Tag Archives: publishing

Essay #2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

let’s reflect

As we head towards final presentations next week, it’s time to take a moment and reflect on the progression of my brand throughout this semester. 

Through this semester, I’ve really solidified who I am as a creator, and as a brand. I will continue to live my these three key words that I consider to be my mission and value:

  • relatable
  • inspirational
  • attainable

I’ve also gone more into figuring out who my tribe is, and who I want them to be. This has been essential for the huge change in my visual vision. To go from the monochrome, desaturated vibe to visuals filled with more warmth and colour has had its challenges, but also its rewards. The use of colour has allowed me to keep the “life” of an image, rather than sucking that all out just to stick to an aesthetic. This has been especially beneficial for travel photos, as it just didn’t make sense to take out colour in photos that display travel destinations. Although my followers may have dropped a little bit in numbers due to this aesthetic change, I’m finding who my true tribe is and I think that’s more valuable. At the end of the day, my brand is me, and I have to stay true to myself.

I’m excited to continue blogging, to continue creating content for my social platforms, and just to continue on this journey. Blogging and content creation has been the most scary, yet rewarding adventure. It’s brought me opportunities beyond my wildest imagination. This is my story, and I’m grateful to be able to write it and tell it.

without words

Today’s challenge: tell my brand story without words.

Here’s a quick screenshot of the feed I have planned for my Instagram account in the next little while, and this tells my brand story. The first 9 photos you see when you click onto my username should always represent who I am as a brand, it should tell my story. Why? Because these 9 photos often decide whether or not I capture a new follower or not. It needs to tell my brand story.

the side of the road

A peer review of Nima Niknam’s blog

Before even loading the webpage, I already have an idea of what Nima’s website will look like. Having seen a small preview in class when we reviewed everyone’s promotional videos, I’m excited to see how Nima’s site has developed since then.

The overall feel of Nima’s website is very professional, and I think it suits the purpose of the website well. The use of neutral colours (black, white, grey), and moodier tones aids in setting the tone for the reader – expectant to dive into a blog focused on words, as Nima is an author and novelist.

The header photo he has chosen to use is extremely appropriate, and after browsing through more, I realize that he chose it to match his debut novel, The Side of the Road. The black and white photo on the header, as well as the one he used for his picture on the about page, match the theme and tie the whole website together very cohesively. My one suggestion would be to use even more photos throughout his website, perhaps a feature image for each short story. Visuals help draw readers in and can tell the reader what the story is about without having to read.

Focusing more on the social media aspect of things, Nima has linked well to his Twitter and Facebook page. There are icons available in the top right corner of the website, links in the footer, as well as mentions on the about page. A suggestion would be to actually put hyperlinks when mentioning them on the about page.

On Facebook, Nima has been doing lots of cross-promotion – with posts and links that encourage readers to click through to his website to read. As I mentioned, having a feature image for each short story he writes would be helpful here, as that would also aid in varying the image that shows when he links to posts on his website. Something for Nima to consider would be for Nima to get a professional headshot done to use as his profile picture on all his platforms, and on his about page. This could aid in creating that professional image.

Nima is also very active on Twitter. In fact, I would say this is where his personality shines through. Where his website is meant to be professional and has a more serious tone, Twitter is where he can show off his personality. He posts regularly, as well as retweets often, and I think that it shows his followers more of his personal side and allows them to get to know him on a deeper level outside of his writing.

At this time I do not see a prominent monetization strategy, though I don’t think his current goal is to monetize. To me, it seems that Nima’s primary goal currently is to get people reading and interested in his work, and just develop a fan base from there. In the future though, I think he would probably look more into selling his novel’s, etc. I will note that I saw a few links to read his work on Wattpad, and I am uncertain if he is monetizing that or if he has any plans to.

After reading the first peer review done on his blog, I think Nima has taken the liberty of implementing the appropriate changes. There are some he did not do, but I think that was purposeful, and I agree with his choice of not changing them – such as his site title staying as his name. He has fixed all technical problems with any usability issues, which are the most important in my opinion.

