Tag Archives: #reflection

Essay 2

Reflecting on My Journey Through Pub 101 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Keeping My Audience in Mind

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

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

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

Moving Forward

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

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

References

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

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

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

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The End of POSIEL (Essay #2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unapologetically Me.

There are many people who run makeup and beauty oriented blogs. So, why me? Why am I here, writing this blog? Why is makeup an important enough piece of my life for me to center my whole blog around it? Where did this idea come from? What makes me any different from any other person playing with their makeup? Well, I’m going to tell you. You deserve to know who it is writing to you. I know I always feel more connected to the authors of my favorite content when I know them. So, this is me letting you get to know a bit about me so you can understand what I’m writing and why.

I grew up in a small town where I didn’t really fit in. My whole life, I’ve been loud, outspoken, opinionated, and somewhat aggressive. It wasn’t exactly the most accepted in the community where I grew up. But I made the best of it. At the end of middle school though I made the choice to switch from my small community to going to a private high school in the city. My parents were in support because they have always believed in me and wanted the best for me. So, I started going to high school downtown at an all-girls catholic school.

There were a lot of pros to making that decision in my life. The main one was many of us did not care about makeup or fashion. We were too focused on trying to get great grades and find time to sleep to bother. The daily uniform tended to revolve around sweats. The benefit of this was twofold: more sleep in the morning and not learning to rely on makeup to cover up my insecurities. I struggled through high school and puberty based insecurity and a whole other host of struggles without using makeup as a crutch. I believe this let me develop a very different relationship with makeup and beauty over my adolescence.

Believe it or not, I didn’t actually start really using makeup until I was 18 years old. I had used a product here and there for events and such, but I didn’t become invested in it until after I graduated from high school and had been forced to face most of my ‘I’m ugly’ demons. So, makeup was never, and has never become, about making myself more beautiful. My relationship with makeup is about one thing: self expression. I discovered YouTubers and bloggers, like Zoella and Tanya Burr, and started learning from them. I loved seeing the different things they would express with different types of makeup. It was inspiring.

The summer after my senior year I spent hours watching videos, researching products, saving up money, practicing techniques, and slowly but surely figuring out what I was doing. I love allowing my makeup to reflect what it is I am feeling. Makeup can send a message to everyone around you, whether they are your best friend or a stranger you pass on the street. It is a powerful form of art. And it is a form of self love for me. Because I do not allow others to dictate what I do and do not put on my face. My style is mine and mine alone. I am me and no one will ever take that away from me.

So, that is why I am here. Makeup is my passion. Makeup is my art. Makeup is a part of who I am and how I show myself to the world. Wearing makeup does not make me weak or insecure. It does not make me a liar or a fraud or shallow. I am here, writing this blog, in the hopes that inspires other people to express themselves freely and fiercely. I am a highly flawed person. But I do not let that stop me from being myself. And neither should you. Let’s be unapologetically who we are together.

Yours Truly,

Meera C.

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PUB101 Essay #2

Twelve weeks ago, I had never published any expression of myself which was not heavily curated through a well developed or popular social media platform. I published myself on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and even Wattpad, yet there wasn’t anything more daunting than the idea of a completely self-driven space such as this blog. Twelve weeks ago I had never heard of what a “personal cyberinfrastructure” was or how many layers latticed the foundation of a simple website. In the past, my online publications were straightforward. Now, I type this with swirling ideas of digital publics and monetization in my head. However, what I did know twelve weeks ago was that I was incredibly excited. I had no clue where to even begin but, scrolling giddily through hundreds of WordPress themes that night after our first lecture, my heart leaped simply at the chance to publish myself: creations, opinions, and identity.

My blog began as a scattered jumble of my interests. However, as the weeks went on and the lengthy category menu leading to many empty pages began collecting dust, I decided to dwindle it down to a baking blog. Dreaming of cookbook worthy images and creative recipes which I had never thought to try before, I realized my underlying plan was to create a quintessential baking blog full of Pinterest inspiration at every click. The audience I initially imagined in my head was very similar – if not the same – audience as Pinterest, the popular photo-based platform used by mainly females in their twenties and up looking to cook, create, and design. To attract this audience, I focused on using plenty of large high quality images, a casual writing style, bright colours, simplistic designs, and obvious links to my various social media accounts. Travis Gertz warned against falling under the generic theme in this article on a website full of unique graphics which I could never comprehend how to build into my own site. I did end up with a theme which Gertz sees as a standard issue copy of many other popular websites with the large image and overlay text. However, I feel as though it was a safe place to start which I not only found aesthetically pleasing, but thought my potential audience would too.

