Tag Archives: essays

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.

the self

The Self

As Suzanne set us off in our very first class with a vague outline of the semester, and one immediate task; grasp a sense of “the self”. Suzanne recognized how difficult it can be to categorize ourselves into just one passion, and how necessary it was to keep the process in constant movement. By her suggestion, I created a vision board. A map with my self at the center, and streams flowing outward; as I portion energy every day into separate areas of my life. At first, it seemed there couldn’t possibly be enough space to fit everything I care about, and the more I sat on it, did I realize the difference between caring and engaging. There were few but valuable things where I could say I actively participated and contributed to day to day. I settled on a play board of ideas; ranging from my family, friends, and relationships I keep and fight for, my personality and beliefs, things you would find out from a conversation with me, to what kind of a space I wanted to create and lead online. I primarily focused on what I expected my intended audience to like, being inflexible to what audience I could attract with the person I was at the moment; already believing I was not enough. Throughout the semester I encountered barriers, with constantly needing to create, anxiety in how people would receive me, and in trying to keep my online and real-life self synonymous. In this essay, I will reflect on how my attitude towards publication has shifted over the course of the semester, being influenced by course material and discussion, and real-life experiences and challenges with the self.

Before I took this course and delving into the process of curating my own online publication, I had only a surface understanding of what it meant to be published. During a writer’s conference, Matthew Stadler defined Publication as “the creation of a public, is essentially a political act…more than a market created by deliberate acts, the circulation of texts, discussions, and gatherings in physical space…together these construct a space of conversation that is a public space which beckons a public into being” (2010). This opened my eyes to how broad publication can be, as we write formal papers and update our social media, we are creating and encouraging dialogue. It felt as if I was bringing something to life, forming something into existence. Hossein Derakhshan, a contributor to Medium explained the power of blogs to connect people miles apart, that they “were windows into lives you’d rarely know much about; bridges that connected different lives to each other and thereby changed them…; were cafes where people exchanged diverse ideas on any and every topic you could possibly be interested in.” (2015). It felt compelling to have a piece of the internet dedicated to funny things I wanted to share, more serious reflections, and experiences I could more easily relate to others. At first, I was intrigued by the freedom of my own domain online, and later overwhelmed by how many executive decisions I was confronted by; I learned I had to trust my instinct, and that the design of my vision would be achieved. However, the vision I had in my head felt far-fetched from the actual me, and this affected the process of conceptualizing my brand and making my posts; I let a standard hinder me from exploring my true self. The pressure of being perfect in my own eyes, made me dread having to make posts and upload on social media; It was as if I failed before I even started. But something changed, as I started to post more on Instagram as myself; I showed a side to myself that encompassed my attitude and beliefs and was celebrated for it.

I believed that blog-writing only focused on the reaction of the reader, and was surprised to realize I as the author, changed in the process; of digging deep to create content with depth and emotional relatability. But my blog was live and alive, Campbell states “technology gradually creates a totally new human environment. Environments are not passive wrappings but active processes” (2009).  The online environment of my own domain was a dynamic that grew with me as I evolved; If I chose to be more personal and honest about my beliefs on Instagram, there was a shift in my “self”. Going back to my vision board, I realized that subconsciously over time, the areas of my life that I was working on the most were where I chose to highlight in my online self. I was spending more time at volunteer events with an organization called Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) and helping a fundraiser at my past high school. I was spending more time with friends who accepted me just as I was, and I recognized that those were the kind of people I wanted as my audience, as my reach. The validation from my family and friends in who I was, helped me find confidence in publishing my true self online, and in everyday life. I was surprised to see how “In developing this ‘personal cyberinfrastructure’ … [students] are the subjects of their learning, not the objects of education technology software” (Watters, 2015).  As I began with allowing my online domain to control me and my creative process, by the end of the semester I changed that around.

I’m glad I took this course, it filled gaps in my knowledge about publication, blogs, and online domains, and most importantly; allowed me to see my true self as enough.

 

References list

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

Derakhshan, H. (2015, July) “The Web We Have to Save.” Medium Corporation. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/matter/the-web-we-have-to-save-2eb1fe15a426

Stadler, M. (2010, May 21) “What is Publication?” Talk from the Richard Hugo House’s writer’s conference, Seattle, WA. Retrieved from: http://vimeo.com/14888791

Watters, A. (2015, July 15) “The Web We Need to Give to Students.” Medium Corporation. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/bright/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x

Essay #2 – My own experience as an online pulisher

An Introduction of my Own Website

This fall, I started my website rachelbiubiubiu.com and named it as 36C, the name I use in every game I play. As stated in the title of this website, let’s see what this cup size can do. I have been hoping to create a website of my own for a long time; however, I didn’t implement any action due to the thought of I’m not good at programming. Thankfully, I was recommended a powerful software called WordPress. “Typically, WordPress developers tend to focus more on design aspects of the application compared to development aspects” (Rakhitha 329).

To begin with, I registered and bought a domain of my own I was so excited of my domain because it’s exclusive in the world. Then I read through some usage guidance and watched quite a lot videos shot by experienced WordPress users. Both the software itself and its guidance are very user-friendly, so computer idiots like me are able to get command of online publication within a pretty short time.

MY PUBLIC

My website mainly deals with online games since I’m fond of playing online games especially League of Legends and Fortnite. I share information of gaming with the hope of attracting game players all over the world to discuss and compete with me. And I also hope to know more about the latest trend of Internet games through communication with other game players.

At first, the majority of my public was my friends and classmates, because I shared the joy of establishing my website with them for the first time. And they clicked on my site quite frequently. Later, they also recommend this 36C publication to their friends and acquaintants. This website has been a highly convenient and useful platform to express my ideas to all visitors.

HOW AM I ADDRESSING THE AUDIENCE

I address my audience through a combination of photos, game review and introduction, peer review, relevant articles and so on. And I will update some videos as soon as possible. The website is consists of four parts, namely, home, about, blog post and Posiel. The primary color of this website is warm orange and soft pink, showing an atmosphere of youth and freshness. By designing the appearance and content of the site, I would like to share the funny sides of gaming and reveal the joy of a simple life.

With the help of Google Analytics, I’ve got to know more about my audience. For the reason that “Google Analytics is a tool to quantitatively measure what happens on your own business” (Justin 1) Comparing with essays reposted, the original contents created by me have been visited by a larger number of audience. For instance, I posted a pink keyboard and mouse I got as a gift on Valentine’s Day, not long after, I got lots of comments, among which lots of them highly praised this gift and asked me where to buy it. So, this technique contributes a lot to know what kinds of content are most popular and attractive then I can update relevant contents accordingly. From comments of my audience, I also learn that the majority of them are teenagers like me. To my surprise, some of them did not play games before, but they still click on my website out of curiosity. Furthermore, they said what I updated has interested them significantly, so they’d love to give it a try. This is precisely the goal I intend to achieve, that is to spread the joy of playing games.

I’ve received a various type of comment through e-mails. Most of them are words admiring the effort I’ve spent to manage this website, but some of them are sharp words of criticizing me for showing off and wasting time. I have to admit that I was upset when seeing these unfriendly words, but later I think that people do have different opinions and I will still stick to what I enjoy doing. Since “A considered and well-executed response will help repair the damage of negative comments” (Newson & Patten 19), I should be more prepared for the potentially harmful comments and respond to them appropriately.

Looking back, this website has helped me to realize that my understanding of games is not yet profound enough and I should communicate with and learn more from my audience. Looking forward, I would like to continue to blog by updating more photos and videos. Most importantly, I will spare no effort to test and recommend marvelous online games to my audience. I cherish this platform a lot and wish to keep it as a digital diary to document my life as well as share with game players all over the world.

Works Cited

Rakhitha Nimesh Ratnayake. WordPress Web Application Development   https://books.google.com.hk/books?id=mnc5DwAAQBAJ&pg=PA329&dq=WordPress+importance&hl=zh-CN&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj3l4CzuvjZAhVrxoMKHQmKA04Q6AEIPTAD#v=onepage&q=WordPress%20importance&f=false

Cutroni, Justin. Google Analytics: Understanding Visitor Behavior https://books.google.com.hk/books?id=jDpN8YAQSNcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Google+Analytics&hl=zh-CN&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjuvLbBu_jZAhWo5YMKHVkRB1sQ6AEIOTAC#v=onepage&q=Google%20Analytics&f=false

Newson, A. Patten, J. Blogging and Other Social Media. Web. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.hk/books?isbn=1351955187

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Assignment #2

“Self-publishing is not just a 21st-century phenomenon – it’s as old as Caxton, it’s just the technology that’s changed” (Young, 2014).  With technology changing over time, many different platforms are used by publishers to disseminate their content. With the advent of digital systems and the internet, the scope of publishing has expanded to include electronic resources such as websites, blogs, and video game publishers. This allowed my peers and I to create an online presence and post about anything we desired. With such a broad assignment in the course PUB 101, it enabled everyone to choose what they wanted to blog about as well as developing their “online self”. In this essay, I will discuss my experience as an online publisher and what I have learned on how to properly maintain my preferred audience, while effectively distributing my content.

The fact that most of my peers decided to blog about themselves made me ponder about the thought of creating a blog based off of the adventures of my dog, Mia. In my opinion, creating a blog about myself would be difficult for me to come up with interesting content in order to maintain a specific audience. With the idea of blogging about my dog in mind, I had already thought about who my audience would be, which could be animal lovers from all different age ranges. What had also inspired me to create a blog about my dog was the overwhelming amount of animal Instagram accounts being made portraying various pets from all over the world. My initial idea was to just blog about my dog and only my dog. However, the fact that I had to think about what my audience would prefer, changed my mind. Although the main face of the blog was my dog, I decided to incorporate other dogs, her buddies, so it would be more interesting to get to know other personalities of other dogs. This, in my mind, was something people would enjoy and be likely to read about. For my posts, I decided to write in my dog’s point of view which is another thing people would seem to think is interesting and would like to read.

