To be honest, I feel like I never had this one, crazy, amazing skill that would shine light towards my academic path. I was never exactly into science or math, but I feel like I grew up to have just enough skills for each subject and if I didn’t I would teach myself. I’d say I am well rounded, which is why I ended up in the school of Communication as the program reflected me so well.
Before my gap year
I was set on taking some Business course but completely changed my mind after the gap year. I wasn’t ready to jump in right after high school. I picked up a part time job as a content writer for a travel agency and I fell in love. During the gap year my best friend and I also started Defects Official, our very own startup t-shirt brand. This opened my eyes to writing and digital marketing. So, I thought Communication studies would be perfect as I was looking for a mix of writing, culture, the new world of media and art.
As of now
I am loving my major and am honestly still figuring out which direction it will take me. I have taken courses that I didn’t fully enjoy, which only made myself learn and explore other options. This provided a clearer image of where I could see myself going with this degree. Some days I think about how easy it would be to have my mind set on one thing, but this makes life a little more exciting. This goes for every course and major, as you may hate or love it, and from that you can take action and do something about it! Also, I am currently applying to internships with an open mind to different opportunities.
For anyone confused with picking a major, I simply just trusted my gut. I knew deep down business was not what I wanted and I wasn’t ready to start a new chapter right after high school. I was nervous to take a year off and to get into communications, but I listened to myself and I couldn’t be happier. Everyone is different when it comes to this but don’t be scared to challenge yourself, because in the end you’d much rather be doing what you love. However, for someone open to learning new things and experiencing the dynamic world, communications is the way to go. There is so much opportunity and growth with this degree. There’s a touch of politics, sociology, research, media, technology, democracy, art, pop-culture, philosophy, the list goes on and on!
This week in class we watched a TedTalk by Jon Ronson where he discussed peoples’ tendencies to behave like a lynching mob on social media when it comes to perceived injustice, as well as the joy people get out of this public shaming. Jon Ronson discussed a particular case of a woman named Justine Sacco. Some of you may remember her as the woman who made a tweet before getting on an airplane from London, England to Cape Town, South Africa that utterly dismantled her life during the span of the flight. She was a public relations worker in New York with 170 Twitter followers. However, her story is proof of how fast word can travel, especially on the Internet. The tweet that ruined her life was this:
Upon arrival in Cape Town, Justine turned on her phone to discover that she was the world wide #1 trending topic on Twitter. It turned out that one of her 170 Twitter followers sent Justine’s tweet to a journalist who then retweeted it to his 15,000 followers, and spiralled from there. Jon Ronson actually emailed the journalist a few weeks after the incident and asked him how it felt to do this, and he exclaimed it felt “delicious.” When I heard this, I was immediately enraged and knew I wanted to discuss this on my blog. How could someone say the destruction of someone’s life felt “delicious”?!?!?! Then, Jon Ronson began to show some of the tweets that were sent to Justine, ranging from demanding her to be fired from her job, to wishing AIDS upon her:
Jon Ronson had a suspicion that Justine’s tweet was actually not meant to be racist. He met with her a couple of weeks after the debacle and asked her to explain the joke, and she said that her intention was to mock the bubble Americans live in when it comes to their knowledge of Third World countries. Clearly, it was not interpreted that way.
Although I do feel that Justine was in the wrong and could have worded her joke much differently to convey what she was trying to say, I don’t believe she deserved to have her life torn apart because of it. I understand how her tweet was misinterpreted, as it’s nearly impossible to detect elements like tone and body language over Twitter that help with interpreting a message, but she made a mistake. Jon Ronson mentioned how it was interesting that someone tweeted, “somebody HIV positive should rape this bitch and then we’ll find out if her skin colour protects her from AIDS” (8:10) as that person received no public persecution whatsoever. So why when we are joining in a mob mentality do we all of a sudden deem this disgusting behaviour appropriate? I can’t imagine any sane person having the courage to say something like this to Justine’s face. However, when we have a mob of people doing the same thing, and we can do it while hiding behind a computer or phone screen, it makes dehumanizing someone a lot easier, and we may even feel a bit of joy sitting back and watching somebody’s life crumble right before our eyes.
