Web development is constantly evolving and no longer requires one to be an expert coder or even familiar with computer science. Presently, there are a wide variety of services and applications that make creating a website notably more accessible. Through much trial and error my blog “Lore of the World” or LOTW was made. It is a blog that aims to build upon all sorts of stories from literature and cultural beliefs. The demographic is fairly open but skews towards an audience between the ages of sixteen and older. As I chose to keep it within the classroom for now, the current public are primarily those in their twenties. I imagine my public; as mentioned by Matthew Stadler in “Finding Your Audience in the 21st Century”, to be people who have similar interests already and those who have yet to discover topics like folklore. Stadler explains that a “publication is the creation of a public…created by deliberate acts”. Even for websites that prevent users from commenting, creating, or interacting in a noticeable way, that is very much an act which creates a specific public. While users for LOTW cannot make their own posts, they have the option to comment and add to the discussion. Ideally, feedback and a distinct relationship will be created as it continues to grow and evolve. That said, it is difficult to create something that you enjoy creating for yourself while also capturing public attention. Too easily can one fall into either a project for self-satisfaction and frustrate their audience, or have their persona change entirely which may potentially alienate the original audience.
Upon reflection, there is an apparent difference when comparing my original expectations to the current status of my blog. Genevieve Gignac’s peer review is an excellent representation of both the positives and faults of my blog that I am aware of. I have found her input to be very helpful. Likely due to the minimal content outside of course material, Google Analytics revealed that there was not a considerable amount of traffic. Understandably, users currently spend the majority of their time on both the Home and Introduction pages respectively because these pages have the most content. Additionally, I kept my articles and advertisements about my blog to this class which also accounts for the low numbers. I am continuing to work on many of the suggestions she has made such as removing some widgets. Another example is creating a site logo and integrating more of my own art. While I have found many difficulties passing on the ideas for my blog from my head unto the screen, I have confidence in my artistic abilities. As the semester continued, I questioned why I chose not to pursue an art blog instead. Ultimately, I came to understand that my attention was split between a subject I find interesting to discuss casually, and one that is more appropriate for a traditional publication such as a book considering the scope of what I originally tried to accomplish. As I will have much more time coming this spring, I am aiming to completely restructure my blog. The darker theme will be similar, but I hope to improve the user interface and experience. In order to increase traffic to the blog, it is a must to create a more active social media presence. For the current iteration of LOTW, however, I prefer to keep it as a hobby rather than concern myself with popularity. This course allows us to also focus on future endeavors. For instance, I plan to convert it into an art blog.
Initially I felt that publication was primarily content focused. Although I still believe this to be true, online presence goes beyond merely posting regularly and having basic social media links. I chose to forgo additional social links for several reasons. The first was a lack of confidence towards constantly updating pages like an Instagram. This is something I would change once there is more content. The second of which is my lack of experience with web design. As it is my first attempt, the smaller audience within the class allows me additional freedom to change and experiment. Most importantly, anonymity helps to create a more mysterious atmosphere that compliments my blog theme. Contemporary publication require content creators to “carefully craft the way we appear…behave, and…the way we are perceived by others” (Max). This is a key idea for those who intend to monetize their content, services, or their persona. Even a silent or relatively removed persona affects the entire atmosphere. The less a content creator interjects, the more users can build an identity for the website themselves. An example of such includes forums such as Reddit, Tumblr, and 4chan. Even if the moderators are present, their interactions with users are generally minimal. As a result, the content is unanimously user generated despite content control remaining with the moderators. This in itself is a method to draw users. Just as “our identities are constructions that we tinker with as we go” websites also evolve over time based on their user base (Max). Gignac mentions how LOTW “is not meant to create an online persona but more like an “online world” that other users can engage with and learn from”. She is correct with her assumption, and a “fascinating fantasy land” is what I had hoped to create for individuals such as herself who have no initial interest in folklore or fantastical literature. Anonymity is important to me for both logistical reasons and as a way to allow LOTW to develop alongside its public.
It is this contemporary online space which allows one to connect with a wide variety of people and who all express their own opinions or ideas. Ideally, a blog allows for the author to express their viewpoints, opinions, or creative works. It is crucial to consider who one’s audience is. Depending on the preferences of the creator, they may or may not decide outsider attention is important. As technology evolves and becomes more accessible to people of every type of background, competency, and expertise. Whether it is solely through my own incompetency or something else, it is clear there is a large deficit between my ability to create a certain aesthetic on paper and actually implementing that aesthetics in a functional manner for a website. Developing a user-friendly cyber infrastructure demands a lot of time. Even with the many tutorials and services available, it is a daunting task to someone like myself. Despite this, I did manage to create an outline and learn some of the basics. While disappointing, it allows me to reflect on where these deficits come from and critically think about what can be done in the future. While I am uncertain about continuing my blog as it currently is, I do intend to take the skills I have learned and implement them for future projects.
- Stadler, Matthew. “What Is Publication? A Talk by Matthew Stadler.” Publication Studio, 11 Sept. 2010, https://vimeo.com/14888791.
- Max, J. 2015. “The Publication of Self.”
- Gignac, Genevieve. “Peer Review #1.” Genevieve-Gignac, 28 Sept. 2019, http://genevieve-gignac.com/posiel/peer-review-1/.
- Dijck, José van. “‘You have one identity’: performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn.” (2013).