My initial thought while creating my own blog was to be able to spread the joy I have when I see dogs and post about what I thought would please myself. While the course went in depth of publication, there were many topics that I have never really thought about as a publisher. For example, to keep and gain an audience, you must be aware of design and editorial decisions used made to create an effective blog. Although I based some my design decisions based on how to grow an audience, I also incorporated my own ethos in order for my people to understand what the theme of my blog is. By my own ethos, I mean I added my own animations and designs to my blog, which makes it seem more personable rather than professional.

Everything in publishing such as building a site, customizing its look, functionality, and content is what I have learned to develop an audience. For example, Messenger’s raise in audience is because of the “constant iteration on everything from flashy features to accessibility initiatives to boring but critical performance improvements” (Constine, 2016). Over time, my blog has changed from three different themes and with the critiques I received, the current theme I’m using fits my blog the best. The theme “Fotographie”, which is the current one I’m using has allowed me to display the thumbnail with the body text below it while users can continue to read or scroll to other posts. When a post is l

By expanding to other platforms, this will also gain a larger audience. I’ve realized that publishing is how to keep an audience and the sustainability of your publications. With an audience, you are able to discuss and explore the monetization on your blog. It never crossed my mind that there should be guidelines on my blog in order for people to “feel safe expressing their ideas and opinions” online (Johns, 2011). With community guidelines in mind, most basic rules begin with “defining the purpose of your page” or “asking the community to look out for each other” (Johns, 2011). Things such as “Trolling, or posting deliberately disruptive statements meant to hijack comment threads or throw discussions off-track” are reasons why community guidelines should be stated on blogs (Johns, 2011).

Although I have learnt a lot about how to publish and mostly how to keep an audience, I’ve decided to continue Mia’s adventures on her Instagram instead. From my perspective, Instagram is an easy way to gain an audience and the format of the platform is easily read by others. Since there is already a large amount of users using this platform, it is often easier to gain followers. I’m not sure if I’ll still blog because on a website, you can monetize and earn some cash. In that case, I’ll start blogging once I reach a larger following on Instagram. As I mentioned before, using different platforms could make other audiences aware of your blog.

My experience as an online publisher not only helped me realize the importance of maintaining an audience, but it also showed me how to distribute my content while keeping in mind of the user interface and designs. I have never realized the importance of developing an audience while blogging and that there was so many ways to try to keep and gain more people to look at the blog. Although my content was the perspective of my dog, I have learned to develop an online presence. Without creating my own blog, I never would have thought about the steps platforms go through, such as Facebook, to maintain their audience.

References:

Constine, J. (July 20, 2016). How Facebook Messenger clawed its way to 1 billion users. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/20/one-billion-messengers/

Johns, B. (Jun 07, 2011). How To Create Facebook Community Guidelines. https://www.socialfresh.com/facebook-fan-page-community-guidelines/

Young, D. (October 24, 2014). 6 Key Facts about Self-publishing – for Writer & Readers. Retrieved from https://selfpublishingadvice.org/6-key-facts/

Essay 2

Before taking this course, blogging was always something within my interest. My daily routine often comprises of observing other people’s posts whether short or long, would cheer me up throughout my day. In the hopes of being able to influence the people around me through sharing my experiences, giving advice/tips and casually writing a conversation based on my life so far, I was able to build this personal space I’m satisfied seeing with today. My major discovery through this semester was recognizing how much actual dedication is needed to continue blogging in a stable manner. There were multiple times I was unable to upload a blog post once a week, and it made me realize how tough it can be to build a single page even within a week. As Matthew Stadler mentions in his speech, What is Publication?, “Publication requires consistency. You don’t do it once. You do it again, again and again” (Stadler, 2010). Coming up with content was for more difficult, as I kept in mind that I shouldn’t be distancing it away from my target audience. Now that I think back to the process of my pattern in posting content, it surprises me how YouTubers and social media influencers can constantly come up with these new ideas within a short time frame to maintain and gain subscribers/views. It’s almost like a skill! Through the influence of my favourite bloggers and thoughts on the theme of what blog would portray me as a person, I’ve created a lifestyle blog throughout this year so far. The greatest thing I found seeing in building this own online page wasn’t merely on publishing content that was able to entertain people and make their day, but additionally on seeing my own progress of building my own self.

As I furthered my knowledge on Google Analytics, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Search Engine Optimizations (SEOs) throughout this course, I’ve realized how important these tools are in the process of building a successful blog. It allows me to understand what’s working and what’s not working, and the data indirectly shows what kind of content or methods I should focus on to improve my page and gain more public attention. Although these indicators were not often used in my case (because my blog has only been publicized among students and instructors in this course), I can be definite that they will be the most useful tools when I (hopefully) do commit more time and effort into this blog in the near future.

I remember the time with my TA asked the class, who is the target audience of your blog? My mind was confused, isn’t it just female millenials…? Why was I even questioning myself, shouldn’t I know? With fashion, beauty and lifestyle recognized as very common themes in blogging, I knew that I had to create a different approach. I feel that I was carried away with the idea that everyone should have a different target audience, but that wasn’t really what I should’ve focused on. I learned throughout publishing that it’s important that your blog should represent who you really are, what you really like and provide at least one thing that’s different. My blog could be in a large pile, and I had to demonstrate what could make mine special and apart from the others. I largely focused this section with the way I took advantage of design. I dedicated a lot of time in creating the perfect header image that I knew would convey the perfect image of my page and my persona. Honestly Naomi conveys a comforting mood, a laid-back atmosphere with pillows displayed on the home page and a soft pink glow around my title to show the sweet, warm hearted side of me.

Creating the online self in a website wasn’t only an opportunity for me to show others am impression of who I am, but the process has allowed me to really discover who and what kind of person I am. As a frequent Instagram user, I’ve always felt pressure in posting content, “…motivated by a desire to make a favorable impression on others, or an impression that corresponds to one’s ideals. As such, self-presentation is centrally involved in impression management and the projection of an online identity” (Herring & Kapidzic, 2015, p. 146). I used to be afraid to publish what I truly wanted to on profile in the worry of not meeting my surroundings standards, but I feel that this space has showed me that those decisions shouldn’t be set in regards to anyone else but myself. In relation, building a blog has enabled me to publish content that I feel represents the way I want to express myself online without being too filtered.

Although blogging can be considered as “a selfless act of service to invest your time, energy, and worldview into a piece of writing and then offer it free to anybody who wants to read it.” (Becker, 2017, para.8), I feel that the best feeling is derived when you realize you have the ability to inspire others through your own work. I’m looking forward to expanding my blog in the near future and hopefully becoming an influencer, taking my audience on a journey through Honestly Naomi

 

References

Becker, J. (2017, February 28). 15 Reasons I Think You Should Blog. Retrieved April 12, 2018, from https://www.becomingminimalist.com/15-reasons-i-think-you-should-blog/

Herring, S. C., & Kapidzic, S. (2015). Teens, Gender, and Self-Presentation in Social Media. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences,146-152. doi:10.1016/b978-0-08-097086-8.64108-9

Matthew Stadler. 2010. “What is Publication?” Talk from the Richard Hugo House’s writer’s conference, Seattle, WA. May 21, 2010. http://vimeo.com/14888791

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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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Essay #2

My experience with creating my online presence and expanding it.

Being affected by anxiety, which, unfortunately, impacts virtually everything I do, my online presence started out shaky, and I was unsure of what I even wanted to post. The idea of being given a website space where any content I wanted could be posted was both exciting and terrifying. I did not have an audience or even content that I wanted to post in mind and that scared me more than anything. The possibility of anything I said being posted out there for the entire world to see, and even scarier yet, the fact that all of this was connected to my name and my face was absolutely horrifying. From the slightly petrified, unsure student given a blank canvas to work with, that I was at the beginning of the semester, to the (slightly more) confident lifestyle blogger I am now, my online self and perspectives have changed and grown marginally with my blog.

The online disinhibition effect is a theory by John Suler (2004) that describes the loosening of social norms and behaviour that are usually present when interacting face-to-face versus communicating online. Suler calls one of the key factors behind the online disinhibition effect “dissociative anonymity” – the feeling of being protected behind the wall of anonymity on the internet. When one feels anonymous they do not have to own up to their behaviour. Being someone who was used to never adding my full name or face to the social media websites I post on frequently, like Tumblr and Twitter, I would never post anything at all on social media websites where adding my full name and face were necessary (like Facebook and Instagram). In this context, making the blog connected directly to my name and face took away the dissociative anonymity for me. This made me anxious and worried to post anything at first. Because of this anxiety, I had a preferred audience in mind and I decided to take baby steps in choosing an audience I would feel comfortable with – my close friends and people my age with similar interests. An audience I felt comfortable with, that would mean I would post things more often, and with all this in mind, I set out to begin my blogging journey.

Danah Boyd writes an example in her book “It’s Complicated,” that struck a chord with me when I was beginning to construct my online personality and blog. In the book, she speaks about teens trying to find their own private and public spaces on social media – in this particular example, the boy in the example was an active user of both Facebook and Twitter. “Initially [she] assumed he was using Twitter to keep a public presence while keeping Facebook as a more intimate space.” (Boyd, 2014). However, that was not the case. Facebook has become the more widely used platform to add every acquaintance you have, making it feel more public than an actual public Twitter account would feel, and this particular boy felt that posting on Facebook was “yelling it out to a crowd”, while on Twitter it was just “yelling it out to a room of people.” This is similar to how I felt about my blog when I first started out – although my blog was a completely public space that anyone could access, the likelihood of anyone actually seeing my posts that I did not know about or know of was very low, so although it was a public, it felt very private and helped me transition to being more comfortable posting about myself. My imagined public and audience thought out, I began to choose the layout of the blog and make posts. The posts and layout were centred around things I would enjoy, and I tried to pick post topics I thought my friends would enjoy. My friends left a medley of friendly, joking comments throughout my posts which made me feel more comfortable with my blog space.

