Tag:Uni

AOC playing twitch

The 2020 Presidential Election and the Role of Digital Media

Digital Media is described as anything that can be converted into binary and presented on a digital device. Through the last decade, the types of digital media available have exploded, couple that with mobile phone technology developing at an incredible rate, digital media has quickly become something that we all rely on in one way or another. Perhaps too much. Whilst we all know the ways social media have helped to divide society, confuse the truth and spread hate, what we might be less familiar with is how these platforms are being used to fight back. Whilst I could write pages about how Donald uses Twitter, how trolls infest facebook and how misinformation spreads through all types of social media, I’m going to focus my energy on the positive, as I feel that often gets overlooked. The resistance doesn’t find itself a popular topic, but social media, and the digital media that accompanies it by default, are the new battleground for freedom. Freedom for the truth. Freedom for expression. Freedom for thought and democracy.

Twitter is a great platform for spreading and sharing news. It hinges on the concept of the hashtag, something ,that admitedly, I mocked when I first heard of it. There’s no doubt though that twitter has become one of the most powerful social media platforms to date. It’s ease of use, character limits and trending sections have all proven to be popular with its user base, which stands at 145 million per day. To put that into context, thats 2 and half times the population of england. With this insane reach and lack of any kind of groups, information on twitter can be viewed and spread by the masses. Hashtags are the way to do it. Hashtags can be used to spread ideas, information about events and hot news topics, always relevant and always fast moving. These hashtags have been used for both good and evil, but the K-pop community have used the hashtag as a weapon to distrupt the right and confuse their community. The example I want to use comes from June, the time of year where the BLM protests started to gain traction in the western world. Most of us, united behind this cause saw it as an opporunity for real change, for unity and as a glimmer of hope that shone brighter when looked at in the context of the covid lockdown. Sadly though, there are always people on the wrong side of history and the hashtag “#whitelivesmatter” started to pick up traction. This wasn’t the K-pops communities first rodeo however, and they quickly drowned out the white supremists by hijacking their hashtag. Videos of K-pop artists flooded onto twitter, coupled with anti racist messages and links to charities supporting the BLM cause. Quickly, the white supremisists figured that fighting K-pop was a futile effort and they all went to sulk in their mums basement. K-pop had show once again, that through people coming together, we can drown hate out. This form of resistance is fun, harmless and easy to implement. Maybe we should all give K-pop a chance?

The next platform I want to talk about, a relatively new kid on the block that comes with all kinds of security issues, TicToc. TicTocs is marketed towards a younger audience, allowing them to make fun music videos, film themselves pranking other people and lip-syncing songs. Many western countries are suspicious about TicToc, in part, because it is owned by a Chinese firm. China’s communist government can ask for all data from any company to be handed over to them at any time, and western states see TicToc as an agent of this malicious, powerful government. They fear that by building up profiles of the people that use it, from analysing their viewing data, they will be able to influence future generations. This is scary considering how widely TicToc is used across the globe, it has 3.7 million daily users in the UK alone. With sophisticated AI coupled with mass data, it’s easy to see why countries are suspicious. Leaving that to one side for the moment, TicToc has also been in headlines for disrupting political rallies; namely, Donald Trumps Tulsa rally. As soon as an official Twitter account (@TeamTrump) encouraged people to use their phones to get free tickets for the rally, a fire was lit. The blaze started on Twitter and quickly spread to TicToc. Tictocs mostly younger demographic saw this as an opportunity for their voice to be heard, not through voting, but through disrupting one of the presidents first rallies of the season. His campaign manager at the time announced that over 1 million people had tried to get a ticket, apparently bragging about the popularity of the event. When only 6,200 people showed, he was quickly shown the door. This gives us hope for future generations, it shows they understand the power of social media and are savvy enough to wield the power of it. It tells us that the younger generation (if I’m allowed to generalise) know bad when they see bad. Once again, the k-pop community deserve a shout out here too, as they also claimed to have reserved tens of thousands of tickets for that rally.

Trump looking defeated
PATRICK SEMANSKY / AP

Marmite, you either love it or hate it, as the slogan goes. The same could be said for liberal democrat, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She is a force to be reckoned with. She’s truly the face of the next generation of politicians, the old, white men who sit in the powerhouse that runs America are already starting to look like relics of a bygone age and AOC is there to hurry them out the door. Her progressive policies have made her very popular amongst younger voters who see the old ways failing in every way, favouring the rich at the expense of everybody else, but they’ve also made her very unpopular with republicans and more traditional democrats. One thing nobody can criticise is the way she engages with voters. Twitch is the streaming platform of choice for gamers, and although she’s not the first politician to use this platform to spread her message to the masses (that title goes to Bernie Sanders), she’s definitely the most successful, she ranks in the top 20 watched most streams of all time, across all platforms. That’s pretty impressive for the ladies debut stream. Her message reached hundreds of thousands of potential voters, what was her message? Vote. Simply to vote. The most important act in any democracy. The most amazing thing was how last minute this was all put together. Using Twitter, she sent out a tweet asking if anybody wanted to play were her and within minutes, the community responded.

Apparently, she’s pretty good too. This is a brilliant example of how to reach a mass audience in the new age. With traditional television quickly becoming a thing of the past, politicians need to find new ways to reach their audience, and AOC has proven to be very adept at that.

The first mass digital media was the radio, followed by television and now the internet means that the types of digital media are only limited by our imagination. Whether using it for good or bad, there’s no denying the power and reach it has. We all carry a phone around with us every day and although the Social media giants of the day have a duty to protect us from the lies, it is up to us to think critically and choose our feeds carefully. Politics is changing and the way the parties use digital media changes with it. There will always be the ones that seek to manipulate our thoughts, that seek to manipulate and make you believe that it’s all “that” persons fault. But as long as we don’t give up the fight for freedom, for justice and for truth, hope remains.

bibliography
https://www.oberlo.com/blog/twitter-statistics
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-52922035
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/style/tiktok-trump-rally-tulsa.html
https://www.socialfilms.co.uk/blog/tiktok-uk-statistics

a rethink of design

A Total Rethink of Design

I first started tinkering with websites when my roommate in Glasgow wanted me to write some product descriptions for his website. From there, I learned WordPress and then eventually started to teach myself to code through trial and error and some of the many free online courses that the internet has available. I remember spending hours in my room, staying up late into the night building and fine-tuning projects that would never be hosted, just for fun.

That was way back in 2017 and although I’ve built many websites for myself since (Ecommerce sites and Business pages), I’ve never actually built or maintained a blog. For this course, that is exactly what I must do.

I’ve decided to repurpose part of my photography website. built during lockdown, for this project. I’ve made it distinct in style and content so you can easily tell the two apart. You’ll notice that I’ve inverted the colours of the menu and changed the links when entering the blog, allowing for ease of navigation and to allow the user to know they’re in a different part of the website. All blog posts and related pages will follow this style. I’m lucky that WordPress allows for this function as it saves me so much time in having to code myself! To make a separate menu. one that differs from my homepage, I had to use the ‘Customise’ tab, available from previewing any page and navigate to the menus from there. To change the style of the menu and allocate my blog/uni menu to the correct pages, I have to manually select it at the bottom of the ‘Edit’ page. This is the same whether I’m editing a blog post or page.

Whilst I love the aesthetic of my photography homepage, high-quality images filling the width of the viewer, this wouldn’t suit a the UX needed for a blog with many posts. I think images speak much louder than words and have a stronger impact than endless rolls of texts, that’s why on the blog homepage, you’ll still find high-quality images. Each image relates to a blog post, with the most recent being first, and includes a short expert from the post itself.

 

 

Next, I had to decide what pages my blog must include. I had to think of the UX here and didn’t want to overload the menu bar with many different links, I also didn’t want to ruin the balanced aesthetic that an even number of menu links give. I thought of the most important aspects of my blog and went from there. Reading through the class notes given, I decided that it would be best if I had a link that went straight to all the blog posts that were assessment topics, an About section which will eventually include more than just one post as I tell anecdotes and stories of my life to practice and develop my style of writing, and a link to the digital artefacts that will also go towards my grade. These are also included in the assessment topics section but I want them to be easy to find. I’ve also included a link to the blog home page as the title of the page links back to the main home page, something that I cannot change.