Overall, I think Nima’s website has been well developed. He has a lot of content on there, and his overall professional brand has been developing on social media as well. He’s made use of his platforms to cross-promote effectively. As mentioned a few times, I think the next step would be to just add more visuals to his website to draw more attention when cross-promoting on social media, as well as just to entice readers to click into blog posts. All in all, a really well-developed blog and professional identity.

it’s all about the story

What is a brand story? Seems like week after week, my process posts start with an important question to consider. 

This week we had a few presenters from Echo, a storytelling agency. You read that right, storytelling. You see, it’s not just about a brand image that we’re creating, it’s all about the story.

Here were a few key take-aways for me on what a brand story should do:

  • create an emotional response from your audience
  • express and explain beyond just the surface level
  • dives deeper and brings about engagement from your audience

What makes our brands unique in comparison to others is the unique value we bring to the table. That lies in our brand story, and is what compels an audience to stay with us.

alignment

We know our mission, we know our audience (thanks to help of analytics). And now the question is, do they align? 

Let’s look at a quick rundown of my current audience insights:

  • 54% women
  • 46% men
  • 37% ages 18-24
  • 34% ages 25-34
  • 18% United States
  • 10% Canada
  • 2% Vancouver
  • 1% New York
  • 1% Los Angeles
  • 1% London
  • 1% Toronto

So far, I think everything is aligned. It makes sense that geographically, my audience comes from locations that are similar to Vancouver: big city feel. As well, all of those cities and countries are English speaking, which also makes sense because my content is written in English. Furthermore, I target the Millennial age group, so it’s reassuring to know that majority of my audience is between the ages of 18-35. Looks like we’re on the right track!

Some Semester Thoughts

This semester has been not just about creating a website, but about creating an audience. I have always been inspired to create something that benefits others, because a lot of what we learn in life is that the world can be a really negative and greedy place. But I feel that if we don’t take a little time to think about ourselves as well, we won’t be able to help others. If everyone thought like this, I believe the world would be a better place to live in for sure. My blog is for those who have the same ideals. It’s for those who feel a little lost or stressed out, for those who would like to contribute to a space that isn’t trying to sell you something, and a place for others to express their stories and how they get through their lives. I particularly want to cater to those going into University, because when I started, there was an overwhelming amount of opinions about what is healthy and what isn’t. Fab diets, fat loss pills, and insane and unrealistic expectations of how you should work out and look like are huge issues. My blog reflects this with calming or goofy pictures meant to make people reflect what they do in their own lives, or even laugh. It’s a space for people to get information that isn’t from a top-down perspective. Although I haven’t started gathering comments on my website yet, I would hope to see more as I post more content. I get a lot of comments and reviews on my Facebook as well, not necessarily on the website itself, but so far I have gotten a lot of good reviews and look forward to more, with criticisms welcomed.

Personally, I was really moved by Audrey Watters article, “The Web We Need to Give Students”. This class and this article sum up what I believe University should be all about; not just education, but promoting creativity and new ideas and challenging our perspectives. I feel that University doesn’t do that as much in this day and age. It is such a traditional industry that dates back thousands of years — don’t we think we’ve gone beyond that old structure by now? We need to be challenged and driven to new ideas, and constricting us to these traditional teaching practices is stamping out creativity and drive. This class allowed the students in PUB 101 to “have control over the look and feel of their own sites, including what’s shared publicly. This means they have some say — although not complete — over their personal data, and in turn they begin to have an understanding of the technologies that underpin the Web, including how their work and their data circulate there” (Watters, 2015). As Watters (2015) says, “giving students their own digital domain is a radical act”. I call for these education industries to do the same in returning the agency to students, and in return you will have students who will be enlightened and contribute back to society with enthusiasm and passion.

I was really glad we went over online behaviours, particularly the bad ones, and because of this I was extremely interested in Whitney Philips’ article, “Let’s call ‘trolling’ what it really is”. Trolls are essentially “why we can’t have nice things online” (Philips, 2015). In an internet-driven world, I constantly worry about what my younger sisters will have to go through in their online environments. My little sister even knows the term ‘trolling’ and will use it when describing certain people even though she doesn’t have any social medias. Philips (2015) emphasizes that the term itself “implies a level of playfulness that tends to minimize their antagonistic behaviours, or at least establish a firewall between the embodied person and their digitally mediated actions”. This was a huge wake-up call for me and I am able to better position myself on the impact of people’s online behaviours, especially knowing that’s not just us being sensitive when we go against trolls; we are standing up against hate and violence. Especially violence people wouldn’t even commit or act in if they were face-to-face with the person they were ‘trolling’.

