Author Archives: mmonicaalvess

Process Post (12) Moderating Comments and Community Guidelines

Controling my Comment Section

This week’s guest speaker was Sharifah Williams, an associate editor at Book Riot.  She explained to us her strategies for how to moderate comments on their website as well as on their social media platforms. Book Riot receives a lot of user-generated content on their Instagram by encouraging followers to post using hashtag #RiotGrams. The more comments and interactions, the more growth of your online community. I try to invite comments on my posts by asking a question at the end of each blog. I currently don’t have comments on my website, however, if I were to develop a larger following with active commenters, I think it’s important to establish some guidelines. I first need to think about what I want the tone of my site and the comment section to be. Book Riot’s community guidelines seem to line up quite well with my own values, including social justice, feminism, and inclusivity. After identifying the values of MultiMonica, what I consider acceptable and unacceptable, I have come up with my own community guidelines.

 

 

Community Guidelines for MultiMonica

MultiMonica aims to be a safe space for people of all genders, ages, backgrounds, and abilities to express their thoughts and opinions freely.This website welcomes a large variety of viewpoints and values perspectives that may agree or disagree with MultiMonica’s content. With that in mind, any racist, sexist comments, or any form of hate speech will not be tolerated. Your comment will be removed if you do not follow the following rules:

  • No personal attaching, name-calling or insulting
  • No irrelevant or inappropriate comments (including heavy swearing and crude language) 
  • No sexist, racist, classist comment

 

How to Handle Negative Comments

I will use my best judgment to filter any future comments I may receive. If I were to receive a comment that didn’t follow my community guidelines, I would handle it in a way that wouldn’t facilitate any further negativity. Jon Ronson address in his TedTalk on social media shaming, that when people in power use their privilege for something negative, the public can do something about it. But this misuse of privilege makes many people believe they have a right to tear others apart through a “mob mentality” I don’t want to discourage any of my readers from using their voice out of fear that they will be ridiculed. But if there was a comment that went against my community guidelines, I would remove the comment and personally message the commenter about why it was removed. What I wouldn’t do, is draw more attention to the issue by pointing out the negativity of the comment to my other readers and spark more negativity by inviting others to hate on this person and their comment.

 

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Process Post (11) Editing Practices

Preparing for Publication

In this week’s lecture, we focused on professional editing styles. I learned that editing is an extensive process and can be broken down into distinct levels. Some of the key levels of editing include: 

  • Acquisitions editing (acquire – look at work and recommend if it fits within platform)
  • Structural or substantive editing (organizing flow of writing, ordering sections)
  • Stylistic editing (voice, tone, sense, and flow, looks for consistency of flow, identifies interruptions which may take readers out of narrative, continuity)
  • Copyediting (mechanics of the text, grammar, typos)
  • Marking and coding (preparing for layout and production)
  • Proofreading (spell check, pagination, properly cited footnotes)

From this list, it is easy to infer that editors are never limited to one task or one industry. But as Suzanne stated in her lecture, “The goal is always the same: to improve the quality of communication.” Editors work through a process of assembly, filtering, and matching. This got me thinking about my own personal editing style. I tend to edit as I go by reading back the sentence or paragraph I just wrote and looking for any flow or grammar issues. As for essays, work emails and other formal pieces of writing, I like to read back my work entirely out loud if possible. This often helps me catch any issues I may have skimmed over in reading. Grammarly is an awesome web extension I downloaded onto my computer about a year ago which helps to enhance my writing through various punctuation and spelling suggestions. I’ve noticed one part of punctuation that I can’t seem to decide on, and this came up again in the editing exercises we did in class. I use Oxford commas in my work sometimes, and sometimes I just don’t. I also struggle with placing more commas in my sentences than needed at times. I know these aren’t very serious writing errors, however, I want to keep my writing style as consistent and easy to read as possible, so this is something I can work on.

