APSI Critique

The project in which I have been following for the semester is Chelsea’s website creation with APSI. Chelsea received an offer for an internship from the Australian Professional Snow Sport Instructors as they wanted a keen individual to assist them in improving there current website and take on some social media responsibilities. Chelsea jumped at this opportunity and was eager to put her website design skills to the test as it is obviously an area she is passionate about and wants to gain some professional experience. Her aim was to create a more exciting website for the organization which would hopefully impress them and lead to some paid work and also be something she could use in the future to show other employers.

 

After listening to her beta presentation today Chelsea explained there have been some hiccups along the way. Chelsea was ready to jump in and get her hands dirty in some design concepts for the website but found that process with the website was slowed due to APSI lack of enthusiasm. But Chelsea showed perseverance and continued emailing and the business although she may have felt as though she was pestering them I believe this shows what great character she has and how determined she was to prove what she could do. Finally APSI decided they would look at some of her designs and they were not disappointed. Using the Wix website creation as a medium Chelsea designed two concept websites that were a huge step up from the current website.

 

The website utilized gif like videos in the background which I thought gave the website a vibrant feel and added so life to the page, Chelsea used premier pro to edit the videos and had never used this program before which demonstrates her quick learning abilities. She is also currently in the process of making another website template with videos. The websites colour pallet is in accordance with what APSI have informed Chelsea it needs to be soft grey tones with different shades of blue. Overall I think these colours work nicely together and contrast with the context of snow once combined with the images of mountains and skiers. The navigation of the page is simple and user friendly with clearly labeled tabs that sit nicely at the top of the page. Something that was discussed in class that could be improved was the sizing of the top banner, it was too large and could be improved but overall the layout and presentation of the website was clean, crisp and engaging.

 

Chelsea’s beta presentation could have been slightly improved as she really only walked us through the website quickly and discussed some of communication boundaries she had with APSI. Although her website was impressive she could have gone into more depth about the processes she went through to generate her ideas and actually develop them. She also never explained if she did any work with there social media or whether or not the website was her main focus. From my observation I don’t believe Chelsea was at fault, as the organization seemed to lack the enthusiasm that she quite clearly had. Once Chelsea had proven to ASPI how much of an asset she could be they offered her some paid work and also discussed there plans for the future of the website which is an accomplishment she should be proud of.

My advice for Chelsea is to continue developing website design ideas for the company and experiment with a range of different layouts, images and videos. To generate more interest in the page itself she could definitely use APSI’s social media. APSI mentioned they wanted to go for a website design that had similar aspects from the nzsia.org and this would be a good starting point for her to stimulate some ideas. Chelsea’s project can be seen as a success even though the APSI website hasn’t changed since the commencement of the project Chelsea pushed forward and showed inactive to go out on her own and create some really good content. She turned a business around who showed little enthusiasm at the start for change through her dedication and hard work. I think what impresses me so much about Chelsea’s project is that when she was faced with a challenge she didn’t quit she put her head down and made things happen for herself when many other people would have raised the white flag.

 

The APSI website is in dire need of an upgrade it is bland and not engaging at all I believe that Chelsea is the girl to turn this website around and I have full confidence in her abilities as a web designer to accomplish the goals she set out to achieve. More bright colourful images are needed and her beta designs are definitely a step in the right direction. I hope Chelsea continues to impress the company and will continue to follow the website and the progress she makes as I myself want to pursue a career that will involve website design

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Processing Sketch Bustling City

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My processing sketch is based on a few concepts. At first look it is interesting to note that it isn’t quite clear what is going on but it quickly engages your attention. This is due to the fact that it is a very lively piece that is constantly moving and changing. This is the essence of this sketch; the constant movement of each ellipse represents humans and the hustle and bustle of a busy city. With this knowledge you may recognise that the image being created by the ellipses is actually a depiction of a busy city street. The sketch makes use of some principal elements of programming, as it incorporates instructional-based actions much like Sol LeWitt’s wall drawing works. You could also say this sketch has an abstraction feel to it through the repetition of each ellipse being created but at the same time there is still an aspect of random placement to each one. Overall the image incorporates a mixture of abstraction movement which highlights the busy lively attributes of city life.

