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Essay #2

       Self-branding and online identities have become a common topic in everyday conversations in recent years, especially with the omnipresence of popular social media sites like Instagram. Despite this topic even being a common theme over the course of my Communications degree, I had never honestly considered the benefits that I myself could have by constructing a strong online brand in this digital age. “Many people think that personal branding is just for celebrities such as Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, yet each and every one of us is a brand. Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which we market ourselves to others” (Schawbel, 2009). Publishing 101 served as a strong pedagogical narrative by which I learned not only about the changes in the world of publishing, but also about the ways in which we can now publish ourselves, and the benefits (or even downfalls, when done incorrectly) that may arise from these online publications. Throughout the course of this essay, I will first address the ways in which this course has shifted the way in which I think about publishing, and further, how these new ways of publishing have worked their way into my online presence over the course of this semester. Following this, I intend to specifically address my online self and publication, not only referencing my blog but also my social media platforms. Lastly, I acknowledge my goals going forward, including what I aim to take with me beyond the confines of this course.

       It would be erroneous to claim that I hadn’t considered online works to count as publishing prior to the start of this semester. Of course, tangible books are the obvious thing that comes to mind when someone mentions “publishing,” but it goes far beyond that. Having said this, I didn’t the extent of which publishing expanded to. Publishing is not only online works and articles as well as tangible books; it is further embodied by anything that gets put out to the public, including social media posts and – of course – blogs. “Publishing” is has many definitions, but has come to be best defined as “the dissemination of literature, music, or information—the activity of making information available to the general public” (Wikipedia). While Wikipedia is generally not the best source for correct information, other acclaimed dictionaries are still stuck in the ways of defining publishing as being limited to formal publications that are for sale, which we have come to know is simply not the case.

       As mentioned above, publishing encompasses any online works that we “publish” or make available to the public, including any blog posts or social media posts. As Alive Marwick states, “the logic of marketing and advertising embedded in social software has infiltrated the ways in which we relate to ourselves and to others,” and that we “[use] social media as a neoliberal technology of subjectivity that produces social status as the ultimate commodity” (Marwick, 2013). In other words, we live in a world where we have technologies at our fingertips that allow us to market ourselves, our products, and how we ultimately wish others to view us. Throughout the course, we learned of how wide the span of publishing is now, and how we can use these new technologies tour advantage. Though I am nowhere near the status of being a “micro-celebrity” or Instagram celebrity (nor do I aim to be), I can now recognize that our online presence can be extremely useful one way or another. Even if you’re not trying to become famous in one way or another, marketing yourself as a brand online can be a valiant tool in this digital age.

       With regards to both my social media presence as well as my blog, I found the focus throughout the semester on the importance of identifying an audience and a brand to be largely advantageous. In the early weeks of the semester, I decided my blog was going to be a foodie blog which what chronicle my adventures to various restaurants around Metro Vancouver and write about my experiences. Identifying my audience, I learned, was one of the first major steps I had to take. In a process post I wrote, I identified my intended target audience to be foodies in the Vancouver area. I added that I don’t necessarily imagine there to be a specific age demographic, but likely people out of high school, perhaps young adults in general. This is mainly because high school students may not be interested in food blogs, cooking, and so forth, and may not have the means to go to far-out restaurants. In “Publics and Counterpublics” (2002), Michael Warner addresses that if you are reading his essay, “you are part of its public.” Warner goes on to say that there is a difference between thepublic and apublic (Warner, 2002). Warner describes the public as a ‘totality’: an all-inclusive description of the general amount of people, whereas a public is more specific, like an audience. Therefore, the people frequenting my blog would be a specific public or audience, likely visiting to check out restaurants they may be interested in.

       It is important to recognize your audience and public in order to market it to those specific people and thus further your success and your clout. “Any technology gradually creates a totally new human environment. Environments are not passive wrappings but active processes” (Campbell, 2009); each platform or domain may have a different audience and environment, and must me marketed as such. How I market and design my online self and presence on my Instagram page differs in the way in which I design my blog, as I have identified different audiences for the two. My personal Instagram features more artistic photos of self-exploitation, encompassing the best parts of my ‘self.’ Conversely, my blog markets itself to my (assumingly) foodie audience, and thus my posts tempt to embody food, Vancouver culture, and often an attempted humor. Furthermore, more online publications look to provide a service to their audience in one way or another. Ensuring that the basic service functions of one’s website or publication is an important element to consider because your audience will likely not return if they aren’t able to find what they are looking for. As I briefly touched on in the previous paragraph, my blog seeks to satisfy the service of reviewing restaurants (as well as local food and beverage in general) in the Greater Vancouver area.

       Through an immense and tedious 10-week-long trial and error process, I finally settled on a simplistic layout, removing the (apparently) tacky carousel-style photos on my home page. Gone with this was all of the numerous background images I tested out that just didn’t work. I created a logo that I felt embodied my blog in a clean and crisp way, keeping in mind the design elements that our guest speaker Mauve Pagé taught us at the start of the semester. I attempted to link colours together by bringing the gold found in the logo into other elements of the pages, such as titles and links. Travis Gertz had an interesting take on design elements and layout as well in his work, “Design Machines: How to survive in the digital apocalypse” (2015). Gertz’s main argument is based on the premise that all websites have started to look the same in an attempt to “look sexy” and appeal to the masses, but by appealing to the masses many actually become lost among the massesof other sites (2015). Unfortunately, I found it difficult to break free of most of the stereotypical constraints of which Gertz spoke about due to the confines of this course, being both the short timeframe as well as the resources made available to us. Nevertheless, these are useful pieces of information to consider when we inevitably use online mediums in our future professional lives.

            In summation, these four months have shaped the way in which I view publishing. Although I understood publishing to go beyond physical books, I didn’t understand the broad span that the term encompassed. Not only is it books and online articles, but also virtually anything that disseminates products and information to the general public. This includes social media presence as well as forum posts and, of course, blogging. Through the combination of the creation of my food blog with various guest speakers, tutorials, and online readings over the last 12 weeks, I have learned that identifying an audience and marketing yourself is a useful tool at any level of this digital world be live in. Despite my blog not gaining a large enough following to truly be able to use applications like Google Analytics or AdSense to my advantage, I can now realize these as important tools that help to compliment ones persona and identify important information. Going forward, I can confidently say that although I may not become a blogger, I have gained important and useful tools to brand myself, whatever that ‘self’ may be.

 

Bibliography

Campbell, W. G. (2009). A Personal Cyber Infrastructure. New Horizons, 44(5), p. 58-59

Gertz, Travis. (2015). “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” Louder Than 10.Retrieved on 12 April 2018 from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines

Marwick, A. (2013). Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age. Canadian Journal of Communication, 40(1), p. 143-146.

Schawbel, D. (2009). Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Brand. Mashable. Retrieved on 10 April 2018 from: https://mashable.com/2009/02/05/personal-branding-101/#ge_SBxPsZEq4

Warner, M. (2002). Knowledge and Public Works, 88(4), p. 413-425.

5 Things Developing a Website for My Brand Taught Me | Essay 2

djalexrose.com home page, January 2018

 

The first four months of 2018 have felt like the fastest of my life. At the crossroads of doors opened and closed, I’ve developed a digital home for myself to chronical what has begun to feel like the legitimate fruition of my creative pursuits. To say I’ve learned a lot about myself, my industry, my art, and my brand is an understatement. I want to focus the many learnings I’ve had into the 5 most important. Some of these I knew in a different context but had to realize they still applied, some were taught to me by mentors, and some I learned over the coals. Regardless, they continue to inform my decisions about this website and my digital presence overall.