While watching this video during class, one of my initial thoughts was, “what if Justine was just doing her best?” I know that may sound like I’m giving her too much of a break, but that is the mentality I live by and also what this blog is centred around, so I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t ask myself that. Once again, although she could have worded her joke way better, the intended meaning was misinterpreted. I do believe that she made a mistake, but we all have made mistakes and bad judgement calls. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised that everyone on Twitter that night was so quick, and excited, to call someone out for their wrongdoing. It’s much easier to do that then take a minute to ask ourselves, “maybe she meant something different by that tweet” and giving Justine the benefit of the doubt. Instead, responding in ways the Twitter users did that night makes us feel better about ourselves; that we’re not the only one who has flaws and makes mistakes. Jon Ronson put it beautifully when he explained that the Twitter users that night were trying to call out someone’s misuse of privilege, essentially something good, however the phrase “misuse of privilege” is becoming a free pass to tear apart anyone we choose to. In attempting to search and find the “bad guys” in our world, we are utterly destroying innocent peoples’ lives, and feeling good about it. I ask this of you: next time you see something online someone has said that bothers you or even enrages you, like Justine’s tweet, take a minute before you respond and ask yourself if you were standing in front of that person with no one else around you, would you still say that comment to them? If the answer is no, don’t post it. Also, ask yourself if there are other ways of interpreting what they said. Who knows, you may have saved someone’s life.
As the semester comes to a close (as well as my degree) it’s time to do some reflecting on the work I’ve completed in PUB 101. While reflecting on my blog and the semester for this essay, I couldn’t help but feel proud of my classmates and myself for the work we’ve completed. My classmates and I not only created this semester-long project for school, but we were given the opportunity to showcase the potential and talent we have as university students to the Internet world. I am incredibly proud of the unique content my classmates have created. I look forward to keeping up with their blogs and seeing where they go with them!
I wanted to create a blog on the topic of kindness because I saw (and still see) a dire need for positivity in our current world. Reace Mok, one of my classmates who wrote a peer review on my blog said, “her topic is extremely timely, as in the age of cyberbullying and Trumped-up racism, stereotyping and hate, a little kindness is a fresh and needed concept” (Mok, 2019, para. 8). Reace’s comment was exactly my thinking at the beginning of the semester when brainstorming blog topics, and thus began The Kindness Lifestyle. The target audience for my blog is everyone, as I don’t believe kindness is limited to a certain type of person; it’s universal. However, due to kindness being associated as a female trait, I believe my blog attracts mainly females. Based on comments and feedback I’ve received, this rings true as they are almost all from females. I believe I’m addressing my target audience, which is everyone, through my content as it remains focused on the universal topic of kindness. However, I could improve on making the design universal, specifically more gender neutral, as currently my blog design could be considered more on the feminine side. It’s interesting though because my classmate, Tobi Cheung, who wrote a peer review for my blog said that, “[my] blog style matched the topic [I] [am] writing about, the colours were soft which [is] very welcoming and [has] a calmness to it” (Cheung, 2019, para. 2). Tobi said that my blog design matched my topic and since most people would consider my blog to look quite feminine, does this mean that kindness is in fact associated with femininity based on Tobi’s comment?
Designing my blog was one of the most exciting, yet difficult parts of the creation process. Just as I was content and proud of what I had created, with the help of a WordPress tutorial on YouTube, I read Travis Gertz (2015) article, Design Machines: How to survive the digital apocalypse. In his article, he discusses the pressing issue with the design of websites today; they all look the same.
After reading Gertz’s (2015) article and seeing the collage of images shown above, I realized that my website falls into this “digital design homogeneity,” as he describes it. I was discouraged seeing that my design was nothing new or original as I worked hard on it, as well as received many compliments. However, I did keep the design for the duration of the semester. As the semester closes and I have more time to become familiar with WordPress design, I will try and redesign The Kindness Lifestyle to be more unique and more of a monopoly, as one of our guest speakers, Trevor Battye, described what our websites should be.
