Author Archives: Confessions of an Indian girl

Process Post 12

Community Guidelines 

Online comments are a bit of a double-edged sword – they can facilitate meaningful dialogue but they can also attract obscene and harmful content. According to Konnikova (2013), comments sections can produce a diffusion of responsibility because individuals feel less accountable for their own comments and thus, are more likely to engage in amoral behaviour. In order to combat this amoral and potentially harmful behaviour, it is imperative to establish a set of guidelines on what is appropriate vs. what is not appropriate.

In addition to this post, I think that I will implement my community guidelines under my About page or under a page where they can be easily found. In order for users to be aware of what constitutes an inappropriate comment, it is important that they first find, read, and understand my community guidelines. Therefore, it is imperative for my guidelines to be on a page that is easy to find.

The core values of Jkallu.com are sync with those of Book Riot. Jkallu.com values social justice, feminism, and inclusivity. Therefore, I have developed the following community guidelines for this website:

The following comments may be removed:

  • Comments that harass, abuse, insult, or discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, race, age, national origin, and/or disability
  • Comments that contain any computer virus or other malware
  • Comments that are threatening, defamatory, pornographic, or violate any party’s intellectual property
  • Comments that are posted for any obscene or immoral purpose

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Essay 2

Reflecting on My Journey Through Pub 101 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Keeping My Audience in Mind

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

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

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

Moving Forward

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

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

References

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

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

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

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Process Post 10

Transmedia Integration

This week, our task was to come up with a hypothetical four-word cause of death and then brainstorm how we would publish it on various social media platforms. This activity was interesting because it illustrated how “the medium is the message” (Mcluhan, 1964). As publishers, it’s important to understand and be cognizant of how different platforms influence our content. In turn, the platform we use also shapes how others perceive our posts.

To incorporate more transmedia integration into my blog, I would focus on Instagram, Facebook, and (potentially) Youtube.

My four-word cause of death is #runningoutofcoffee. The following image will be used to illustrate how I would use this hashtag on various platforms.

My #fourwordcauseofdeath
Instagram 

If I were to post my #fourwordcauseofdeath on Instagram, I would use an app to edit the picture, post a brief description, and be sure to include several hashtags such as #posiel #coffee #student and #overcaffeinated.

Because my blog is personal in nature, I have linked it to my personal Instagram account. To direct traffic from my Instagram account to my blog, I can link to my blog in my biography. I can also write “Read more on my blog. Link in bio!” in each caption that is relevant to my blog. I have a larger following on Instagram than I do on my blog, so I think that directing people from Instagram to my blog would serve to increase my blog’s traffic significantly.

Facebook

If I were to post my #fourwordcauseofdeath on Facebook, I would post this image, remove the caption, and pose a relevant question to my friends to promote engagement. For example, I would ask “What are some alternatives to coffee that help you feel energized?”.

For my own blog, I can use Facebook to post content to my personal account, link to a related post on my blog, and encourage friends and family to share my posts. Again, this would serve to bring more traffic to my blog.

Youtube

If I were to post my #fourwordcauseofdeath on Youtube, I would probably title the name of the video “Transmedia Integration: Four Word Cause of Death” and talk a little bit about the activity and the importance of transmedia integration.

For my own blog, I can use Youtube to share videos of myself discussing tutorials and product reviews. I find that recipes and reviews can be boring to read about, so using Youtube would help make my content more engaging.

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Songs for a Rainy Day

The weather has been pretty grey in Vancouver this weekend. I’m not complaining, though. Rainy days are perfect for some of my favourite things – a cup of tea, a warm blanket, a good book, and of course, a good playlist.

At the same time, it’s easy to feel lazy and un-energized. I also find it difficult to leave the house when it’s dull outside. Long commutes in the rain? No thank you. So, in an effort to beat the rainy day blues, I decided to create a playlist of some of my favourite songs.

What are your favourite songs to listen to on a rainy day? Comment below!

