Author Archives: Olivia

The Most Recent Reminder of Sexist Royal Title Protocols in the Royal Family

Title changes have been in store for several members of the royal family. But one member of the royal family has notably been left out.

Who’s Been Left Behind?

Buckingham Palace announced just recently that Prince Edward, the youngest son of the late Queen will now be known as the Duke of Edinburgh, a title previously held by Prince Phillip, the Queen’s late husband. Sophie, the former Countess of Wessex, is now the Duchess of Edinburgh, and their son, formerly James, Viscount Severn is now the Earl of Wessex, assuming his father’s title.

But someone’s missing here.

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Lady Louise Windsor doesn’t get a new title. This is because Dukedoms and Earldoms can only be passed down from father to son, leaving Lady Louise in the dust.

 Sexist royal rules have plagued Lady Louise for much longer than just this one instance, however. When her younger brother was born, he took her place in the line of succession because of male-preference primogeniture (which has since been replaced by absolute primogeniture with the birth of Princess Charlotte). And when he was born, he received the title of “Viscount Severn,” one of his father’s titles, when again, Lady Louise received nothing.

The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh with their children
The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh with their children, the Earl of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor

It’s Time for Change

The royal family is symbol of history and tradition, and with this symbol comes the fact that A BUNCH of its title protocols are inherently sexist. The rules prohibiting Lady Louise from receiving the same titles as her brother aren’t the only ones keeping women from holding the same value as men in terms of titles.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, her husband wasn’t a king. Instead, he was known as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This is because the title of “king” is considered higher than “queen” and the monarchy wanted to signal that Prince Philip’s rank was lower than the Queen’s. However, women can become Queen consorts when their husbands become Kings. This is the title that Camilla will officially receive when her husband, King Charles ascends the throne. The fact that “Queens” are ranked lower than “Kings” needs to change. Men should become known as King consorts to show that Queens are not ranked lower than their male counterparts.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip looking at each other
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

And the only reason why Archie and Lilibet officially became “Prince Archie” and “Princess Lilibet” at the same time that the other title changes were announced is because of another sexist protocol. Only male-line grandchildren of the sovereign can use the titles of Prince and Princess. So if King Charles had a daughter, her children would not get royal titles even though her brothers’ children would.

Even further, when Princess Eugenie (one of the Queen’s grandchildren) got married to Jack Brooksbank, she became Princess Eugenie, Mrs. Jack Brooksbank, taking his name. But when Prince Harry (also one of the Queen’s grandchildren) and Meghan Markle got married just five months earlier, they became the “Duke and Duchess of Sussex.” Again, this is because of the fact that dukedoms and earldoms only get passed down to men, the same protocol affecting Lady Louise.

And these are just a few of the sexist title rules in the royal family. There are so many more outdated protocols that need to be changed if the royal family wants to maintain its popularity with the increasing equal rights movement in the UK.

With so many strong female figures in the royal family, from Queen Elizabeth who served in the British Army during World War II, to Meghan Markle, who might have encouraged Procter & Gamble to change its sexist tagline when she was just 11, it’s clear that it’s time for change. There’s no better time than now.


Friel, M. (2020, October 13). The monarchy’s treatment of royal women from the Queen to Meghan Markle reveals a pattern of blatant sexism. Business Insider.

Matousek, M. (2017, December 1). Resurfaced video shows a young Meghan Markle asking Procter & Gamble to change a commercial with sexist undertones. Business Insider.


Cuthbert, M. (n.d.). [Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh with family] [Photograph].

Graham, T. (n.d.). [Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip] [Photograph].

Parsons, S. (2021, July 4). [Royal Windsor Horse Show 2021] [Photograph].

Peer Review 3: MindMediaRes

For my final peer review, I looked at Mercy’s blog, MindMediaRes, which is a website that analyzes media through personality theory, as stated in the tagline. In his about page, he explains that he’s been interested in psychology his whole life, and when he got into personality theory, he found the competitiveness of the community extremely toxic. Therefore, with his blog, he wants to create a space where he can safely write about his opinions and invite others to share theirs too.

Who is the Target Audience?

Through exploring Mercy’s content, it becomes clear that his target audience is composed of personality theory enthusiasts, or more specifically, personality theory enthusiasts who are interested in how it manifests itself in media.

Fattal explains that counterpublics are publics who oppose dominant discourses, and I think that Mercy’s target audience fits this explanation perfectly. Personality theory is a way of explaining the mind that isn’t rooted in science, which is the dominant discourse in our society in terms of psychology. By catering to this audience, (or counterpublic) of personality theory enthusiasts, Mercy successfully creates a public and generates discourse in a welcoming environment.

At the same time, Mercy makes it obvious that his intended audience is also himself. Basu explains that the creation of digital gardens is different than simply making a blog because it involves talking about niche interests and focuses on learning and growth, instead of growing large audiences.

In alignment with the concept of a digital garden, Mercy creates an environment dedicated to growth and the telling of his own thoughts and ideas, explained on his about page. He states that “this blog is based on my own thoughts, feelings, and ideas” and also emphasizes that he’s trying to learn more and is open to hearing other people’s opinions too. So with the digital garden in mind, he’s also marketing to himself, but for the purpose of this review, I’ll be focusing on the marketability of the counterpublic of personality theory enthusiasts (which he is a part of anyways).

MindMediaRes's "about page," showing his construction of a digital garden
Mercy’s “about” page, detailing the construction of his digital garden

Writing for an Audience

Looking at the content on Mercy’s blog, it becomes obvious that his content posts specifically cater to his target audience of personality theory enthusiasts who also enjoy media. Each content post focuses on an aspect of personality theory, either cognitive functions or the enneagram. Using these aspects of personality theory, Mercy analyzes different media, such as movies and shows. For example, his most recent content post surrounds the character, Trina from the 1992 musical, Falsettos. He analyzes Trina’s enneagram type through the songs she sings throughout the musical.

Mercy’s content also caters to all levels of personality theory enthusiasts, from beginners to experts, which increases the marketability of his website to a wider audience. This is evident through Mercy’s first two content posts, where he explains the two aspects of personality theory he tackles in his blog: cognitive functions and the enneagram. These explanations provide a solid framework from which beginner personality theory enthusiasts can start building their knowledge.  

It is also obvious that Mercy’s blog content is more intellectually advanced. This is not only shown through the blog’s subject matter, but in the way the posts are written. The academic tone of the blog makes the content more exclusive, but I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. Hollenbaugh explains that when creating content, writers need to present themselves based on their imagined audiences. In this case, the imagined audience would be personality theory enthusiasts, who are assumed to be more intellectually inclined in the first place, just based on the academic subject matter. Take the first sentence in Mercy’s post, “Untangling Morality in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along” Blog as an example:

“Character archetypes have a fairly predictable lifespan of solidifying themselves in pop culture, going through subversions, and subsequently creating new archetypes based on those subversions over the course of many years.”

The vocabulary used in this sentence makes the blog content more exclusive in nature, making it difficult for a younger audience of children, per se, to understand the posts. Nonetheless, the language caters well to the target audience, who, judging by their interest in personality theory, is already intellectually advanced and can understand the vocabulary used in the blog.

Diving into Design

Judging by the blog’s target audience of personality theory enthusiasts and the content in each of the posts, I think that in terms of design, this makes for a more intellectual, serious, straightforward feel to the blog. Mercy uses elements that help maintain this aesthetic that align well with Mauvé Page’s suggestions for blog design. For example, the typeface personality works well with the more serious, intellectual aesthetic of the blog. It is clean, simple, and legible, and makes sure the g’s and q’s don’t mix up, and all those kinds of things.

