It’s funny, I feel more like a fish out of water now, at the end of the semester, than I did at the beginning. I have veered left, right, and back on the journey through PUB101, changing my WordPress theme at least three times — with the most recent change being only two weeks ago.
Entering the course in September, my main goal was to get my online professional portfolio up and running. The blog aspect, I figured, would be an excellent way for me to get more comfortable putting myself out there; speaking up, creating more exposure for the hidden international student community, and sharing my views and experiences for all the world to see.
From content creation to audience awareness, and even to general organization, I have discovered over the last three months that there are a lot more considerations and decisions not just to blogging, but to being a publisher in general, than I initially anticipated — and as we discussed in the first week of the semester, given the Internet, everyone is a publisher now.
My first and main online publishing platform remains Instagram. A couple of years ago I attempted to “up my insta-game”; I made my account public, posted every other day, and had my list of go-to hashtags to help reach an audience beyond my Facebook friends. And for a while, I had success. My follow count grew steadily, and I even managed to get consistent commenters. Eventually though, as it happens, I became busier and busier and so I posted less and less. I’ve realized that if I couldn’t even find the time to post a photo with a less than 100 character caption, how did I expect myself to find the time to blog 200+ words?
Truthfully speaking, I don’t feel like I have come very far with “My wonderful experience in Canada”. A blog about Canada as a beautiful country and the role it plays in my life… It’s not particularly developed at this point. I have seven out of 21 posts on the website that are specifically written for My wonderful experience in Canada and not Posiel, and those that are there do not tell that much of a story. My findings on Google Analytics support my statement; on average I have two hits per month on my website, and from the dates and regions, I think it’s safe to conclude that these few users are my fellow classmates visiting for peer reviews. Heartbreaking? — Not really. Not to me. While I may not have grown an active audience as I began the semester thinking I would, I am more than content with my online takeaway from the course.
Although, in my eyes, it is far from “finished” (I don’t think it’s fair to say that an online platform is ever fully finished — there will always be something to update and to adjust), I believe that I have produced a fantastic starting point for myself moving forwards. I have a site with a cohesive aesthetic across the pages; clean and modern with hints of a bubbly personality sprinkled throughout. In their peer reviews, Christopher (peer review 2) and Joanni (peer review 3) both comment to the uniquely friendly and inviting environment that I create through design decisions such as font and colour choices, as well as language used in what content is there. Being in a world in which Travis Gertz, partner, designer, and developer of Louder Than Ten, states that “everything looks the same” (Gertz, 2015), it is crucial to me that my personality be evident in my site and set it apart.
I noted within several process posts that I don’t identify myself as the blogging-type, yet in my classification, I defined a blog as written content — but why? A blog can be as much of a visual story as it is a written one. Creating mixed media content for process posts two, seven, and eleven have reinforced this realization over the term. This is why I struggled to produce content, I believe. I gave myself false constraints of my content needing to be word-heavy. For this reason, I hesitated to commit to continuing the blog section of my website as I transition it to more of a portfolio space, but reflecting now, I think that I can use it to create an extension of my Instagram public.
As was suggested to me in class, I can create series of mini-posts — a different series for each trip, each life experience, each little side project I tackle. Leon Watson of telegraph.co.uk notes a study conducted by Microsoft notes that those with “more digital lifestyles … struggle to focus in environments where prolonged attention is needed” (Watson, 2015), so the posts will be shorter and much more visual, ones that do not require extensive time commitments to consume. As I generally post only a photo or two from any event to my Instagram account, I can use those posts to channel my audience there over to my blog, should they want more of a “behind the scenes” experience of my excursions. As I realize that blogs are not as commonly or easily “stumbled upon” as are accounts on social media platforms, linking my blog to my Instagram account will definitely give my website the opportunity for more hits. Hits, not necessarily just for the sake of growing my public, but for the sake of networking as well. Alyssa Acree of copypress.com writes to social media as a networking tool, saying “[it] is as strong a networking tool as any other” (Acree, 2016). Furthermore, blogs require considerably more time commitment from its engagers than do social media accounts such as Instagram or Tumblr or Twitter, where quick scrolling is the primary activity.
I think incorporating this version of a blog into my transitioning website will strengthen my portfolio more than the current version. It will still lend potential employers a closer look into who I am and what I do beyond UX/UI and graphic design, but it will do so in a way that reinforces my visual nature and provides another medium for me to showcase the ways in which I am able to apply my creative and technical skills.
Though I may not be continuing to build up a blog the way we focused on in the course, I am still incredibly happy for having taken the class. While not all the topics feel like they related directly to my online goals, they’re definitely things that I should be aware of (like monetization). Before, I knew that I needed an online portfolio, but now I’m seeing that it’s more than just a showcase of my projects — its a showcase of me, and not just as a designer. Every bit, down to the way I categorize posts, allow or don’t allow comments, etc. are a reflection of me. The environment I create speaks just as much to my character as my about page, if not more.
Possibly more than the course content itself, I genuinely appreciated and enjoyed the environment which we learned in. I was, by no means, one of the more participative members of the class and generally found it intimidating to be among peers who were so openly and easily able to voice their thoughts. But, intimidating as it may have been, it was equally encouraging for me to try to poke my head out of my shell more and join in the conversations.