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Process Post 9

This week, guest speaker Juan Pablo Alperin posed several interesting questions to the class. First, he asked us to envision a future that sees the decline of Facebook and to elaborate on what kind of changes or shifts would lead to this decline. Next, he asked us to reflect on the constraints that Facebook imposes on us as users and to consider how these constraints influence our behaviour online. In this response, I will address the initial question.

Imagining A Future Without Facebook

Professor Alperin started off by addressing the common misconception that the Internet and the Web are the same things. To my dismay, they are two distinct concepts. I have been using the terms interchangeably for years. The shame. The embarrassment. I will address this question with the newfound knowledge that there is, in fact, a distinction between the Internet and the Web. The “Internet” refers to the physical structures that connect the online world, while the “Web” describes things like HTML and hyperlinks that comprise the core technology of the web. Therefore, Facebook is an application that uses the Internet’s infrastructure.

Every empire falls eventually. Social media platforms and applications are no exception. At one point, Nexopia was the leading social networking platform. Today, most people would give you a funny look if you told them you were on Nexopia. Eventually, the next best thing comes along. Old social media platforms are replaced by new ones that do the same as the last and more. Some applications even integrate popular features from existing applications, such as how Instagram has implemented “Stories” that were initially seen on Snapchat.

Keeping Users Within The Application 

Ultimately, all social media giants will fall, but for different reasons than the last. We all learn from our mistakes, and sometimes, we learn from the mistakes of others. Again, social media platforms are no exception. Current platforms have looked to the mistakes of former giants and quietly avoided making the same mistakes. For example, Nexopia failed to consider that hyperlinks would re-direct users to external websites and in turn, decrease its amount of traffic. Now, applications like Facebook and Instagram redirect users to pages that are opened by the app rather than a separate browser – a subtle ploy to keep the user within the app. At this point, Facebook has avoided some of the problems that other networks have encountered. So what will lead to Facebook’s demise?

Will Privacy Concerns Lead to Facebook’s Demise? 

Giving up personal information is a requirement of using Facebook. But at what point does this become an issue?

Today, Facebook fell as much as 8.1% to $170.06 in New York (Time, 2018). This decline comes after reports that users may have had their data used improperly. Cambridge Analytica, the data-analysis firm that helped Donald Trump win the presidency, was able to obtain and misuse personal information from more than 50 million Facebook users. The company’s shares show that users are not happy.

Facebook stock, March 19th, 2018. Source: Google.

It is evident that privacy concerns can be detrimental to a social networking site, even one as large as Facebook. I think that if privacy concerns arise in the future and users become aware of any misuse of personal information, then individuals may become wary of using Facebook. As a result, Facebook may be replaced by a social networking site that is more transparent about users’ privacy.

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Peer Review #3- Honestlynaomi

First Impressions

This week, I’ll be reviewing Naomi’s blog, honestlynaomi.com, with a focus on marketability. My first impression of Naomi’s site is that it is clean, elegant, and easy to navigate. Naomi has implemented a pop of colour in her logo, as well as a personal tagline that reads “daily doses of my lifestyle and pop culture, with a little sarcasm mixed in.” As a reader, I immediately know that this will be a personal and lifestyle blog, and I can decide whether I would like to explore further based on this initial information.

Logo and tagline of honestlynaomi.com
Audience

I think that Naomi’s blog will attract females in their late teens to mid-twenties, especially those who are interested in fashion, food, travel, and the post-secondary experience. I like how Naomi has explicitly outlined her target audience on her “About” page, which reads “if you love fashion, food, and travel you’ll feel right at home here.” Through this statement, Naomi recognizes that “a public is self-organized… it exists by virtue of being addressed” (Michael Warner, 2010, p. 413). By addressing her audience in both the “About” page and in the sidebar, Naomi has effectively acknowledged and welcomed her audience.