 

Editorial in the Real World

In tutorial, we were given a real world PR issue that Urban Outfitters faced and analysed the way they formed their editorial response to the public backlash. Urban Outfitters is known for ripping off various brands clothing designs. In this case, they took a necklace design along with its name and description from the designer, Koerner, and sold it as their own. I did not agree with their response, as they gave no form of apology to the artist. They instead stated, “The idea is not unique to Koerner and she can in no way claim to be its originator.” This PR nightmare could have been handled better if Urban Outfitters recognized the artist’s work and possibly gave them some sort of compensation. I understand the fact that they didn’t feel the need to apologize, as the fashion industry cannot be copyrighted, but I think they could have provided a more educated explanation of why what they did is legally okay in the fashion world. 

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A Look Back on Multi Monica’s Digital Footprint

The Birth of a Blog

The overall process of creating my website seemed a bit daunting at first. When given so many options and possibilities to choose from, I find it hard to settle on one, especially when it applies to building and sharing my personal cyberinfrastructure with the world. I’m a perfectionist, and my indecisiveness led me to invest a lot of thought and time into setting up my domain, theme and organization of my blog. I think that by taking my time developing the basics of my blog, I had an easier time moving forward. This is because I was able to dedicate my focus solely on publishing content, and not get caught up in constantly altering my layout and design as this was already well established from the beginning.

 

Shaping My Digital Identity Through Specific Content & Design Choices

Blogging isn’t all that foreign to me, as a part of my job requires me to write for the company blog. But the content I write for posAbilities, a nonprofit that provides a range of services to people with developmental disabilities, is tailored to a specific audience – the families and caregivers of disabled individuals. I knew I could transfer some of the skills I gained in this position into my personal blog, but I also had to adapt to an entirely new online space. A space that I had full control over. I felt empowered with this new ability to share my personal interests and stories. So, when I first sat down and really thought about what I wanted this blog to be about, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to share and reflect on my personal experiences and what I’ve learned from them. I had a plan to treat my blog as a sort of diary and an online documentation of my offline life. I consistently aimed for transparency through my writing, and hoped to spark conversation with others through my content. Through trial and error, I am continuing to create and cultivate a stronger digital identity. One important element related to digital identity is design, something arguably just as effective as the content itself. I feel that I’ve stayed consistent with my blog’s design, through specifically themed photos and even creating some of my own visuals through Canva.

 

Content that Connects

I believe that the type of content I publish on my blog can resonate most with people who share similar lifestyles and personalities with me. 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 aim 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.

 

Defining my Audience

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 discuss on my blog, as these demographics basically describe myself. I may have an idea of the type of people I will attract through Multi Monica, but I don’t 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 curate playlists featuring a wide variety of artists. In “Publics and Counterpublics“ by Michael Warner, he 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.

 

Analyzing my Audience

Google Analytics showed me that that excluding my homepage, my process posts received the most views out of all my pages. From this I can infer that my fellow PUB 101 classmates were coming to my blog to see the insights I was sharing about my blog development. Excluding the countries with a 100% bounce rate, as these visits were likely for data collection, Canada, the US and Australia are the three countries I’m receiving my views from. I’m happy with my average bounce rate of 33.9%, but I’d like to grow my readership quite a bit more. I think one of the main reasons my content isn’t reaching enough people is because I have done very minimal promotion. I’ve consistently been making an effort to welcome comments on my posts by including a question at the end of each blog. Unfortunately, I have yet to receive a comment. This is something I want to work on for the future development of MultiMonica. One way I can spark conversation through my posts is by asking my friends and family to leave a short comment. This may inspire other readers to share their thoughts as well, since they see someone else has already done so. Another way I can encourage interaction is by sharing my blog on my social media platforms, thus widening its reach and increasing the chances for more comments.

 

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 Monica.  Understanding 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. In the words of Henry Jenkins, “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.” 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 Michael 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.

 

What’s in it For You?

Another concept from my Communications course echoed back to me as I attempted to identify what value my readers will get out of my content. In this course, we discussed five characteristics of online communities, with one that I feel is very relevant to the knowledge I’ve gained in this course. Online communities contain an element of shared resources and supportI’ve been aiming for this blog to foster a sense of community and be a utility resource. My ideal blog would be a place where my audience was more than just that – an audience. 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 resources. Through this process, social capital (the resources people obtain because of their network of relationships) is exchanged. This is a goal I have yet to meet.