Another wake-up call for me was actually when I reflected on my online data trail. I haven’t had much filtration or thought about what I put online besides the basics, like no revealing photos of my body or me at parties, no obscene language, etc. My digital breadcrumb trail extends long and true. I thought about it this way; if I tried to run away and disappear, I am not sure I’d be able to stay ‘missing’ because I know I’m very dependent on everything I use, like my bank cards, phone, computer, etc. Although I have to admit I love anything that makes my life more convenient, it does disappoint me how much companies know about me. Like with how Suzanne Norman experienced going into the Amazon bookstore in Seattle, data is collected everywhere. I believe I’m most noticed in my online shopping, because all the advertisements online are tailored to what I’m always looking for. Maybe we have just grown accustomed to accepting a lack of privacy. Podacademy sums up the issue perfectly in one question: “Should we then as producers of data benefit from the money that we help generate or is the fact that we use these services for free suffice enough to serve as a form of payment in return for our data?”. I would have to argue yes, because what other choice do we have? If Facebook suddenly decided that it’s users had to pay a monthly fee, would I? Probably, I’m too dependent on it now. It sucks but it’s the truth. All I would be able to hope for is a different company to come along and offer a free service.

I would like to continue on the blog and see how it goes, however, especially as I move into PUB 201, I actually have a lot of inspiration to create a new blog based on the EDM industry. It is something I am truly passionate about and can possibly monetize off of, whereas with this one, I don’t think it feels proper to have a lot of ads on my blog. I also have a lot of inspiration for it so I look forward to creating that before the next semester even starts.

You can find my inspired articles here:

https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713

http://kernelmag.dailydot.com/issue-sections/staff-editorials/12898/trolling-stem-tech-sexism/

https://publishing.sfu.ca/2016/03/breadcrumbs-of-data/

Podacademy’s article/podcast by George Philip, Jennifer Anne Lazo, Rooham Jamali and Rudy Al Jaroodi: http://podacademy.org/podcasts/digital-breadcrumbs-our-data-trail/

Process Post #week 4

“The medium is the message.” — Marshell McLuhan

With the fall of traditional media like newspaper, thanks to the rise and prevalence of mobile devices which allow access to media content and information regardless of time and space, the transition of dominant medium comes with the revolution of publishing which highlights the importance of being strategic for content on mobile devices. Instead of reading content from a newspaper which is of half our body length, people nowadays do that on smartphones that its screen size is smaller than our hand. When the same or even larger amount of information is displayed on a much smaller medium, it takes editorial, architectural, and technical knowledge” to make strategic publishing decisions for mobile media content.

Homepage of dictionary.cambridge.org

For years, this website has been merely functioning as my tool for looking up words without paying any attention to the page layout and design. And once I do, I immediately notice the prioritization of widgets and functions on its homepage reflected in forms of layout and size. Once users enter the website, the search bar appears in the centre of the page in white, contrasting with other busy colours around it. Users do not need to click on the search bar to start typing. All these echo with what Sara Wachter-Boettcher has suggested as “get purposeful” which involves deep consideration of site goals.

Enabling the media content to travel across different media is also important in order to be strategic in publishing. No matter a user is trying to get the information with a PC, laptop, or mobile app, access to the same database should be ensured. Besides, little buttons that link to social media can foster the spread of content.

Week 3 Process Post

This week I installed and activated Google Analytics and the Ultimate Category Excluder plugins to WordPress so I can easily track my views and prevent these posiel posts from appearing on the front page of my blog. I planned the layout of my blog so that #posiel posts would be accessible on the sidebar rather than the main navigation menu.

