Tag Archives: publishing

a drugged candy web

The start of my story with digital literacy is past my frame of remembrance, but I do have distinct memories of what my school called, “digital boot camp” a chapter in adolescent Ammarah’s majestic entry into dreaded high school.

The day consisted of logging onto your device, downloading Office Suite, installing WordPress, and writing up your very first blog post for your “Edublog” (Educational Blog- genius isn’t it?). Now while I may not have imagined that one blog being the start of a long journey with publishing myself online, my experience with content creation and the psychology of internet interaction has taught me a few things about online dangers and how trusting anyone- or any site blindly, is akin to devouring a tainted lollipop offered by a sweet stranger.

So in honor of five years of blogs and personal sites, here is a list of my top three curated internet dangers.

One: Anonymity

There is a sense of power that runs through a user when no one knows who they are outside of what they describe themselves as, making many believe in perfect anonymity in the cyberverse. And while it is true that, “most people you encounter can’t easily tell who you are” you still leave breadcrumbs of IP addresses and emails, and most importantly, the messages you convey (Suler 2001). John Suler explores this phenomenon in reference to disinhibition, as people when anonymous feel they “don’t have to own their behavior” and can disassociate from the ramifications (2001). This can create a dangerous incubator for “the spread of misinformation or fake news, as well as cyberbullying, trolling and hate crime” all under created names or no name at all (CBBC 2021).

Two: Misinformation

Building off on anonymity, misinformation is also an instigator of tensions online, with tabloids turning into creative writing pieces and Wikipedia offering the reigns to history to anyone who creates an account. Wu Peiyue writes about one particular case of historic internet hoaxes as she describes fantasy writer, Yifan’s discovery of “millions of words” detailing “imagined history” on Chinese Wikipedia, that no one had contested for years (2022). This doesn’t include all the potential, untracked articles, papers, and projects that anyone with internet access could have created with the misinformation they unwittingly propagated. This is combined with the growing trust in platforms like social media for reliable news, with “adults under 30 ..(being) almost as likely to trust information from social media sites as they are to trust information from national news outlets (Liedke 2022).” This growing trend combined with our knowledge of anonymity and misinformation makes for an uncertain road for the average data consumer and a dire need for studies related to misinformation transmission.

Three: Digital Illiteracy

The final internet danger that has me especially fearful is the average individual’s digital ill literacy. Digital literacy as a whole can be broken into three tenets, “finding and consuming skills,” “creating digital content,” and “communicating and sharing digital media” (UOTP Marketing 2022). Digital illiteracy in my definition relates primarily to the consumption of media and how with the propagation of false information, individuals often lack the necessary toolkit to determine what constitutes a reliable site or source. WikiHow runs a three-step test to determine the credibility of the site itself including looking into the site certification and quality of the content (Lloyd 2023). Such tests combined with useful tools like Snopes allow individuals to better understand where their information is coming from and if the fact they are using is really a known truth. Digital literacy also involves critical analysis of bias within media, especially with large, trusted sites like CBC being “in favor of the left,” a bias many may not even recognize (Carafa 2002). So while large, reputable news sources may only have slight biases that may not influence content excessively, there are other sites with heavy biases that can also go unnoticed.

So while digital boot camp was a bit of a headache at the time, it has offered insight into the importance of digital literacy and the dangers of internet quirks like anonymity and misinformation. I wouldn’t take candy from a stranger and taking information blindly from someone on the internet is no different.


Works Cited

Carafa, Tiziana. “Is CBC Really Biased?” Policy Options Politiques, Policy Options Politiques, 9 Dec. 2021, https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/kyoto/is-cbc-really-biased/.

CBBC. “Social Media: Should People Be Allowed to Be Anonymous Online?” BBC Newsround, BBC, 26 Feb. 2021, https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/56114122.

Liedke, Jacob. “Trust in Social Media Is Changing. Here’s How It Breaks down by Age.” World Economic Forum, World Economic Forum, 4 Nov. 2022, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/11/social-media-adults-information-news-platforms/.

Lloyd, Jack. “3 Easy Ways to Find If a Website Is Legitimate.” WikiHow, WikiHow, 10 Feb. 2023, https://www.wikihow.com/Find-if-a-Website-Is-Legitimate#:~:text=How%20to%20Check%20the%20Security%20of%20a%20Website,itself%20%28e.g.%2C%20%22wikihow%22%29%2C%20and%20the%20…%20See%20More.

Suler, John. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Psychology of Cyberspace – the Online Disinhibition Effect, The Psychology of Cyberspace, 2001, https://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html.

Tone, Sixth. “She Spent a Decade Writing Fake Russian History. Wikipedia Just Noticed.” SixthTone, SixthTone, 11 July 2022, https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1010653.

UOTP Marketing. “What Is Digital Literacy and Why Is It Important?” University of the Potomac, University of the Potomac, 9 Mar. 2023, https://potomac.edu/what-is-digital-literacy/#:~:text=Because%20of%20the%20overflowing%20abundance%20of%20media%20and,use%20digital%20platforms%2C%20and%20communicate%20with%20others%20eloquently.

