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.

Peer Review 3: Falling For Fashion

http://fallingforfashion.com/

This week I am reviewing the marketability of my peer Kyra’s blog “Falling For Fashion”.

Content:

From a content standpoint, I think that the blog could be more marketable to users if it had more visual content to interact with. For instance, if the homepage had something like a fashion “look book” gallery where you could scroll through different outfits and pictures of fashion models, or even a separate tab on the homepage that had a look book of your personal outfits (as seen on the “about” section) and/ or a section that highlighted each of the different fashion items you’ve written about in your blog posts (such as leather outfits and baugette bags). That way a visitor on your site could click on a tab or scroll down the homepage and see browse through outfits and see pictures to draw inspiration from. Another thing that could add to user engagement would be adding links to fashion videos such as fashion youtubers reviews on new trends, seasonal haul reviews (such as a fall fashion haul), or YouTube clips of runway shows / other fashion videos.
Another way you could make your blog more marketable would be to add your own styling guides. It would be cool and engaging to see home tutorials on how to layer outfits, how to create a set of “basics” that you can pair with other clothing items, how to accessorize your wardrobe for winter/ fall/ summer, or ways to combine different pieces to create different aesthetics.

An example of the kind of videos that you could insert as additional content, I have added some screenshots of my favourite fashion YouTuber Asia Jackson’s Chanel. Videos like “How to build your wardrobe with basics”, “how to turn outfits into LOOKS”, or “how to define your style WITHOUT spending money” are all types of videos that would be helpful resources for users or, an even better option would be if you were to make your own videos or blog posts for your website.

https://youtu.be/vKkfJ3njap8

Here are some photos (below) that are examples of the type of content from your blog already that would fit well for the “look book” suggestion.

Design:

From a design standpoint, the blog is very clean and minimalistic which I think works really well as it allows the user to focus more on whats important : clothing and fashion. I like the collages and I think they’re a really fun & creative way to create aesthetics for your posts. I especially like the collage you made for your “fun on flim” post as it gave the post a very nostalgic scrapbook kind of vibe.

http://fallingforfashion.com/blog/

I think that the blog could benefit from making the headings from each post and your website title all the same colour, as right now, the “Falling For Fashion” title is green, the subtitle “The latest and greatest fashion updates” is brown, your process post headings are black, and your blog posts headings are purple. Although color is nice to have, I think that choosing one constant colour for all of your blog post & process post headings and subtitle would clean things up, especially with the green title.

Another suggestion that I would have is to double check your links for your process posts as I was unable to click on your week 3 and 4 process posts and could only read/ interact with your content for weeks 1 & 2. From a user’s perspective, it would be nice to be able to easily see your content laid out that doesn’t make the user need to do a lot of extra work. Although this may seem odd, one thing that is important to consider is that in todays media we are used to things being instant. Because of this, the average users attention span on any social media site is typically pretty short. In order to draw users in and keep them engaged, it is important to have the design of your website simple and easy to engage with so the user can scroll through and interact with little hassle. This way, you are more likely to keep your users attention, creating more engagement with your site and in turn, making it more marketable.

^ the posts that I seemed to be unable to viewhttp://fallingforfashion.com/process-posts/

In all, I really like the idea of this blog and think it has a lot of potential to be a super sweet & modern page for fashion lovers and internet users alike. With a little more visual content added, it could be very marketable as a page that one would go to as an alternative to instagram or YouTube to find fashion inspiration and updates on new trends. The fact that it is a blog over a social media account such as Instagram or YouTube gives it a “morning newspaper” kind of vibe, that makes you want to read it each week with a cup of coffee in one hand, and scroll through a sort of interactive journal that allows the user to interact with fashion media in different ways. Because of this, I think that “Falling for Fashion” has a lot of potential to be a very marketable and unique site and I am exited to see how it grows throughout the second half of this semester!!

Social Media: Expanding or Narrowing Our View? Personal Response

Week 9 Process Post

Journalism and media have expanded in many ways in recent years and have allowed an entire new platform of journalism and news sharing to emerge from the internet. However, the idea of what constitutes news has changed its shape to become a much more loosely defined term. For instance, we have become accustomed to forms of news such as “soft news” and “infotainment” that are less concerned with important global events, and are more directed towards appealing to emotions, entertainment, and sensationalized, catchy headlines. Whether we realize it or not, the news we are exposed to is filtered and narrowed to fit our own biases, even when we think that we are seeing the “full truth” or “expanding” our viewpoints. Factors such as proximity, the introduction of hard and soft news, and what we subconsciously select as “newsworthy” when reading/ viewing the news all impact the information that we are receiving in the age of digital media. For instance, proximity influences the news we see and is a byproduct of the subconscious tendency to care more about what is in our direct community/ culture. Often, we contrast a narrative that fits our normal scope of daily life and cultures because we feel more closely related to it, and therefore more drawn to reading and empathizing with this kind of media. For example, as Canadians, we are more drawn to events that involve Canada because it seems more relevant to our daily lives and close to home. The two avenues of news (hard and soft news) also plays a large role in what type of digital media we choose to consume and contributes towards our own narrowed vision of the social world. We have become more drawn to sensationalized news stories and the media has used this as an agenda setting tool to decide on which topics will grab the most public attention. This has set a new norm of what is considered political, and we have started to expect more personalized/ appealing/ flashy coverage of news. This gradual shift in how our news is packaged has shaped a narrowed viewpoint on media and news in more ways than we may realize and has made it become increasingly harder to differentiate credible information online.