 

Sidebar widget on honestlynaomi.com
Marketability

Naomi’s site is a personal and lifestyle blog; therefore, the marketability of the site rests on Naomi herself. I think she has done a great job in this area – she has a descriptive “About” page, a sidebar featuring a personal message and photo, and a customized logo. I think that the personal photograph in the sidebar is a nice touch that humanizes Naomi and allows her audience to put a face to her posts. 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. By customizing her logo, sidebar, and theme, Naomi has addressed the concern that “originality is risky” (Gertz, 2015).

I suggest that Naomi post content more frequently and consistently, especially if she is looking to monetize her blog in the future. This would increase the amount of traffic on her blog as well as show potential sponsors that she is dedicated to her site.

Content 

Naomi’s blog currently features two posts. So far, Naomi’s posts have explored her personal life and food. These topics are broad enough that they will appeal to a range of individuals including her target audience. In order to increase readership in the future, I suggest that Naomi monitor her Google Analytics after posting some more content. This will allow her to determine which posts receive the most traffic. In turn, she can tailor her content to reflect what her audience is interacting with the most.

Layout and Site Structure

The menu consists of four major categories: “Life”, “Food”, “Fashion and Beauty”, and “Travel”. One suggestion I have is to reduce the number of categories until more content has been posted. I suggest removing the “Travel” category because it does not feature any posts, and I think that most users navigate away from websites once they reach an empty category or a broken link. By removing unnecessary categories, Naomi can enhance user flow within her blog. In turn, Naomi will enhance the marketability of her site by keeping users on her blog for longer periods of time.

Blank “Travel” category

As a reader, I was a bit confused by the “Fashion and Beauty” category – it consists of a few images of clothing and make-up, but the images are not accompanied by any text or description. This can be easily addressed by incorporating these images into a text post and providing links to the products. As a result, Naomi would increase the content on her blog, as well as provide potential opportunities for affiliate marketing.

Social Media

At this point, Naomi has not integrated any forms of social media onto her site. I would recommend incorporating at least one social media platform using the widget feature. In “Publics and Counter-Publics”, Michael Warner (2002) posits that “no single text can create a public… nor can a single voice, a single genre, or a single medium” (p. 420). By incorporating social media widgets onto his site, Naomi would interact with her audience through various mediums in order to contribute to the “reflexive circulation of discourse” that is required of a public (Warner,  2002, p. 420).

Design

I think that Naomi has done a great job designing her site with her target audience in mind. Naomi’s audience likely consists of young females who are students or hold part-time jobs. This is an audience that does not want to exert too much time or energy navigating a website. Naomi’s blog is great in this regard – the design is clean, there is minimal unnecessary content, and the blog is easy to navigate. One minor suggestion I have is to clean up the “About” page by removing the comment box. The comment box creates a lot of unnecessary clutter and throws off the visual equilibrium of the page.

Conclusion

Overall, I enjoyed reading Naomi’s posts and I think that she is off to a great start. One thing that stood out to me was how Naomi directly addresses her audience in her “About” section and in the sidebar. As a reader, this acknowledgement made me welcomed and appreciated. There are a few minor changes that can be made to the menu and “About” page, but this can be done fairly quickly. I look forward to reading more of Naomi’s content in the future!

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Process Post 8

Initially, I was against the idea of monetizing my website. My website provides me with an outlet and the idea of making money off of my personal posts makes me a little uncomfortable. I want to share posts that other people can relate to and monetizing my content seems to be at odds with the aim of my work. In my mind, it feels disingenuous to be posting content that is meant to be for others but also benefits myself.

I wanted to say that I didn’t care about money, but I realized that doing so would be a disservice to myself. As much as I want to deny it, money is necessary to satisfy a number of the things I value in life: an education, food and shelter, and even some of my hobbies. If I want to post about my hobbies, I will need the funds to do so. This is where monetization comes in.