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The problem with “Do your Own Research”

PUB 101 Essay 1: Does social media Create a Space for Democratic Conversation?

Today, social media is so entwined in our daily lives we can send or receive any kind of information just by the click of a button. We have become very accustomed to being connected to the internet, literally in our back pockets with tucked away phones. If you asked anyone, walking down the street if they have facebook you would most likely get an affirmative yes.

The emergence of these platforms has changed the world in so many ways, especially in the ways information is presented, received, and digested. With the prevalence of this type of connectivity, one can become too caught up in a world that is not reality. Social media gives society the opportunity to widen the pathways to connect giving a democratic space for dialogue yet it can also divide.

Despite social media’s freedom of expression, access to unbiased quality information is restricted by algorithms based on personal preferences, therefore control over what we watch and read by a third party can impair our judgments. In this way more extreme voices can be amplifying a point of view that threatens social medias fragile status as an arena of true public deliberation. It has become apparent over the last years, that the flooding of information via social media has intensified the divide between polarizing forces. Although social media normalizes the ideals of democratic free speech – we must realize that the medium is more subjective rather than objective, according to personal branding and algorithms. In this way influencers or content creatives, fight to have their voices heard. Personal branding on social media is shaping the public perception. In other words, an intimate voice has the influence to impose personal values on the masses. While we can take advantage of this to gain insight, how much of personal algorithms is manipulated to the point of it being dangerous.

According to Margert Roberts personalized algorithms can amplify extreme viewpoints. This cause issues of filtering, which are built upon:

Fear: forces behind censorship

Friction: delayed censorship and government intervention

And lastly flooding: to distract or confuse audiences via fake news

The flooding of information can be so overwhelming at times that it is hard to filter what is true.

Recently, the term fake news has been loosely used to describe the issues of filtering of information. Fake news is often misleading information that aims to damage a person or entity’s reputations or to create sensational reports. It pulls readers towards a narrative that can push an agenda causing polarization. According to Tucker, “Social-media technology is young, but has already played a part in numerous turbulent protests and a highly polarized U.S. election. Social media have often been described as the site for conflict between “good” democratic forces who use social media to make their voices heard”. Therefore, platforms are neither inherently democratic. Rather social media represents as a tool for individuals to use, often to push paradoxical goals. For example protestors can battle for influence on platforms or outsiders can impact an election such as in 2017 when BuzzFeed highlighted Trump supporters pretending to be French to manipulate the French election. The problem with this is it targets certain groups of people and presents them as threats which then can push towards violence.

The internet then creates this double reality that aims towards exclusion rather than giving voice to the voiceless. Loosely connected groups can mobilize and coordinate, consistent messages that seem reliant and credible, yet this creates more barriers. Due to the overwhelming amount of information flashing before our eyes – our brains take short cuts because we are mentally exhausted and see claims of ‘experts’ all over the internet. It is a battle of influence within the flow of free information that can causes polarization.

What is Polarization?  

According to Wikipedia, Polarization is the act of dividing something, especially something that contains different people or opinions, into two completely opposing groups. This creates extreme opposing views. Although social media gives voice to those excluded to political discussion, algorithms tailored to personal preferences distorts and loudens the voices of extremist. With so much information at our fingertips it is easy to feel bombarded with information that spikes up anxiety and takes a toll on mental health. We lean towards what is easy or comfortable. In the case of social media filtering is done by simply unfollowing someone. But does that give us a the whole picture?

There is no reason to believe that the internet can strengthen democracy, only accessibility to information. Whether we can filter overload of information depends on values and social norms of individuals.

 To prevent fake news, we need to seriously think about who is creating these types of content and why it is being created. Wardle, author of ‘Fake news. It’s complicated.’ urges us to reflect upon the core foundations and values surrounding society and how we live our lives. By taking a step back, to second guess instinctual reactions, we can act more rationally rather than emotionally.

Public information accessibility means faster results which enforces a sense of responsibility. To be digitally responsible means to respect and protect privacy and to be transparent. By being digitally responsible it can help reduce digital divide among the already sensitive information ecosystem of social media platforms.

Keeping in mind while, there are some negative associations with social media the positive aspects potentially outnumber the negative ones. Social media can be beneficial if it is used in the correct ways; It requires a balance to help social media be a good influence in one’s life – by motivating people through stories we can learn from. One must carefully weigh the benefits before engaging excessively in social media.

Works cited

Anderson and Rainie. “Concerns about democracy in the digital Age”, https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/02/21/concerns-about-democracy-in-the-digital-age/

  Blokland, Hans. Pluralism, Democracy and Political Knowledge. Routledge, 2011, https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315600925.

Dahl, R. A. (1998). On democracy. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Tucker, Joshua A., et al. “From Liberation to Turmoil: Social Media And Democracy.” Journal of Democracy, vol. 28, no. 4, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017, pp. 46–59, https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.2017.0064.

Wardle, Claire “Fake News. Its complicated.” First Draft https://firstdraftnews.org/articles/fake-news-complicated/

Blog Post #1: A Reflection on What Does it Mean to Be a Self-Publisher

With the events of the last 2 years there has been more demand of being online, and defining a digital space for our personal and professional lives. Creating a space in the digital takes ingenuity; the way I think about it is being an artist with a blank canvas – and that first stroke entails fearless confidence.

