Tag Archives: essays

ESSAY #2

Taking Pub101 this fall has helped me start my blog. I would say that the beginning of creating a blog has made me super excited. The process of learning about different widgets and customizations had made it fun. When I first created my blog I was going to have it suited towards music and photography. However, as this fall is over, I’ve been focused on music and abandoned photography.

My blog never really had any views and activity going on. However, my intention was to have an audience that enjoyed music and like to be low-key. I found that having my design to be black and white has an impression of being laid back and chill.

As we’re talking about the value of my blog I would say that I’m not and do not want to monetize my blog. I wanted my blog to be a place where I escape to and share my interests to people who are interested in learning more about me. I find that music taste shows a lot about someone. I would find it super cool if I can reach out to my audience and learn more about their music taste and what songs they recommend. Especially when music is such a broad subject, there is an endless amount of discovery. I also want my blog to be a place where people would check it before they sleep just to enjoy some music before they go to sleep.

Since the beginning of the term, I honestly had no clue what publishing was about. Throughout this term, I’ve learned so much and had a better understanding of what the publishing industry is all about. Firstly, I remember the first question asked in this class was “is everyone a publisher?” I would think that a publisher would have to be a professional. Someone who has a license and knows what they’re doing. However, as of now, I think that anyone who posts something online or delivers their creation would be considered a publisher.

I find this idea super interesting. Besides this, I have learned many jobs and tips from guest speakers that came into our class. It was much more engaging having to know that there are well respected guest speakers coming into our class to tell us about their journey. Even though, sometimes I would think about how tricky it can be to stand out, since everyone is a publisher. However, having the guest speakers come in, it gives me a sense of belonging and security to know that my dream to work in publishing is possible.

Jose van Dijick’s article on “You have one identity”, has connected to a discussion in class. Are we a different person online compared to reality? Social media has encouraged the fact of having to perceive yourself to be the best of ourselves, or even better. I am guilty for posting pictures online of me filtered and looking so much different from what I actually look like in real life. But now, I post pictures of me being the opposite of what I’ve done before. I actually find it so much better being true to yourself. Especially, when I find it so fun to post pictures of me being goofy.

In Forbes article, it has made me think about the use of blogs and how it may lose the sight of out undigitized past. Taking two publishing classes this fall had made me realize that all the work I’ve done has been using the computer. Everything is digital. Moreover, it just makes me forget about what I’ve even done when I was young without being on the computer or having a cellphone. I don’t mind blogs being online, but thinking about the comparison of publications online versus hardcopy, it really just depends on what the publication is. For example, I prefer books and magazine to be a hardcopy. I find it very pleasing to have a bookshelf full of books and magazines. I also find it super nice to have the copy physically in my hands and flipping the pages while admiring how detailed the design of the magazine is.

“When tech culture only celebrates creation, it risks ignoring those who teach, criticize, and take care of others.” This article from The Atlantic has sparked up an interesting topic. These days I find that people only care about creating content. As long as you create something then you’re considered worthy or cool. However, if you don’t then you’re the opposite. They often forget that it’s not just about creation but the fact of being to deliver your content to people and start a discussion. As well, to know that your content is being digested and being able to teach or help someone. I find that when you post something online, like a blog, it’s important to settle down with what your blog’s purpose is. Who is trying to reach and how will your blog benefit or change them in a way.

Even though the fall semester is over, I would still like to continue with my blog. I do like my concept of a “song of the day.” However, this time I would work harder towards getting my blog out there. Moreover, I would like to change the theme and the overall look of my blog. I found that I slacked off on my blog starting in the middle of the fall and I wasn’t quite pleased with the look of my site. It didn’t satisfy my aesthetic. Furthermore, it was too late to change my theme; therefore, I think it’ll be great to spend my winter break polishing up my blog.

References:
Chachra, Debbie. “Why I Am Not a Maker.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 23 Jan. 2015, www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/why-i-am-not-a-maker/384767/.

Dijck, José Van. “‘You have one identity’: performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn.” Media, Culture & Society, vol. 35, no. 2, 2013, pp. 199–215., doi:10.1177/0163443712468605.

Leetaru, Kalev. “In A Digital World, Are We Losing Sight Of Our Undigitized Past?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 29 Sept. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2017/09/29/in-a-digital-world-are-we-losing-sight-of-our-undigitized-past/#5271bc59cd01.

The post ESSAY #2 appeared first on BETWEEN THE STRIPES.

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.

 

13 Weeks of Sharing

I had been very fearful of publishing my work online for a long time, and this fear didn’t come from nowhere. Since I can remember I have always had no problem showing friends my essays and school projects, but when it came to my creative work, drawings, illustrations or paintings that I had put my […]

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 I can make it 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

The Life of Pip: An Analysis of PUB 101

The Life of Pip: An Analysis of PUB 101

Over the past semester, I have learned so much about the blog sphere, from content creation to audience development, and in doing so, I have gained an appreciation and interest in blogging as well. It has been quite a fun learning experience, with informative lectures and in-depth tutorials. Incorporating guest lecturers with experience in publishing was a great asset to the course because it took us students one step further, rather than relying simply on experience. Hearing their experiences regarding Google Analytics, advertising, typefaces and design was very helpful when developing my own blog.