Teach yourself

Unfortunately, none of us come out of the womb knowing how to use Adobe Premier, how to produce in FL Studio, or how to design a website. Thankfully we live in possibly the best time to learn ever. Companies like Skillshare, Khan Academy, Lynda.com, and many more have been built with the sole intention of educating people and developing their hard-skills, with the World Economic Forum estimating the e-learning market was worth an enormous $166.5 billion in 2015. The best part? If these services aren’t the content for free, someone on Youtube is.

Here is a short list of hard-skills I’ve become proficient in mostly from video tutorials and with no formal training: DJing (both on controllers and on CDJs), music production (primarily in FL Studio), playing the guitar, Photoshop, Premiere, Salesforce, and so on.

I’ve seen far too many of my peers roll over and die at the discovery of their own ignorance or incompetence. News flash: success doesn’t come from your genes or luck, it comes from closing your Netflix tab and spending that time learning deliberately.

 

Build a home

I had some initial scepticism about the costs and benefits of creating a website for my brand. As a musical artist, my priority should be directing the public to my Spotify as my main revenue stream and putting clicks in between discovering me and listening to my music could lose potential listeners. I’ve learned very quickly however that this potential cost is vastly outweighed by having my own domain, my own home on the internet.

Magnetic Magazine puts it best in saying “one of the biggest advantages of running a website is that the artist has full control over it”. Unlike social media platforms like Instagram where I am at the whim of the algorithm about whether or not my tribe even see my content, every piece of content on this website is created and designed by myself. I can experiment and change as much or as little as want at any speed. The agility and freedom of having a website has allowed for me to engage my tribe how I see best.

Integrating widgets on the homepage

 

The other huge benefit to having a website is the consolidation of the many platforms I use. Instead of linking people my Spotify, Soundcloud, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and so on, I can just tell them to come here. It’s fantastic. Especially as I learned to integrate widgets throughout the site instead of hyperlinks, djalexrose.com became the easiest way to follow me on Spotify, subscribe to my Youtube, and much more. My blog and media pages are also filled with relevant content that is well organized, meaning my tribe can explore the site and find value throughout.

You are not your audience

Many creatives say that they make their art for themselves and that their desired audience is “people like me”. While the response may come from a place of wanted to seem authentic and empathetic, it can’t be true. If it were, any content you produce would have 0 value to the audience as they’ve already thought of, known, or seen it. It’s possible to have a past version of yourself as an intended audience, but to say you are your audience is a failure to understand your own potential and the variety of interests people have.

Take me for example. I am, as of writing this, a 21-year-old male from a major North American city who produces bass-heavy / ghetto house music at an intermediate level, DJs multiple genres at clubs downtown, is classically trained in music theory, and a vocalist. If I only targeted myself as my audience I would miss a lot of opportunities. For example, my experience as a classically trained musician who is literate in music theory is unique in the dance music production industry, meaning I can teach those who do not have my level of theory. Being a vocalist means I can attract other vocalists from outside of the dance music world. If I only focused on my own age range I would miss a huge potential audience of teenagers who consume dance music. Finally, as an intermediate producer, I can’t teach other intermediate producers but I can teach novice producers techniques I find valuable.

Your target audience should be value-aligned to your brand, meaning that they can extract value from your content, but that target is far larger than you as an individual. Accepting this fact does not come at the cost of authenticity, in fact, it amplifies it by making you seem inviting and accessible to the public.

Make it easy

After 4 years of a Communications degree, my writing and speech heirs more on the side of quantity over brevity. My tendency towards purple prose is still noticeable in my writing which is a huge problem when communicating with a general audience. Thankfully, the medium of a blog incentivizes concise content over the 3000-word research papers of my university faculty.

When it comes to creating content for my audience, I always keep in mind that I target beginner producers and dance music fans who have little-to-no technical knowledge. This manifests in my content in a couple key ways. First I try to never have videos go over 10 minutes to make sure my tutorials are focused and streamlined. Second, in editing I simplify sentences as much as possible. The more density of meaning and the less repetition the better.

This philosophy even impacts my UX design. Compared to other DJs, my website is very minimalist and visually simple. Take a look at Dutch superstar DJ Hardwell’s website. It is so cluttered with carousels and text boxes it leaves me nauseous. Of course, this is due to the challenges of being world famous and having multiple music labels to promote, but for an artist who is always so cutting edge, his website is surprisingly unfriendly. I try to do the opposite of Hardwell with my website. I am okay with having more than 2 pages for the sack of accessible and we as designers should always have the user’s ease in mind.

Don’t keep secrets

The world of music production like any art is prone to copy-cat’ing. Once Tchami and Oliver Heldens combined the worlds of deep house and mainstage electro to invent the genre of future house, Youtube exploded with tutorials on how to make their bass synth patches and percussion patterns. The same would happen with future bass, future bounce, and now Confession-style ghetto house. Because of this, most producers are reserved about sharing their techniques out of fear of being copied.

A project file in FL Studio

I believe that an artists sound goes beyond just the bass they use (see Tchami’s evolving style from 2014-2018) or the shaker they prefer. Videos titled “How to make music like _” or “How to sound like _” equip developing artists with new tools to add to their arsenal in developing their unique sound. Personally, learning to make percussion like Oliver Heldens, kick patterns like RICCI, basses like Tchami and Malaa, and melodies like Martin Garrix have allowed me to craft my own sound in my productions like Drank.

Sharing my techniques with other only works in my favour creating a stylistic movement behind my music. If someone produces a track similar to Drank, others will say “hey that sounds like Drank! I like it!” and both myself and the other artist benefit.

Conclusion

There you have it, my top 5 learnings from developing a website for my artist brand. I expect to continue learning more as this site and my career progress, but I’m extremely happy with where its come in such a short time. If you’re a returning reader, thanks for sticking with me, and if you’re new, welcome to djalexrose.com.

 

 

The post 5 Things Developing a Website for My Brand Taught Me | Essay 2 appeared first on alex rose.

Essay #2

In the first week of the semester, we were given the task to present ourselves as well as reflect on what we thought defined publishing. My short introduction to my classmates included that I was a second year communications student, I wanted to work in magazine publishing and that I thought publishing was the sharing of information. That was the the first impression I gave off to my peers but this, in my opinion was not a good representation of who I was. Although through this exercise I realized that this is not the identity I want to be known for. Through this class, it gave the chance to show my peers as well as myself what I truly want to say about my identity, online and otherwise. The outlet of the blog opened my eyes to exploring my scholarly identity outside of my communications degree which was truly eye opening.

I believe that this blog style platform was the best way to uncover more of myself since it offered a sense of sharing and publication while also giving me the reassuring comfort of anonymity. As Suler (2001) suggests in his work, “The Disinhibition Effect”, there is an aspect of dissociative anonymity that comes with posting online which accords more comfort to the publisher to share initiate details about themselves since they cannot be known. Although in some cases this effect can lead to negative effects, in my case, it was the driving force to what got me to start writing in the first place. The anonymity gave me the freedom to curate my own content and being able to choose what kind of things I wanted to write about gave me the creative liberty to discover what I like to write about. I felt like I was sharing a more intimate part or myself with the world, I also felt like nobody was listening but to be honest, it didn’t bother me at all. I liked the thought of having my feelings and thoughts about the world published for everyone to read if they wanted to but the fact that it was somewhat of a public secret was what I enjoyed most about it. It was more of a release for me than a sharing of information. Writing my blog made me feel as I was releasing tension from my brain letting the thoughts flow out onto my keyboard without filters or having an academic rubric dictating them.

