Essay #2: Reflection As An Online Publisher

One of the common misbeliefs that people have had surrounding the topic of blogging is that it is very easy to do. However, what some people do not realize is how much hard work and hustle it takes to produce quality and meaningful content on a regular basis; to design and produce visual content; and grow/find our own audiences. Since the beginning of this course, my experience as an online publisher has been both rewarding and exhausting. Earlier on in the course, our instructor Suzanne mentioned that when choosing a topic, it was important to protect our passions so that they do not become a chore since we would be producing content on a weekly basis on whichever topic, we would choose our websites’ to be about. 

Originally, I considered creating a website about books. I am a huge bookworm and a fairly fast reader, but I was concerned that reading would become a chore as she had mentioned. Although I am equally as passionate about film as I am about books, I have written papers on film in a critical and academic format, but never simply for the enjoyment of watching and responding to it. In addition, I have always been torn between creating a blog on film, and this course ended up being the perfect space for me to finally take that leap. Thus, the concept of The Household Box Office began to take shape.

My inspiration for my website initially came about through my passion for film. Ever since I was kid, I have loved everything about movies and TV, including learning about the inter-workings of the film industry itself over the years through my own research and studies. The Household Box Office is my own virtual movie theatre that provides me the same wonderstruck emotions that I would experience from watching in a movie theatre but from home instead, especially during the pandemic. My website’s content focuses on mainly movie reviews, but I also provide suggestions/recommendations for movie and TV series in all genres, as well as generate post on upcoming film news, such as new shows, and other film related topics. I created my own graphics using stock images and online design applications, such as Canva and Photoshop. My website’s design is focused on simplicity for clean and easy navigation, while its’ appearance is meant to reflect the colours of a box office/theatre aesthetic. 

The online environment that I have been envisioning since the early stages of my website’s development was to create an online community that was fun, open, and respectful for both myself and my readers/audience. As we saw towards the end of this course, we as online publishers are responsible for the type of content we publish and how our readers interact with our posts, such as on our comment sections. As publishers we are presented with the challenge of moderating our own comment sections and navigating social waters (Norman, Week 12, 2022). Although my readership is small, I have established a set of community guidelines in order navigate these challenges. Originally, I was going to not include a comments section, but ended up keeping them because of the importance of online publics. Publics are important because they provide a mechanism for how we construct our social world (Boyd, 2014), especially in terms of protecting reader identity. The use of online anonymity has both its positives and negatives. Online anonymity protects user/reader identity and often encourages them to participate more, however, it also allows for something called the “online disinhibition effect” where their online social behaviours differ from their in-person behaviours (Suler, 2004; Konnikova, 2013). By implementing community guidelines is one way to inform your readers about what type of behaviour is and is not acceptable or tolerated on your website(s).  

This experience has taught me a lot about the process of being in control of my own content in terms of how I choose what my posts are about and how I want them to be presented online. As Audrey Watters stated in her article on “The Web We Need to Give Students,” when students create and have control over their own domains, it allows them much more say over what they present to the world, especially in terms of positioning and presenting their public profiles, professional portfolios, and digital identities (Watters, 2015). In addition, by giving students the control over their own digital domains enables them with the opportunity “… to work with on the Web and with the Web,” (Watters, 2015). All together, these aspects have slowly come together through the development and further refinement for what it truly means to be an online publisher for my own publication of my everyday self. Despite all the trials and errors, I believe I will continue to blog and further refine my online social presence. While I do plan to continue to review movies and shows, my future blog goals would be to expand producing blog posts beyond reviews and watch suggestions/recommendations. Overall, I have enjoyed creating my own little virtual space within this vast network of cyberspace. 

References

Boyd, D. (2014). Searching for a public of their own. It’s Complicated. Wattpad. Retrieved from posiel.com

Konnikova, M. (2013). The psychology of online comments. The New Yorker. Retrieved from posiel.com

Norman, S. (2022). Week 12: moderating your commentariat and navigating the social waters. Lecture. Retrieved from posiel.com

Watters, A. (2015). The web we need to give students. Bright Magazine. Retrieved from posiel.com

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