Creating my online presence this term has been difficult but incredibly rewarding. Over the last few weeks, I’ve focused on the design of my website, as well as how I want to set it apart from every other beauty blog out there. I knew going into it that there are a thousand beauty blogs on the internet, and that the only way to succeed in such a widespread and competitive community would be to focus on being different. At the end of my quest to be different, Makeup Your Mind was born. With the creation of my blog I knew I wanted to focus on beauty and self care, because focusing on self care through beauty is a way I can set myself apart from other bloggers in this space. In creating my blog this term I spent the most time focusing on ways to build my audience, as well as looking for more ways that I can stand out in the crowded beauty space.
Building my blog has been no easy feat, and it is far from over, but I feel that I have created a platform that I can build off of in the future. In this process of building my blog, I turned to Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus article “How to Start a Successful Blog in 2017” on their blog The Minimalists. This article outlines steps that a blogger can take to make their blog more successful. I assume that many of these tips come from experience, and I turned to a few of these in the process of building my blog. The first thing I notices was a list titled “How to build a blog in 5 easy steps”. I was drawn to both “Designing your blog to get your desired look and feel” (Milburn, Nicodemus) and “Write compelling content that adds value to readers” (Milburn, Nicodemus).While I found the list a whole to be eye opening and helpful,these points specifically reminded me to focus on the look and feel of my blog, as well as the content. As the article goes on it gives more tips on creating a successful blog, but it does not expand on its initial list, while I found this to be strange, the points on the list were still a pertinent point in the formations of my blog.
The first step I took in creating my online presence, was designing my blog. I went into the process knowing that I wanted my design to reflect the soft and welcoming theme that I wanted my posts to portray. I achieved this through soft colours and scripted fonts. However, some of the changes that I’ve made to the CSS of my blog have reverted back to default settings, and I haven’t had the time to change them back yet. This brings me to the challenges that I’ve faced in designing by blog. The design still needs work, but I feel that my content grows and matures, my design will too. The design process is impotent to me because before my audience reads anything, they will be greeted with the initial design and feel of my website, and I’m driven to make an impact with this initial view. Over the course of the term I’ve made some important changes, and I hope to make many more in the coming months.
Travis Geetz’s “Design Machines: How to Survive the Digital Apocalypse”, has shaped my view of design, and has also inspired me to be different. In this article, Gretz complains that companies that have streamlined the creation process of a website or blog have damned the internet to conformity and simplicity. He repeatedly states that we are living in a world where everything on the internet is the same, and this scares me. Though I am using a pretty standard WordPress theme to build my blog, I want to make it my own. I chose a simple theme so I can manipulate it and change it as I need to. Wanting to stand out is also motivated by my goal of building an audience, and Gretz’s article stuck with me because of this goal. I Don’t want people to come to my website and feel like they’ve seen it a thousand times. I want people to feel like they’re seeing something new, and I want them to be compelled to explore my blog. This goes back to how people view a blog before they actually read anything. Gretz’s article inspired me because I want to hook people with my unique and design, so they are excited and motivated to stay to read my posts.
Just because I’ve focused on design, doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten about content. Going back to Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus’ article, Compelling content is important in creating a successful blog, and its also important in building a strong and loyal audience. Stephanie Walden further addresses building an audience in her piece “7 Tips for building a social media audience”. This article helped me look at the specifics of building a successful and loyal audience. Specifically, it outlines picking platforms. This ended up being important, because going into the process of building my online presence, I didn’t realize that success on one platform, could build success on my other online platforms. The platform that I’ve put my efforts into, apart from my blog, has ended up being Instagram. This platform suits the makeup/beauty aspects of my blog, as well as the self care aspect. This is because both of these things can be successfully portrayed through images. Focusing on Instagram as proven to be a wise choice, because it has definitely driven traffic to my blog, and it is another place for me to have a presence and an audience online. I feel that my choice to focus on Instagram will further assist my blog because of my decision to use Instagram as a way of including my audience in my blog through #selfcaresunday. By using the hashtag and tagging me in posts, I will be able to interact with my audience on Instagram and include them in my blog. To build my audience I have focused on being different and I have focused on utilizing different online platforms to build my online presence.
So Far building my blog has been a challenge, but I hope to be able to make progress with it in the future. I plan to take my online presence beyond this class, and I hope to expand my presence and my audience in the future. My goal with my blog is to make people happy, and to make people feel good, and I feel like I’m on track to accomplish both of these things. I feel by blog will add value to my readers lives, whether it be a simple foundation recommendation, or a self care tip, I hope by expanding my presence and my blog, and I hope I can help many more people in the future.
Gretz, Travis. “Design Machines: How to Survive The Digital Apocalypse .” Louder Than 10, 10 July 2015, https://louderthanten.com/coax/design- Machines.
Millburn , Joshua Fields, and Ryan Nicodemus . “How To Start A Successful Blog In 2017.”The Minimalists , 3 Apr. 2017, http://www. Theminimalists.com/blog/
Walden, Stephanie. “7 Tips For Building A Social Media Audience . ashable , 24 Dec. 2013, http://mashable.com/2013/12/24/grow-social- audience/#0sSMyxkgWZqr.
I have always want to create a blog, for my writings, drawings, music, and everything I love and am passionate about. I never seem to be able to keep up and continue what I have started previously. As I brainstorm about the site in September, I want it to be about something that I am currently most passionate about so that it would be a motivation for me to continue.
My site is mainly about Korean language and K-pop, as these two are my current greatest passion. I have always liked learning about different cultures, and I believe that there’s nothing better than learning a culture through its language. Also, Korean culture has been rapidly expanding to countries outside of Asia in recent years, especially through K-pop. I thought it would be nice to write about the K-pop groups that I like and know well on my site as a way to promote the pop culture. It is also a good way for myself to express my passion in a way that I can’t really do in real life.
In John Suler’s The Online Disinhibition Effect, he talks about how the anonymity and invisibility of media users affect the behaviour of themselves. I think these two disinhibition matches with my reasons to post online most. I only started engaging in Korean and K-pop culture about 5 years ago, and there isn’t many people around me who share the passion. There are instances when I want to express how much this passion means to me, but only to be returned with ignorance and disinterest. It has caused me to have second thoughts before talking about it in real life in front of people. As I post online on my site, I am one step removed from the possible audiences of my blog. The audiences do not know me in real life, meaning that I don’t have to worry about how they see me as they read the posts. Also, it also gives them a choice of selection; they can simply leave the site if they are not interested. It gives me the choice of sharing this passion with people of similar interests.
The audiences I originally target are people who are interested in K-pop and Korean culture. I have not started promoting my site on any social media, so the views of the site are still pretty low. There has been audiences from different parts of the world according to Google Analytics, but the return rate has been low. I think it is because of the small amount of content that causes this, and also my irregular updates. I want to introduce the culture in a relaxed and fun way so that people wouldn’t be overwhelmed, which is why I decided to write about K-pop. I also try to keep the language I use in the posts relaxed and fun while being informative. By using appropriate photos and videos, it would possibly increase the audiences interest in the topic and posts they are reading.