Excerpt of a post from MindMediaRes, showing effective use of typography to convey the blog's aesthetic
Excerpt of a post from MindMediaRes, showing effective use of typography to convey the blog’s aesthetic

More generally, some other effective design elements include the fact that there is a good contrast between the black and white shades, making the writing clear and legible and adding to the “seriousness” of the blog aesthetic. The design is also very cohesive, with a limited amount of colour and one consistent font used throughout the blog.

Mercy’s website is also accessible, which makes it inclusive to everyone within his target audience. In alignment with Gaines’s explanation of the four principles of accessibility, Mercy’s blog is particularly perceivable. For example, he includes an accessibility plug in and all his hyperlinks are underlined, making them different from the rest of the content and reducing the need to look for them.

Design Suggestions

Mercy uses a theme from Alx for his blog. While this template is effective in organizing his posts and laying out all the content in a logical way, Gertz warns against using templates because they are often standardized and can take the personality away from websites. Therefore, I would suggest that Mercy thinks about building his website from scratch so that it reflects him and his audience better.

But if straying from a template is too much at the moment (which I completely understand as it’s also the reason why I’m still using one), I would suggest that Mercy creates a consistent identity and brand for his blog that caters well to his target audience of personality theory enthusiasts. This might be the “serious, intellectual, straightforward” feel that I talked about earlier, or any other kind of mood Mercy wants to create.

Subtle customizations that reflect aspects related to personality theory might be a good idea. For example, this might include creating a homepage, that, instead of simply featuring previews of posts, hosts a post carousel with pictures related to the content featuring aspects of personality theory. It might also involve playing around with more colours to convey a certain aesthetic if he sees fit.

Branding the site a little more strategically through design elements would create a clear mood and atmosphere for the audience, which, aside from the content, pulls viewers into the experience and shows them what the blog is about even before they read any of the posts.


All in all, I really appreciate the passion that Mercy puts into his blog. It’s clear that aside from being a school assignment, personality theory is something that he is truly interested in. His posts go above and beyond the course requirements and include in-depth, comprehensive explanations, thorough application of theory to case studies, and even several sources for readers to learn more. Because of this and so much more, I really hope that he continues working on this blog after the course is over and I will definitely stay updated so I can keep learning about personality theory!


Basu, T. (2020, September 5). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. MIT Technology Review.

Fattal, A. (2018). Encyclopedia entry — Counterpublic. UC San Diego.

Gaines, H. [UXDX]. (2022, January 27). The four principles of accessibility [Video]. YouTube.

Gertz, T. (2015, July 10). How to sur­vive the dig­i­tal apocalypse. Louder Than Ten.

Hollenbaugh, E. E. (2021). Self-presentation in social media: Review and research opportunities. Review of Communication Research9, 80–98.

La Bossiere, M. (2023). About. MindMediaRes.

La Bossiere, M. (2023, January 24). The cognitive functions explained. MindMediaRes.

La Bossiere, M. (2023, January 30). The enneagram explained. MindMediaRes.

La Bossiere, M. (2023, March 32). Untangling morality in Dr. Horrible’s sing-along blog. MediaMediaRes.

La Bossiere, M. (2023, March 22). Trina from Falsettos (2016) is a clear 6w7. MindMediaRes.

Analytics Part 2: Taking a Closer Look

This week, we learned all about how to optimize our blogs for every website’s best friend and greatest enemy: Google. So I decided to look closer at Spilling the Royaltea’s analytics to see who is visiting my site. Then, I did the same to my search engine optimization or SEO to try to figure out how to grow my audience and rank higher on Google searches. (For an explanation of the random underlines, read further):

Diving into Analytics

This week, I did a deep dive into Google Analytics for my website, and looked at who’s been looking at Spilling the Royaltea. Here’s what I found in terms of website traffic:

Screenshot of Google Analytics for Spilling the Royaltea (all relevant information is stated in the text of the blog)

Since Spilling the Royaltea’s inception, there have been exactly 100 new users and 745 page views! The number of users has stayed pretty consistent over time, with the occasional peak of 5 users a day. While it’s good to know that I haven’t been losing viewers, it would be nice to see this increase sometime soon. Hopefully, by improving my SEO in the coming weeks, I’ll see an improvement shortly.

Unfortunately, since I just recently enabled the option to view demographics, I am unable to see data on this section of my website analytics. Seeing my audience’s demographics would be extremely useful when ensuring I’m catering my data to the right people. For example, I am currently assuming that my audience consists mostly of young people, so I’m using quite a bit of Gen Z jargon in my content posts. But if mostly older people are looking at my blog, I’d have a little bit of a problem, since they might not understand the nuances of the language I’m using. When this part of Google Analytics updates, I’ll be sure to use it to help decide my content.

Implementing Effective SEO

Hollingsworth really drives home the importance of implementing SEO in businesses (and I guess Spilling the Royaltea could be considered one?) to help increase visitors to websites. For example, it builds trust and credibility. By creating an accessible, effective user experience that can be easily found on Google, people feel more comfortable going to my site for information. I’ll also get a larger audience by building this sense of trust and credibility. It even helps me with my knowledge of the web because I need to stay updated about who’s doing what to improve their SEO.

And in this week’s lecture, we learned exactly how we might go about improving our SEO, so I tried out a few of these tactics this week. Firstly, we learned about implementing effective keywords. These keywords are what searchers enter into Google, so I need to make sure I’m implementing enough of these to improve my ranking on Google searches. So for this process post, with the help of ChatGPT, I entered the prompt: Generate keywords for a blog post related to analytics and SEO, and here’s what it gave me:

Screenshot of keywords for my blog post about analytics and SEO generated by ChatGPT

And while I couldn’t include every single one of these keywords in my posts, I tried my best to organically include as many as I could (or slightly varied versions of them), the first occurrence of which I underlined throughout my post.

We also learned about including strategic headers. Although I thought I was already doing this pretty well, I learned about a few things I could do to further improve. For example, I should be using actionable headers, which I did for this post: I included the verbs “dive,” “implement,” and “create” to add some dimension and interest. I also included keywords in my headers, like “analytics” and “SEO.”

The final thing I want to do is work on the branding of my site. So far, although my website is consistent in its theme, nothing in terms of branding really makes it stand out and become memorable for visitors. I think that part of creating this “memorability” is making a logo. Coming soon…

Creating my Digital Garden?

But what about creating a digital garden just for me? In my previous process post about analytics, I spoke of maintaining my site as a digital garden instead of monetizing it and trying to grow my audience. Because of this, I concluded that I wouldn’t worry too much about gaining readers, just because I wanted to make it a space for just me and my own thoughts.

However, after learning about analytics and SEO this week, I realized that I’m already doing a bunch of the things I need to do to increase my audience like summarizing my article in the subheaders and writing high quality information. And after all, I realized that making a few improvements to potentially invite more people into my blog requires a few simple changes that don’t take away from the intimacy of my blog like I previously feared. So at the end of the day, having a big audience to share my interests with sounds like a pretty great thing to me.


Basu, T. (2020, September 5). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. MIT Technology Review.

Hollingsworth, S. (2018, April 13). 12 reasons why your business absolutely needs SEO. Search Engine Journal.

Normann, S. (2023, March 21). Data and SEO [PowerPoint slides]. POSIEL.

