Journal 7

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts – for support rather than for illumination. (Andrew Lang)

Background on WordPress.com Blog

In case you don’t know, Classy and True is actually a WordPress.com blog (hosted by WordPress) and so it is a little different than sites which only use WordPress technology for themes and content management. This means that I am more limited in what I can do with my blog–more limited than I realized when I chose WordPress.com. For example, there are no plugins available to me and widgets are quite selective. And because I can’t open up my theme and play around with HTML, I cannot use Google Analytics on my blog. This is a huge problem for me.

It’s not that WordPress.com doesn’t have its own analytics, it’s just that Google’s are so detailed and in-depth. I don’t have the same accuracy. I have researched ways in which some users have found been able to install Google Analytics, but the process is somewhat costly and is quite technical for me (I only just learned how to make my font boldface using HTML).

At this point in the semester I am not going to start another blog. I like the way mine looks and most things tend to work for me. However, in the future, the lack of choice in analytics would likely sway my decision when choosing a host for my sites.

My Own Analytics

Okay, enough complaining about something I can’t change at the moment. I’ve spent a little time looking over my WordPress.com analytics:

Blog Stats Visitor Bar Graph

 

So the above chart is a (blurry) example of what I look at each day. This shows the number of visitors that day, all time, and my best ever. It’s pretty helpful to be able to see my months at a glance; it’s even more helpful to look at them by day, but that I don’t get an overall picture.

Clearly, October was a good month for my blog. This is true for a number of reasons:

  • my blog was completely up-and-running
  • I posted more in October than in September
  • I incorporated my social media presence (mostly) into my blog

I also see some things in this chart that give me aspects to work on in my future blog posts:

  • increase comments
  • increase views from each visitor–keep them interested

I’m not sure how I’m going to do these things yet so I’ll have to research this a little more. I think it will just come down to working on how I present my content.

Another tool that I am finding beneficial is the ability to look at where some of my visitors are coming from:

Blog Stats Referrers List

This is a picture of my Referrers Summary for the last quarter (90 days). I think that this is a great place to start finding ways to increase my traffic. Obviously, posiel.com and its various pages are referring me a lot because of its RSS feed and the fact that this blog was designed as an assignment for that website’s Publishing course. To me, this shows how helpful it is to be included in RSS feeds.

Facebook and Twitter are bringing in some traffic, but I’d like to see more from these places. With Twitter, I may need to work on increasing the number of followers who would be interested in the subject matter of my blog. Also, my personal blog, Life is What You Do, is bringing in some traffic for which I am thankful. Being included in more than one blog seems to be another way in which I can increase visits and traffic. I will work on commenting on other blogs and try to make a few friends with similar interests in the blogging community. I know that they’re out there; I just have to connect with them.

Finally, I wanted to include the statistics for my posts:

Blog Stats Top Posts Numbers

I like this chart because it gives me a fairly good idea of the most popular types of content on my site. The only problem is that the majority of my views are attributed to my “Home page/Archives” which is where my new posts show up (as well as in their own categories). This is a little frustrating because I can’t view exactly which posts are the most views. However, the views of each post are somewhat helpful. I know, for example that my essay had a higher viewership so I can assume that it was something that people are interested in. Also, by the number of views of my “A Little About This Website” page, I can tell that it is important to have engaging copy on this type of page because a lot of people look at it. This makes sense.

Closing Thoughts

So with all of this information in mind, I am going to continue to work on my blog. It might be difficult to work with all of my goals at once, but this is a learning process for me so I’ll try to be patient.

Even though I don’t have the ability to work with Google Analytics at this time, I still have some information about how my blog is being viewed and about which things I should work to improve. Ideally, focusing on some of these things will increase my traffic as well as visitors who choose to subscribe to my posts. Really, I just want my writing to be read and (hopefully) enjoyed by as many people as possible.

Thanks for reading,

Kathryn

 

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A Story Through Media

This week, my assignment is to tell a story through various types of media. However, I decided that I would tell a story in a different way. I’m an English major so it is kind of my goal in life to confuse people about stories and how they are told. I thought it would be fun to see another type of story-telling.