Trevor Battye also showed us a video by Peter Thiel where he discusses the importance of being a monopoly in the business world (Independent Institute, 2015). Although he focuses on businesses, his ideas can also apply to our websites. Thiel believes that as a creator, your work should be so unique and one of a kind that it does not have any competition (Independent Institute, 2015). In this sense, I believe the content of my blog is on it’s way to being a monopoly, but definitely not with design yet. Sofia Sullivan mentioned in her peer review on my blog that, “nowadays you don’t typically see blogs [on] this subject [of kindness]” (Sullivan, 2019, para. 4). As I continue to build my blog, aiming to be a monopoly will be a priority when making decisions about content, but especially with design as that is what makes websites stand out to viewers.
Reflecting on my thoughts of publication at the beginning of the semester compared to now, I will say they have changed quite a bit. I still believe that what people post on the Internet should have purpose and be productive (at least most of the time), however over the semester I have gained more respect for certain platforms like Instagram. Although I still see the majority of people using Instagram in a pointless manner, I also see the potential it has for purposeful content after what we’ve learned in this course. The most significant thing I learned in this course is that although almost everyone in the world can be a publisher with the technology we have, it’s much more difficult than it appears to be for that exact reason. Creating an innovative idea that is a monopoly is difficult to do with so many people trying to do it every day. However, I hope with my blog I provided value in the sense of inspiring my readers to think differently when it comes to kindness as well as provide them with a glimmer of positivity.
We had a wonderful guest speaker in class this week, Darren Barefoot, from the company, Capulet Communications. His talk on multichannel marketing and transmedia integration inspired me to reflect on the various media and channels I promote and growThe Kindness Lifestyle on as a brand, which is not many, and how I can continue to grow my brand past the completion of this course. Currently, I promote my blog posts on my Facebook account, and that is all. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how I’m not one to keep track of followers and analytics, however for the sake of this post I will pretend I do and consider what I would conduct in order to grow The Kindness Lifestyle as a brand through transmedia integration.
As we’ve discussed in class, as well as discovered through my own experiences, it’s evident that one of the dominant “channels” used to promote websites, ads, companies, etc. is social media. Specifically, there are a few superior ones which include Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube. Of these five, I currently have two for my own personal use; Facebook and Snapchat. According to Hootsuite, as of 2019 the world’s population is 7.676 billion, and of those people, 3.484 billion are active social media users. Considering this, my first plan of action would be to create accounts on each of these social media platforms under The Kindness Lifestyle. Although this would be stepping out of my comfort zone, I would also make a YouTube channel where I would discuss the topics that I write about in my blog. Marketers have said that video has become more powerful than text as it’s more memorable, probably because it appears more personal to the viewer. Having a YouTube channel would be a way to grab another audience’s attention and direct them towards my blog, but also a way to grow my brand as a whole.
However, Darren Barefoot also discussed the notion of “heartbeats and remarkables” when it comes to marketing, and social media was considered a heartbeat. He described “heartbeats” as the basics of marketing that all companies and brands have such as email lists, websites, and social media. Remarkables on the other hand are the exceptional marketing tactics that catch the consumers’ eye; some of them include PR stunts, gimmicks, pop-up events, and unique fundraising mechanisms, to name a few. An example of a remarkable marketing tactic can be found here. Relating back to my website and brand, an effective way to draw people’s attention to The Kindness Lifestyle could be creating an original remarkable. It’s evident that social media isn’t enough to promote a brand these days as everyone has it; it’s simply a necessity, or heartbeat, in the marketing world at this point. However, I was curious if it would be more effective to conduct a remarkable marketing stunt when you have a significant following, or conduct it despite a significant following as a way to make people curious enough to search your brand and see what it’s all about. When considering this, maybe I should take Darren Barefoot’s advice of “safe is risky and risky is safe” in the marketing world.