Mike Allton, a content marketing practitioner, has written a post on benefits of using images in blogs. He mentions that images encourage social media sharing, creating emotional connection, and making the blog more memorable. I strongly believe in this because I have experienced the same effect. Most of the blogs I do follow are strong on the visual aspect, and I would visit the blogs solely for the images even if there is no updates. My blog is still a little bit weak on the variety of images. Also, the theme of my blog does not allow me to include images in the excepts of the posts, making it less attractive to audiences.
As I mentioned above, I have not expanded my blog to other mainstream social media. One of the reasons is because I want to separate my personal social media accounts from this blog, and I have yet to create social media accounts for my online self. In Mary Meeker’s report on internet trends, global internet user has grown from around 15% in 2010 to almost 30% in 2016. There’s also a huge increase in mobile phone usage from 0.4 hour per day to 3.1 hour per day. Nowadays, many people choose to access social media and other information through their smart phones. I think that it is important for me to further expand my online personality into other social media if I are to continue developing and elaborate my online presence.
Looking forward, I want to continue blogging and developing my online self. My first goal would be to develop a schedule for regular postings. This is one of the biggest flaw of my blog right now. To do so, I think I should have a number of posts contents ready to be post regularly so that even when I am too busy to write new posts, I can still post something. The other thing I want to do is to create other social media accounts and link it to the blog, so that I would have a more elaborated and wholesome online presence. This would be a bit more difficult to achieve because of the amount of work it involves, but I would like to try. I once thought that publishing online is not a difficult thing. But after actually trying my hands at it, I realise how complicated it could be if I do it seriously.
This has been an interesting experience for me as it was the first time I have ever created a website and been an administrator of my very own website. The site is based on the observations that my dog Koby is doing throughout her life. As the site is not based on my own personal experiences, I have to curate the site to cater to Koby as a character and animal (dog) lovers alike.
I created my publication using WordPress as it was the website editor that was required for the course. The website is about the everyday experiences of Koby the Beagle. She has both a Facebook and Instagram page prior to the creation of the website and the posts on those social media platforms address her as if it were her point of view (first person, I). However, my site addresses her as third person because I am the owner and administrator. It would make more sense since I am viewing her as separate entity and not assuming her thought process within the posts as if it were her own thoughts. The public that I have is catered toward animal lovers in general but more specifically dog/beagle lovers.
My content has mostly been pictures followed by short excerpts relating to or describing what Koby ‘may’ be thinking in regards to the picture. The three peer reviews that I have received have critiqued my blog posts in that they desired for more wordiness in describing the pictures posted on the site. The design of the site has been well received as per the three peer reviews. I strive for simplicity in the overall design of my website with the font, picture and colour choices. The burgundy bands along the sides of the site, I feel are a warm, comforting colour that makes visitors of the site more welcomed. The giant horizontal picture of Koby shows her whole body with her mouth open as if she were smiling. That decision creates an “AWW” feeling for my audience as it is the first thing they see when the page is opened. The value that I think I am providing for my audience is to hopefully make their day better by seeing a cute dog go about life in her point of view as told by the owner. Sometimes people need to take a break from their everyday lives and just enjoy viewing some Beagle pictures. The Google Analytics are not impressive as it only seems people that access the site are people from the class. The indication of visitors from other countries seem to only wander upon the site by accident and do not stay for long. I have comments on the site but they are only from the course instructor and fellow classmates. Obviously I would want more engagement on my site and I believe this can be achieved by linking the website to Koby’s social media pages. On Facebook 76% of people frequent the platform daily while 51% of Instagram users frequent that platform (Pew Institute, 2017).
Looking back, my publication has been consistent with weekly posts both for the blog and class portion respectively. I feel it is crucial to create an acceptable design right off the bat as then you can focus more on the content. The design has remained the same since the beginning of the term and I do not intend on changing it unless there is a new theme that I come across. Looking forward I will try to connect with other pet bloggers as they can help promote my site (Kelley, 2014). My niche is essentially pet lovers with my voice as the main speaker in the blog posts. The variety of pictures is what I think keeps my blog interesting so that may benefit me but I need to remain patient and keep plugging away and commit to having Koby’s blog succeed (Gray, 2017). I will continue to blog until my domain expires. The reasoning is that although I wish to be patient to grow the site, I believe I will have more success on Instagram as the reach is much better and she has many followers that consistently ‘like’ pictures that I post. Not to bash personal websites as a whole, but I believe it is difficult to promote a personal website unless there is external help like existing social media pages or promotion from recognized pet bloggers. I appreciate the blog creation process and am proud of the design of the site but in the end I believe the success will be greater in a platform that I can be more committed to with my time.
Gray, A. (2017, May 30). 4 Things to Consider When You’re Starting a Pet Blog. Petful. Retrieved from: https://www.petful.com/misc/starting-a-pet-blog/
Kelley, J.A. (2015, Sept. 28). How Do You Become A Successful Pet Blogger. Blog Paws. Retrieved from: http://blogpaws.com/executive-blog/blogging-social-media-info/how-to-get-traffic-to-your-blog/how-do-you-become-a-successful-pet-blogger/
Pew Research Center. (2017). Social Media Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/
This isn’t my first rodeo with blogging. In fact, CONCEPT was created to be an extension of my pre-existing public online presence, with the purpose of being a creative outlet that focuses on my adventures of being a digital content creator and micro-influencer. It’s not just a place to house my creativity though, it’s a space to tell the story of behind the scenes of my Insta life.
Seeing as my audience is likely to come from my Instagram account, the design choices of this blog is made to match the aesthetic that people would expect from my work: minimal, clean, simple, neutral. Knowing that my audience comes from Instagram and that it is an image dominated platform, I have made it a point to ensure that my editorial work on here has a lot of imagery integrated into my posts.
When I first started with blogging and content creating on Instagram there weren’t any resources available to help navigate the industry. All you would see from content creators was a highlight reel of their life that is very “inspiring”, but unattainable. I have always strived to be authentic and have transparency with my audience. I aim for my content to be realistic and attainable, while still being inspiring. My intention has always been for my content to be relatable to my audience, and for this blog to be a creative space that not only myself, but my audience as well, can find themselves in (Warner, 2002). My hope is to inform, inspire and enable people to create.
There are two categories of questions that I receive very often on Instagram: how I built my following, and the process behind my photos. I realized that people don’t want to just consume the content I am creating, but that they want to know how I create so that they can do it as well. And so, my target niche audience isn’t just described as the modern Millennial woman on Instagram that is interested in fashion and travel content, but those who are curious about the process behind the creation of the content that they enjoy. My “instahacks” posts are catered to address these questions that I so often receive, and it is this kind of feedback that led me to create the category in the first place.