One of the readings this week came from Craig Mod, “How I Got My Attention Back”. I would like to share a quote from his article:

“Our measuring sticks for life tend to be optimized for material things, things easy to count. Houses, cars, husbands, babies, dollar bills. Attention is immaterial, difficult to track.” (Mod, 2017)

This quote resonates with me because I can often see how our world is radically becoming more advanced and how visual media is increasingly becoming a the cause of consumerism. In a world where we seem to live thriving off material and physical objects, it is so easy to become absorbed into this culture of consumerism as a means to measure the satisfaction of our personal life. As a result, people are increasingly less aware of the every day situations that are occurring around us as they pay more attention to their own lives and personal obsessions. Attention, like time, cannot be bought or exchanged.

I find that whenever I put my phone down for a few hours, I tend to feel more productive with my time and feel more mentally invested in the work or activity I am doing without constant distraction. That being said, I don’t think I can be offline for a month even if my life allowed it without harming me. For being someone who relies on social media to stay in touch with friends who live hours away, I can’t imagine the time needed to transit to them just to discuss a couple of things with them that could easily and quickly be done in a matter of minutes.

7 things you probably don’t know about me

  1. If I wasn’t a visual/interaction designer, I would love to pursue interior design!

    I love watching home reno shows on HGTV and if I had much more time in life I would most definitely be interested in learning more about interior design.

  2. I have never in my life like Barbies. Well, just dolls in general. Period.

    I remember when my dad came home with a Barbie wearing a Cinderella-like blue gown one afternoon, I almost gagged out the bok choy that was in my mouth when I saw it. I never played with it and tried all attempts to sell it out at multiple garage sales with no luck. Maybe it was the synthetic look and feel that I’ve always found dolls disgusting. To this day, I still don’t know what happened to that Barbie doll.

  3. I used to make jewelry out of paper clips and a pair of pliers.

    It’s true: I always had a bag of paper clips and pliers with me. I made necklaces, bracelets and earrings from twisting paper clips in different shapes.

  4. I was put in an ESL class when I was in elementary school.

    If I recall correctly, in Grade 1 or 2, I was pulled out of class by surprise and dragged to an ESL class. I was born and raised in Vancouver and had never thought or been told I had any problems with my English. Luckily, I was never put back in that class after that one time. In fact, in high school I actually got a lot of compliments from my teachers on my writing and academically did very well in my writing classes.

  5. I wasn’t born into an artistic family.

    I don’t know anyone in either side of my families who shares my artsy side, yet I have always loved drawing and creating. At a very young age, I have always been known as “the artist” of the class. From drawing anime and cartoons to hyper-realistic drawings, I never enjoyed the drawing classes my parents put me in, but preferred teaching myself through practice and experience.

  6. I can’t ride rollercoasters.

    I have a calm and soft heart that can’t take no adrenaline. When I was in middle school I went to Playland for my friend’s birthday and we all went on the well-known wooden rollercoaster. I don’t even know how I was even tall enough, but it was one of the worst decisions of my life. There is only one long bar that comes down in front of your waist (not secure at all!). Being a petite person, I did not feel safe and thought I was about to fly out any minute. I still don’t know how I survived that ride, but I’m glad to still be living.

  7. Being a rhythmic gymnast was one of the most impacting decisions of my life.

    How was it impacting? That’s a story for another time.
    I started recreational gymnastics when I was probably as young as 4 years old just “for fun”. In Grade 3, my school offered an after school rhythmic gymnastics classes so I gave that a try and fell in love with the sport. I continued to train pre-competitively for a short period before entering the competition world for the next four years. I loved — and placed very well in competitions. I had no limits to the way my spine could bend and I took it for granted.
    It wasn’t until I injured my spinal cord during a training — at the age of 12 — when I had to accept the fact that I would never be able to perform the same moves I used to so easily do. I never had a desire to compete in the Olympics, but I still had a raging passion for the beauty of this sport so I continued to compete for another 2 years with an injured spine. I stuck out the pain with many visits to different doctors and physiotherapists before deciding to focus more on my academics and pursue my passion for the arts. To this day (10 years after my injury!), I still occasionally struggle with back pain and I’ve gotten to know my physiotherapist like a friend.

Stranger Danger?