Audrey Watters (2015) in her piece “The Web We Need To Give To Students”, she argues that online student paces give them the opportunity to reflect upon their work outside the world of academia which if controlled by the school. I have realized the importance of this liberty in order to create a well rounded learning experience. One cannot fully explore the lengths to which their education can take them if they do not take the chance to explore their intellectual interests outside of an academic institution. The freedom to explore and create was always the last thing on my mind (Campbell, 2009) since in an academic setting one learns to give the instructor what they want or what we think they and so this opportunity of creating my own blog and opportunity for self education gave me the chance to do so explore those elements of my student life.

This blog was incredibly beneficial for my own personal growth and that is essentially the purpose it filled. It was not created with a specific audience in mind since at it’s core, was a forum where I could practice the creation of blog making whilst discovering who I am as an academic outside of the label I had already been given. Despite this realization, I did consider that my audience would be mostly females, ranging from 14-25 years of age who wanted to read something relatable but also inspiring. I wrote quite a bit about food and so if I did try and market my blog and focus on it’s rise in ratings, I would probably choose to continue in a “foodie” direction focusing on a Vancouver based audience which is where the food reviews would be.

I received a couple of comments from my peers and although some of it was constructive which was beneficial for the overall functioning of my blog through technical WordPress changes such as colour scheme or background but what truly stuck with me was their opinions on my online persona I had created. They both shared that they liked the way I wrote and that it gave off an authentic self that was easy to relate to which is exactly what I set out to do. Getting this positive feedback was so incredibly validating since the information I was sharing online made me vulnerable because I was essentially sharing a more intimate part of my identity which usually is not seen in an academic setting. Getting reaffirmation that what I was doing through my work was good and appreciated by someone, even though it was just my peers, meant a lot to me and gave me confidence in the continuation of my blog.

At first, I was upset with the fact that I was simply thrown into this experience without any guidance. In traditional schooling that I’ve experience so far at university, there has always been some loose guide to follow but for this particular class, you had to take your education into your own hands. Even though in the beginning I did not see it this way, I now know how beneficial it is for individuals, like myself to be learning this way. Gardner Campbell (2009) says that the cyber-infrastructure in which we create offers an opportunity for individual and personal teaching moments which is exactly what I experienced through the process of online blogging. I thought myself first of all how to write a blog but also through this experience got a better understanding of who I am as a student. I am not just a communications student in second year and through my blog I got the chance to share this side of myself. Publication is the sharing of information, as I had shared in the first semester, but it encompasses so much more than that. Publishing is the way of the new world where individuals publish in order to connect just as much as share with it. It gives the opportunity for personal and creative growth where the liberty to do so is not always given in a traditional academic setting.

References

Campbell, G. 2009. “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure.” EDUCAUSE Review 44 (5). http://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

Suler, J. 2004. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Available from: Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

Watters, A. 2015. “The Web We Need to Give to Students.” https://medium.com/bright/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x

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Essay #2: My Experience

This spring, I signed up for Publishing 101 because I thought it would be useful to learn about social media, especially because I’ll probably work a lot with website building in the future. I’m an Interactive Arts and Technology major, and I’ve learned about graphics and interactive design, but they don’t teach us about the social media part of web design.

I can’t say that this is my first blog, I’ve ever made, because when I was a nerdy teenager, I made this lame Tumblr blog. But it was just reblogging pictures I thought that were cute. I’ve also made a website before for my graphic design class, that focused on making a portfolio and interactive design. This blog I’ve made, PICKIEATER is a huge improvement from my previous websites, especially in terms of design and content.

PICKIEATER is my diary of food. This blog is for myself. I never intended to make money off blogging or gain fame, I just enjoy sharing my dining experiences, so that I have the chance to look back on them. Although, I do think that this blog will be useful for those looking at restaurant reviews before visiting them, or people who don’t know what to order from a restaurant.

PICKIEATER reflects who I am. The way I write shows that I’m a young adult, who is laid back, and very honest. I would never pretend to like food that I didn’t actually enjoy. I also like to write as if I’m telling a friend about my experiences, so my writing isn’t significantly sophisticated and at most times, colloquial. I wanted my online personality to be that average university student who loves to eat and takes pictures of every meal, because that’s who I am in real life. As for the design aspect, the minimalism and aesthetics encompasses my general approach to design. Everything I design is minimalistic and colors are not vibrant. Another thing I tried to incorporate was photography. I wanted all my photos to be original and high quality. I edit all the pictures I use, but I don’t always have my camera with me when I go out to eat. But I am proud of how the pictures went from dull and poor quality to vibrant and appetizing. I also wanted to have a logo, but it is still in it’s draft phase.

I thought it would be easy to make a blog with WordPress at the start of the semester. But I learned that it is not easy to make the blog look like how I imagined it to be. I have no experience in coding for websites, so it was hard to customize the things I wanted to customize. I had difficulty the fonts and colors, and I still don’t understand why my category excluding code does not work. But I learned from research that fonts and many other things can be customized with plugins. However, I also learned that very specific and easy to use features of plugins are not free. Of course, I am planning to learn how to code in the future, but for now  my blog relies on plugins.

The lecture on website design is one of my favorite lessons of Publishing 101. In my opinion, it is the most important. People are visual, so if the blog looks unpleasant, why would the public want to read through the blog? I learned so many important aspects, for example responsive design, spacing and proportion, and typography. 

Even though, this blog is mostly for myself, it’s interesting to understand who the audience is. Google Analytics is an immensely useful tool to recognize the readers and to strategize how to gain more viewers. Last time I checked my Google Analytics, I learned that most of my viewers found my blog through my Instagram. I started posting more, and promoting my food Instagram on my personal Instagram. Now, over 50% of my audience is acquired through social media, and I have had about 45 viewers in the past month. If I want to monetize in the future, promoting my social media is definitely the direction to go in.

Publishing 101 also had interesting lessons on one’s online presence. One of the most memorable moments, was the ted talk about Justine Sacco, and how a tweet ruined her life. I’m already a cautious person online, but the video really showed me how unintended words could lead to a disaster. It was a good reminder to consider the consequences of what you’re posting.

In conclusion, I have learned so much about publishing online, and about the online world. Even though, I have improved tremendously, I have so much more to improve on. I want to have my Instagram feed on a sidebar, a gallery of all my photos, a map on every food post, a few videos, and a finalized logo. I think that I will continue blogging since it is fun, maybe I’ll even take Publishing 201.

 

Essay 2

It’s funny, I feel more like a fish out of water now, at the end of the semester, than I did at the beginning. I have veered left, right, and back on the journey through PUB101, changing my WordPress theme at least three times — with the most recent change being only two weeks ago.

Entering the course in September, my main goal was to get my online professional portfolio up and running. The blog aspect, I figured, would be an excellent way for me to get more comfortable putting myself out there; speaking up, creating more exposure for the hidden international student community, and sharing my views and experiences for all the world to see.

From content creation to audience awareness, and even to general organization, I have discovered over the last three months that there are a lot more considerations and decisions not just to blogging, but to being a publisher in general, than I initially anticipated — and as we discussed in the first week of the semester, given the Internet, everyone is a publisher now.

