Author Archives: AlansJourneys Publishing

Process Post #9: Targeted

For this week’s process post, we will be talking about the implications of analytics and cookies everywhere you go on the internet.

No matter where you go, you are being followed on the internet through something called cookies. Whenever you visit a website, cookies are most likely being added to your browser to track you and recognize the next time you visit the website. 

These cookies and other trackers are how it seems like the internet is always spying on you. For example, if you went shopping looking for a hockey helmet on Amazon, Google’s AdSense would most likely start serving you ads for hockey helmets at other stores that have paid them to advertise. 

One example that I remembered is when Target was able to find out a girl was pregnant before her father did. According to Forbes, a man received coupons for baby clothes and cribs which were addressed to her daughter. He then yelled at the manager, and then found out that she was indeed pregnant and called to offer the manager an apology (2012). The way this worked is “Target … sent coupons for baby items to customers according to their pregnancy scores,” which were based on their past shopping purchases (Hill, 2012).

This one was particularly scary because it worked even better than a pregnancy test, simply based on your purchase history or what you searched for. Even scarier, this article was created 10 years ago, imagine what they could do now with the technology. 

Therefore, it poses the question that presented itself in the Digital Breadcrumbs podcast, “Are we all blissfully unaware like Amanda?  And should we be worried?” (Pod Academy, 2016). 

To answer this question, I think that we need to be blissfully unaware, as currently there are not too many detractors other than some privacy breaches. When we decided that we wanted to live in a world where everything is powered by the internet, this is the price we must pay. Everything will fall apart once everything becomes aware as it would add to many layers of complexity to rework everything. 

The GDPR, which is one of those policies, has made some companies leave as it was too complicated to rework it to be up to standard. 

All in all, the internet tracks everything you do anyways, and unless all 7B people decide that’s not something they want, it will continue. 

References:

Hill, K. (2022, October 12). How target figured out a teen girl was pregnant before her father did. Forbes. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/?sh=1a2f46db6668

Pod Academy. 2016. “Digital breadcrumbs: The data trail we leave behind us.” http://podacademy.org/podcasts/digital-breadcrumbs-our-data-trail/

Process Post #10: SeOHno!

For this week’s process post, I will be talking about the various data that we have collected so far to date and trying to make sense of it. 

Upon opening Google Analytics, we are greeted with our home page, and what has occurred within the past 7 days. I quickly changed it to the past 90 days to get an accurate sense of what occurred during the whole semester. 

Home Page

According to the analytics software, 102 users including myself have visited my website. What this means is that everyone in the class has possibly visited my website at least once in this class. 

The average engagement time, which means the time that they spend on the website is at a whopping low of 34 seconds, but I think these results may be skewed since I frequently visit and leave my own website.

Furthermore, the plugins I am running could be responsible for this low average engagement time. The reason why I suspect this is because of what I noticed when I looked at the demographic by country. 

Going to the reports snapshot we find that 80 of the users are from the United States, while only 20 are from Canada, and 2 from India. If all the visits were from our classmates, then it would be more skewed towards Canada rather than the United States. This is accounting even for the fact that there are international students who may be from the United States and are using a US phone plan.

Country Statstics

Another thing that was interesting was that most of the sessions were driven by directly clicking on the link, which means that it was most likely spread through word of mouth. 

Where are they being directed from?

My website seemed to have surged in traffic from when it was made, and then declined before keeping a decent plateau.

Active Users Trending Chart

All in all, I think that analytics are a great way to inform content creators like me about potential trends and audiences. This can inform how you optimize your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), as “SEO is the most viable and cost-effective way to both understand and reach customers in key moments that matter” (Hollingsworth, 2018). If a business is trying to make money, understanding your audience, and optimizing your SEO so your website is at the top of search results can mean the difference between making money and making lots of money. However, as we have found out here, they can be inaccurate to some degree, and you should not take the information given as 100% truth. 

References:

Hollingsworth, Sam. April 13, 2018. “12 Reasons Why You Business Absolutely Needs SEO.” https://www.searchenginejournal.com/why-seo-is-important-for-business/248101/#close

Process Post 11: Alan’s Radio Station

For this week’s post we will be looking at a plan to incorporate more transmedia into my online publication.  Transmedia is basically other forms of media that can integrate into your current online publications. For example, the “Pokemon as transmedia storytelling” says it the best, where you can “watch… it on TV, playing the games on your Gameboy Color, collecting hundreds of trading cards, and decorating your room with Pokemon toys and bedspreads” (Kevinbrittenylauren, 2013). Basically, transmedia refers to multiple different types of mediums, such as being able to exist on both the radio and television. 

For me personally, if I were to ever do blogging as something I would take seriously, I would explore integrating transmedia in the form of a podcast. The reason why I would choose a podcast is because I think my content best translates to this form of media. It also does not compromise the integrity or ideas of my posts in any way.