This website is a space for learning and exploring – And I do confess I am building this website for a class I am taking, however EVERYONE is INVITED to come along the journey! I earnestly hope to provide insight into this fascinating subject of everyday self-publication.

As a publishing student, I am excited to create a space that not only showcases my personal quirky interests, but a place to connect and have conversations over coffee! Which is why I choose my blog name: Coffee with Belle.

What does it mean to be a self-publisher?

Whether or not you believe it, but each one of us are self-publishers.

With accessible internet right at our finger tips, it is easy to show everyone what you ate for lunch or that cute pose of your cat!

We do it everyday!For me, I spend more than a few hours a day on a screen. Statics say, the global average time spent using social media platforms per day is 142 minutes in 2021 – far higher than the 90 minutes recorded in 2012. The online world has become more a part of our daily lives – not only scrolling through social media but posting and sharing our personalities on instagram, tik tok etc. The rise of social media has brought way to a revolution of independent publishing and thats exciting!

xoxo Belle

Reflecting on my Experience as an Online Publisher

This website has gone through a lot of changes since September. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to share my work on a blog since I feel that I best express myself through writing. However, I had never created a website before, so I had to learn quickly. It has taken me a lot of research to figure out everything from changing fonts to using plugins, but I am finally satisfied with what I have.

Masked Retail has been my way of sharing my personal experiences working in a retail environment during the time of Covid-19. Since I started working in retail 2 ½ years ago, I noticed that I would leave every shift with a new story to tell. Through blogging, I have been able to unload some of my frustrations by sharing stories that combine the difficult parts of retail and the pandemic. There is a lot of misinformation that is spread by people who don’t believe in the pandemic or think that wearing a mask represents relinquishing freedom. Masked Retail is my way of countering that illogical narrative by supporting scientific evidence with real experiences in the hopes that people become more conscientious about the way they behave during this time.

Initially, I used this website to rant about how inconsiderate some customers are. After a few weeks, I started to recognize that my peers would be reading my posts and wanted to ensure that the content I provided would be useful to them. I started adding posts that offered advice, such as my post, “When Should I Shop?- Covid Holiday Edition” to help my readers stay safe (Masked Retail, 2020). Other than my peers, my imagined audience comes from a younger demographic looking to learn more about consumerism during the pandemic. Using Google Analytics, I came to the conclusion that the members of my audience are young (under 30 for the most part), which supports the idea that my audience is made up of people who may be experiencing similar things in their work environments. Through Google Analytics, I learned that while there are a lot of bots out there (I assume that I don’t have legitimate readers in China), there are people outside of this class who have viewed my work, including some legitimate viewers from the USA. I’ve learned that most of my audience comes to my page between 10am and 4pm between Tuesday and Friday, which gave me the idea of posting primarily during those days and times. I have also learned that linking back to my other posts when blogging keeps people on my site for longer, as they are inclined to click a link and see where it takes them.

In terms of editorial, I address my audience by being clear about the purposes of this site and by considering their thoughts and feelings when writing my posts. I am constantly aware of the fact that people will view this site, so I ensure that I make things as easy as possible for them. For example, I write all my posts in Microsoft Word so that I can spell-check my work prior to posting. The design of my site is centred around usability. To make my site easy for everybody to use, I use a grid layout for my posts, which includes a picture and an excerpt of the post. As the article “Should the Block Editor Have a Grid System?” points out, grid layouts are great for creating a clean, visually appealing page (Tadlock, 2020). I wanted something that was simple but structured, so this was a good choice for me. The menu and my posts are easy to access, and I have created ways for the audience to interact with me and the site. For instance, I have a contact page, I allow comments on posts, and I use a plugin to allow users to share my posts on social media. By doing so, I encourage my audience to get involved with Masked Retail. As described in the article, “Why We Need Social Paper”, a good public will create space for discourse that can continue even as the audience changes (Glass, 2015). Hopefully, I will have time to keep blogging even when the semester ends, and in doing so I will encourage new types of discourse with my ever-evolving audience. Overall, my content addresses the audience by answering questions that I would ask someone in my position.

I feel like the value Masked Retail provides is insight. Not many people get the opportunity to share their work experiences with the internet, and I am glad that I get to show what working in retail is like from all angles. I try to make relatable content and empathize with how people may be reacting to what is happening in the world. There are things included in my blog that I would never have thought about before I started working in retail. For example, I used to be shy and would never ask for or accept help from a retail employee. Looking back, I know that I had nothing to be afraid of, and I am more conscientious now with how I approach and treat retail workers when I am the customer. I hope that this blog does a similar thing for my readers by providing industry knowledge and tips for success during the time of Covid-19.

So far, I have not received any comments on my posts, so I cannot say that comments have really influenced me. Based on the article, “The Psychology of Online Comments”, I think that if I were to receive hate via an anonymous comment, I wouldn’t be too hurt (Konnikova, 2013) and I would simply delete the comment. Even if an anonymous comment were positive, I doubt I would be very affected because the sentiment of the comment seems less real without a name or face attached to it. Comments that are attached to a name would have a bigger impact on me, whether that be good or bad.