When I dive into my Google analytics, my most read post on the blog is my essay, The Rise of Fake Influencers. Seeing how this post performed in my Google analytics really helped affirm my decision to create a category for “instahacks”. Although the essay was written specifically for posiel, it was a topic that was relevant for my audience and it actually fit into the whole behind the scenes of content creating that I’m aiming for. I hope to add to this section of the blog and really develop this category more. For now, CONCEPT will continue to be where I house these posts and test them out, but eventually I do see myself migrating them to my other blog where it will reach a greater audience. Eventually, I will probably merge the two blogs into one, but I haven’t fully figured that out yet.
Prior to this semester, everything I knew about publication was self-taught or assumed. I have learned and gained such valuable insight into all the different aspects of successfully maintaining my online self through blogging. This information I have learned is what I wish I had been available to me when I first started publishing via Instagram and my other blog.
Moving forward I will most definitely continue to blog and expand my online presence. I know content creating has allowed me to influence people, and that this comes with a certain responsibility. I take pride in the content I create and the mark I leave while doing so (Chachra, 2015). Content creating has allowed me to speak into and impact the lives of people I haven’t even met. Furthermore, it has opened up so many doors for me and I’m certain it will continue to open up opportunities elsewhere in my life (Lindsay, 2014).
Moving forward, I hope to dive further into finding a way that works well for me to monetize my content, both on my blog and on Instagram. I have grown my audience on Instagram to be over 30,000 people, but I really want to work on bringing them through to my blog. I don’t own Instagram and it could disappear or fade out of popularity at any time, which feels very unstable to me. I would love to turn this into a full time gig one day, but in order to do so in a sustainable manner, I need my audience to be on a platform that I own. I’m excited for next semester in PUB 201, which will certainly help with this process.
Just like my Instagram account, which also started as something just for fun, this blog has surprised me in a lot of ways. I don’t know where this blog will take me, if it will evolve into anything, if it will grow to have an audience, etc. But maybe none of that really matters? After all, it is my creative outlet. When I describe my audience, I’m really describing myself as well – which makes sense, because although I am writing with my audience in mind, I am ultimately writing for myself. Audience of 1 or 30,000, it won’t matter if I am creating for myself. This is only the beginning.
Chachra, D. (2015). Why I Am Not a Maker. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/why-i-am-not-a-maker/384767/
Lindsay, K. (2014). UNPOPULAR OPINION: These YouTube authors are ruining the publishing industry. Retrieved from https://www.xojane.com/issues/zoella-girl-online-youtube-authors
Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics (abbreviated version). Quarterly Journal of Speech,88(4), 413-425.
Music has the capacity to change the way we see the world. At its core, it has arguably more universal ability to evoke emotion than any other art form available. Many find refuge through music. Many find excitement, solace and inspiration for their own daily lives through the complex melodies hitting their eardrums – a notion that has been around for centuries and spans across most, if not all worldwide civilizations. The genre of folk has stood the test of time throughout history, with many different cultures creating unique definitions of the word through their own interpretations of musical communication. In the twentieth century however, folk music began to gain momentum towards becoming a cornerstone of the rapidly expanding music spectrum in Western culture.
Through the act of strumming a guitar and crooning a simple combination of melodies and lyrics, an unfathomable number of new genres were born. The emotional connectivity and intimacy of the performances appealed to a demographic of individuals seeking a sense of relatability and authenticity within their choices of music and with such technological innovations such as the record player becoming more widespread, these songs were able to reach listeners on a scale much larger than ever before. Before the infiltration of mass marketing, political opposition and genre fragmentation there was the humble practice of presenting one’s emotions through song – the core of this practice becoming the pinnacle of authenticity that would constantly be pursued by many of the subsequent folk artists to come. Rodnitzky (1999) states that when the great Pete Seeger was asked to define folk as a genre, he replied saying,
“If folks sing them, they’re folk songs.”(p.105).
The notion of storytelling through song has long been one favoured by the traditional definition of folk music across a spectrum of cultures and continues to be a factor imperative in securing a proper place amongst the ranks of iconic folk songs.
The revitalization of folk music in Western culture came at a time where individuals belonging to a society that emphasized conformity and compliance spurred on a phase of creative revolutions that gave way to some of the most profound musical movements in history. The notion of using music to appeal to the masses, project a message of opposition and seek a greater sense of authenticity is something the world of folk has been able to boast more prominently above the rest.
The following pages will dive the folk revival period of the twentieth century and into the modern music built out of the genre spanning from the early 1940’s into present day.
In this paper I will explore the evolution of folk music as it relates to certain ideologies of authenticity and comments on mainstream music culture. Furthermore, I will argue that folk music, even through evolving digital advancements and changing consumption patterns, exists as a commentary and opposition to the generic elements of mainstream music culture.
The early part of the twentieth century’s entertainment landscape created an emphasis on big band, orchestral and spectacularly theatrical genres of sound to maintain the spotlight when it came to the musical tendencies of the masses. The era of post-WWII paved the way for a new stripped-down version of music to become more readily available, a banner marking the beginning of a series of sociocultural movements signifying the rejection of conformity among a society that swayed towards tradition.
Cohen et al. (2014) describe the beginning of this revival, discussing how folk music played a role in the 1950’s cultural shift, with many wrongly characterizing this era as “the bland leading the bland.” They go on to discuss how folk, along with other variations of rock and roll such as rockabilly, doo-wop, country and rhythm and blues were all large parts of the ubiquitous counterculture beginning to emerge following the Second World War and eventually gaining more traction towards the explosion of musical counterculture during the Cold War era (p.3).
With artists such as Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly paving the way for the acoustic guitar and lyrics pairing to gain prominence, the folk scene was quickly beginning to develop a growing community of followers and churning out a repertoire of songs with such a depth, that they continue to be covered and redone today. Lead Belly’s versions of ‘Goodnight Irene’ and ‘House of the Rising Sun’ embody what folk purists might describe as core examples of authentic music and have remained incredibly iconic to both listeners and fellow folk icons – with both songs being covered by bands such as The Weavers and The Animals, respectively.
Additionally, Cohen et al. (2014) provide an example towards the first conceptions of the protest song coming to fruition, through the medium of folk music, around the latter part of the 1940’s. They state, “In late 1945, (Pete) Seeger, fresh out of the military, formed ‘People’s Songs’ with a group of left-wing musicians, such as Woody Guthrie, which promoted a musical agenda supporting labour unions, civil rights, economic justice and world peace.” (p.15).
This type of organization towards the concept of peaceful protest through music would only be a small taste of what was to come in terms of the genre becoming a beacon of oppositional power. The fifties established a standard of what folk music was supposed to bring to the table in terms of formal structure, but allowed for the genre to constantly revamp itself, eventually into a vessel for change and social revolution.
As the ball kept rolling and the folk community began to realize the influx of popularity that came with instilling a sense of authenticity within the listener, there was an expectation of what the medium was to bring to the table in terms of artistry.