One more thing of note is that I personally enjoy talking, so I think I am able to tell captivating stories that are better than reading text on a screen.

Podcasts can be then uploaded to various digital platforms, such as Spotify or the Podcasts app on all Apple devices. This increases the reach of my content as I can spread it to platforms other than my website. Furthermore, podcasts are very low intensity, and allow me to create engaging content without too much additional work.

It also has other benefits, such as engaging all audiences, whether they can read my content or not. For example, if you can read and see, you would be able to listen to my podcast and get my perspective with all my expressions, something that cannot be easily expressed through text. However, if you cannot see, then you can hear what the writer intended, as it is coming straight from them. Basically, while it provides an accessibility component, it can also be used for adding another layer even for audiences that can read and comprehend the blogs.

All in all, podcasts are a very convenient way to increase my reach, while adding another dimension to all readers while keeping the integrity of the content that I originally posted. 

References:

Kevinbrittenylauren.wordpress.com. 2013. “Pokemon as transmedia storytelling

Process Post #12: Community Guidelines

For process post #12 we will be looking at developing community guidelines that are suitable for my site. Community guidelines are very important to protecting all users of the internet no matter who you are. This is especially important on the internet as there is no way to verify if a person is who they really say they are on the internet. For example, I could make a Twitter profile saying that I am Mr. Beast, a famous Youtuber and some might believe it. As a site owner I have the responsibility to protect all users that may comment or interact with my website, or else I could be held accountable legally. This ranges from “Internet trolls … [which] … are doing it for the “lulz,” or laughs” to “harassment … [and] violent threats” (Stein, 2016). 

As this is process post #12, I will hash out 12 rules that all users will have to follow in which I believe protect them the best.

  1. All users must register with an account before posting
  2. Prevents random spammers and bots, especially with reCAPTCHA
  3. No files may be uploaded
  4. Prevents viruses from being spread
  5. All posts must be verified by a moderator before posting
  6. Ensures that nothing slips through the cracks
  7. Word limit will be imposed
  8. Ensures that trolls cannot spam
  9. Suspicious activity will be flagged with a plugin, then reviewed.
  10. Ensures that there is always a watchful eye
  11. Users must be respectful
  12. Ensures that everyone is respectful
  13. Users must not use inappropriate or offensive language
  14. Makes it appropriate for all audiences.
  15. Out of control discussions will result in a mute/ban
  16. Ensures that no conversations cause too much controversy
  17. No copyrighted content may be posted
  18. Protects me legally and ensures that I cannot be legally responsible.
  19. All conversations must be lawful
  20. Same as point #9
  21. False or misleading information will result in a fact check and/or removal from the comments if it is fake.
  22. Ensures that my website is not a source of misinformation
  23. Have fun, this is a place for constructive criticism and discussion, please do not take everything seriously. 
  24. Keeps everything casual and fun

All these rules are designed to ensure that everyone can participate without being bombarded with misinformation or trolls. The Guardian’s article also influenced some of these rules, as they found that “The vast majority of blocked comments, therefore, were blocked because they were considered abusive to some degree, or were otherwise disruptive to the conversation (they were off-topic, for example)” (Gardiner et al., 2016). This is why I included things like the out-of-control discussion clause, because if someone is actively trying to pull people away from the conversation, how can people properly create constructive criticism? Coming up with these community guidelines has taught me that running a platform which involves social discussion is a lot more complicated than originally thought. People are just complicated creatures, and especially when social manners are involved, as you cannot guess most people’s next actions. 

References:

Adventure #12: Walking The Edge Of Glory

Summary / Quick Breakdown 🏃‍♂️ :

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

Location 📌:  290 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3L9

Good 👍 : Truly breathtaking views on one of the tallest buildings in the world

Bad 👎 : Very expensive

Price 💰 : $$$$

For my final adventure I would like to talk about one of the most recognizable buildings in the Toronto skyline. It is 356M tall and frequently pierces through the clouds above the city. 

It is called CN Tower and is home to many different tourist attractions with breathtaking and stunning views. 

Wide shot of CN Tower looking up
CN Tower

Personally, I visited the tower to try out their EdgeWalk, which is an experience where you walk around the outside of CN on a harness. For the $200 it includes your EdgeWalk, some photos, and tickets to go back up CN Tower on the inside.

The process to do your EdgeWalk is signing a waiver, going to get dressed, get metal detected to make sure you have nothing that might fall out, and then double check again before getting attached to the system. 

After being attached they check you again before you head out, and because of all these checks I never felt unsafe that anything could break. 

When you head out onto the platform for the first time, you are truly in awe, simply because of how high up you are, and how breathtaking the view is. The guide then guides you around the platform doing simple maneuvers like leaning over Toronto or leaning backwards over Toronto. 

Wide shot of Alan leaning backwards over CN Tower Edge
Leaning Back 🙂

When you come back in and successfully complete the challenge, you get a certificate, some photos, and a pass to come back another time. 

