Tag Archives: #essay2

Hitting Rewind: An Essay

And with a blink of an eye (and bottomless coffee cups and innumerable sleepless nights), we have reached the last week of the semester. Thank God. And while I’m just about ready to pack up and move on to celebrating the holidays, we cannot go without spending some time to reminisce on this little piece of the internet that came into being a mere seventy-seven days ago. It just wouldn’t be right. I’m sentimental like that.

BACK TO DECEMBER SEPTEMBER

Going back to the very beginning, about four months ago when I was thinking about what I wanted to blog about—what I loved enough to talk about every week—I was stumped. With a capital S. Was it food? Fashion? Evening television? (No, I have not yet fully surrendered to streaming services, believe it or not.) After all, if I was going to share a piece of myself online or, as Suler (2004) would say, “disinhibit” myself, what would make it worth my while? 

And then, it hit me. 

And by “hit me”, I mean that my brother caught me in a moment of pure desperation and suggested that I write about the topic of many of our text conversations and dinner table exchanges. Music.

WE’RE JUST ORDINARY PEOPLE

As I discussed in “Process Post #5: And You Are…?”, I didn’t necessarily create Moods & Mixtapes with a certain demographic, music taste, or Myers-Briggs archetype in mind.

Considerably, the who of the blog was not of my concern when I was starting up this site. Rather, it was the why. In other words, this blog was made so that I could share my love of music and its ability to sound better, hit harder, and grab you by the freakin’ feels whenever you are experiencing a certain mood or are within a particular context. With this in mind, it did not matter to me who was reading the blog. Just being able to know that someone else could experience this sensation too, was more than enough. (I’ll try to stop with the sappy stuff now.)

Moreover, if someone were to ask me who my public is, I would say (without glancing at my analytics) that I have no idea. In saying so, Moods & Mixtapes serves a kind of public that Warner (2002) introduces in “Publics and Counterpublics”. It is a public “that comes into being only in relation to texts and their circulation” (para. 3). Thus, my public came into existence purely because of two reasons: (1) people visit this website and (2) people enjoy having a soundtrack to complement their sentiments. And man, are they my kind of people.

FEAST YOUR EYES

After reading just about any of my Process Posts, it will become quite clear that design was throwing me for a loop. But in my defence, how could it not? There were typefaces and margins and text colours and everything in-between that needed to be dealt with. In hindsight, I probably should have made everything into digital bite-sized pieces instead of trying to attack all of these components all at once, which is exactly what Mod (2014) advises against when it comes to publishing: “Believe me when I say, if you think about [all the details] before you start, you will never start. The rabbit hole is deep.” (para. 10). Undoubtedly, I am now a believer.

Frankly, the reason why the design was so crucial is that, to me, visuals and aesthetics are key. No one is going to want to read a blog post on a site that isn’t pleasing to the eye. I mean, I know I wouldn’t, so this reasoning was the basis of all of my design and structural changes around here. 

Yet, despite all of the tweaks and alterations, one design element stayed the same—blog cover photos. Throwing it back to September, I was set on making sure that each blog post would have a feature photo made by yours truly. Reason being, I found the pop of colour to highly compliment the black and white theme of the site, and I’m all for a fashion statement. Also, creating these images is one of my favourite parts of putting up a post! I would like to think that I am not the only one who enjoys them, as my previous peer reviews made mention of them as well. Validation is always nice, right?

STATS ON STATS

Not to fall into the clutches of what Gertz (2015) labels as “metrics-obsessed pseudo-science” (para. 18), but there is something to be said about the wonder that is Google Analytics. From just a few clicks, I can see how many people visited the site, what posts they interacted with, and how long they hung around for. And as my audience is purely imagined, analytics has helped to give a virtual face to Moods & Mixtapes visitors. By extension, helping me to refine my content. It’s a way of finding out how to “give the people what they want” as they say. 

Interestingly, Google Analytics has time and time again reminded me to never underestimate the power and ubiquity of the Internet. Notably, without the program, I would have never known that I have users reaching my content outside of my city. Getting traffic from the US, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, the UAE?! That’s absolutely WILD.

So, wherever you’re this reading from, thank you for being here!

HARDER THAN IT LOOKS

My perspective on publication has undeniably changed since the beginning of the term and it is due to this truth: blogging is hard. As much as we love to give bloggers and influencers a hard time, there is a lot more to this than what meets the eye. There is plenty to deal with—from keeping up with your numbers (analyzing them, improving them, figuring out what factors got you these results), coming up with new content, and finding ways to consistently roll out quality content without getting boring. Trust me, it does not come easy. 

BLOG LONG AND PROSPER

Having said that, regardless of all the crises and headaches that came with developing this online space, I would like to think that Moods & Mixtapes will continue past this semester. After all, this is a piece of myself that I’m proud to share! This blog, a product of “new technology” as Renner (2019) coins it, has “allowed [myself] to produce a narrative of [my] li[fe], to choose what to remember and what to contribute” (para. 4). In relation, this space has become an extension of who I am, and it would hurt to just pack it up and throw it into the back of the closet, so to speak. In other words, expect more moods and more mixtapes in the near future!

So here’s to the past seventy-seven days! Time for a jam sesh. 