Classical garden

 

Another design aspect that I’ve not had to think about before, although I am familiar with it, is the sidebar. I’ve never been a fan of the sidebar as my personal preference of aesthetic is very classical. Think about garden designs in the 17th century. If you drew a line down the middle, both sides would mirror one another. This is in part, why I like banners that fill the screen and why you’ll find throughout my blog a balanced look. I feel as though it’s easier on the eye and makes the UX easier. But I do understand the function that a sidebar can offer, allowing users to quickly navigate to certain pages or important topics, so alas, I have one to accompany all my posts. I’m still working on the best layout and design for it, so this is something that may continually change with time.

I’m sure the design of the blog will change as time goes on as my personal preferences change, feedback is given and I find things that I can improve upon. If there’s anything you can suggest, leave some feedback in the comments!

highlighting the setting i chose

This screen grab indicates the settings that I use to make the page layout of the blog distinct from the one I use for the photography website.

Art books displaying the use of serif

Week 3 (Catching up)

After finally completing my enrolment on Tuesday afternoon, I was very excited to start my first lectures on Wednesday Morning. The morning that, without warning, my internet went down. Apparently, the local council association have decided now’s the time to upgrading the area to fibre optic. Whilst they do this, I have only my mobile data to keep me going. My phones’ already issued me a warning (“You’ve used up 80% of your data for this month”), so I knew at some point I’d have to buy more data, what I wasn’t counting on though is just how much! Nearly ÂŁ40 later, I’m onto my fourth data package, one that I’m using sparingly, meaning no more Netflix! Luckily in this modern-day, you can connect to the world wide web for the price of a cup of coffee. So whilst I sit here, in what must be the most popular coffee shop in all of Bethnal Green, peoples laughter ringing in my ears, freshly ground coffee filling my nostrils and a questionable music taste filling the rest of the air that’s left, I begin to write my very first blog entry…

Coffee and a sandwich

As I only briefly managed to scan through my lecture notes from previous weeks, I only had a vague idea of what to expect from Joel’s lecture. I sent a short email before our online session started to introduce myself and explain my circumstances to him; he was more than understanding and welcomed me when the class had all logged in. Glasses on and pen in hand, I felt ready, slightly nervous but very excited.

The learning objectives of this lecture were to be: Understand the two different types of colour and where we use them; Understand what resolution is;  to understand the rules of typography. Something I have some familiarity with, but I knew there were significant gaps in my knowledge. Eager to learn, I dove in…

Typography

Typography rules are consistent throughout all media. Whether writing on a blog, designing the front page of a tabloid or putting together a brochure outlying what loan option is best, you’ll always follow the same set of principles. Obviously, the way you play the game will change depending on your audience, a contemporary art magazine will use different fonts to The Times newspaper, but the general rules will remain the same. Headers should be the biggest, most eye-catching thing on the page as it’s the thing that pulls people in; the text should be clear and easy to read whilst using language the reader will feel comfortable with. Leading and weight should be used correctly and with discretion, whilst pictures should be used to complement a story and engage a reader further. The mission of good typography is to make the page seem consistent in style and structure whilst being pleasing to the eye of the reader. Bad typography will look like a mess, seem disjointed and will be hard to engage with.

Serif vs Sans Serif

Fonts can be split up into two distinct families; Sans and Sans Serif. There are many sub-divisions that can be made between the two, but for the point of simplicity, these are the two we’re going to focus on. Which font family you choose will very much depend on your target audience. Let’s dive into them.

Serif

Times new roman, Georgia, Garamond. Great examples of the sans family. They look professional, smart and you’d find them in financial magazines, titles of major broadsheets and some major banks will use these. It speaks to a more professional base and can give off an impression of seriousness and grandeur. Whilst this family may be great in some situations, they aren’t great when used for smaller text. This is because they have small flourishes, called Serifs, attached to the base or end of the letter. Almost throughout the whole of history, Serif has been the default. From Roman inscriptions to victorian graffiti engraved onto churches, you’ll find it everywhere.