Wong, O. (2023, March 19). Digital footprints, analytics, and monetization. Spilling the Royaltea.


The Fridge Agency. (n.d.). [SEO] [Stock Illustration].

Fashion, FAST! The Most Fashionable Royal Family Members

Whenever members of the royal family have any sort of outing, for better or for worse, fashion decisions are always at the forefront. Their styles are emulated by millions around the world who aim to look as prim and proper as true royalty. But ladies of the royal family take the cake for having the most iconic fashion senses. Today, Spilling the Royaltea is awarding rankings to the top three most stylish members of the royal family.

Bronze Medal: Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth, despite not being the most daring in her fashion choices, was known for her bright-coloured ensembles and signature handbags. As told by her daughter-in-law, Sophie, the Duchess of Edinburgh, the late Queen wore these neon outfits, from bright red to green, to everything in between so that her admirers could always spot her in a crowd. Being easily spottable meant that everyone who wanted to had the chance to easily say “I saw the Queen!” Aww… she did it for us!

Queen Elizabeth II's bright outfits. 7 different colours in the order of a rainbow.
Queen Elizabeth II’s rainbow of outfits

Silver Medal: Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton’s elegant style has her looking royal every time the camera is graced with the opportunity to catch a photo. Her fashion sense, although not always the boldest, is palatable to all, making her a global fashion icon. Her ability to pull off both designer brands and more affordable pieces from places like Zara caters to women all over the world.

Kate Middleton wearing a dress from Zara during a visit to the University of London for its Children of the 2020s project on October 5, 2021
Kate Middleton wearing a dress from Zara during a visit to the University of London for its Children of the 2020s project on October 5, 2021

She often wears coat dresses and pantsuits with simple prints, paired with classic jewelry pieces, creating timeless, impeccable ensembles. Just look at her!

Kate Middleton wearing a pink pastel suit at a meeting for The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in June 2022
Kate Middleton wearing a pink pastel suit at a meeting for The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in June 2022

Gold Medal: Princess Diana

Despite her tragic passing over twenty years ago, Princess Diana’s iconic, daring outfits have left their mark on us all. From her casual outfits of the 70s and 80s fashion to her beautiful, HUGE wedding dress, Princess Diana always had us guessing what she would choose next.

Princess Diana in her wedding dress
Princess Diana’s 1981 wedding dress

But what makes her take the cake as the most fashionable member of the royal family is her ICONIC revenge dress she wore after her husband, King Charles confessed on TV to committing adultery with the now Queen Consort, Camilla. The beautiful black off-the-shoulder gown screams “I don’t care about my husband and I don’t need him” and we’re here for it.

Princess Diana in her revenge dress
Princess Diana’s iconic revenge dress in June 1994


Hernández, L. (2020, May 5). The 10 pieces that define Kate Middleton’s impeccable style. Hola.

Nelson, B. (2023, February 13). The real reason Queen Elizabeth II wore neon outfits all the time. Reader’s Digest.

Salmi, N. (2020, August 30). Princess Diana style: See her most iconic looks of all time. L’officiel.


Fincher, J. (1994). [Princess Diana revenge dress]. [Photograph]. Getty Images.

Getty Images. (1981). [Wedding dress of Lady Diana Spencer] [Photograph].

GMA Photo Illustration. (2022). [Queen Elizabeth neon outfits] [Photo Illustration]. Getty Images.

I-Images/Pool. (2022). [Kate Middleton, June 2022] [Photograph].

Tang, K. (2021). [Kate Middleton, October 5, 2021] [Photograph]. Getty Images.

Kate Middleton’s 5 Best Outfits of 2023 So Far

Catherine, the Princess of Wales is a global fashion icon. The term the “Kate Effect” has even been coined to describe how every outfit she wears immediately sells out, contributing an enormous amount to the British economy. Spilling the Royaltea is counting down the Princess of Wales’s top five outfits of 2023 so far:

5. Simple yet Elegant

At a Windsor Castle meeting with eight academic professionals on January 25th, the Princess of Wales wore a clean black suit over a white v-neck blouse. This simple outfit is sharp, classic, and clean, taking the fifth spot on Spilling the Royaltea’s countdown.

Kate Middleton during a meeting with eight academic professionals in 2023

4.  Power Suit

Kate flaunted the power of her new royal title as the Princess of Wales with this beautiful emerald pantsuit and turquoise blouse. The button detailing and sharp lines of the suit give her a regal aura, which is very fitting to meet Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway on March 2nd. Despite the fact that she looks absolutely beautiful in the suit, the bow at the top of her blouse crowds the outfit, making it feel a little old-fashioned, which places this outfit at number four.

Kate Middleton in a green pantsuit meeting Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway on March 2nd

3. The Burgundy on My… Blazer when You Splashed Your Wine Into Me -Taylor Swift

While visiting the England Wheelchair Rugby team on January 19th, the Princess of Wales chose her Roland Mouret suit, which she also wore during her visit to Boston in 2022 (our sustainable queen!). She kept the accessories simple with a dainty necklace and hoop earrings. She shows us that sometimes, less is more with this sleek ensemble.

Kate Middleton wearing a burgundy pantsuit while visiting the England Wheelchair Rugby team on January 19th

2. Beautiful in Black and White

Instead of one of her signature pantsuits, Kate opted for a long houndstooth black and white skirt with black books, a turtleneck top, and a long cream coat when visiting a rehabilitation center on February 28th to announce a new garden therapy initiative. Sometimes, all it takes is a bold pattern to make a statement.

Kate Middleton wearing black and while while visiting a rehabilitation center on February 28th

1. Bold in Red

Rounding out the countdown is the red Alexander McQueen suit Kate wore to launch the Shaping Us Campaign for the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood and reception at the BAFTA headquarters on January 30th. Her Gianvito Rossi pumps and Miu Miu clutch perfectly match the suit with her statement Chalk Jewelry earrings adding contrast to the all-red ensemble. The cut of the suit, the boldness of the all-red, the accessories… chefs kiss!

Kate Middleton wearing a red Alexander McQueen suit at a reception at the BAFTA headquarters on January 30th


Petit, S. (2023, March 3). Kate Middleton’s Royal Style: Every Outfit Worn by the Princess of Wales in 2023…So Far. People.

Sewell, K. (2022, January 10). What is the ‘Kate effect’? Red dress searches rocket after birthday portrait reveal. The Daily Express.


Kensington Palace. (2023). [Kate Middleton and Prince William with Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit] [Photograph].

King, J. (2023). Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales [Photograph]. AFP via Getty Images.

Leal, D. (2023). Kate Middleton [Photograph]. Pool/AFP via Getty images.

Mulholland, E. (2023). Prince William and Kate Middleton [Photograph]. AFP via Getty Images.

Mumby, M. (n.d.). [Kate Middleton] [Photograph]. Getty Images.

Phillips, J. (2023). Kate Middleton [Photograph]. Getty Images.

Digital Footprints, Analytics, and Monetization

Digital footprints, digital trails, and digital breadcrumbs – the data trails we leave behind us when we use technology are something many of us have been warned about our whole lives.

I Know A Lot About This

Like my previous post on digital literacy, I’ve learned quite a bit about digital footprints, especially as a Communication major. In one of my classes, I even produced a 10-minute documentary on the effects of digital footprints on future employment opportunities. But in that documentary, I emphasized individual actions and the implications of “cancel culture,” and how to mitigate the impacts of digital footprints on young people’s futures.