 

Multi Monica Might Make Money

Over the course of my university education, I’ve learned that whether you have a product/service or not, everyone is selling themselves. You are your own personal brand. With this knowledge, I want to ensure that I am showcasing myself as authentically as possible on my blog. Although monetization is something I would like to explore further with the development of Multi Monica, above all else, I want to give my readers relatable, insightful and entertaining content. I tested out advertisements on my blog with the Google Adsense plugin, but I quickly removed them as it negatively altered the layout of my content. This led me to brainstorm other ways I could potentially monetize my website. I use and refer to various products and services in my posts, from Spotify and Airbnb, to Vimeo and Youtube, to Canva and my favourite wine – which are companies I could potentially partner with and receive some form of monetization for.

 

Plans for the Future

I genuinely enjoyed this experience, of designing an online space to share little bits of myself with the world. As “Reverend” states in their article A Domain of One’s Own, “An online home [is] where [one] consciously integrates their professional profile through a streaming set of resources and spaces they inhabit online.” I would like to keep up with one or two blog posts a month, given that I love to travel as much as possible and would like to continue sharing my experiences on this platform. This was first and foremost a mandatory project for my PUB 101 class. However, over the course of this semester it has turned into my online home and an environment I feel comfortable expressing myself on. Despite the fact that I haven’t developed a significant following, I would still like to pursue blogging and see where it may take me. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be living the dream as a full-time professional travel blogger!

 


References

Campbell, W. (2009). A Personal Cyberinfrastructure. New Horizons. Retrieved from: https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure 

Hill, D. (2011). Why Website Design is Important. BOP Design. Retrieved from: https://www.bopdesign.com/bop-blog/2011/09/why-website-design-is-important 

Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics. Quarterly Journal of Speech. Retrieved from: http://knowledgepublic.pbworks.com/f/warnerPubCounterP.pdf

Jenkins, H. (2009) If it Doesn’t Spread it’s Dead. Confessions of an Aca-Fan. Retrieved from: http://henryjenkins.org/blog/2009/02/if_it_doesnt_spread_its_dead_p.html

Reverend. (2008). A Domain of One’s Own. Bavatuesdays. Retrieved from: http://bavatuesdays.com/a-domain-of-ones-own 

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Process Post (10) An Online State of Mind

How Reading Affects my Writing

One of the things we discussed this week was the way people read online and how to optimize your own content that reflects this. According to web usability expert, Jacob Nielsen, people tend to read in an F-pattern, scanning the text in this particular shape. Readers also tend to scan a page in under 10 seconds, looking for specific information before fully reading the text. In fact, many readers only read about 20% of the text on the page. With this knowledge I know I should start to craft my content more specifically with readability in mind. As the left side tends to receive more focus, I should keep my subheadings on this side (which I already do), and also include visuals, lists, links and my call to action within the F-pattern.

I also learned that screen display makes reading slower online. In light of this, I think I’d like to tighten up my content a bit more, writing more concisely with smaller chunks of text, and possibly test out a slightly bigger font size. I believe I’m already on the right track, as I employ scannable text through my use of subheadings, links, calls to action, visuals and the occasional list. I could also create a new excerpt for each of my posts. An excerpt is a short blurb under the link to each of my blog posts which reside on my homepage. Currently, an excerpt is automatically formed from the first few lines in my posts. But by crafting a new excerpt with some key SEO words in it, this could benefit my click-through rate. 

 

Becoming a Social Sharing Butterfly

We also touched on the importance of leveraging multiple platforms to increase the reach of your content. I tried to fit myself into one of the seven types of social sharers that were described to us in class. I think I can identify with the altruistic sharers, who share because they want to help. Developing your online brand and identity is not only about creating content, but also interacting with other content out there. I think this is an important aspect of building a following that can often be overlooked. By sharing and commenting on the work of other bloggers with stories that resonate with me, relationships may form, thus increasing the chances they might share my own content with their followers.

I could definitely improve on utilizing my social media channels to promote my blog post. I have shared my blog with others here and there, through linking a few of my friends to my Gym Jams music playlist. But I have yet to try using Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to advertise my blog. I’m apart of a Facebook group which describes themselves as “a global community of active and aspiring female travelers providing resources and empowerment to one another through safety, socializing and support.” This online community is a great opportunity to share one of my Travel  blogs with. I think I’d like to pursue this once I’ve published a Travel blog I think people particularly enjoy. 