Code:

PImage city;

void setup(){
//size of image
size(800,700);
//Loading image from file
city = loadImage (“city.jpg”);
//background colour black
background(0);
}

void draw(){
//image (city, 0, 0);
//instruction for image
for(int i =0; i < 200; i ++){
//floating point is random
float x = random(width);
float y = random(height);
//use colour pallette from image
color c = city.get(int(x),int(y));
//fill screen with colour
fill(c);
//disable drawing the stroke outline
noStroke();
//draw circle size and placements
ellipse(x,y,16,20);
}
}

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original image:

city.jpg

The Semaphore Line

Towards the end of the 18th century the first networks of optical telegraphs were being constructed. Although there was still much uncertainty about the precise way in which true long distance communications across a chain of signaling stations could be implemented (G. Holzmann). This was due to the many different variables that could result in the error of encoding or decoding a message. For example:

  • The speed in which a message is communicated.
  • How one could recover from a type of transmission error
  • Or how conflicts in transmissions had to be resolved (G. Holzmann).

 

Robert Hooke was an English architect who first recognized that the operation of any telegraphic device requires not only the encoding of a message but also the control of the code. This meant there needed to be a set of guidelines that covered any issue that may arise when encoding and decoding a message.

 

Hooke designed a clear set of control codes that covered the majority of issues that needed resolving when it came to the optical telegraphs although Hooke’s codes were never actually put into practice (G. Holzmann).

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Another century passed before Claude Chappe invented the first semaphore system in 1792 however, a few more years were essential to improve the design and coding procedure (J-M. Dilhac, 1999). In 1805 Claude Chappe committed suicide but by this time his invention had already been deemed a success. His three brothers Abraham, Ignace and Pierre were appointed to organise and chair the telegraph administration (J-M. Dilhac, 1999).

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The Mechanical Design

 

Many early designs of the telegraph were failures such as using synchronized clocks and a trial to use electricity as a medium for transmission (as no insulatior could be found for the electric wires) (J-M. Dolhac, 1999). Through various preliminary experiments, which were conducted in 1792, Chappe and his brothers had decided that linear arms were more visible over a distance than a shutter semaphore. This resulted in a design, which consisted of a long (4 m x 30 cm) rotating bar (the requlato) and two smaller arms which rotated (the indicators) which where located on each of its ends, these arms were also counterbalanced with metallic weights (J-M. Dilhac, 1999).

 

The code

 

Developing control signals and an efficient coding procedure was an essential step as it was impossible to transmit without them, as errors were guaranteed in the process of transmission (J-M. Dilhac, 1999). The very first code that was utilized by Chappe was a simplistic decimal system. This system consisted of an encoding table, which had 9,999 entries of letters, words, and phrases, which were paired up with there own numeric code. The most commonly used words and phrases were placed at the top of the list and were given the shortest encodings. For example the first nine entries included numerals from 1-9, which were encoded in one single semaphore sign. The next 89 entries were numbered from 10-99 and were encoded in two successive signs; the entries from 100-999 required three and the last entries, from 1000-999 had 4 successive signs.

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To send a word or phrase you would need to transmit the numeric code group spelled out with the 10 signs in the picture above so that you would be able to identify the code group that was being transmitted. Control signs were also a key component for all of this to work Chappe incorporated fourteen control signs, these signs always used both indicators so that they were easily identified the 14 signs included:

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In 1794 the first message was transmitted by the telegraph, the message told of the victory of the French troops at Quesony. The last transmission was a similar message of victory, the fall of Sebastopol in 1855. The French military saw a lot of value in Chappe’s invention and you can see why that might be.

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Claude Chappe’s telegraph was used for over 60 years, it was the first and largest optical network of its kind. Although it was a successful invention there were downsides for example the ability to transmit messages in the night or when there was a lot of fog around and the fact that it was very costly to run. Nonetheless, the optical telegraph proved that simple signs could transmit messages across long distances and paved the way for electrical communication.