The classic string instrument, microphone, voice and lyrics cocktail was something of an established tradition within folk music culture as it drifted into the 1960’s. However, the historically telling aspect of folk culture is that it is constantly challenging the norm. The paradoxical effect of a culture pushing the envelope of change while upholding a preconceived notion that the music should stay ‘pure to it’s roots’ was exactly what it took to create such a controversy over Bob Dylan’s iconic performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Music festival.
At this point in time, halfway into the sixties and seeing music as an absolute force to be reckoned with when it came to lighting the flame of oppositional social activism, it boasts somewhat ironic to see just how shaken up the folk community could become at the slightest modification of musical ‘norms’.
When Dylan took the stage in 1965, the crowd turned to chaos when he cast his typical acoustic troubadour persona aside and began to play ‘Maggie’s Farm’ with an electric guitar a full band accompanying him. The audience, accustomed to seeing Dylan with no more than a microphone, harmonica and an acoustic guitar strapped to his chest, were thrown into what Wald (2015) describes as a “maelstrom of conflicting impressions.” He discusses the night further by referencing a New York Times piece stating that Dylan was “roundly booed by folk-song purists, who considered this innovation the worst sort of heresy.” Additionally, Wald claims that in several accounts of the story, “Pete Seeger, the gentle giant of the folk scene, tried to cut the sound cables with an axe. Some people were dancing, some were crying, many were dismayed and angry, many were cheering, many were overwhelmed by the ferocious shock of the music or astounded by the negative reactions (Par. 2).
This type of commotion alone highlights just how much American folk artists had begun to etch themselves into the timeline of music history. Moreover, it brings to light the paradoxical effects that came with an audience so devoted to a genre built on change and revitalisation, but refusing to accept any modifications towards the standards of music set out by a handful of iconic artists at the time.
Hillstrom and Hillstrom-Collier (2010) cite music critic Robert Palmer, stating, “What Dylan in 1965 managed to do was blast himself free from the intellectual complacency of the folk scene while daring the rock fans to listen [to the lyrics]” (p.28)
The musical landscape was shifting so rapidly and so dynamically that the notion of inspiring change through such a powerful force became the forefront of youth culture in the 1960’s. With folk artists gaining popularity in the times leading up to the sixties, once the presidential epochs of Lyndon Johnson/Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War took hold, they quickly became a beacon to a demographic of frustrated and unsettled masses, seeking a way to provoke change and oppose the powers of government.
Protest Through Song
Youth culture during the 1960’s had become a force unlike anything society in modern Western culture had seen prior. The small post-war grace period was over, industrialization and the pressure to a build a life upon a direction of compliancy was no longer something the up-and-coming generation was willing to tolerate.
The children of the baby-boomers were either on the cusp of, or had reached adulthood and most prominently, the United States government’s escalation of the movement to fight communism in Vietnam had provided a massive catalyst for the launch of music as a way to counter violence and oppression.
Candaele (2012) describes this phenomenon, stating that “youth ‘counterculture’ carved out new spaces for experimentation and alternative views about what constituted a good society, while a New Left made up of civil rights and anti-war activists developed as the war in Vietnam dragged out and became increasingly bloody, confounding, and ultimately unpopular (Par. 6).
Folk music had gained such a vast audience through the sheer amount of emotion evoked during such a tumultuous time, that the community had begun to stray away from creating music to counter the generic aspects of pop culture and towards creating anthems leading the masses into a frenzy of social, political and cultural change.
Protests, marches and picketing were on the rise all across college campuses, and eventually branching out into the general American public. The youth of America had began to shift their focus onto voicing their opposition towards the acts of what they interpreted as senseless violence, particularly hitting closer to home due to the implementation of a conscription process for the men belonging to this generation of opposers.
Carr-Wilcoxson (2010) discusses one particular showing of protest at the Washington Monument on April 17th 1965, when over twenty thousand civilians arrived to show their solidarity against the war effort, most notably including folk icons such as Judy Collins, Joan Baez and Phil Ochs. The singing of era anthems such as “We Shall Overcome” and diplomatic attempts at anti-bombing negotiations marked this event as one of many sizeable organizations for peace throughout the years that would follow (p.28-29).
Moreover, songs such as “Blowin’ In the Wind” and Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” directly address the prevalent issue of conflict in succinct and authentic terms, allowing for listeners and fellow artists alike to latch onto the words and drive their cause further through the inspiration that was being handed to them:
Come gather around people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
And if your breath to you is worth saving
Then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing
-Bob Dylan, 1964
Dylan’s poetic patterns of song writing allowed for not only previously established fans of folk music to identify with the call to change in songs like this one, but also created a sense of emotional authenticity and relatability that was easily taken on to define a generation of peaceful – yet forceful – anti-war involvement.
As Hillstrom and Hillstrom-Collier (2012) explain, “these songs did not just react to events, they actually inspired new actions and levels of participation in the anti-war and civil rights movement.” (p.23)
Taking the protest song movement even a step further, was the song “For What It’s Worth” By Buffalo Springfield:
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
-Buffalo Springfield, 1966
Highlighted by Carr-Wilcoxson (2010), these lyrics followed by the refrain that sings “I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down,” not only provide a commentary on the goings on of protest culture, but boast the need of awareness into the issues.
The lyrics emphasize a need for goal-oriented opposition, not merely allowing for each side to stand against each other, wave their picket signs and expect change to simply come as it may (p. 59).
Additionally, the discussion regarding mass gatherings of youth counterculture through music would be a falling short if not to examine the 1969 phenomenon that was Woodstock. The iconic three-day music and arts festival held on a dairy farm in the town of Bethel, New York, brought to the stage some of the most iconic rock and folk artists of that time, singing their songs of social change and defining the era of non-conformity through loud music, free love, mind-altering drugs and togetherness.
“The ‘counterculture’ emphasis on ‘doing your own thing’ and rejecting the ‘uptight’ morality of older generations was in full swing at Woodstock (Hillstrom, Hillstrom-Collier, 2010, p.74). With folk acts like Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performing alongside rock legends such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Santana, the festival was the ultimate gathering of some of the iconic talent that defined a generation of change.
The sixties and early seventies brought some of the most massive and influential social revolutions of the twentieth century. The groundbreaking method of using song as one of the most forceful catalysts for activism was not a new concept, however it grew to a level unseen before this time. An era of non-conformity matched with a level of political unrest and distrust from one of the biggest demographics of that time created a new use for folk music – to speak the truth of the people, provide a non-violent vehicle for political opposition and to contribute to the revitalisation of youth counterculture as a whole.
Modern-day Folk and Musical Subcultures
Almost fifty years after the golden age of folk, the mainstream concept of music has shifted substantially. Gone are the days of young Dylan and Baez inspiring thousands to rise up against the oppressive institutions and gone are the days where only a small handful of artists, boasting an even smaller repertoire of folk-inspired genres, ruled the popular music scene. A sense of authenticity and intimacy no longer seems to be valued in today’s popular music scene, with factors such as mass commercialization, digitization and genre fragmentation contributing to their downfall.