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Peer Review: Audiences & Channels

Subject: Theona Kennett | Blog: www.theonaevadnekennett.com

Layout and Site Structure

For now, the “Blog” category works as a good place to hold all her personal blog posts. But in the future, she may want to consider breaking up this category into more distinct groups based on her content. This could be something like “Vlogs” and “Travel”. The more content she creates, the easier it should be to put posts under assigned categories.

The header photo adds a strong personality to the blog. Her position and the title integrate well together. However, as I start the scroll down, that personality is lost as the blog design is reduced to her posts and whitespace. Her sidebar could be utilized better if it were made “sticky”, in that the bar would move along as readers scroll down the blog, never leaving the screen. This would help fill up the whitespace and add a stronger level of balance. Speaking of the sidebar, I love the “Corner of Fame” feature, in which she draws attention to other content creators she likes. This is a nice way to promote fellow bloggers and create a connection.

Usability and Design

Strong readability. The pixel size is big enough to read clearly, but not overpowering. She also separates her content into short, easily digestible paragraphs. One of our guest speakers, 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. She explained how creating an online identity involves the use of consistent colours, fonts, style and theme of photos. This blog uses these elements successfully. 

I suggest she insert a “To the Top” arrow that will appear in the lower corner of her blog when readers have scrolled down enough. This will increase usability by allowing the reader to quickly navigate back to the start of her homepage.

I personally did not notice the social media icons at the bottom of the blog until much later in my time reviewing this website. Moving these icons to a more visible area would increase the chances of readers visiting and following her social media accounts. 

Audience

It is quite clear to me what kind of audience this blog is striving to attract. I see her content resonating with young girls, teens to early 20s, possibly just starting their post-secondary educations and looking for a blogger that they can see a bit of themselves in. Teddy’s blog posts address topics like starting college and the challenges that come along with it, vines, memes, and other various pop culture. These are all current trends which her target audience would be interested in, and if she is ever struggling to come up with new topics, she can always look at Google Trends, a resource that was brought up in our lecture on digital publics and the public sphere.

Content

I liked the blog post “San Francisco Travel Diary” for her honest reflection of the city, the good and the bad from her perspective. In this particular post, I think it would be beneficial to include hyperlinks of the places she went to. By adding this, readers are given more valuable resources to draw from, and may even be inspired to take a trip to San Francisco themselves. I would love to see more travel posts. 

I advise her to remove the word “relatable” from her tagline “My relatable adolescent stream of consciousness”. Firstly, I think the word relatable should be used with caution as you don’t want to assume that your content will be relatable – this may rub readers the wrong way and I think it’s best to avoid it all together. In “Publics and Counterpublics“ by Michael Warner, Warner suggests to “put on a show and see who shows up.” Rather than starting a blog with a preconceived notion that your content will connect with others, try to produce posts that are entertaining to you, and from there, you can measure your reach through analytics. This tagline edit would also improve the flow of her title, making it a little less wordy.

One final piece of advice I have for Teddy to strengthen her overall brand marketability, is to explore more ways she can authentically and meaningfully express herself online. Pushing herself to dig deeper and reflect further on the experiences she shares with us, would really take her content to the next level. Another thing she can try is including hyperlinks to reliable sources that relate to her content, thus improving the value of her posts. I think she should continue to vlogging, as this seems like a passion of hers and a place she can really shine.

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Process Post (9) The Global Picture

Internet Vs. The World Wide Web

This week, guest speaker Professor Juan Pablo Alperin spoke to us about the vast world of the Internet and world wide web. He explained that although the Internet and web are often treated as synonymous, they are two distinct concepts. The Internet is the broader, physical infrastructure and actual network. The web is an application. These technologies aid in the shirking of time and space, reducing barriers between countries and creating what McLuhan refers to as a global village. But even though the barriers to Internet access are low, the design does in fact still affect who can use and benefit from these platforms. 

