Essay #2: Reflection on Blogging

Picture credits go to Webnode.

It’s surreal to believe that we’re already entering the month of April.

I still remember the feeling of excitement and nervousness for our first class of our publishing course. Taking publishing was something I always wanted to do, however, throughout my academic career, I always stuck to my comfort zone, choosing courses that was related to my degree, yet, subjects that I had no particular interest in.

When I finally decided to enroll in publishing, at first, I had the irrational fear that I would be disappointed or find myself not enjoying our PUB 101 course. Boy, was I wrong to think that. I loved and enjoyed every aspect of this course. I liked how each week we learned something new, in order for us to develop experience as online publishers, whether it was guest speakers, learning different tactics, be able to design on our own, etc.

Once it was established that we had to create our own site for this course, I knew I wanted my blog to be about things related to Vancouver and anything that I found to be cute. Essentially my blog became a lifestyle one, which I’m please about. When it came to design and layout, I knew the colour scheme would have to at least involve the colour pink. Previously I had an initial design that was nice, but font was barely visible, we had learned that typography and readability, was an important factor to have a successful blog. Having this in mind, I knew I wanted my theme to be girly, cute, yet inviting. Which lead me to the decision of choosing the Enamored Layout by Beautiful Dawn Designs for my blog. The design had embody what I wanted my blog to be about, plus it was simple and made it easy to navigate.

When I began to think about what type of posts to write about, I knew I wanted to incorporate my personality in some way. I did this by writing in a way that I was talking to my readers personally. I also added cute emoticons throughout the post, showing how I felt about things. I did add colour to my writing as I felt it would make my blog pop out more and personal. Furthermore, I made sure I added pictures to have the visualization for my readers.

When it came to the topic of writing my entries, I typically wrote about places in Vancouver, events or reviews of items that I bought previously. I wrote about these topics because I wanted my readers to find the value or take an interest in the places that I had visited or ate at. If they had taken something away from my posts, I felt there was a nice satisfaction to it. Since my posts and writing style were catered to females, I did imagine my audience to be young females either in high school or post-secondary, with most of them living in Vancouver or those who had an interest in Japanese culture.

After the incorporation of Google Analytics to our sites, I learned that some of my viewers were outside from Vancouver and Canada. I won’t lie, I did feel pretty proud, as the majority of my posts were more for those who lived in Vancouver. One thing that surprised me was that I had absolutely no male viewers. When I discovered this, I did contemplate if I should change my writing style or layout to attract more male viewers. However, I decided against it. I felt that if I did, I would be changing myself and my site, just for the sake to obtain more views from readers who weren’t my original targeted audience anyways. 

There is still the urgency of wanting more readers to come onto my site, however, I do have to remind myself my blog is still relatively new. I also need to work on the engagement tactics that I learned in class to attract more people onto my site.

Looking back from the very first week, until now, I learned things that I never would have. I learned the term personal cyberinfrastructure, and how that nowadays when it comes to digital world, there’s more than having a simple template, there’s more skills involved.

More so, in the beginning, I believe I wrote my posts just for the sake of filling my blog with content and for this course. Now, I find myself getting back into blogging for the sake of my own interest and as a hobby. I do remember in the beginning of this course, I felt lost in what I wanted to write about, I was teetering between having a blog solely based on food in Vancouver, or having a lifestyle blog that pertained to my interest. My T.A actually encouraged me to do both, and so I did.

This course alone, has taught me so much. I like the fact that we got to use WordPress instead, as it taught me a brand new platform. I like the fact that I was able to create my own personal site and that all the design and layout decisions were done by me. The class also taught me a significant lesson in making sure not to add too much personal information online. We learned that all things that are published online have a data trail, meaning whatever we write can be traced back to us and those who have a malicious intent can use our personal information against us.

When it comes to my blog, I feel that my personality has been shown through my posts, the layout, the design, etc., since I’m in charge of all my own decisions. Whether these decisions look good or bad to some, I’m proud to say that at least I was one the who chose these decisions alone and no one else. And knowing that, makes me happy 🙂

References

Campbell, W. (2009). A Personal Cyber Infrastructure. Educause. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

Jamali, R., Jaroodi, R. A., Lazo, J.A., & Phillip, G.,(2016, May 6). Digital breadcrumbs: the data trail we leave behind. Pod Academy. Podcast retrieved from http://podacademy.org/podcasts/digital-breadcrumbs-our-data-trail/

Snell, S. (2016). Blog Design: Does Design Impact Your Success? Vandelay Design. Retrieved from http://www.vandelaydesign.com/impact-of-design/

 

 

Essay #1: Fake News

Nowadays, the use of social media is integrated as an daily activity for the majority of people in society. The popularity of such platforms, are in no doubt, increasing as social media has and reaches a wide range of audiences. While there are many different types of social media applications that have different functions, for example, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. these platforms do share the common feature as a form of communication and as a way for people to connect and re-connect with one another.

However, thanks to such social media platforms, it’s been evident that more and more people are obtaining and accessing news from it. In a general consensus, research conducted by the Pew Research Center had found out that approximately 62% of adults obtain news from social media. Furthermore, the research had broken down the statistics in greater detail by the different platforms. They discovered that two-thirds of Facebook users (66%) find out news on it, while about six out of ten (59%) Twitter users get news on the platform and whereas, seven out of ten Reddit users obtain news on Reddit itself (Gottfried & Shearer, 2016). The significance of this is that some stories may not be credible, and may turn out to be fake and false news. In which case, some people may not check if it has credible sources or is valid, before sharing it with the public.

The term “false news” has been recently been used too widely, thanks to the influence of the recent US presidential election. According to Elle Hunt from the Guardian, false news is defined as news that is made up entirely and that is manipulated and altered to the point that it appears like realistic and credible journalism. False news uses tactics to attract traffic and reach a bigger range of audiences. They use such tactics as clickbaits, eye-catching headlines and pop-ups (Hunt, 2016).

People who create false news may possiblly do it for the “…thrill of deception, or call their work satirical or in it for the money….” (Herman, 2016). The concept of false news is that the stories that are written, are mainly focused on fabrications and lies and are published with no valid and credible sources. Journalist, John Herman of the New York Times, stated that this can lead to these stories to be quickly posted on numerous sites, which can lead to the false news being shared by many.

False news can not only lead people to believe in something that is untrue, but in severe cases it can also bring harm to people. For example, the infamous Reddit Boston Bombing case. The days after the incident, many users on Reddit started sleuthing to find out who were the culprits behind the bombing. This led to millions of users to incorrectly accused Brown University student, Sunil Tripathi, as the perpetrator of the bombings. Unfortunately, due to these accusations, Tripathi found himself facing massive negative backlash, which eventually led to his suicide (Stanglin, 2013).

Once it was brought to light that Tripathi was indeed, innocent, many news outlets and Reddit in general, had issued an apology to Tripathi’s family. The general manager of Reddit, Erik Martin, ensured during that time, Reddit and other social media platforms, would be more cautious and make sure that any false accusations and news would not lead to such a crisis. 

Due to the recent US election, false news have become more prominent. Months ago, Facebook had featured a false story about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, on it’s trending topics. The story had falsely claimed that the channel had fired Kelly, for being “…a closet liberal who wants Hilary to win.” (Gunaranta, 2016). This had led to many journalists taking screenshots of such false news, and reporting it to Facebook, in which the platform had ensure they would take better measures in removing such links.

In early 2017, Google and Facebook, have been taking steps to remove false news. Facebook had altered it’s Trending topics feature, to provide more reliable news articles. Despite the efforts of fighting false news, the fight against it, is still a work in progress.

References

Gottfried, J., & Shearer, E. (2016). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/

Gunaranta, S. (2016). Facebook apologizes for promoting false story on Megyn Kelly in #Trending. CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/facebooks-trending-fail-news-section-reportedly-highlights-fake-news-on-megyn-kelly/

Herman, J. (2016). Fixation of Fake News Overshadows Waning Trust in Real Reporting. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/19/business/media/exposing-fake-news-eroding-trust-in-real-reporting.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0

Hunt, E. (2016). What is fake news? How to spot it and what you can do to stop it. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/18/what-is-fake-news-pizzagate

Stanglin, D. (2013). Student wrongly tied to Boston Bombings found  dead. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2013/04/25/boston-bombing-social-media-student-brown-university-reddit/2112309/

Wakabayashi, D. (2017). In Race Against Fake News, Google and Facebook Stroll to the Starting Line. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/25/technology/google-facebook-fake-news.html