Often, a story may take the form of a feeling evoked from a piece of music or a picture or even a smell. I wish that I could make your computer smell like freshly-baked bread and vanilla, but I can’t do that. Instead, I am going to give you a picture (a famous one). I will also give you two pieces of music. I’d like you to look at the picture while listening to one song and then do the same while listening to the other song. If you’re like me, there will be a story or even music video playing in your head complete with a plot, setting, and maybe famous actors to play each part.

See if the story evoked by the picture changes with the different types of music. I know that I’m making you do the work, but I think that feeling is story, too.

VJ-Day-Kiss-famous-kisses-2799413-600-897

Song 1

Song 2

What did you think? Did your story change? Was there a story at all or were you just staring at the picture for five or ten minutes?

Feel free to let me know in the comments.

Thanks,

Kassieboo (Kathryn)

Works Cited:

Clearly, these songs and this picture are not mine. I’m just linking to them for the sake of art!

“Please”

“Which way did they go, Peeves?” Filch was saying. “Quick, tell me.”
“Say ‘please.'”
“Don’t mess with me, Peeves, now where did they go?”
“Shan’t say nothing if you don’t say please,” said Peeves in his annoying singsong voice.
“All right- PLEASE.”
“NOTHING! Ha haaa! Told you I wouldn’t say nothing if you didn’t say please! Ha ha! Haaaaaa!” And they heard the sound of Peeves whooshing away and Filch cursing in rage.”  (JK Rowling, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone)

“Please”

I’d like to keep this short because it should be just a refresher for everybody.

When you ask somebody to do something for you (whether he or she is paid to do that thing or not), you say “please”.

End of story.

That’s all, folks.

Image

But really, this is supposed to be a natural inclination. I was raised to say please when I asked for things or ordered food or needed something done for me. In fact, if I didn’t say it, my family (including my older brothers) would tell me I needed to say “the magic words” or they just wouldn’t do it until I remembered to say please. It wasn’t a matter of only doing this in public. I had to do it at home, too. Saying please, for me, is a natural part of asking a question or ordering foods or services. I’m not suggesting that I’m perfect, but I certainly know that you say please!

I find it incredibly rude when I am out with a few friends who don’t say please and thank you to their servers in restaurants or even the person from whom they are buying pants!

To me, not saying please suggests that it is your right to expect something to be done; that you believe you are better than the person serving you. And that is never true. Every single person is equal, from the Queen of England to your server at McDonalds. And each person deserves the same level of respect. That level of respect includes saying please.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include much about “thank you” in this post, but that is because I reblogged this post by Greg Morton in the last month and I think that he does a good job of explaining its use.

Stay tuned for more!

Stay classy,

Kassieboo

Work Cited

The image is 100% my own (shotty) work.

The Harry Potter quotation was taken from this site because I didn’t think to look for it in my own copy of the novel. The passage belongs to JK Rowling, I am just quoting it.

The Journey to the World of Digital Publication: Not Every Stop is the Destination

Essay 1:

The Journey to the World of Digital Publication: Not Every Stop is the Destination

            Publishing is an ever-changing form of sharing information and ideas with wide audiences. There are numerous new ways for authors and creators to publish their content and get it to the public, but this sense of the word “publish” may not be the same as that of the word used in connection to hard-copy books, novels, magazines, and newspapers. The shift that is occurring which takes the population from print literacy to digital is opening up the way in which writers publish their content, but this publishing is not necessarily the same as publication.

Publication

            It is difficult to discuss the idea of publication without an understanding of what it currently means and refers to. The definition moves and changes with the creation and innovation of new mediums and ways of sharing information. However, the most apt description might also be the most abstract:

Publication is not the sale of books, per se; it’s not the pursuit of beauty or the creation of a record or an archive. It’s not simply a tool for transmitting information; publication is a political strategy, the creation of a public. (Stadler, 2010)