 

The Fall of Facebook

Professor Alperin gave us a couple discussion questions at the end of his lecture which we were encouraged the answer in this process post. They were: What would be the events that could lead to the decline of Facebook as the dominant force on the web? What are the shifts/changes that might be possible? Reflect on the constraints Facebook puts on you and the influence it has on shaping what you do. How can you break free of those constraints?

Facebook’s mandate is“to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”. This is a social media platform I use almost every day and shapes my online behaviour and view of the world more than I’d like to admit. Firstly, Facebook requires me to share my personal information with them in order to gain access to an account. This along with many other social media platforms may appear to be free to users, but it does come at a price. We must exchange our personal data for access to the platform, thus constraining us from keeping our personal details private and commodifying our online actions. How Facebook makes its money directly affects how we interact with the platform. They use surveillance to collect highly profitable info on us and sell it to advertisers, who in return have the ability to embed targeted ads into our newsfeeds. The owners of Facebook have the power to steer our choices in particular ways, undermining democracy as they create echo-chambers – showing us only what we want to see based on our digital footprint. 

On another note, Facebook shapes my participation online. This platform claims to create a more “authentic” experience for its users but more importantly and less publicly admitted, they want to gather as much info on you as possible to figure out who you are and what they can sell to you. Facebook recently made a new update to their algorithm, tweaking what people see on their newsfeeds to more “meaningful” content from personal connections rather than business pages. This emerged from what I’ve heard as a “context collapse” where people are sharing less info about themselves online such as status updates. Personally, I’ll like this change, but part of my job is using Facebook to distribute our content, so we did some research on how we can maintain engagement with our audience, and basically, we need to create conversation and increase interactions through our posts. This is something that forces me to alter my online practices for the benefit of Facebook because the more we comment and share info about ourselves, the more data Facebook can sell to advertisers.

If the unattractive side of Facebook becomes more apparent to its users (such as the fact that it is able to mine your data and use it as it pleases, as well as form a narrow outlook of the world around you by filtering what you see on your newsfeed), users may start to worry about the negative implications it has on us and begin to delete their accounts. This would allow users to regain their privacy and control over their online lives, but I don’t see this happening anytime soon. In my opinion, the act of boycotting something doesn’t tend to successfully make a lasting difference. Another potential force which could lead to the decline of Facebook’s dominating influence on the web is the rise of a new social media platform. One that is bigger and better, giving users a stronger sense of power over their online behaviours on an Internet that is alternatively shaped heavily by corporate control.

 

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Process Post (8) MultiMonitzed?

Adding in Adsense

Last week I created a Google AdSense account for the purpose of embedding advertisements into my blog. I had been debating the idea for some time, and decided to test it out to get a better understanding of one of the ways I could potentially earn money through personal blogging. The ads are now set up on my pages, however I’m not too happy with the layout. I didn’t want these ads to throw off my content or affect the structure of my website too much. So, I figured two small header and footer length ad spaces would frame my site nicely and be subtle enough. But I am not sure if it’s even possible to opt for this type of layout, as the ads are currently structured with a header, footer, and large square boxes in between my posts on my homepage. These square ads separate my content in a very unbalanced way and interfere with the overall design of my blog. I hope to adjust this in the future after some more research into how to customize the ad layout. But if I’m unable to find a solution, I will most likely remove ads from my page for now, as I’d rather not sacrifice the look of my blog for ad space which, honestly, won’t be giving me any sort of income anytime soon. As Brian Feldman puts it, “Generally, for online publishers to make enough money off of standard display ads, they need to reach and maintain an audience at a scale that’s generally impractical for small organizations that lack venture-capital funding.” 

 

Measure, Measure, Measure

I understand the importance of tracking the activity on my blog – what content attracted the most views and discussion and what fell flat, how long users stayed on my pages, if they clicked the links I included in my posts, etc. I’m currently using Google Analytics as a tool to use for my potential audience. Being able to access the data and behaviours of my audience is an asset, and can help me identify what my readers want to see more and less of. But I also want to always stay mindful of my authentic online identity, and I would never want to jeopardize my own morals and values just for the chance of more readers. I want my content to stay true to me and the multitude of things that matter most to me. I hope that by publishing content I really care about, my readers will be able to resonate with it and ultimately be motivated to engage with me or other readers and continue the conversations I’ve started. Although I don’t want to get lost in the numbers side of things and compromise the quality of my content, I will check my analytics from time to time to evaluate where I’m at and assess what works and what doesn’t for my audience.