In a technologically advanced world, it has become the norm to for our eyes to be glued down to our mobile screens wherever we go: whether it be on the bus, on the street or in class. Consequently, it has undeniably caused us to be less aware of our surroundings and the people around us. It’s much easier now with easily accessible technological devices and social media platforms to engage and interact with “strangers” because we no longer need to carry the same feeling that may come with rejection or awkwardness in-person.

The difficulty of speaking to a stranger in public mainly comes from unknown motives; I’ve been approach by many strangers who tried to sell me a product, ask for cash, or for using me as an ear. I’ve almost been accustomed to creating a social barrier between me and the people around me when I am on the street alone because of unknown intentions and out of fear of being taken advantage of.
A stranger to me is someone who I don’t know personally and if I was asked, I would not be able to describe their personality or interests to someone else. I consider a person known when I have had at least one engaging conversation with them to really get to know who they are aside from recognizing a familiar face. Being a shy and reserved individual, once I get to know someone on a deeper and more personal level, I find it easier to approach them and feel more inclined to speak with them again, thus passing the notion of just being “strangers”.

 

My Vision Board + Process

For a lifestyle blog, I really aimed to develop a theme/palette that represents who I am.
Being a crafty individual, I decided to go back to my childhood roots and take out my scissors. I can’t remember the last time I created a vision board or collage, but I had fun with this. I really only had two magazines to work from, but IKEA magazines really did it for me. Besides the journalling images (thanks Google), I found that IKEA really speaks to my overall aesthetics. In fact, I get a little giddy whenever the new IKEA catalogue comes in the mail.

I always love to “embrace the white space”. A minimalist, I strive to stay simple while showing some natural/earthy and light tones: pastel pinks, blues and green tones from nature. I want my platform to be a space that inspires, is easy and enjoyable to read.

I’ve always wanted to have a platform to write about my passions and my hobbies in hopes to inspire my fellow friends and peers. Oh, and I love coffee. No — I’m not an addict… I can survive a day without coffee; I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee which is why I drink it. The energy boost is just a plus.
I’ve recently developed an interest in modern calligraphy probably because I love writing. And I don’t mean writing essays, I mean the action of writing. I love writing neatly and being structured, which leads me to my hobby of note-taking (wait, is that even considered a hobby?) and journalling.
I love to create, and I love to share what I create. And most of all, I love to help people. So that is what I hope to bring to this blog: a space for me to share inspiration, tips and advice on living a fulfilling and influential life.

But I Paid for It! Ebook Ownership and the ReDigi Case

ReDigi,  an online marketplace that enables the resale of "used" digital content, is being sued for by Capitol Records for copyright infringement. The case could very well set a new precedent for what ownership means in the digital world, and ebooks could be greatly affected (self-publishers should probably pay attention, too).

Essay #2

This semester we covered a variety of topics in PUB101, such as design, online behavior, marketing, and monetizing your website. Our blogs were meant to be either personal, business oriented or informative and encouraged to be professional. I saw a lot of different ideas sprout up from others in the class; baking blogs, nature blogs, fashion blogs, even political blogs- a popular topic in class. I decided at the start of the semester to make a bold choice and put my personal life on the line: I would record and document my experience in the dating world of Vancouver, and post about it on my blog. I started this with a lot of confidence, but my first few posts ended up being about my reservations on the topic. I was anxious about putting myself out there and danced around the topic of even going back on Tinder and similar dating apps after past experiences and knowing how I usually react when trying to date people in this way. I persisted, and tried to design my blog in a feminine way, using bubbly fonts and pastel pinks. I even had a countdown to Valentine’s day, a day I had titled “Single’s Awareness Day” on my blog. I still had made no progress in putting myself out there in the Vancouver dating world, and was working on adding more and more things to my blog which contained almost no content. Meanwhile, fellow classmates were updating their sites with things they were passionate about, and I continued to put pressure on myself to put myself out there. I wanted my blog to be a humour blog for an audience of like-minded, witty women. I tried to appeal to these women by fitting to stereotypical female design elements. Meanwhile in my personal life, I was making no progress and still dealing with personal issues that were stopping me from moving forward with my love life.