In the above quotation, Matthew Stadler describes publication as “the creation of a public” rather than the assumed creation or sale of a book. This comment is a direct result of the shift from print literacy to digital literacy which is still taking place. Publication, to many, no longer conforms to the tight box in which it has stayed for the past half of a millennium.  A new definition, such as the above, is needed to encapsulate all of the new facets of publishing and publication. Stadler also states that “digital distribution and affordable print-on-demand technologies are now a fact of publishing” (2010). There is no room for anachronism in publication; those wishing to give and share information must accept that digital is quickly becoming the prevailing media. Novel releases which once focused on cover art and book tours have grown to include e-books, author blogs, YouTube videos, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts. Perhaps growth is not the correct word for the changes which are taking place in publishing because digital distribution is past being added to hard-copies; it has begun replacing them. The public being created with each block of content—be it story, textbook, memoir, etc.—is much larger and more global than the publics of the past and marketing forms must keep up. The idea of the physical book is dimming as even the language it once lent to internet is being revoked: “The next step is clear: to drop the pretense of creating ‘pages’ of content at all and start making semantically structured chunks of (mostly) text that can be assembled, taken apart, and reassembled as needed” (Kissane, 2012). As the above quotation states, the pretense of mimicking books is growing irrelevant for the creators and managers of internet content. Publication is no longer restricted to all things book.

Self-Publication

            It is challenging to determine where the various platforms for content-creation—creative writing, personal journaling, reporting news, etc.—fit into the idea of publication. Stadler suggests that “[publication] should be cheap, non-exclusive, and easy to do” (2010). Blogging fits this description nicely. Websites like Tumblr, BlogSpot, WordPress, etc. exist for those who would like to have a free space for writing; sites such as these exemplify “cheap, non-exclusive, and easy to do”. Anyone with an email address, the information to share, and time to do it can be a blogger.

            E-books, too, are somewhat simple to publish, judging by the number of self-published novels available through Amazon.ca and Chapters.ca. “The rise of desk-top publishing software and the internet in the late twentieth century, and widespread ebook [sic] publishing in the twenty-first, has enabled an explosion of self-publishing” (Murray & Squires, 2012). This platform allows authors and writers to bypass the publishing houses and ensure their books make it to the public. Some retailers, such as Amazon, have stepped into the publishing business in order to catch these self-publishing authors and, first, help them publish and, second, give them a place to sell their stories and content (Murray & Squires, 2012).

            These two platforms for expression, blogs and e-books, are the focus, here, as both are less and less like the platforms of the past. E-books may keep up the pretense of being a book, but with ability to connect to comments and notes made by other readers, search specific words or phrases, and jump chapters, the gap between e-books and their paper predecessor is growing.

Discussion

            The question, then, is how are blogging and e-book self-publishing publication?  If “[authors] no longer require a publisher to produce books”, then are they still publishing (Murray & Squires, 2012)? Some would say no, these platforms do not constitute publishing (or they do not, at the very least, constitute authorship): “The world has been used to bludgeon you into dumb shit. To put great stories on the shelf to build slideshows. To give up on quality and focus on quantity” (Madrigal, 2013). The worry that the content is suffering at the hands of the presentation is a considerable concern to those who have observed a number of industries give up quality for quantity. The following comment from the digital editor of The Atlantic magazine sums up the apprehension of the people creating the content: “while the best stuff tends to do far, far better than average, it is not always the best stuff that hits virally” (Madrigal, 2013). Popularity does not always follow good writing; it may, unfortunately, follow a song called “Friday” by a less-than-talented young woman.

The real problem may be in the assumption that quality must be a part of publication. There are publishing houses with teams of educated people working together to make already-good books great; the idea is that there is something elite or special about authors who are published. However, with the complete lack of exclusivity inherent to blogs and self-published e-books (and the internet, as a whole), the standard to which hard-copy books were held for so long may not be so important to the new forms of publication “[and] while the value of ‘content’ bottoms out, it’s clear where capital sees the real value in digital media — in the ownership of the platform” (Lamb, 2013). It would appear that with many sites, this last statement is definitely true: writing is exposure, but hosting is money.

It is one thing, though, to determine that blogging is publication, but the readers, the ones for whom all of this is done, may feel differently about the actual experience of reading a book versus reading a published work:

…we do lose…the legacy that comes with the artifact. That is, the inheritance of items that bear the evidence of the human hand and the inspiration that comes from such encounters. My comments on a blog post will not fade, but they do not carry the emotion of my father’s scribbles and wobbly underlines in the copies from his college library. (Nadel, 2011)

In the above excerpt, Ryan Nadel states that there is a variance between comments on a blog and comments in a book. So, for him, blogging may not be publishing in the same way that books are. This sentiment illustrates where he is in his shift from print literacy to digital literacy and it is likely the same place as many people who were born before digital literacy was really a thing. It is too early to determine how people like Nadel view e-books in comparison to their offline counterparts, but it is clear that human connection is a criterion of publication for many readers.

Conclusions and Questions Moving Forward

            The next five to ten years will be interesting for those observing the shift from print to digital literacy. The physical book may become what Nadel calls it, an artifact. In the meantime, the thing on which to focus will be how blogs and e-books fair in the industry of publication. The estimation that e-books will flourish and blogs will become even more commonplace—like an extension of a Facebook status—could be very true or completely wrong. Publication is on the cusp of change; in some ways, it is already rambling forward, trying to find balance, but, in other ways, it is hanging on by its teeth, fighting the inevitable shift.

 

 

 

 

Reference List

Kissane, E. (2012, July 25). “Contents may have shifted”. Contents, (4).

Lamb, B. (2013, March 07). “The bucket has a whole in it, let’s plug it”. Abject Learning.

Madrigal, A. (2013, March 06). “A day in the life of a digital editor, 2013.” The Atlantic.

Murray, P. R., & Squires, C. (2012). “The Digital Communications Circuit.” University of Stirling Research/Infographics

Nadel, R. (2011, January 20). “The book as artifact”. The Mark

Stadler, M. (2010). “What is Publication?” Talk from the Richard Hugo House’s writer’s conference, Seattle, WA. May 21, 2010.

Journal 6

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. (Walt Disney)

Trying Some New Things

Over the last two weeks or so, I’ve been trying some new types of things with my blog and I think that they are a success. I think that by doing them continuously that there will be an increase to my blog’s traffic as well as more readers who choose to follow.

Linking to Social Media

While I’ve had my Twitter account attached to my blog for a few weeks now, it hasn’t really made a difference in blog traffic. I think this is because I don’t use my Twitter as religiously as some people and my followers are mostly friends from high school and the like–they are not necessarily the people who will be most interested in manners and etiquette.

This past week, I tried putting a link to this blog in my Facebook status and saw a small increase in followers and visits. This is great! And I think it will be even greater when I link to larger and more interesting post. Part of this experiment was working up the courage to share my personal (non-academic) writing with my friends and family. Even though I’m an English major and do A LOT of writing, it is still hard to allow people whose opinions matter to me to read my writing. I do think that it will benefit both me and my blog to do this more often, though. For personal blogs, social media seems to be a very good way to advertise.

Including a Larger Variety of Media

Over the past week, I have tried playing around with the types of posts that I include in my blog. Previously, I focused mostly on writing funny, smart posts with lots of information. After reading a few critiques of my classmates’ blogs, however, I have found that many bloggers and readers prefer a mix of media where possible so as to break up large chunks of content. Personally, I don’t mind reading a large block of text as long as the writing is high-quality, but, at this point, I also need to value the ability to drive a lot of traffic to my blog. If pictures and videos help, then I will try to include these popular media.

I included a comic from The Oatmeal as well as a video called “The Science of Happiness” to which I was referred by a friend. My hits didn’t rise much from these posts, but I think that I should still work with these ideas. I plan to focus on learning how to incorporate more media smoothly and with a point rather than for the sake of including videos and pictures.

Adding More Tags to Each Post

This is really a “no-brainer”. The more tags a post has, the higher chance of it being found by people using search engines. I’ve been trying to use tags that refer to specific sections of my post as well as general ideas and themes.

I tried tagging more on posts in my new personal blog, Life is What You Doand saw higher traffic per post. I then tried this with Classy and True and saw the same thing so it is clearly a useful method of bringing in more and more traffic. The next step is to work on ways to keep those readers interested and coming back.

Linking Back and Forth to Another Blog

I also tried linking this blog to my personal one and vice versa. I did this with the idea that if a reader liked one, the he or she would hopefully like the other, too. Also, I usually do posts for both blogs in one sitting so it is very easy to include links back and forth. This is probably why my posts on each blog tend to relate to one another–I’m writing with a specific idea in mind.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to try to work on the above things and see how well they work with my blog. I don’t want to become inconsistent in my style so I don’t think that I’ll be doing too many new things for a while.

I’ll keep updating my journal on the progress of my blog.

Thanks,

Kassieboo (Kathryn)

Legalities:

“The Science of Happiness” does not belong to me. It belongs to Soul Pancake. I claim no ownership over any part of its material.

The Oatmeal does not belong to me, either. I just think that it is awesome!

Journal 2

There are tons of different factors that go into ranking well, but the biggest is high-quality content. (David Sinick)

The Technology and How-To

For the past week or so, I have explored different plugins and widgets which I can incorporate into my blog. I’ve looked at attaching my Twitter feed to my sidebar, creating contact forms, adding a search bar, and the like. I’ve googled various techniques and guidelines for personal blogs/websites in order to help me decide on which technologies to attach to Classy and True, but have found little which fits my vision for my blog. I don’t want a money-making site or a site specific to a particular group of academics or thinkers; I want a blog which the average person living in society can relate to and think about after reading. Humour is important to my vision.

Tangent Time!

However, in doing my research, I found that many how-to guides and articles focus on the business end of blogging; of the commodification of thought and opinion. The plugin selections are based on drawing more and more people to the site, not entertaining those who have already found their way there. One article, in particular, seemed to turn a media which was once an outlet for writers expressing themselves in a nontraditional way into a new commercial enterprise for writers and non-writers alike. The article’s subheading that bothered me the most was labeled “Promotion” and the first sentence in this section stated that the topic is “the big one” (Dholakiya). I do understand that being a blogger is a viable living and that this includes promotion (like an author offline), but I find it troubling that being an online writer is no longer about being a writer, if it ever was. Articles, such as the one mentioned, suggest that “you don’t have to be an amazing writer to be a successful blogger” (Dholakiya). I find this troubling. No, you don’t have to be another Vonnegut or Atwood to be a blogger, but shouldn’t being a relatively good writer be at least part of the reason for blogging? Maybe it’s just me being an English major, but I believe that writing is not as easy a many would have you think. It is fairly easy to separate good writers from those who use convoluted sentence structure and nominalization to appear good. Many bloggers are the latter. Some write well, but lack conviction or real interest in their topic. They have great skills of promotion and an intuitive sense of which widgets most interest readers, but do not necessarily have the gift of the written word. In the past week, I have realized that modern writing (blogging and the like) consists of so much more than being a good writer or feeling the need to write down particular experiences or opinions and it sometimes doesn’t even include these things.

I’m sorry to get off track, but this lesson in blogging as a commercial endeavor really interested me. I’m not sure that I think that bloggers need to be excellent writers, but I never realized how many other aspects there are in running a successful blog. This tells me that I still have a very long way to go.

Back to Widgets and Plugins

Really, I’m still exploring widgets. I have found that I like the idea of a visit counter which I have titled “Are We Popular Yet?”. This is the most interesting widget I have found for my site to date. I like the simplicity of Classy and True at the moment so I think that I will keep with this for a while.  As I said in my previous journal entry, I believe that a blog has to grow organically with additions coming from need rather than fear of boring readers. If I see a gap in my blog or realize that I’m missing something, then I will add on, but I’d like this to be practical rather than showy or for technology’s sake.

Any additions I make, I’ll be sure to reflect on in a journal entry.

Happy reading, happy blogging, and happy growing.

Kassieboo

Work Cited:

Dholakiya, Pratik. “How to Blog (Even if You Can’t Write).” Socialmedia Today. Gigya and Infusionsoft, 20 06 2013. Web. 21 Sep. 2013. <http://socialmediatoday.com/hishaman/1545026/how-to-blog&gt;.