References:

Optical Telegraph Codes, Gerard J. Holzmann, http://spinroot.com/gerard/pdf/geheim95.pdf (Last Accessed 18/09/2016)

The Telegraph Of Claude Chappe – An Optical Telecommunication Network For The XVIIITH Century,  Prof. J-M. Dilhac, http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/images/1/17/Dilhac.pdf (Last Accessed 18/09/2016)

 

Chappe Optical Telegraph, Atlas Obscure. http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/chappe-optical-telegraph (Last Accessed 18/09/2016)

#EndPoverty

There are no simple solutions to ending world poverty and it is naïve to think that there is. That’s why National Geographic’s #EndPoverty hash tag challenge, where people are encouraged to submit confronting photos that depict acts which best describe the term #EndPoverty is relatable to the countless other charity ploys that promise a easy solution for complex issues. “Poverty porn refers to both Westerners’ portrayal of global inequality, disease and hunger and also to the distorted presentation of disadvantage by the advantaged” (S. Threadgold, 2015. P.1).

Poverty porn exploits the poor’s situation with the objective of generating sympathy, which can lead to an increase in donations or support for a given cause. It can include photographs individuals who are in poverty stricken environments people who are suffering and malnourished. Poverty porn is completely wrong and exploits people who are already in horrible situations. And the #EndPoverty campaign is an obvious example of poverty porn.

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While some may argue that these sorts of images increase donations to charities that fight poverty, there is still the underlying problem of how effective these organisations are and whether they can actually achieve a sustainable change on poverty. Half the world’s population (over 3 billion people) lives on less than $2.50 (USD) a day (A. Shah, 2013). UNICEF have also stated that 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. These sorts of statistics are almost unfathomable and really support my claim of just how big issue world poverty is. It also emphasises the fact that whilst these companies may be aiming to make a difference they are barely making a dent.

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Photographs can be a powerful form of visual communication and whilst I do believe that photographs can prompt individuals into action and result in change, I do not agree with the exploitation of people who are less fortunate to gain something. You can easily question the ethical use of these photographs and the way in which they depict people based on their material wealth. To me this form poverty porn is just a degrading marketing tactic, which is “invariably concerned not with the big picture, but with the individual – this person is helpless – this person needs your money – this person is incapable of making a better life for him/herself” (Aid Thoughts, 2009). Poverty is an issue and there are people out there who need our aid but I believe we can do this whilst maintaining the dignity of those who live in poverty.

References:

A. Shah. 2013. Poverty Facts and Stats. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats [Accessed 23 March 2016]

Matt. 2009. What is ‘poverty porn’ and why does it matter for development. [ONLINE] http://aidthoughts.org/?p=69 [Accessed 23 March 2016]
S. Threadgold. 2015. Struggle Street is poverty porn with an extra dose of class racism. [ONLINE] Available at: https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/598885/mod_resource/content/1/Struggle%20Street%20is%20poverty%20porn%20with%20an%20extra%20dose%20of%20class%20racism.pdf [Accessed 23 March 2016]

 

The Empowerment of a Selfie

I myself have never been a prominent selfie taker. I think the main reason why I haven’t been caught up in this popular practice is I have always seen it to be a self-centered way of portraying yourself on platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. Looking at photos individuals post online sometimes made me wonder, “How many of these did you take until you decided this is the right one?”

Since delving into the topic and conducting some research my opinion has swayed. People take selfies for a whole number of reasons that can stem deeper then just a self-absorbed hobby. For example an individual might take a selfie to gain a sense of digital identity, or a way of sharing experiences with others; selfies can even be used to gain fame and profit through different social media platforms. (Katrin Tiidenberg & Edgar Gomez Cruz, 2015).

Lee (2005) stated that, “for women specifically, selfies can offer a way to find control”, meaning that selfies can allow women to visually represent themselves in a way that they want to be perceived (Katrin Tiidenberg & Edgar Gomez Cruz, 2015). I believe this statement can be related to all selfie takers of both genders.This sense of control is important when it comes to the use of social media. Everyone who uses a social media platform projects a persona to the world and selfies can be seen as a way in which an individual can manipulate this persona to the way they want to be seen.

