Tag Archives: essays

Essay: On AI bans in Academia (PUB101)

Word Count: 1197

Slovenian cultural philosopher Slavoj Žižek once explained to a general audience:

“As important as providing answers is…[philosophy] can ask the right questions. There are not only wrong answers, but there are also wrong questions. Questions which deal with a real problem but the way they are formulated, they obfuscate, mystify and confuse the problem [sic].”1

Here, Žižek draws from the long-honoured tradition of the Socratic method. As the stories go, Socrates would accost the knowledgeable men of ancient Athens and question their expertise. The result was always the same: The artists knew little about beauty, the generals knew little about courage, and the leaders demonstrated an insufficient understanding of justice. Why? Because we all harbour unexamined beliefs, and those presuppositions affect our worldview and, subsequently, how we think, act, and shape what we presume is possible. However, the right questions reveal our judgements as limited. Through this process, we can begin to unpack why and how we come to these wrong answers and seek better ones—but first, ask the right questions.

Fast-forward to the end of 2022. Artists, politicians, academics, and everyone on Reddit had contracted fevered anxieties over Open AI’s ChatGTP and Midjourney. It is not a new subject, but one that ebbs into popularity as new problems arise; and is expected to increase as machine learning is further developed and implemented. It is a complex phenomenon with far-reaching material and social dimensions that we have yet to comprehend fully, adding to our collective anxieties. It is as though we are ‘The Mouse’ in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, wearing our wizard hat. We may automate brooms to fetch us water, but what will happen when our machines act out their directives too well? Or at the cost of a catastrophe? We may even discover, as did the Apprentice, that we cannot prevent them from executing the tasks we gave them. 

The most common question one will likely encounter is, “should we ban AI in academia, art galleries, or other specific places or fields of discourse?” While this question can be applied in moderation, for example, limiting AI art from art galleries ensures that human art is celebrated, the position to ban AI in academia is a wrong question which only mystifies the challenges ahead. 

Let us grant for argument’s sake that AI should be banned in schools. What does this mean? In one interpretation, a ban might broadly affect all instances and uses of machine learning in academic writing and research. In contrast, a narrow effect might focus on the most uninspired academic frauds so brazen as to copy-paste complete exposition and argumentation verbatim

In the latter narrow sense, some promise is offered in anti-plagiarism AIs which check texts for signs of being generated. In a survey of testing 100 false positive texts (text which humans had failed to identify as generated), preliminary studies showed that AI could isolate a series of common patterns of speech that were indicative of generated text.2 However, the effectiveness of using AI to detect AI plagiarism is not guaranteed to remain an effective solution for long. This is because machine learning is highly iterative, and the mistakes it makes today are likely to be absent tomorrow, which means we will need increasingly more complex checks and balances to catch the more clever forms of academic dishonesty.  

If our ban is targeted in a broader sense to prevent all machine learning from participating in writing and research, I hate to inform you, but the cat is out of the bag. Machine learning and neural networking are already indispensable tools across the sciences and social sciences. So we can see that even if we grant that an AI ban is the correct course of action, it seems increasingly difficult (perhaps impossible) to enforce in a narrow sense and misguided given the current state of computer science and research in a broad sense. 

“Should we ban AI from academia” also treads dangerously close to a Luddite view of technology.  A Luddite generally describes a person who supports a position of technological regress; however, historically, the English Luddites disavowed and destroyed machinery during the early years of the industrial revolution because of their reactionary views that integrating machines would make their labourer obsolete—an anxiety we still possess.3

This historical Luddite also offers an analogy to demonstrate how the wrong types of questions obfuscate the problem. Their conclusion was a simple one. Destroy the machines they perceived as threats to their livelihood. However, they could not articulate that the tension was not man versus machine but between those who sell their labour and those who buy it. It was against the backdrop of industrialization that the asymmetric power dynamic between labour and ownership became demystified, allowing for the observations of Adam Smith and Karl Marx to be actualized. The takeaway of this analogy is that because machines were not banned, we were afforded a clearer picture of labour relationships, ownership and production, and the logic presents something parallel to machine learning. 

While many important questions are waiting for us, we tend to see them when we are staring at them in the face. However, how can we accomplish this while we defiantly close our eyes? Thankfully, not all fields have suffered from this reaction, and as a result, they produce better questions.

We recognize that machine learning reproduces human bias and can even amplify bias4, which raises the question of whether it is possible to remove our unintentional biases from data sets because of its implementation into research. Similarly, automated cars disproportionately hit certain ethnicities5—more examples of biased data sets realized only when vehicles are on the road. This raises another critical question, who is ethically responsible for autonomous machines? Finally, as it stands, the proprietary ownership of these technologies by mega-corporations like Apple and Google leads us to question the nature of knowledge and its ownership. For example, if Midjourney is a simple aggregate of all our collective artistry and ChatGTP is a summarization of our collected works of knowledge, is it right to be owned for profit? All of these questions occur because machine learning is adopted into sophisticated societal roles not despite it. 

While this essay criticizes the conclusion of AI bans as technological regression and for the intellectual deficits they create, I close by remarking that this is not an argument for the laissez-faire adoption of AI and machine learning in academia. We ought to curb academic dishonesty at all avenues, and ChatGTP offers the dishonest a new avenue of play. In addition, AI hallucinations are akin to being lied to by a machine and must be scrutinized meticulously to prevent such hallucinations from becoming institutionalized as knowledge. However, the problem is that these issues already existed before generative text, and a ban on AI will not solve that problem. 

There has always been a market for plagiarism, and scholarly research becomes discredited when new information becomes available. We must take proactive positions regarding our future alongside machine learning. Failure to do so may mean we miss out on the novel and crucial questions shaping future consequences produced by AI’s role in society. 


  1. Big Think (Freethink Media), ” Slavoj Žižek – The Purpose of Philosophy is to Ask the Right Questions,” 2017, video, https://bigthink.com/videos/the-purpose-of-philosophy-is-to-ask-the-right-questions/.
  2. Jawahar, Ganesh, Muhammad Abdul-Mageed and Laks V. S. Lakshmanan. “Automatic Detection of Machine Generated Text: A Critical Survey.” International Conference on Computational Linguistics (2020). https://arxiv.org/pdf/2011.01314.pdf.
  3. Donnelly, F. K. “Luddites Past and Present.” Labour / Le Travail 18 (1986): 217–21. https://doi.org/10.2307/25142685.
  4. Sun W, Nasraoui O, Shafto P (2020) Evolution and impact of bias in human and machine learning algorithm interaction. PLoS ONE 15(8): e0235502. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235502.4
  5. Wilson, Benjamin, Judy Hoffman and Jamie H. Morgenstern. “Predictive Inequity in Object Detection.” ArXiv abs/1902.11097 (2019). https://arxiv.org/pdf/1902.11097.pdf.

The Pious Squirrel

A Lyrical Argument for Nihilistic Error Theory

I wrote this poem a while ago for an ethics class. It describes how Error theory, the believe that we are always in error when we make claims about morality, challenges the common ethical claim that God is the author of morality. While Divine Command Theory, DCT is highly refuted today, even among theosophers, its impression is still felt through religious practitioners.

Just a note: this isn’t my metaethical belief, rather it’s just a fun way to demonstrate metaethics. 

What do you think? Do you agree that there are no moral facts? What system of ethics do you prescribe?


Dusk had arrived at the park by the sea. Once again, nature belonged to its forest inhabitants. The deer prefers leaves like the fox prefers meat; a chipmunk like myself prefers to contemplate. I emerged from my burrow and heard a curious sound of tiny paws digging through the ground. There I discovered a cousin of mine, a squirrel busying herself uncovering acorns to dine. I cleared my throat, “Excuse me, miss, but what are you doing? Those acorns you found belong to another. Is it not wrong to take from your brother?”

Without missing a beat, she refutes as a matter of fact, “Squirrels are not interested in matters like that. There are moral facts, it’s plain to me, but those are revealed by Great Oakley. She is all-wise and all-perfect and the author of all things true; more important is what she commands I do. If it was her will that squirrels don’t eat her crop, then what would be right is I ought to stop.”

Ah, Great Oakley, a squirrel’s deity, and this particular squirrel expressed piety. I scampered closer to make further inquiry.


“It’s curious to ask who authors what’s right; I suspect that there’s more than your divine insight. Your position is clear and follows my query, your position I call Divine Command Theory.1 What is moral is what Oakley commands, and what is not, She forbids. Does that sound right?”

“Indeed it is.”

“Permit me a bit more. Does Oakley command because these actions are right, or are they moral because Oakley commands them? You can see the dilemma, I’m sure. If the former, then it appears that what is right exists outside Oakley’s heavenly sight. In such a case, She’s hardly all-wise, and there is at least one thing she did not comprise. If the latter horn is true, this is equally difficult. How does Oakly decide what’s permissible? It would appear quite arbitrary, for it would be these reasons, not Her command, that justify morality. How could this be if She exists so perfectly?”

The squirrel’s heart turned.

“How wise, my cousin of mine, I never paused to commit this to mind. It seems in both cases, this position fails. Now I am inclined to believe that there are simply no morals for me to retrieve. In lieu of any objective moral fact, I am free to fill my cheeks as a non-moral act!”

She resumed stuffing acorns into her cheeks.


I laughed and sat with her, for even a chipmunk can enjoy a snack, “From my own thoughts, I agree, but I don’t believe in Great Oakley. Our forest is absent of moral claims, and far worse is they justify our chains. My position of why I am so weary is what I shall call an Error Theory.2 This world lacks moral features, and thus these judgements can never be true. Try as we might, our judgements are frail, and these descriptions ultimately fail. So it follows, as you plainly see, there’s no such thing as morality. If such objectivity exists, it necessarily requires categorical reasons despite our desires. It’s pretty convenient that Oakley’s commands just so happen to follow your hungry plans! Your bulging cheeks are evidence to me that you spoke in error about morality.” As she munched, I continued.


            “Error theory focuses on what’s metaphysically amiss and reminds of the strangeness if values exist.3

Objective facts are things we can justify, and unlike rain, values do not fall from the sky. A squirrel must eat, obviously, so your desire to eat is based on objectivity. But where are these values you held so dear? If you look all around, I think you’ll agree that values are not the things to be found. The advantage is that Error Theory corresponds to what positively is true, and it perfectly describes your desire to chew! So now that you have freed yourself from Oakley’s commands, you discover a true fact instead of moral demands. Recall morality tends to enslave, and to uphold it gives your control away. Consider if Oakley demands you to refrain, then it seems Her law would justify great pain. If that was her command, it would be quite dire, then it would seem what’s moral is for you to expire!”4

My cousin seemed convinced, but as I turned away, it appeared she had something more to say.


            “You gave me cause to accept what you say, but it seems to me morals aren’t easily explained away. Morality for digging out nuts may cause us suspicions, but how do we reconcile our greater intuitions? It seems that other circumstances are far from minuscule. Consider murder by a wolf; this action is impermissible. It causes great suffering; no one would abide by this action if done to themselves or their tribe. Where are these natural facts which describe our moral intuitions in matters like that?”


I was impressed. I couldn’t hide. I turned to the squirrel for a final reply. “Consider suffering as a positivist description. It is, or it isn’t; it’s a simple prescription. Now consider a claim built on an ought. There’s something else present than the positivist brought. The ought adds a value, and if you recall, a value is not represented in the world at all! How do we use reason to justify the truth of such value claims? A bitter truth, more bitter than acorn rot, is that reason does not justify an ‘is’ to an ‘ought.’5 While we agree, we’d rather not be a victim of a wolf’s murderous spree. The explanation that the naturalists give is this great intuition is our desire to live.” With everything said, she thanked me, so I took my leave beneath the forest canopy.