However, as it always has, folk music has learned to adapt with its circumstances and take on a new set of standards and values. Although the mass influence of protest music and folk singers gaining legions of fans may no longer be the norm, folk music and the demographics that consume it have figured out ways to maintain the sense of authentic emotional connectivity with the songs, lyrics and artists that create them.
Musical subcultures have been around since musicians had desire for uniqueness and listeners had ability to demand choice. McGwin (2013) discusses musical subcultures in a sense that they are “acting as a solution to a problem or contradiction in the dominant culture, and served as a way for its members to resist through ritual and style” (p.1). Although this notion of counterculture is not nearly new, the difference between the sixties and today is that folk music is no longer striving to resist political power, but is instead striving to counter the generic, mass consumer culture attached to much of today’s pop music.
Over the last half-century, the shift in digital technology has been astounding. The patterns of rapid introduction and replacement of old technologies has been a massive contributor to the changing landscape of music production, with the main form of music playing technology becoming almost obsolete every ten to fifteen years. From records to tapes, from tapes to CDs and from CDs to file sharing and digitally downloaded content, the music industry and genres within it have had to fight to adapt in order to remain relevant.
In today’s media market, music is no longer something that remains tangible in the same ways it was back in the days of obtaining albums by simply walking down to the local record shop. We can be selective about the content we want, we can select songs individually to add to our repertoire and we can access all of this for free via the many copyright evading loopholes that file sharing provides.
This, in addition to the ever-growing emphasis on consumer culture, had contributed to the mass commercialization of popular artists. Meier (2006) notes that within this social climate of consumer culture, many mainstream artists have taken on co-marketing strategies for themselves and they products they align themselves with.
The use of mediums such as television to advertise products, all the while promoting the faces and music of mainstream performers as a brand for the product, provide a marketing cycle financially beneficial for both the artist and the big corporations (p. 55). This type of cross promotion has become wildly prevalent in modern music, creating a culture built upon emphasizing capitalist promotion of products over emotional connectivity and authentic content.
Furthermore, content is being created and churned out so frequently that musicians now have to fight to stay relevant. In a culture that upholds the process of constantly searching for the next best thing, it can be next to impossible to maintain an attentive and devoted group of followers when the content is generic and easily replicated like many pop songs are.
This is where subcultures come in. Over the decades, subcultures have existed in opposition to something – whether that’s to a system of power, a set of constructed values or even another genre of music.
As aforementioned, the subculture of folk music no longer relies on political resistance as the forefront of their audience appeal. By upholding similar standards of authenticity however, they have managed to maintain a sort of refuge from the tendencies of disconnect that can come with generic, mass produced mainstream music.
Although the digitization of music culture has created widespread fragmentation within the genre itself, the folk community has managed to take this in stride by widening the boundaries of what can be defined within it.
Additionally, with much more of the population straying towards pop music and consumer-directed content, folk music has learned to adapt to smaller fan bases by maintaining the sense of intimacy through performing. Smaller venues, crowds and followings may have come with the effects genre fragmentation, but if a community devoted to avoiding the mainstream wants to stay true to its core values in a digital consumer world, this is sometimes means sacrificing the mass followings that once defined a prior generation of folk artists.
In conclusion, the last century has brought about a massive shift into what can be defined as folk music. Through the diffusion of genres, the rise of musicians at the forefront of political movements and the digitization of the music industry itself, folk has managed to adapt and remain malleable to the ever-changing landscape of musical expectations.
It has inspired the creative processes of thousands, thrived as a beacon of hope during tumultuous periods of history and provided a cornerstone of counter-culture within a world so devoted to exploiting music for its consumer properties.
Although it is not to say that the folk community had not resisted the processes of revitalisation in the past, as devotees occasionally have had the propensities to cause a commotion over breaking a set of standards set out by a small handful of musical pioneers. What has remained true however, is the sense of peaceful opposition the twentieth and twenty-first century folk music has maintained over the course of its lifetime.
Whether it is a differentiation from societal norms, conformist culture, political oppression or mainstream consumer habits, folk music has upheld its values of fighting closed-mindedness and resisting power. A sense of authenticity within both the musician and the listener comes from the place of intimate emotional connectivity that folk music thrives upon and is not something that cannot be branded, mass produced or diminished by anyone who chooses to oppose it.
Candaele, K. (2012). The Sixties and Protest Music. Retrieved March 27, 2017, from https://www.gilderlehrman.org
Cohen, R. D., & Donaldson, R. C. (2014). Roots of the revival: American and British folk music in the 1950s. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.
Hillstrom, K., & Hillstrom, L. C. (2013). Woodstock. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics.
McGwin, Katharine, “Music Subcultures Online: The Indie Folk Scene and How Facebook Influences Participation” (2013). Open Access Master’s Theses. Paper 44. http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/theses/44
Meier, L. (2006). In Concert: The Coordination of Popular Music, Youth Practices, and Lifestyle Marketing (Master’s thesis). Simon Fraser University.
Rodnitzky, J. L. (1999). The sixties between the microgrooves: Using folk and protest music to understand American history, 1963–1973. Popular Music and Society,23(4), 105-122.
Wald, E. (2014, July 24). The Night Bob Dylan Went Electric. Time Magazine.
Before this spring in 2017, I never imagined I could do my own online publication. Publication has been quite an abstract form for me, and I had always believe that this process would probably involve many different professional people with abilities of typing, editing and printing. The most important part I can imagine is printing. However, the fact exceeded my imagination that I created my own online publication and able to let people from all over the world to access it without printing. At the same time, I learned a lot of skills and gained experiences of online publishing.
At the beginning, I didn’t know that to build a blog is also the way of publication. Blog creation becomes a fashion that started more than ten years ago, I can still remember that I built my own blog when I was in middle school. what’s more, people who create very popular blogs can even gain lots of earnings which is quite similar to the popular instagramers. For the website I created this time, I started with registered the domain name, and at the same time, make decision of the subject of the website and this teaches me a lesson. Since my domain name is “yunkecpub” which involves yunke that is my name and pub refer to publication, but the subject of the website is movie and film review which took me two weeks to finally make the decision and has no connection with the domain name. I believe this could be one of the reason why this website don’t attract much audiences, it’s better for the domain name to register after setting up the subject of the website.
There are two important tools I learned about online publication, they are Google Analytics and Google AdSense. These are the new technology that I didn’t have any knowledge before. And I was very surprised by the function and convenience of them. It’s very easy to install both tools, just by registering and adding both tools on the administration page of the website, they can be used for free. For the Google Analytics, it’s a tool that can monitor the viewers of your website, and summarize statistics about what devices the viewers were using, where were they, what language were they using, when did they view the website and more. This is very helpful when people want to make adjustment of their website and want to check their actual readers. The Google AdSense is a tool that can implement advertisements on your website, and it can help you earn money automatically. Although not every website can earn lots of money when this depend the click rate and flow rate of the website, it gave me an idea of how to cooperate advertisement sponsors with online publication.