References

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

Mod, C. (2014). Let’s talk about margins. Retrieved from https://medium.com/message/lets-talk-about-margins-14646574c385 

Renner, N. (2019). How social media shapes our identity. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/books/under-review/how-social-media-shapes-our-identity 

Suler, J. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. CybserPsychology & Behaviour, 7, 321-326. Retrieved from http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html 

Warner, M. (2002). Publics and counterpublics. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 88(4), 413-425. Retrieved from http://knowledgepublic.pbworks.com/f/warnerPubCounterP.pdf 

Some Semester Thoughts

This semester has been not just about creating a website, but about creating an audience. I have always been inspired to create something that benefits others, because a lot of what we learn in life is that the world can be a really negative and greedy place. But I feel that if we don’t take a little time to think about ourselves as well, we won’t be able to help others. If everyone thought like this, I believe the world would be a better place to live in for sure. My blog is for those who have the same ideals. It’s for those who feel a little lost or stressed out, for those who would like to contribute to a space that isn’t trying to sell you something, and a place for others to express their stories and how they get through their lives. I particularly want to cater to those going into University, because when I started, there was an overwhelming amount of opinions about what is healthy and what isn’t. Fab diets, fat loss pills, and insane and unrealistic expectations of how you should work out and look like are huge issues. My blog reflects this with calming or goofy pictures meant to make people reflect what they do in their own lives, or even laugh. It’s a space for people to get information that isn’t from a top-down perspective. Although I haven’t started gathering comments on my website yet, I would hope to see more as I post more content. I get a lot of comments and reviews on my Facebook as well, not necessarily on the website itself, but so far I have gotten a lot of good reviews and look forward to more, with criticisms welcomed.

Personally, I was really moved by Audrey Watters article, “The Web We Need to Give Students”. This class and this article sum up what I believe University should be all about; not just education, but promoting creativity and new ideas and challenging our perspectives. I feel that University doesn’t do that as much in this day and age. It is such a traditional industry that dates back thousands of years — don’t we think we’ve gone beyond that old structure by now? We need to be challenged and driven to new ideas, and constricting us to these traditional teaching practices is stamping out creativity and drive. This class allowed the students in PUB 101 to “have control over the look and feel of their own sites, including what’s shared publicly. This means they have some say — although not complete — over their personal data, and in turn they begin to have an understanding of the technologies that underpin the Web, including how their work and their data circulate there” (Watters, 2015). As Watters (2015) says, “giving students their own digital domain is a radical act”. I call for these education industries to do the same in returning the agency to students, and in return you will have students who will be enlightened and contribute back to society with enthusiasm and passion.

I was really glad we went over online behaviours, particularly the bad ones, and because of this I was extremely interested in Whitney Philips’ article, “Let’s call ‘trolling’ what it really is”. Trolls are essentially “why we can’t have nice things online” (Philips, 2015). In an internet-driven world, I constantly worry about what my younger sisters will have to go through in their online environments. My little sister even knows the term ‘trolling’ and will use it when describing certain people even though she doesn’t have any social medias. Philips (2015) emphasizes that the term itself “implies a level of playfulness that tends to minimize their antagonistic behaviours, or at least establish a firewall between the embodied person and their digitally mediated actions”. This was a huge wake-up call for me and I am able to better position myself on the impact of people’s online behaviours, especially knowing that’s not just us being sensitive when we go against trolls; we are standing up against hate and violence. Especially violence people wouldn’t even commit or act in if they were face-to-face with the person they were ‘trolling’.

Another wake-up call for me was actually when I reflected on my online data trail. I haven’t had much filtration or thought about what I put online besides the basics, like no revealing photos of my body or me at parties, no obscene language, etc. My digital breadcrumb trail extends long and true. I thought about it this way; if I tried to run away and disappear, I am not sure I’d be able to stay ‘missing’ because I know I’m very dependent on everything I use, like my bank cards, phone, computer, etc. Although I have to admit I love anything that makes my life more convenient, it does disappoint me how much companies know about me. Like with how Suzanne Norman experienced going into the Amazon bookstore in Seattle, data is collected everywhere. I believe I’m most noticed in my online shopping, because all the advertisements online are tailored to what I’m always looking for. Maybe we have just grown accustomed to accepting a lack of privacy. Podacademy sums up the issue perfectly in one question: “Should we then as producers of data benefit from the money that we help generate or is the fact that we use these services for free suffice enough to serve as a form of payment in return for our data?”. I would have to argue yes, because what other choice do we have? If Facebook suddenly decided that it’s users had to pay a monthly fee, would I? Probably, I’m too dependent on it now. It sucks but it’s the truth. All I would be able to hope for is a different company to come along and offer a free service.

I would like to continue on the blog and see how it goes, however, especially as I move into PUB 201, I actually have a lot of inspiration to create a new blog based on the EDM industry. It is something I am truly passionate about and can possibly monetize off of, whereas with this one, I don’t think it feels proper to have a lot of ads on my blog. I also have a lot of inspiration for it so I look forward to creating that before the next semester even starts.

You can find my inspired articles here:

https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713

http://kernelmag.dailydot.com/issue-sections/staff-editorials/12898/trolling-stem-tech-sexism/

https://publishing.sfu.ca/2016/03/breadcrumbs-of-data/

Podacademy’s article/podcast by George Philip, Jennifer Anne Lazo, Rooham Jamali and Rudy Al Jaroodi: http://podacademy.org/podcasts/digital-breadcrumbs-our-data-trail/