  1. Shafer-Landau, Russ. “Morality and Religion.” The Fundamentals of Ethics, 4th ed., 67–68. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.
  2. Shafer-Landau, Russ. “Moral Nihilism.” The Fundamentals of Ethics, 4th ed., 311–312. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.
  3. Mackie, J.L. “ The Argument from Queerness.” Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, 38–40. 1977.
  4. Inspired by Nietzche’s critique of slave morality. Wolff, Jonathan, and Nietzsche, Friedrich. “Beyond Good and Evil.” Essay in Readings in Moral Philosophy, 32–38. New York: W.W. Norton et Company, 2018.
  5. Wolff, Jonathan, and David Hume. “Moral Distinction Not Derived from Reason.” Essay in Readings in Moral Philosophy, 17–21. New York: W.W. Norton et Company, 2018.

Essay #1

As a social media user, I want to warn people who follow me to be careful. For some reason, social media is not where you come to see your friends as it used to be the fun of it. Instead, I feel as though I am being fed information. I now see more outrageous accounts that spew hate and try to influence my beliefs to match what I see on platforms. My Facebook is filled with massive amounts of news from accounts that I do not remember following; they have very strong opinions towards specific topics that are very hateful to minorities and vulnerable groups in our society. I am trying to understand why this is happening, and I have been researching to give you information on how our behaviours are being collected. This is to educate the public to utilize the internet carefully as it is a shadow of its old self.

If you see on Twitter, everyone here can agree that we have at least ten bots followers. Most people do not get retweets; instead, they get that random one that gets you excited, and then you realize it’s a fake account again. The article discusses bots and how these bots essentially mimic our behaviours and can be utilized to push traction on news that aims to convince us for political gain (UC, 2022). These bots are created by people who are essentially employees at for-profit corporations that are paid to influence behaviour (UC, 2022). An example is in the last United States elections; the Russian Internet Research Agency hired people who could understand American culture and speak good English to push news, comments and like posts that rile up the population (UC, 2022). These accounts aim to polarize the American public to the point that they would undermine our government and put us on a path to a falling empire (UC, 2022). This is inherently the goal of bots and the cause for their growing number; it is so bad that 8.5% of Twitter accounts are bots (UC, 2022). This explains why you have that one loyal follower that gives you a retweet every time you tweet.

Another interesting journal by Bansal writes about the patchwork of policy working to fend off misinformation (Bansal, 2019). He discusses how the US election created doubt in American democracy, and many experts confirmed that foreign influences played a path in that election. Multiple groups on Facebook that had bots were influenced strongly (Bansal, 2019). Facebook had to roll out sweeping measures, which surprisingly worked and provided relief. However, there is still animosity on Twitter with the hate groups and negative/fake news getting more aggressive in micro-targeting. The new wave of social media sensation is a prime example of this; many young men and almost every person on the planet now know Andrew Tate. The individual was not someone I saw on my page a few weeks ago, but now I cannot stop seeing him after googling him once. It is horrible on Facebook and TikTok.

Governments have started releasing legislation to punish people who push fake news to sway the public. Canada, Singapore, France, Brazil and Egypt have some of the most severe punishments. Another example is the study “SCM,” which presented results on research on a Facebook platform, showing that most people use comments to gauge false and real news (Kluck, 1970). The growing number of bots can, therefore, either undermine factual information or uplift fake news in the worst-case scenario. The article by Beshai (2018) utilizes nodes to illustrate how deep and far false news travels compared to real news on Twitter; very stark imagery called cascades is formed. 3D tools demonstrate how broad and deep false and true news travel (Beshai, 2018). The study uses a visualizing this type of data where “breadth is (how many times a given tweet is retweeted) corresponds to the width of the tree, and depth (how many “generations” of retweeting occur) corresponds to the height” (Beshai, 2018). This imagery provides a more straightforward interpretation of the state of our situation. This is a wake-up call for the public to be wary and vigilant in consuming information.

I am not here to spread doom and gloom but to inform the public that this is real and could affect our society. Hence, I will provide insight into how Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms can reduce how false news penetrates our system. The study called “Real Solutions for Fake News?” (2019) states that using disputed news tags can help inform the public of inaccuracy by about 10% from the base of 29% who believed initially. The other tag used in this study is false news which helped reduce the spread from the base of 29% to 16%, a 13% reduction (Clayton, 2019). I believe some corporate social responsibility is warranted, and companies should invest more in fact-checking to protect society.

Finally, I believe guides from the article “Fake News” will help reduce society’s vulnerability. Questions I recommend asking oneself are: “Does the article come from an established, credible and rigorously fact-oriented news organization such as ABC, The Guardian or The Wall Street Journal? If not, encourage students to consider the general character of the publication: how are its stories presented? Who owns the organization, and are they interested in promoting a particular view?” (Henry, 2020)Other possibilities are checking the URL link, checking for satire, using fact-checking websites, a simple google search and various types of bias (Henry, 2020). Confirmation bias is one that I found myself falling in tune with some news outlets. This could be as simple as stereotypes about a place, and then a story comes up that could run as evidence for the said stereotype. The last article shows how the use of fact-checking, either imposed or voluntary, reduces the spread of fake news by 25% (Chadwick, 2021). The study also highlights the reduction of false news sharing by 67% per viewer by educating them on fact-checking and increases their sharing of fact-checked news by 58% (Chadwick, 2021). Hence, I believe being vigilant in self-awareness can be a massive tool for navigating the internet in these times of upcoming mid-term elections.


Beshai, P. (2018, March 9). Cover stories: Visualizing the spread of true and false news on social … Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aat4382

Bansal, S. (2019, October 4). The patchwork of policy working to fend off misinformation. Centre for International Governance Innovation. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.cigionline.org/articles/patchwork-policy-working-fend-misinformation/

Clayton, K., Blair, S., Busam, J. A., Forstner, S., Glance, J., Green, G., Kawata, A., Kovvuri, A., Martin, J., Morgan, E., Sandhu, M., Sang, R., Scholz-Bright, R., Welch, A. T., Wolff, A. G., Zhou, A., & Nyhan, B. (2019, February 11). Real solutions for fake news? measuring the effectiveness of general warnings and fact-check tags in reducing belief in false stories on social media – political behavior. SpringerLink. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11109-019-09533-0

Chadwick, A., Vaccari, C., & Kaiser, J. (2021, March 17). The amplification of exaggerated and false news on social media: The roles of platform use, motivations, affect, and ideology. figshare. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://repository.lboro.ac.uk/articles/journal_contribution/The_amplification_of_exaggerated_and_false_news_on_social_media_the_roles_of_platform_use_motivations_affect_and_ideology/14223083

Henry, E., Zhuravskaya, E., & Guriev, S. (2020, June 4). Checking and sharing alt-facts. SSRN. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3597191

Kluck, J. P., Schaewitz, L., & Krämer, N. (1970, January 1). [PDF] doubters are more convincing than advocates. the impact of user comments and ratings on credibility perceptions of false news stories on social media: Semantic scholar. undefined. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Doubters-are-more-convincing-than-advocates.-The-of-Kluck-Schaewitz/f32cfce6e8ec2331481a300085ff39e99ecaac6b

UC, S. B. (2022, November 8). How is fake news spread? bots, people like you, trolls, and. Center for Information Technology and Society – UC Santa Barbara. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.cits.ucsb.edu/fake-news/spread

Essay #2: Reflecting My Online Self

Reflecting on my online self I’ve realized the internal and digitally external growth I’ve had. I think my blog has definitely come a long way ever since I built it in the first few weeks of class. Prior to PUB 101, I had no WordPress experience. I honestly thought it’d be such a difficult platform to build a site out of, but as the weeks went by it grew easier to organize my posts. Initially, I didn’t even know how to add media to my website, but now I’d say I’m proud of what I’ve built knowing that I taught myself all the technical aspects of the platform.

 I created The Spotless Mind.com and came up with the name after watching Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind during the first week of classes. It’s one of my favourite movies and the overall message was that the memories that we have, no matter how painful some can be aren’t files that can just be deleted. They’re part of the bigger picture of our lives and ourselves and it got me to reflect on my own experiences. For the past year and a half, I’ve been working through lots of inner development after coming out from a very painful past that I wish I could delete and I found this blog/website a great way to document all the growth I’ve been on.

Watters (2015), notes that when students have their own domains, they have freedom in what they present to the world through their professional, personal and digital identities. He notes that they begin to have a deeper understanding of the technologies that make up the Web and how their own work and information circulates on the internet (Watters, 2015). I think this website has taught me how to organize my thoughts on the internet as well as how to engagingly share my personal stories online. Using analytics has helped me determine which articles received more traffic and what type of content I should be posting about such as on harder topics about love and grief. This whole experience has been healing to my own self being able to openly share my experiences and advice but hearing comments from sources such as peer reviews has been very rewarding for me too. I really appreciate all the feedback I have received and applied them to my website such as adding menus and creating more content overall.

From the bare bones of my website, I really had nothing. For weeks I only had three menus, ‘Welcome’, ‘Contact’ and ‘Blog.’ All of my posts whether that be Process Posts, Mini Assignments, Content Posts were all under the one blog page which to me felt cluttered. It wasn’t until I found inspiration from my peers through their own websites that I created more menus and submenus/categories. So, I created a PUB 101 work menu splitting off into different categories for Process Posts, Peer Reviews, Essays, etc… I also decided to create categories for my actual blog playing off of my tagline into sections on love, lessons, life and ‘Everything in Between’ on more random posts. I also added more SEO words to my titles as Hollingsworth (2021) notes, “SEO is the most viable and cost-effective way to both understand and reach customers in key moments that matter (Para. 1). I think adding keywords such as ‘lessons’, and ‘love’ which are the main subjects of my site makes it clear what my content and intentions are online. 

My goal after this class is to eventually grow my online self to what The Rising Woman does. She mainly focuses on Instagram but has a great site with wonderful blogs on self-development and growth that are sometimes researched based and very advisable. She offers lessons and programs where she actually teaches you how to expand your mindset and performs certain meditations as well. While I don’t think I can get to that extent I hope to still be sharing my own advice and share my experiences in hopes to inspire others. I eventually want to rebrand by just using my name for the title as I hope to segway into using YouTube as my first place of content and my website as a more professional portfolio for my work experience and blog writing. I’m solo travelling in Europe after I graduate this semester and plan to start vlogging through YouTube, however, I’m excited to see how my website will change once I start that journey!


Hollingsworth, S. (2021, August 9). 15 Reasons Why Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO. Search Engine Journal. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/why-seo-is-important-for-business/248101/#closeIn-text citation

Watters, A. (2019, June 25). The Web We Need To Give Students – BRIGHT Magazine. Medium. https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x


Essay #2: Reflection As An Online Publisher

One of the common misbeliefs that people have had surrounding the topic of blogging is that it is very easy to do. However, what some people do not realize is how much hard work and hustle it takes to produce quality and meaningful content on a regular basis; to design and produce visual content; and grow/find our own audiences. Since the beginning of this course, my experience as an online publisher has been both rewarding and exhausting. Earlier on in the course, our instructor Suzanne mentioned that when choosing a topic, it was important to protect our passions so that they do not become a chore since we would be producing content on a weekly basis on whichever topic, we would choose our websites’ to be about. 