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Humans are programed to notice faces first DR. Owen Churches, from the school of psychology at Flinders University Adelaide stated, “Most of us pay more attention to faces than we do to anything else, we know experimentally that people respond differently to faces than they do to other object categories.” There is no exception when it comes to social media, face tracking studies have come up with statistics that suggest the first thing that peoples eyes are drawn to when they go on your social media platforms such as Facebook, is your profile picture.

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So if selfies allow individuals to have this control over the way in which they are perceived why wouldn’t you take them?

References:

A.Salleh. 2014. Emoticon language is ‘Shaping the brain’. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/02/06/3938772.htm [Accessed 17 March 16]

K. Tiidenberg & E. Gomez Cruz. 2015. Selfies, Image and the Re-making of the Body. [ONLINE] Available at:https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/607709/mod_resource/content/1/SelfiesImageandtheBody.pdf. [Accessed 17 March 16]

S. Kessler. 2011. Here’s How people Look at Your Facebook Profile- Literally. [ONLINE] Available at: http://mashable.com/2011/11/30/social-profile-eye-tracking/#lx0OtJXApSqk [Accessed 17 March 16]

 

Netflix and the Great Series Binge

Over a period of two and a half weeks I managed to plough my way through the entire 7 seasons of AMC’s Mad Men, something I wouldn’t say I’m particularly proud of considering each episode goes for roughly an hour and a season contains around 12-14 episodes. This sort of binge watching mentality has only evolved from the days of television series box sets with the recent introduction of online streaming services such as Netflix, Stan, Presto and Foxtel Play. I myself have a Netflix subscription, which I have had since its launch in Australia in March. Since then I have gorged my way through many different seasons and movies even upgrading my account to 2 screens so that my girlfriend doesn’t interrupt my viewing experience when she wants to watch something at the same time, this also made the subscription cheaper as we now split it each month. The way in which we consume content has completely changed in the last 5 years and we have much more control of what we watch and when we want to watch it, but is giving us this sort of control really a good thing or does it lead to depression, many sleepless nights and a tattered work and social life.

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To Nolan Feeney a former producer for the TheAtlantic.com binge watching is “to watch at least four episodes of a television program, typically a drama, in one sitting (bathroom breaks and quick kitchen snack runs excepted) through an on-demand service or DVDs, often at the expense of other perceived responsibilities in a way that can cause guilt” (S. Kleeman, 2015). When Netflix premiered House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black in 2013 a huge percentage of Netflix subscribers immersed themselves, watching back-to-back episodes and devoured a season of content in just days (R. Mudhar & T. Star, 2014). With over 1million subscribers Netflix leads the pack as the top media-streaming platform in Australia (R. Morgan, 2015) and has drastically changed the way we consume our content. A study conducted by Ericsson Consumer Lab only confirmed that there is a correlation with the growth of streaming services and binge watching for instance since 2011 streamed on demand TV series and programs has increased by 121% from 2.9 hours a week to 6 hours a week on average. Netflix promotes this style of binge watching because they release content all at once rather then the traditional one episode a week and after one episode concludes some apps automatically begin the next one which makes it absolutely effortless to continue on your binging journey.

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I decided to interview 5 of my friends and two family members who also use Netflix to find out weather they have used the platform for binge watching. Every single one of them admitted they had used it at some point to binge watch a series and also prompted some of them to admitting they had lost sleep because they needed to find out what was going to happen next. I can’t say I’m to surprised by the answers, as I myself am an avid binge watcher and have sacrificed my own sleep on occasions when a show has captivated my attention. Pang (2014) suggests that individuals may see binge watching as mindless recreation, and others see it as a restorative experience. “Restorative experiences are ways people can mentally recharge themselves” (Kaplan, 1995). These types of experiences captivate our attention and can allow an individual to live in a world that is not their own (M. Pittman & K. Sheehan, 2015). Pang states that binge watching holds all of the attributes of a restorative experience. When I asked my interviewees about their thoughts on why they think they binge watch and interesting explanation from one of my friends was that it was a pass time and relaxation method before they went to bed, and that it made them think less about work the next day. This response is relatable to restorative experiences as my friend wanted to feel a sense of escapism from his own life.