 

Data Trails & Digital Footprints

It’s no secret that every aspect of our activities on the Internet is being tracked. Through the process of data mining, the patterns and trends in our digital footprints are packaged up into a personal user profile and sold to advertisers for their profit.  Our leisure time on the Internet is being commodified, and the extent to which companies can access users’ online profiles and track their data trails for their own profit has become an issue of ethical concern. Targeted marketing advertisements are embedded into social media platforms and also often news source sites and blogs. These companies are given access to users’ personal data, and use this information to alter what you can see online. This facilitates a loss of privacy and unwanted commercialization of personal info. These ads are personally targeted to the individual user, showing you what you want to see based on your data trail. As Nilay Patel stresses, “Media has always compromised user experience for advertising.” It is through this that the various platforms you use can create an “echo-chamber”, offering your own personalized media consumption by only reading/seeing things you like and agree with, therefore perpetuating a biased view on the world you experience online. With this awareness, I try my best to exercise my critical thinking and consumption skills and understand that the world presented to me online is structured according to my preferences. In this regard, I do understand how I’m contributing to this phenomenon by monetizing my blog with ads. I am still uncertain of the benefit embedding ads into my site currently has for me and my readers. I plan to continue weighing out the pros and cons and come to a decision on what fits best with MultiMonica.

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Process Post (7) Remixing Copyright Free Content

Copyright Topics & Contract Law

Jon Festinger, brand and creative industries lawyer, directed this week’s lecture. He drew our attention to important factors one must consider when creating their own content and using others. “…copyright…means the sole right to…reproduce the work…in any material form whatever…”. I already had a basic understanding of copyright infringement and Creative Commons from my past Communication courses, but Festinger dug deeper into the complexities of copyright topics and contract law, making me think about some elements I hadn’t thought of before.

He emphasized…

  • The definition of copyright: “…means the sole right to…reproduce the work…in any material form whatever…”
  • Underlying ownership is the public domain
  • All rights belong to author
  • Creators often sell their rights to corporations
  • In Canada, copyright runs 50 years past death of author, then goes back into public domain
  • Copyright comes from the expression of an idea – copying it into tangible form

 

The Pros & Cons

Although I understand the rules and ownership and use of content that is not legally yours, I have to admit that I sometimes find it a bit frustrating. With so many copyrighted songs, photos, graphics, video clips, recipes, etc out there, I feel limited in what I can use to create own own content. For example, when I first received my DSLR camera, I discovered a new found love for making fun little music videos. I would take videos of my friends and places I traveled to, and then edit it all together with a song that I thought suited the clips. The music I chose was always copyrighted, so it is not something I can easily share openly online as it can be deleted for copyright infringement. On the other hand however, this pushes me to be more creative and motivates me to produce more original content. I intend to use more of my own photos in my blog posts as well as even attempt to make a video or two on here. So in this sense, copyright law encourages me to create a unique presence for myself in a world that is overflowing with published content.

 

MultiMonica Tries Remixing

As part of the requirement for this week’s process post, I tried my hand at remixing. Festinger advised we look for a Creative Commons license included on whatever we choose to mix together, as this is free to use and part of the public domain. My process was fairly simple. I took my personally filmed videos which I own the rights to, and added copyright free music to create a music video mashup. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of a lot of the copyright free music out there, and the music I originally had edited into my videos were better. But after some searching, I found some tracks that seemed to fit well. In the description of each Youtube video, the terms of use were clearly stated and I made sure to copy and paste this into my video descriptions:

For song #1

Licence: You’re free to use this song in any of your videos, but you must include the following in your video description (Copy & Paste):

Happy Life by FREDJI https://soundcloud.com/fredjimusic https://www.facebook.com/fredjimusic/

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/u4PI5p5bI9k

For song #2

Licence: You’re free to use this song in any of your videos, but you must include the following in your video description (Copy & Paste):

Life Is by Cosimo Fogg (201) https://soundcloud.com/cosimo-fogg

Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b…

Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/9MXUHYGvBVY

 

I apologize for the shaky filming in my Costa Rica video (first time using a GoPro), and the awful filter I used on my LA video which I can’t remove now…If you want to see the original versions of these videos with copyrighted music, click these links! →  Costa Rica and LA . I’m not sure why these videos flew under Youtube’s radar and haven’t been taken down yet, as I definitely do not own the rights to these songs.