Reace has written a powerful and vulnerable blog called ReRouted. His blog discusses his experiences in finding his identity after he left playing football. Coming from an ex-athlete such as myself, I found myself relating to his posts which brought me comfort in realizing I wasn’t alone in my experiences of finding my identity past my sport. In saying this, I believe Reace’s intended audience is athletes of all sports. I say athletes in general because although he discusses the life of a retired football player, athletes from all sports must experience this one day and would find value in his blog at any stage of their athletic career.
Right off the bat, Reace’s stunning homepage immediately shows his viewers what his blog is all about. I absolutely love the series of images he chose as they tell his story of slowly shedding off his identity as a football player and coming into his new self. This series of images alone is a huge way he has marketed his blog towards athletes, and more specifically retired athletes, as we all can relate to this feeling of taking off our uniform for the last time. In this sense, Reace has already gained his audience’s attention on a personal level right from the beginning of their search. He also has featured his “About” section on the side bar of the front page, so if he has any viewers who may not have understood the series of images at first glance, they can easily find what his blog is about on the homepage. Both the eye-catching images and his “About” section being on the homepage is a great way to decrease bounce rate, which as our guest speaker, Monique Sherrett, explained, is the rate at which people come to your website and leave right away.
Reace’s blog content is very consistent with his theme. He shares a vulnerable part of himself, which is oftentimes difficult for ex-athletes to talk about. Although there are plenty of articles on the Internet that discuss this identity crisis athletes face when retiring from their sport, this is the first time I’ve come across a blog dedicated to it. One of our guest speakers, Trevor Battye, discussed how our goal with our website should be to create something that no one else can compete with, and I believe Reace has done this. Not many people are willing to be vulnerable and put their struggles online for everyone to read and see, but I believe that is why his blog is extremely marketable to his audience. All retired athletes face this identity battle at varying degrees; Reace’s blog gives these people a place to come and see that they’re not or were not alone in this struggle. Here’s one of his posts that truly demonstrates his courage to be vulnerable with his readers, which is something I truly admire.
A possible way Reace could increase his marketability towards his audience is through including images in his blog posts. Not only does this give the reader a visual break from the text, it also adds another personal touch to his already personal posts. It could be worthwhile to include images of himself playing football! Another way he could increase his marketability towards his audience is by including mental health resources (maybe even ones geared towards athletes) at the end of his posts for viewers to look into if they are struggling and considering getting help. Coming from experience, this retired athlete identity struggle can be difficult to navigate alone; letting his audience know that it’s okay to seek help would not only increase his marketability, but also help decrease the stigma around mental health. I believe Reace will have no problem maintaining and growing his audience as long as he stays true to them and continues to be a courageous blogger through his vulnerability!
Recently I’ve been noticing the abundance of engagement ring ads that have been popping up on my Facebook feed. Although it’s something that I have noticed, I haven’t thought deeply about why they may be showing up on my feed until this week in class when we discussed audiences and how websites reach their intended audience. Our professor gave us an activity to try, which was to pick an ad from our Facebook feed and reverse engineer it, A.K.A dissect why it may be popping up on your specific Facebook feed. Below is one of the many engagement ring ads that I’ve come across on my Facebook feed:
As many of you have probably noticed, Facebook seems to know your exact search history based on their creepily accurate ads they place on your feed. However in my case with the engagement ring ads, I found it interesting as I haven’t searched engagement rings in my browser, so where did they get this information from that I might be in this market at the moment? Time to start reverse engineering!
I began with thinking about what my characteristics were and which one’s I’ve shared with Facebook. Like most people, I have my basic characteristics listed on Facebook. This includes my age, gender, education, things like that. However, I also have my relationship status listed, which is currently “in a relationship”. Based on this information I’ve shared with Facebook, they can conclude that I’m a 23 year old female who is in a relationship. In general, women in the age range of 20-30 years old who are in a relationship may be thinking about getting married. Facebook may have taken this information and made an assumption, which is why they’re promoting engagement ring ads on my feed. Another added factor to this may be that I’ve had my relationship status as “in a relationship” on Facebook for over three years now. I noticed that these engagement ring ads started appearing on my feed a few months ago. Since Facebook thinks I’ve been in a relationship for a long time now, maybe that is also an indicator to them that they should start targeting me for engagement ring ads. However, I’m not positive if Facebook actually tracks this factor, but with my experience it seems as though they very well might be.