Since the subject of my website is movies and film reviews, I was actually inspired by a Chinese website which allow many people to leave movie reviews and book reviews. This website has a name—–Douban, it is a big website involving information about music, movies, books and so on. When I want to know more information about the movie, especially when I want to know other people’s opinion of the movie, I sometimes check this website. By reading film reviews online, I can get more ideas about the stories and the logics that I don’t understand. This is why I want to create a website that post my blogs and film reviews.
For my imagined public, I expected they are readers who love to watch movies, who interested in movies that comes out recently, and who love to share views of movies. Nevertheless, in the earlier stage of the website creation, the most of my actual publics are my friends, classmates, instructor and people who accidently dropped in. There are some more expected readers gained later when I have more and more information on the website. By checking the Google Analytics, something surprised me that my readers are from all over the world, viewers came from countries include Canada, Malaysia, Brazil, Egypt, the United States and so on. However, there are still fewer viewers of my website than I expected.
For the appearance of this blog, I choose dark color as the background. This background can leaves viewers an impression like watching a movie. And I used one of the famous fantasy movie picture as the head image of the blog, especially when the expressions of the characters on the image are quite catching, lead people’s interest into the blog. For the content of the blog, I’ve post four film reviews from the movies I watched during this season. There are all coming out recently. I think I’ve providing a resource for people to get to know something about the new movies and at the same time, know something about me and about my personal views.
After created this website and learned skills of building up online publication for this term, publication became a much more solid idea for me. Publication is not just only the form of printing, it’s now also digitalized and integrated in every individuals’ life. I would continue work for my online publication, not only to attract readers but also to gain more online publishing experiences in order to correspond to the current trend.
豆瓣. (n.d.). Retrieved April 07, 2017, from https://www.douban.com/
F. (2012, September 07). On Self-Publishing and Amazon. Retrieved April 07, 2017, from http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com/post/31026577075/on-self-publishing-and-amazon
Erin Kissane for Issue № 4. (n.d.). Contents May Have Shifted. Retrieved April 06, 2017, from http://contentsmagazine.com/articles/contents-may-have-shifted/
This semester may be coming to an end yet, my online publication will go on. Over the last three months, I was introduced to the world of online publishing and given a chance to create a place that was solely mine – sukhisthename.com. It became a place to share my favourite recipes, new beauty regimes, and […]
Although I was aware of what this course was called, as well as the content it would consist of, I never really thought that I would be able to consider myself an online publisher by the end of this term. But really—that’s what I’ve been doing this whole time. In some respects, that’s what I have been...
First of all, I would like to start with introducing my online publication. My website is about my life as a barista working at a café in Vancouver. I have two main categories on my website: Coffee and Stories. My purpose for the first category is to introduce some basic knowledge on coffee via YouTube video links and to introduce some featured cafés in Vancouver to my audiences. I aimed to write down some interesting stories in our café and to encourage my audiences to share their stories with me under the second category.
When I first created my website, I did not think thoroughly about who my potential audiences could be. It was designed for myself as an online cyber infrastructure to reflect on my working life. I told my colleagues and my friends about this course and this website so I assumed that my potential audiences could be them. Also, since a lot of my blogs are on coffee so I assumed that some coffee lovers in Vancouver could also be my potential audiences. In sum, I want my audiences to know that they are viewing the life of a real person and I hope that they could find something in common with me.
To fit my topic on coffee and to fit my potential audience, I purposely customized my website. The theme I chose is called “Pique Café”. This theme was originally designed for small coffee shops so its head image and its background color are matching with my topic. However, I customized it for my own plan. For example, I edited the “About Me” page to make sure that any potential audience would be clear on who I am and what the website could be. Also, for each post, I tried my best to use images from my real life to emphasize that the website is about me, a real person in real life. Moreover, I also tag each of my post by using keywords such as coffee, café or barista to make it more searchable online.
I think I have provided some values to my colleagues. After viewing my site, one of my colleague once told me that he felt very satisfied to be a barista and to do what he loves to do. I am very glad to hear it. Also, more importantly, I think this website provided a lot of values to myself. Before taking this course, I have no experience with creating and maintaining a blog. Now I have learnt how to apply for a domain, how to customize a theme and how to solve some technical problems by myself. Also, before taking this course, I did not often write personal narratives in English. Now this website helps me to practice my writing
Looking back, I found one important problem with my website. It is too self-oriented. First, I focused more on how to write a nice story which is for self-expression. I did not think a lot about how to design the website to fit the needs of my audience. Also, I was somehow reluctant to learn about the commercial side of publishing. When we were talking about the marketing and monetization of the website, I actually felt not very comfortable to think about making money from my website. Perhaps, this reflected the idealistic I who believed that as a publisher, we should focus more on content. If we created valuable and responsible content, then it would attract audiences by itself.
During our classes, I have learnt that design matters. As we discussed in class, typography had different personalities and we should choose wisely according to our content. An interesting research supported this by showing that people who saw the statements in Baskerville were more likely to agree with it. To contrast, Helvetica and Comic Sans are not able to inspire confidence.
Also, from the data on Google Analytics and the data on WordPress, I found that my website was only viewed by a few people. I realized this may due to my reluctance to marketing my site. For now, as a personal blog, it may seems acceptable. However, what if I need to promote a professional website? While I was reading the two course materials on the shutting down of The Toast, I found that the reason for shutting down, as the Co-founders Nicole Cliffe and Mallorie Ortberg announced, was that they couldn’t make enough money to continue. I started to rethink about the meaning of publishing and to reconsider about monetization.
I still believe in the significance of content. What I am afraid is that publishers spend too much time on marketing and on monetization that they forgot to maintain the quality of content. As Travis Gertz criticized in her post, nowadays too much content are produced every day and publishers tend not to actually care about content. They only care about what content can do for them. In my opinion, valuable content and monetization should not be in conflict with each other. It is our responsibility to maintain the balance between the two.
Carpenter, Shelby. “The Toast Is Toast: Literary Humor Site Shuts Down Over Ad Revenue Woes.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 13 May 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.
Gertz, Travis. “Design Machines.” Louder Than Ten. N.p., 10 July 2015. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.
Thirteen weeks later, hours spent on end, and after many changes of the website’s layout, theme, and intended audience, www.chunkofkevin.com is created as a platform for technologically driven individuals, family, and close friends to find out a bit of my own life, such as my passions, and interests in a website blog format. As an online publisher in this inclusive and open space, I have learned a multitude of lessons, including a variety of different perspectives, monetization aspects, and analytical tendencies that have bolstered my understanding of what was needed to build a website for a professional and leisure setting. At no point, would I have thought that publishing content could be this difficult. Specifically, I will be discussing the difficulties of creating my website in detail, such as the creational aspects, finding a targeted audience, designing captivating visuals, understanding analytics and monetization strategies, as well as underlining the ways in which publishing has impacted my outlook on my own life.