But on Pod Academy’s podcast, they explain that digital footprints don’t just encompass people’s individual actions and choices made on the internet. A lot of information is spread unintentionally when using any sort of technology with a chip in it. For example, when I use my phone, it’s constantly communicating with cell towers and the internet too. That means that my phone’s always giving apps information about me and my environment.   

And as an avid technology user, this is a little worrisome. I don’t exactly want my phone tracking me and giving all these apps tons of information at all times. But also, I’ve sort of gotten to a point where I don’t care. Like many others expressed on Pod Academy, the creation of our digital trails has been so ubiquitous that people simply don’t worry about it anymore.

Google Analytics

The information collected from our digital trails or footprints is often used to improve outreach and grow audiences. For example, for my own blog, I installed Google Analytics, which allows me to track people’s browsing habits on my website.

As of March 18, 2023, within the past 28 days, I’ve had 35 users visit my site. I can also see information about my most popular pages and top content, and how visitors experience my site such as how long pages take to load (which 9.4s, considered poor… oops). This information should help me build an audience and engage them effectively. However, to be completely honest, although I have been checking my Google Analytics from time to time out of curiosity, I haven’t been using it to help improve my site for my audience.

Screenshot of "traffic" for Google Analytics on Spilling the Royaltea, showing that there have 35 users in the past 28 days.
The “traffic” section in Google Analytics for Spilling the Royaltea

I think that a big reason why I haven’t been doing so is because my site is turning out to be more like a digital garden than a blog. Digital gardens, according to Basu, are spaces that do not focus on growing audiences and having huge viewerships. Instead, they focus on personal growth, which is exactly what Spilling the Royaltea has been about. As my blog has developed, although I do have a target audience in mind, I’m not too worried about growing my audience, getting famous and rich, or any of that kind of stuff.

For now, I’m using my analytics simply as a way to satisfy my curiosity about who’s looking at my blog. I’m really enjoying my blogging process and especially like the lack of pressure to gain huge audiences, so I think that’s what I’ll be doing for the time being.

To Monetize or Not To Monetize?

So, all of this leads to the question of whether I should monetize my site. With the whole concept of digital gardens in mind and the idea of creating a space for me and my thoughts, I don’t foresee monetizing Spilling the Royaltea anytime in the near future.

Based on my own experience with monetized sites, I felt like ads make websites feel distant, incohesive, or even disturbing, since many of the ads from Google Adsense are often inappropriate. I want my blog to be as inviting and welcoming to users as possible and I want it to retain its intimate, personal feel. I don’t want users to believe I’m “using them” by exploiting their information and digital trails to extract money from them. With my own apprehensions about advertising and data collection in mind, I don’t want to create a space where others feel the same kinds of fears.

I also want my blog to reflect me and my thoughts only and with a third party who imposes their ads or has input on what kinds of content I post, it takes away from the intimacy of my blog. For me, the content I post is what matters, and I want users to focus on this too.

So although Spilling the Royaltea is simply a passion project (…or a school project) without any financial gain, I’m very satisfied with how the experience has been so far. It’s the joy of blogging that matters, not how much money I can get from it.


Basu, T. (2020, September 5). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. MIT Technology Review.

Pod Academy. (2016, May 3). Digital breadcrumbs: The data trail we leave behind us.

Wong, O. (2023, March 14). All About Digital Literacy. Spilling the Royaltea.


Lean Plum. (2019). [Monetization] [Stock Illustration].

Piping Hot Take: Archie and Lilibet Shouldn’t Use Royal Titles

Disclaimer: This post reflects a considered opinion

It’s official. They’re “Prince Archie of Sussex” and “Princess Lilibet of Sussex.” After their parents ran away from the royal family and told the world how much they’d wronged them…

The Rundown

As per the 1917 Letters Patent from George V, male-line grandchildren of the sovereign, Archie and Lilibet, the children of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, have the right to use the titles of “Prince” and “Princess.” And when a spokesperson said in a statement that “Princess Lilibet Diana was christened on Friday, March 3,” we all learned that indeed, they would be using their royal titles. It’s been made even more official as their titles have been updated on the royal family’s website. Previously known as “Master” and “Miss,” they are now a full-blown “Prince” and “Princess.”

A spokesperson for Prince Harry and Meghan told CNN that the titles are the children’s “birthright” and talks of the title changes had been in the works for quite a while at Buckingham Palace. It’s inferred that King Charles III approved of these royal titles because, if he really didn’t want his grandchildren to have them, he could’ve issued a new Letters Patent. It’s probably for the best that he didn’t do this though… since tensions between him and Prince Harry and Meghan are probably running high enough.

Screenshot of royal family website for line of succession
Royal family website showing Archie and Lilibet’s new royal titles

After Everything That Happened?

Now, Prince Harry and Meghan have made it abundantly clear that they disapprove of the institution that’s failed them time after time. They’ve given interviews, written a memoir, and even made an entire documentary slandering the royal family and telling their “truth” about everything the family has done to wrong them.

So it really doesn’t make any sense why they would want their children to be “re-attached” to the Firm with their titles.

Why would they want their children to be associated with the family that’s done them so much harm? That’s allowed the press to tell lies about them and criticize Meghan for every move she’s made? That’s made racist comments about their son and how “dark” his skin would be?

They left the UK to move to America and start a new life away from the Firm and help their children live normal lives away from the gossip and rumours of the press. But now they’re making their children a prince and princess, which will inevitably put them further in the spotlight.

We Saw This Coming From a Mile Away

Will all this being said, it isn’t exactly off-brand for Harry and Meghan to be pulling something like this. They seem to be leeching off their hatred for the royal family in any way they can, and they’re making millions from it. Just look at their $135 million contract with Netflix to create documentaries, feature films, and more.

They seem to be loving the fame they’re getting from their association/non-association with the royal family: They step away to protect themselves from the press, but then they make a documentary putting them back in the press. They protect their children from the Firm, but then they give them royal titles.

Now that they’ve alienated themselves from the family, they can’t just come running back when their children have the opportunity to receive a royal title. They chose their path. Now they have to live with the consequences.


Foster, M., & Said-Moorhouse, L. (2023, March 10). Prince Edward, Archie and Lilibet granted new royal titles. CNN.

Porterfield, C. (2023, January 19). Here’s what we know about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s $135 million deals. Forbes.

The Royal Family. (n.d.). Succession.


Lubomirski, A. (2021). [Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Christmas card] [Photograph].

The Effective Implementation of ChatGPT in PUB 101 at Simon Fraser University

            A chatbot with the capability of writing personalized essays and assignments is a never-seen-before feat that is changing the world of academia. ChatGPT, conceived by OpenAI is a chatbot that is trained using large amounts of data to conduct human-like conversations, compose essays, summarize information, and much more (Ortiz, 2023; Sundar, 2023). With the rise of the use of ChatGPT in the classroom, educators have expressed several concerns involving plagiarism, bias, and the loss of critical thinking. However, in the attempts to ban the use of the model in higher education, critics ignore the several ways it can benefit the classroom setting. Through a mutual understanding between professors, students, and teaching assistants (TAs) surrounding ChatGPT’s affordances and limitations, the platform can successfully enhance learning in PUB 101: Publication of Self in Everyday Life at Simon Fraser University (SFU). In this essay, I argue that there are three main roles in the publishing course: the professor, teaching assistant, and student, who can all use the chatbot in different ways to facilitate learning, while remaining cognizant of its downfalls.