My first and main online publishing platform remains Instagram. A couple of years ago I attempted to “up my insta-game”; I made my account public, posted every other day, and had my list of go-to hashtags to help reach an audience beyond my Facebook friends. And for a while, I had success. My follow count grew steadily, and I even managed to get consistent commenters. Eventually though, as it happens, I became busier and busier and so I posted less and less. I’ve realized that if I couldn’t even find the time to post a photo with a less than 100 character caption, how did I expect myself to find the time to blog 200+ words?

Truthfully speaking, I don’t feel like I have come very far with “My wonderful experience in Canada”. A blog about Canada as a beautiful country and the role it plays in my life… It’s not particularly developed at this point. I have seven out of 21 posts on the website that are specifically written for My wonderful experience in Canada and not Posiel, and those that are there do not tell that much of a story. My findings on Google Analytics support my statement; on average I have two hits per month on my website, and from the dates and regions, I think it’s safe to conclude that these few users are my fellow classmates visiting for peer reviews. Heartbreaking? — Not really. Not to me. While I may not have grown an active audience as I began the semester thinking I would, I am more than content with my online takeaway from the course.

Although, in my eyes, it is far from “finished” (I don’t think it’s fair to say that an online platform is ever fully finished — there will always be something to update and to adjust), I believe that I have produced a fantastic starting point for myself moving forwards. I have a site with a cohesive aesthetic across the pages; clean and modern with hints of a bubbly personality sprinkled throughout. In their peer reviews, Christopher (peer review 2) and Joanni (peer review 3) both comment to the uniquely friendly and inviting environment that I create through design decisions such as font and colour choices, as well as language used in what content is there. Being in a world in which Travis Gertz, partner, designer, and developer of Louder Than Ten, states that “everything looks the same” (Gertz, 2015), it is crucial to me that my personality be evident in my site and set it apart.

I noted within several process posts that I don’t identify myself as the blogging-type, yet in my classification, I defined a blog as written content — but why? A blog can be as much of a visual story as it is a written one. Creating mixed media content for process posts two, seven, and eleven have reinforced this realization over the term. This is why I struggled to produce content, I believe. I gave myself false constraints of my content needing to be word-heavy. For this reason, I hesitated to commit to continuing the blog section of my website as I transition it to more of a portfolio space, but reflecting now, I think that I can use it to create an extension of my Instagram public.

As was suggested to me in class, I can create series of mini-posts — a different series for each trip, each life experience, each little side project I tackle. Leon Watson of telegraph.co.uk notes a study conducted by Microsoft notes that those with “more digital lifestyles … struggle to focus in environments where prolonged attention is needed” (Watson, 2015), so the posts will be shorter and much more visual, ones that do not require extensive time commitments to consume. As I generally post only a photo or two from any event to my Instagram account, I can use those posts to channel my audience there over to my blog, should they want more of a “behind the scenes” experience of my excursions. As I realize that blogs are not as commonly or easily “stumbled upon” as are accounts on social media platforms, linking my blog to my Instagram account will definitely give my website the opportunity for more hits. Hits, not necessarily just for the sake of growing my public, but for the sake of networking as well. Alyssa Acree of copypress.com writes to social media as a networking tool, saying “[it] is as strong a networking tool as any other” (Acree, 2016). Furthermore, blogs require considerably more time commitment from its engagers than do social media accounts such as Instagram or Tumblr or Twitter, where quick scrolling is the primary activity.

I think incorporating this version of a blog into my transitioning website will strengthen my portfolio more than the current version. It will still lend potential employers a closer look into who I am and what I do beyond UX/UI and graphic design, but it will do so in a way that reinforces my visual nature and provides another medium for me to showcase the ways in which I am able to apply my creative and technical skills.

Though I may not be continuing to build up a blog the way we focused on in the course, I am still incredibly happy for having taken the class. While not all the topics feel like they related directly to my online goals, they’re definitely things that I should be aware of (like monetization). Before, I knew that I needed an online portfolio, but now I’m seeing that it’s more than just a showcase of my projects — its a showcase of me, and not just as a designer. Every bit, down to the way I categorize posts, allow or don’t allow comments, etc. are a reflection of me. The environment I create speaks just as much to my character as my about page, if not more.

Possibly more than the course content itself, I genuinely appreciated and enjoyed the environment which we learned in. I was, by no means, one of the more participative members of the class and generally found it intimidating to be among peers who were so openly and easily able to voice their thoughts. But, intimidating as it may have been, it was equally encouraging for me to try to poke my head out of my shell more and join in the conversations.

I had said that I feel like a fish out of water; like I’ve been floundering all semester — afraid to speak up in class, trying to figure out how to present myself online and find my niche as so many others seemed to do so easily. While I might not be leaving PUB101 with as finished a product as I had hoped to, I am leaving confident that I now have the knowledge to keep myself afloat when I really dive into developing my online self.

References:

The Publication of Self

https://louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines

Creative Spotlight: Blogging Versus Social Media

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/12/humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smart/

 

Essay #2

When i was accepted into Publication 101 this semester I was not sure what the outcome of this course was going to be. I only knew that it had something to do with the internet so my first impression was that it was going to be an easy course. I know the internet, I use the internet and I am comfortable on the internet. After three months in the course I now know the internet more than what I thought. Our assignment in this course was to create a blog. This blog required process posts, peer reviews, essays and posts on our blog condent. The requirement was choosing a topic we were interested in so I could post, appear professional and attract an audience. Beauty tips, trends and product reviews is a topic I take seriously and am passionate about. I realized after two weeks that my first chosen topic, interior design, was too difficult. I knew posting on this topic every week would be a challenge. Finally, I chose my beauty blog and after two weeks my love for blogging grew stronger. I felt comfortable and confident blogging about everything beauty. Blogging allows me to express and share my opinion and thoughts about skin care and beauty products. From a young age, I have watched YouTube reviews about makeup and skin care. Since I was 7, I knew this was something I wanted to pursue. I have learned many inspiring things over the years. A blog is way to show people what I have learned in the hope they can learn from me. A web page is more than just words on a website. After having a blog I knew that it is not what everyone thinks. It isn’t easy, behind every post there is passion and an opinion and what is what makes it so valuable.

I created my online presence by introducing a blog using “WordPress”. “WordPress is a free software, this means you are free to download, install, use and modify it” (Balkhi 2015).  This is a beauty base blog aimed at the 15-30 year old. My public is anyone who needs advice, tips or tricks with skin products, skincare and makeup. My editorials are based on that categories of makeup looks, skincare, cheap beauty products and beauty hacks. My purpose in designing my webpage is to grab the audience’s attention with an overall simple page so viewers quickly scan and click on what they are interested in. I strive to have the content of my blog unique, well researched and honest. I also made sure to update information regularly. I give my audience the value of obtaining useful information to make decisions without worrying about sponsorship and inaccurate information. I decided not to make comments because they did not enhance or improve my website. The few comments i did receive were not well written so i perferrednot to post them.

My idea about publication have changed. I am now interested in following other blogs and comparing their effort to mine. Seeing the detail put into other blogs shows how much time was really put into their work. Blogging is fun but it is not as easy as it seems. Each blog post, mine or a frequent blogger needs to same equal amount of effort in each post and keep up to date with posting. Your audience can notice when you are slacking by the writing in your post if its rushed or not and by how frequency your blog is updated. It is not easy to update blogs. It takes research, leg work, colour use, print size and so many other things to takes to put your blog together.

Balkhi, Syed. “Why You Should Use WordPress?” WPBeginner, 7 June 2015, www.wpbeginner.com/why-you-should-use-wordpress/.