Firstly, I wanted my website to be strictly for business professionals who want to explore and learn more about other businesses, specifically large institutions that are already established. My initial impression was to sift through company’s financial statements and identify ways in which a business can increase their efficiency, which can come in the form of cutting down the supply chain costs and optimizing their pricing strategies. It was a tall task, but I thought I could do it. The first to weeks were the hardest as content creations became more and more difficult and ambiguous. The decision to explore the financial statements of businesses was exciting, however, siphoning through business statements became time consuming and endlessly tiring. Instead, I ended up creating an article on “Vainglory” as an upcoming “eSport” in the gaming scene and its possibility to penetrate the mobile gaming market, as an official “eSport”. After that, the content creation process translated into my life and how it related to technology. I created several articles on my PC gaming build experience and have thoroughly enjoyed creating biweekly content that engages the audience to keep reading new articles that come out. In the end, content creation became less of a chore, rather, it was a way to update my following with new things that have happened in my life.
In regards to the design aspects, Matthew Butterick’s quote on, “send[ing] all your readers to [the] Medium, [and] hav[ing] your work permanently entangled with other stories [on] [the] Medium” (Louderthanten, 2015) provided me a new perspective on seeking to improve the design of my website. Rather than creating an enticing visual aspect to my blog, I realized that my visuals and theme needed to be consistent with my actual content and was required to match my vision. As a way for people to identify and connect with my life, each article post was quite lengthy and provided a lot of effort to create, which was also why I ended up changing my theme from an ordinary blog style into large visuals that catered to fostering emotional connection and investment into the author from the home page. Much like any other website, the content matches the theme very well.
In terms of adding value, my website is a place where people can identify with, connect to other people, and gives an update through the lens of technology to the reader. Looking at the last few weeks in which Google Analytics took its time to find the viewing patterns of the normal viewer, I identified a few key characteristics that stood out. Usually, when a viewer looks at the website, the behaviour tended to remain consistent, where he/she would click through to 3 different pages before exiting my website. Furthermore, it indicated that my previous design model was counter-productive, where a curious reader had to dive deep into links before finding what he/she wanted off the front page. So, I decided to hide posts on the first page to reveal my most important posts that people enjoyed viewing in the past. In regards to monetization, a quote from a Forbes article on “The Bread”, which is a famous blog that amassed 1 million unique visitors in the year of 2014, underlined the situation of online revenue generating ads as “stretching [the] [company] too thin” (Forbes, 2016) where people would often use AdBlock to ignore ads that the website places in front of them, reducing the effectiveness of ads. With this, I targeted my monetization techniques by focusing on paid affiliations with brands and sellers such as Amazon and NCIX, providing a link to the readers to purchase these orders directly with a personalized link that gives a percentage of the purchase as a commission. I believe that as my website grows, I will be able to use a variety of methods to allow for multiple outlets for advertising, such as subscribing to a weekly newsletter that has targeted advertisements as well as creating a YouTube video to generate a larger following.
I have been asking for feedback from my family, specifically my dad, where he really liked the large visuals and attracting font usage for the site. Having heard that feedback, I really enjoyed the idea of people commenting, so I added a little paragraph at the end of each post that encouraged commenting or emailing me any questions regarding to a new PC build, questions, and struggles with their tech problems. This has influenced me to become more aware of my surroundings and to recognize the valuable perspectives of others, instead of maintaining a small focus on my way of running a website. Although I fully agree on the New Yorker’s perspective that “anonymity can boost a certain kind of creative thinking and lead to improvements in problem-solving” (New Yorker, 2013), however, in many cases, a level of trust must be established before hearing and interpreting feedback that is constructive to the environment. Using this, I plan on using both an anonymous input form as well as email to receive a larger and more diverse comment base that can help improve both creatively and constructively.
Overall, my website has been a great learning experience that continues to push me forward to create engaging content to my following. Ever since the beginning of the term, I have learned that there is more than meets the eye, as there is so much work behind the scenes to maintain, update, and change constantly for a website that thrives off the viewership of others. In the future, I plan on keeping my website as a place to store my interest of technology. In the future, I plan on looking for affiliations, as well as ways to adapt my webpage to be more suitable for all devices, which include mobile users and tablet users alike to create a more integrated platform to view my content.
Fake news are not the products of the modern era. In the past, politicians also use propaganda to fit their own needs. Also, in some countries, traditional media such as newspapers and magazines are controlled and censored by the government who would only approve contents that are not against the government. However, the reason why fake news became an important issue was due to the development of Internet and social media platforms as we are entering the digital era. Fake news always exist but their power grows when the method to spread information changed.
How Did Internet and Social Media Platforms Influence Fake News?
The development of Internet and social media platforms had cleared a lot of barriers on the publishing and the spreading of fake news. In an article from The Telegraph, the author James Carson summarized three ways how social media revolution influenced fake news.
First, the creation of Facebook, Twitter and WordPress decreased the cost to publish and to distribute news. For traditional paper media, it may take hours or days to collect information, to edit content and to print those contents on paper. However, with the assistance of social media platform, it would save a lot of time and money to publish information. Second, various social media platforms had increased the accessibility of fake news to a large amount of audiences. Also, because of the lowered cost, publishers of fake news would not worry about the building of trust and the consequence of losing trust. Third, it was difficult to regulate online social media by law. Most publishers of fake news are anonymous individuals. Without regulation and restriction, online publishers would not worry about taking responsibility of their behaviors.
In my opinion, I agree with the author. The social media platform had speed up the information exchange in a good way. However, speeding up the sharing of fake news was one of its side effect.
How Powerful is Fake News?
A group of scholars from Stanford University had conducted studies on the role of fake news on 2016 US presidential election.
First, in order to test the significance of social media, they conducted a post-election online survey among 1200 people. The results showed that only 14 per cent of Americans considered social media as the most important sources of information during the election (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017). Later, they also used fake stories and placebo stories to conduct an experiment. After a series of calculation, they estimated that a single fake news story had a persuasion rate equivalent to seeing 36 television campaign ads (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017).
In my opinion, we are surrounded by high technology and digital products in urban cities. We become attached to online social media platform to the extent that we ignored the other sources of information. We became biased and even tend to omit the fact that there are certain per cent of people who still rely on newspaper or TV as dominant source of information. Therefore, I believed that the power of fake news could be huge but it was also limited only to people who frequently use social media platforms.
What Can We Do with Fake News?
Understanding the role of social media platforms on fake news and the limited influence of fake news, the next question would be what we could do with fake news.