Laying the Groundwork: Professors

            Professors hold the responsibility of educating students about the implications of the use of ChatGPT while creating an open space for discourse surrounding the model’s role in the classroom. The use of ChatGPT is becoming increasingly inevitable and therefore, I argue that instructors must create open conversation surrounding the tool instead of banning it, which will prove to be ineffective. Instead, like any other technology, instructors must help students build technological literacy surrounding its use, which is defined as the ability to “use, manage, evaluate, and understand technology” (ITEA, 2007, p. 7). A method for building technological literacy could include devoting a class to the study of artificial intelligence, allowing students to share their knowledge and suggest guidelines on the use of the model. This optimizes transparency and fairness, allowing students to become advocates for their learning. In the class, professors should discuss the importance of fact-checking due to misinformation, explaining to students that the model is only as good as the data it was trained on (Mhlanga, 2023). Students should also understand that ChatGPT cannot register context nor perform common sense and logical tasks (Lund & Wang, 2023). Using this information, they would understand that, for example, it would be a poor decision to ask the model to write the term essay for them, because it does not understand the professor’s specific instructions. Professors should additionally ensure that students are aware of the privacy and security implications related to the model, including the fact that it can retain highly sensitive information from users’ prompts, including financial and medical data (Mhlanga, 2023). Other implications involve the potential bias in the system and the overarching question of plagiarism, which will be discussed in the following section.

Possibilities: Students and Teaching Assistants

            Students can use ChatGPT to generate ideas or outlines for their blog posts while remaining cognizant of SFU’s guidelines on academic integrity and plagiarism. In PUB 101, a course based on blogging, students publish an average of two to three blog posts each week, including “process posts” which detail their weekly blog maintenance, “content posts” related to their blog themes, “peer reviews,” and “mini assignments.” Therefore, in alignment with Qadir’s (2022) propositions for the uses of ChatGPT, I argue that the predominant purpose of the model in this course is for idea generation or the creation of outlines for blog posts. This can help alleviate the time and stress students endure while conceiving their posts. However, Qadir, with the help of ChatGPT explains that there is a difference between acceptable use and plagiarism, which is a significant concern regarding the use of the model in the classroom. Therefore, an exploration of SFU’s academic integrity policy is required here to understand how it might be used ethically. The central tenets explain that students must present honest and fair work, among several other aspects (SFU, 2018). These tenets demonstrate that it is crucial they are transparent with the use of the model by citing or crediting it, even if they simply use it to generate ideas (Qadir, 2022). They should not use the model to write entire paragraphs, blog posts, or even essays, as this would constitute “falsification, misrepresentation… [and] deception” (SFU, 2018) because they are representing a chatbot’s output as their own work.

            ChatGPT offers teaching assistants the opportunity of providing personalized feedback to students, but they must remain aware of the potential biases of the model. Mhlanga (2023) explains that feedback from ChatGPT allows students’ classroom experiences to become more “productive and personalized” (p. 8). There are 59 students and one TA in the Spring 2023 offering of PUB 101, and with students creating an average of two to three weekly blog posts, it becomes nearly impossible for the TA to provide consistent feedback to 118 to 177 blog posts each week. TAs can employ ChatGPT to regularly provide personalized feedback for students on certain writing elements they wish to emphasize, including layout, content, and grammar, which, as Mhlanga describes, simulates hands-on learning. For example, I prompted ChatGPT with the following: “provide feedback on the layout of this blog post,” and proceeded to enter my post, “Piping Hot Take: The Royal Family Needs to Apologize for Racism,” to which ChatGPT responded:

The layout of this blog post is simple and easy to read, with a clear title and an engaging opening sentence. The author provides a brief disclaimer to clarify that the post reflects their opinion. The use of subheadings helps to break up the text and guide the reader through the post. The inclusion of images to illustrate the content adds visual interest and helps to convey the author’s point. Overall, the layout is effective in presenting the author’s argument in a clear and concise manner.

(ChatGPT, personal communication, March 10, 2023)

            Despite the opportunities for ChatGPT to offer effective personalized feedback, TAs must recognize that the output could contain biases due to its training data (Lund & Wang, 2023). These biases could pose problems when students’ positionalities are reflected in their writing, including race, gender, or socioeconomic status, which can perpetuate existing societal prejudices (Mhlanga, 2023). Because of these potential biases, PUB 101 TAs cannot use the feedback provided on ChatGPT to generate final marks. Instead, Cotton et al. (2023) suggest that TAs employ a combination of artificial intelligence and manual assessment tools to ensure that students’ understanding of the material and their blog posts are assessed appropriately. ChatGPT could generate regular feedback, supplementing the TA’s formal feedback offered twice a semester, culminating in the final grades, assessed manually by the TA.


            The successful implementation of ChatGPT in PUB 101 requires professors, students, and TAs to uphold certain responsibilities. Professors must foster technological literacy in the classroom by teaching students about ChatGPT’s affordances and limitations, showing them when it is appropriate to use the chatbot. After building this foundation, students can use the model to generate ideas and outlines, while remaining aware of SFU’s academic integrity policy. Additionally, TAs can use ChatGPT to provide personalized feedback for students as long as they do not rely on the model to provide grades, due to potential biases in the data. With ChatGPT-literate professors, students, and TAs, the model has the potential to revolutionize learning in PUB 101, becoming a leader in AI-assisted education at SFU.


Cotton, D. R. E., Cotton, P. A., & Shipway, J. R. (2023). Chatting and cheating: Ensuring academic integrity in the era of ChatGPT. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 1-12.

International Technology Education Association. (2007). Standards for technological literacy: Content for the study of technology (3rd ed.). International Technology Education Association.

Lund, B. D., & Wang, T. (2023). Chatting about ChatGPT: How may AI and GPT impact academia and libraries?. Library Hi Tech News, 16(3), 1-4.

Mhlanga, D. (2023). Open AI in education, the responsible and ethical use of ChatGPT towards lifelong learning. SSRN Electronic Journal, 1-19.

Ortiz, S. (2023, March 10). What is ChatGPT and why does it matter? Here’s everything you need to know. ZDNET.

Qadir, J. (2022). Engineering education in the era of ChatGPT: Promise and pitfalls of generative AI for education. TechRxiv, 1-10.

Simon Fraser University. (2018, November 22). Student academic integrity policy.

Sundar, S. (2023, March 1). If you still aren’t sure what ChatGPT is, this is your guide to the viral chatbot that everyone is talking about. Business Insider.

Playing with AI

The past couple of years have been huge for the advancement of AI. With ChatGPT, DALL·E and so much more, AI is entering the creative realm, which is scaring some and exciting others. It’s bringing up countless questions about copyright, ethical use, threats to employment, and more. So this week, I gave some of these a try.


ChatGPT, as described by OpenAI, provides detailed responses to prompts written by a human. The model was trained using “Reinforcement Learning,” which involved creating a reward model that continually ranked the AI responses.

In relation to my blog, an effective way I could use ChatGPT is to help create post ideas or outlines. Sometimes, I get a hit with a case of writer’s block when trying to come up with my content posts, so ChatGPT would work perfectly when I’m in situations like these. This wouldn’t constitute plagiarism because it’s just helping me lay out my content, but I would still be 100% transparent when I use it to help me with my work.

To test out ChatGPT, I prompted the model with the following: What are blog post ideas about Prince Harry and Meghan? (which would fit within my “The Chronicles of Prince Harry and Meghan” section). This is what the model generated:

Screenshot of Ideas for a blog post about Prince Harry and Meghan, generated by Chat GPT
Ideas for a blog post about Prince Harry and Meghan, generated by ChatGPT


Dall·E can generate complex images based on a description provided by a user. It generates these images and art pieces entirely from scratch, and in its latest version, Dall·E2, the model generates “more realistic and accurate images with 4x greater resolution.”