 

Watch My Copyright Free Music Videos Down Below!

The post Process Post (7) Remixing Copyright Free Content appeared first on Multi Monica.

Hoaxes and Propaganda and Fake News, Oh My! A Look into the Post-Truth Era of the 21st Century

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

We are currently living in an era known as the Information Age, a period characterized by a shift from the industrial to digital revolution. Today, technology plays a huge role in the shaping of human life and the growth of the economy. This influential force is largely driven by the Internet, which provides a democratic public space for discussion and distribution. It is a platform containing content, communication, and a body of collective knowledge designed to make the task of acquiring information easier and less time consuming. Through the “Triple Revolution”, identifying the growth in social networks, the rise of the Internet, and the advent of mobile connectivity (Wellmen & Raine, 2012), comes a change in how the public gets their news and information. The Internet revolution gave people stronger communications power and info gathering capacities, and allowed people to become their own publishers and broadcasters via social media. With this new sense of power put into the hands of the public and an overflow of news sources, comes the concern with propaganda and manipulation, placing us in the midst of a post-truth and fake news era.

Misinformation as a Weapon of Destruction

In light of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a plethora of fake news stories spread like wildfire on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. “Click bait” articles with intriguing titles and a lack of credible references to back up these fabricated claims were used as tactics to shape public perceptions of the oppositional politician in the running. For example, independent news source, Wonkette, published an article with the headline “HILLARY CLINTON ADMITS CONSPIRING WITH PIZZAGATE CHILD DUNGEON PIZZERIA!!1!”. This was just one of the many news articles that targeted presidential candidate at the time, Hillary Clinton, for being directly involved with a child-trafficking sex ring inside a pizza parlour. This outlandish accusation held no truth, yet was shared and believed by countless social media users lacking critical thinking skills. But this particular election wasn’t the first instance of fake news circulation. In fact, producing and sharing misinformation has been an age-old problem, only becoming more dangerous and ubiquitous through the rise of social media. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer reported that nearly seven in ten respondents worry about fake news and false information being used as a weapon. Deliberately publishing fake news stories with the intention of persuading readers to believe this misinformation as legitimate, is generated for the purpose of political or financial gain.

Support Through Social Media

So why is fake news so easy to create online? It’s important to first understand what exactly social media is, as these social networking platforms often perpetuate the dissemination of these stories. Social media, as defined by scholars Danah M. Boyd and Nicole B. Ellison, are “mediated social networks that support interaction, production, and consumption” (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Social media is also viewed as fostering a participatory culture. Media scholar Henry Jenkins, defines it as a culture that welcomes consumers to actively participate in the creation and circulation of new content (Jenkins, 2013). However, fellow scholar Christian Fuchs, states that an Internet dominated by corporations whose main goal is to profit through exploiting and commodifying, cannot possibly be participatory (Fuchs, 2014). I think it’s important to focus on both the techno-cultural constructs that Jenkins refers to, and the socio-economic structures that Fuchs addresses, in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how social media shapes participatory culture and furthermore, sociability. These perspectives beg the question, is social media truly fostering authentic participation and empowerment, or ushering in new modes of corporate and social control? One must keep in mind that the constructs of capitalism influence the creation and circulation of online content. When we look at Facebook’s social media mandate: “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”, and Twitter’s mandate: “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers”, they position their users in control of creating, sharing and consuming content. Content presented via social media does not have to have approval to be published, which is beneficial to users in the sense that it creates a freedom from censorship and control. But on the other hand, this can also help support the production and spread of fake news.