Originally, I considered creating a website about books. I am a huge bookworm and a fairly fast reader, but I was concerned that reading would become a chore as she had mentioned. Although I am equally as passionate about film as I am about books, I have written papers on film in a critical and academic format, but never simply for the enjoyment of watching and responding to it. In addition, I have always been torn between creating a blog on film, and this course ended up being the perfect space for me to finally take that leap. Thus, the concept of The Household Box Office began to take shape.

My inspiration for my website initially came about through my passion for film. Ever since I was kid, I have loved everything about movies and TV, including learning about the inter-workings of the film industry itself over the years through my own research and studies. The Household Box Office is my own virtual movie theatre that provides me the same wonderstruck emotions that I would experience from watching in a movie theatre but from home instead, especially during the pandemic. My website’s content focuses on mainly movie reviews, but I also provide suggestions/recommendations for movie and TV series in all genres, as well as generate post on upcoming film news, such as new shows, and other film related topics. I created my own graphics using stock images and online design applications, such as Canva and Photoshop. My website’s design is focused on simplicity for clean and easy navigation, while its’ appearance is meant to reflect the colours of a box office/theatre aesthetic. 

The online environment that I have been envisioning since the early stages of my website’s development was to create an online community that was fun, open, and respectful for both myself and my readers/audience. As we saw towards the end of this course, we as online publishers are responsible for the type of content we publish and how our readers interact with our posts, such as on our comment sections. As publishers we are presented with the challenge of moderating our own comment sections and navigating social waters (Norman, Week 12, 2022). Although my readership is small, I have established a set of community guidelines in order navigate these challenges. Originally, I was going to not include a comments section, but ended up keeping them because of the importance of online publics. Publics are important because they provide a mechanism for how we construct our social world (Boyd, 2014), especially in terms of protecting reader identity. The use of online anonymity has both its positives and negatives. Online anonymity protects user/reader identity and often encourages them to participate more, however, it also allows for something called the “online disinhibition effect” where their online social behaviours differ from their in-person behaviours (Suler, 2004; Konnikova, 2013). By implementing community guidelines is one way to inform your readers about what type of behaviour is and is not acceptable or tolerated on your website(s).  

This experience has taught me a lot about the process of being in control of my own content in terms of how I choose what my posts are about and how I want them to be presented online. As Audrey Watters stated in her article on “The Web We Need to Give Students,” when students create and have control over their own domains, it allows them much more say over what they present to the world, especially in terms of positioning and presenting their public profiles, professional portfolios, and digital identities (Watters, 2015). In addition, by giving students the control over their own digital domains enables them with the opportunity “… to work with on the Web and with the Web,” (Watters, 2015). All together, these aspects have slowly come together through the development and further refinement for what it truly means to be an online publisher for my own publication of my everyday self. Despite all the trials and errors, I believe I will continue to blog and further refine my online social presence. While I do plan to continue to review movies and shows, my future blog goals would be to expand producing blog posts beyond reviews and watch suggestions/recommendations. Overall, I have enjoyed creating my own little virtual space within this vast network of cyberspace. 


Boyd, D. (2014). Searching for a public of their own. It’s Complicated. Wattpad. Retrieved from posiel.com

Konnikova, M. (2013). The psychology of online comments. The New Yorker. Retrieved from posiel.com

Norman, S. (2022). Week 12: moderating your commentariat and navigating the social waters. Lecture. Retrieved from posiel.com

Watters, A. (2015). The web we need to give students. Bright Magazine. Retrieved from posiel.com

The post Essay #2: Reflection As An Online Publisher first appeared on The Household Box Office.

Essay #2

This semester has been quite a wild ride, and publishing ended up being a pretty refreshing aspect of it. I originally took this course purely out of convenience as it fell on the same day as another of my courses, limiting the number of trips into the city that I needed to make. To my pleasant surprise, the processes and blog updates that were the main aspect of this course ended up being a somewhat therapeutic part of my semester. I never expected to be writing a blog, and it was my first time writing about something that I was interested in rather than a report for school or work. I will be discussing what I experienced while running this blog, and how I felt throughout the process.

This course has filled a bit of a gap in creative need for me. The assignment to create a blog on something that we are interested in has been very refreshing. As mentioned above, I have never had the chance to write about something that I am passionate about before. Compared to many of the topics that I write about in most courses or at work, writing about my hobbies has been very enjoyable. Many of the ideas discussed in Corey Doctrorow’s article, The Memex Method (2021), resonated with me closely as I worked through my blog posts and updates. The nucleation of my ideas, that being the development of coherent thoughts and ideas based on pieces of information I have gained through my experiences, was something that was a major factor in my blog posts, and were a big reason that I enjoyed writing them. It wasn’t difficult to get my ‘thoughts onto paper’. While I wasn’t necessarily matching the pace laid out by the course, creating posts about games has allowed me to express myself in a way that I haven’t been able to before.

Regarding my blog, I decided to write about video games as they have been a very important part of my life over the past few years. While to many they may appear to be a simple hobby, video games have become an important stress coping mechanism to me in a way. The worlds within video games provide form of escape from the stresses of daily life, and were a big reason that my mental health remained intact through the duration of COVID-19. I posted reviews on the games I had played over the past few years, and I intended for these to be engaged with by other young adults and older teens. I wrote my reviews and recommendations in hopes that a reader may take interest in a game or two and that they may get the same enjoyment from them that I did. I also wanted to point out some of the games that I played that I would suggest others stay away from.

One of the most interesting topics that we explored in this class was design. While I didn’t necessarily agree with everything he said, Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse by Travis Gertz (2015) was an extremely thought provoking article. The idea that we have become mechanical in our design process is absolutely true. As the internet has aged, there have been many winning formulae for website design. The current design trends on the internet are typically minimalistic, boxy, and feature substantial white space and imagery – creating a clean and professional look. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with people mimicking successful design strategies. With that being said, I have come to understand that there is room for much more creativity if one allows themselves to stray from the beaten path. I used a template for the design of my website and based my design imagery and layout on a combination of themes from other video game websites and events. If I were to build a website in the future, I would likely try to find a graphic designer to work with to add a bit more personality to my website.

Another piece of the course that captivated my interest was Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I knew of bits and pieces of how it works, but I never truly understood its importance until reading the article 15 Reasons Why Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO by Sam Hollingsworth (2021). As someone who has worked closely with Google Ads in the past, I assumed that marketing played a much larger role in website traffic. That assumption was because I only had access to Google optimization information, and not Google Analytics data for our clients. Learning that more traffic comes from organic search than paid promotion was quite shocking. Keeping up with SEO best practices is vital if one wants their website to remain in public view. Upon reading this article, I was drawn to think about what was discussed by Gertz (2015) once more. Straying from common SEO principals with regard to website structure and user experience will result in a lower rating in a search engine’s algorithm. Finding the happy middle, in which a website has its own unique structure and feel while maintaining SEO standards is something that would be fascinating to explore in the future.

This course has completely changed my understanding of publication. It was not something that I had even attributed to the internet previously, as I assumed that publishing was strictly related to books. Learning about creating and designing a website has been an immensely fulfilling experience, and having an understanding of WordPress mechanics will be a great addition to my professional skillset. If anyone from class is reading this, put WordPress on your resume. It is honestly such an asset and many employers will look for it across a variety of industries.

Looking ahead, I am not sure what my plans are for my online self-presentation. I will likely continue this blog for a short while as creating posts about games has become somewhat therapeutic. I may extend my online self further by creating videos or streaming. As I will be graduating in the next while, I will be getting a sudden influx of free time, and a creative outlet would be an excellent way to use that time.

Essay #2 – My Experience as an Online Publisher

My experience with online publishing through this course has been quite the adventure so far. As the semester wraps up, I am able to reflect on the work I’ve done and see how my online presence has developed. I remember when PUB 101 first started, it was overwhelming in a sense, as we were tasked with building a website from a clean slate. With no real structure and limited guidance, it was a completely different experience than any other course I’ve taken. It seemed impossible at first, it was challenging to even figure out a starting point. 

I chose to develop my publication on the topic of cars. As you’ll learn when you read through my blog posts, I hold the topic of cars very close to my heart. Cars are more than just cars to me, they’re engineering marvels with individual characters. My goal with this blog was to try and express my take on why cars are more than just tools to transport you from point-a to point-b. I approached this in a style which aimed at being welcoming and interesting. I imagined my public to be those who don’t see cars the same way I do. If there’s one thing I learned throughout my years of being obsessed with cars, it’s that not everybody feels the same way. In fact, most people don’t understand the obsession at all. I understand this and see it as a fun challenge. I enjoy teaching people about cars and trying to convince them where I’m coming from. 

I aim to provide entertainment through my blog, in hopes of creating a personal connection with the reader. One of my deeper goals when making this blog was to make the reader feel less alone. Cars are more than just machines, they can be methods of therapy. Throughout my life, cars have been there for me in my darkest times, and I hope that my stories open the eyes of my readers to the idea of this reality. The cover photo of my website, the picture of my car in Porteau Cove actually has a far deeper meaning than just the face value of the photo. That photo was taken at probably 7 or 8 in the morning of Tuesday, January 25th (the day of our first in-person PUB 101 class). Why was I in Porteau Cove? I was having an awful night and needed to get away for a little bit. I set out of my home in New Westminster at about 11 pm the night before. I ended up in Porteau Cove after driving around at about 3 am. I sat there in my car and watched the sunrise, before heading back to the mainland to attend class. My car was there for me and provided me with the automotive freedom to decompress and relieve some of the stress that I was undergoing. Without that escape, it would’ve been a far more challenging night. 

What am I trying to get at here? My blog is more than just a face-value story-telling platform about cars. My underlying goal is to help my readers understand that there’s therapy in automotive freedom. When things aren’t going great, it’s therapeutic to get in your car and go for a drive. Cars make for excellent distractions through tough times. 

In terms of what I’ve learned about my audience through analytics, I haven’t had a whole lot of web traffic to track, but my average reader tends to stay on my website for a decent amount of time. This is refreshing to see, as it appears that my audience is connecting with my automotive adventures. I haven’t received any direct website comments, but the comments about my website through the peer-reviews have been insightful. 

Looking back, my thinking of publication has changed quite significantly. At first, I thought publishing had a solid structure, which would make it hard to set foot into the world of publication. I quickly learned that this is not the case, and there is lots of freedom in publishing. It’s been a fun process building my “online presence” and “cyber infrastructure.” I will admit that it was challenging to stay motivated at times. I related to what Gardner Campbell wrote in the 2009 paper entitled “A Personal Cyber Infrastructure.” There’s part of this work that states “sometimes progress is linear[,] sometimes progress is exponential.” I found this to be true within an online publishing context. Progress is challenging at times. However, when progress is made, I find the concept of “digital gardens” presented by Tanya Basu to be particularly applicable. With the development of my website, I’ve found that I’ve created my own “digital garden.”





Essay #2

We have learned how to create an online presence throughout this semester, and I believe that through “ChainStitch,” I have accomplished this. I have published new articles about every possible subject about fashion through my blog, and through this, I have learned how to find, relate to, and engage with my audience. An initial task to learn how to express my thoughts and interests professionally and engagingly has evolved into so many things for me, from learning about fashion through my research of my articles to job opportunities in the world of fashion.

When I began to create my publication, I was faced with choosing what subject my content focused on and how I would be presenting myself to my audience. Deciding how to “frame, curate, share, and direct (an) engagement stream” (Campbell) would be the first step in building my cyberinfrastructure. When choosing the topic on my blog, I chose one where I could speak on the topic with both passion and knowledge while still allowing myself to learn about the topic speaking on it. I also thought about how I would frame my digital garden; I knew I had a space where I could talk about my opinions about my interest rather than stating facts. I wanted my audience to understand that I am not above them, but instead we are equals, learning about this topic together(Suler 2004).

