My first experience creating an online presence was incredibly thought-provoking. I consider myself liberated to share myself online and express my opinions and sexuality into the web because I am unapologetically proud of myself. At the beginning of the semester, we were tasked with identifying our “online self” and recognizing our branding potential; this caused a mini existential crisis. Like I stated in Process Post #2: Cyberinfrastructure + Web Developing, I had never thought about my online image very much because I didn’t picture myself entering a career where my every move online would be stalked. I recognized that my online presence and social media posts were made up of content that I crafted to look as genuine as possible- which was a bit of a paradox. While I don’t spend hours planning out my Instagram layout, nor do I lose sleep over filters and touchups, my online self really depends on the audience I share it to, while trying to stay true to my core beliefs.
Creating a blog has been an empowering experience. Once someone has chosen a domain and is given the tools to create a space, the opportunities are far greater than what one chooses to display on a Facebook profile. Audrey Watters highlights that “having one’s own domain means that students have much more say over what they present to the world, in terms of their public profiles, professional portfolios, and digital identities.” Acquiring a website domain of my choosing and having the tools to build it from the ground up is empowering, creative, and satisfying to adapt. Blogs and websites are a great way to stay ahead of the curve when building a portfolio rather than settling for being just another face amongst thousands of LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.
Average Sam captures the essence of me: average. I’m a great friend, a great person, and a great daughter- but ultimately, i’m an average human and I am fine with that. While I ultimately ended up centring my blog around the weekly cooking classes that I teach during kids’ lunch time hour at Strathcona Community Centre, I wanted to also highlight issues that are important and meaningful – such as food insecurity that the children in my class face.
3/4 of the way through the semester, COVID-19 caused school shutdowns which temporarily paused my weekly cooking classes. While I was upset that I didn’t get to finish the school year incorporating cooking and baking activities into the lives of children, I was thankful that I didn’t commit my entire blog dedicated to my professional life. I incorporated a category entitled “Life things” where I would document myself trying new things at home while social distancing, in an effort to encourage readers to also do the same. This new route I have taken in my blog will encourage me to continue writing about things i’m passionate about in my personal and professional life, all while staying true to my brand of trying my best (even if the things that I try do not turn out perfect the first time).
I believe that my audience consists of family members and friends, but once I share my blog on my personal social media pages, my blog can reach more members of my community. My imagined public would be sponsors that can support my food programs within the community centre I work at. Another audience I would like to reach would be those that would be willing to make donations after seeing personal accounts of the importance of food programming for kids in poverty. Ideally, my audience will also be inspired by my willingness to jump into the deep end and document failing, so ideally the value that I am providing is the value of trying new things, regardless of the quality of the outcome on the first try.
Through the use of a simple layout and pleasant colours, I hoped to create a space that was easy on the eyes, encouraging readers to extend the length of time that they visit. Travis Gertz discusses how to survive the digital apocalypse in his design machines article; he mentions how content creators tend to “design like machines” and how “The work we produce is repeatable and predictable.” With this in mind, I wanted to create a blog that stood out amongst the others, while still being user friendly. To give my blog a bit of charm, I downloaded a mouse cursor widget, and customized the viewer’s mouse to look like an egg. This detail is a small but effective way to differentiate between other blogs and leave a charming impression, while capturing the easygoing essence of my blog (and lifestyle) of not taking oneself too seriously. Jesse Thorn of transom suggests that there are 12 steps into “making yourself” when creating content that will also lead the path to a career. Amongst other great points to follow, Thorn suggests that one must be “authentic”, “follow [their] passion”, and “own what [they] create.” I personally believe that my ability to maintain my personal voice within my writing while staying true to my message will help me be successful if I ever wish to expand the reach of my blog.
With the final week of this class approaching, I’m thankful for the opportunity I was given to create an online space for myself within the world wide web. I will continue to work on my blog and craft it in a way that represents me professionally and personally. I will continue to express myself and share my humour and life through my blog, and Average Sam will continue to do her best and inspire others to do the things that intimidate them, while embracing imperfections.
Audrey Watters. 2015. “The Web We Need to Give to Students.” https://medium.com/bright/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x
Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015. Available from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines
Jesse Thorn. 2012. “Make Your Thing.” http://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing/