens to late twenties, otherwise known as millennials. My PUB 101 TA suggested our class create a reader persona for the presumed reader that would tend to visit our blog. I think the typical reader of my blog would have the following demographics: Woman, early twenties, a university student, travel-photography-and-music-of-many-genres lover, creative, residing in North America, with a steady part-time internship job, and in a committed relationship. While this is quite specific, I believe that readers who possess these qualities would best resonate with the kind of things I plan to talk about on my blog, as these demographics basically describe myself. While I have an idea of the type of people I will attract through Multi Monica, I do not want to limit myself to one niche market. My travel section, for example, can provide readers of all ages, geographical locations, and genders, useful information for planning their next destination trip. I also think my music playlists have the ability to connect with a range of readers, as I plan to curate playlists featuring a wide variety of artists. In Publics and Counterpublics by Michael Warner (one of our assigned readings for this week), Warner suggests to “put on a show and see who shows up.” With that being said, I also want to be aware of my readers’ boundaries and the common ground we share.

 

Encouraging Engagement

I am currently taking a Communications course called “Topics in Technology and Society”, and have been able to apply many of the concepts we learn about into my development of Multi MonicaUnderstanding the difference between “sticky” vs “spreadable” media content, an insight I gained in this course, can be valuable to my process of creating blog content. Sticky content may grab audience’s attention and get readers to stay on your piece, but spreadable content is the goal, as it motivates your message to spread, relies on consumers to circulate the message, and encourages open-ended participation. As Warner states in his work “It is the way texts circulate and become the basis for further representations, that convinces us that publics have activity and duration.” Grabbing your readers’ interest is necessary, but shock value content can only go so far. I believe writing content that promotes further interaction and sparks conversation, proves to be a more successful approach. To facilitate more communication from others through my blog, I plan to continue expressing my online self through multimodal distribution – using text, photos, gifs, videos, and music, which will give my readers a variety of content to connect with.

 

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Peer Review: Design

Subject: Jade Boiser | Blog: www.jadeboiser.com

At a Glance

My first impression of this blog is positive. The theme and customizations are unique, simplistic, and aesthetically pleasing. Her consistent use of red, black, and grey colours appropriately fit with her “mixtape” theme, as these are the specific colours I would associate a cassette tape with. Her header image is classy and personable, and sets the overall tone of her blog. However, I think the black and white line across this header image could be utilized better. I suggest that she place a small logo in the middle of this line, perhaps an illustration of a mixtape? She could also keep this header at the top of every page on her blog, making the black/white movable line a functional link back to her homepage. Her blog title and subheading grabbed my attention instantly, and sparked my curiosity to dig deeper into her blog content.

 

Typography 

The choice of font is very legible, and her mix of serif title font with sans serif subheadings and body font compliment each other well. I also like the striking red colour that her black titles change to upon hover. My only advice I have for typography is to make the titles of her blog posts smaller in pixel size. A shift to slightly smaller titles can free up more space while still allowing the titles to pop. I think her blog title “My Life’s Mixtape” should have the biggest pixel size in comparison to her individual blog post titles, whereas right now her blog post titles appear to stand out more.

 

 

Layout & Site Structure

Jade has a good use of white space throughout her blog to break up her content into sections. This layout is asymmetrical, which I think could be altered even more. I suggest she shrink down the social media sidebar, which will allow her main content – her blog posts – to be the main focus. As we learned in our PUB101 design considerations lecture,  proportion creates emphasis and importance. There appear to be 3 main areas of focus on the blog: header, blog posts content, and sidebar. I think this works well and is just the right amount of content to not be overwhelming. I am a bit confused about the way these blog posts are categorized. She uses two categories to classify her personal blogs: “My Heart Ski-Skippin” and “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”. These categories are difficult for me to understand, and perhaps simplifying them into more transparent classifications, or providing a description of what these categories mean, would help her readers get a clearer, more obvious idea of how she organizes her content. One thing that really stands out to me on this blog is the “continue reading” button under each of her blog post excerpts on her homepage. The animation is sleek and fun, and I found myself going back to it again and again! I also like the consistent style of her featured photos. By using personal photos and sticking with a uniform theme, a recognizable and memorable brand identity is created, and Jade does just that.

 

Social Media Integration

This blog is quite music-focused, and in many of her posts she refers directly to songs on her Spotify account. I think it would be very beneficial for Jade to include links to the songs she features in her content, allowing readers to easily listen to the songs she addresses prior to or after reading her blog. The sad reality of many online readers is that we are lazy, and a lot of people won’t go out of their way to search a song/video/another article if it’s not just a click away. I think her social media sidebar has just the right amount of content on it, including her Spotify with her follower count, and her Instagram with a few photos. As she touches on the significance of her music playlists, I suggest she play around with where she features her Spotify icon. She could even test this out in the header position, laying it over the movable black/white line. I also suggest she include an email icon in her sidebar, so people can directly and privately contact her if desired.

 

Usability

I checked the responsiveness of Jade’s blog on mobiletest.me to see if the design is adaptable to all devices. And sure enough, it was. Mobile, tablet, and desktop views successfully produced the same content and functionality. I did however notice the blog performance to be a bit on the slow side, although this may be my current Internet connection. Pages took a few seconds to load which may be due to slightly too large of photos. This isn’t a highly negative issue, but one worth looking into for future design changes.

 

Conclusion 

In conclusion, I think this blog has a lot of potential to set itself apart from other common lifestyle themed blogs, and attract an audience who is just as passionate about music and the power of lyrics as Jade is. Content and design go hand in hand, and the creative construction of this blog really allows her writing to shine through. I did not find any pressing concerns with the design quality of “My Life’s Mixtape”, but I would suggest that Jade continue to experiement with different styles and features until she has established a website she is fully satisfied with. 

 

 

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Songs for your Study Session

Hello and welcome to my first of many music playlists. Before I kick off this series I’d just like to point out that I listen to a wide range of genres, so if this one isn’t your thing, check back for more to come! I’ll be curating playlists from road trip jams to pop punk guilty pleasures to r&b throwbacks and everything in between. 

When it comes to studying, creating a stress-free environment is essential. I usually come equipt with my laptop and notes, a good drink, light snack, and blanket, all within a well-lit room. I tend to find myself studying at home in complete silence, but lately I’ve been testing out different settings. Waves Coffee House is my newest study hub. Every Saturday, my slaves-to-the-university-life friends and I reserve a secluded table in the back and study our butts off for as long as we can. After realizing I could do my homework just as successfully in a coffee shop as I can at home, I decided to test out another new element in my study sessions. I found that listening to background music really helps me to collect and focus my thoughts. It’s the perfect remedy to keep me motivated and on track, without actually distracting me.

So here it is! A mix of some of my go-to study session songs. I selected songs without words (for the most part) as this works best for me. If you also listen to music while you study, I hope you enjoy and maybe find this playlist useful!

 

 

Can you name the classic Christmas movie featured at the beginning of the song Bedford Falls? I watch it every year!

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Gym Jams

Songs 2 Sweat 2

New years resolutions have come and hopefully not gone. The most common resolutions tend to be based on finances or health, and this year I decided to stick with the status quo. Eating better, saving more, and exercising harder. Getting myself into the right mindset to go for a workout can be challenging at times. Whether it’s going to the gym, out for a run, or an at-home workout, this playlist does its job of keeping me energized. I’ve compiled some of the best gym jams that get me sweatin’. The perfect formula? EDM with a dash of rap. I hope this mix of motivational tracks will get you moving too!

 

Play Me

 


What music genre do you love to jam to at the gym?

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Process Post (4) Designing Yourself

Sharing quality content that my readers can extract some value from, is an important part of my blogging process. But there are other aspects that I’ve started to focus more seriously on, as they also influence the development of Multi Monica. Aside from publishing entertaining and thought-provoking content, I want my website to be an aesthetically pleasing space to be in. Entering my blog, an extension of myself so to speak, I want my readers to enjoy their time here. This can be obtained through both my writing and the way it is presented through various visual design elements.

 

Shaping the Experience

This week’s lecture emphasized the visually creative aspects of our blogs and a range of design choices that should be considered. There is so much more to my blog than just the words I publish. Our guest speaker, Mauve Pagé, discussed how performance, balance, rhythm, proportion/scale, contrast, and unity, all work together to shape the experience one has in engaging with websites.

I chose to analyze Carly McDonogh‘s website – carlycamera. First impressions are critical. It’s often what determines how long people will stay on your blog. And this blog pulled me in right away. I enjoy the overall simplicity and consistency throughout the entire layout. There is a clear theme she has chosen and stuck with. She uses three predominant colours – orange, black, and white, and I love how her main colour is also the colour of her hair, as this really works to develop her overall brand. Her logo, the silhouette of a camera, is unique, creative, and clearly reflects her style. However, I think that it would be better-positioned front and center, directly under her title. The typeface reflects the style of her blog quite nicely and adds character and personality. I especially like the bolded letter ‘H’ in the “Hello friends,” she consistently begins each of her posts with. To make her blog title really pop, I think enlarging the pixel size just a little bit would be beneficial. There is a lot of white space on this blog, which I think works to her advantage. As there are no overwhelming backgrounds or busy patterns, my eyes are drawn instantly to the images and text, a great use of contrast. 

 

Multi Monica gets a Mini Makeover

I’ve implemented many new design decisions after attending this week’s lecture and will continue to do so until I’m completely satisfied.

So far I have..

  • Tested out alternative typefaces and pixel sizes
  • Created a “to the top” arrow using a paper plane graphic
  • Added a paper planes graphic at the end of my blog posts, separating my post from my end “call to action”
  • Added a “Through My Lens” footer section with 4 photos from my most recent travel blog
  • Added subheadings to my posts for easier readability
  • Changed the “Recent Posts” feature on my home page to a “Playlists” slider which will include 3 of my most recent music playlists

In all of these design alterations, I’ve also made it a point to view my blog on mobile in order to make sure the elements transfer over successfully. Although I’ve been making visible improvements to the overall look and feel of Multi Monica, I still have much to learn and a long road ahead of me. I need to work on consistency, sticking with and maintaining my specific brand. I believe I can achieve this through continuing to use my primary colours (baby blue, black, grey, white) as well as making sure my featured images compliment each other well, by using similar styles, themes, and colour choices.

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Peer Review: Developing an Online Self

Subject: Rachel Lee | Blog: http://rachelbiubiubiu.com/

 

At a Glance

Upon first impression, Rachel’s blog is well structured, with a minimalist approach to design. Although her domain name and blog title do not match up, I think her title “36C” and accompanying tagline “Let’s see what this cupsize can do” is equally funny and original. It has a shock value and uniqueness to it that makes me want to read more. I would suggest, however, that she change “cupsize” to the correct spelling “cup size”.

 

Design

The pink, black and grey colours compliment each other well, and the overall look of this blog is simple, with no busy visuals or an overwhelming background. I also like the fade effect that is enabled when hovering over her titles. The photos and illustrations she includes in each post add a nice visual element related to the topics she writes about. I would recommend she include an “About” page and a photo of herself to build up a stronger online identity. A social media widget linking icons to her different social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, would also aid in this.

 

Grammar

The grammar and sentence structure in the three posts featured on her blog needs a little work. In a few instances, both past and present tenses are used, which may cause some confusion to readers, as well as a few awkward sentences where words appear to be missing. Proofreading her content before publishing it onto her blog can go a long way. I suggest she use Grammarly.com – a super handy grammar checker that assists you as you type out your content!

 

Categories

For clearer organization, I suggest categorizing her posts under specific headings and subheadings, for example – Posiel with subheadings Process Posts, Essays, and Peer Reviews. Her Game Review post appears under both the Blog Post and Game Reviews categories. I suggest removing the Blog Post category and replacing it with another theme she is interested in blogging about.

 

Voice & Tone

I really liked her “Recent Update” post. She presented her online self as a girl who is learning along the way, and is open to feedback from her readers. Through her voice and tone, Rachel came off as honest, kind and relatable. I would encourage her to continue writing about gaming, as this appears to be her passion and has potential to draw in a specific crowd.

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Process Post (3) Mapping out the Finer Details

As I alluded to in my previous process post, I believe that using effective rhetoric and tone in my writing is important to my overall blog development and content. I will try to create a blend of all four rhetorical proofs from Aristotle’s modes of persuasion, to get any proportions contained in my blogs correct for the context, purpose and my audience. To appeal to reason, I will use logos, inserting facts and stats when I feel necessary to prove my points. To engage my readers, I will use pathos by appealing to emotion, bringing in human elements, and as a result, make any abstract ideas I discuss concrete. Through stressing the ethos of my sources and bringing in evidence and expert knowledge into my work when appropriate, I will strive to appeal to credibility in hopes that my readers will come to accept me as a credible writer. And lastly, if my blog topics seem at all trivial at first, I will use mythos to appeal to the shared values between me and my readers.

These concepts won’t all always be considered in my posts, however, I will consider them when applicable to specific blog posts in which I’m making assertions or trying to convince my audience of something.

 

This week, I mapped out the visual components and finer details of MultiMonica. I created a logo but am still uncertain if this is the best design to use, and am open to future changes to make it exactly what I want. My sidebar consists of six social icons – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Gmail, LinkedIn, and VSCO. I’m happy with the design except for the custom VSCO icon as it, unfortunately, shows up a bit smaller than my other icons. I hope to fix this issue shortly after some more research. 

My menu now includes sections Meet Mon, Music, Travel, Mon Tries Things, Posiel (with a drop down of essays, process posts, and peer reviews) and a search bar. I also changed photography to a travel category as I feel this encompasses what I’d like to blog about more. I intend to share my travel experiences with a collection of photos I took in these posts. There’s now a slider feature for three posts, and a “Through my Lens” section at the end of my blog, after recent posts, which will contain a photo from one of my travel blogs and a link to that post.

 

After reading How I Got My Attention Back by Craig Mod, I related his experience with removing himself from the online world to my own relationship with my phone and laptop. Personally, I need to be connected to the internet at my job, as I’m required to use it for nearly all the work that I do. But if I were able to take time off work, I do believe I could go offline for a month. Yes, it would no doubt be challenging, as I use my phone to connect with friends and family, play my music, google things I want to learn about, and much more. But in doing this I believe I would get back in touch with many of my passions I’ve let go to the side in my life. I’m sure I would take up playing bass guitar again, read books, use my camera and go for more walks and hikes in nature, and generally focus more on self-care like healthier eating habits, a higher fitness level, and better sleep. Craig described how his mind becomes more clear, excited, and optimistic through his disconnection from the online world. I personally relate to his point of a clearer mind, as the internet can overwhelm me at times and bog down my thought process. I understand however that completely removing myself from the online world would not be the best option for me. There are so many benefits to the internet, but I think consuming in moderation is the best approach.

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The Sights of Sechelt

It’s scenic, it’s surrounded by mountains, it’s located on the Sunshine Coast. This is Sechelt, BC.

I spent my weekend in an adorable and secluded loft cabin in the woods – the fourth “Most Wishlisted” Airbnb in all of Canada! Alfie the A-frame provided us with endless entertainment, including puzzles, board games, movies, a guestbook filled with creative and hilarious entries, and even a telescope. We spent our time here under the overabundance of cozy blankets and exploring the sights this little village had to offer. 

 

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Process Post (2) Authentic Online Self

During this week of further developing my website, I chose to focus on who I’m creating content for. First and foremost, I think of this blog as a documentation of my personal journey – a home for my favourite photos and travel experiences, music, and stories that make up a large part of who I am and who I am becoming. However, I also realize that this is a public website which anyone is free to access. And as much as this is my own blog, I would also love for it to be a space that others enjoy entering, knowing they will leave with something more than they did coming in.

 

I asked myself the following questions when thinking about my potential viewers, and how I will present myself to them through my content:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What is their initial mindset?
  • Why should they care? What’s in it for them?
  • How will they benefit? What will they gain?
  • How can I increase my credibility and trust?

 

I believe that the type of content I will publish on my blog will resonate most with people who share similar lifestyles and personalities with me, of course. I don’t want to limit myself to a certain demographic, however I believe women around my age will be able to relate to my topics of interest more than others. I may attract people who, like me, are just getting their foot in the door of the professional workforce. They may also have a passion for travel, fashion and a diverse taste in music. Like me, they may have the whole world right in front of them, but are feeling a bit lost and confused about the direction they want to take their life. Through my “Mon Tries Things” mini-series, I hope to connect with others who are looking for some inspiration and motivation to put themselves out there, try something new, and gain some personal growth.

 

By hearing my stories of personal successes, failures, and everything in between, I want my readers to feel a sense of friendship and trust with me. In class, we discussed the “disinhibition effect”, and it really got me thinking about just how I aim to present the most authentic version of myself online. I want my readers to feel equal to me, on a level playing field so to speak. Fostering peer-to-peer connections with my readers and minimizing authority is important to me. I don’t intend to come off as “preachy”, telling others how to live their lives and what they should and shouldn’t do. Alternatively, I want to share my experiences and the insights I’ve gained through them, offering my readers a perspective they can choose to accept and take use from, or not. I would also like to consider the voice and rhetoric I will use in my blogging, and how this will affect my credibility, but I will leave that for another process post.

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