Dall·E would be particularly useful for my blog when creating “featured images” for my process posts. Often, my process posts talk about abstract concepts like “digital gardens” or “digital literacy,” which require decorative featured images. These are often symbolic and come in the form of stock illustrations.

However, instead of using images from the internet, I think it would be cool to generate my own art pieces using Dall·E2 to represent my more abstract process posts. For example, my featured image for this process post was generated using the description “artificial intelligence in blogging.” I also used the prompt “digital garden” to see what I could’ve used for that post, and here’s what Dall·E2 came up with:

Image generated by Dall-E with the prompt "digital garden". Screens with green "plants" coming out of them, with a blue background
Image generated by Dall·E with the prompt “digital garden”

Ethical Use

The advent of these new AI technologies also brings many ethical questions to the forefront. For example, how can it be implemented in education without consisting of plagiarism? Or, what are the limitations of these technologies? Or even, who owns the rights to these images or words?

And based on the essay I wrote this week on the exact same topic, I learned that the use of these technologies depends on a close analysis of academic integrity guidelines. For example, professors should set boundaries on the use of ChatGPT, limiting it to idea and outline generation (and should ensure the student states where and how they use the technology). They should not use it to write entire essays because this would be considered dishonest work. Some of the limitations of the models include the biases they might contain because of the data they were trained on, which is why TAs and professors should take care of the marking.

Copyright and Ownership

In terms of copyright and ownership, there isn’t much out there to date concerning ownership of the art pieces Dall·E creates or the essays ChatGPT can write. So far, the opinions on this issue are pretty conflicting and confusing. Some say that in the example of Dall·E, the people who own the model should be the ones who own the images and art pieces that come from it. But others say that Dall·E images should be thought of like images from a camera. The people who created the cameras don’t own the copyright to the images people take using them, so shouldn’t the same principle be applied here?

So, the question of ownership and copyright remains wide open. As AI technologies like Dall·E and ChatGPT become more prevalent in our everyday lives, policies and laws surrounding these technologies are a priority. However, for now, a lot is still up in the air.

Will copyright be attached to the images I created in this post anytime soon? If so, are they mine? Or are they someone else’s?


Goldman, S. (2022, August 16). Who owns DALL-E images? Legal AI experts weigh in. VentureBeat.

OpenAI. (2022, November 22). Introducing ChatGPT.

Wang, J. J. (2021, January 5). DALL·E: Creating images from text. OpenAI.

Mini Assignment 4: Remix

Poverty is a pervasive problem in the UK, with around 20% of the population, or 13.4 million people living under these conditions. My remix presents a juxtaposition between the UK’s wealthiest, the British royal family, and those suffering in poverty. The photo of the royal family standing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace wearing frivolous outfits, waving to a crowd of admirers presents a shocking contrast to the several images of children playing in poor neighbourhoods, homeless people asking for money, and people lining up at a food bank. Overall, this image aims to illuminate the severe wealth disparity that many Brits have been trying to bring attention to for years.


Joseph Rowntree Foundation. (n.d.). Overall UK poverty rates.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

This book’s title gives a nod to female confidence, and is the subject of its penultimate chapter. Kaling’s insights on the complications of being a confident woman come from lived experience; she routinely has to answer men when they ask her where she gets her confidence, as if she doesn’t look like someone who should possess confidence and therefore has to explain herself. However, Kaling relays the story of being asked where she gets her confidence by a young Indian girl, who, with candor, foregrounded her own struggle with insecurity. This last chapter is an essay replying to that question, an answer she wishes she could have given at the time. “Confidence is just entitlement… and entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something”, she writes (452). Hard work certainly contributes to that belief, as well as courage. But, Kaling calls attention to the ways in which this severe emphasis on the confidence of young girls likely complicates their accessibility to confidence.

I remember as a teenager trying to convince my mom that she should give me money for good grades, because all of my friends got money from their parents for getting A’s. She laughed in my face. “Why would I give you money for something that you are capable of doing? That would just mean that I don’t believe you can do it without some sort of reward”. At least it was something along those lines; it was a long time ago. Kaling closes with this:

“So, if that girl from the panel is reading this, I would like to say to her: Hi, it’s Mindy Kaling. I’m sorry I let you down. The thing is, I’m in my mid-thirties and I was wearing my Spanx for fourteen hours straight. You’ll understand when you’re older. Here’s how I think you can get your confidence back, kid: Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine. Now, excuse me, I need to lie down and watch Sheldon” (464).

I should have warned against spoilers. I just gave the whole book away.

Like I said in my last review, Kaling’s life experiences are couched in friendships that bring meaning to these experiences: female friendships, colleague friendships, and relationships that are not easily defined and present more like a best friend-life mate hybrid like the one she shares with B.J. Novak. Consequently, reading Kaling – forgive me for being cliche – is a lot like listening to your funniest friend talk about quintessential LA life, including the time she offended an entire room of white anti-vaxxer moms. Kaling calls attention to the ways in which friendships are more similar to romantic relationships than we think. We have flings, we feel the spark of connection. She has a language for something that remains largely language-less: friendship breakups. Maybe this can be attributed to a societal framework that reveres romantic relationships as the most important relationships one can have. The passion, fizzling out or explosive end of a friendship goes largely unprocessed in our romance obsessed culture.

While most of Kaling’s material is light-hearted and witty, her essays have a strong politicized thread running through them. She discusses the ways in which the media treat her body like a public text that can be read and written about – what it’s like to be a woman in the public eye. She speaks candidly and honestly about the marginalization she experiences however much she might love her life.

Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled.

My Process of Creating a Space for Ethical Reading and Reflection

Before I created my site for PUB 101, I knew I wanted to write. I considered writing about podcasts, records and live music. I then thought about a common class assignment: reading responses – using another text as a mirror to inform self study and thus, my own writing. A concept that kept surfacing for me elsewhere in my life was the importance academically and personally to turn inward and examine my own thought patterns, proneness and ultimately, social position. This emphasis for me was largely motivated by Professor Tasha Hubbard’s discussion during “The Secret Path” panel; “The Secret Path” is a short film created by Gord Downie that tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a child who died while trying to escape residential school. In the case of First Nations studies, she says that Indigenous people are so often the object of a gaze, and students have the responsibility to turn that gaze back onto themselves. In essence, my personal project within my overarching academic one of creating this site, was to engage with this idea of practicing ethical reading. That is, “read things that do not give [me] the immediate thrill of recognition” as well as reading material that makes me feel seen and heard (McGregor). As far as I can tell, my audience is full of readers, and my editorial, design and content reflect that. My writing reads much like the genre that I am engaging with – I incorporate scholarly findings as well as personal reflection and connection with the text. My posts are text-based and include only pictures of the book cover and the author. I was quite cognizant of the need to make the material palatable while still maintaining integrity with the information I wanted to convey. In that sense, my content is not for everyone; it is for those who like to read and for those who like to engage reflectively with material that can be tough to do so with.

I can honestly say that I spent a proportionate amount of time on design and content, respectively, which I wasn’t expecting at the beginning of this project. I was expecting to choose a simple – possibly boring – theme that was capable of facilitating my writing and not spend too much time fussing over customization. I was really mistaken about that. A course reading by Travis Gertz made it functionally impossible for me to ignore design; he makes a robust case for design and content being representative of one another. In short, a successful and engaging website has content that doesn’t outshine the design and vice versa. I spent a lot of time fooling around on my CSS hoping to make things work and – for the most part – I did!