During this period however I was offered a job by the marketing department at my work to run the social media outlets for the restaurants I worked at. I would be paid to update the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the pub I serve at and take part in marketing meetings. It was an extra push of motivation for me to get back on track with updating something regularly online. A two months into this course, shortly after Valentine’s day, I realized I wasn’t going to make any progress with my original blog idea. I decided to change my angle and turn my site into a humour blog about “adulting”, something I found myself doing a lot of all of a sudden. Romance went on the backburner and I was facing having to think about second jobs, moving out, getting over an ex, potentially hooking up with a different ex, watching my friends move away… it was becoming a lot to handle. I had installed google analytics on my newly refurbished blog but it wasn’t giving me a lot of hits. I was trying to write more about my personal life but I was still stressed out. This class had shown us a lot of different ways we can use social media to our advantages to market ourselves and gain followings and blog readers. While I was struggling to use these techniques on my blog due to commitment issues (funny enough, the same reason I couldn’t commit to all those relationship topics), I was able to use them for my marketing job. Instagram and Facebook have their own forms of analytics and though a small budget I was able to use these charts to expand the audience of people viewing the photos and advertisements through these accounts. I was receiving positive feedback though comments on my posts, as well as likes from regulars. The attention on the Facebook page grew, and by reaching out to breweries and locally sourced food companies in the online community, we were able to enter into an exchange of sorts. For example, I would mention Phillips beer as a feature I had, and they would retweet it, and then give my pub a shout out, thus widening our audience and putting us on the map for Phillips lovers.

At the beginning of this course I thought that publishing a blog would be easy- I would post about my fun dating life and share my posts on Facebook. I would be incredibly open about my career, sex life and personal feelings about everyone and everything that was happening in my world, day to day. But I discovered that without the proper marketing techniques, right connections and social media hook ups, your blog just disappears into the ether of unclaimed and abandoned sites. You need to share and tweet your posts, as well as network and comment on other people’s blogs. It’s more than just mysteriously scrolling your url in a public washroom and hoping someone will peak interest enough to spend .5 seconds on your site on their phone while they’re on the toilet. My education about the different types of publication has advanced a lot as well. I had no idea how much design and proper formatting could make a difference in your blog. Even the right font can grip people and give them that visual element to hold on to and draw them into your site.

I think that I will continue my personal blog after this semester is over. I just moved out of my parent’s house this last weekend, and the source of my holding back on new relationships is leaving my life forever come the end of this month, so a blog about adulting might be more relevant than ever now. I think I’ll finally have a chance to experience a really independent lifestyle, and I think without certain things holding me back it would be a good time to document. Before I start elaborating my online presence I want to be sure of the image I want to give off. I want to rethink how much I actually share on the internet and not list people and events as accurately as they occur in real life so as to leave some form of privacy. A friend of mine has a blog where she uses her full name as her url and posts the most personal things imaginable to it, a move I consider bold but also somewhat foolish at the risk of future employers or even lovers reading it and getting false perceptions. I’m not sure if I want to pursue an online life that closely. As for my marketing job, I want to improve with the amount of reach I get, and I’m going to continue reaching out to other local medias to do so. The comments I gather on the social media pages and the feedback I get from higher ups is encouraging and it makes me want to give back and comment more and participate on other sites in return. I hope to bring these traits over to my personal blog and move up from there. But first the adulting. Then the writing about it.

https://www.instagram.com/the_blackbirdbar/?hl=en

The Blackbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above is a link to the website for the pub that I work at, and it gives a general look of the aesthetic the bar is going for, which I try to recreate in the Instagram, linked at the top.

Whereas below is a link to my own Instagram. So far all my posts of the year have been photos from my last vacation. I haven’t had a lot going on in my life lately that warrens a lot of posting, which also explains the absence of personal posts on my blog.

https://www.instagram.com/wallisbomb/

 

 

Rise of the Indie: Print Markets and the Road Ahead

When publishers rejoice at the “failure” of the digital market, they aren’t actually celebrating the preservation of print: they’re reacting to the preservation of their market share as compared to the self-published industry. But print isn’t safe from the rise of the indie market, and it’s important for publishers to be prepared to compete where … Continue reading Rise of the Indie: Print Markets and the Road Ahead

Peer Review #3

For our third peer review I was assigned kadunbar.com, a baking blog run by Kathleen Dunbar. Right away Kathleen’s site is welcoming and definitely gives the message of what it’s about. You’re greeted by a logo: a K wrapped in a wreath of leaves that looks like it could be the logo for a coffee shop or an independent clothing store.