The First Step in the Creative Process
Deciding a topic to focus on for the entirety of the blog and course was not all that difficult for me. I knew immediately that I was going to incorporate Pippen, my four-year-old Golden Retriever, as I usually do with school assignments. He is by far, the most fascinating being in my life, which makes writing about him even easier. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to incorporate Pippen in some way because the content was already there, it just needed to be fleshed out.

Registering domains in the first week of class was very helpful because it gave me a strong sense of freedom over what content I was about to post. Having one’s own domain gives the user more say over their public profile and digital identity. They have more control over how their website looks and what they share publicly (Watters, 2015). It allowed me to take more time and consideration to brainstorm ideas about what I wanted my website to be about and to put thought into the name because it is, in some ways, the first impression that the consumer has with the blog.

Theme and Audience
The Life of Pip is meant to document the daily adventures of Pippen, his nightly walks, and the ultimate joy that he brings into my life. During one of the earlier process post activities, I laid out the website through the vision board activity. This helped quite a lot because it made it easier for me to visualize my ideas and thoughts about my blog, like having a page for the gallery of pictures and another for my stories of Pippen when he first came into our lives.

In addition, I wanted to make sure that the blog was lighthearted, because for me it was about letting loose of all the daily struggles of life and reading these adorable stories about a big fluffy energetic dog. The best way for me to do this was to change the post category titles like, “Pictures,” and “Pub 101,” to “Piptures,” and “Pip 101,” which I was actually advised by your son. After all, the blog was being targeted to animal lovers.

For me, it was not about looking smart or making a point to seem intellectual, it was focused on bringing the readers into Pippen’s daily life. It was for the animal-loving readers who do not have animals to hear the experiences of someone who does or for those who already have or had pets before and wanted to hear of experiences of someone with a crazily energetic dog. I did not want to target a certain age group because being an animal lover has no age restrictions. There was also no target gender either, as being an animal lover has no gender restrictions. Now that I think about it, being an animal lover has no restrictions at all.

The Public
According to Habermas (Fraser, 1990, p. 58), the public sphere is made up of people who would meet up to discuss their common interests. The imagined public of The Life of Pip are the animal-lovers and owners who got their first pets later on in their teenage years and earlier on in their adulthood, similar to myself. In my opinion, these types of readers are likely to resonate most with my content because of the possible similarity in our experiences, like the keeping up with school and managing the responsibilities of an adult, also known as “adulting.”

The real audience of my blog are those in my social network or in the social networks of people I know, who may have heard from my friends and family about the blog. They could potentially be reading my posts on the basis of supporting my endeavors, or even just reading up on some funny stuff regarding animals.

Addressing the Audience
I address my audience through my easily understandable and enthusiastic vocabulary and phrases, as well as the content, editorial layout of the featured images and posts, and the overall design of the website, like the color scheme and widget and view configurations. The overall use of easier words and chronological arrangement of the sentences makes for the story to be better understood and perceived.

Content development is not all that easy and it requires a lot of copyediting work in addition to the layout and design (Gertz, 2015). Prior to entering the blogging sphere, I thought that blogging was very easy because of how the media portrays it. It is made to look as if there is no editing and that it is straight from the mind to the page rather than all of the other key components like the integrated media, the layout ideas and the overall editing process.

When it came to developing the look of my website, I made sure that the editorial layout was minimal but impactful because as a reader, I don’t like seeing too much on the screen. By this, I mean that I did not want the pages to be cluttered with content but I also did not want for the sidebars to be empty. Throughout this entire process, I have used my own experiences as a reader to guide my website development because in addition to listening to the guest lecturers like Mauve Page, I also understand how the reader, consumer, and viewer feels because I am one myself when I choose to go on the web.

The Value
My blog gives users and readers insight into what me and my family experience with Pippen. In writing and editing this blog, I feel that I am helping other dog owners who may also be experiencing the same things. I also think that I am giving my readers the value of respect and responsibility because I talk about my own struggles with my brothers and the division of responsibilities. To me, it is a bout understanding each other’s feelings too, to ultimately view the experience from everyone’s perspective.

Google Analytics

Observing Google Analytics was a turning point for me in the course because I started to realize the importance of spreading the word about my blog especially considering how much time I have put into the content, layout, and design. I started spreading the word more and not just through text like before. It provides so much feedback regarding my audience like their location, the times at which they viewed my blog and for how long they viewed it. I found that Google Analytics proved to be such a useful tool for my blogging experience because it did all the talking for my audience so they didn’t have to.