Debbie Chachra’s article Why I Am Not a Maker calls attention to forms of valuable work that are often gendered and rarely recognized, which helps me to explain the value I am adding to the online community. While ‘making’ things is often masculinized work, other work that involves creativity – creation of spaces for learning, nurturing, critique – is often feminized and is therefore seen as markedly less valuable. This work – sometimes referred to as invisible – is what excites me. Chachra writes: “as an educator… all of the actual change, the actual effects, are at the interface between me as an educator, my students, and the learning experiences I design for them”. I see my academic and personal writing providing similar value to the online community: creating a space between texts in which reflection and reconsideration is encouraged and held up as necessary work. This work is necessary for students engaging in scholarly practices as well as anyone who is involved in a society that requires the dismantling of oppressive structures.

Looking forward, I do want to continue blogging. I have really enjoyed having a writing schedule and having friends and peers comment. I often suffer from imposter syndrome – feeling like I’m actually just not that good at writing and I should just leave it to the real writers. However, this project has really boosted my confidence with respect to sharing my work. I’ve had a few people comment and say that they were unaware that writing was something that I even did and that they’re glad that I’ve made some work public. I have a goal to post at least once a month and to elaborate my online presence by sharing some of my own personal essays. Jesse Thorn gives an inspiring outline of principles to be considered for those interested in creating successful publications. The principle I want focus on specifically is “Keep [my] legs moving”. The most valuable part of this project for me has been writing almost constantly and finding a voice through that process.

I am grateful for this experience and hope to continue to provide a space where readers increasingly feel free to share, challenge and critique.


My penultimate Process Post will be what I formulated for my site’s community guidelines. Ryan Holmes calls attention to the pervasiveness of isolation in the technological age and the ways online community discourses and thus, people, are affected by this in this article. We are isolated enough to not have to see the ways we can harm other Internet users and connected enough to be able to enact harm like rapid fire. Interestingly, Maria Konnikova identifies anonymity as having attributes that seem at odds; though Internet users are more likely to speak violently without thinking of the consequences of their behaviour, anonymity is also acknowledged as a helpful tool with respect to “participation”, “creative thinking” and “risk taking”. Mark Shrayber points to the real distinction that we must make in these times: the difference between ‘trolling’ and a hate crime.

Online interactions are a new form of discourse and because human beings are the ones behind them, they must be moderated. Here are the community guidelines for Memoir is a Mirror.

I moderate all comments and will consult the following guidelines when doing so.

While I welcome critique and challenge of my writing, I will not tolerate hateful, threatening or violent language towards me or any other users.

I will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia or other forms of hate-speech, or contributions that could be interpreted as such.*

I will remove any posts that contain spam-like content.

In short, be pleasant and caring to the fellow readers of this site.

*I appropriated this guideline from The Guardian.

I’ve added this list to my “Hello” page under the Instagram feed so that users can read the guidelines when they are familiarizing themselves with my site.


A big focus for me this week was to bring together a few missing pieces of my site in time for the end of the term. I needed to: finally decide on fonts for my site title and tagline; make email subscription possible; respond to feedback from my last peer review by making a few changes; and review course readings and incorporate them into my process posts retroactively. I am also trying to read more extensively what makes a book review or reading response successful and incorporate that into my material.

I did some research on Youtube to make email subscription possible and I found this video helpful for that. Now, I have an option to subscribe in my bio at the bottom there:

I received feedback from a classmate that because of the nature of the material on my site, it isn’t necessarily easy to digest for an online passerby, and recommended to have some sort of visual aid for readers. To break up the large chunks of text, I decided to add a featured image to each post with a photo of the author of the work I was reviewing. Previously, I was dissatisfied with the way the “Recent Posts” presented on my page with grey squares in the place of pictures, so I thought this would be a good way to remedy the effect of think chunks of text as well as the emptiness on the sidebar. Now, I hope that my site will be visually easier to digest.


I also created genres of work in my “Reflective Review” menu, responding to another classmate’s feedback that my menu will likely become too long and overwhelming. Readers can search according to genre rather than be presented with a long list of authors whose genre isn’t immediately decipherable based on the name of the book.

I’m hoping this is the last time I change the appearance of my site title and tagline, but who I am kidding, maybe I will find my way back onto Google Fonts this week. I had a friend who is a coder help me, and now I know how to change it myself, which I’m very happy about. Here is what I have at this point, changed from the site default font:

If you were to tell me that I would be happy with my site at the beginning of the course, I don’t know if I would have believed you! I’m really enjoying having a writing schedule and reading so many good books.

I was so struck by Jon Ronson’s Ted Talk, in which he outlines compassionately the utter senselessness involved in the world of online public shaming. He clearly identifies something that we all know, but are unwilling to acknowledge when we are angry or participating in mob-mentality like behaviour: we cannot know what is going on inside of a person – the degree of remorse or repentance someone is feeling, or their intentions in the first place. He discusses the ways in which those who participate in public shaming – or, when callout culture goes too far – seek to dehumanize those who they are shaming. He says “it’s because we want to destroy people but not feel bad about it” (Ronson). While I tend to use the internet to weep while watching heartfelt videos of kids with colourblindness see the world in full colour for the first time, I couldn’t help but feel called out, if you will, by Ronson. It made me reflect on the ways I dehumanize people in my own head in order to treat them poorly or disregard them. The problem with what online anonymity affords us as a public is becoming a concept that increasingly worries me. This will be in the forefront of my thought process as I create my community guidelines and how I implement them.



Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

I know its a faux pas in the practice of book reviewing to comment on the author rather than the book itself, but books reviews aren’t exactly what I do anyway. Now that I have that out of the way: I love Mindy Kaling. She writes playfully, imaginatively; there is something so exhilarating about the story of someone who is now successful relay the way they bumbled, stammered, groped blindly their way to a career they love. As I get older, the concept of success becomes more and more desirable, though it remains elusive and hard to reach; and while Kaling never promotes her life as a model of success, I am certainly spurred on by her honestly, openness to finding herself in possibly awkward situations and yes, failures.

Kaling is always foregrounding her love of comedy with the comradery and belonging she found in female friendships. In fact, her female friendships were the context in which she describes her first real success: Matt & Ben. 

“Brenda and I have always done ‘bits,’ even before we knew they were called ‘bits.’ Bits are essentially ‘nonsense time’ or, to describe it more pejoratively, ‘fucking around.’ We would take on characters, acting like them for a while on the way to the subway, or getting ready to go out. For whatever reason, around this time our favourite recurring bit was when Bren played Matt Damon and I was Ben Affleck” (86).

This ‘bit’ turned into a play that they then entered into the New York International Fringe Festival and eventually would be the vehicle that brought her to The Office. It might be slightly idealistic to chalk up success to the result of hanging around with women you love and making each other laugh, but it sure sounds like the utopia I’ve always hoped for.

Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? is largely narrative peppered with quippy chapters such as “Karaoke Etiquette” and “Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who Are Not Real” with a segment on “The Ethereal Weirdo” which I especially appreciated an extended explanation and description of because I really resent being called a manic pixie dream girl just because I have long messy hair. “This ethereal weirdo abounds in movies, but nowhere else. If she were from real life, people would think she was a homeless woman and would cross the street to avoid her, but she is essential to the male fantasy that even if a guy is boring, he deserves a woman who will find him fascinating and pull him out of himself by forcing him to go skinny-dipping in a stranger’s pool” (101). I, for one, would never force anyone to go swimming naked. I rest my case.

