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

Guidelines and Balance: Monitoring an Online Community

Week 12 Process Post

In a digital world, the comment section of any online space can look like a war zone. It has become increasingly easy to hide behind the security of ones screen and launch negative comments like virtual rounds of an automatic rifle.

Creating an open online space also means an open space for the darker side of the internet in regards to online comments, shaming, and negative feedback on a publishers content.

In the article “The Psychology of Online Comments” by Maria Konnikova, it is explained how numerous websites have created community guidelines by removing the comment section. Although the anonymous space of the internet plays can key role in creativity, it can also lend a hand to concepts such as the online disinhibition effect and the diffusion of responsibility and encourage un-civil behaviour (Konnikova, 2013).

Personally, I have not yet had an experience with “trolls” or negative online comments (which could be due to the fact that my blog is basically unseen by the public eye). However, in the case that I do blow up as an online blogging internet sensation, I have outlined below a couple of my own community guidelines for my own website:

  1. Regulate the comment section: comb through the comments to remove any overly negative, rude, or inappropriate comments that take away from the general “vibe” of the site. AKA, keep things happy, inclusive, and fun. Life is hard enough and I don’t need something as silly as the comments section of my website to promote anger and hate.
  2. Create a sense of balance (for myself and my readers): Although it can be easy to only focus on combing out negativity, I also want to make a point of responding to positive comments and highlighting little pieces of encouragement and joy that has been created within my online space,. This could be done by making a “community sunshine patch” page that works to highlight the more “sunny” portions of my online community. For instance, I could repost testimonials regarding positive feedback on this page such as “I tried this recipe and my family loved it!!!”, or “I started a daily stretching routine and I finally feel like I’ve claimed a space for zen in my own mind”. Another thing that I could do with this “community sunshine patch” page would be to screenshot and highlight positive interactions between commenters to encourage others to engage with one another and make an online family (awwww).
  3. Display a set of descriptive community guidelines on the homepage of my website that clearly states that this page will not tolerate any slandering or hate towards others, gender, age, abilities, viewpoints on topics, race, or religion. Basically telling commenters to be open minded, respectful, and kind.

Works Cited: Konnikova, Maria. 2013. “The Psychology of Online Comments”. http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-psychology-of-online-comments

Trans-media Integration

Week 11 Process Post

This week, I am reflecting upon ways that I have integrated different forms of media within the content of my website in order to make it eye catching and interactive for readers and page visitors. At the beginning of the semester, my plan was to integrate different channels of media into my blog such as photos, videos, music, references to alternate websites such as Pinterest, and links to alternate pages such as sites for recipes and additional readings. By doing so, I aimed to create different levels of story telling that added to the general theme of a “life well lived” hoping to layer content that applied to all areas of life, to best fit the idea of “A Blog for Life Livers”. Much like how Henry Jenkins explains Transmedia Storytelling in his article “Revenge of the Origami Unicorn: Seven Principles of Transmedia Storytelling (Well, Two Actually, Five More on Friday)”, I worked to integrate different channels of media into my website in such a way that accounted for the idea that “each medium makes its own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story” (Jenkins, 2009). Although Jenkins’ article mainly refers to Transmedia integration in relation to multiverses and fan fiction, I believe that this concept still applies to my website and the creation of my blog as I looked to use multiple channels of media integration within my site to “enhance engagement and expand ones understanding (Jenkins, 2009) and help readers dive deeper into a life well lived.

Works cited:

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. 

Quasi GIF

Mini Assignment 6

Fall down 10 times but get up 11 right??

Here is a quasi-GIF that wears two hats: one that makes this video look like a GIF, due to the amount of times I repeatedly fall making it look like an infinite GIF-like loop, and another that hopefully serves as inspiration for you to try- regardless of how many times you may fall down in the process.

Good food, good life

Week 13 blog post

Good food doesn’t have to be complicated.

Life gets busy and it can be hard to find easy ways to fuel your mind and body with good food. Since eating well goes hand in hand with a life well lived, it only feels fitting to add a food and nutrition post this lifestyle blog. 

Some of my most favourite recipes come from the website and Instagram page “minimalist baker” where every recipe is designed to either be 10 ingredients, 1 bowl, or prepared in 30 minutes or less. Each recipe incorporates fresh fruits and vegetables and aims to provide easy meals that are fancy enough to make you feel like a professional chef. 

I have provided some of my most favourite recipes from the website below to help inspire you for your next meal!! 