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Now binge watching series may be an enjoyable way to spend your pass time and immerse yourself in another world, but is this style of watching actually affecting your health. More and more research is coming forward suggesting that individuals who binge watch are more likely to be depressed and lonely, two attributes that are also common with unhealthy behaviors like binge eating and drinking (S. Kleeman, 2015). Researchers Yoon Hi Sung and Wei-Na Lee investigated the causes and effects of binge watching. What they found was that binge watching has more in common with binge eating and binge drinking than one might think. The two surveyed 316 young individuals between the ages of 18-29 on the frequency with which they watched TV, how often that was binge-watching and the regularity with which they experience feelings of loneliness, depression and self-regulation deficiency. The results concluded that the more lonely and depressed the participants were, the more likely they were to consume large amounts of TV programing. The subjects used this activity to avoid negative feelings, behaviour that is relatable to binge eaters and drinkers (S. Kleeman, 2015).

Another health factor that may be related to binge watching is not getting enough sleep. A recent survey of 200 US residents conducted by SleepRate a company that helps individuals to sleep better and improve their quality of life found that 82% of those who binge watch stay up later than they usually do. The survey also found that 77% of those who stay up late admit feeling tired the next day, with:

82% of students claiming this affected schoolwork
46% of workers reporting this affected job performance
44% admitting this negatively impacted a relationship
23% of parents confessing this hurt their ability to parent (SleepRate, 2014).

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These sort of statistics correlate to the answers I received from the interviews I conducted with 5/7 telling me that they would sacrifice sleep just to watch a few more episodes.

As there are becoming more and more ways to access program content and individuals are becoming more attached to their digital devices, it is highly likely that binge watching is going to become a phrase used more frequently in our society (M. Pittman, 2015). I do believe that binge viewing can be a harmless activity that some individuals do in their pass time but like everything I think it needs to be moderated. Sitting in front of a screen for hours and hours on end will have an affect on your life style, especially if you are sacrificing sleep for it. Media platforms like Netflix are only going to flourish in the future and we are the ones who will have to control the amount of time we spend using them.

References:
A. Pang, 2014. In Defense of Binge Watching. Available online http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/02/is_binge_watching_the_new_season_of_house_of_cards_bad_for_you.html (Accessed 2 Nove 2015)

Ericsson Consumer Lab, 2015.TV and Media 2015 The empowered TV and media consumers influence. Available online http://www.ericsson.com/res/docs/2015/consumerlab/ericsson-consumerlab-tv-media-2015.pdf (Accessed 2 Nov 2015)

K. West, 2013. “Unsurprising: Netflix survey indicates people like to binge-watch TV,” Cinema Blend, Available online http://www.cinemablend.com/television/Unsurprising-Netflix-Survey-Indicates-People-Like-Binge-Watch-TV-61045.html, (Accessed 2 Nov 2015)

M. Pittman, 2015. Sprinting a media marathon: Uses and gratifications of binge-watching television through Netflix. Available online http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/6138/4999 (Accessed 2 Nov 2015)

R. Mudhar etal, 2014, The Netflix Effect: Teens, Binge Watching, and On-Demand Digital Media Trends. Available online http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/jeunesse/v006/6.1.matrix.html (Accessed 2 Nov 2015)

S. Kleeman, 2015. Science Has Bad News or People Who Binge-Watch TV Shows. Available online http://mic.com/articles/110164/science-has-bad-news-for-people-who-binge-watch-tv-shows (Accessed 2 Nov 2015)

S. Kaplan, 1995. “The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework,” Journal of Environmental Psychology, volume 15, number 3, pp. 169–182.
 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0272-4944(95)90001-2, (Accessed 2 Nov 2015)

SleepRate, 2014. Better Sleep Month: SleepRate Survey Shows 82% of Binge-Watchers Stay Up Late. Available online http://www.prlog.org/12316007-better-sleep-month-sleeprate-survey-shows-82-of-binge-watchers-stay-up-late.html (Accessed 2 Nov 2015)