Prior to this class, I had a very outdated perception of what publication was. All that I really considered was book publication and notable companies. I never would have imagined that I could run my own publication from my computer! Now, I see that there are so many ways to be a publisher, and that there is no correct way that it must be done. Though the semester is ending soon, I am optimistic that I will continue to blog. This pandemic and my job are not going away anytime soon, so I am sure that I will have plenty of material to draw upon. Years from now, I would love to be able to look back at my posts and remember who I was and what I experienced in 2020. Ultimately, my hope is that even once the topic of Covid-19 is no longer relevant, I will be able to use the knowledge and skills learned in this course to establish some other online presence.


Masked Glass, E. (2015, December 11). Why We Need Social Paper. CUNY Academic Commons. Retrieved from https://commons.gc.cuny.edu/papers/45249/

Konnikova, M. (2013, October 23). The Psychology of Online Comments. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-psychology-of-online-comments

Masked Retail. (2020, November 10). When Should I Shop? – Covid Holiday Edition [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://maskedretail.com/blog/when-should-i-shop-covid-holiday-edition/

Tadlock, J. (2020, April 27). Should the Block Editor Have a Grid System? WordPress Tavern. Retrieved from https://wptavern.com/should-the-block-editor-have-a-grid-system

(Featured Image by Pepe Reyes on Unsplash)

Week 9 – The Business of Publishing

Entrepreneurship & Monetization. Hm.

I have a background in businesses and entrepreneurship, so our talk from Trevor was a lot of things I have already heard through marketing classes, but it was interesting to hear in terms of publishing our unique websites.

It seems funny to put a price tag on art and creative work, but for artists and creatives, this is what they deal with everyday.

I have some friends that are musicians, and I’ve heard many times from them about how it can be frustrating to self-promote and sell tickets to shows when really all you care about is the art of creating. I think for this to be sustainable and not a ‘sell-out’ situation, monetization has to be carefully thought out with lots of emphasis put into maintaining your core values.

This is the struggle shown by the “The Toast is Toast” reading (Carpenter, 2016). This blog had incredible content and a strong following; however they weren’t able to get enough financial support, and the administrative tasks of website upkeep became two much for the blogging duo. This is the danger of wanting art to remain separate from business.

In considering my own website, I have linked to a lot of related bloggers and products that my readers may be interested in. If I was to monetize, I would like to carefully curate the businesses being addressed on my site, and preferably I would like to have relationships with the companies I am linking to. This way I could monitor what is being promoted through my voice.

For this semester, I will refrain from installing ads on my website and instead reach out to some bloggers that may be interested in collaborating with me!

Process Post #11: Community Guidelines

I am not a fan of the wishy-washy. Grey areas are not for me, my friends. I know, very Dawn à la Waitress of me. 

And while I get that we’re all big kids here, I think that it might be time for some rules. In saying so, I present to you: Moods & Mixtapes’ Community Guidelines.


Moods & Mixtapes is a safe, creative space where we can share our go-to songs and reoccurring feels. We love jamming with you, so please help us to maintain the quality of the blog! Let’s work together and remember to be a little kinder to one another (and avoid any noise complaints). 


  • We get it, we all have different tastes. But if you must disagree, do it intelligently. 
    • Having differing opinions does not justify offensive comments. If you wouldn’t say it face-to-face, don’t say it online. 
  • Absolutely no hate speech. 
    • Any comments attacking groups or other users will not be tolerated and will be removed immediately. Moods & Mixtapes is a space that welcomes anyone and everyone. 
  • If you feel offended by another user’s contribution or have noticed any distasteful comments, please report them to erica@moodsandmixtapes.com 
  • Listen to Aretha, show some RESPECT. 
  • If reposting or making mention to any of the cover art, blog posts, or playlists, this website, moodsandmixtapes.com, or @moodsandmixtapes on Spotify must be tagged. 
  • In need of a certain mix or want to see a certain track featured? Feel free to email requests to erica@moodsandmixtapes.com!


Short, sweet, and hopefully manageable. I chose these guidelines because this blog is a way for me to express myself and give a bit of a sneak peek into who I am. At the end of the day, I want visitors to have the same experience. Although, for this to happen, we need to be aware of the users (virtually) around us. After all, a spoonful of respect and kindness helps the comment section go down smoothly. That’s how it goes, right? 


When it comes to finding these rules a home, I’m planning on either adding them onto the About page or creating a new section of its own in the menubar. Either way, we’re in the clear and out of the grey. 

Now that this business is taken care of, let’s get to listening!

Play when…you’re feeling yourself

mmHMM, I see you! Smiling, sassy, living your best life. 

Maybe you’ve got your favourite feel-good outfit on, are having the greatest good hair day of all good hair days, (and/) or have just caught a glimpse of yourself in the hallway mirror and let me tell you—you’ve got it so flaunt it!

Ain’t there no shame in any of it. That’s right, so go ahead and check yourself out again because this is the type of energy that you deserve to feel every day. 