The blog looks like it could be the website for a small bakery. Kathleen’s photos are very professional, and therefore bring an organized, more presentable look to the site. It’s a clean layout, white, with a header that changes between photos she’s taken of her baked goods. There’s a variety of pictures to show the diversity of her skills and tastes. There are also links at the top of the website that lead to a contact page, a link to her process posts, an about section, and a section linking to all her food posts. The photos for her mixed berry scones are gorgeous and look very professional. The powdered sugar and placement of the berries as well as the colour scheme of the photos matching the blog continues to bring a professional quality to the blog.

Kathleen also includes her social media links at the bottom of the page as a part of the footer, but as an added bonus there’s an option to save her posts to pinterest if you hover over the images on her blog. For bakers with pinterest boards this is a must and definitely an added quality to her site.

Kathleen’s website could be improved by adding more posts, but this applies to most of the blogs in this course. She’s off to a great start, and it looks like she could easily turn her blog into a professional website for a bakery if she were to make a start up one, or at least any kind of baking business. She’s also got several comments on her post and she replied to all of them, which is great to lend a hand to being a part of an online baking community. An excellent looking blog.

Essay: I Want YOU! (to stop spreading fake news).

Incorporating a business into the world of social media can be challenging. The competition to grab the attention of people scrolling through their newsfeeds requires more than bright colours and click bait. Your content has to be relevant and easily accessible. But more importantly, your content should be something that people want to hear about. Otherwise the backlash can be staggering. Recently the Donnelly Group, an independent business based out of Vancouver that owns pubs such as the Bimini and the Lamplighter, made another shift in their business by purchasing the now closed Railway Club. The Railway Club had been a Vancouver staple since the 30s, but fell out of business after it’s last owner couldn’t keep it up. Then when he couldn’t see it they shut it down. When Vancouver local Jeff Donnelly decided to buy the club one would think enthusiasts would rejoice, right?

Wrong. Shortly after the news broke the CBC released an article interviewing partner Chad Cole on the future of the club, where in the interview he stated that “unfortunately [live music]’s not going to be a core element of this new pub.” The news of the Donnelly Group buying out the club spread like wildfire over Facebook and the comment sections of Georgia Straight articles and those done by Vancity Buzz were alive with internet rage. Comments ranged from “For most people The Railway Club is synonymous with live music…to bring the place back without live music is very disappointing” to “I’d rather tear it down than turn it into another generic vapid soulless chain bar. Not going” to calling out employees who work there: “…then the greasy, little floor manager comes over and says “how can I make this right for you?” What a joke”.

The anger was on. But despite the complaints of no live music, the article continued to explain that there would in fact be live music, just not as frequently as the venue had in the past. A follow up article was released emphasising that there would be at least four nights of live music a week due to the backlash. As for the “bad beer, worse food”, the Donnelly Group actually sources almost all of their beer and food locally, and is a proud supporter of local breweries and sponsor of Vancouver events. If any of the commenters had attempted to do the smallest bit of research into this new group that was reviving their so-called favourite establishment when nobody else would, they would learn all of this. This is the effect of social media news.

People have gotten used to bite sized pieces of information. Today things are limited to 140 characters, 7 second videos and status updates to express huge events in our lives. When our attention span has been trained to be so short, all we read is the headline. The drawback is that these headlines can be misleading and often don’t give people the correct information. Pre-conceived biases people hold can be triggered by a negative headline they don’t agree with or enlightened by one that they do. How many times have you “liked” or reacted to an article’s headline without clicking on the link? According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 62% of U.S. adults get their news on social media. NPR reported that a Stanford survey conducted found that 80% of middle schoolers in 12 states couldn’t tell the difference between fake and real news. Based on the comments sections of certain Facebook articles, I’d wager that percentage would only be slightly less for adults. Fake news is effective because people believe what they want to believe. They want something to talk about, and when everyone has their own internet soapbox, it’s easy to yell your opinion into the void, however misinformed it may be. People see a title that supports their way of thinking and because it’s a “published” piece of writing, they cling on to that.