Reflecting on the Course
Prior to this course, I thought that content creators were not deserving of a pay because they were not really doing much. However, I was very surprised because I began to see how hard they must work when they are blogging because there are so many factors in the process like editing, creating original content, remixing content, maintaining the layout, reaching out to your readers, and much more. Nonetheless, managing this cycle of work is very difficult because many of the factors depend on each other to work successfully.

Building a personal cyberinfrastructure allows users to develop a sense of self and identity throughout the digital age (Campbell, 2009). Creating my blog, posting original content and designing the layout gave me a sense of personal identity in the digital sphere. I was able to express my thoughts and feelings through this personal cyberinfrastructure that I had worked so hard to build.

I also realized how hard is to flesh out content because you have to take your overall idea and go full steam ahead. While doing the process posts, it became easier for me to understand what my blog was about, who it was intended for, my goals, and the process by which I was going to achieve them.

Goals for the Future
I hope that once my blog has more content and has a more fleshed out design and layout, that it attracts a larger audience outside of my social network. Currently, all of my readers are apart of my social network, whether they are friends, family, or co-workers. I want to expand from my network to a group of readers who are more interested in the content and not me or my interests. I want for the content to speak for itself and for the readers to keep coming back to read about Pippen.

Also, I want to work harder to make the layout more robust and better designed because I am still not fully satisfied with it at this point. This course has been a split between design and content for me, as I have spent each week working on perfecting both to the best of my ability. Although I feel that my content posting has gotten really better, I still think that the design of my website could still use some work. I edited each of the featured pictures for my original posts on Photoshop so that they all have a paw print in the bottom left corner and a frame inside the border. By doing so, I feel that I was able to add a sense of originality to the design, one that my audience could pick up on.

Once this course has ended, my primary goal is to continue posting at least once a week because this course has taught me that by sticking to a routine, I find that I keep myself in check and do not become lazy. By sticking to a weekly posting routine, I can guarantee that there is always new content on my blog, which is likely to appease my audience. The freshness of content will assure my readers that I am attentive to their needs and that whenever they check my website, there is always at least one new post.

References
Campbell, G. (2009). A Personal Cyberinfrastructure. EDUCAUSE Review,44(5), 58-59. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure.

Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social Text, (25/26), 56-80. doi:10.2307/466240

Gertz, T. (2015, July 10). Design Machines: How to Survive in the Digital Apocalypse. Retrieved from Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web We Need to Give to Students. Retrieved from https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x

Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics. Quarterly Journal of Speech,88(4), 413-425. Retrieved from http://knowledgepublic.pbworks.com/f/warnerPubCounterP.pdf

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

The Publication of Self

This fall semester, I began my studies in Publishing program and as part of it, my journey in online publishing. Social media has already been an integral part of my online self and as José van Dijck argues, “social media are popular stages for self-expression, […]

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

Forged In Peaceful Differentiation: The History and Evolution of Folk Music Culture in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century

Music has the capacity to change the way we see the world. At its core, it has arguably more universal ability to evoke emotion than any other art form available. Many find refuge through music. Many find excitement, solace and inspiration for their own daily lives through the complex melodies hitting their eardrums – a notion that has been around for centuries and spans across most, if not all worldwide civilizations. The genre of folk has stood the test of time throughout history, with many different cultures creating unique definitions of the word through their own interpretations of musical communication. In the twentieth century however, folk music began to gain momentum towards becoming a cornerstone of the rapidly expanding music spectrum in Western culture.

Through the act of strumming a guitar and crooning a simple combination of melodies and lyrics, an unfathomable number of new genres were born. The emotional connectivity and intimacy of the performances appealed to a demographic of individuals seeking a sense of relatability and authenticity within their choices of music and with such technological innovations such as the record player becoming more widespread, these songs were able to reach listeners on a scale much larger than ever before. Before the infiltration of mass marketing, political opposition and genre fragmentation there was the humble practice of presenting one’s emotions through song – the core of this practice becoming the pinnacle of authenticity that would constantly be pursued by many of the subsequent folk artists to come. Rodnitzky (1999) states that when the great Pete Seeger was asked to define folk as a genre, he replied saying,

“If folks sing them, they’re folk songs.”(p.105).

The notion of storytelling through song has long been one favoured by the traditional definition of folk music across a spectrum of cultures and continues to be a factor imperative in securing a proper place amongst the ranks of iconic folk songs.

The revitalization of folk music in Western culture came at a time where individuals belonging to a society that emphasized conformity and compliance spurred on a phase of creative revolutions that gave way to some of the most profound musical movements in history. The notion of using music to appeal to the masses, project a message of opposition and seek a greater sense of authenticity is something the world of folk has been able to boast more prominently above the rest.

The following pages will dive the folk revival period of the twentieth century and into the modern music built out of the genre spanning from the early 1940’s into present day.