Sound on & strut. 

Hitting Rewind: An Essay

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


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

And then, it hit me. 

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Process Post #10: Telling the Whole Story

Transmedia storytelling. That was the challenge of the past week. More specifically, how can we integrate more of it into our blogs? 

If you’re also kinda (very) lost about what exactly this concept is, you’re not alone. Admittedly, it did take me a few Google searches and some article scanning to figure out what we’re dealing with here. But luckily we’ve figured it out, and now we’ve got a plan.


In “Transmedia Storytelling 101”, Jenkins (2007) describes transmedia storytelling as “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience” (para. 2). In doing so, “transmedia storytelling practices may expand the potential market for a property by creating different points of entry for different audience segments” (para. 6). 

So, after this much-needed guidance, I began to consider different ways that my content can be viewed and engaged with, as well as which channels it can be accessed through. 


At the moment, Moods & Mixtapes can be accessed via the domain itself, as well as through Spotify. However, as much as I would like to dip my foot into other channels, I don’t know which ones would be suitable for sharing this sort of content. Working with playlists, since they’re not image-based, platforms like Instagram or Pinterest don’t seem like they would be too effective, and while Facebook might be my best bet—it’s not quite my go-to. Heck, I don’t even know the last time that I logged in. 

To level the scales, I hope to become more visible by rolling out new blog posts more frequently throughout the week, as well as to start putting my playlists up on other streaming services such as Google Play Music. A few users who don’t have Spotify accounts have mentioned this idea to me over the past month, so I think I’ll give it a shot. No harm in trying, right?

Play when…it’s that time of the month

GIRL, these are rough times.

There you are, just trying to mind your own business, and then your own body has to go and betray you like this? Rude. 

And just like that, it hits you like a semi-truck on the highway. Everything sucks. You’re bloated, breaking out, and incredibly emotionally distraught when it comes to the most minuscule of matters. mmHMM. You know how it is. You wanna laugh and cry and scream until you go numb and nothing can hurt you anymore.

Not to forget about the inherent NEED to eat everything in the world until you either: 

(A) Feel even worse (because that’s possible, apparently),


(B) Remember that you shouldn’t be putting all of this garbage into your body, so you slow it down until you remember that you can do whatever the heck you want and subsequently reopen that bag of chips.

We don’t judge around here.

So, to celebrate moon day here’s a mix that’ll reciprocate every sad, angry, and apocalyptic feeling that you’ve got boiling up in you right now. May you eat all of the chocolate that your heart desires. 

Sound up & hot-water bottle on.

Play when…it’s too early

Go to bed late, wake up early. Repeat. 

I don’t know about you, but that’s what my disintegrating sleep schedule has been like during this final stretch of the semester. I mean, I haven’t travelled anywhere out of the 10km radius of my house for the past couple of days but I’m walking around like I’m jet-lagged. 

Thank you, term papers.

And hear me out, waking up is hard. Getting up while it’s still dark outside seems counterintuitive, my body clock believes otherwise, and it doesn’t seem fair to trade your warm bed for the cold touch of the bathroom floor. I did not sign up for this. 

But alas, another day, another morning. 

So here’s a playlist to ease your delicate self out of bed and into the world that seems to be throwing everything at you as of late. 

Sound on & wake up slow. 

Process Post #9: Crunching the Numbers

This past week, we focused on global internet trends and activities with the help of Mary Meeker’s, “2019 Internet Trends Report”. We pinpointed where the greatest hubs of web users are around the world, which sites see the most traffic, and what details we can infer from all of this user activity—all of that fun stuff. So of course, you know the drill, it got me thinking. 

I know, whatta surprise


All this talk about numbers and data suddenly had me questioning my own. I won’t lie, I’ve neglected considering my analytics for the past couple of weeks (because, life) but this gave me the motivation to get back into it. 

It’s always fun to see behind the scenes of user activity. I’d even say that Travis Gertz hits it right on the head in his article, “Design Machines: How to Survive the Digital Apocalypse” when he describes analytics as “hav[ing] seem­ing­ly god-like access to the ways peo­ple use our prod­ucts”. 

With analytics, we’re given information like where our users are located, what content they like to interact with, and what devices they use to get to our sites. It’s like using a highly-developed, electronic, statistically justified Magic 8 ball. (Okay, so it’s nothing like using a Magic 8 ball.)

In saying so, now that I’ve seen last week’s stats regarding which devices are being used to visit the blog, I know that I should give more thought into what it’s like to visit Moods & Mixtapes via a mobile device. 


Although, as life-changing and beneficial as it all sounds, I need to remember to not get too ahead of myself. As Gertz bluntly puts it, “met­rics are the internet’s hero­in”. And despite how absolute we may think the numbers are, they cannot always be trusted. We can’t just be making all of these changes just because the data led us to think they were necessary. 

Take it all with a grain of salt, I suppose.

Play when…the nights are cold

The temperatures are dropping, and you know what that means. 

I can see it now—walking down the street with your shoulders scrunched up to your ears, hands shoved all the way into the depths of your pockets (because you’re too cool or forgetful for gloves even though that sounds like such a good idea right about now), while the wind slides into your coat and goosebumps start to envelop your entire warmth-ridden body.