Essay 2

 

When I think about making a website and presenting it to the world, I think about the first scene of the Watchmen movie (which, as a side note, I’ve never seen).

 

I mean, isn’t this what usually happens? You naively put your stuff out there and blammo! the haters have found and annihilated you.

Of course this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you put up your website and people love it. And…sometimes you make a website and hardly anyone sees what you do. Except the bots. The bots see all.

My website is about yarn bombing, a non-harmful method of graffiti. It’s for crafters and people who enjoy a bit of illegal craft work now and again. My real audience would be my talented classmates (seriously, how are you guys so talented??) and bots, according to my Google Analytics, lots of them. Out of my 309 pageviews, I’m hoping at least some of them were from passionate and crafty people. This is my imagined public.

I’m addressing my public through what is hopefully a fun and unique site. I try to make my writing no-nonsense, but I’m sure most of the time I come off as a self-absorbed hypocrite (this is fine, leave your complaints in the comments section.) I use a lot of images because I believe they work better than me just describing everything I crochet. Also, they’re easy on the eyes.

As for value, I believe most of the value of this website is going towards me. Yes, it’d be cool if other people got value from this site, but I doubt that’s happening. My site is for other people, yet most of the stuff I do really just helps me learn more about the web, gives me time to practice writing and editing, and lets me grapple with website building and design and finding the perfect funny widget that lets you fly a little rocket around my page, blowing things up.

 

 

I didn’t want my page to be too clean because what’s the fun in looking like a million other websites? This makes me think back to Travis Gertz’s article on how the machines are taking over because everyone uses the same website template. Whatever, man. People are just going with the flow to make a living, which is fine. People who have money and time or must find money and time for an obligatory publishing class website can make something fun.

To the four people who have given me website feedback, I thank you profusely. It really was helpful, and I made some important changes because of you.

Beyond this page, I’d like to continue to develop my Instagram crochet account and perhaps move all my work from here over to a free place like Tumblr or Blogger or something that doesn’t cost me $45+ a year.

Aside from all my reminiscing and reflection, there is one big topic I’d like to touch on in this essay. It’s something that’s been bothering me for a while now.

— — —

The more I think about yarn bombing and graffiti, I wonder is it really non-harmful? 

— — —

— — —

— — —

 

 

These comments seemed so weird to me when I first saw them. What? People don’t actually appreciate vandalism?

Well, duh, of course not.

1) That’s kinda the point of it and 2) it can be destructive and harmful. Number two can be a problem. That’s when I start asking myself some serious questions. Where do I draw the line? Should I have to draw it when it comes to graffiti?

I believe I should. And to figure out where to the draw the line, I’d like to look at some of the most frequent complaints of yarn bombing. From there, I will see if the complaint is valid or invalid depending on my experience as a yarn bomber, and sources from the web.

 

Yarn bombs hurt trees

They can. It’s true. Shannon Sperati asked the American Society of Consulting Arborists about yarn bombing trees. Arborist Marty Shaw replied that yarn bombing can cause mildew, mold, and insect infestations. Additionally, yarn bombs could hide tree defects that could later cause harm (imagine not knowing that a tree branch was severely damaged and could drop on you at any moment.) He also noted that depending on the yarn, toxins could leak into the tree and damage it.

Solutions: Don’t yarn bomb trees. Yarn bomb trees for a short period of time, and then take down your piece(s). Make yarn bombs that leave lots of breathing room for the tree. Yarn bomb trees only when the weather is dry and cold (this prevents bugs and mildew). Yarn bomb indoor trees. Make a small, non-intrusive yarn bomb for the tree.

Yarn bombs are ableist

In most cases, they are not. This concern stems from people who yarn bomb railings specifically. The website No Award tags yarn bombing as “ableism” in their article “Having a Yarn(Bomb)”, but does not explain this further than saying a yarn bomb “renders mobility and accessibility aids useless or difficult to use” (Barr, 2015).

This is a vast generalization, as yarn bombs come in many shapes and sizes and are attached to a variety of objects. On an inclined railing, such as one for a staircase, I can see this being a problem for a person who needs a better grip on a railing. However, crocheted or knit yarn can often have more grip than a wet metal pole. Further, the yarn bomb No Award pictures in their article (shown above) is on a level railing, which should not make it difficult to grasp at all.

Another issue can come from yarn bombing reflective signs. It could cause danger to drives, which is serious.

Solutions: Don’t put yarn bombs on angled railings. Don’t put yarn bombs on important/reflective signage. Don’t restrict peoples’ accessibility with a yarn bomb.

 

Yarn bombs get “wet and grimy after the first rain storm”

Completely false. This is by far the most frequent complaint. Some even complain that yarn bombs go grey within a day. This is false. Here I will use my personal experience and a famous yarn creation as examples of the truth.

Three years ago, I turned a lot of scrap yarn into crochet flowers. I hung them up around my neighbourhood. Sure enough, many were gone within a few days. They were cute, so I assume people took them home for decorations. It warmed my heart. Anyway, two of my flowers (both hanging from trees) remained untouched.

Fast forward to now. Those two flowers are still in the places I left them three years ago (I will insert photos here once I have a chance to pass by the flowers).

One is still mint green with a little moss growing on it. It still looks like a cute flower. The other was made with grey yarn already, so it couldn’t really get any greyer. This one has a little more moss growing on it and a spider has moved into it. Look at that, I unknowingly made a cute spider habitat.

Those yarn bombs have lasted for three years and are doing fine. Most of my yarn bombs are indoors, so I avoid this problem completely.

My other example is the creepy giant pink bunny that haunted a hill in Italy. The New York Times called it a “big, dead, rotting, silly rabbit.”

You see that orange blob on its belly? That’s an adult. This thing is massive. Look, here are people standing by its foot:

It was made by an art collective of four called Gelitin in 2005 with the help of many others. The picture above was taken shortly after its completion in 2005. The piece stayed pink until 2006. After that, it turned grey but its iconic shape remained for a few more years.

This is what it looked like three years ago:

So no, it doesn’t take one day and one storm to deform and discolour a yarn bomb. This bunny even lasted through snow. You can see other photos of its deterioration here.

Solutions: Yarn bomb indoors. Yarn bomb where there’s some protection from the elements. Remove your yarn bombs after they get grey/start to fall apart/get moldy.

 

Yarn bombing is a waste of time and resources

Maybe, but then so are most things. This is perhaps one of my least favourite arguments ever. “Why aren’t you doing something more useful with your time and resources?” The real question is why aren’t you? You, the commenter and complainer. What’s stopping you from learning how to knit and make dozens of blankets for homeless people? Why are you wasting your time on comment threads?

This is another big complaint that I find ridiculous. Someone pointed this out on the “Having a Yarn(Bomb)” article:

The co-owner of the website replied:

Erm, okay. I don’t even want to touch this one.

Solution: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Yarn bombing does not send a deeper message

It depends. What counts as a deeper message to you? Many people believe that yarn bombing is all about the aesthetic and doesn’t have the same edgy message as other piece of graffiti. Sometimes, yes. People might just want to brighten something, or make it look pretty. But there are example of yarn bombs such as The Knitted Mile and the tank covered in pink that do mean something more.

Also, does something have to “mean something more” to send a deeper message? If a yarn bomb evokes a smile, on some level, isn’t the smiler interpreting a deeper message?

I believe they are. The person smiling is interpreting a message of love, care, time, effort, and vibrant beauty.