When I first began, I imagined my audience as those who were interested in fashion but had not been able to learn due to the elitism that the fashion community has. I decided to begin my first set of writings to be very basic, not using any jargon as not to alienate those who have not yet been introduced to the world of fashion. I would then begin using more niche terms and writing about more complex topics that would require past knowledge or reading my previous articles. I then realized that my audience was far more vast than previously thought. I saw those who didn’t even care about fashion, people who have worked in the industry for years, or people who knew far more than me. I saw how my blog was not for those who wanted to learn about fashion but rather for people who wish “to see and be seen, to socialize, and t feel as if they have the freedoms to explore a world beyond”(Boyd 2014)

If my blog were to be about fashion, I thought it important for my website to be very visually appealing. I used earth tones which recently have been extremely popular in manner, I added a playlist that ties into my blog. I also added a list of interesting pieces which I update regularly. Taking what I learned from Lecture Six (Designing yourself), I focused on my blog being simplistic with a consistent and unified design while still easy to use. Using what was established in class, I understood that most readers would only view one to two pages. Using this I used pictures and bold heading to help grab my audience’s attention, allowing for more engagement.

To address my audience directly, I thought it would be essential to have a casual conversational tone in most of my pieces. This helps establish a solid relationship with my audience as they know who they are listening to rather than some faceless, nameless entity. By using everyday language, I feel that it creates a mismatch with the serious tone that high fashion has. This helps break the stigma of my topic while fostering a community of respect between the creator and audience. I also added my personal social media to the site to put a face and personality to my blog, so my audience could better relate to me.

My thinking about publication has significantly changed since taking this course. At first, I had a straightforward and minimal understanding of how to relate to an audience. I was nervous and wary of putting my fashion knowledge to the test by showing it to an audience. Still, after receiving feedback from my peers and my audience, my confidence in the online presence I have created and in myself has grown dramatically. While I won’t be continuing with this blog in the future, I believe I have gotten so much out of this, the most important being an actual career in fashion. Through my blog, I was connected with an individual who works in fashion design. They saw my blog and offered me an apprenticeship in design. I believe this shows how a robust online presence can reach thousands of individuals you would have never met in real life.

In Conclusion

I chose to build a website designed around publishing material that humanizes the homeless and street-involved community. The decision to write about the folks I work with on the downtown eastside came easily. Given the rapport that I have built with these folks who have been discounted and dehumanized by society, my perspectives and insights are both uniquely interesting and valuable. Initially, my goal was to address the public instead of a public, meaning my content was meant to create a discourse that everyone would participate in. This goal was a lofty one, almost unachievable, certainly not in the scope of 12 weeks after building up a beginner website from scratch. Throughout the scope of the course, I specified this public to Vancouver BC, where my perspectives and narratives were created, and continue to be built up and adjusted. While this is still an enormous public to be addressing, humanizing the homeless and substance-dependent communities truly requires a large-scale societal shift in which all members of the public are invested in. 

To reach this broad and diverse population I have used a number of different tactics and forms of media. I have posted education material, written personal narratives, and linked out to literature and reading material which goes into more depth than I. Each of these posts worked towards the goal of supporting and helping people in humanizing the homeless community and people who use drugs. The Venn diagram of people who use drugs and people experiencing homelessness – particularly chronic homelessness tends to be relatively plump. In terms of design choices, I tried to use photos that elicited feelings of discomfort and forced people to reflect on their role in the dehumanization of the street community. This (of course) avoided the exploitation of homeless people for sensationalist clicks and instead used art murals (pictured below).

Outside of other students enrolled in the course, my blog has gained little traction (not surprising over the course of 12 weeks). However, it is still in its early stages, and I intend to continue cultivating it. If nothing else, it is a useful tool for processing events transpiring at work, and I will keep it alive as my own “digital garden” of urban chaos and humanity.

If this website were to truly take off, and reach the eyes and minds of the general public, the value would be immeasurable. If nothing else, I would be capitalizing on the shrinking space on the internet dedicated to democratic writing, providing an important alternative to the current “two-party system” so to speak which dictates how homeless and drug-involved persons are conceptualized. I’ll expand. The dominant discourse of homelessness and addiction is often clinical, derived from research aiming to support policy to mitigate the crisis of homelessness (an important task!) Here is an example of a paper looking at homelessness from a pathological perspective. At the other end of the spectrum, homelessness is often used to sell sensationally violent or tragic stories in the media. Mental health crises and episodes of psychosis are used for shock value, to get clicks and attention from a sheltered public. This facet of discourse about homelessness is harmful, backing the public perception of the homeless community as volatile and dangerous, which fuels ostracization and stigmatization. I am choosing to not link out to any of this content. Other sensationalist stories of homelessness focus on the tragedy of the crisis, focusing on the tragic and avoidable deaths associated with living on the street. What I am providing is a third perspective, reminding people that homeless people are people just like you and me. This is not meant to dismiss the urgency of mental health emergencies, or replace the importance of clinical research. Indeed, this humanizing approach is an essential complement to dealing with the crises of homelessness and addiction. Forming relationships based on mutual respect is a precursor to providing assistance to someone in this situation.

Moving past my personal blog and towards my broader sense of self as a publisher and user of different internet spaces, this course has changed my perspective a fair bit. Moving forward, I would like to be more mindful and critical of the content I take in, how it may be affected by filter bubbles, and the impacts I have on the content others see through my engagement with content online. For example, interacting with videos exploiting homeless people (“I gave a homeless man 1000$ and followed him for 6 hours to see what he’d spend it on”) only expands the market for that kind of content. In the interest of combatting the filter bubble algorithm and of not becoming trapped in a cycle of reinforcing beliefs and views, I have begun to diversify the perspectives which fill my timelines and expand the networks from which I get my news from.

Essay 2

Since attending my first PUB 101 class, my view on publishing has been greatly expanded. Gone are my thoughts of if you write it someone will read it. After watching Julie and Julia, my expectation of blogging was that it would be easy and if you create a blog, there will be readers out there who want to read you content. That was a very mistaken view.

Since attending all the classes and reading the readings, I’ve come to realize, that competition is fierce in the online space. One’s site must be concise, targeted, and well designed. Never would I have though that “white space is just as important as user flow” (Gertz, 2015) This really shows how important it is to chose and audience and design a site that is targeted and valuable to readers.

When I created my publications, it was designed to be a lifestyle blog. I never thought that this would become a digital garden like the one described in the MIT paper. I was expecting it to be almost like a diary of what I do on a weekly basis and it somehow morphed into a construction blog.  This was the point where I realized that my life was being overrun by my home construction projects. At this point, I changed the name of the blog, the layout, and the design. This plays into the idea of the digital garden because the whole idea of a digital garden is that it can “grow and change, and that various pages on the same topic can coexist” (Basu, 2020). I kept the design simple, easy to navigate, and clear of any crazy design elements. This is due to my imagined audience of people who are homeowners or DIY doers who are looking for people who have been crazy enough to tackle their own renovation projects. I designed my site to be a place where users can see what mistakes I’ve made, and what mistakes they shouldn’t make. I’ve included a vast majority of my lessons learned in the blog and mistakes made. I believe that once people see what I have done and how I’ve messed up, they do not make the same mistakes I do, or at the very least, they know what they are getting into before anything starts. What I have learned from my site thus far, is that a majority of my visitors are in the 25-35 age group, most of them are returning visitors, and there is a high bounce rate. I think this may be due to the overcrowded nature of the home page, but my theme does not allow me to reduce the clutter. Although the bounce rate may be high, I think I am succeeding in capturing my target audience. The age group is in line with what I was expecting as these are the people newly stepping into home ownership and making changes to their homes.

In terms of thinking about how my view of publication has changed, I never thought about how blogs could be monetized. I had always had an idea of sites having blogs to improve their SEO performance and what not, however, using blogs the other way for ads and links was not something I had considered. I am not a frequent reader of blogs, nor have I ever written any pieces, so I was not familiar with the idea of ads and blogs. However, since reading the Tumblr advertising paper, I noticed that not only have I read blogs, I have also fallen for the affiliate marketing in these blogs. I read food recipes all the time and when these sites link to ingredients or cookware, I almost always go to the store looking for these items as I do not cook often and I do not know what can be substituted and what tools are unnecessary. I find this form of advertising to be more effective, because not only do I not feel like I am being marketed to, display ads can created the connotation of the site not putting  “the reader’s best interests first” (Bleymaier, 2013). With the teachings in this course, I feel like I am more aware of the internets uses and how businesses can monetize sites and exploit readers. I am more cautious of how I use the internet and I will think twice before making purchases or decisions. My blog will come to an end with the course, as I finish the course I am also coming to completion on my project. I will not have any new content to write about and I believe I am not the type of person who is cut out for blog writing.


My Experience in PUB101

Since enrolling in PUB101, everything I thought I knew about publication has been expanded. I have learned so much about how much effort goes into creating a website. From branding to content, and advertising, there are so many aspects that are vital to a blog. I had to come up with a topic to write about, then how to identify and engage my audience, and how to understand my website analytics. This essay will reflect on how and what I have learned while establishing my presence as an online publisher over the past semester. 

Since the beginning of the term, I have been working to develop consistent branding, content, and cultivating my digital garden. In other words, space where I can focus on what I would like to research, rather than catering to a large audience (Basu, 2020). A digital garden is more about creating a niche to call my own (Basu, 2020). I did not struggle to set up my site at first. However, after receiving feedback from tutorials and peer reviews, many of my classmates found my blog a bit confusing and busy. I was quite happy with it up until that point, but I knew there must be a way to please both myself and my audience. Around week 7, I tried to work more on branding and completely changed the theme on my site. Fortunately, there are now many more options for customization. I decided to make my blog all about reviewing albums because I do a lot of research into music on my own time. I figured turning a hobby into productive schoolwork would be a win-win. While researching albums I reviewed, I learned more about each artist and found even more music I enjoy. In the first lecture, it was stressed to base my blog on a hobby or interest I already have, as it would make posting about it each much easier. I thought about doing album reviews because I knew it would be sustainable, there are so many albums out there. I believe that the content I have put out over the term has been consistently good because I have enjoyed writing all of my posts.

Over the term, I have not had much engagement on my site, besides my classmates. Ideally, my audience would be composed of individuals who have an interest in music. The albums I have reviewed are mostly from the 2010s, with a few exceptions. However, their genres are relatively expansive in hopes to garner an audience of individuals with different tastes in music. This would allow for constructive debates about albums, where my audience could propose their opinions and perceptions of the albums I have reviewed. According to Nancy Fraser’s article Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy, any media that provokes social interactions could have its own public. Meaning, if I were able to garner a wider audience, their comments and discussions with one another would be enough to create my own little public. In an attempt to address my audience, I incorporate links to my current favorite music, as well as the albums I review in every blog post. I provide in-depth knowledge on popular albums to educate my audience on why or why not I think they are good projects. In terms of analytics, I have found that the majority of my audience visits my home page or PUB101 page, usually the days before class. I have found that most people come to my page to look at assignments for class, rather than the reviews I post each week.