Geez, I had to slip on another sweater just while writing that. 

So here are some tracks to warm you up and give you that cosy feeling, no matter how cold it is outside. *Cue movie montage of you walking along a city street on a chilly evening, playlist on in the background.* 

Sound on & bundle up. 

Peer Review: Raincity Closet

Another week, another peer review! This time around we’re teaming up with Adriana of Raincity Closet, a Vancouver-based fashion blog serving you everything sweet and cozy. I know. We love. It’s the perfect timing too because sweater weather is finally upon us! I’ll stop myself here so I don’t get too ahead of myself. 

Alrighty, let’s get into it!  


Upon loading the site, the photo of a gorgeous walk-in closet (yes, still dreaming about it) on the homepage tells me everything I need to know—we’re about to talk fashion. The image perfectly captures the aesthetic of the blog with its sleek, clean lines and a colour scheme that Fall/Winter fashion capitalizes on. This stylish concept extends to the structure of the site itself. Raincity Closet makes effective use of whitespace while the combination of the grey and ashy blue font pops off the page.


Consequently, Raincity Closet caters to an audience who is keen on fashion and all things trendy. This plays on the idea that Danah Boyd’s novel, “It’s Complicated”, touches on, that “what [we] do online cannot be separated from [our] broader desires and interests”. In this case, Raincity Closet reels in people’s interest in fashion from the real world to the online realm. So if you’re on the hunt for fashion inspiration, no need to web search any farther!


One element of the blog which I find to be attractive to the audience is the diversity of posts. For instance, while some posts are real-life OOTDs, others are lists of favourite/go-to items, and some are shoutouts to where Adriana herself gets her fashion inspo. The latter is probably one of my most favourite posts on the site as there’s just something so fascinating about learning what kind of content other people gravitate towards. (I gotta say, Jenn Im/clothesencounters is one of my top YouTubers, too!)

Raincity also serves its audience well as it allows them to shop the look too, not just dress up vicariously, as each item (or one similar to it) mentioned in a blog post is linked at the bottom. In doing so, the content not only addresses the interests of the audience but their needs as well. Okay, maybe I don’t necessarily need that new sweater, but I definitely want one.


Within Process Post #2, Adriana discusses her dilemma of whether or not she should attach her Instagram account to the site. The trouble comes in because while Instagram does make sense for this sort of content, the issue of lacking professionalism and privacy arises. Although, the discussion comes to an end when mentioning that “a separate Instagram that is exclusively for [her] blog [where she] could post pictures of outfit ideas, or even ootd’s (outfit of the day)” is also an option. 

To me, I think that it would be a great idea to create an Instagram account to accompany the blog. I for one spend quite some time on the app, some of which is allotted to looking for fashion inspiration and styling tips, and I’m sure many other people do the same. Thus, since Raincity Closet’s intended audience extends to another platform, hopefully, this could be a way to draw new visitors onto the site!

Besides marketability, linking a social media account would also be a nice way to add a personal touch and for readers to learn more about the creative mind behind it all. 

I mean, I know I do!


So, the next time you’re staring into the abyss of your closet thinking that you’ve got nothing to wear (it really be like that sometimes), be sure to check out Raincity Closet!

And that brings us to the end of our third peer review!

Essay 2: Not the end!

Last April, I have created my first website with Wix.com. It serves as a portfolio to showcase my photography work to others, especially to the employers when I am applying for jobs. I did not intend to write and post other content on the website because I feel self-conscious when people read what I wrote.

I haven’t updated the website for months as I was too busy at school. But when I receive my acceptance letter as an exchange student in SFU, I thought it’ll be a great opportunity to reactivate my website to post so I can document my journey in Canada. I am glad that I took PUB101, which “forces” me to post on a regular basis. It was frustrating at first when we have so much freedom in this course and I was still adjusting to the new learning environment here, jet lag and everything. I remember I couldn’t think of a name for my domain until I was unpacking my clothes from my luggage, then I realised how many stripes clothes I have. That’s how lilyinstripes was born.

It took me a whole night to complete the setup of the blog, from purchasing the domain and picking the theme that best matches my content. As these 12 weeks progresses, I am proud of the content I created and the positive feedbacks that I received from peers and friends from around the world.  It has resulted in a reduction in bounce rate to 61.67% and an increase in session duration to 2 minutes 13 seconds compared to the last 30 days. Google Analytics is by far one of the most useful and important tools that I’ve mastered in this course. The analytics provides me with insights to create intriguing content that will allow users to stay longer on my blog.

According to Patel (2019), bounce rate refers to the “bounce” that someone visits your website and leaves without interacting further with your site. As of the statistics by Google Benchmarks 2017, the bounce rate in the arts & entertainment industry is 58.69% (Ritwick, 2018), which is three per cent below mine. I will continue to post when the semester ends, aiming to reach through this three per cent difference by including more engaging content. When I look at the pages that my users most frequently visit, I notice that more people visit the photography page rather than the portfolio page. I think they may have expected to see more of my photography work under “photography” while I put them under “portfolio”. To avoid confusion, I will remove the photography category and use portfolio instead, so people can easily access to my photos.