In this paper I will explore the evolution of folk music as it relates to certain ideologies of authenticity and comments on mainstream music culture. Furthermore, I will argue that folk music, even through evolving digital advancements and changing consumption patterns, exists as a commentary and opposition to the generic elements of mainstream music culture.

 ~

Folk Revival

The early part of the twentieth century’s entertainment landscape created an emphasis on big band, orchestral and spectacularly theatrical genres of sound to maintain the spotlight when it came to the musical tendencies of the masses. The era of post-WWII paved the way for a new stripped-down version of music to become more readily available, a banner marking the beginning of a series of sociocultural movements signifying the rejection of conformity among a society that swayed towards tradition.

Cohen et al. (2014) describe the beginning of this revival, discussing how folk music played a role in the 1950’s cultural shift, with many wrongly characterizing this era as “the bland leading the bland.” They go on to discuss how folk, along with other variations of rock and roll such as rockabilly, doo-wop, country and rhythm and blues were all large parts of the ubiquitous counterculture beginning to emerge following the Second World War and eventually gaining more traction towards the explosion of musical counterculture during the Cold War era (p.3).

With artists such as Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly paving the way for the acoustic guitar and lyrics pairing to gain prominence, the folk scene was quickly beginning to develop a growing community of followers and churning out a repertoire of songs with such a depth, that they continue to be covered and redone today. Lead Belly’s versions of ‘Goodnight Irene’ and ‘House of the Rising Sun’ embody what folk purists might describe as core examples of authentic music and have remained incredibly iconic to both listeners and fellow folk icons – with both songs being covered by bands such as The Weavers and The Animals, respectively.

circa 1935: Promotional portrait of American blues musician Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter (1889 – 1949) playing a 12-string guitar and singing. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Guthrie with guitar labeled “This machine kills fascists” (1943) (Photo from Wikipedia Commons)

Additionally, Cohen et al. (2014) provide an example towards the first conceptions of the protest song coming to fruition, through the medium of folk music, around the latter part of the 1940’s. They state, “In late 1945, (Pete) Seeger, fresh out of the military, formed ‘People’s Songs’ with a group of left-wing musicians, such as Woody Guthrie, which promoted a musical agenda supporting labour unions, civil rights, economic justice and world peace.” (p.15).

This type of organization towards the concept of peaceful protest through music would only be a small taste of what was to come in terms of the genre becoming a beacon of oppositional power. The fifties established a standard of what folk music was supposed to bring to the table in terms of formal structure, but allowed for the genre to constantly revamp itself, eventually into a vessel for change and social revolution.

As the ball kept rolling and the folk community began to realize the influx of popularity that came with instilling a sense of authenticity within the listener, there was an expectation of what the medium was to bring to the table in terms of artistry.

The classic string instrument, microphone, voice and lyrics cocktail was something of an established tradition within folk music culture as it drifted into the 1960’s. However, the historically telling aspect of folk culture is that it is constantly challenging the norm. The paradoxical effect of a culture pushing the envelope of change while upholding a preconceived notion that the music should stay ‘pure to it’s roots’ was exactly what it took to create such a controversy over Bob Dylan’s iconic performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Music festival.

At this point in time, halfway into the sixties and seeing music as an absolute force to be reckoned with when it came to lighting the flame of oppositional social activism, it boasts somewhat ironic to see just how shaken up the folk community could become at the slightest modification of musical ‘norms’.

When Dylan took the stage in 1965, the crowd turned to chaos when he cast his typical acoustic troubadour persona aside and began to play ‘Maggie’s Farm’ with an electric guitar a full band accompanying him. The audience, accustomed to seeing Dylan with no more than a microphone, harmonica and an acoustic guitar strapped to his chest, were thrown into what Wald (2015) describes as a “maelstrom of conflicting impressions.” He discusses the night further by referencing a New York Times piece stating that Dylan was “roundly booed by folk-song purists, who considered this innovation the worst sort of heresy.” Additionally, Wald claims that in several accounts of the story, “Pete Seeger, the gentle giant of the folk scene, tried to cut the sound cables with an axe. Some people were dancing, some were crying, many were dismayed and angry, many were cheering, many were overwhelmed by the ferocious shock of the music or astounded by the negative reactions (Par. 2).

Dylan goes electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival
(Photo retrieved from www.thenewportbuzz.com)

This type of commotion alone highlights just how much American folk artists had begun to etch themselves into the timeline of music history. Moreover, it brings to light the paradoxical effects that came with an audience so devoted to a genre built on change and revitalisation, but refusing to accept any modifications towards the standards of music set out by a handful of iconic artists at the time.

Hillstrom and Hillstrom-Collier (2010) cite music critic Robert Palmer, stating, “What Dylan in 1965 managed to do was blast himself free from the intellectual complacency of the folk scene while daring the rock fans to listen [to the lyrics]” (p.28)

The musical landscape was shifting so rapidly and so dynamically that the notion of inspiring change through such a powerful force became the forefront of youth culture in the 1960’s. With folk artists gaining popularity in the times leading up to the sixties, once the presidential epochs of Lyndon Johnson/Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War took hold, they quickly became a beacon to a demographic of frustrated and unsettled masses, seeking a way to provoke change and oppose the powers of government.