Sounds for the soul

Sounds for the Soul

Week 12 blog post

music, music, and more music...

From hours upon hours of study sessions, to stretching and yoga, running, or a morning walk, music has been a pivotal player in my daily life this past month.

Below are some of my personal playlists from Spotify, designed to amplify good vibes and provide a soundtrack to a life well lived. 

1) Ebb & Lofi flo: “Flowing strictly for the vibes” . This is a playlist created with the intent of flowing effortlessly in the background and cleanse the mind during study sessions and my daily yoga/stretching routines. All of the songs are instrumental, however the ebb and flow of each melody is sometimes exactly what is needed to to reset the mind after a busy day. 

2) Equinox: “Equal parts day and night”. This playlist was made with the intention of being a soundtrack to go alongside the seasonal transition from summer to fall. Containing happy and light songs for bright & crisp fall days while also having some more mellow, rainy day songs that make you want to watch raindrops fall. 

3) Sandpiper pl/ flo days: “Summer sunshine, winding roads, and crisp waves”. This playlist was the soundtrack to summer 2020 and will forever make me nostalgic for those carefree days spent on the beach, surfing, and lazing in the sun with good music and good people. 

Enjoy.

Monster Insights Reflection

Week 10 Process Post

This week, I am looking at the data collected through monster insights. I was surprised to the the number of page views that my website had and was expecting a lot less as the only people that I am aware of who have seen my site are my parents, a few friends that I have sent it to for a “second set of eyes”, and the classmates that have had to peer review my page. In addition to this, I was also surprised by the avgerage session duration on my website. I fully expected it to be quite low but an average session time of 4 minutes (3.58 min) is more than I expected from my small community of viewers. Ideally, I would like this number to increase as it would mean that people are wanting to “stay a while” and engage with my content. From this data, I feel more inspired to make some more eye catching graphics that pull users in, as well as more blog posts such as my “forest foraging ” post and my “magic: sometimes lost but always found” as they are my most popular/ best received posts. In addition to this, the 40.83% bounce rate on my blog was a tough metric. Meaning that 40.83% of people viewing my website arrive at my landing page, and then “bounce” without looking any further, totalling in almost 50% of my engagement being through single paged visits. Ouch. However, I do wonder if I have contributed to this metric through all of the times that I look up my own website to “check it out” and then quickly exit off it. In all, I found the metrics from monster insights very helpful and am taking away the motivation to create more using engaging content now that I can see what makes the people stay.

Rain thoughts.

Week 11 blog post

As I sit here on a cold grey day, listening to the rain tapping on the window while a vinyl record spins and crackles softly in the background, I can think of all the million things I could be writing, but none of which I truly feel inspired to share right now.

In this moment, the only words I want to read are ones that pull me closer to the present, and rather than escape to a new world, all I want to write are words that keep me grounded in my own.

So here it is:

Sip your coffee slowly. Not every day has to be your wildest adventure. Sometimes a life well lived is the very notion of recognizing the present. Recognizing that you are living, and that that is enough. Allow yourself to watch the raindrops that hit your window. Watch them dance along the glass. Listen to the silence that echoes through your house once the needle lifts from the groove on your record. Take these precious moments of your alone time and use them to nourish yourself. Speak to yourself, but speak softly. Be kind, be patient, be gentle. Allow yourself to breathe. We use so much energy filling our brain with the need to think think think, and the need to be five steps ahead of the present moment, but sometimes it’s okay not to think at all. If you don’t start learning to indulge yourself in little mundane moments such as this, how will you ever learn to be present in the bigger ones? Find your calm, because life will always be crazy. Wether it’s the non stop demands of school, a busy job, or the chaos of constantly trying to please those around you, there will always be the need to take a breath. So use this moment you have right now. Put this blog post away, and listen to the world . Take this moment for yourself, because much like when you write for your own enjoyment, learning to steal moments for you and only you will become an oasis for your mind.

the sun’s solace

Week 10 blog post

The sun will rise,

and we will try again.

Peeking through the sky,

it will shine it’s light,

spreading warmth into corners once dark,

melting the ice that had been frozen in place.

The sun will sing,

a cheerful melody,

carrying a tune of second chances.

In an endless circle,

the sun will dance,

trying again,

and again,

to make things right.

At the end of the day the sun will set,

and whisper its final breath,

a soft solace,

that everything will be okay.

So for now

we too can rest,

and save our worries,

for the sun will rise

and we will try again.