I plugged in my reverse engineering into Facebook Audience Insights and this is what I discovered:
I set the audience to Vancouver, Canada, and women in the age range of 20-30 years old. I didn’t specify if they were in a relationship or not as I wanted to see the percentage of this audience was listed as “in a relationship.” It appears that 61% of women 18-34 years old who are on Facebook in Vancouver, Canada are in the 25-34 age range, and 39% are in the 18-24 age range. Of those women, 27% of them are listed as “in a relationship.” Based on this information, I can assume that Facebook may be targeting that 27% with engagement ring ads.
Below is a sequence of photos from Vancouver’s False Creek and Main Street area taken from the Google maps database. They date from 2000 to 2018 (excluding ’06 and ’10 – ’12).
It takes a few cycles of the GIF to notice changes. A particular area of interest is south of the water.
The stress associated with the transformation of old neighbourhoods and soaring property values have been felt in many modern cities around the world. Indeed, this problem may come to define era in coming decades.
This stress has a particularly tangible burden on cultural spaces, which tend to pull in less profits than a traditional business, especially if they are presenting alternative forms of media.
As you look at this sequence, consider how Vancouver’s landscape, or the landscape of any modern city, may come to accommodate cultural spaces. Where could those spaces be? What effects will the inclusion or exclusion of these spaces have on your city? Are these the right questions to ask?
I would love to read your answers to these questions in the comments below.
I had the pleasure of peer reviewing Jill’s Book Blog, which you can find here. From the onset, this is an engaging site, as it explores accessible reading, an aspect of publishing that the majority of the population is somewhat unfamiliar. Jill’s Book Blog is completely transparent; the creator offers insights and perspectives on the development and design of a blog through an access aide. As Jill articulates here, there are certain challenges one faces when visually impaired, with design in particular being an understandable barrier. As I am not overly committed to reading books, especially during undergraduate where we do have a high quota of readings, I was, at first thought, somewhat uninterested in the content of this blog; however, in exploring the pages and being introduced to the works under review, an appreciation was established and is hopefully reflected in this review. Here, I have divided my review by examining the content, design and overall impression.
I find book reviews challenging. To take a relatively long piece of writing and condense it into a concise and engaging review is difficult, so I feel that Jill’s Book Blog tackles an ambitious topic, especially for a weekly update. Likewise, in attempting to reach her goal of 96 books in 365 days, time is of the essence, and here, she does this well. I find the writing to be clear, effective and brief, and despite this, she negates jeopardizing the offering of a polished summary and well-written opinion about the book. There are some minor grammatical errors that are revealed through missing commas and dashes, as well as some repetition, but overall the posts are strong and any wordiness can be reflective of the vernacular a blog can sometimes evoke. I appreciate Jill’s sentiment that “I feel like I have become stuck in the formal, uninventive, dry essay/assignment writing and organizing we have to do in University, that I perhaps lost my creativity and imagination,” and understand how the concept of blogging for a course is refreshing. One post that I found highly entertaining was this interview with Batman. Using a strong sense of humor, playful language and clear objective of interpreting a novel through Bruce Wayne’s understanding of crime, Jill effectively entices the reader to explore the content afforded throughout her blog. I would like to see this extended with more links to other reviews or related-sites.