~

Protest Through Song

Youth culture during the 1960’s had become a force unlike anything society in modern Western culture had seen prior. The small post-war grace period was over, industrialization and the pressure to a build a life upon a direction of compliancy was no longer something the up-and-coming generation was willing to tolerate.

The children of the baby-boomers were either on the cusp of, or had reached adulthood and most prominently, the United States government’s escalation of the movement to fight communism in Vietnam had provided a massive catalyst for the launch of music as a way to counter violence and oppression.

Candaele (2012) describes this phenomenon, stating that “youth ‘counterculture’ carved out new spaces for experimentation and alternative views about what constituted a good society, while a New Left made up of civil rights and anti-war activists developed as the war in Vietnam dragged out and became increasingly bloody, confounding, and ultimately unpopular (Par. 6).

Folk music had gained such a vast audience through the sheer amount of emotion evoked during such a tumultuous time, that the community had begun to stray away from creating music to counter the generic aspects of pop culture and towards creating anthems leading the masses into a frenzy of social, political and cultural change.

Poster for the April 17th, 1965 March On Washington
(Photo retrieved from: www.michiganintheworld.history.lsa.umich.edu)

Protests, marches and picketing were on the rise all across college campuses, and eventually branching out into the general American public. The youth of America had began to shift their focus onto voicing their opposition towards the acts of what they interpreted as senseless violence, particularly hitting closer to home due to the implementation of a conscription process for the men belonging to this generation of opposers.

Carr-Wilcoxson (2010) discusses one particular showing of protest at the Washington Monument on April 17th 1965, when over twenty thousand civilians arrived to show their solidarity against the war effort, most notably including folk icons such as Judy Collins, Joan Baez and Phil Ochs. The singing of era anthems such as “We Shall Overcome” and diplomatic attempts at anti-bombing negotiations marked this event as one of many sizeable organizations for peace throughout the years that would follow (p.28-29).

Moreover, songs such as “Blowin’ In the Wind” and Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” directly address the prevalent issue of conflict in succinct and authentic terms, allowing for listeners and fellow artists alike to latch onto the words and drive their cause further through the inspiration that was being handed to them:

Come gather around people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
And if your breath to you is worth saving
Then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing

-Bob Dylan, 1964

 

Dylan’s poetic patterns of song writing allowed for not only previously established fans of folk music to identify with the call to change in songs like this one, but also created a sense of emotional authenticity and relatability that was easily taken on to define a generation of peaceful – yet forceful – anti-war involvement.

As Hillstrom and Hillstrom-Collier (2012) explain, “these songs did not just react to events, they actually inspired new actions and levels of participation in the anti-war and civil rights movement.” (p.23)

Taking the protest song movement even a step further, was the song “For What It’s Worth” By Buffalo Springfield:

 

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

-Buffalo Springfield, 1966

 

Highlighted by Carr-Wilcoxson (2010), these lyrics followed by the refrain that sings “I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down,” not only provide a commentary on the goings on of protest culture, but boast the need of awareness into the issues.

The lyrics emphasize a need for goal-oriented opposition, not merely allowing for each side to stand against each other, wave their picket signs and expect change to simply come as it may (p. 59).

Additionally, the discussion regarding mass gatherings of youth counterculture through music would be a falling short if not to examine the 1969 phenomenon that was Woodstock. The iconic three-day music and arts festival held on a dairy farm in the town of Bethel, New York, brought to the stage some of the most iconic rock and folk artists of that time, singing their songs of social change and defining the era of non-conformity through loud music, free love, mind-altering drugs and togetherness.

“The ‘counterculture’ emphasis on ‘doing your own thing’ and rejecting the ‘uptight’ morality of older generations was in full swing at Woodstock (Hillstrom, Hillstrom-Collier, 2010, p.74). With folk acts like Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young performing alongside rock legends such as Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Santana, the festival was the ultimate gathering of some of the iconic talent that defined a generation of change.

Jimmy Hendrix performs for thousands at Woodstock 1969
(Photo retrieved from woodstock.com)

The sixties and early seventies brought some of the most massive and influential social revolutions of the twentieth century. The groundbreaking method of using song as one of the most forceful catalysts for activism was not a new concept, however it grew to a level unseen before this time. An era of non-conformity matched with a level of political unrest and distrust from one of the biggest demographics of that time created a new use for folk music – to speak the truth of the people, provide a non-violent vehicle for political opposition and to contribute to the revitalisation of youth counterculture as a whole.