When I started my first blog, I asked myself “How should I differ from other travel or photography blogs?” I knew exchange or studying abroad may seem interesting to my audiences, so I thought it’ll be a good idea to share Hong Kong culture to my Canadian friends and also allow my family and friends in Hong Kong to know what I’ve been up to in Canada. Tobi Cheung, one of the classmates who did a peer review on my blog said the Cantonese characters and pronunciations in each blog posts adds a personal touch and connection to my audience (Cheung, 2019)[, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve. Even though Cantonese is not a very common language to most Westerners, I hope to connect with my audiences by showing Hong Kong’s language so my users can understand my background and the place where I grow up in better. I see language as a way to connect with others. I realise most Westerners cannot tell the difference between Hong Kong and China (that’s the most frequently asked question by Uber and taxi drivers), we share similar language, similar characters but they are not the SAME. Therefore, I’ve decided to always include a Chinese keyword in traditional Chinese characters and its Cantonese pronunciation, so it tells more about what’s special about Hong Kong. As Adam wrote in the peer review, “One of humanity’s defining features is its ability to communicate with language.” (Schmidt, 2019). I hope my audience can get an overview and know more about Cantonese and Hong Kong culture when they read through my blog posts.

Looking back at the blog posts I’ve written, I realized how much I’ve grown and experienced in the past couple of months. First time blogging, first time studying abroad, first time skiing, first time seeing aurora and of course, my first solo trips. I am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and experienced so many new things here! I will keep on posting when the semester finishes. I will be doing lots of travelling before I head back to Hong Kong, hopefully, there’ll be more photos coming up! Also, stay tuned to my blog if you’re interested in my life in Hong Kong! The support from all of you is the greatest motivation to keep my blog running.

This is by far the most rewarding class I’ve taken in university. Thank you all for making the first half of 2019 extra special and memorable!


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Process Post 11: Online Shaming

In Week 11’s class, we discussed online comments and online shaming, featuring Justine Sacco’s twitter post. It read: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” It went outrageous on the internet after her flight took off to Cape Town.

When we comment online, we usually don’t think much before posting. Unlike person-to-person dialogues, it doesn’t require immediate reaction. You can think about the perfect response or how to defend. It is unfortunate for Justine that she doesn’t even have the chance to defend herself as she was on a flight when her post spread like fire on Twitter. Her life was torn immediately; she lost her job, online shamed by other users. People who retweeted barely know Justine in person, but they can ruin her life in just several seconds with a click on the internet. This is how powerful social media can be.

We are afraid to make comments in real life, worrying that it may hurt the person’s feeling, not knowing what to react to others’ criticisms. However, when you see other users posting similar comments like yours in the online community, you feel like your opinion is backed. You can also post anonymously which seems you don’t have to take that much responsibility. Therefore, netizens teamed up and created a hashtag – #HasJustineLandedYet and online shamed Justine’s reckless tweet.

I then start to reflect my online behaviour. I think I’ve never online shamed anyone because I rarely comment on any social media platform. I know how fast words can spread on the internet and I didn’t want to online shame anyone or be online shamed, so I’ve always been kind of passive when coming to online activities. I am afraid to voice out any opinion online because I’m afraid people against my stance would judge me. I think the online community would only be more harmonious if people can learn how to respect others’ opinions even if they’re against you. Also, online users should think twice before making a comment, the impact could be more viral than you think.

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Essay 2 – Experiences as an Online Publisher

I have always had an online presence, whether it was through a Facebook or Instagram account, there is no denying that I have been publishing my life online for quite some time. Upon reading about this class, Publications 101, it occurred to me that I have never written a blog or created my own public website. As much online activity and experience that I perceived to have had, it was apparent that understanding how to create, design, and write for a website was lacking. So, my interest was peaked and my creativity was sparked to expand my experience of being an online publisher.

As Erin Glass notes, “Let students, not the Edtech industry, debate and determine the emerging design of the space which will carry their voice…let them reimagine for the full possibility of speech.” (2015). Glass’ comment rings true to my approach and understanding of the class as it provided me with an opportunity to carry my own voice and reimagine the possibilities of public discourse. Instead of being in a strictly academic writing environment, the process of building and designing our personal blogs pushed our creative abilities and offered us a means to stray from common educational pedagogy. Furthermore, as discussed by Audrey Watters, the ability to have our own domain gave us the agency in what we want to publish for our site and online self and how we want to do so. We can demonstrate our learning “beyond the classroom walls.” (Watters 2015) and be able to have a better position in controlling our work, data, and self (Watters 2015).

I wanted to showcase these aspects of online publishing, as described by Glass and Watters, and highlight my creation of publication based on a distinct subject and design that I care about. I wanted to use this opportunity to carry a voice and reimagine the full possibilities of online discourse. This was done through my intentions of creating my blog as a public platform that brings attention to important issues of race, gender, and sexuality – all of which can be hard to publicly address offline. As described by Lori Hubbard from Chron, and Monique Sherrett from Boxcar Media, having a target audience is key in developing effective communication strategies as well as providing content that users can appreciate. The public that I envisioned for my blog were young individuals and groups of people who appreciate the arts. More importantly, I created this blog for the marginalized; I created it for those within the LGBTQ+ community, people of colour, and for those who want to learn, understand, and challenge the rigid social constructs set in place within society.