I was surprised by how seamlessly Kaling weaved together her recollections of a myriad of failures – one of which she identifies as “contributing nothing to SNL” – and lists of people and things she delights in. Its not everyday that I read a text that shamelessly relishes the pleasures in life rather than calling attention to all the ways the world needs to change (as constructive as that work is). My favourite chapter is “My Favourite Eleven Moments in Comedy”; I love that Kaling has made a habit of delighting in comedic moments in history, and in turn, delighting in the people that make those moments happen. We need more of that – remembrance of the exquisiteness of this life.

You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

Phoebe Robinson’s You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain is hilarious, well written and extremely apropos. Not only does she have the ability to encapsulate complex and complicated life experiences into a few concise paragraphs, Robinson has an apt simile or metaphor to go with every one. One of my favourites:

“… I can explain why sometimes a black lady may straighten her hair. If she is anything like me, her natural hair has special shape-shifting qualities of epic T-1000 proportions, which means it has a mind of its own. For instance, when I sport an Afro, I may want to relax by sitting on my bed and leading my head against the wall. When I get up from that spot, my hair has assumed the shape of said wall… Yep. What was once a light, airy and fluffy Afro has turned into a condensed mass of tightly coiled locks that resembles fiberglass insulation used on House Hunters Renovation. Forgive me for not having the exact wording down for this particular scientific phenomenon, but I believe it’s called: That’s Some Damn Bullshit… I reach the limit of my fierceness when, while relaxing in the comfort of my own home, my hair is twisting into itself until it’s knotted like a pile of tangled iPhone earphones.”

Jokes aside, Robinson goes on to illustrate so beautifully the often fraught relationship that black women have with their hair and the ways in which their “hair journeys” marked with frustration, patience and learning to love often mirrors their own journeys of self-love. Robinson identifies her “natural hair” as “the most controversial signifiers of [her] blackness” and thus summarizes the reason for this complicated relationship: a white supremacist society will react to signifiers of blackness (78). Robinson discusses, not only that she felt less beautiful because her hair did not fit into Eurocentric standards of beauty, but a common lived experience for people of colour is that in order to be eligible for a job, hairstyles that explicitly indicate blackness (natural hair or dreads, for example) are out of bounds.

If this text had a thesis it would be: representation matters. Robinson’s memoir is crowned with the penultimate chapter titled “Letters to Olivia”, in which she provides a list to her niece – who is biracial – of all of the powerful biracial people she admires. While Robinson makes a habit of calling out society’s oppressive structures, she also, with even more zeal, calls attention to the rich and exquisite identity women of colour continue to maintain. Not surprisingly, the comedy world is one in which Robinson routinely calls out for being explicitly sexist and, you know, sexist in that banal, everyday sort of way. Because she lives it, Robinson has a myriad of exemplar comments from male comedians at the ready: “Women need to be pretty when they perform” and “Why do some women wear makeup on stage? Comedy is not about looks” (512). Or, “This girl’s a prude because she doesn’t bang any of the comics” and “She has sex with all the comics” (513). While this constant reminder of how unwelcoming the entertainment industry is to funny women is tiresome, it also seems to at once light a fire under Robinson; she meets this resistance with the radical audacity to be herself. After all, if Louis CK can perform a five minute bit gyrating while talking about an experience he had masturbating once, she should be able to say the word vagina without the (male) audience having a fit. Robinson points again to representation as a powerful force that helps to form and reform sense of self: “So much of comedy is about us all realizing, Hey maybe I’m not such a weirdo after all/Oh my God! You do that thing, too?/ Holy crap you just said everything I ever wanted to say, but didn’t have the tools to do so. The joy of seeing yourself in another is pertinent not just to stand-up comedy but to being alive” (515-516). And this is why I read. And this is why I write.

GOOGLE ANALYTICS – Process Post #10


I am encouraged by the fact that 33.3% of visitors are returning readers. That makes me think that it is becoming routine for some readers. In the location section of Google Analytics, I was informed that most of my users are in the US and Canada, which is not surprising – save for one user in Malaysia, which could be a bot.



Something that has become quite clear to me in looking further into analytics is that I need to be posting something more than once a week to keep my views up. Or, as an alternative, do a midweek post on my Instagram to call attention to the reviews for people who have the intention of reading, but haven’t. I have had a few interactions recently in which I have a face to face conversation with someone about my site and they say something along the lines of: “Oh, I keep forgetting to look at your site! I’ve been meaning to read the reviews.” So, a reminder in some form would be helpful. At this point, there is a spike of views on the day that I post and then a steady decline throughout the week when I am less active on the site.

Last week, I posted my review on Men Explain Things to Me on the November 5th, and page views were double what they became five days later.


Regarding conversion, because I don’t have a product that I’m selling, I need to think of ways to get readers involved without necessarily buying anything. I am thinking that an email sign-up option would be a good way to facilitate conversion on my site. It is possible also that users will be more likely to revisit site content if it is in their inboxes, rather than having to revisit the site altogether. This week I will be exploring ways to do that.

PEER REVIEW #3 – Street Stories

Mariah Craig’s website Street Stories: Perspectives of the Vulnerable is an online storytelling space that seeks to shed light on the beauty and pain present in a marginalized neighbourhood in Surrey. Currently, Mariah is in the process of completing a series of three interviews with those employed by Nightshift Ministries, the context of her work.

There seems to be a disconnect for me between the site’s goal to tell the stories of the marginalized and displaced in Surrey and what it is currently doing. The organization, Nightshift itself, appears to be the main focus of the website at this moment in time. I imagine that as Mariah becomes more familiar with those in the community that the focus will shift to the site’s intended focus: the stories of those who are served by the organization.

Further, I am not certain who Mariah’s intended audience is. Possible future volunteers or donors for the organization? Friends who want to stay updated on her new experiences as a volunteer? In any case, making the exploration possibilities more obvious for users would benefit Mariah’s site. Victor Kaptelinin discusses the importance of affordances in design, explaining their purpose: “to denote action possibilities provided to the actor by the environment”. I found myself wanting to organize the information that was coming at me at first glance of Mariah’s site. The posts on Mariah’s home page are an assortment of interviews with Nightshift workers, a post about her first volunteer experience with Nightshift, and an essay about Humans of New York, a storytelling project that her site is largely inspired by. The overload of information on the first page did not make the “possible uses [of the site] immediately obvious” (Kaptelinin). Mariah’s site would benefit from separate pages to aid in categorizing the assortment of material on Mariah’s site. For example, explicitly informational pages that seek to foreground Mariah herself and Nightshift Ministries could be separate pages instead of one among many posts.

Mariah’s site might also benefit from a social media platform that is directly linked to her work at Nightshift. At the moment, her personal Instagram account is linked to her site and has no direct intersection with the theme of her site.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the interviews that Mariah conducted. I really got the sense that those being interviewed have a real heart for the people suffering from addiction and homelessness in Surrey. In this sense, Mariah is capturing moving stories for her readers. One thing I wondered about, however, is the format in which they are being represented. The typical interview style is not being deployed here, in which the interviewer asks a question and the reader is able to see verbatim the reply given by the person being interviewed. I find that approach much clearer and easier to follow. My recommendation would be to use that format as a foundation and then have Mariah write freely discussing the way that the interview affected her after the initial interview.