Google Adsense                                          

Although I installed Google Adsense, I have refrained from implementing any ads on my blog. I like how Google Adsense allows users to regulate what ads are posted and I think that a lot of bloggers can effectively use Google Adsense to incorporate advertisements. In my own experience, I tend to question the credibility of websites that feature too many advertisements. I find that an excessive number of ads detracts from the purpose of a website. Overall, I think that a few strategically placed advertisements can be beneficial for individuals looking to monetize their website. I don’t like the look of advertisements

If I were to monetize my website in the future, I would do it via affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing would allow me to promote products that I have personally tried and that are relevant to my blog. In order to enhance transparency with my readers, I would ensure that my audience knows that certain posts may result in monetary compensation.

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Here’s to Strong Women

“Here’s to strong women.  May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”

Growing up, I struggled to understand aspects of my identity (as most adolescents do). Topics like race, gender, and expression were infrequently explored in elementary school or high school. Later, I turned to poets who experienced similar struggles with regard to their identities. These poets wrote eloquently and concisely, but beyond that – they understood.

By articulating their lived experiences, poets like Rupi Kaur, Nayyirah Waheed, and Warsan Shire empower women regardless of race, religion, or colour. The accessible nature of technology allows artists of diverse backgrounds like Kaur, Waheed, and Shire to post content with ease. In turn, technology has allowed artists to delve into the complexities of topics such as femininity, oppression, sexuality, and identity. Today, I credit literature as being foundational to my sense of self-worth.

Today is International Women’s Day, which means it’s a day to celebrate all of the bad-ass, inspirational, and independent women in our lives (we should be doing that every day, though). On that note, I’ve compiled some of my favourite quotes from women who I find inspirational and bad-ass.

On Girls Education:
Interview with Michelle Obama/Refinery 29 
 On Compliments:
Rupi Kaur/ Instagram
On Independence: 
Rupi Kaur/Instagram
Nayyirah Waheed/Instagram

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Is the Indian Wedding Industry Out of Control?

Indian weddings are like the Valentine’s Day of the wedding industry: both are expensive days meant to celebrate love. A recent documentary called Little India, Big Business paints a fairly accurate picture of the Indian wedding scene. These events tend to be elaborate, long, and costly.

To be honest, I think I’ve attended at least 10-15 weddings. You know what happens when you attend as many weddings as I have? It all becomes routine. Blaring music? Check. Expensive clothes and makeup? Yup. 500+ guests? Almost always.

This is not to say that I don’t love attending these weddings or that I don’t see the value in them. An Indian wedding is just as much about bringing together the families of the bride and groom as it is about the bride and groom themselves. It’s a lot of fun to get together with family, and it all makes for a great bonding experience.

Where do we Draw the Line?

This is where things become blurry. Every year, weddings become more elaborate and more expensive. But where do we draw the line? Does the cultural value of an Indian wedding warrant the increasing costs? Or do people deal with the financial burden so they can keep up with their friends and family members? It would be a lie to say that part of it isn’t a competition.

Growing up, I never really fantasized about having a perfect wedding, let alone a perfect traditional wedding. Now, just the thought of hosting a wedding in such a competitive environment is overwhelming.

One thing that makes no sense to me is that if you don’t keep up with the extravagant wedding tradition, you get shit for it. My uncle, who is a doctor, decided to have a smaller wedding, and he was gossiped about. People said, “if he’s a doctor, why can’t he afford to have a larger wedding?” Seriously, why are people like this?

Photo source: Maria Qatar

The line between appropriate and too extravagant is obviously subjective. Don’t get me wrong, I love my culture, and I love love, and I love other people’s love. What I don’t love is a competitive culture. Or when no one talks about the fact that not everyone can afford to hold an extravagant wedding that costs upwards of $100, 000. Not to mention the financial strain that it has on newly married couples. There’s so much pressure for weddings to be bigger and better each year that, in my opinion, it’s become far too easy to lose sight of what’s really important.

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