Exposure therapy is a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy technique used to target specific phobias and other fears a person may have. (Grohol, 2016.) It is not a completely new idea to me – in the past, my therapist used it to target my anxiety. Exposure therapy guides a person through thinking of the specific thing that is affecting them and getting them used to the idea. Gradually, as they get used to the idea of whatever scares them the most, they can slowly start to face their fears. Just like that, throughout the semester I gradually got used to the idea of complete strangers reading the posts on my blog, seeing my face, and knowing my name. After going through my Google Analytics, I started to notice a few strangers who had went through my blog. At the beginning of my online publication journey that might have seriously freaked me out. At the moment I found it to be perfectly fine. I continued posting as normal, making my usual process posts and regular blog posts. In a way, this helped me beyond this specific publication class. At the end of the semester, I was able to post a picture on Instagram for the first time in more than a year. That does not sound very impressive in retrospect, but for me it was huge.

Looking back, the change I can see in my online self has helped me gain more confidence, not just in posting things online, but as a person in face-to-face interactions. It sounds strange but I associated my face-to-face self with my blog. In being more uninhibited with posting things on my blog, it helped me gain more confidence to say and do more things as a person. Although making blog posts was a lot of fun, I would probably not continue as a blogger due to my inability to keep up with posts as a hobby if they are not associated with a grade. I want to work on creating a more confident online self and actually using the social media I have that are associated with me as a person. This course already helped me take a huge step forward and with this, I hope to grow even more in confidence.

 


 

References:

Suler, J. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. Cyberpsychology & behaviour, 7(3), 321-326.

 

Boyd, Danah. (2014). “Searching for a public of their own.” It’s Complicated. Retrieved from https://www.wattpad.com/203798155-it%27s-complicated-8-searching-for-a-public-of-their/page/3

 

Grohol, J. (2016). What is Exposure Therapy?. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-exposure-therapy/

 

#posiel: milktea for the seoul – a sip of retrospect

The primitive days of my blog, even before the days of “milktea for the seoul” began as a safe haven for my thoughts. I needed a blog for my class I wanted to challenge myself by writing about something that is not typically written about, but was still personally relevant to me – and so, “milktea for the seoul” was born. Since beginning, I intended for my blog to be primarily for myself. I did not really care for an audience ; nevertheless, if there was anyone who looked at my blog aside from me and my three friends, then I was grateful. In my opinion, my blog served and serves the most value to me as an outlet for my ideas. To my audience, my blog provided and provides milk tea and music recommendations, as well as creative ways to think about milk tea, music, and life. I had been convinced that nobody else visited my blog aside from my three friends. Correspondingly, my Google

 

Before the semester even began, I had known that I wanted my blog to center around milk tea. I genuinely loved milk tea, and I felt that I was passionate enough to write weekly posts about it. In the 13 weeks that I spent blogging, though, I realized milk tea was not as interesting of a writing topic I had initially thought somewhere along the way. I published five posts about milk tea, which is less than half of my total posts, and equal to the number of posts I created about music. However, unlike the posts about milk tea, I found writing about music to be more enjoyable and less pressuring than writing about milk tea.  

 

In the beginning, I mentioned in several process posts that I am quite a reserved individual. Most of the time, I carry a fear of being negatively judged by others, both in person and online. As such, I was extremely wary of personalizing my posts too much as I react sensitively to negative comments, if I were to receive any. During the course of my blogging experience, most of the comments I received on my blog were silly ones from my friends. In all three of the peer review uI received, my classmates commended me for my writing a

I realized that my default fear of putting myself onto the web for the world to see might be more irrational than not. I realized that there are some who might find that what I have to say is interesting, whether they ask for it or not.

 

After this semester passes, I will aim to continue blogging. The pressure to come up with exciting posts that my imaginary audience might be interested in, and that I was interested in enough for me to write was definitely present – although, I think this pressure stemmed primarily from the fact that I to publish posts to fulfill a class requirement. I would like to optimistically think that this pressure will dissipate once I rid myself of the mindset that I am blogging for achieve a grade, and instead take on the mindset that I am blogging purely for the fun of creating content. In her blog post, The pressure for perfection in the blogging community, Julia (2017) shares my burden in maintaining blog posts. To overcome this pressure, Julia (2017) suggests that the blogger should remember his or her primary reason for initially creating the blog. Although I started “milktea for the seoul” for the purpose of fulfilling my duty as a PUB 101 student, I had every desire to make a cute blog about milk teas I like. I loved milk tea so much, and I wanted to let the world Although the responsibility of maintaining a blog can be tiresome, Julia (2017) provides concrete advice, such as “write what you want to write about” and “be happy with what you produce” to bloggers who may going through the same predicament.

 

Though I cannot currently make any promises to myself, I would definitely like to work on elaborating my online presence. In her article, Why Having an Online Presence Matters in Your Job Search, Laurence Bradford (2016) defines an online presence as “the broad picture of the identity [one has] created online – personal and professional”. I think that in this digital age, establishing a positive online presence is necessary in increasing one’s employability. The web can act as a type of portfolio, on which potential employers can have a small glimpse the employee’s personal life. Bradform (2016) affirms that one’s online can presence can show aspects of one’s personality, “help build trust and credibility, show that [one is] passionate, and make [one] stand out from the pack”.

 

I plan to build my online presence through transmedia integration. I think Facebook would be the most appropriate platform Furthermore, because

The Value of My Personal Cyberinfrastructure

On the first day of PUB 101, a creative journey that is extremely confusing, exciting, and valuable begins. I was prompted to begin a project that offers a completely unique learning experience, following the suggestions Gardner (2009) and Watters (2015) make to create a personal cyberinfrastructure. Although I began this journey feeling lost, I eventually discovered the value of creating and maintaining a personal cyberinfrastructure, as it helps me craft a crucial digital identity, exercise my creativity, and develop technical and design skills which will help me move forward in the field of Communication.

What is a personal cyberinfrastructure?

In the digital age, it becomes increasingly important to use the Internet to your advantage. As Watkins (n.d.) explains, “you have the power to create your own professional brand and leverage multiple channels to position yourself online. This is the key to developing a professional online identity which is your brand with respect to professional pursuits that is visible through social media” (pg. 3). The current knowledge economy relies on digital technology; utilizing these participatory platforms is almost always advantageous (Costa & Torres, 2011, pg. 47). In the dawn of the digital age, Gardner (2009) asks: “How might colleges and universities shape curricula to support and inspire the imaginations that students need?” Rather than simply learning to navigate other existing web servers, Gardner (2009) proposes an educational assignment that requires students to shape the Internet themselves. This assignment is called “a personal cyberinfrastructure,” and it is realized when a student purchases a domain to customize and receives assistance building their digital presence. “For students who have relied on these aids, the freedom to explore and create is the last thing on their minds, so deeply has it been discouraged. Many students simply want to know what their professors want and how to give that to them. But if what the professor truly wants is for students to discover and craft their own desires and dreams, a personal cyberinfrastructure provides the opportunity” (Gardner, 2009).  Watters (2015) agrees: “giving students their own digital domain is a radical act. It gives them the ability to work on the Web and with the Web.” Gardner (2009) claims that a personal cyberinfrastructure offers students “the most flexible and extensible environment for creativity and expression that human beings have ever built.” With proper guidance, developing a domain of one’s own allows students to showcase their identity and creativity, acquire “crucial technical skills,” “engage in work that provides richly teachable moments ranging from multimodal writing, to information science, knowledge management, bibliographic, instruction, and social networking,” build a network, and “study design and function of their own digital environments”  (Gardner, 2009). Ultimately, students should become “effective architects, narrators, curators, and inhabitants of their own digital lives,” and those that are digitally fluent in this way will be more qualified and competent in pursuits beyond their post-secondary career (Gardner, 2009). 

How I Have Developed a Domain of My Own

Throughout the entire course, my PUB 101 peers and I have developed exactly what Gardner (2009) and Watters (2015) recommend. To begin this journey, I visited Reclaim Hosting to purchase my own web space. Initially, developing a domain of my own seemed daunting. Although it would be personal, my domain is not meant to be merely for me. “Networked publics serve as publics that both rely on networked technologies and network people into meaningful imagined communities in new ways. Publics are a mechanism through which we construct our social world” (Boyd, 2014).  In order for my digital presence to become meaningful, it was crucial to consider how I could target a specific audience. I have grown accustomed to writing theoretical research papers, but as Glass (2015) mentions, these projects rarely see the light of day. Most of my writing is a “waste product,” as it will be read and graded by one professor, then eternally ignored. It intimidated me that my personal cyberinfrastructure would be accessible to anyone. I pondered what I could possibly create that I would be proud to promote to a specific audience. Eventually, it registered that this project was a chance for me to craft my online identity, so I wanted it to reflect my own interests and target an audience similar to myself. Reflecting on my own interests by creating a vision board allowed me to recall my passion for film photography that I had been neglecting to explore. I chose to create a community to share amateur photography and called it www.carlycamera.com.  I wanted to show an honest look into a creative process, documenting my own art, sharing personal stories, discussing products I would use and mistakes I would make. The ultimate goal would be to inspire others to create and eventually create a community of photographers. Once I understood the focus of my blog and that I would be primarily targeting amateur photographers, I allowed my content and design choices to be influenced by this throughout the term.

