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!

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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!

The Science of Happiness

I encourage you to take eight minutes out of your busy life and watch this video. Giving thanks for the people in your life will make you happy and happy people are usually more polite than people who are unhappy (at least in my experience).

Yesterday, on my personal blog, I made a list of twenty things for which I am thankful. I found that choosing just twenty things was actually really hard to do because I have so many things to be thankful for. I’ve decided that I’m not going to save this practice for Thanksgiving; I’m going to try doing it the next time that I have a bad day and see if it makes me feel as it good yesterday.

Take a couple minutes and be thankful for the important people and things in your life. You’ll feel better and, in turn, be more patient, understanding, and maybe a little more generous.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!
Kassieboo

Work Cited:

This video is the property of Soul Pancake; I’m just sharing it with you because I think it’s so wonderful!