As noted by Michael Warner (2002) and Nancy Fraser (1990), the concept of the “public sphere” and what we consider to be public is often skewed – representing the “bourgeois society” and European “public concerns” and “common interests” (Fraser 1990 p. 58). This is where the concept of “counterpublics” arises in that I have created an online space that aligns with the notion where “members of subordinated social groups invent and circulate counter-discourses” (Fraser 1990 p. 67). I argue that this is a key feature for my blog and something that is possible due to the rise of public engagement through the Internet. This concept has become of value for me and hopefully for others, as it does not entail a focus on monetary value and simply falls down to challenging hegemony and the problematic and systemic social norms. Here, There hopes to bring people together and to highlight marginalized voices.

Apart from the overall concept of the blog, how I addressed my audience through the editorial design, and content, also aligns with my initial intentions for the creation of the site. What I kept in mind for the name, Here, There, was a mixture of simplicity and minimalism intertwined with a contemporary feel. However, l still wanted to be able to evoke emotions and meaning. I wanted to encompass the idea that voices will be heard from here and there and that there is no boundary as to who gets to be a part of this blog or who gets to be a part of society. Moving onto the design of the blog, again I wanted to create a space that was simplistic and contemporary with artistic elements to capture an audience of young, artistically driven individuals. I wanted to use soft colours and shapes that were inspired by contemporary designs, brands, and websites, such as Bouquet from Montreal, Poketo from the United States, and the website Them. I also wanted to capture the attention of a younger demographic recognizing that moving into the future, these are the people who will be leading society. The design of the hands for the header image supported my intentions of a contemporary and artistic theme. In addition, providing a visual element that connects to my message of coming together and connecting. With the implementation of music playlists, I also enhanced the ways in which I wanted to speak to an artistic audience. Pairing this with my blog objective, the playlists also speak to marginalized groups and for those who have a desire to challenge their understanding of certain norms set in place within society. Lastly, the content itself is directly related to what I aimed for in terms of my online self and publication and for whom this space would be for. By focusing my content on issues directly relating to race, gender, and sexuality, I hope that I can both connect individuals from afar whilst highlighting the importance of diversity.

Moving onto the data of our publication, the info gathered from Google Analytics was quite interesting. The presentation from Monique Sherrett from Boxcar Media was an eye-opening lesson on how to analyze our analytics and what to look out for. Keeping in mind the four aspects of analytics: awareness, engagement, conversion, and retention, it was possible to see how my audience and the public were interacting with my blog. However, since I did not share my blog widely, the awareness and engagement for my site were marginal. The views of my site did come in waves with periods of no activity at all and some moments with a spike in activity. This was most likely due to certain moments during the course when it was asked of us to look through our sites. The majority of users to my site were returning visitors, with the average duration and retention on my blog just a few minutes, around one to three minutes. In some ways, I wish I continued to update my blog more frequently in order to feel comfortable promoting it through other platforms, which in return would allow me to see more activity and data from users.

Throughout my time in Publications 101, my experience of creating online content has expanded. Although I always maintained a certain identity online by carefully managing my aesthetics and posts of my public profiles, such as Instagram, doing so on a blog proved to be quite different. I have not had experience with WordPress prior to this class, so, understanding the technical aspects were both challenging and rewarding, but also highly educational. Integrating my own voice and personality and publishing this through my site changed my perspective in that it is not an easy feat – it takes time, effort, and a clear understanding of the self and your goals to have it work well.

Beyond this course, I imagine my goals as an online publisher will continue to be the same. As an individual who has created an online self for a few years, the blog has helped to enrich my practice and experience of developing content online. This blog has sparked inspiration to continue to create an online presence and self that can challenge the norms of society, but it has also reminded me to be proactive in listening to diverse narratives online and offline. Currently, I am undecided if I will continue the blog as my schedule has been fairly tight. Continuing Here, There may be of a challenge, but because of its significant and meaningful topic (not just to myself, but hopefully for others as well), I believe that it will have importance towards the overall public discourse. Possibly, when I do have more time, pursuing the blog can be beneficial not just as a space to share knowledge and thoughts, but also as a rewarding opportunity to engage and have a public voice has been made possible through the Internet.


Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social Text, (25/26), 56-80. doi:10.2307/466240

Hubbard, L. (2018). Why is Identifying the Target Market so Important to a Company? Chron. Retrieved from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/identifying-target-market-important-company-76792.html

Glass, E. (2015). Why We Need Social Paper. CUNY Academic Commons. Retrieved from https://commons.gc.cuny.edu/papers/45249/

Sherrett, M. (2018). Publications 101: Marketing, Media, and Analytics. Simon Fraser University, Harbour Centre. Lecture.

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

Watters, A. (2015). The Web We Need to Give to Students. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/bright/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x