Sure, yarn bombs can be tacky. They can get dirty and wet and fade away to nothing. But if we really want a deeper message, wouldn’t we say that we too are just like yarn bombs?

Solution: Want to do it for the aesthetic? Then do it. Want to make a deeper message? Then do it.

 

Mandatory conclusion

Yarn bombing isn’t as evil and wasteful as people make it out to be. From this examination of complaints, I feel like I can move forward and make truly non-harmful graffiti. Hopefully some of it can be meaningful. Hopefully most of it will make people smile. I hope in the future I can continue to do this thing I love, and encourage others to join me in these silly acts of vandalism.

Oh, and improve my online presence. That too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Works Cited:

Barr, Liz. “Having a Yarn(Bomb).” No Award, 2 Sept. 2015, no-award.net/2015/09/02/having-a-yarnbomb/.

Gelitin. “Hase / Rabbit / Coniglio.” Gelitin.net, 2005, www.gelitin.net/projects/hase/.

Odyssey. “’Yarn Bombing’ Is The New Graffiti, But Is That OK?” Odyssey, 13 Nov. 2017, www.theodysseyonline.com/yarn-bombing-graffiti.

Sperati, Shannon, and Marty Shaw. “Q: What Are Some Thoughts on ‘Yarn Bombing’ Trees?” American Society of Consulting Arborists, 30 Dec. 2015, www.asca-consultants.org/news/267498/Q-What-are-some-thoughts-on-yarn-bombing-trees.htm.

Taylor, Tracey. “Berkeley Library Not Thrilled about Yarnbombing.” Berkeleyside, 6 May 2017, www.berkeleyside.com/2012/04/09/not-all-creative-contributions-welcome-at-library-reopening.

Essay 2

Reflecting on My Journey Through Pub 101 

The process of creating a blog was much different than what I anticipated. I thought that it would be a fun and straight-forward process. And while the process was fun and exciting, it was also confusing, frustrating, and sometimes aggravating. The following images illustrate what I thought blogging would be like vs. what blogging was actually like:

 

What I thought creating a blog would be like. Image source: Arts on the Horizon.

 

What creating a blog was actually like. Image source: Kennedy Institute.

One of the main things I struggled with was finding a purpose for my blog. The amount of freedom that I was given in this course was foreign to me. I think academia has conditioned me into thinking that there is always a right or wrong way to do things, and this mindset was really difficult to overcome when I started blogging. After reading Gardner Campbell’s (2009) A Personal Cyberinfrastructure, I realized that the amount of freedom afforded in this course was necessary in order for students to learn the ins and outs of cultivating an online identity. Campbell (2009) notes that by building a personal cyberinfrastructure, students will “acquire crucial technical skills for their digital lives … [and] engage in work that provides richly teachable moments” (para 7). Therefore, it is only through a hands-on, self-driven approach that students may be able to fully explore and understand the intricacies of the online realm. Overall, while I learned how to blog in Pub 101, I also learned about the “so what?” and “why?” questions underlying what is done online.

Initially, I decided that I didn’t want to set too many restrictions on the content that I would post. The theme of my blog is fairly open – I have a “blog” section for personal posts, and I also have categories for food and beauty. Later, however, I realized that having too many categories created some difficulties for me – was I being concise enough? Should I focus on one specific topic? How was I defining my audience? Had I known what I know now, I probably would have been more precise about the purpose of my blog.

In Process Post Three, I noted that my imagined audience includes someone similar to myself: female, late teens or early twenties, student, interested in posts related to food and beauty. In addition, I think that my blog might attract other South Asian females because culture is discussed in some of my personal blog posts. Conversely, my real audience comprises my close friends, some of my classmates in Pub 101, and of course, professor Norman.

Keeping My Audience in Mind

I did not have a distinct audience in mind when I created my blog. Instead, I followed Warner’s (2002) suggestion to “put on a show and see who shows up” (p. 82). Unfortunately, I failed to understand the importance of defining my audience. Now, however, I realize that keeping a potential audience in mind is an integral component of the blogging process. At the same time, this is a personal blog first and foremost. Therefore, my decisions are mostly informed by my personal preferences, and my imagined audience is a secondary consideration.

I decided to stick with a minimalist theme because it is trendy and easy to navigate. This is ideal for my target audience because I expect that most individuals in their late teens or early twenties are comfortable with a clean design. With regard to my content, I kept a casual tone and tried to include personal anecdotes where possible. In addition, I included a sidebar with an image and description of myself. I did this because my blog is personal in nature and I wanted my audience to feel like they could relate to me.

After Mauve’s lecture on design principles and Heather’s peer review of my site, I decided to incorporate a seafoam green accent colour. Unfortunately, the theme that I am using does not allow me to include an accent colour. In order to do this, I had to make changes to the CSS using the editor tab. By doing this, I realized how malleable themes really are. I think that an accent colour enhances the consistency of my website and is also aesthetically-pleasing for my audience. In “How To Survive the Digital Apocalypse”, Travis Gertz (2015) raises concerns that we have designed ourselves into a corner by being reliant on design choices created by machines. To address this concern, I customized my theme to reflect my personal taste. As a result, I believe that my audience is better able to get a sense of my personality and style.

Moving Forward

Pub 101 has inspired me to do a better job of linking my existing social media accounts to each other. In “Publics and Counter-Publics”, Michael Warner (2002) argues that “no single text can create a public… nor can a single voice, a single genre, or a single medium” (p. 420). In class, we learned that the medium we use can ultimately influence what and how we post. Thus, I think that transmedia integration is an effective way to provide my followers with a more nuanced and comprehensive look at my online self.

To be honest, I do not think that I will continue with this blog. However, I might re-structure it to narrow the scope of my content (e.g. create a personal blog, a food blog, or a lifestyle blog). Currently, my blog is a mix of personal/lifestyle content and I don’t think that will fare well if I want to expand my site. Admittedly, this blog is a bit of a mess. But, at the very least, Pub 101 has equipped me with the tools that I’ll need to clean this mess up.

References

Campbell, G. (2009). A personal cyberinfrastructure. EDUCAUSE Review, 44(5), 58-59.

Gertz, T. (2015, July 10th). Design machines: How to survive the digital apocalypse. Retrieved from https://louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines

Warner, M. (2002). Publics and counterpublics. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 88(4). 413-425.

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The End of POSIEL (Essay #2)

An Overview of Pub 101
This semester, I took a course called The Publication of Self in everyday life (or Pub 101 for short). The main purpose of the class was to develop a website using WordPress. I chose to make mine a lifestyle blog, with content ranging from advice videos to travel diaries to rants about my everyday life. Overall, the course taught me a lot about WordPress, Google Analytics, and how to develop and create content for a specific audience. It has also allowed me to develop my voice and an online persona.

My Experience with WordPress & Google Analytics
Going in to the first lecture, I had no experience with WordPress. This, in addition to high ambitions for my website, made me nervous. However, with help from guest speakers, my peers, and an article about WordPress, I was able to learn quickly. I also spent a lot of time outside of class playing with different features of the site. Although I am happy with the amount of information I have learned in just a few months, I would like to continue to learn more about WordPress in the future.

Another platform I had never used before this course is Google Analytics. However, it has proven to be helpful in defining and tracking my audience.

Developing an Audience
While creating content is fun, if you want it to go anywhere you need to have an audience in mind. Early in the semester, we were asked to develop a persona for our audience. In my week three process post, I outlined my readers as having these characteristics:
* Young adult (High School or University)
* North American
* Female
* Urban & suburban location
* Active online presence
However, in my week five process post, I added that I would like the age of my audience to increase as I get older, and for it to include males.