Publishing has changed now that Facebook is in play. In the Columbia Journalism Review’s article “Facebook is eating the world”, writer Emily Bell states “The future of publishing is being put into the hands of the few who control the destiny of the many.” Facebook’s power of news distribution is huge, and who can say what will and will not be published when people’s views of the truth have become so obscure, and even the president is spewing lies in national addresses. The technological powerhouses such as Google, Facebook and Apple have all started to dip their toes in the new industry, with Apple recently launching “Apple News” to add to the growing list of sources.

“When facts don’t work and voters don’t trust the media, everyone believes in their own truth.” claims Katharine Viner in her essay for the Guardian, published in July of last year. For a piece written over six months ago, the statements couldn’t be more true now. The world of publishing and how we receive and even accept our news is changing, and people blowing a restaurant chain out of proportion is just a small example. Incidents like #pizzagate that start off ridiculous and lead to shootings could just be the tip of the iceberg if people don’t start being more responsible for the news that they choose to regurgitate.

But the public doesn’t always believe they have time, or even consider looking deeper into the articles they’re being fed. In an attempt to stop the catcall of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, websites like Teen Vogue and Slate are attempting to educate their readers on how to spot false articles, with Slate even going so far as to create a Chrome extension that actually highlights articles on your newsfeed as possibly false if they come from uncredible sources. Despite this attempt, Slate’s headline for the announcement gives off the real message: “Only you can stop the spread of fake news.” The message is clear, and if people have a duty to themselves and to those around them to believe that the truth is not subjective when it comes to delivering facts. In the end, that’s what news media has always been and what we must fight to make it today.

Sources:

1. Bell, Emily. “Facebook is eating the world.” Columbia Journalism Review. March 7, 2017. http://www.cjr.org/analysis/facebook_and_media.php.
2. Colglazier, William. “The Best TIps for Spotting Fake News in the Age of Trump.” Teen Vogue. January 17, 2017. http://www.teenvogue.com/story/the-best-tips-for-spotting-fake-news-in-the-age-of-trump.
3. Domonoske, Camila. “Students have “dismaying” inhibility to tell fake news from real, study finds. .” NPR. November 23, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real.
4. Gottfried, Jeffery, and Elisa Shearer. “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016.” Pew Research Center. May 26, 2016. http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/.
Oremus, Will. “Only You Can Stop the Spread of Fake News. .” Slate. December 13, 2016. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2016/12/introducing_this_is_fake_slate_s_tool_for_stopping_fake_news_on_facebook.html.
5. Viner, Katharine. “How technology disrupted the truth.” The Guardian. July 12, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth.

Design Flaws

I have been stalling on writing this blog post because I know I have much more to do. Although I like the general look of my blog, I’m not sure that it has enough visual interest to draw people in. I’ve tried introducing headers and backgrounds, I’ve tried replacing my blog’s title with a title header image, I’ve tried virtually everything I can think of that my theme allows. It seems that I may have to explore my options of switching themes and see where that takes me.

What I find most difficult about my theme is the fact that the features I find most appealing about it are only seen with high quality photography and lots of posts. Since I’ve made the decision to hide my PUB 101 posts from the main page, I am lacking in my front page content. I’ve considered a few options, and before I switch themes I intend on playing around with creating a static front page filled with pictures of my travels, my high school career, and essentially my life. I hope that this will bring both visual interest and a visual connection to my life.

In order to fulfill the above suggestion, I have tried creating a page to feature my images, but the image slider requires multiple images to work. Next I tried a gallery post, but then of course the slider requires multiple posts to work. I’ll be playing around more to get the visual I would like. I’m in the process of writing my second blog post which (albeit a little late) should add more personal connection as it will feature personal photos and stories from my past.

Although this process post isn’t much of a reflection, it has birthed many ideas and I look forward to trying more!