~

Modern-day Folk and Musical Subcultures

Almost fifty years after the golden age of folk, the mainstream concept of music has shifted substantially. Gone are the days of young Dylan and Baez inspiring thousands to rise up against the oppressive institutions and gone are the days where only a small handful of artists, boasting an even smaller repertoire of folk-inspired genres, ruled the popular music scene. A sense of authenticity and intimacy no longer seems to be valued in today’s popular music scene, with factors such as mass commercialization, digitization and genre fragmentation contributing to their downfall.

However, as it always has, folk music has learned to adapt with its circumstances and take on a new set of standards and values. Although the mass influence of protest music and folk singers gaining legions of fans may no longer be the norm, folk music and the demographics that consume it have figured out ways to maintain the sense of authentic emotional connectivity with the songs, lyrics and artists that create them.

Musical subcultures have been around since musicians had desire for uniqueness and listeners had ability to demand choice. McGwin (2013) discusses musical subcultures in a sense that they are “acting as a solution to a problem or contradiction in the dominant culture, and served as a way for its members to resist through ritual and style” (p.1). Although this notion of counterculture is not nearly new, the difference between the sixties and today is that folk music is no longer striving to resist political power, but is instead striving to counter the generic, mass consumer culture attached to much of today’s pop music.

Over the last half-century, the shift in digital technology has been astounding. The patterns of rapid introduction and replacement of old technologies has been a massive contributor to the changing landscape of music production, with the main form of music playing technology becoming almost obsolete every ten to fifteen years. From records to tapes, from tapes to CDs and from CDs to file sharing and digitally downloaded content, the music industry and genres within it have had to fight to adapt in order to remain relevant.

In today’s media market, music is no longer something that remains tangible in the same ways it was back in the days of obtaining albums by simply walking down to the local record shop. We can be selective about the content we want, we can select songs individually to add to our repertoire and we can access all of this for free via the many copyright evading loopholes that file sharing provides.

This, in addition to the ever-growing emphasis on consumer culture, had contributed to the mass commercialization of popular artists. Meier (2006) notes that within this social climate of consumer culture, many mainstream artists have taken on co-marketing strategies for themselves and they products they align themselves with.

The use of mediums such as television to advertise products, all the while promoting the faces and music of mainstream performers as a brand for the product, provide a marketing cycle financially beneficial for both the artist and the big corporations (p. 55). This type of cross promotion has become wildly prevalent in modern music, creating a culture built upon emphasizing capitalist promotion of products over emotional connectivity and authentic content.

Furthermore, content is being created and churned out so frequently that musicians now have to fight to stay relevant. In a culture that upholds the process of constantly searching for the next best thing, it can be next to impossible to maintain an attentive and devoted group of followers when the content is generic and easily replicated like many pop songs are.

This is where subcultures come in. Over the decades, subcultures have existed in opposition to something – whether that’s to a system of power, a set of constructed values or even another genre of music.

As aforementioned, the subculture of folk music no longer relies on political resistance as the forefront of their audience appeal. By upholding similar standards of authenticity however, they have managed to maintain a sort of refuge from the tendencies of disconnect that can come with generic, mass produced mainstream music.

Although the digitization of music culture has created widespread fragmentation within the genre itself, the folk community has managed to take this in stride by widening the boundaries of what can be defined within it.

Modern-day troubadour Gregory Alan Isakov bringing a mix of haunting melodies and meaningful lyrics reminiscent of the legends of the past
(Photo by: Blue Caleel, retrieved from: gregoryalanisakov.com)

 

Additionally, with much more of the population straying towards pop music and consumer-directed content, folk music has learned to adapt to smaller fan bases by maintaining the sense of intimacy through performing. Smaller venues, crowds and followings may have come with the effects genre fragmentation, but if a community devoted to avoiding the mainstream wants to stay true to its core values in a digital consumer world, this is sometimes means sacrificing the mass followings that once defined a prior generation of folk artists.

~

In conclusion, the last century has brought about a massive shift into what can be defined as folk music. Through the diffusion of genres, the rise of musicians at the forefront of political movements and the digitization of the music industry itself, folk has managed to adapt and remain malleable to the ever-changing landscape of musical expectations.

It has inspired the creative processes of thousands, thrived as a beacon of hope during tumultuous periods of history and provided a cornerstone of counter-culture within a world so devoted to exploiting music for its consumer properties.

Although it is not to say that the folk community had not resisted the processes of revitalisation in the past, as devotees occasionally have had the propensities to cause a commotion over breaking a set of standards set out by a small handful of musical pioneers. What has remained true however, is the sense of peaceful opposition the twentieth and twenty-first century folk music has maintained over the course of its lifetime.

Whether it is a differentiation from societal norms, conformist culture, political oppression or mainstream consumer habits, folk music has upheld its values of fighting closed-mindedness and resisting power. A sense of authenticity within both the musician and the listener comes from the place of intimate emotional connectivity that folk music thrives upon and is not something that cannot be branded, mass produced or diminished by anyone who chooses to oppose it.