In reality, I do not yet have data on the age or gender of my readers. However, according to Google Analytics, most of the people accessing my site are from North America. Specifically, they are accessing it from Vancouver, BC and Seattle, Washington – the two cities I grew up in. This makes sense because I have promoted my website on my personal social media accounts, which are followed by friends and family in these areas.

Creating Content
With these real and imagined audiences in mind, I have tried hard to create content relevant to them. One of the ways I have done this is by posting content that I find funny or interesting. I do this because I have many of the characteristics I want my audience to have. If I enjoy my content, people similar to me are more likely to enjoy it as well. This idea comes from a process post on the website MultiMonica. In addition to this, I also try to incorporate different kinds of media in to my posts. For example, some of my posts are videos, others are all words, and some have lots of pictures and/or gifs. I do this to help keep my audience engaged. I started doing this because of some advice I got on a peer review done by Shazia Nanji. When I implemented the change, I saw my bounce rate drop and my session duration increase on Google Analytics. Finally, I try to post ‘relatable’ content. What this means is content that focuses on current pop culture and ‘main stream’ information. I hope that by posting content related to stuff that is popular with my audience, my content will become popular as well.

A Reflection
Over the course of the semester, my blog has changed a lot. At the beginning, I was using a theme called Twenty Seventeen. While this theme was simple and allowed me to present myself through a large header photo, it also was weird to navigate and very stark. So, about halfway through the semester, after reviewing the website MultiMonica, I decided to change my theme to Kale. At first, I had some issues with the template. I wasn’t sure how to remove the sliding banner of photos at the top, I didn’t have a logo, and none of my posts had featured pictures attached to them. However, once I fixed these issues, I was extremely pleased with the results. My site now had lots of color, photos, and personality – overall, it just felt like a better representation of me.
Another part of my blog that has changed a lot over the course of the semester is my content. At the beginning of the class, I didn’t put a lot of effort into what I was posting, and because of this I ended up deleting a lot of my posts. However, once I engaged more with the content of the class and learned how to use WordPress effectively, I started to create content I was more proud of. With this confidence, I was able to finally restart my YouTube channel – something I had wanted to do for a long time.

Moving Forward
Overall, I have really enjoyed my time in Pub 101, and I’m excited to take more publishing classes (I am even hoping to major in publishing!). Even though the class is ending, I hope to continue to develop my website. It has been a very helpful tool for me in these past 3 months, I hope to continue to use it as a creative outlet.

Note: Sources are linked throughout the post. I chose to take a more unconventional route by giving credit to the sources that helped me throughout my semester, rather than sources that helped me write this essay.

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Vol. 12: Essay 2

Being an online publisher has been nothing but a journey. I had to dig deep into my knowledge and mind, find the treasures of ground-breaking posts, and slaying the bad ideas that come at me when writing. The digital revolution, in how easy it is to present ourselves online, opens a world of possibility. In my experience, I started to find my online presence through what I wear: fashion. Fashion to me is a form of art, in that you can communicate it through pictures, words, and having this “physical thing” on your body.

But why care about fashion when it is deemed materialistic? Is that not shallow? According to Jenni Avins, Quartz’ global lifestyle correspondent who has written for the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, Style.com and various others, she explains how why caring about fashion does not make one shallow. I read this article about a year ago, and one of the main reasons I decided to go with clothes. She describes how fashion may be hard to follow, but if you focus on clothing and what communication it provides, it’s a different matter.

In a sense, Avins described how clothes represented deep meanings such as identity, a story, and “as a piece of the globalized economy” (Avins, 2018) We are all part of the fashion movement right now, in 2018, and what is worn today might not be worn in a few years. Whether we like it or not, we are part of this history, and to it has been astounding to think of it like that. My public that I had imagined was the Millennial male who adored street fashion, but, my public was anyone who wears clothing in general. They do not particularly have to agree with my style or start to own anything I suggest, but they can admire and view what it is like to dress in 2018 through my lens.

The most important thing to understand in branding is your audience. Building an online presence is much like building a brand, especially for those who delve into fashion blogging. In building a business, your brand “is how people perceive you wherever they interact with your business—both the impressions you can control and the ones you can’t” (Shopify, n.d.). This is particularly the same for building an online presence of a blog, and I feel that people usually forget this factor. You have to view your blog in its entirety: the design, the layout, the way people navigate. Every little point matters, down to the font you decided to use because it is how people are interacting with you without saying anything. You are giving them almost something I would call “digital touchpoints” for them.

So how can you deal with this? In previous posts, I feel that consistency is key to building an online presence. You need to make sure every little detail is consistent with what you are trying to pursue. If you, for example, want to give off the vibe that you are bright and bubbly, it has to reflect well on your design, the words you use, and the pictures you provide. For me, it was easy to saw what my brand in fashion was, but it was a different story to translate it online. One of the things I had to learn is that I needed to “position myself apart from competitors,” almost if I were to competed with them (Shopify, n.d.). Having this mindset really helped me develop my blog in that I needed to provide what is different about myself and showcase that online as well.

This is when the development of my online presence started to manifest—when I was trying to got noticed as much as possible. I personally used social media to my advantage, as I used Instagram already to develop a following through not only friends but other people who have a similar style. According to Ramsay, who runs Blog Tyrant to share blogging, SEO and email marketing strategies, he analyzed several fashion blogs and found that while good content is vitally important, he explains that “it’s your colleagues and readers and the relationships that you have with them that will make you famous (R., 2018).”

My network, which is comprised of mostly my friends, have been pivotal in my success of growing an online following. Before even starting my online blog, a lot of them were already nagging me to start one and have stated that I should did one. With this motivation from them, I knew that once I started, I already had supporters. For me, to even have 10 supporters, is a lot. If I were able to have 10 life-long supporters, I already knew that they would play a huge role in shaping my reach as they were advocates already for me. Yes, they were my friends, but it paid off having supporters; I can’t ever thank them enough for their trust in me.

Looking back, I think there were many instances where my thoughts have changed. I started off thinking “this would be easy and fun” to “alright, I need to plan what I’m going to do next.” Though it became a job, it was fun in that I had an outlet to just be me in the most creative way possible. However, I guess in a sense that could also be a double-edged sword, in that I could not bear to be boring or mundane and had to put this image on all the time.

I really fell in love with the design aspects of my blog, making it unique, navigating through every detail possible until I was satisfied. I became picky. However, I felt that this contributed to producing my online presence. If everything on my blog was a choice I had to make, then I know I am creating an authentic and unique presence. As the semester ends, I think this was my biggest takeaway. Be picky, because that’s when you really find out more about yourself and what it means to have an online presence.

In conclusion, I must address whether or not I feel successful in reaching my audience. To answer this as concisely as possible, I feel that I did in terms of reaching people. Though I’ll never know if I converted anyone into buying clothing pieces that I would buy, I’m sure I was able to provide content that people liked to see and were able to show myself in the best way possible. In terms of continuing this blog, I definitely plan to as time goes on, and will continue to keep reiterating as my creative mind continues to grow, change, and adapt.