The Carly Camera Content And Design

Expression and Creative Process are the two post categories found on Carly Camera. In my Expression posts, I share my own amateur photography. In my Creative Process posts, I provide more information about the products I used and technical mistakes I made in the process. Although I am not a film photography expert, the desire to create became the blog’s driving force, and I wanted to showcase an authentic aspect of my personality through each type of post. The value I provide to my audience of amateur photographers is creative inspiration through art-sharing and technical insight through product tutorials.

Designing my personal cyberinfrastructure allowed me to develop technical and design skills in order to maintain my brand identity. At the beginning of the term, I learned to navigate WordPress on my own by watching YouTube tutorials, customize themes, and use graphic design software such as Canva to create clean graphics and logos. I customized my theme according to design principles taught in class. For example, a light orange became consistent on my website after Mauve Page explained what colour could communicate. Orange is bright, fun, and even has a childlike element, which I thought perfectly represented amateur photography.

The Future of My Personal Cyberinfrastructure

I have thoroughly enjoyed growing through this unique learning experience, and understand the value of creating a personal cyberinfrastructure. This project has prompted me to showcase a digital identity, maintain a brand consistency, learn design principles, constantly create content, and strategically promote my blog across multiple social media platforms. This has made me more comfortable expressing myself to creatively to a public, and allowed me to practice creating spreadable media. Gardner (2009) recommends students seize the possibilities of a personal cyberinfrastructure “throughout their college career – and beyond.” While creating my personal cyberinfrastructure, I have also been searching for a Co-op position. In my resume, cover letters, and interviews, I have discussed every skill I have developed through creating a personal cyberinfrastructure.  Since this project has proven to be incredibly valuable, I intend to continue blogging. If I were to continue to develop Carly Camera, I would continue to focus on making my infrastructure a community to share amateur photography. Despite my efforts to promote my website on Instagram, Google Analytics revealed that I do not have a very large audience. In order to create the uplifting, inspiring community I envision, increasing my exposure would be crucial. Since I frequently discuss different cameras and photo accessories in my Creative Process posts, I do see an opportunity to monetize through affiliate programs, especially if I gain a larger following. Although I do believe that there is a potentially successful future for Carly Camera, I may completely change my focus after this course ends. As Glass (2015) mentions, a personal domain serves to showcase one’s learning to others “beyond the classroom,” and I want my personal cyberinfrastructure to be more relevant to potential employers. Using my blog to reflecting on my Co-op work experience that I intend to gain this summer may be an excellent way to make my content more relevant professionally. I am interested in becoming a Community Ambassador for YVR Airport. In this role, I would be promoting the airport at exciting festivals in Metro Vancouver throughout the summer. If I were to secure this position I would be interested in transforming this into a blog into a space where I could document experiences at each festival. I would appeal to a target audience of Vancouver locals and tourists while creating more professionally relevant content. I consider this the ultimate way to utilize Gardner (2009)‘s personal cyberinfrastructure project.

Works Cited

Boyd, D. (2014). Searching for a public of their own. It’s Complicated (pg. 213-227). Retrieved from https://www.wattpad.com/203798155-it%27s-complicated-8-searching-for-a-public-of-their

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

Costa, C., & Torres, R. (2011). To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society. Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, (pg. 47-53). Retrieved from https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/9844014.pdf

Glass, G. (2015). Why we need social paper. Retrieved from https://commons.gc.cuny.edu/papers/45249/

Watkins, N. (n.d.). Developing your professional online identity: Defining who you are and how you show up in the world! Retrieved from https://continuingstudies.sauder.ubc.ca/sites/continuingstudies.sauder.ubc.ca/files/cs/documents/program/tmap/Developing-Your-Professional-Online-Identity.pdf

Watters, A. (2015). The web we need to give to students. Medium. Retrieved from https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713

 

A Look Back on Multi Monica’s Digital Footprint

The Birth of a Blog

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

 

Shaping My Digital Identity Through Specific Content & Design Choices

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

 

Content that Connects

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

 

Defining my Audience

I think the typical reader of my blog would have the following demographics: Woman, early twenties, a university student, travel-photography-and-music-of-many-genres lover, creative, residing in North America, with a steady part-time internship job, and in a committed relationship. While this is quite specific, I believe that readers who possess these qualities would best resonate with the kind of things I discuss on my blog, as these demographics basically describe myself. I may have an idea of the type of people I will attract through Multi Monica, but I don’t want to limit myself to one niche market. My travel section, for example, can provide readers of all ages, geographical locations, and genders, useful information for planning their next destination trip. I also think my music playlists have the ability to connect with a range of readers, as I curate playlists featuring a wide variety of artists. In “Publics and Counterpublics“ by Michael Warner, he suggests to “put on a show and see who shows up.” With that being said, I also want to be aware of my readers’ boundaries and the common ground we share.

 

Analyzing my Audience

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

 

Encouraging Engagement

I am currently taking a Communications course called “Topics in Technology and Society”, and have been able to apply many of the concepts we learn about into my development of Multi Monica.  Understanding the difference between “sticky” vs “spreadable” media content, an insight I gained in this course, can be valuable to my process of creating blog content. In the words of Henry Jenkins, “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.” Sticky content may grab audience’s attention and get readers to stay on your piece, but spreadable content is the goal, as it motivates your message to spread, relies on consumers to circulate the message, and encourages open-ended participation. As Michael Warner states in his work, “It is the way texts circulate and become the basis for further representations, that convinces us that publics have activity and duration.” Grabbing your readers’ interest is necessary, but shock value content can only go so far. I believe writing content that promotes further interaction and sparks conversation, proves to be a more successful approach. To facilitate more communication from others through my blog, I plan to continue expressing my online self through multimodal distribution – using text, photos, gifs, videos, and music, which will give my readers a variety of content to connect with.

 

What’s in it For You?

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

 

Multi Monica Might Make Money

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

 

Plans for the Future

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

 


References

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

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

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

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

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

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Philippine Drug War

 

In May 2016, with his party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Rodrigo Duterte went from Mayor of the city Davao to President of the Philippines (Ismi, 2017). During his campaign, he sought to take heroic measures in dealing with human trafficking, poverty, corruption in government and any trace of drug use both in high state to the lowest class of men; and these persistent and powerful goals took the hearts of many Filipinos who have fallen victim to these issues under presidents before him. It was in Duterte’s face, that majority of the middle class saw possible understanding, and passion for the issues that pertain to them, that they may have felt was neglected by past officials. He knows what the people want and how to make it look convincing he’ll listen. But he also knows what he wants, and every life involved in the selling and use of drugs. His obsession with Philippine’s war on drugs, likely stems from his need for “total and undisputed control”, it is a mask that doesn’t really focus on the root of the problem but allows him to further assume dictatorship like governing. This mask proves to be a critical tool for the Duterte, aiding him in both his campaign and presidency. His unwavering confidence has come across as trustworthy and valiant, but the actions his regime have taken towards wiping out all people drug-related seem to say nothing more than a tyrant, and insanity. But it is undeniable the people of the Philippines have his support and have stuck by him through his first and second year as president. But the trusting façade have done more than just win people over, even allowing unregulated raids from vigilantes every night to take place in the country. Duterte’s presidency, the war on the war of drugs and the long-term state of the Philippines will be explored throughout this essay, to deduce whether the coverage of the president in media has had more to do with the outcome of the ongoing human rights crisis in the Philippines.

 

Duterte has stuck with the narrative throughout his administration of being the only president capable of solving the nation’s problems; focusing on efficiency and quantity over much else. He uses his magnifying ego and terror tactics to overcompensate for his lack of understanding into what could otherwise be done for the methamphetamine crisis; which affects every walk of life from citizens dealing in the slums to officials placed in government and military themselves. “My order is shoot to kill you,” Duterte began on August 6th in 2016, one of his many controversial remarks, which ended with “I don’t care about human rights, you’d better believe me.” (Demick, 2016). But despite the hostility, and lack of empathy of his people, he is still sustained by the support of the people. In a poll done by the Social Weather Station between December 8-16, 2017, a net satisfaction (most satisfied percentage minus dissatisfied) of 70% in Filipinos were tallied. This statistic broke a record previously held by Noynoy Aquino (SWS, 2017) and according to National Public Radio, “Third quarter data tells us that 7 to 8 out of 10 Filipinos continue to support the war on drugs” (Raphelson, 2017). We are unable to deny Duterte was put into office by the ballots of Filipinos. But may question his propaganda, the reality of the regime against narcotics that are thriving under his government. The media has taken its time to cover the crime and killings that have rampaged the streets, most seem to discuss the absurdity and treachery of the president and outcome of the war. But with anti-drug groups going about on their own raids and agenda, it’s hard to tell whether the public is being exposed to the full truth, the full numbers and the real side of the president.

 

The gap between putting an end to the inhumane ways of clearing drug use in the Philippines and allowing things to continue (and possibly get worse) may be the truth. To understand who exactly is at the hands of carrying out the arrests and executions is to know that the President handed these responsibilities to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the military (Ismi, 2017). Although being told otherwise, the police have used kept their foot in the door of those both persecuting drug users and dealers; having to compete with the masked and armed vigilante. These groups work under the nose of the President, who

“appears to have instigated unlawful acts by the police, incited citizens to commit serious violence, and made himself criminal liable under international law for the unlawful killings as a matter of command responsibility,” (Tan,2017).