 ~

Bibliography

Candaele, K. (2012). The Sixties and Protest Music. Retrieved March 27, 2017, from https://www.gilderlehrman.org

Cohen, R. D., & Donaldson, R. C. (2014). Roots of the revival: American and British folk music in the 1950s. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

Hillstrom, K., & Hillstrom, L. C. (2013). Woodstock. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics.

McGwin, Katharine, “Music Subcultures Online: The Indie Folk Scene and How Facebook Influences Participation” (2013). Open Access Master’s Theses. Paper 44. http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/theses/44

Meier, L. (2006). In Concert: The Coordination of Popular Music, Youth Practices, and Lifestyle Marketing (Master’s thesis). Simon Fraser University.

Rodnitzky, J. L. (1999). The sixties between the microgrooves: Using folk and protest music to understand American history, 1963–1973. Popular Music and Society,23(4), 105-122.

Wald, E. (2014, July 24). The Night Bob Dylan Went Electric. Time Magazine.

Essay #2

This semester may be coming to an end yet, my online publication will go on. Over the last three months, I was introduced to the world of online publishing and given a chance to create a place that was solely mine – sukhisthename.com. It became a place to share my favourite recipes, new beauty regimes, and […]

Essay #2

Going into PUB 101, I honestly had no idea what to expect. When I first heard that we were going to be making our own blogs, my first thought was “cool!” My second thought was “what the heck am I going to blog about?” In order to figure out the theme of my blog, I found the vision board to be very helpful. I essentially took my interests and combined them with my personality traits to discover that I wanted to create a blog about nature, incorporating my reflections and thoughts into my various adventures and sights. One of the very first things we learned and were encouraged to think about was the idea of a personal cyberinfrastructure. This was a way to think about our blogs as areas of the web where we are building our own webs, resources, tools, and personal connections without pre-existing templates (Campbell, 2009). What I took away from this is the importance of creativity and not being afraid to try new things when it comes to my blog.

When I first established my blog, and after making my first couple of posts, I will be honest, the idea of an ‘audience’ was the farthest thing from my mind. In the beginning, I made design and content decisions without considering anything else expect my own opinions. However, once we started discussing the idea of publics in class, I then began to consider who my own ‘public’ might be. My (imagined) public is individuals who enjoy nature as I do and thus may find enjoyment through reading about my experiences. I feel that I am addressing this audience by trying to keep them in mind and staying true to my blog’s theme when making my posts. If there was an abrupt change in what I started to blog about, this would go against my audience’s expectations and may drive them away. The value that I believe I am providing is thoughtful and meaningful insights into nature-related topics that may be enjoyed or shared by others. I had decided against incorporating ads into my site through Google Ad Sense, as I felt that my blog did not need advertising due it being more of a personal reflection blog. In fact, I think that ads may have actually turned audience members away, as they may feel betrayed by an attempted monetization of a personal reflection platform.

The incorporation of Google Analytics provided me with a whole new perspective on the idea of audiences. I have been completely fascinated by the ability to see so many details about the make-up and behaviour of the users that visit my blog. Looking at the entire history of my viewers, there are some interesting statistics to note. I installed Google Analytics at the end of January and for the first month, I never had more than a couple sessions per day, with page views being relatively low as well. However, in March, I can see a significant spike in page views and sessions, with 33 page views on March 7th and 43 on March 21st specifically. Also on March 21st, I had 9 sessions, which is the highest I have had in one day. Upon closer examination, I can notice a clear correlation with the timing of my posts and the corresponding increase in views/sessions. This was something that I learned to focus on as the semester progressed, and it has prompted me to think deeper about my content. The location of my audience in overwhelmingly in Canada (with the majority in BC). However, 20% of my sessions have been from the United States and I have also had some from India and Russia. In looking at audience behaviour, my most popular post by far is my essay on fake news. Interestingly, this was the post that gained quite a diverse audience in terms of location and language and there was a significant spike in traffic around the time that I posted it. My topic was relevant to the current political climate and I incorporated many embedded links so these may have been contributing factors. Finally, in terms of acquisition, the majority of my users found my site through direct. The second highest was organic search and I had 11 from referral. I was surprised to see an overall increase in the amount of organic searches for my blog. I think this is due to my consistent timing of posting and constantly using words like ‘nature’ and ‘happiness’ within my posts.

I only have a few comments on my blog and they are solely from Susanne and other class members. I highly enjoyed reading these comments and it made me want to put more effort into my posts. I do wish that I had received at least a few comments from people that I did not know; however, I am pleased to know I at least gathered a somewhat diverse audience through analyzing Google Analytics, even if they did not comment.