I never realized how expansive the term publication is until I enrolled in this course. Originally, when thinking of publication, I thought about print or books. Now I realize that there are so many different aspects in publication. I now know that publication is the creation of a public through the circulation of text, a digital commons where discussions take place (Stadler, 2009). My online self is already fairly expansive in terms of my personal social media. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, VSCO are all platforms that I use consistently. I hope to continue taking publishing courses, and will likely continue posting on my blog, as it is something I have come to genuinely really enjoy. In the future, I hope to be able to expand my blog a little bit, incorporating more than just reviews. Overall, I hope to continue portraying myself as authentically as possible online. 

Although developing my website has been a lot of work, and still needs some tweaking, I am extremely proud of the content and design of my blog. From cultivating its overall look to putting in work each week to produce the best album reviews I could, this is a project I hope to expand. With it, my online identity, which I am constantly working to put forth my most authentic self. I am excited to see what the future holds for my blog and to see it grow to its full potential.


The Journey of Creating JaapsFilm

JaapsFilm is a blog dedicated to the unheard stories behind film photos. It was derived from PUB 101 where I got the opportunity to create my own publishing domain on WordPress.’Publication of Self in Everyday Life 101′ has been a wonderful experience for me. It has been a source of creativity and opportunity where my ideas flourished. My blog is based on a diverse range of interests and passions such as photography, storytelling combined with my lifestyle. I knew I wanted to make my blog personal in order to connect with my audience at a profound level. JaapsFilm was developed with the plan in mind to create a blog that I would personally want to read and be interested in. Looking back, I vividly remember the anxiety I had at the beginning of the semester from the uncertainty about the future of JaapsFilm. I was so worried about the big picture that the process of creating JaapsFilm became overwhelming. My experience as an online publisher has definitely been a constant learning experience but I can say that JaapsFilm has bought my visions and ideas to life.

I’ve always been passionate about taking film pictures from a young age and I’m grateful that I finally had a space to share my work with others. JaapsFilm is all about engaging my viewers with informative yet enthralling content while personalizing each blog post because after all, my website is a lifestyle blog. The core focus was to create a space where everyone is welcomed despite their age, race, gender identity, etc. My design and editorial decisions have been heavily based on my perception of my imagined audience. I tried to make everything super accessible but primarily, my goal has always been to capture the attention of my audience with breathtaking photos. In an effort to cultivate my digital garden of different ideas, interests, and passions that I had learned throughout my life I knew that I needed to provide original content.

My idea of publication has profusely evolved from what it was at the beginning of the semester. Originally, I had thought online publishers create content and share it online which I was not wrong about however, there is so much more to online publishing than that. Online publishers need to take into account numerous factors before producing original content. These factors will be subsequently discussed as you proceed in the essay. Additionally, I had learned that my creative process was linked to Tanya Basu’s week four reading, “Digital gardens let you grow your own little bit of the internet” (Basu, 2020).

Creating an online presence and expanding it is a difficult task. In order to do this, it is crucial to plan strategies, build a social media presence, and most importantly develop an audience base. To be quite frank, I am still not where I had envisioned to be in terms of reaching my targeted audience online. However, I was able to identify who my public is and I believe that is the first step in establishing a strong audience presence. This was done through google analytics, connecting with my viewers, using social media, and producing content that intrigued my viewers. Through google analytics, I was able to find insight into my viewer’s usage, behavior, background, and that has assisted me in improving the experience of my visitors. Knowing the exact number of visitors on my site, where they are coming from, which device they are using has been critical for Jaapsfilm (Akhtar, 2020). As of now, I know through google analytics that my audience is primarily from Canada, 63% are returning to view my site, an average viewers session on my site lasts for about four minutes, etc. Moreover, when my viewers comment on my posts I am able to connect with them on a deeper level and I then use that information to produce better content. These comments help me adapt to the needs, wants, and understand the reactions of my audience which has significantly aided me in staying relevant. Recently, I had added social media outlets such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook to my site after learning that in order to generate the maximum amount of engagement, a story must reach consumers across all the devices and platforms they use (Heyes, 2019). On the other hand, my imagined public has been individuals who are interested in the stories I share about the photos I have taken. Since I truly believe that a single photo has the ability to ignite a powerful emotion that can make one feel connected to the moment that was captured.

The ultimate purpose of JaapsFilm is to give something of value to my readers to hold on to. I believe that could be accomplished if one is truly passionate about something. In my case, I deliver value to my readers through photography as I create a space for my readers to build a connection with a past moment despite them being present in that specific instance or not.

Looking forward, I want to significantly expand my social media presence on various platforms. I want to take JaapsFilm to the next level and work towards my big goal which is to give my audience valuable content. I believe trusting the process and moving forward one step at a time will lead me to my envisioned digital garden. After all, digital gardens are adjusted and modified on a regular basis to reflect growth and learning (Basu, 2020).


Akhtar, A. (2020, December 8). How Does Google Analytics Work? Complete Beginners Guide [Updated]. MonsterInsights. https://www.monsterinsights.com/how-does-google-analytics-work-beginners-guide/

Basu, T. (2020, September 3). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/

Heyes, S. (2019b, November 13). Transmedia Storytelling & Digital Marketing – 8MS Blog. 8 Million Stories (8MS). https://8ms.com/blog/transmedia-storytelling-importance-digital-marketing/#:%7E:text=In%20order%20to%20generate%20the,why%20transmedia%20storytelling %20is%20important.

Zenmedia_Admin. (2020, October 16). The Importance of Connecting With Your Audience in Marketing. Zen Media. https://zenmedia.com/blog/the-importance-of-connecting-with-your-audience-in-marketing/#:%7E:text=Connecting%20to%20your%20audience%20will,in%20order%20to%20stay%20. relevant.

Essay #2

Over the last semester, I have gotten to build and grow my website, Brooke Reads Books. This was a really interesting experience for me, as I have always wanted to try blogging but never made the leap. Although there is so much back-end customization that goes into a website, it’s not as scary as it seems, and the most important thing is to start sharing content. I’ve enjoyed getting to cultivate a “digital garden”, a space of my own on the Internet (Basu, 2020, para. 3). 

My website is for book lovers or for people who are wanting to get into reading books. I decided to do a mix of blog posts, some being book reviews and other being articles relating to books, such as new releases for 2021 or gifts for book lovers. I thought this would be a good way to reach an audience that wants book reviews or who wants book related content but aren’t completely interested in the books I have reviewed. Gifts for book lovers could also potentially reach an audience that doesn’t usually read but was wanting to buy something for someone else, and then potentially while on the site they could have found a book they might have been interested in themselves. 

I hope that an audience would find value in my website for all things books. For book reviews, I would be going up against Goodreads which someone might first turn to for a book review, but hopefully they would find value in my blog posts as well. I’ve also linked all the book titles to go directly to the book on Indigo so they could purchase it easily if they wanted to. I hope my other articles are also useful to an audience to find book related information that may be more effort for them to search for, such as gift ideas or upcoming releases. I was inspired by the Digital Garden reading for this, stating that my site can be not “the definitive source, just a source” (Basu, 2020, para. 8). I hope that book readers looking for different opinions and reviews on books may find mine helpful, even though it is just my personal opinion.

Over the last month in Google Analytics, I have had 66 users come to my site. I thought this would mostly be clicks from other Pub 101 students, but I had 17 Canadian users and 48 Americans on my site. I would be interested in continuing to track this long term and learning more about my audience. I wasn’t able to collect enough data to see the age or gender statistics. I think tracking this longer term would be very interesting to get a sense of who my audience actually is. For my imagined audience, I figured that most would be girls, as the books I am reviewing are usually marketed towards girls, as well as my website having a “girly” theme. I think the age range of my imagined audience would be teen girls to young women, in the 15-29 age range. This is because that is also the age range for most of the books I am reviewing. 

I think that the past 13 weeks of creating this website has been a really interesting challenge. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create a website, design elements that are important, search engine optimization, and other little things I wouldn’t have thought about for creating a website, like the importance of linking out and how important fonts are. I’d like to continue to learn more about SEO and Google Analytics for the future. Since I focused most of this class on making my blog look how I wanted it to and creating content I thought was important, I would like to explore more of how to promote and market it in the future. A goal of mine would be to get my blog posts into the first page of Google search results. Currently I have found that one of my blog posts is at the top of the second page on Google results, I would be interested in learning in-depth about search engine optimization and applying it to my blog post to get it to the front page. Hollingsworth (2018) states that the first three positions on the front-page result in 40 percent of click-throughs, while up to 30 percent after that will not get clicked at all (para. 54). I need to focus on SEO in order to rank higher on google search results, so I can get more organic website viewers. 

Creating a website and posting on it weekly is a great learning lesson, and I think it would benefit any student to do this, not just one that is planning on a career in publishing or communications. Campbell (2009), lists some of the benefits to students having a personal cyberinfrastructure, such as technical skills, multimodal writing, social networking, and more (para. 7). Learning to be a digital citizen is very important for students, and I think this has been a very beneficial class. This has prepared me for “creative and responsible leadership” for my future (para. 9). 

Having a website domain is a great way for students to create a portfolio to take with them. When their assignments are posted on their own website, they are able to take the work with them and carry it through their education and future work experience (Watters, 2015, para. 6). It can show the progression of a student’s learning progress, rather than just grades locked in a school system (para. 19). As a communications student, it is very important for me to have a portfolio of writing and design work I have done. I think creating a website is a great way to carry this with me and has been a great opportunity to practice writing samples and get experience with WordPress and Google Analytics. 

 I think I would like to continue to blog, but I may change it up slightly. I think the book reading niche was a great way to get started and to create for this class, but I would be interested in writing different content in the future, maybe on a separate website. The freedom to write and create whatever I want is something I liked the most about this class, it is my own personal digital garden that doesn’t follow any rules (Basu, 2020, para. 6). I will definitely be taking the knowledge I have learned from this class and using it in some sort of digital garden somewhere in the future. 


Basu, T. (2020, September 03). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/

Campbell, G. (2009, September 4). A personal cyberinfrastructure. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

Hollingsworth, S. (2018, April 13). 12 reasons why your business absolutely NEEDS SEO. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from https://www.searchenginejournal.com/why-seo-is-important-for-business/248101/#close

Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The web we need to give students. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x

The post Essay #2 appeared first on Home.

Twitter as a source for political discourse

It is no secret that social media has impacted almost every aspect of our lives. Whether social media is used for shopping, communicating, job searching, or receiving the news, it is an integral part of our everyday life. In this essay, I want to delve deeper into how social media platforms create a space for political dialogue going beyond traditional news outlets. I will be looking specifically at how social media has initiated a modernized way to acquire and spread the news. As of late last year, “18% of U.S. adults say they turn most to social media for political and election news…[which is] on par with the percent who say their primary pathway is cable television (16%) or local television (16%)” (Mitchell et al., 2020, para. 4). Therefore, it is safe to say that it has fundamentally affected political information consumption. Furthermore, I will be looking explicitly at the platform Twitter, discussing both positive and negative effects the site has on producing, curating, and disseminating the news.

Firstly, I will provide a brief background on Twitter as this will provide context for why I chose this specific platform. Twitter is a microblogging service known for its “limited nature of the onscreen input field that allows users to send messages no longer than 140 characters” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 232). A microblog is a further development of a blog. A blog is a website that contains periodically published postings organized so that shown first are newer postings. A microblog allows for one to share short messages with other users and the public. Fuchs (2014) states that a microblog entails three distinctive characteristics, including (1) users having a public profile where they broadcast short public messages/updates […] (2) messages become publicly aggregated together across users; (3) users can decide whose messages they wish to receive, but not necessarily who can interact with their content (p. 8). Weblogs have “come of age, enabling anyone with the will or desire to communicate with other like-minded individuals at relatively little or no cost” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 231). All these characteristics allow for the perfect platform for people to post information and content regarding political discourse. And an excellent site for further inquiry into the affordances and shortcomings that social media has on the political dissertation. Furthermore, I chose Twitter because it is the platform from where I receive my news. 