Duterte inexplicitly promotes violence and injustice in his anti-drug campaign, by disallowing any other option other than force and death to end the war on drugs. Through the numbers and activity, these groups and soldiers may be succeeding, all because the president has left no room to think of the premises the drug user might have had to fall into the trap of narcotics. The reported numbers are staggering “at least 2000 suspected drug users were killed…as well as overcrowding of prisons”, accomplished in just under 3 months of the war on drugs (Macarayan, Ndeffo-Mbah, Beyrer, Galvani, 2016). A rounding of recent numbers estimates that since Duterte has been in power look like “over one million drug surrenders (pushers and users), 40,000 arrestees, and 6000 persons killed, with 2000 due to police operations and 4000 to extrajudicial killings” (Barrer, D. 2017). What isn’t being reported, that have to do with the high number of extrajudicial killings, is the corruption and bribery involved between ties, connections and relationships between those at the highest of the drug cartel to the poverty victim plagued by drugs. To better understand how police officers, who seem so relentless to catch any involved with possession and dealing of drugs- are the ones most susceptible to making deals with drug cartel; is to understand the long practice and cultural normality for police officers to work with criminals to gain profit from the position. The police officer agrees to target the people under these drug lords instead of suspecting them, for money. As Duterte entrusts his campaign with the police and military, it is flawed simply because their actions have done nothing other than to prove the existing system thrives no matter what regime they work under. This also proves true for what party governs the Philippines, as “the failure of the liberal democratic order to deliver popular empowerment and the wealth redistribution”; it was with the past government’s inability to address the problems most important to the middle and lower class that stressed their desire for Duterte’s passion (Ismi, 2017). Duterte served as “the image of a strongman who would get rid of the ‘national chaos’ and a ‘socialist’ … though he does not seem to understand what socialism is.” (Ismi, 2017). His disregard for human life and mercy, are what the Philippine community is now suffering the consequences of.

 

At which point will Duterte say enough? Is it possible to say he holds any capacity in his arsenal to do so? His pride and power may show no other future in the rest of his six-year term other than what has been going on ever since it began. There must be transparency between the police, military, and government with the public; so, the public is not trusting blindly, or out of fear. It will be through reformation of the deeply rooted system that allows injustice for profit, and opportunities for drug addicted to testify and rehabilitate. The voices of those wrongly murdered, accused and robbed of children, siblings and parents must be heard; and through thorough, courageous and honest journalism and news in media will we be forced to act.

 

References:

Demick, B. (2016, August 26) Rodrigo Duterte’s Campaign of Terror in the Philippines. The New Yorker. Retrieved from: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/rodrigo-dutertes-campaign-of-terror-in-the-philippines

Ismi, A. (2017, March 1) We are talking about a fascist regime. The Monitor. Retrieved from:http://content.ebscohost.com/ContentServer.asp?T=P&P=AN&K=121620732&S=R&D=a9h&EbscoContent=dGJyMMTo50SeprA4y9fwOLCmr1Cep65Srqa4TLOWxWXS&ContentCustomer=dGJyMPGrtE%2Bwp7RRuePfgeyx44Dt6fIA

Social Weather Stations: Statistic Advocacy (2018, Jan 17) Net satisfaction rating of the Duterte National Administration rises to record-high “Excellent” +70. Retrieved from: https://www.sws.org.ph/swsmain/artcldisppage/?artcsyscode=ART-20180117160545       Raphelson, S. (2017, November 13) Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte Sustains Support For Deadly War On Drugs. National Public Radio. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/2017/11/13/563841402/philippines-rodrigo-duterte-sustains-support-for-deadly-war-on-drugs

Tan, L. (2017, March 3) Duterte encourages vigilante killings, tolerates police modus– Human Rights Watch. CNN Philippines. Retrieved from: http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2017/03/02/Duterte-PNP-war-on-drugs-Human-Rights-Watch.html

Hassan Majeed, M., Ahsan Ali, A. (2018, February) Genocide in the Philippines Asian Journal Psychiatry. Volume 32, Pages 27-28 Retrieved from: https://www-sciencedirect-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/science/article/pii/S187620181730206X

Macarayan, E., Ndeffo-Mbah, M., Beyrer, C., P. Galvani, A. (2016, December 10-16) Philippine drug war and impending public health crisis. The Lancet. Volume 388. Page 2870 Retrieved from: https://www-sciencedirect-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/science/article/pii/S0140673616324680

Barrer, D. (2017, December) Drug War Stories and the Philippine President. Asian Journal of Criminology. Volume 12. Issue 4. Pages 341–359. Retrieved from: https://link-springer-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/article/10.1007/s11417-017-9253-x

 

 

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

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

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

Misinformation as a Weapon of Destruction

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

Support Through Social Media

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

Combatting Fake News

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

No Easy Solution

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

Leaving My Digital Footprint

Suler describes the “Online Disinhibition Effect” that takes place when face-to-face interactions are replaced with actions behind a computer screen. This can also be linked to the spread of misinformation, as online “trolls” can adopt a mentality of “toxic disinhibition”, which is often disrespectful and causes harm due to the ability to be anonymous, minimizing ones sense of responsibility (Suler, 2004). As a content creator myself, I have asked myself who I want to be online and how I will be a good digital citizen. The fake news phenomenon is something that’s largely out of my control, as I am just one social media user and blogger in a sea of Internet news and opinion sources. But I can do my part to help combat this era of fake news. How? I am not a news source website. I identify as more of an opinion and personal experience source. But by communicating with as little bias as possible, being honest and reliable with any facts I include and linking these facts to credible sources of expertise, I can build up my own credibility and genuinely become a trusted source of information.

 


References

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Looking Back on the Semester

This class taught me a lot about not only publishing, but also about myself.  My experience as a publisher this fall was definitely a positive one.  At the beginning of the course, I was hesitant to put my work out there.  I am very self conscious when it comes to my creative projects, writing and photography included.  As a perfectionist, I hate posting work that I am not one hundred percent happy with.  My blog helped me with my insecurities, and improved my writing abilities as well!  The main reason I took this course is because I wanted to see how different blogging would be to the social media sites I use daily.

When I first created my blog, I struggled right away with choosing a theme that I felt best represented the layout I had pictured.  Right away, it was clear that you have more control over your content on your blog compared to your Instagram or Facebook.  I wanted my theme to be simple, yet not blend in with other blogs like Travis Gertz mentions in his article about design.  In his article, he talks about why mainstream posts have all been similar lately.  He mentions that in a connected world like ours, it is hard to not give in to pressures of copying what is popular.   To be honest, I feel that I could have done a better job at making my blog unique.  It is still something I am working on.  The next part of the course focused on audience awareness.

When using my social medias, I never thought deeply about who my audience was.  I would post what I wanted, whenever I wanted, not thinking about what impact it had on those seeing it.  This blog was interesting because I wanted to make content that both my audience and teacher enjoyed.  Using google analytics, I found out that the majority of my audience was from Canada.  Considering that I had promoted my blog on my Instagram, I assumed that most of my blog readers were the same people that followed me on Instagram.  In his 2002 article, Warner describes my goal for this blog perfectly.  He states that content on a blog should be relatable for both the audience and the creator.  As I said before, most of my blog readers are my followers from Instagram.  I believe I have achieved this because prior to blogging, I already knew through comments that my audience liked my Instagram.  I tried to reflect the same personality on my blog as well.

I read an article recently titled ‘Blogging Is an Art But Attracting the Right Audience Is a Science’.  This article talks about how important it is to be consistent with your online identity.  Being consistent ensures that you can not only attract the audience you want, but also maintain that audience.  This is something that I struggled with, as I went in to the class not knowing exactly what I wanted my blog to be about.  I am passionate about many things, photography, hockey, and reading just to name a few.  It was hard for me to pick one of these passions and create a whole blog about it.  Overall, I believe that my online presence is consistent.  My blog posts are cohesive and reflect who I am as a person.

Another interesting part of the course was the lecture on monetization.  As I mentioned before, I created this blog mostly so that I could have an outlet to express myself.  For right now, I don’t think monetization is right for my site, as I post content mostly for myself.

Looking back at the semester, my view on publishing has had a major shift.  Before this semester, I thought the word publisher only applied to those who worked in the publishing industry and created monetized content.  However, this course taught me that social media has turned us all in to publishers.  The way in which we distinguish ourselves from everyone else is through the quality of our content.

In the future, I plan on continuing my blog and challenging myself to produce more content than I did this fall.  My goals for myself after this course are to continue building on my online identity, and incorporating my audience more.  Soon, I plan to look back at which of my posts were the most viewed and I will tweak my future posts accordingly.  I want to continue blogging so I can look back on my posts in the future and see how my photography skills have evolved.

References:

Travis Gertz AuthorTravis Gertz is both a designer and partner at Louder Than Ten. He went to school to design magazines, ended up designing apps, and now does everything he can to bring those things together. He is not a machine.@travisgertz View profile. “Design Machines.” Louder Than Ten, 12 Apr. 2017, louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines.

Dholakiya, Pratik. “Blogging Is an Art But Attracting the Right Audience Is a Science.”Entrepreneur, 1 Dec. 2014, www.entrepreneur.com/article/240280.

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

 

Essay 2

Throughout the semester in Publication 101 classes and creating my own blog, I have learned a number of things in terms of content creation, audience, design, and many more.

When I created my blog back in September, it was difficult to settle on what I want my website to be about. When I finally decided to make my website focus about my faith and experiences, I was then burdened with having to find an appropriate theme and design for my website. It was difficult as the question I always asked myself before selecting a theme was “do I think the theme is a good fit with the identity of my blog?” I ended up settling with the theme Hestia as it was a simple theme and would fit my blog well.

When I first thought about who the audience of my blog will be, I thought of having everyone to be part of the potential audience as people who read my blog would read through my content as food for thought. However, as the weeks passed, I came to understand that the people who will take the time to read my blog will be those who are looking for something in their lives are have gone through some time of adversity because an aspect of my blog focuses on overcoming challenges, obstacles, and struggles.