Sources:

Avins, J. (2014, December 15). Why caring about style doesn’t make you shallow. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://qz.com/259024/why-caring-about-style-doesnt-make-you-shallow/

How to Build Your Own Brand From Scratch in 7 Steps. (n.d.). Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.shopify.ca/blog/how-to-build-a-brand

R. (2018, January 14). How to Start a Fashion Blog and Make it Famous. Retrieved April 06, 2018, from https://www.blogtyrant.com/start-a-fashion-blog/

 

Vol. 7: Essay 1

In an ever increasingly digital world, news, such as how people digest the news and what news is available, has evolved significantly from the morning paper at your doorstep. It is no new fact that news delivered through paper to everyone’s doorstep has decreased year over year in daily circulation in North America alone, causing a significant shift towards digital mediums. The evolution has caused a seemingly divide for Millennials and other generations, as they continue to resort to mediums such as social media for awareness of the world on their mobile devices. As the delivery of news and important events continue to adapt to new technologies and consumer habits, one must consider this information is now received and where important age groups, such as Millennials, are digesting this content.

Some researchers even find that Millennials’ awareness is narrow and that their discovery of significant events is almost accidental and passive, suggesting that the pre-digital generation were more interested in news and events (Media Insight Project, 2015). However, according to a quantitative and qualitative study conducted by the Media Insight Project on 1,045 Millennials (ages 18-34) within different parts of the US, 85% of Millennials agree that keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them. This opposes the notion by some researchers that believe this generation is generally apathetic towards issues and events unless it is the most important news. Though Millennials do agree that keeping up with the news is something that they do think about, the question is where this content is consumed.

The figure below showcases the division between younger generations and older generations on their main source to obtain news in Q1 2017, based on a survey of over 70k news consumers from 36 different countries (Dunn, 2017). The sources vary significantly as the age groups get older, showcasing this division graphically and suggesting the every increasingly important for news to be disseminated and created online—there is an increasing trend in terms of how digital people become as the age groups are younger. Furthermore, it also showcases the unpopular choices of radio and print across all ages.

Figure: Main Source of News by Age Group in Q1 2017

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-millennials-vs-baby-boomers-get-news-chart-2017-6

According to the survey, around 64% of people ages 18-24 and 58% of people ages 25-34 use online (including social media) as their main source of how they get their news. Even with social media alone, 33% and 21% of these age groups respectively turn to places where they connect with friends to receive information. TV still dominates for the older generations, with 45-51% of people ages 45 and above using this medium as their main source.

Social media continues to play an enormous role in how Millennials learn about the world. Facebook, the nearly ubiquitous part of Millennials lives and most used social networking site, is not the only medium Millennials use for news as on average, those surveyed from Media Insight Project obtain news from three different social media platforms (Media Insight Project, 2015). These include YouTube, Instagram, and places of active involvement such as Reddit. As noted as being more passive, the consumption of news and information is woven into daily lives of social interaction and connection—they’re not always actively searching, but always connected and mobile. Also, not only are they looking at one article on a subject, but they are digging deeper and use search engines to learn more about the issue at hand (Media Insight Project, 2015).

Within the realm of digital news, mobile is becoming the preferred device. The portion of Americans who have ever gotten their news on a mobile device has risen from 54% in 2013 to 72% in 2016, suggesting that these digital users are on the go, do not have a lot of time and want to experience life (Eva Masta & Lu, 2016). There is even a shift towards a preference of receiving news from a mobile device over the desktop computer or laptop. Among people who receive their news from both places, 56% prefer mobile device to get news (Eva Masta & Lu, 2016).

Because of the multitasking functionality of mobile devices, many question whether news content will prevail as the audience is more apt to digesting news quickly and dipping in and out. However, through a study of online reader behaviour by Pew Research Center researchers on the details of 117 million anonymized, complete cellphone interactions with 74,840 articles from 30 news websites, the analysis found that despite the smaller screen and the multitasking abilities, consumers do spend more time on average with long-form news articles than with short-form. The length of long-forms tends to not deter most users away. Between the two forms, the total engaged time with articles of 1,000 words or longer averages about two times the time of short-form stories: 123 seconds compared with 57, and this is consistent across time of day and the pathway taken to get to the article (Mitchell, Stocking, & Eva Masta, 2016).

A typical journey of how I obtained an interesting news piece, such as the recent announcement of in the increase in minimum wage in British Columbia. Similar to the different studies and research findings mentioned above, I found myself stumbling upon this information through Facebook, scrolling down my personal news feed on my iPhone as I was commuting to school. It felt almost accidental, but it was the talk of the day as it sparked enormous controversy on not only online publications, but amongst my friends on social media. The voice of my friends and who I am connected online seems stronger than ever—and though I knew I would have probably found this out through word-of-mouth, it surprised me how much news that will directly affect me in my own province can reach me easily without having to search for it. After I saw the article about the news was shared from a friend, it was not difficult to pull me in to read the full-page article. I was easily interested in why this is happening, when it is happening, and how it happened in the first place. Now, I believe that social media plays a key role in the delivery of the most interesting, impeding, and important news to Millennials.

As the digital evolution continues to progress within the aspect of news, events, and information, it is important for companies within this space that curate and disseminate content to integrate these trends, to monetize on digital users. As users are continually on the go and stumble upon news, the real hurdle of credibility remains, and how easily news can be distorted quicker than a day. For digital users, this means that cross-referencing and fact-checking with multiple sources is key to obtaining credible information, alongside the credibility of the author or news creator. For content creators and news publishers, this age requires the use of social media to diffuse information and to use social connections and interactions of people to share and educate others on important news and events. It is important to understand where the delivery of news is ultimately evolving towards to understand what content should be then produced and how it should be received.

Sources:

Dunn, J. (2017, June 26). How Millennials vs Baby Boomers Get Their News. Retrieved from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-millennials-vs-baby-boomers-get-news-chart-2017-6

Eva Masta, K., & Lu, K. (2016, September 14). 10 facts about the changing digital news landscape. Retrieved from Fact Tank: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/14/facts-about-the-changing-digital-news-landscape/

Mitchell, A., Stocking, G., & Eva Masta, K. (2016, May 5). Long-Form Reading Shows Signs of Life in Our Mobile News World. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: Journalism & Media: http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/05/long-form-reading-shows-signs-of-life-in-our-mobile-news-world/

Project, M. I. (2015, March 16). How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation. Retrieved from American Press Institute: https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-research/millennials-news/

 

 

 

My Experience as an Online Publisher, More or Less

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.

Reference

Mary Meeker. 2017. “2017 Internet Trends Report.” http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends

Suler, John. 2004. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Available from: Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

Mike Allton. 2013. “10 Benefits of Using Images in Blogs.” https://www.thesocialmediahat.com/article/10-benefits-using-images-blogs

Essay #2 – Experience expanding my site

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/

 

Essay 2

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.

 

Reference

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/

Essay #2

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 […]

Essay #2

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...

Essay #2


Introduction

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.

Audience

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.

Customization

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.

Values

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

Final Review

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.

 

 

Citation

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.

Oberoi, Ankit. “How Typography Affects Readers.” AdPushup Blog. AdPushup, 06 Dec.  2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.

 

 

PUB 101 Essay #2: Understanding My Life in Chunks

PUB 101 Essay #2: Understanding My Life in Chunks

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.

References

Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015. Available from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines

Konnikova, Maria. 2013. “The Psychology of Online Comments”. http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-psychology-of-online-comments

Shelby Carpenter. 2016. “The Toast Is Toast: Literary Humor Site Shuts Down Over Ad Revenue Woes.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/shelbycarpenter/2016/05/13/the-toast-is-toast-and-its-devastating/#44854347c877

Essay #1

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.

References

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/

Essay: I Want YOU! (to stop spreading 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.

Sources:

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.