Now, I will look at the shortcomings of Twitter as a source for political discourse. A critical element to take into consideration is the echo chamber effect. Twitter is said to be a “modern public square where many voices discuss, debate and share their views” (Wojcik & Hughes, 2019, para. 1). However, it is also well-established that Twitter echo chambers are real when it comes to political affiliation. The term echo chamber refers to “the context of social media, situations where users consume content that expresses the same point of view that users themselves hold or express” (Garimella, 2018, p. 2)

A study found that Twitter users are, to a considerable degree, exposed to political opinions that agree with their own. An algorithmic code runs Twitter, meaning that Twitter suggests topics based on what it thinks someone likes. When someone follows a Topic, related tweets, users, events, and ads will appear in their home feed. Your feed is curated specifically for you, which can be a bad thing. An example of this regarding political affiliation is that if you lean towards a specific side, chances are Twitter already knows that and filters content that caters to your beliefs only. For instance, take the topic of abortion. If you are, pro-life it is almost a guarantee that your feed will only provide news relevant to that point of view. Taking all this into consideration creates concerns that citizens are becoming more polarized about political issues. If the algorithm only feeds you content that expresses only opinions you agree with, it limits your abilities to gain a multiperspective view of the world. Overall, it is evident that Twitter and its echo chamber do not allow for learning a diverse and broad set of general political news that can be troublesome.

Now that I have discussed some shortcomings, it is only fair that I give credit where it is due. There is no dispute that social media can add an “extra dimension to reporting breaking news events” (Jewitt, 2009, p. 232). One affordance Twitter has, is being able to grant instantaneous sharing of current events and news stories. Twitter is a real-time global communications platform, and this is where its comparative advantage lies. Also, Twitter is known to have beaten traditional mainstream news outlets to breaking stories. Another positive aspect of Twitter concerning political discourse and producing, curating, and disseminating the news is the user’s ability to become producers. Social media in the web 2.0 era has allowed users to become more than just passive listeners, but rather producers of content. You do not need a journalism degree to voice your opinion or be involved in political topics online. You can be a part of the conversation, actively posting, sharing and interacting with other users. Although not everyone will view it due to the echo chamber effect, your contribution to political discussion is still valid and worthy of recognition. 

I argue that social media platforms such as Twitter are great additions to current traditional news outlets. However, they should not entirely replace them as sites for political information consumption and dialogue. Highlighted in this essay are both affordances and drawbacks of Twitter in political discourse. Although it gives everyone an equal opportunity to spread their message and produce original content, it can also seclude people from interacting with other viewpoints. 


Fuchs, C. (2014). Twitter and Democracy: A New Public Sphere? Social Media: A Critical Introduction, 179–209.

Garimella, Kiran, Morales, Gianmarco De Francisci, Gionis, Aristides, & Mathioudakis, Michael. (2018). Political Discourse on Social Media: Echo Chambers, Gatekeepers, and the Price of Bipartisanship.

Jewitt, R. (2009). The Trouble with Twittering: Integrating Social Media into Mainstream News. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 5(3), 233.

Mitchell, A., Jurkowitz, M., Oliphant, J. B., & Shearer, E. (2020, July 30). Americans Who Mainly Get Their News on Social Media Are Less Engaged, Less Knowledgeable. Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. https://www.journalism.org/2020/07/30/ 

Sehl, K. (2020, May 20). How the Twitter Algorithm Works in 2020 and How to Make it Work for You. Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard. https://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-algorithm/. 

Wojcik, S., & Hughes, A. (2019, April 14). Sizing Up Twitter Users. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/04/24/sizing-up-twitter-users/. 

Essay 2: Looking Back On A Blog for Life Livers

Week 12 Final Assignment For PUB 101

Throughout the  fall semester of 2020, I had the experience to create my own publishing domain on wordpress for PUB 101. If you haven’t guessed it already, the website you are currently reading this reflection on is the very website that I am talking about. My publication was formed with the idea in mind of creating the type of blog that I would personally want to read. With that as a guideline, I based my blog around a multitude of different avenues passions and interests, but mainly followed the theme of a creative adventure blog with an emphasis on living a holistic, well rounded, and happy life. Through this process I learned a lot about what it takes to create a public space, how hard it is to be creative and original in the digital world, how to engage with an online public by responding and adapting to feedback, and about myself as a digital media user. 

Part One: What Do I Even Blog About??

The first steps of my creative process began with our first course assignments where I created a vision board to outline the general “idea” of my website. During this process I pulled inspiration from different Instagram pages and YouTube videos. Both of these content sources came from pages that exuded “vibes” of living in the moment, pushing yourself in outdoorsy sports, adventuring, surrounding yourself with good friends, and having an optimistic and laid back life view. This all may sound slightly broad and general to you. I thought so too. Which is what brought me to the idea of “A Blog for Life Livers”, Where I could be as broad as I wanted by combining all of the things that moved into the general theme of a “life well lived” (hence my website’s tagline).

The first step in the creative process: Week 1 Vision Board

The second thing that I came to realize was that in order to create my own “original” content that I was cultivating my own garden of different ideas, styles, and passions that I have absorbed throughout my life and inspire me. I was able to explore this idea further in my week five process post “Digital Dressing up: Reflection” where I explain that “I decided to create my online identity for my blog in a way that invited all who simply live life to take whatever it is they need from a wide variety of content. Whether it was stories, videos, poems, or random photography from experiences and adventures, that there would be something for everyone”. During the process of creating my online self, the “voice” that came from the cultivation of my personal digital garden was a projection of the things that moved me and were the source of inspiration of what I chose to display on my website (Basu, 2020). I found that I related my creative process to our week four reading from Tanya Basu “Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet”  in a sense that the projection of my online self became a “digital garden” that “explores a wide variety of topics that are adjusted and changed to show growth and learning” (Basu, 2020). By being able to pull from multiple different channels of inspiration such as Instagrammers and youtube channels, I was able to create a space that was my own rendition of the pieces of media that move me. For instance, I drew great inspiration for my blog through a five minute YouTube video released this October 2020 of a young skier who has a passion for skiing and an unbelievable zest for life (embedded below). Content such as this fuelled my desire to create my own digital garden that moved others similar to how this short clip moved me. 

The clip that kindled the stoke and started it all:
Trenton Gravity Research. “Kai 3.0: Thirteen-Year-Old Skier Kai Jones Takes Flight at Jackson Hole”. October, 20, 2020. https://youtu.be/Q52poh9Hq6I

Part Two: The Blog in Action

Once I sorted through the first twists, turns, and speedbumps of learning to use wordpress and turning my ideas into digital content, I was able to put my blog into action. I imagined my public to be a demographic of teens/ young adults/ adults ranging from 14-30. I also imagined my public to be similar to that of the heavily engaged public of Instagram. This is due to the fact that pages with similar adventure/wellness/holistic living ~aesthetics~ normally attract that age demographic. I worked to address my public through multiple channels of media in attempts to “enhance (fan) engagement and expand our understanding of the original” as introduced by Henry Jenkins from his article “The Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven Principles of Transmedia Storytelling (Well, Two Actually. Five More on Friday)”. Jenkins’ idea of the “original” pertains to the general essence of adventure and holistic well being that I aimed to create on my blog by using different levels of Transmedia integration (Jenkins, 2009). I found this as a super fun and creative way of engaging my audience through different styles of editorial design and content. An example of this would be the addition of my “media gallery” on my site where I showcase different photos and videos that I have taken/ made that appear on the posts within my website. In addition to this, I was able to dive deeper into creating a digital space to “unwind” the mind by sharing pieces of my own creative writing through short stories and poetry. I found this to be one of my most favourite ways of putting my blog in action and found great creative energy in displaying a “life well lived” through written words. This sentiment seemed to be shared amongst my public of readers and page viewers as my peer reviews, comments section, and google analytics data all showed that my “short stories and poetry” posts were my most popular and well received. I found this to be an interesting development as in the beginning, I thought that the most “attractive” part of my blog would be the videos and photos that I posted and only intended to throw in a poem and a short story as a fun little side thing to keep my content diverse and fresh. I used this feedback and adapted my blog post style for the rest of the term, focusing more on creating more short stories and poetry such as “Magic: Sometimes Lost But Always Found”, “Rain Thoughts” and “The Sun’s Solace”. In addition to this, I received feedback from my peer reviews that spotlighted blog posts such as my “Forest Foraging” post where I talked about mushroom hunting and recipes for coastal BC Mushrooms. I was able to take this feedback and use it to inspire further blog posts similar to this one. Posts such as “Sounds for the Soul”, “Good Food, Good Life”, and “Self Care: Yoga & Mindfulness Tools” all followed the same idea of lifestyle/ wellness blog posts that gave readers tools and inspiration for a healthier and happier life (or“tools for a life well lived”). Through this process I learned that the blog posts that I was the most passionate about and allowed my personality and interests to roam freely were the most fun and easy to write, and it seemed as if my public could sense that too. 

Part Three: Main Takeaways

One of the largest takeaways from my publishing journey was from the reading “How I Got My Attention Back” by Craig Mod. This was a reading that was given to us early in the semester and ended up being a piece of content that I took to heart and explored further outside of the classroom. This was displayed in my two part process post series “How I Got My Attention Back” and “How I Got My Attention Back: The Debrief”. During the span of these two posts, I took a month long social media hiatus (inspired by Craig Mod’s article). This allowed me to learn about myself and my own dependence on social media and also allowed me to practice some of the “tools for a life well lived” that I preach on this blog. I was able to remove myself from the jaws of the online world and afterwards, was able to come back to my blog with a set of fresh eyes that had a whole new set of values towards social media use. This allowed me to reflect on the image that I created for myself online and solidify what I feel is the importance of creating a blog such as this one that puts emphasis on mindfulness, well being, and enjoying every moment that life has to offer you. Now that this class is over, I want to continue to use this blog. However, in what way, I am not quite sure. From this experience, I re-kindled my passion for writing short stories and poetry and am now considering transforming this lifestyle blog into more of an interactive “vault” or “collection” that showcases my artistic passions such as photography, cinematography, writing, and poetry. 

My social media hiatus that helped me discover me to the elixir of life and the meaning of social media

Works cited: 

Basu, Tanya. September, 5 2020. “Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet” MIT Technology Review.

Henry Jenkins. “The Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven Principles of Transmedia Storytelling (Well, Two Actually. Five More on Friday).” Henry Jenkins, Henry Jenkins, 12 Dec. 2009, henryjenkins.org/2009/12/the_revenge_of_the_origami_uni.html.

Mod, Craig. “How I Got My Attention Back.” Wired, Conde Nast, 22 Dec. 2018, www.wired.com/2017/01/how-i-got-my-attention-back/.

Trenton Gravity Research. “Kai 3.0: Thirteen-Year-Old Skier Kai Jones Takes Flight at Jackson Hole”. October, 20, 2020. https://youtu.be/Q52poh9Hq6I

Essay #2: The Conclusion of PUB 101

I always had an appetite for self-expression. In secondary school, I would post on multiple platforms including YouTube and Tumblr under a mysterious username. Although I constantly craved to speak my mind, I would always set my posts to private out of instinct. My self-expression was always limited to a privatized audience. This came as a result of being taught to keep things private online. In Danah Boyd’s book, It’s Complicated, she expresses the sentiment behind teaching the youth to be cautious online. She states that parents are usually concerned about their child’s online presence with worries that they might post something inappropriate or dangerous (Boyd, 2014, Searching for a Public of Their Own, para. 16). I was never posting anything harmful, but it was still a frightening thought to have something negative traced back to me in the real world. My past fears about having an online presence are important to recall when understanding how my habits have transformed throughout the semester.