As the semester moved onwards and looking into the feedback from peer reviews, a question that came to me was “who do I want to be to my audience?” It was because my blog lacked the identity of the person behind it, similar what John Suler says in his article, The Online Disinhibition Effect about invisibility and anonymity. As I know vulnerability is part of what builds trust, I took the advice and added a couple photos of myself to take away the lack of identity of the author.

In terms of design, I choose to not do much with what has been provided from the theme I went with. This is because I enjoyed the minimalistic look that came with the theme. It was also because I felt that the theme that was provided was a neat, organized design and does not have much clutter on the pages. I found that it was also very simple to use and my first thought of it was that it is something that would be very easy to navigate around. However, what I really like about the theme was the white spaces that comes with it. As I learned in class about the importance and effectiveness of white spaces, this design was perfect for my blog.

The idea of “white space” is also something that will stick with me after the semester ends, not just when I think about online content, but with any form of designing I do. As a business student, knowing how to attain the audience’s attention is a major goal. So, according to Mark Boulton, knowing how to use white spaces effectively will “give your readers a head start, position products more precisely, and perhaps even begin to see your own content in a new light” (Boulton, 2007).

There was also some interesting information from my Google Analytics. According to Ginny Mineo, the average user spends approximately 15 seconds on website before deciding whether or not it is worth their time to stay there. However, in my Google Analytics, I found that the average session duration on my website to be about four and a half minutes. Although I am sure that not everyone who visited my blog found the content to be worth spending a lot of time reading about, the information that Google Analytics showed reminds me that there is still a group of people who is interested in what I have to blog about whether they end up reading only one post or if they have kept up with me throughout the semester.

I am not too sure about where I will be in terms of blogging after this semester as I find that it is not exactly a passion of mine. Because I do not see it as a passion, I feel that if I continue to blog and try to commit to it, it would feel more like an obligation instead of something I do for own enjoyment. However, as a business student, I have expressed interest in the field of marketing. If I do end up deciding to concentrate in marketing as a career, I believe that the work I would be interested in doing would be similar to what the things I have learned in Publication 101 classes such as, customer analytics, creating content to market to the public, being involved in social media, and many more.

 

Reference

Boulton, Mark. “Whitespace.” A List Apart – Whitespace. 2007. Accessed November 25, 2017. https://alistapart.com/article/whitespace

Mineo, Ginny. “55% of Visitors Spend Fewer Than 15 Seconds on your Website. Should You Care?” Hubspot – 55% of Visitors Spend Fewer Than 15 Seconds on your Website. Should You Care?. July, 2017. Accessed November 25, 2017. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/chartbeat-website-engagement-data-nj

Suler, John. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Psychology of Cyberspace – The Online Disinhibition Effect. 2016. Accessed November 25, 2017. http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html#status.

 

Looking Back: PUB101

Heavily influenced by online creators of our generation and their work, I’ve always wondered about what it would be like if I had my own audience that enjoyed the content that I created. Of course, I’ve had my doubts and thought about who in the right mind would actually be interested in what I deliver. My doubts and worries grew stronger every time a possibility came up to the extent that I’ve convinced myself that being a well-known online creator is mission impossible. But that got me thinking about if being an online creator is only about getting famous. Does one need a following in order to be considered an online creator or publisher? Is it not possible to create for yourself and only for yourself? Well, I’m actually not surprised that I only think about the fame because I’ve been shaped by watching many influencers on YouTube. Seeing how luxurious their lives are and watching their followers grow makes me want to give it a shot too, just for the monetary value aspect. And it’s not only influencers on YouTube, there are full time bloggers that make a living out of it and at a first glance, it does seem like an easy job. Having said that, I honestly think that it can be toxic at the end of the day. As Shelby Carpenter writes in her article about The Toast shutting down over ad revenue woes, the battle for online revenue is harsh and it affects big and small mediums of the like (Carpenter, 2016). Sometimes when money is involved, it takes the pureness and authenticity away from what you are publishing because you’re putting out content just for the purpose of driving revenue. Looking at how far I’ve made it into the semester and this course in particular, I think I’m finally learning the means to be an online publisher.

Thanks to PUB101, I was able to start something that I’ve always wanted to but scared to do it. The anxiety of having people read the work I put out is just overwhelming and being the shy person that I am doesn’t help at all. I never found an outlet where I could comfortably express myself so I grabbed onto this opportunity to start something new! My blog, Be Right Back, is a lifestyle and travel blog. Obviously for the course requirement, we all had to create our own blog. That was the starting point for me. To be honest, I think people who wants to start something and haven’t gotten the guts to, just need to have that kick starter in order to take off in their journey. Like in Thorn’s post (2012) about making it into the media world, he stresses the first point for “Absolutely, Positively 1000% No-Fail Guaranteed Success” (Thorn, 2012), is to start now. Nothing can be accomplished unless you start making stuff now. And his last point: do a good job. We have to keep learning and keep trying. Even if we fail, those failures will eventually turn into successes. Our brains are capable of understanding our own weaknesses and we can use this to make better decisions.

I want to say that the audience that I have been imagining for my blog is exclusive from myself and more to entertain and influence a demographic that I attract with my travel related posts. But looking back to what I’ve created so far, I believe that I’m publishing for myself and I am my own audience. My blog has become a diary for me to document my life adventures and even if I’m not attracting any readers, I feel like I’m still passionate about my travels and it’s enough for me to continue posting. But to be honest, it’s hard to not be consumed by the competitive nature of the online space because if everyone is doing the same thing, how do you make yourself stand out? There are thousands of travel blogs out there and it is still growing day by day. We have the tendency to compare ourselves against other people but we shouldn’t base our lives on their values. Instead, the only opponent that is worth going against is yourself. In Herbert Lui’s article (2016) about competing with yourself, he states that “you can chase your future self” (Lui, 2016). I agree with this notion because you are not building your game plan for other people, you are allowed to personalize it to fit your own ability and make goals based on that.

My blog is pink themed. As much as I want to cater to everyone’s interest, I still want to maintain what I love and have a piece of my identity into the theme. I can definitely imagine myself looking back to the blog in the future and reminisce about the time that I got to do such a fun project for a university course and I’ll also thank myself for documenting my adventures so the memories will still be fresh in my mind. If I do gain an audience then it’s not just about me anymore. If that is the case, then I want to portray myself as a close sister of my readers or the sister that they never had. I want my blog to be valued as an informative yet entertaining domain and I wish to build a strong relationship with my readers where they can rely on me and on my content to have a better experience in their life adventures. The best way to interact is to integrate social media platforms as a tool to communicate. This semester, we’ve talked a lot of social media and as mentioned before in one of my process posts, I think actively using the Twitter app as a way to promote and share my blog can really help my blog flourish.

Throughout this semester, I have been keeping track of my findings in Google Analytics. As expected, most of the users are from Canada with a few occasional ones from the United States of America, Russia, and India. Through this, I’ve learned that success does not happen overnight. You can’t make a blog and wish for it to attract readers and gain a following the next morning. Of course, the only readers are my classmates and professor of PUB101. It’s hard for people to discover something that is not advertised or shared.

Looking back, I’ve definitely looked past on the complexity of publication during the beginning of the term. I wasn’t aware of the technical elements that were required to run a blog and I definitely wasn’t aware of its impact. From the theme of the blog to the content that I created, every single detail has its own impact and while it’s easy to overlook them, the reaction from the audience says a lot on its own and it reflects the current trends and shows what people are drawn to when it comes to content. I definitely want to continue on with my blog for my own purposes, as a diary that I can look back on. My online presence as of now is quite underwhelming, and while I don’t wish to work on elaborating it anytime soon, I do wish that I can make it a challenge for myself and work on my online presence in the future.

References

Carpenter, Shelby. 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

Lui, Herbert. 2016. “You Should Only Compete with One Person: Yourself.” Herbert Lui: Thoughts on Life, Psychology and Culture, HerberyLuinet, herbertlui.net/you-should-only-compete-with-one-person-yourself/

Thorn, Jesse. 2012. “Make Your Thing.” http://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing/

A Letter To The Publisher

When first starting this website, I had a very clear image in my head of how I wanted it to look. Crisp white spaces and sharp lines, a minimalist aesthetic. I even played with the idea of having it entirely in black and white. But seeing something in your head and translating that image to a computer screen is not an easy feat. In fact, when you have little to no technical skills, it can quickly becoming an overwhelming task. This was probably my biggest challenge in regards to creating my online presence. I don’t know how to write code, customizations were difficult and don’t even get me started on plugins. With this in mind, I quickly realized it would have to be my content that spoke loudest in order to personalize my online presence. And boy was that an adventure.

It took a painful number of hours to look for the perfect theme, keeping in mind that my customizations would be minimal, I knew I needed to find the perfect canvas to showcase myself. From there I decided that colour was going to be required, I wanted my pictures to be a main attraction, bright greens from a forest, crystal clear blues of a glacier pool, these needed to have the added pop of colour to properly convey the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and to contrast against a blank white background. Naturally, I want my website, an extension of myself, to be aesthetically pleasing, but what does that really entail? Aesthetic is a funny thing, denotatively it means a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty (Bradley, 2014), key word being beauty. But what about this instances where aesthetics go too far? According to some, it’s much easier to happen than you think. When not done in moderation, the aesthetic that was meant to delight viewers instead annoys them and drives them away (Bradley, 2014). So not only am I trying to make my publication attractive with the content to back it up, but I am also concerned with excessive, quite the balancing act. And this is before publishing my website to be critiqued by an actual audience.

I wanted my website to be a place for people planning on visiting the area to get ideas on what to do but also to be a place for locals to go and fall in love with their home again. In this sense my audience was quite broad. In reality, according to Google Analytics, I really don’t have too big of a following outside of the Pub 101 class. But that’s not discouraging, as I continue to post I’m hopeful word will spread, I already have double digits in the organic search results so that looks promising. Not many comments yet, but I’m optimistic that will change with the more I post, something I review will eventually strike a chord with someone who is familiar with it and compel them to comment. (Fingers crossed).