T. Burrows, 2015. Netflix wins the streaming battle with 1m users – ten times more than rivals Presto and Stan. Accessed Online http://mumbrella.com.au/netflix-wins-the-streaming-battle-with-1m-users-ten-times-more-than-rivals-301426 (Accessed 2 Nov 2015)

 

Reflection

Undertaking blogging assignments has been a fundamental aspect of a lot of the BCM subjects I have undertaken. Every time I complete a blog I find I get a little bit more confident with my public writing and have not only formulated valid arguments backed up by research but have also incorporated my own voice to give my blogs a more personalised and engaging feel. By conducting weekly blogging tasks I find I have been able to gauge a better understanding of the variety of different topics we have been exposed to and allows me to critically analyse them and relate them back to my own life experiences.

Some of the most important aspects I wanted to achieve with my word press page were an easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing layout where people could feel comfortable from the very first visit. My blogs were posted in order of publishing date and were tagged and categorised by the subject code so that readers new which blog topics were for what subject at the very first glace. If the reader wanted to focus on one blog topic in particular they could click on the title and it would take them to a link where only that blog was visible. The colour scheme of my blog was kept simple but also contrasted, so it didn’t distract the reader from the text and appropriate images that related to the topic of interest were used to catch the eye of the reader and engage them better. I created links to different sources so that you could clearly establish where my research and theories were coming from this was also accompanied by in text referencing and a bibliography at the end of each post where necessary.

Before I started each blog I found it extremely helpful to go and read Kate’s weekly blog and other BCM240 students to get ideas flowing and also help structure my arguments. When writing blogs you need to follow a guideline you don’t want to just rattle off facts and have no substance or you may come off cold to your audience. Blogging is a form of public writing and the whole point of it is to address a topic and convey your ideas on it to an audience. So understanding your audience is vital, you need to know what sort of information is going to resonate with the readers whilst still using research to back up your statements (R. Sprung, 2014). Katie L. Burke is an associate editor at American Scientist and states that there are 12 journalistic principles that should be followed when writing for the general public the first being the importance of crafting the very first sentence of your article in a compelling way (K. Burke, 2015). This is something I strived to do with every blog post; the opening sentence must be engaging so that the audience is encouraged to read on and not lost before they’ve even gotten to the body of the blog. Burke also goes on to say that each subsection needs to transition the reader from one idea to the next; I found that paragraphing each idea was the best way to structure my blogs so that the reader could easily distinguish one idea from another as well as see where they converged.

To become a successful blogger you must effectively find your voice and initiate conversation, by doing this you motivate the audience to question and comment on your ideas, and also remain engaged as it has a personalised flow to it. An example of where I used my voice was in my ‘Escape to the Movies’ blog post. The opening sentence “So for this week’s blog I was assigned the task of convincing my girlfriend to attend the movies and see the 7:30 screening of Southpaw, as it was the only movie I was really interested in seeing” is a conversational style of writing, and as you read on further I use theory to relate to the experience I had at the cinemas “Hagerstrand’s states that there are three social planning constraints: coupling, capability and authority (Bowles 2015). In my movie going experience you could say all of these constraints were evident”.

Throughout my blog posts I believe I have established myself as a more confident public writer. Blogging is a useful exercise to learn through writing and I feel as though it is an enjoyable way to cover the topics whilst incorporating our own ideas, when necessary I used research sources to back up my arguments. Although there is always room for improvement I feel as though I can only get better. Promotion of my blogs through other social media platforms is one of the aspects I neglected and looking back on that now I feel as though that could have generated more of an interest in my blogs. I feel as though my blogs are consistent in writing style and are visually appealing and overall I’m happy with the outcome.

Resources:

K. Burke, 2015. 12 Tips for Scientists Writing for the General Public, (Accessed online 5 Oct 2015) http://www.americanscientist.org/blog/pub/12-tips-for-scientists-writing-for-the-general-public

R. Sprung, 2014. How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula + 5 Free Blog Post Templates,(Accessed online 5 Oct 2015) http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-blog-post-simple-formula-ht

Writing commons. (Accessed online 5 Oct 2015) http://writingcommons.org/index.php/open-text/new-media/blogging/652-blogging-in-the-composition-classroom