PUB 101 forced me to defy the fears that I previously avoided. It troubled me to think about how others would perceive me online, so creating a public blog about myself was a significant disruption to the habits that I was normally comfortable with. The first disturbance came about when I was picking a blog name. It was such a critical decision to create a web domain that would last a year. Initially, I wanted my blog to be under a mysterious username, in the same degree as my old habits. However, I figured using my name would be my best bet at creating something unique. Since I was already taking a leap of faith by creating a blog in the first place, it didn’t seem too far off to also name it after myself. In hindsight, I’m surprised that I chose to post things under my real name where anyone could find me. This name choice was a shocking first step that paved the way for many other decisions because it went against all of the preconceived opinions that I had about creating an online presence.

After that first step, I decided to choose a blog theme. I wanted a theme that was minimalistic but also unique; something that wouldn’t take away from the content that I would post. I took a long meander through WordPress themes and initially settled on one of the lesser-known ones called ‘Pink Personal Blogily’. I enjoyed its simplicity, but I soon realized that this lone factor was its greatest downfall, since it lacked a number of customization features that I desired. Shortly after, I adjusted to the ‘Elfie’ theme. This theme allowed for the same minimalism but included more ways to customize features. I tried to keep in mind the design principles that were mentioned in class – balance, rhythm, proportion and scale, contrast and point of focus, and unity and harmony.

I was originally debating between two totally different blog topics – hockey or fashion. But since we’re in a global pandemic right now, the hockey season was constrained. With that being said, fashion was my best option. I consider myself to be heavily motivated by fashion influencers, so I thought it would be a good idea to experiment with fashion using my own personal twist. In “Digital Dressing Up: Modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere” by Tara Chittenden, she explained how many females, including myself, choose to express themselves using fashion blogs. Chittenden articulates, “The complex interplay between individuality and connectedness comes to the fore in the field of the fashion blog as teens trade cultural and social capital through processes of posting, linking, and commenting” (Chittenden, 2010, para. 14). This is extremely relevant to the way that I view large fashion influencers and the way that I strive to become one as well. Popularity amongst fashion influencers stems from the idea of following trends while also creating new trends to follow. When reflecting on my own blog posts, I recognize that I do a lot to make myself become a part of the fashion community, but I don’t do a lot in order to differentiate myself from other people.     

For the most part, I provide information about products, including reviews and dupes. When looking for influencers to follow, I usually follow people who also provide reviews and dupes. In that sense, I recreate the tactics that big influencers use so that I can garner growth similar to them. This concept can relate to the idea of copycat culture that Travis Gertz outlines in “Design Machines: How to survive in the digital apocalypse.” Gertz states, “When another company achieves success, there’s a lot of pressure to investigate what they did right and apply that to our own organizations” (Gertz, 2015, para. 24). Although this is a good way to start, I also realized throughout the semester that this tactic can quickly become a disadvantage. This downfall is because there are many people who already blog about fashion and do it better than me. At the end of the day, it becomes a question of who will choose to listen to my opinion over other influencers who have a larger following? The only way to win in this situation is to create something unique; something that I haven’t done enough of. I learned this by exploring the statistics provided by my audience. Most of the sessions on my blog are surface-level interactions, with no comments. Consequently, I still have a lot to learn about how to cater to my audience using Google Analytics.

My imagined audience is other fashion enthusiasts who have a similar style as me. Although this imagined audience is whom I would hope to reach, I presume that almost all of my real audience is actually students from PUB 101. I think it would be cool to reach more of my imagined audience in the future, but I also understand that doing so takes time and effort that I have yet to put in. Before this class, I thought it would be easy to create and maintain a blog. But I realized it takes a lot of work. There’s a big difference between having an idea and actually executing it with an audience in mind. I had endless ideas about what I could post, but the way that I imagined them in my head ended up being difficult to successfully market to an audience. Although this is the case, it’s a part of growth to understand what I enjoy posting and vice versa.

After this course, I will continue to blog. I will experiment more with catering content to my audience and trying to find ways to reach more people. It will be fun to look back on my content from the past and see how much I have grown from it. I gained unforgettable knowledge from this course that I know I will use in the future. Since I want to work in the marketing industry, it was fascinating to learn about content creation and analytics. It was a valuable experience to be able to casually experiment with ways to cater to an audience, especially because it is actually a lot harder than it seems. I also learned how to use many different tools like WordPress, Google Analytics, Canva, Pexels, and Unsplash. I will be delving deeper into these new tools to use in my work life.

Works Cited

Boyd, D. (2014). Searching for a public of their own. In D. Boyd, It’s Complicated (pp. 213-227).

Chittenden, T. (2010). Digital dressing up: modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere. Journal of Youth Studies, 505-520.

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

Essay #2: Self-Reflection

My Goal I joined Publication 101 to learn more about how to market myself online. As a business student who hopes to concentrate in marketing, I thought this class would be a great way for me to learn. This class had no boundaries or strict guidelines, I was given the freedom to do whatever I […]

Essay #2

The blog pengsphotos.com is a blog aimed at photography hobbyists who are interested in learning more and engaging with the online photography community. The blog includes stories from my own experiences, lessons from those stories, basic information to improve photos, intermediate photography skills, and some opinion pieces regarding photography values. The imagined audience would be beginners who are interested in learning as much as they can from others to improve their photography skills. The real audience is small but is comprised of hobbyists who enjoy reading about other’s experiences for the entertainment rather than the lessons.

This imagined audience is addressed through the writing of mostly jargon-free blog posts and stories that are written from my experience, I then turn around and attempt at relaying the lessons I learned from those experiences. Photos taken by me are included in the blog posts to further explain concepts and enhance stories to give them meaning. In terms of design, the blog is made to be minimalistic yet easy to navigate. Drop down menus are made for the subcategories of the course assignments, and a static home page with an interesting photo and a short introduction are used to welcome new and returning readers.

In terms of value, the site is created to entertain readers as well as inform. This could be referred to as edutainment, which is “education meant to be educational” (Merriam Webster n.d.). However, this specific blog is meant to be read as entertainment first and education second. Playful learning is the term used by Mitchel Resnick (2004) in “Edutainment? No Thanks. I Prefer Playful Learning” in the Associazione Civita Report on Edutainment to describe an alternative approach to learning. Not through educating and entertainment, but through the active and willing participation of learners to learn through play. An example on the blog being the stories of failure having entertainment value with the secondary benefit being lessons that the readers can take away to use in their photography.

The use of stories engages the readers and teaches them a lesson through playful writing to emphasize the amusing mistakes that I make. This allows the reader to be engaged rather than knowingly consuming education that’s delivered as “a bitter medicine that needs the sugar-coating of entertainment to become palatable” (Resnick 2004).

This value would be provided to the main audience, who are readers that willingly read stories related to photography in order to gain entertainment value from it, though are interested in learning new skills and methods as well. What was learned from Google analytics was that not many people are interested in reading the lessons written on the blog, but they would rather read stories that are written with entertainment as a priority. Given this though, not many people visited the blog, so more valuable conclusions are not available to be made since google analytics were implemented too late in the semester to gather more data.

In the beginning of the term, the blog was thought of as being a purely educational blog with entertainment being secondary to education. Posts written had a stiff feeling as they truly embodied Resnick’s metaphor of the bitter pill. As posts were written throughout the semester, they became more playful as the writing got easier and flow of language along with my voice became clearer and established itself.

My thinking about writing blog has changed in that It has gotten more fluid. Syed Balkhi (n.d) wrote on the blog Constant Contact several tips to write more engaging content for online blogs. One that I had used to improve my writing is the “three sentence rule” which is keeping paragraphs short to allow the reader to process information more easily. In the beginning, I wrote posts quite long when I thought of the blog as education primary, and as I used this advice, my posts became shorter and more focused on entertainment. I became a lot more comfortable writing and it ended up being fun for me!

Looking forward, I would like to develop my blog further and possibly start integrating videos online to share stories and video content. My online self after this course will be more casual with less of an emphasis of communicating concepts to others, but rather to communicate feelings and ideas or opinions. I would also like to work on my writing skills as well. I would like to be able to more easily communicate feelings to give my readers more context for mistakes and situations. An example of this would be to cause them second-hand embarrassment.

Works cited:

Balkhi, S. (2020, November 11). How to Craft Epic Blog Posts That Engage Readers and Keep Them Coming Back. Retrieved from https://blogs.constantcontact.com/engage-readers/

Edutainment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/edutainment

Resnick, M. (2004). Edutainment? No Thanks. I Prefer Playful Learning. Retrieved from https://llk.media.mit.edu/papers/edutainment.pdf

Essay #2

I wanted to build my publication around goalkeeping because it is what I typically do when I am not doing homework. I thought it would be fun to share some of the different drills and fitness that I have to do as a goalie I didn’t really think about my audience mostly because of the fact that it could interest a variety of people. Even those who are not necessarily athletic people or didn’t know a whole lot about soccer, it’s still a topic that could make anyone second guess skipping to a different site. When it came to the design of my website I wanted to portray that yes I am an athlete, but I am a female and I enjoy a lot of girly things, so when it came to the design I wanted the color theme and the layout of my website to show that femininity side of me, and I really enjoyed the result of the looks of my website.

As the term moved on, it became less about the fitness and drill aspect and more on what goes on inside of the head of a goalkeeper in different situations. I tried to plan out how I was going to film when it came to practices but there were times where we didn’t have anyone on the side to film, or the weather prohibited us from filming. Down the road if I want to continue to post on site, I think I would plan a little better and organize how and what I will film. In Shelby Carpenter’s article, she explained the difficulty in keeping up with content and how much to put out before you eventually run out of ideas. The way that I viewed this for my site, is that there are an infinite amount of drills and ideas for drills to put out onto the internet where it can be viewed by other young or older goalkeepers. It doesn’t just have to stop at goalkeepers or even athletes in general, there are people that can scroll and find a person who is flying through the air and catching a ball, falling on the ground with no hesitation towards the repercussions for their bodies. It is just a matter of whether the producer of the content can keep up and get the videos out there.

When the term publishing came to mind for me in the beginning of this term, I could only think of books and their publicists, movies, and businesses. After taking this class I didn’t realize that publishing could be such a broad term and are needed almost everywhere. Not to mention that I thought that I was pretty good at technology in the beginning of this semester and after having to create and manage a website, I found out that maybe I’m not the greatest. I found it interesting considering that these days we use technology in almost everything we do and to be offline is like going away to Mars (Mod). When it came to producing content it seemed like a good idea to view it as a social media account. Because everyone can attest to going onto various social media platforms a lot. My only problem was that I don’t post a lot on my social media accounts, I just go and browse to see what is going on in other people’s lives and have found a lot of respect for those who can just write so much content and stay on top of it.

I have not received any comments but I would like to keep it open because I think it could really help shape my website and people might bring up some good ideas. Of course there are going to be situations where people might comment some not so very nice things to say. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and have their own ways of carrying out what they want to say, technology has provided a way for us to say things with some anonymity therefore making it easier to say some things that probably shouldn’t be said face-to-face. That being said, after reading “The dark side of Guardian comments” I have seen ways to handle certain comments if they should ever get out of hand which I certainly hope they don’t.