Through my posts highlighting all this beautiful area has to offer, I am hoping the people reading them will find ways to fall back in love with this place, whether it’s their home or their home away from home or a strange place they have yet to visit, my goal is for people to read through my publication as a love letter to the city and hopefully stir something up inside themselves for it as well. The value this website will provide is strictly non monetary. I think posting advertisements or doing paid reviews would take away from its genuinity, and that is the last thing I want. My website is a reflection of myself and what I love, I do not want to cheapen it down just to make a couple dollars. Moreover, I wouldn’t want to lose the trust of the few readers I have. If I am being relied on to provide honest feedback and reviews about areas in and around Vancouver, I don’t want there to be a sliver of doubt that I am doing it for any benefit other than for the good of the Pacific Northwest.

At the beginning of this term, I didn’t think too much of my online presence, in fact I barely used social media other than the occasional Instagram post. I saw websites as a marketplace for well established corporate businesses or tech savy individuals. But as best said by Chuck Cohn, “[Everyone] will eventually have to take on the challenge of creating a website, a social media account or another online presence” (Cohn, 2015). At some point, we all have to take our brand online. Your brand is all about who you are but more importantly, what you want to be known for (Muse, 2012). Whether it’s your personal brand or a business brand, what you present about yourself will indicate to others who you are and what you are, you want to make sure that’s a positive inference. You want to have a positive online presence and refraining from all online activity doesn’t send that message. This course not only taught me how to best present myself online but also reiterated the importance of publishing yourself.

Here’s hoping I’ll be talking to someone other than myself as I continue my love letter.

 

References:

Bradley, S. (2014). What role do aesthetics play in the design of a website?. Vanseo Design.

Cohn, C. (2015). A beginner’s guide to establishing an online presence on a budget. Forbes.

Muse, T. (2012). The first step to building your personal brand. Forbes.

 

Essay 2

For more than five years, I have been posting about my daily life on my favorite social media platform – Instagram. However, I private most of my social media accounts because of my insecurities with sharing my life publicly on the internet. Only friends and people I know well are able to browse my Instagram or Facebook contents. Through this course, I have this opportunity to jump out of my comfort zone and create a blog website about my thoughts on personal wellness. The blog is for anyone who is open-minded to accept new ideas improving their lifestyle. Although I am still discovering new concepts about personal well-being, I would love to share my journey and experiences with my readers.

 

I tend to have a different online image and real life image. John Suler mentioned in his article that we express ourselves in different ways in different environments. (Suler, 2004) Through articles I wrote so far, readers may think that I am an open-minded individual that loves trying out new things. But in real life, it requires a lot of energy and motivation for me adapting to a new lifestyle. Based on Suler’s idea, both online and real-life image are dimensions of who I am revealed in different situational context. My website aims to motivate people improving their lifestyle, therefore creating an online image who is optimistic and passionate could convince readers to try out my suggestions. Relating to the insecurities I mentioned, altering self-boundaries is another explanation for setting up a different personality online. According to Suler, personal boundaries are the experiences of a flexible perimeter marking the distinction between my personality – my thoughts, feelings, and memories – and what exists outside that perimeter, within other people. (Suler, 2004) As a person with a high self-boundary, I prefer creating an image for myself, so that I feel more comfortable sharing personal content publicly online.

 

Designing my website is the part I enjoy most. Starting off with a theme I select through WordPress, I immediately realize that the theme’s style does not match with the vibe I want to bring out to my audience. The process of customizing colors, layouts and font style allows me to create the ideal website I have in mind. Able to create customization for your own website is important. Design is not a game of catch-up, it is an intelligent pursuit of finding unique formulas that help you to stand out. (Gertz, 2015) Using the same theme provide by WordPress or copying other website’s design does not show your passion and fails to attract your audience at first glance.

 

The data collected from Google analytics gives me insight on how my audience behave and how to improve my website. I had a relatively high bounce rate at the beginning, but after I changed the navigation menu, it dropped from 57.14% to 34.88%. I am delighted to see how small changes could bring amazing improvements to my website. Data trails provide valuable information to website owners. (Pod Academy, 2016) I believe that when my audience pool grows through time, I would be able to receive more and more insightful data from Google analytics. The data I receive could give me ideas on how to engage with my audience and learn which topic is their favorite.

 

Unfortunately, I haven’t been receiving a lot of comments from my audience. But the peer reviews provide me some constructive suggestions and give me inspiration on how to modify my website. In the future, I would like to put in more effort encouraging my audience to leave comments about their opinions. I would also love to stir up some discussion and create a platform for my readers to interact with each other.

 

Looking back at the beginning of the term, I had changed quite a lot about how I feel about self-publication. I got a lot more confident in writing about my ideas and thoughts online. I understand more about how people define their online presence and how they behave on the internet as well. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to meet all guest speakers that provide me professional ideas and suggestions for putting together my first website. Before, I thought that self-publication was simply pressing the ‘post’ button but now I learn that there are all sorts of strategies and theories behind publishing online content. Looking forward, I am not sure if I want to continue with this blog or not. The reason is that I have developed another idea in mind that I am more interested to work on. But still, the knowledge I learn from this course is vital for me to elaborate on my online presence in the future. 

References:

Suler, John. 2004. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Available from: Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. 

http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015. 

https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines

Pod Academy. 2016. “Digital breadcrumbs: The data trail we leave behind us.”

http://podacademy.org/podcasts/digital-breadcrumbs-our-data-trail/

From the beginning of the semester to the end

Essay #2

I remember on our first class, we were expected to come up with a theme for our blog. The only time I really tried blogging was when I tried Tumblr in high school and lost interest after a couple weeks because my blog wasn’t going anywhere and I could not stick to a theme. I thought of how I did not engage in any activities frequently enough to be blogging about weekly, so I decided to safely proclaim the blog was about my life in general. My life always had something going on, but I did not partake in the same activity consistently. Hence, Suzanne mentioned to me that my online persona was “consistently inconsistent” and was she ever right.

I have read some blogs, but I was never curious about having one myself, so I assumed it was quite simple. I just had to write posts about my opinions, experiences, have photos, make it aesthetically pleasing and interesting to read. People would come by and read your content if it was relevant to what they were looking for.  Similarly, Chittienden (2010) described blogs as “online diaries [that] represent a popular space for teenagers to write about their experiences and instantly publish their thoughts to the web with minimal technical understanding”.

However, after a few blog workshops, I realized there was so much more to blog posting “behind the scenes”. To potentially monetize off your blog, you had to brainstorm marketing strategies to appeal to your ideal audience, use key words to make sure your blog appears in relevant searches, have an original theme and design, as well as track your analytics to monitor your site growth and activity.

I never liked writing argumentative essays because I believe that I do not possess strong opinions in general. That is why I chose to talk to my blog audience about things relative to me, so I could talk intimately and casually – something I am most comfortable with. I realized it would be easiest for me to post if my online persona portrayed the way I am offline. Even though social media is just highlighting the best qualities of yourself, maintaining “multiple personas” and “performing your identity” (van Dijck, 2013) online seemed too tiring and hard for me to keep up with. I mostly imagined my audience to be my friends or peer group, I don’t really think about what kind of strangers around the world might be reading my posts. After posting this way frequently, I don’t believe I will change my style. It seems to be the easiest way for me to write posts without it seeming like a chore. It is hard to tell who my audience is from my peer group, but it is easy to tell which posts attracted the most activity. For example, when I posted about my hike in Squamish, there was more activity than usual. This was most likely locals or tourists who are thinking of doing that hike, or looking for hikes in that area. Otherwise, in general my site does not get a lot of passing traffic. I think I prefer it that way though.

While I agree with Boyd (2014) about using social media to “[engage] with [the] broader social world,” I never liked having information about me available to everyone floating around on the internet. I keep all my social media networks private and only share things with a limited audience or a select few individuals, and I think that is why I was never interested in having a blog. But if I were to continue my blog now, I would completely change my theme. If I am posting publicly, I don’t want to post anything too personal and I know I have a few posts on my blog about some of the places I’ve been to, and I would get rid of those. Seeing my blog now, I have the easiest time and the most posts about a superfood that I am very interested in. Moving forward, if I were to continue my blog, I would probably change my theme to healthy eating and food only. My blog would then be a lot more focused but still connected to my personal life without revealing too much of myself. At this moment my food posts are short; I would like to make them more detailed if that is going to be my sole focus. Perhaps I could add more fun facts, reasons why that food is a superfood, how I like to eat it, etc. I tried to add more facts about the food in my latest kombucha post since I couldn’t really suggest ways to drink kombucha.

Even with all these new ideas, will I even continue to blog? Now that I have gotten a taste of it, it is kind of fun. It can be tedious and a lot of effort to tinker with HTML and formatting, but it is an effort I don’t mind doing. However, I know bloggers are expected to post somewhat frequently, probably at least once a week. I remember one of the reasons I stopped using Tumblr was because it was too much work to re-blog every day in attempt to maintain and gain new followers. Additionally, blogs are a lot of effort when it comes to monetization, targeting audiences, and just working with Google Analytics in general. I feel like trying to monetize off your blog and attract new audiences is just too much to handle for me since I am not completely dedicated to blogging. It looks like the future for me in blogging doesn’t look promising. However, in one short semester, I already feel like I made a lot of realizations about my blog and how I want to handle it. If I have the blog for the rest of the year anyway, I don’t see the harm in giving it a shot.

Thanks PUB 101, it was fun.

 

References

Boyd, D. (2014). Searching for a public of their own. It’s Complicated, 213-227. Link.