I personally purchased all the photos as I am not sure if I would be able to do this more than once in my lifetime. Although I am pretty sure that the answer is yes, it is still a good memory for not too much extra money. Furthermore, I think just like the ZipLine in one of my past adventures, going back to it too often would make it boring and monotonous. 

All in all, this breathtaking adventure is definitely a site to see at any cost and especially if you are not afraid of heights. It is a one-of-a-kind experience that you will never forget and not available anywhere else in the world. 

Adventure #11: I’ve Fallen And Can’t Get Up

Summary / Quick Breakdown 🏃‍♂️ :

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

Location 📌:  Niagara Fall, ON, Canada

Good 👍 : Truly breathtaking views

Bad 👎 :  Long lines for attractions, very busy, expensive

Price 💰 : $$$

For my eleventh adventure I would like to talk about my experience going to Niagara Falls for the first time. 

Niagara Falls is a really large waterfall located in the bordering provinces of Ontario and Buffalo. You can enter and see the waterfall from either side as that is how the border was divided back then.

Wide shot of Niagara Falls with lots of people
Picture of the Falls

To get there, I decided to purchase a Go-Train ticket that included transit when you got to Niagara Falls. The train ride takes a good few hours and can be a pain if you do not have data since the train only provides limited Wi-Fi. 

The train, however, was decently comfortable and cannot be beat for only $25 round-trip. It has washrooms and takes around the same amount of time as a bus would. I almost ended up missing the train, but thankfully the conductor was nice enough to let me on. 

Once I got there, I took the bus down to the city center where I was struggling to find something to eat. Eventually I stumbled upon a decently priced sushi place inside a casino, and that’s where I ended up eating. Everything else there was a lot higher than regular due to it being in a tourist area. 

Close up of my sushi lunch
Lunch

After eating I visited the falls and some attractions like the Behind The Falls, where you could be behind Niagara Falls. 

Close up of being Behind The Falls
Behind The Falls

However, I will not recommend it to anyone other than visiting the first deck. The lines were really long, and challenged my claustrophobic self, even though I am not that scared of confined spaces 

Wide shot of the long lines to get to viewpoint
Long Lines

After visiting Behind The Falls, I visited some other attractions like Niagara’s Fury, which was a 4D theater experience, I decided to head back to the train terminal so I would not get stranded at the Falls.

All in all, I would recommend that you visit it once no matter how expensive it is, as it is truly a breathtaking experience. However, skip some of the gimmicks like behind the falls and instead take the boat ride to be in the middle of the Falls.  

Adventure #10: Getting Ticketed

Summary / Quick Breakdown 🏃‍♂️ :

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 

Location 📌:  1725 99 St NW, Edmonton, AB T6N 1K5

Good 👍 : Has many games, great way to pass time

Bad 👎 : Can be expensive and not all games are maintained properly

Price 💰 : $$

For my tenth adventure I would like to talk about The Rec Room, a chain of Barcade’s (Bar + Arcade) which is targeted towards the demographic of young working adults. The chain is owned by Cineplex which has a monopoly on all the movie theaters in Canada. 

It is truly interesting how they are attempting to take over the entertainment industry in Canada by providing all these offerings.

Although there are locations all across Canada, the location that I went to was the South Edmonton Commons. This location has a standalone Rec Room, which is housed in its own building unlike some of the other Rec Rooms which are attached to a mall. 

Wide shot of Rec Room sign
The Block Sign

Most of the locations follow the same playbook, where they have a variety of arcade games, a pool table or two, racing simulator, and a restaurant/bar.

This location is special because it has other additional attractions like bowling and axe throwing.

Wide shot of bowling alley
Bowling Alley

The way The Rec Room works is you get a card that can be used like a credit card, and you add credits to it in exchange for money.

Personally, I always go for the $50 option whenever I go there, as the credits can be used at other locations and do not expire unless they go out of business. 

Pro tip: If you subscribe to their Cineclub or Student discount, you can save a considerable amount of money!

That day I played various arcade games, including my favorites like the Tower Stacker, Monster Drop, and Pop the Lock.

Wide shot of arcade gaming floor
Overview of Gaming Area

I also played pool, which is charged differently here, as one tap is the equivalent to 30 minutes of play, instead of 1 tap = 1 game.

I had also participated in the Axe throwing, and I was not very good at it. Despite this, I’m still glad I had the opportunity to try at a low cost.

Close up of axe throwing area
Axe Throwing

Finally, I tried out their racing simulator, which was a bit different to the ones that I see locally here in Burnaby, but it was a worse experience overall. The rig just looks good but performs even worse compared to the simpler one at the Burnaby location.

All in all, for $40 after discount, if you bring a few friends or just yourself, you’re guaranteed to have a blast for a few hours. This means that it only works out to a few dollars every hour to create possibly lifelong memories.