Although I understand that advertising is an important element of boosting a website’s success, I have not yet ventured into the territory of monetization as you may have read in this Process Post. In an article about a small website business shutting down due to low revenue, Brian Feldman explained that creators have the ability to create content but are rarely making enough money to get paid to do so. At the moment, my blog isn’t something I’m interested in being a source of income. While I don’t know where I might end up in the future, I don’t feel as though my blog will ever be of any physical value. Instead of a monetary value, I believe my website provides the value of inspiration to those who are looking. Much like many other food blog browsers, I look for beautifully plated food and innovative recipes to boost my creativity. I can only hope that one day – when my blog is not still wheeling through the web on training wheels – mine could spark that same sense of creativity.

It is important to remind myself that my blog has barely started. Not only does this justify my dismal traffic data, but it is reassuring to imagine the places it still may reach. Truthfully, I’m not sure how many genuine audience members I have received yet that are neither my mother or spam bots. Some of my recipes have collected lovely comments – even a few from outside my friends and family bubble – but I have noticed that the most attention I get is from spam comments. Fortunately, I can simply filter out these comments before they are seen publicly on my page, yet they are still a pressing nuisance whenever I log in. Due to this influx of obscene messages usually baiting the receiver to click some sort of link, I have decided to look into a test for my comment section to simply filter out some robots designed to send out mass spam responses. As we discussed in class, a Norwegian website proposed introducing a quiz filtering system which users would need to fill out before being enabled to leave comments. While this is more geared towards letting readers cool off before typing out a rant and ensuring that the entire article was read entirely, it is a thorough example of a moderating system which could block out spammers.

Twelve weeks later, I guess I still don’t really know what I’m doing. This course has taught me useful skills which I will carry on in both my blog publications and any other social media post I share; knowing that whatever I publish contributes to the constant shaping of my online self. I am also not sure how long this specific website will carry on. I love this blog, I love what I’m posting, and I even have an idea for an entirely new post series, but I want to make sure that I am working on this blog to the best of my abilities. Neglectful, I feel as though I wasn’t able to fully mold this website to its full potential in the fog of other pressures and deadlines weighing on my life. I rushed through some things – unfortunate, but true – and I want to make sure that I dedicate the time this blog deserves in the future. Kadunbar.com will remain active for now, and I will be committing further to shaping my publication of self online. Twelve weeks later, my website is a little underdone and all over the place but, it’s mine. And that makes me pretty damn happy.

Reflections amongst the clouds and rain

It has been a rainy week here in Vancouver. Which is completely normal for us. And honestly, I don’t mind rain. Rain is just water. A little water never hurt anyone. Living here, you basically have to get used to it.

I am starting to get to the point where I’m struggling to think of new things to write about. After looking back at my posts, I realized I haven’t done as much reflecting as perhaps I would have liked to do. So hence this blog post. I have been feeling very meh lately. And I don’t think I can entirely blame it on the rainy weather. It’s crazy to think that this is the 2nd to last week of classes. That means that there is only 3 weeks until I am done being a University student forever. I don’t know exactly how to feel about that. On the one hand, I can’t even describe how much I am looking forward to not having constant homework 24/7. The great thing about work is that once you’re done, you’re done (for the most part anyways – it depends on the job). But on the other hand, it’s now time for me to join the real world and that is a scary thought. I’ve never not been a student and I can no longer say that I am anymore… I’m just, what? An adult?

I don’t have an exact career path in mind and this also kind of scares me. Right now, I am leaning towards wanting to do corporate communications. Or something like that anyways. But it is SO hard to get into that area. The competition is insane and companies will always choose someone who has experience over someone who doesn’t. I am fully preparing to be trying for a really long time before I get a job opportunity. I’m also trying to be open to possible different careers if something comes along that isn’t what I first think of. After all, anything is experience and at this point, I don’t really know what I like or don’t like.

I suppose this post is more me revealing my insecurities regarding the future. I am trying to remind myself that the way I am feeling is completely normal. I do currently have a job (retail) which I don’t totally hate so I suppose that’s good… I’m planning on keeping that and investing my newly-freed time into job hunting when school is done. The future is so unpredictable and it’s useless to try to plan it out too much anyways. For now, I’ll just try to remain optimistic and open-minded and see what comes along.