Chittenden, T. (2010). Digital dressing up: Modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere. Journal of Youth Studies, 13(4), 505-520. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13676260903520902

Van Dijck, J. (2013). ‘You have one identity’: Performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn. Media, Culture, & Society, 35(2), 199-215. DOI: 10.1177/0163443712468605

Essay 1 (Oct 17)

Social media has not always been what it is today. Facebook, for example, was first launched in February, 2004 to university students in eastern parts of the United States. By the end of 2006, Facebook has become available to anyone with a registered email address. Ten years later, Facebook is no longer just a social media site that connects people. It has become a way for people to advertise, make money, gain attention, and disburse information and also receive information. With a large amount of people on social media around the world, it is easy for everyone to receive the same information in a short amount of time. Although the speed of which information spreads can be seen as an advantage, there are, however, some drawbacks of having information spreading quickly. According to a survey done by Facebook, there are over one billion daily users on Facebook in 2017 and is growing every year (Facebook, 2017).

With a large network, some people see this as an opportunity and take advantage to make personal gain. This creates changes for people who create genuine content, spread noteworthy news, and collect credible information on the internet in today’s time.

When someone creates content to be put online, they always have some sort of intention to make something public. Some may have the intention to make money through advertisements. This is most seen with an article that has headlines similar to “You Won’t Guess What Happens Next” or “Seven Secrets Doctors Don’t Want You To Know”. The creator’s intention is to attract curious viewers to click on the link so that they will be exposed to advertisements. Because of click baits and fake news circulating the internet, viewers are now more reluctant to click on links and advertisements as they see advertisements are not trustworthy for a variety of reasons as outlined by a survey done by the Advertising Standards of Canada.

Because there is significant distrust for digital content, creators would find themselves in a more difficult position to build a good online reputation. Eric Sachs, however, provided his insights about building an online reputation in the Entrepreneur Magazine with his article “How to Build Your Online Reputation” (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290927). He first talks about the effectiveness of using blog posts to publish and provide readers with “tangible, actionable solutions to relevant issues”. Sachs then goes onto talking about social media and that it is important to engage with your audience, as it will “inject some humanity into your social media accounts. Sachs finally goes into talking about public perception and managing online reputation. He says that a strategy is to pursue reviews from people, because “if you can convince 10 people who had fantastic experiences to leave reviews, your overall online reputation won’t take such a massive hit after a negative review”. It is obvious that in the twenty-first century, distrust in digital content has become an issue to creators, however, there are ways to overcome distrust and create a strong online reputation.

Fake news also has the ability shift people’s perspective on a particular subject. Such is the case during the 2016 United States presidential election, where social media and the dissemination of fake news had a major impact. With the low cost of creating a social media account, it gives more encouragement to create malicious user accounts that can be used to spread fake news. According to a survey done by Morning Consult, 78% of respondents use Facebook as a source for news (Morning Consult, 2017).

This makes Facebook a very sought-after market to spread any information whether it is true or false. In Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow’s journal article “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election”, it was estimated that among the 248 million American adults, there was “38 million shares of fake news…[which] translates into 760 million page visits, or about 3 visits per US adult” (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017). However, it is important to know that social media follows like-minded people, and thus, one will see content on their newsfeed that they favour. For example, for a committed Republican supporter of the election, he or she would see more content that is pro-Republican. Another similar concept is called selective perception, where a person would believe content that aligns with what they believe and ignores all opposing viewpoints. Selective perception has become a way of how fake news is spread around. When one person believes in a fake article because it aligns with their own beliefs, they are more than likely to share it with others, thus spreading fake news. It is true that social media has, in some ways, taken over our minds by feeding us what we want to see, but it is by human nature that we react a certain way towards certain news compared to others.

With the emergence of fake news in our internet, looking for decent information has also become more difficult. Often times, when people go look for information, they only look at the credibility to determine if the information is good. However, creators of fake news have found ways to make their articles look more accurate than what they actually are. Some news articles make themselves look more professional by quoting an expert or referencing to a past study, and people would automatically select that article without thinking twice. However, it is important to assess many more issues when determining whether a piece of information is good. Relevance is one thing to assess as sometimes background information may not be in a similar context as the news given. Recency is also important to assess because results from a survey can change over a lengthy period of time. Thus, if a news article, for example, refers to a survey that was done ten years ago, it would be a good idea to question the accuracy of the news article. Ensuring that the information collected is good information can be the difference maker in one’s own reputation.

In conclusion, social media has completely changed the way how news and digital content is created, disseminated, and collected. The uprising of fake news has blurred the lines between what is real and what is fake. Social media has altered the way for people to fully verify if the information is good. It has hidden information from people by personalizing the content to the specific recipient. And finally, fake news social media has required creators to put in more effort in order to build a strong, positive online reputation.

References

Advertising Standards Canada. (n.d.). Leading reasons why consumers perceive online advertising as not trustworthy in Canada as of January 2015. In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www-statista-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/statistics/472391/canada-reasons-for-not-trusting-online-advertising/.

Allcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(2), 211-236. doi:10.3386/w23089

Facebook. (n.d.). Number of daily active Facebook users worldwide as of 2nd quarter 2017 (in millions). In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www-statista-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/statistics/346167/facebook-global-dau/.

Morning Consult. (n.d.). Frequency of using selected online news sources in the United States as of July 2017. In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www-statista-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/statistics/706177/online-news-sources-frequency/.

Essay 1

Reliability of Social Media News

Contrary to the popular idea that only the young generation would read news on the social media, PEW research center reports that the social media platform become major news sources for over half of the Americans age 50 or older. (Shearer & Gottfried, 2017) In fact, Twitter and YouTube are two of the most favorite social media people use to receive news updates. However, social media is not a reliable source of news and users should not only rely on it to get news.

News and opinions on social media are not filtered or validated by the website before posting. It is easy to express your opinions on social media, all you need to do is type in the text box and hit the post button. Apparently, Twitter or Facebook do not consider whether true or false before publishing the things you type. Thus, it is extremely easy to publish fake news. Besides, the news outlets aim to draw in readers. Due to competition with other media news sources, publishers are likely to post their stories once they obtained information without precise validation. Experts explained that Google’s search results are able to detect the links that have more views and move it up to the top of the page. (Roberts, 2016) This facilitates fake news from gaining exposure when more and more people click on it. Most people assume that Google is a trustable source for searching news. In fact, Google’s searching algorithm increases the chance leading people to false news, which tricks them into believing what they read from “top searched” websites are true.

Receiving news from social media websites could cause confusion and panic among readers. Social media allows users to create and disseminate digital content, however, it also provides a convenient platform for hoaxes to spread like wildfire. After the Las Vegas shooting happened, a number of rumors or false accusations were circulating on the internet. This includes wrong identification of the gunman and victims. The New York Times reported, “Social media has been a tangled web of users expressing legitimate concern for missing loved ones and pranksters polluting social streams with fakery.” (Qiu, 2017) Social media users tend to believe what they read without questioning its reliability. Especially during dire times, users may panic and share breaking news they receive through social media. Their intention is to spread the word, reaching out to the victim’s family but they unintentionally share misinformation along the way. This relates to the user’s awareness of the source of news. A respondent from a study claimed that he does not pay much attention to the reputation of the news publication while reading the news. (Curry, 2016) This shows that many users would not bother to confirm the source before sharing the post they read. Consequently, resulting in spreading confusing and irrelevant news on the internet.

News from social media can narrow your viewpoint. What kind of post you would most likely to scroll through or read is tightly related to the algorithm the social media website uses. Most of the social media websites choose an algorithm that sort posts which relate to user’s previous readings or posts that the user’s friends had read or liked before. According to lead author Nic Newman, social media users have a higher chance to overlook other perspectives if they allow algorithms to choose news for them to read. (Wakefield, 2016) Social media work as an echo chamber to many users. People would prefer to participate in environments where their opinions are continually supported. University of Southern California clinical professor Karen North claimed that confirmatory information is important to many people, they want their opinions to be reassured by like-minded people. (Wakefield, 2016) If social media users constantly receive bias opinions through the echo chamber, they may eventually strengthen certain beliefs. Users may also neglect the importance of looking at the whole picture which consists of different viewpoints. Therefore, social media plays an important part in shaping the public opinion that brings a certain amount of impact to the society. As a news source, any media should publish content that is fair and without bias.

Although social media is the most convenient and popular way to read the news, people should not entirely rely on it. The echo chamber shapes opinions on social media but users are suggested to consider and respect other opinions as well. Users are reminded to be aware of whether the news source is reliable or not, and they should check on other reputable news websites before sharing any news that they receive. By doing so, we could stop misinformation from spreading on the internet and minimize the negative impact of the fake news.

Works Cited

Curry, K. (2016, September 30). More and more people get their news via social media. Is that good or bad? Retrieved from Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/09/30/more-and-more-people-get-their-news-via-social-media-is-that-good-or-bad/?utm_term=.3f072802d11e#comments

Qiu, L. (2017, October 2). False ISIS Connections, Nonexistent Victims and Other Misinformation in the Wake of Las Vegas Shooting. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/02/us/politics/viral-claims-and-rumors-in-the-las-vegas-shooting.html

Roberts, H. (2016, December 10). Google made changes to its search algorithm that unintentionally made it vulnerable to the spread of fake news, sources say. Retrieved from Business Insider UK: http://uk.businessinsider.com/google-algorithm-change-fake-news-rankbrain-2016-12

Shearer, E., & Gottfried, J. (2017, September 7). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. Retrieved from PEW Research Centre: http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/#fn-64440-1

Wakefield, J. (2016, June 15). Social media ‘outstrips TV’ as news source for young people. Retrieved from BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36528256

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 […]