I had said that I feel like a fish out of water; like I’ve been floundering all semester — afraid to speak up in class, trying to figure out how to present myself online and find my niche as so many others seemed to do so easily. While I might not be leaving PUB101 with as finished a product as I had hoped to, I am leaving confident that I now have the knowledge to keep myself afloat when I really dive into developing my online self.
I’m in the process of developing community guidelines for my blog. As I’ve created my website as a safe and happy place, I want to keep bullying and harassment to a minimum. If this requires blacklisting words, or blocking certain users, I’m prepared to do that.
However, there is a different between bullying/harassment, and a disagreement. Where I feel some sites go to far is when they silence disagreements between users, or disagreements to their own opinions. If a comment challenges, or questions the sites content, I find that these comments are deleted or shut down. This worries me because it silences a potential dialogue that could happen between a user and an author. As well, it worries me when I see every disagreement between users being moderated or stopped. When there is no bullying or harassment happening with a disagreement I don’t totally see the point in silencing it. I want my blog to be a place for dialogue, and If this dialogue includes respectfully questioning or disagreeing with my own opinions, I welcome these disagreements and I am open to hearing other opinions.
As of now these are the only things I know I want to include in my community guideline, but I hope to come up with more things to help my community be one of happiness, and one that lacks bullying.
Being a 90’s kid who lived and breathed Pokemon for the better part of their childhood, it was rather mind-blowing to read into the depths of the Pokemon franchise as transmedia storytelling. Transmedia storytelling is ” 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” (Jenkins, 2007). Essentially, it’s when a fiction is created and contributed through various elements which stand on their own, but also together strengthen the story being told. I realize now that literally so many pop-culture stories are transmedia; Pokemon, South Park, Marvel and DC Comics, and Archie and Friends to name a few.
I think, for portfolio purposes, expanding my brand (me, as a designer; my ethos) across different platforms will be extremely beneficial. My website will highlight my web-coding abilities and provide a lens into my professional self. Instagram can act as a more filtered, but personal lens on my story. A paper portfolio is another element that I have considered creating for a while. It could showcase my print design capabilities, however so to could the web — as most people just display all of their work on a website. Regardless, I think having a printed portfolio is still a good idea.
It’s a tricky question, how to tell my story. I will have to think on this more.
Not going to lie, I completely forgot that I had Google Analytics installed! Waiting for the data to load, I was kind of nervous… How many people had visited my site? Had anybody at all? If people had, who were they? What did they think of my content?
Alas… I had zero hits aside from two that must have been from peer reviews. But honestly, I’m a kind of relieved by that. The fact that I’m relieved by having reached next to no one… Well that opens up a whole other batch of questions, namely, what am I afraid of? I think… Okay, maybe afraid wasn’t the right word. But I haven’t linked any social media to my account still either. I don’t feel like my site is ready to “go public”, so to speak. (Clearly, it’s already public, but I mean public to my pre-existing public.)
Thinking about it, how did I expect anyone to even find my blog? If I haven’t provided any links to it from my social media, and I’ve hardly added any tags… I guess I could say that my website is still in its beta stages; I’m testing the waters and getting my sea legs producing content strictly for the Posiel audience. I’m going to have to move beyond that though, and soon. I guess the test for me, for when I feel that not just my blog, but the entire site is what I want it to be, will be when I really make it public and have it accessible to my Instagram/Facebook audiences
As a novice snowboarder passing through BC in January, there is one place you go – Whistler.
Whistler is pretty much the Mecca of winter destinations, and I had been hearing about it for years from all my friends in Hong Kong who have done winter seasons there. It’s big. It’s epic. It’s famous. I had to see what all the fuss was about.
I wanted a solid week somewhere with great snow, easily accessible lifts and long, varied runs of all levels, where I could really focus on improving AND feel comfortable. Whistler ticks all of that. Also, there is an entire cafe/shack on the mountain that sells different grilled cheeses called Ollies.
Anywho, I was nervous Whistler would be too commercial or too touristy, but holy crap I loved it. Like, I-looked-into-changing-my-flights-to-stay-longer loved it. It was just what I needed at just the right time. Yes, yes there is a reason it’s consistently ranked North America’s #1 resort.
Which also leads me to my second point, for those (like me) who are unaware, the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort is actually two mountains – Whistler and Blackcomb, makes sense right? There are dozens of chairlifts and gondolas that go up both, and there is an incredible freestanding gondola linking the two mountains with the village sprawling below along both mountains.
My days were pretty similar. I would wake up, go get coffee and walk over to Whistler mountain, catch the gondola up and spend most of the day riding on the mountain before catching the Peak 2 Peak Gondola and crossing over to Blackcomb and riding down. I ate a lot, I spent a lot of time in my onesie, and I read. It was so chill and great. Each day I felt like I was riding better and better.
With so much snow, I was fizzing. I knew the trip was going to be great, and oh my was the village of Whistler so cute. It was a real-life winter wonderland. Whistler is one of those places that gets under your skin. I know I’ll be back. Have you been to Whistler? Do you ski or snowboard? Are you a fan of winter wonderlands? What’s your dream holiday?