One of the most important aspects about keeping a blog is design. Over the course of the semester, I learned more and more about design practices as well as the importance of it. In class, we learned the idea of affordances, which is where things are intuitively designed so as to afford easy use (Kaptelinin, 2013). This was an important idea in shaping how I laid out my menu and categories; I went back and forth many times about this before I settled on my current layout. I find that design is a continual learning process – you are constantly tweaking things here and there, learning what does work and what does not work. Oddly enough, I learned a lot about design for my own blog through doing the peer reviews. I think that through critiquing elements of someone else’s blog in order to analyze what works from an audience perspective, it makes me think about my own design through the same lens. Often times, I turned to online resources in order to help me figure out how to accomplish specific things that I wanted to do. For example, to make link open in new tabs, I turned to this post which walked me through the process I needed to go through.

My overall thinking surrounding my blog has definitely changed from an inward-focus to more of an outward-focus. As mentioned above, I did not used to consider my audience when making posts or undertaking design decisions. However, as my blog gained more traffic, I started thinking more about writing to a perceived audience. I also began providing more embedded links in posts so that those who may be interested in learning more about a particular topic or in reading my other posts could have the opportunity to do so. I have not currently decided if I want to continue my blog past the end of the course. At first, my intention was to only maintain my blog for as long as required. However, now that I have put so much time and effort into it, I am considering keeping it.

I have learned so much through creating and maintaining a blog. PUB 101 has proved to be immensely valuable. Digital skills are so important today and I know that I can take the skills and knowledge that I have learned throughout the semester and apply them to future jobs.

 

 

References

Barnes, A. (2016, May 17). How to open external links in a new tab on your WordPress site. (Web log). Retrieved from https://allyssabarnes.com/open-external-links-new-tab/

Campbell, W. (2009). A personal cyberfrastructure. EDUCAUSE Review, 44(5), 58-59. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

Kaptelinin, V. (2013). Affordances. In M. Soegaard & R. F. Dam (Eds.), The encyclopedia of human-computer interaction (2nd ed.). Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/book/the-encyclopedia-of-human-computer-interaction-2nd-ed/affordances

I Am: Confident

Confidence a Virtue, Vulnerability an Issue

My entire life I’ve been lucky to have a strong baseline of confidence. From a young age I knew that regardless of my appearance, I was valuable, important, and worthy of love. This can only be credited to my parent’s incredible words and values they have taught me over the years; I sure as hell know it wasn’t society’s doing. 

Growing up confident has been an incredible blessing for me, and I fully acknowledge my privilege in my upbringing and positive view of myself. That being said, I will explore in the next couple paragraphs the bumps in the road I’ve encountered that I credit to this very blessing. 

I grew up a confident, self-assured child, and being the youngest of 4 girls, the three above with substantial emotional needs, I grew a toughness to compensate for my lesser need of attention. At the time, I don’t remember this being a big issue for me, but looking back now I know that it has caused a few setbacks.

In high school, a time of self discovery and definitely a time of heightened insecurity, I was known amongst my friends and colleagues as the confident one. Now this wasn’t credited to vanity or cockiness, but rather a humility and grounded energy that I’ve natural had. This title made me feel proud, but it also placed me into a box.

When my friends would take turns talking about feeling insecure, or wanting to change this, become better at that, I was left feeling unable to express myself in the same way. When I didn’t have a prominent physical feature to hate myself for, my friends began to discredit the things that did make me feel insecure, and I began to stop talking about them.

Holding these insecurities in when around my friends didn’t enhance my insecurity as my family has always been an outlet for me to talk to when I feel down. I do, however, feel I missed out on opportunities to be vulnerable with my friends. Vulnerability is scary for everyone, but I feel like sharing deep thoughts and insecurities with your peers allows you to relate to them on an intimate, human, vulnerable level, which in turn strengthens your ability to be completely transparent.

Perhaps it’s foolish of me to think that talking about myself more in my teen years would somehow change the way I feel about vulnerability, but I guess I’ll never know. Today I will push myself to do 3 things that make me feel uncomfortable and over exposed.

 

My awkward post hair-cut selfie.

Selfie: I’ve always had a complex with posting selfies… I think as much as I try not to, I care about what people think of me. If I post a picture that someone else took of me, I feel less vulnerable because there’s no level of vanity in being photographed spontaneously by others. When I take photos of myself, I feel exposed. Sometimes I think I need to learn to be more vain… self-love doesn’t have to be understated.

Secret: My secret doesn’t apply to those close to me, but may come as a surprise to the world around me. The truth is, I’ve never been in a relationship. This is something small, but for me it’s been a topic of conflicting feelings, thoughts, and ideas. On one hand, I don’t think this is in any way weird or shocking. On the other hand, however, I can’t help but feel less than, or undesirable for this reality. In admitting this truth online, I’m surprised at the indifference I feel towards it…perhaps this really isn’t as unusual as I think it is.

Story: It’s a Man’s World  “…After exploring with fruitful delight, my sister and I decided to sit in a park before visiting the Giotto Scrovegni Chapel. We sat on a bench in front of a fountain, a man sat across from us listening to music. At first I didn’t think much of the young man in front of me, but after a few minutes I felt the burn of his stare across my chest…”