Combatting Fake News

The challenge lies in finding sources and evaluating its validity. Authors Fornaciari and Roca examine the challenges with using the Internet as a news source tool including, “problems obtaining and evaluating quality sources, and successfully integrating the information obtained using critical thinking” (Fornaciari & Roca,1999). Investing in developing strong digital literacy will equip you with valuable knowledge and skills to discern facts from alternative facts. Molly Beestrum’s CRAP Test is a tool anyone can use when assessing the validity of a news story. It focuses on 4 main areas. Currency – how recent is the information? Reliability – is the content backed up with references/sources, or primarily an opinion piece? Authority – is the publisher visible, reputable, and what is there interest in this information? Purpose – is this fact or opinion, biased, or trying to sell you something? By running through these questions you are doing your “due diligence to verify news sources” (Zhenegye, 2018).

No Easy Solution

The spread of fake news is not an easy thing to stop. These stories can play on our weaknesses and lure us in with little effort. It can come naturally to want to only believe information that affirms your pre-existing beliefs, which is known as confirmation bias. Social media algorithms shape what kind of content we see, often rewarding content that have a high “sharability” factor through click bait titles. In Mike Caulfield’s article “Yes Digital Literacy. But Which One?” he stresses, “domain knowledge is crucial to literacy”. This goes beyond the CRAP test. We must consider and understand the environment which our website sources act in, and using our tools and skills, critically analyze the information online that many of us are quick to consume without batting an eye. Those who grew up in the Information Age – known as “Digital Natives”, are said to now more than anyone else, engage in “increased multitasking behaviours…linked to increased distractibility” (Loh & Kanai, 2016). This can be linked to the ongoing influence of fake news, as many people lack the attentive focus needed to identify credible information from misinformation and hoaxes, and would rather quickly accept a piece of fiction as fact than look outside the source for similar information to verify. The Internet is a largely valuable force in our society and we should understand the effective way to use it in order to increase our collective intelligence. Moderate usage of this technology would be the most beneficial, using it as a resource for gathering information to help formulate an answer. It becomes dangerous to us when we turn to this platform for other’s thoughts and ideas and blindly adopt them without critical consumption or formation of our own ideas first. Self-reliance must still be exercised often, and the Internet should be used as a tool, which assists in our ability to obtain news and knowledge.

Leaving My Digital Footprint

Suler describes the “Online Disinhibition Effect” that takes place when face-to-face interactions are replaced with actions behind a computer screen. This can also be linked to the spread of misinformation, as online “trolls” can adopt a mentality of “toxic disinhibition”, which is often disrespectful and causes harm due to the ability to be anonymous, minimizing ones sense of responsibility (Suler, 2004). As a content creator myself, I have asked myself who I want to be online and how I will be a good digital citizen. The fake news phenomenon is something that’s largely out of my control, as I am just one social media user and blogger in a sea of 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.

 


References

 

Boyd, D. and Ellison, N. (2007). Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. Retrieved from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00393.x/full

 

Fornaciari, C. & Roca, M. (1999). Age of Clutter: Conducting Effective Research Using the Internet. Journal of Management Education. Vol. 23, 6: pp. 732-742. Retrieved from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/105256299902300610

 

Fuchs, C. (2014). Social Media as Participatory Culture. SAGE Publications. Retrieved from: file:///Users/monicaalves/Downloads/Fuchs_2014_SoME_A_Critical_Intro_Ch_3%20(1).pdf

 

Jenkins, H. (2013). Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. NYU Press. Retrieved from: file:///Users/monicaalves/Downloads/project_muse_21244-749941%20(1).pdf

Loh, K. & Kanai, R. (2016). How Has the Internet Reshaped Human Cognition? The Neuroscientist. Vol. 22, 5: pp. 506-520. Retrieved from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1073858415595005

 

Suler, J. (2004). Cyber Psychology and Behavior – The Online Disinhibition Effect, Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from: http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

 

Wellmen, B. & Raine, L. (2012). The New Social Operating System, The MIT Press.  Retrieved from: file:///Users/monicaalves/Downloads/Rainie_and_Wellman_2012_Networked_Ch_1%20(2).pdf

 

Zhenegye, J. (2018, February 6). How to Combat Fake News to Build Trust and Protect Your Reputation, Communication World Magazine. Retrieved from: http://boston.iabc.com/2018/02/12/how-to-combat-fake-news-to-build-trust-and-protect-your-reputation/

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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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