As a person who could not live without social media platform, I would suggest myself and other users of social media platform to raise awareness of fake news. This is the first step. Lipkin is the executive director of National Association for Media Literacy Education. She believed that “Education is key and is our most powerful weapon against falsehoods.” (Padgett, 2017). We should understand that somehow we are more or less biased but the key to avoid falling in the trap of fake news is education.
On the other hand, I think it was also the responsibility of the social media platforms to make regulations on their users’ online behaviors. Some may worry that it could damage the freedom of speech of their users but I believed that our online behavior should be regulated as our offline behaviors. Purposely spreading false news should be identified and banned. Recently, Facebook began using third-party fact-checkers and gave its users the ability to manually report fake news posts (Tarantola, 2017). It is unsure if the solution would work but it indicated that at least, social media platform companies had moved towards solving the fake news problem.
To conclude, I found that fake news always exist but during recent years, Internet and social media platforms had amplify the power of fake news. However, according to studies, the influence of fake news may not be as huge as we expected. To minimize the damage of fake news, social media users should educate themselves and social media companies should make policies to manage their online communities.
Allcott, H., Gentzkow,M. (2017). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/fakenews.pdf
Carson, J. (2017). What is fake news? Its origins and how it grew under Donald Trump. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/fake-news-origins-grew-2016/
Padgett, L. (2017). Filtering Out Fake News: It All Starts With Media Literacy. Retrieved from http://www.infotoday.com/it/jan17/Padgett–Filtering-Out-Fake-News.shtml
Tarantola, A. (2017). Facebook now flags fake news. Retrieved from https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/06/facebook-now-flags-fake-news/
Incorporating a business into the world of social media can be challenging. The competition to grab the attention of people scrolling through their newsfeeds requires more than bright colours and click bait. Your content has to be relevant and easily accessible. But more importantly, your content should be something that people want to hear about. Otherwise the backlash can be staggering. Recently the Donnelly Group, an independent business based out of Vancouver that owns pubs such as the Bimini and the Lamplighter, made another shift in their business by purchasing the now closed Railway Club. The Railway Club had been a Vancouver staple since the 30s, but fell out of business after it’s last owner couldn’t keep it up. Then when he couldn’t see it they shut it down. When Vancouver local Jeff Donnelly decided to buy the club one would think enthusiasts would rejoice, right?
Wrong. Shortly after the news broke the CBC released an article interviewing partner Chad Cole on the future of the club, where in the interview he stated that “unfortunately [live music]’s not going to be a core element of this new pub.” The news of the Donnelly Group buying out the club spread like wildfire over Facebook and the comment sections of Georgia Straight articles and those done by Vancity Buzz were alive with internet rage. Comments ranged from “For most people The Railway Club is synonymous with live music…to bring the place back without live music is very disappointing” to “I’d rather tear it down than turn it into another generic vapid soulless chain bar. Not going” to calling out employees who work there: “…then the greasy, little floor manager comes over and says “how can I make this right for you?” What a joke”.
The anger was on. But despite the complaints of no live music, the article continued to explain that there would in fact be live music, just not as frequently as the venue had in the past. A follow up article was released emphasising that there would be at least four nights of live music a week due to the backlash. As for the “bad beer, worse food”, the Donnelly Group actually sources almost all of their beer and food locally, and is a proud supporter of local breweries and sponsor of Vancouver events. If any of the commenters had attempted to do the smallest bit of research into this new group that was reviving their so-called favourite establishment when nobody else would, they would learn all of this. This is the effect of social media news.
People have gotten used to bite sized pieces of information. Today things are limited to 140 characters, 7 second videos and status updates to express huge events in our lives. When our attention span has been trained to be so short, all we read is the headline. The drawback is that these headlines can be misleading and often don’t give people the correct information. Pre-conceived biases people hold can be triggered by a negative headline they don’t agree with or enlightened by one that they do. How many times have you “liked” or reacted to an article’s headline without clicking on the link? According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 62% of U.S. adults get their news on social media. NPR reported that a Stanford survey conducted found that 80% of middle schoolers in 12 states couldn’t tell the difference between fake and real news. Based on the comments sections of certain Facebook articles, I’d wager that percentage would only be slightly less for adults. Fake news is effective because people believe what they want to believe. They want something to talk about, and when everyone has their own internet soapbox, it’s easy to yell your opinion into the void, however misinformed it may be. People see a title that supports their way of thinking and because it’s a “published” piece of writing, they cling on to that.
Publishing has changed now that Facebook is in play. In the Columbia Journalism Review’s article “Facebook is eating the world”, writer Emily Bell states “The future of publishing is being put into the hands of the few who control the destiny of the many.” Facebook’s power of news distribution is huge, and who can say what will and will not be published when people’s views of the truth have become so obscure, and even the president is spewing lies in national addresses. The technological powerhouses such as Google, Facebook and Apple have all started to dip their toes in the new industry, with Apple recently launching “Apple News” to add to the growing list of sources.
“When facts don’t work and voters don’t trust the media, everyone believes in their own truth.” claims Katharine Viner in her essay for the Guardian, published in July of last year. For a piece written over six months ago, the statements couldn’t be more true now. The world of publishing and how we receive and even accept our news is changing, and people blowing a restaurant chain out of proportion is just a small example. Incidents like #pizzagate that start off ridiculous and lead to shootings could just be the tip of the iceberg if people don’t start being more responsible for the news that they choose to regurgitate.
But the public doesn’t always believe they have time, or even consider looking deeper into the articles they’re being fed. In an attempt to stop the catcall of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, websites like Teen Vogue and Slate are attempting to educate their readers on how to spot false articles, with Slate even going so far as to create a Chrome extension that actually highlights articles on your newsfeed as possibly false if they come from uncredible sources. Despite this attempt, Slate’s headline for the announcement gives off the real message: “Only you can stop the spread of fake news.” The message is clear, and if people have a duty to themselves and to those around them to believe that the truth is not subjective when it comes to delivering facts. In the end, that’s what news media has always been and what we must fight to make it today.
1. Bell, Emily. “Facebook is eating the world.” Columbia Journalism Review. March 7, 2017. http://www.cjr.org/analysis/facebook_and_media.php.
2. Colglazier, William. “The Best TIps for Spotting Fake News in the Age of Trump.” Teen Vogue. January 17, 2017. http://www.teenvogue.com/story/the-best-tips-for-spotting-fake-news-in-the-age-of-trump.
3. Domonoske, Camila. “Students have “dismaying” inhibility to tell fake news from real, study finds. .” NPR. November 23, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real.
4. Gottfried, Jeffery, and Elisa Shearer. “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016.” Pew Research Center. May 26, 2016. http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/.
Oremus, Will. “Only You Can Stop the Spread of Fake News. .” Slate. December 13, 2016. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2016/12/introducing_this_is_fake_slate_s_tool_for_stopping_fake_news_on_facebook.html.
5. Viner, Katharine. “How technology disrupted the truth.” The Guardian. July 12, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth.