Category Archives: D101

PUB101 Essay #2

Twelve weeks ago, I had never published any expression of myself which was not heavily curated through a well developed or popular social media platform. I published myself on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and even Wattpad, yet there wasn’t anything more daunting than the idea of a completely self-driven space such as this blog. Twelve weeks ago I had never heard of what a “personal cyberinfrastructure” was or how many layers latticed the foundation of a simple website. In the past, my online publications were straightforward. Now, I type this with swirling ideas of digital publics and monetization in my head. However, what I did know twelve weeks ago was that I was incredibly excited. I had no clue where to even begin but, scrolling giddily through hundreds of WordPress themes that night after our first lecture, my heart leaped simply at the chance to publish myself: creations, opinions, and identity.

My blog began as a scattered jumble of my interests. However, as the weeks went on and the lengthy category menu leading to many empty pages began collecting dust, I decided to dwindle it down to a baking blog. Dreaming of cookbook worthy images and creative recipes which I had never thought to try before, I realized my underlying plan was to create a quintessential baking blog full of Pinterest inspiration at every click. The audience I initially imagined in my head was very similar – if not the same – audience as Pinterest, the popular photo-based platform used by mainly females in their twenties and up looking to cook, create, and design. To attract this audience, I focused on using plenty of large high quality images, a casual writing style, bright colours, simplistic designs, and obvious links to my various social media accounts. Travis Gertz warned against falling under the generic theme in this article on a website full of unique graphics which I could never comprehend how to build into my own site. I did end up with a theme which Gertz sees as a standard issue copy of many other popular websites with the large image and overlay text. However, I feel as though it was a safe place to start which I not only found aesthetically pleasing, but thought my potential audience would too.

Although I understand that advertising is an important element of boosting a website’s success, I have not yet ventured into the territory of monetization as you may have read in this Process Post. In an article about a small website business shutting down due to low revenue, Brian Feldman explained that creators have the ability to create content but are rarely making enough money to get paid to do so. At the moment, my blog isn’t something I’m interested in being a source of income. While I don’t know where I might end up in the future, I don’t feel as though my blog will ever be of any physical value. Instead of a monetary value, I believe my website provides the value of inspiration to those who are looking. Much like many other food blog browsers, I look for beautifully plated food and innovative recipes to boost my creativity. I can only hope that one day – when my blog is not still wheeling through the web on training wheels – mine could spark that same sense of creativity.

It is important to remind myself that my blog has barely started. Not only does this justify my dismal traffic data, but it is reassuring to imagine the places it still may reach. Truthfully, I’m not sure how many genuine audience members I have received yet that are neither my mother or spam bots. Some of my recipes have collected lovely comments – even a few from outside my friends and family bubble – but I have noticed that the most attention I get is from spam comments. Fortunately, I can simply filter out these comments before they are seen publicly on my page, yet they are still a pressing nuisance whenever I log in. Due to this influx of obscene messages usually baiting the receiver to click some sort of link, I have decided to look into a test for my comment section to simply filter out some robots designed to send out mass spam responses. As we discussed in class, a Norwegian website proposed introducing a quiz filtering system which users would need to fill out before being enabled to leave comments. While this is more geared towards letting readers cool off before typing out a rant and ensuring that the entire article was read entirely, it is a thorough example of a moderating system which could block out spammers.

Twelve weeks later, I guess I still don’t really know what I’m doing. This course has taught me useful skills which I will carry on in both my blog publications and any other social media post I share; knowing that whatever I publish contributes to the constant shaping of my online self. I am also not sure how long this specific website will carry on. I love this blog, I love what I’m posting, and I even have an idea for an entirely new post series, but I want to make sure that I am working on this blog to the best of my abilities. Neglectful, I feel as though I wasn’t able to fully mold this website to its full potential in the fog of other pressures and deadlines weighing on my life. I rushed through some things – unfortunate, but true – and I want to make sure that I dedicate the time this blog deserves in the future. Kadunbar.com will remain active for now, and I will be committing further to shaping my publication of self online. Twelve weeks later, my website is a little underdone and all over the place but, it’s mine. And that makes me pretty damn happy.

PUB101: Peer Review #3

For this week’s peer review, I was assigned Wallis McMillin’s blog. In her about section, Wallis goes on to establish the site as a more personal blog where she can share her attempts at adulthood. On the same page, readers can find a smiling photo of the author, immediately setting a positive and welcoming tone to the website.

I personally love the minimalist design of the blog’s theme. The large block of colour in the header of the page successfully avoids having extensive white space, and the Instagram feed in the side bar adds even more visual appeal. There are also buttons in the top right corner which make it easy to navigate to Wallis’ other social media sites if readers are interested in searching for more of her content. Design wise, my only wish would be for the posts to have a “Read more” option after the first opening text, so that users could scroll through the titles of posts easily without having to pass large walls of text.

In regards to Wallis’ content, I absolutely adore it and don’t believe she will have any trouble in the future building an audience who enjoys it as well. Scrolling through her posts, I actually laughed out loud a few times like during her “Why I Love Girls” and “Swipe-xiety” posts. Wallis’ writing style is friendly, witty, and clearly showcases a voice full of personality. While the blog is still in its beginning stages, and the creator has stated that she is still making decisions on how she wants her content to take shape, I think the blog has huge potential for marketability. I think her audience could include students like herself who are looking for relatable content in a friendly and personal atmosphere. The topics she covers in her posts like love and navigating adulthood would immediately connect to this audience, as well as her inclusion of social media as I mentioned above.

Wallis does not have any ads on her website. I read her process post on monetization, and I completely agree with her points on forming a solid base for her blog and publishing more content for audiences to grow from before looking towards advertisements or sponsorships. An article published on the Verge explains that attention from audiences is the most valuable thing for advertisers, and since Wallis’ blog – like most in the course – is just starting out, there is not much content to drive up traffic yet and provide that audience which advertisers want. Installing Google Ads is also not a pressing issue if Wallis wishes to run the blog personally without the expectation of being immediately paid. Both articles from Forbes and NYMag discuss the downfall of a small website called “the Toast” on the basis that the page was simply not earning enough ad revenue to support the blog as a business. That being said, smaller online creators can still publish content, they just might not get paid for it as NYMag emphasized.

In the future, I think there are avenues like sponsorship posts and Amazon affiliate links that could connect advertisers to a market of people trying their best at adulthood and reading Wallis’ blog. But, until then, Wallis should keep publishing the great content. I plan on checking back in on her blog to read more in the future!

PUB101 Process Post #7

Remix something.

Two words with little direction and little context were our instructions for this week’s process post, which sent me scrambling with confusion. I generally do not work well under vague expectations, as I want to make sure that everything I’m doing is up to standard. Perhaps that’s due to the classroom structure I’ve been taught under in the past with heavy criteria sheets or project descriptions. All this considered, I tried to do my best to come up with a creative post to produce this week.

While I do not have the talent or technology to remix video or audio clips, I have often used photoshop to create photo edits in the past. Knowing this was my best option, I decided to create a photo mashup or “makeover” for this week’s process post. The subject of the photo edit is not really relevant to any of my previous content on this blog (or future for that matter) but it fits in with my interests and passions.

For some context, Marvel is releasing a new Spider-man movie adaptation this July featuring an entirely new cast to tell the tale of Peter Parker (and his pals). I have never mentioned it on this website before, but I am a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and often make GIF or photo edits for some of my favourite films/characters. However, it was a certain “controversy” which inspired me to create the photo edit featured in this post.

One iconic character in the Spider-man universe is Mary Jane Watson, a witty and charismatic female lead written as a long-term love interest for Peter Parker. Similar to nearly every other comic book character created circa 1965, Mary Jane is white. Previous film and animated adaptations of the character have followed along with this original illustration.

However, it is 2017.

And by that I mean it isn’t the 1960s. Isn’t it about time to finally see a diversity of cast members in media production? Especially if these new movie remakes are catered to the younger generation. Unlike important characters of colour in the Spider-man universe like Cindy Moon and Miles Morales, Mary Jane’s ethnicity is not a vital aspect of who she is as a character. The fact that she is white makes no difference to her story, and really the only physical attribute which plays a part in the storytelling is her bright red hair (often thrown in when describing her aesthetic beauty). So, when the new film adaptation entitled Spider-man: Homecoming directed by Jon Watts cast Zendaya as a mysteriously unknown character with simply the first name “Michelle” on IMDb, rumours began to fly that she was in fact going to play the iconic role of Mary Jane Watson.

This rumour made me elated. Others, not so much.

Immediately, a slew of racially biased hatred washed over social media and created a large debate about who should really play the famous character. Primarily, those against the announcement argued that Mary Jane Watson should be white in all iterations.

Technically, some Twitter users argued that she should have “red hair” (in a self-defense attempt to negate any claims of racism), but these same people did not have much to say when in response to their “The actress should be a natural redhead” complaints, a variety of users fired back that both Kirsten Dunst and Shailene Woodley – the actresses who have played the previous film adaptations of the character – are not naturally redhead and in fact used hair dye to change the colour of their locks.

Even though the casting decision is not final, and is still just a rumour, I am in complete support of the young actress Zendaya playing Mary Jane Watson. And while I really don’t think it’s necessary for her to change her hair to play the part (I guess I’m not a die-hard loyal comic reader who needs to see a girl with red hair in the role), I think she’d look great with it anyway and decided to prove the point by editing a photo of her with that very look for my remix post this week.

Before:

 

 

End Result:

 

 

Vanilla Chai Tea Baked Donuts

As the months have rolled around to March already, I’ve found myself in a baking rut because of all of my homework from Midterm season. These past few weeks, my work in the treat department has mainly been some of my go-to, easy, twenty minute cookie recipes. While those are delicious and satisfy whatever sweet cravings I may have, I wanted to do something out of the ordinary for this blog post.

For inspiration, I went rummaging through my cupboards and came across a gift I had forgotten was stored away since Christmas: a donut mold baking pan! Normally donuts are fried, but you can also bake a denser cake-like version in the oven. They’re also easier to make at home if you don’t have a deep-frier handy.

This recipe uses some freshly brewed Vanilla Chai Tea to give the donuts a warm, spicy and sweet flavour. You can choose to cover them with a cinnamon-sugar dusting or a chai tea glaze. I went with both options.

 

Vanilla Chai Tea Baked Donuts


Makes 6 donuts

Ingredients

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Apple Pie Spice
  • 1/4 tsp Cloves
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup Chai Tea, brewed and cooled
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 large Egg

Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 3 Tbsp Butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Chai Tea Glaze

  • 1 Tbsp Chai Tea, brewed and cooled
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray donut pan with non-stick spray. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt) and whisk together. In another large mixing bowl, combine the tea, vegetable oil, vanilla, and egg. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together until just combined. Fill baking molds 2/3 of the way full (To do this, I put the batter in a pastry bag for better control when piping into the donut rings). Bake for approximately 10 minutes or when a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the toppings, either brush the donuts with the melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixed together. Or, stir the glaze ingredients together and drizzle or dip the donuts into the mixture.


Slightly Adapted From: The Chunky Chef