I like the design of this blog; it is simple, clear, focused and easy to navigate. I can’t really relate to the challenges in creating and maintaining the design via an access aide, but I can certainly appreciate the effort that was made to vocalize the desired outcomes. I like the black border, which in most cases I do not, but here it reflects the pages of a book. I am also fond of the number of tags for each post, as for me, when creators attribute too many tags, the page starts to look cluttered. There are two things I would like to see considered for alteration. First, I think that Jill has two important tag-lines for her blog; “Adventures of Accessible Reading” and “96 Books in 365 Days;” however, the latter is difficult to locate, and for me, is one of the interesting aspects of the blog. I would prefer to see it alongside “Adventures of Accessible Reading.” Also, I am not entirely fond of the main image of the lagoon and book waterfall. I appreciate the creativity of the books being employed as an abundant fall, but the image is somewhat unclear and too low of quality. I am also less enthusiastic about the type of image; I feel that the natural wonder-like photo does not really reflect the types of books being reviewed. This is of course, personal preference, but for me, I would like to see something different.
Overall, I like this blog. I found it incredibly approachable and accessible (pardon the pun), and unlike some opinion-based blogs, I feel that I truly learned something, or became interested in learning more about accessible reading. In fact, I would value further links to other resources outside of just the book, not just about the book itself, but how accessible reading is made available. I don’t need to read more about accessibility on this blog, but resources that are vetted by someone with a visual impairment would be interesting. Likewise, more links in general would be intriguing; I would like to know who Jill agrees with, disagrees with or what other books the focal one could be related to. One could also link to where to find the book, which I like about this book blog found here.
Jill’s Book Blog is a well-developed and organized site that provides visitors with approachable and strong synopses of various books. With some minor edits and slight alterations to some design aspects, this blog is very appealing and worth revisiting – for 96 days.
There are few things I find more frightening than being unlikable. That may sound insecure, yes, but I prefer not to skirt around the truth. Being ‘liked, ‘ whatever that might mean, reaps a bounty of benefits from good eye contact to free cigarettes to job promotions.
When it comes to meeting strangers, likability values a good first impression, so whether I’m at a club or on the bus, I do everything in my power to facilitate positive social experiences. This tends to happen passively when I’m relaxed, but when I’m stressed, I tend to waste time concerned about whether or not I’ve agitated people.
Recently, I have been more stressed in public, so my interactions with strangers has been limited to stressing out about them in my imagination. However, over the last week, after reading a James Hamblin piece titled “How to Talk to Strangers,” I’ve been determined to have conversations with humans who I’ve never met. As of now (Sunday afternoon), I’ve had two.
The first didn’t go well. It was with a new classmate, whose name I had forgotten during our round table introductions a half hour earlier. To summarize, we traded names, “how are you’s?”, and he walked away. I was bitter about his lack of tact, and re-entered our classroom, introverted and annoyed. This felt like a lesson on why one should not talk to strangers. I had tried and failed.
The second went perfectly. It was exemplary of my bright, optimistic social ability. While looking for a place to sit in a crowded bar, I greeted a stranger, we traded “how are you’s,” I gave an honest, witty answer, we introduced ourselves, and the rest of the conversation was silk. We were at a drag show, so at least 95% of the people at the venue shared a common cultural interest and, such similarities make for easy bonding. I formed a sense of accomplishment after that, but for no simple reason I think.
In his article, Hamblin asserts that “public-health research has shown improved moods among commuters who chat on the subway, and happiness and creativity among people who talk to strangers.” However, I believe it is an oversimplification to say that stranger chatting causes happiness. I have spent many happy hours engrossed in a book on transit, and being interrupted by a chatty commuter would probably have spoiled that mood. Chatting isn’t for everyone, or for every moment, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t strike up conversation with strangers. Occasionally, stranger chatting can be satisfying, sure, and I have a theory as to why.
As people grow and develop, I believe they reinforce certain behaviours and habits, physically and emotionally, that can be described as ‘needs’ when one grows older. I like to think that I have a need for intimacy, and there are many ways to satisfy that. Feeling intimately connected with a book is one way, and meeting a friendly new human is another. It would be selfish to assume that everyone has the same needs as I do, though, so I heed you, dear reader, to be careful with Hamblin’s article. Do not assume that socialization creates happiness, but be open to it having that influence.