Looking back I would say that I had this crazy way of thinking that publishing was this narrow term that applied to books and movies, etc. and it was more a peer review. Now I see that it is way, way broader than that and can be used in so many different aspects of lives. Moving forward my goal is to try and find time to continue to blog because it involves doing something active and fun for me. Overtime if the website turns out to be a success maybe I can get some sponsors like showing off goalie gloves, athletic wear, etc. I had a lot of fun experimenting with my website and seeing other classmates create great content too.


Carpenter, Shelby. “The Toast Is Toast: Literary Humor Site Shuts Down Over Ad Revenue Woes.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 May 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/shelbycarpenter/2016/05/13/the-toast-is-toast-and-its-devastating/?sh=15630d0948f6.

Gardiner, Becky, et al. “The Dark Side of Guardian Comments.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 12 Apr. 2016, www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/12/the-dark-side-of-guardian-comments.

Mod, Craig. “How I Got My Attention Back.” Wired, Conde Nast, www.wired.com/2017/01/how-i-got-my-attention-back/.

My Growing Online Presence

Essay II

wc – 890

Dec  08, 2020

Lisa Kakaraba Tswanya 

My experience as an online publisher is the topic matter of this paper. My first notable comment is that it is nothing like I thought it would be, I  thought it would be all fun and games with a platform to express myself but I didn’t account for the structure of some sort neither did I think about how the actual website would come to fruition. It is four months later and after getting many criticisms and advice I can finally say I am getting the hang of it. I never understood the point of a publishing class until I took PUB101 and now i see the significance of the class and i have gained great knowledge in the class 

My first task was figuring out what i would’ve liked to do with a site , and with all that was going on in the world i thought i owed it to myself to do something that is related to my identity , as a black international student/woman. My reasoning behind this was simple ; any chance to educate and teach someone about blackness was valid and i found a way to teach a whole class, I also remembered i had a knack for poetry and it was worth intehgrating it into my little cybe garden. “Everyone does their own weird thing” was a part of the Basu article we read earlier in the semester and i felt i had found mine.

Mark Bernstein said Gardens … lie between farmland and wilderness,” he wrote. “The garden is farmland that delights the senses, designed for delight rather than commodity.” my own little cybergarden tailored to teach and uplift  blackness  to hear the stories of those who were there before through my expression of poetry , In reality only if it was that easy.( Basu 2020)

I initially struggled making my blog my own as I had an idea but no execution on it and to top it all off I started building my site on a phone not a computer and this made my wordpress experience all the more “interesting”  I had to find a way  to make my site my own and still appealing to the readers. At this point  in the semester my readers were anyone as i mentioned in my week 6 process post  but as time went on i realised i had to have a niche  and it was black people , lost in westernization , lost in the effects of imperialism and colonialism , lost in the effects of slavery , trapped in an identity crises and needed help understanding themselves , understanding how the  world sees them and understanding who they really are .

Daynah boyd talks about this in her book searching for a public of her own  I tried to  make a networked audience and have reach to a connected group of people  she says “ networked publics serve as publocs that both rely on networked technologies and also network people into meaningful new imagined communities  in new ways. Publics are important , and not just for enabling political action but for also providing a mechanism through which we construct our social world, In essence publics are the fabrics of society” This is a view that i grew to hold, understand and respect because that is how my audience and public  formed the fabric in which my website ended up being made up of it showed me the realities that your audience  can affect your choices more than just your goals or plans aswell ( Boyd , 2014) 

This is the last week of school and with peer review i have been able to get the aid of my peers and i have been able to tap into their knowledge and be inspired by them. One of my  peers blogs in particular struck me as unforgettable and that is Milton Jang hsi site had alot of what i would like my site to embody , it featured a portfolio with his pieces and he worked on his website endlessly from his constant growth to his organizational tactics i loved it and that is why he is one of my sources he thought me something about marketability , he worked on his personal brand and he excelled  and that is how you market a personal blog like his and mine.  I got this quote from miltons peer review of my blog Gary Vaynerchuk  said  process of marketing yourself especially for more personal sites like poetposits  involves building up your personal brand. 

As for the future i have decided to keep working on my blog  and use it as a place of refuge for my feelings and poems for the rest of the year ,  I will work with all the tools ive been given in this class to ensure success of my website and I will channel myself more into it  I only wished that I had seen this website as an extension of myself all along.

To my classmates i bid you adios and i beg you to keep following your creative instincts and using it to fuel positivity in your lives. I will never forget this class . To my teacher and TA thank you for the guidance and effort you put into our success

Basu, T. (2020, September 03). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. Retrieved December 02, 2020, from https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/

Danahboyd Follow. (2014). It’s Complicated. Retrieved December 02, 2020, from https://www.wattpad.com/203798155-it’s-complicated-8-searching-for-a-public-of-their/page/3

Jang, M. (2020, December 04). Milton Jang. Retrieved December 09, 2020, from https://miltonjang.com/pub-101/blog-review-poetposits-com/

Essay 2: My online publishing experience

I created AmaansWorld as a sort of journal entry into my mind. I wanted it to be a space where I could write freely about my thoughts and adventures. Very quickly I decided to narrow down on the audience and give it some kind of a ‘direction’. As a result of deciding on an audience, the baseless rambling became cohesive blogs, and the crazy theories became neatly explained ideas. Originally, I wanted this website to be a space for myself, but very quickly I decided that the audience for this space would be my friends and family who would want to keep up with me during the pandemic and stay entertained.

WordPress woes:
I used Reclaim Hosting to host my domain and used WordPress to design my website. WordPress is fairly easy to use, but it does have a bit of a learning curve. I found that the default theme I was in was extremely limited and lacked a lot of customizability that the other themes had. I switched over to a theme called Signify after weeks of battling the default theme.

Design elements:
Since I wanted my blog to be a reflection of my personality, I decided to use yellow as the primary color for my theme. Yellow is often seen on parenting, wellness, and travel websites because of its ability to make viewers feel warmth and optimism (Bryne, 2019). It also makes them feel happier and gives the blog a more youthful vibe (Bryne, 2019).

I decided to give only the blog page thumbnails as it would entice people to read the blog. I didn’t feel it was necessary for the process posts, mini assignments, and other posts as those are all academic pieces of content that will be read and judged anyway. The blog section is something I wanted to grow organically, and the most effective way (other than good SEO) for me was to use thumbnail pictures to entice people.

I also added a comment box for people to be able to interact with each other and form a community. My vision was to be able to give my audience of friends and family a public space to share comments and interact with the content and each other. Unfortunately, due to the low website views, no one left any comments. 

My Analytics
My analytics showed me that most, if not all of my visitors were just my classmates checking my website or my parents looking at it. I did have some random views from Russia, but I didn’t see as much of my friends and family on there as I would have liked. Unfortunately, I was not able to gather much about my audience from Google Analytics. I do think that if I improved my SEO for the blog the results would have been much more organic and promising. I also think if I shifted my websites direction to more topical content I would have more organic growth.

Online Disinhibition and me.
I noticed that my content had led to online disinhibition. Online disinhibition is the idea that people do things in cyberspace that they wouldn’t otherwise do in real life (Suler, 2004). In my case, I noticed my online persona fell into solipsistic introjection, where my mind has merged with my online persona (Suler, 2004). I could feel the more charismatic and interesting version of myself take over my text messages or place an order for deliveries. I that my online self is more interesting, charismatic, and social than my actual self and I’m seeing the lines in my online-self and my real/offline-self get blurred.

The issue of audience and anonymity.
Since my ideal audience would have been comprised of people I know, I think my content was self-censored to a certain degree. While it’s true that short term focused writing about emotions has benefits such as enhanced immune function, lowered blood pressure and anxiety, less depressive symptoms, etc. (Novotney, 2014).  I feel that I was not fully able to grasp those benefits because of a lack of anonymity.

Initially, I wanted this blog to be a stream of consciousness like a diary entry because of the immense benefits to self-esteem, social anxiety, and emotional distress, blogging has (Novotney, 2014). However, I was unable to upload anything I thought was too personal as I lacked anonymity and had a fear of judgment from my peers and audience. As a result, my content was not an honest reflection of myself, but rather how I wanted to be perceived by my peers. This is a phenomenon that has been noted by other researchers; anonymity behind blogging can allow for more free expression of ones-self as they no longer consider what their friends and family might think about their thoughts (Novotney, 2014).

I do think, that because of the nature of this blog (it being used for coursework) I was not able to fully open up and express my thoughts. Especially because I envisioned a community forming on my websites.

Online Comments and Content.
While I do have comments open, because of the low turnout to my blogs I. I think that as I kept blogging my content got more and more personal. I do believe that if someone had left a negative comment about my content, I would have very quickly changed direction with it.

While I do have comments open, because of the low turnout to my blogs didn’t receive any comments. This I think was a blessing to a certain degree, as I am pretty sensitive to criticism and a negative comment would have led me to change my content in some way. I noticed that as I kept blogging my content became more and more personal. However, I do believe that if someone had left a negative comment about my content, I would have made it less personal.  Furthermore, I think it would have affected my offline persona negatively too. Studies have shown that the vast majority of people do nothing and hope it would go away on its own (Khosa, 2016).

Trolling and gender.
While I am concerned about cyber-bullying and trolling on my blogs, I am statistically least likely to be affected because of my gender. For some reason, women are usually trolled online more often than men. Usually, because they are trolled by men (Gardiner et al., 2016). In fact, it has been proven that girls are far more likely to be cyber-bullied than boys (Greenfield, 2015). Some of the comments can go from mean-spirited to downright scary and disgusting like with Jessica Valenti who had to quit social media after her five-year-old child was getting rape threats because of her feminist work (Boggioni, 2016). To a certain degree, I carry privilege with me being online even though the internet is viewed as an equal platform. But just because of my gender, my website and content is less likely to be trolled.

Closing remarks:
I think this semester has given me insight into the work that goes behind becoming a successful blogger. I’ve learned that you need to be secure in your own identity and online image and that sometimes you can get lost in the online character you build for yourself. I do recognize that somewhere I did have it easier as I was a smaller blogger and a male. I think that had I been a larger blogger and a woman this would be a vastly different story. Moving forward, I think I will keep blogging but perhaps under a new, more anonymous blog as it will allow me to be more open with my expression. I do intend to keep Amaansworld running as a reminder to myself of the work I did.


Boggioni, T. (2016, July 28). Prominent feminist writer drops off social media after rape threat against her 5-year-old daughter. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.rawstory.com/2016/07/prominent-feminist-writer-drops-off-social-media-after-rape-threats-against-her-5-year-old-daughter/

Byrne, S. (2019, July 22). How Colour Psychology in Web Design Can Increase Conversions. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://forgeandsmith.com/blog/colour-psychology-web-design/

Gardiner, B., Mansfield, M., Anderson, I., Holder, J., Louter, D., & Ulmanu, M. (2016, April 12). The dark side of Guardian comments. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/12/the-dark-side-of-guardian-comments

Greenfield, S. (2015, December 01). The Internet Has Changed Bullying- For The Worse. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/mind-change/201512/the-internet-has-changed-bullying-the-worse

Khosa, N. (2016). How personality effects victim’s response to cyberbullying (Master’s thesis, Thesis / Dissertation ETD, 2016) (pp. 1-51). Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University. doi:https://doi.org/10.31274/etd-180810-5365

Novotney, A. (2014, June). Blogging for mental health. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/06/blogging

Suler, J. (2004, June 1). The Online Disinhibition Effect. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html