Sans Serif

If you understand French, you’ll already know that Sans means without, and so Sans Serif simply means “without serif”. Sans Serif is a much more modern invention that came along with the printing press and has seen its popularity explode in recent years due to the advent of the smartphone. This is because, a well as exuding an air of modernity and simplicity, they also suit smaller screens much better. This is clearly due to their lack of serifs taking up much sought after pixel space. When condensed into paragraphs or other bodies of text, they’re much easier to read and understand.

How google updated their logo

In 2015, google developed a new typeface called “Product Sans”. The image on the left displays cleary how they left the old Serif family behind in favour of this new, sleeker and more modern look. Seeing them side by side, the old logo already is starting to look very dated.

Weight, Leading & Lines

Weight

We all know bold when we see it, but maybe what you didn’t know is that there are different levels of “boldness”. Defined as “weight”, this can play a crucial part in what the user pays attention to, the readability of something and the overall impact a product has as a whole. Weight is measured in numbers, from 100 – 900 with 100 being the lightest font and 900 being the heaviest. Weight can be useful if you want to emphasise a certain word or phrase, but it also must be used with caution. If the weight of something is too heavy, and the text too small, it can seem very cramped and can quickly become hard to read. Conversely, if you have something that is too light, coupled with a light coloured font, that too, can be tricky for the reader.

However, when used correctly, they should make things easy to read and, at times, eye-catching.

Leading

Simply put, leading is the space between baselines and are measured in the same way as font size, in points, or pt. One point is the equivalent of 1/72 of an inch, which makes 10pt roughly 1/7 of an inch. Baselines are what we call the line where the letters sit. It’s not very often that letter reach upwards and crosses over the baseline that sits above it (exceptions might be if you’re trying for an unusual or contemporary look), but some letters naturally reach below their baseline. These elements of a letter are called Descenders. It’s important in media that there’s enough space between the Ascenders don’t reach the descenders from the line above it (Ascenders being parts of a letter that extend upwards). Leading is important for readability reasons if your lines are too close together, the text can feel cramped and become hard to read, whilst if they’re too far apart, the text can feel disjointed and irregular. Changing the leading on InDesign is simple and can be done with just a couple of clicks. Leading gets its name from the lead strips people used to use before we had tools like InDesign. Thank god for the computers!

Tracking & Kerning, the Subtle Difference

Tracking and kerning are to also be considered when designing something for print. Together, they help readability, and the words flow properly across the page. Both are similar in what they do but have some important differences. Both reduce, or increase, the space between characters. The difference is, is that tracking focuses on the letter spaces of a whole word, whilst kerning nails down the spaces between the individual letters or characters. Both of these serve a similar purpose, I’ve already mentioned readability, but they also help to prevent “widows” and “orphans”. These are words which get lost on their own, either on a new page or column (widow) or a word that ends the paragraph on a new line (orphan). This has happened to us all and can be very frustrating if you don’t know how to solve it.

Types of Colour: RGB vs CMYK

Red Green Blue

RGB, an abbreviation of Red, Green and Blue is the type of colour that anything with a screen uses, whether this is a phone, a television or an electronic billboard, you can bet that this is exactly the type of colour they’ll use. This is because it’s made up of light. Every colour you see on a screen is made up of fundamental parts, these parts are Red, Green and Blue, but in different quantities, more on this later. A great metaphor for RGB is stained glass, without any light shining through the glass and hitting your eyes, the stained glass will remain black, no light coming through the glass and it just looks like a black window. This principle can also be applied to screens; if there’s no light shining through, the pixels will remain black (their natural colour). Each inch on a screen is made up of 72 pixels, also known as 72dpi (dots per inch). The higher the dpi, the higher the resolution of the screen. Depending on what colour the screen is recreating, depends on the mixture of how those three colours shine if they’re shining at all. For example, if a screen is recreating the colour blue, only the blue light will shine through those pixels whilst green and red will be at bay. This model of colour is called Additive due to the fact that the more of the colours you add, the brighter the colour on the screen until you eventually get to white. Alternatively, to get black, no light will shine through those pixels.

CMYK

Whilst RGB is great if you have a screen to shine light into your eyes, what about print media? This is where CMYK comes in handy. CMYK, standing for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black is the standard colour model for print media everywhere. Rather than shining a light into our eyes, this model relies on reflection, whether this is sunlight or a source of artificial light, this is the method that our eyes rely on to see pretty much everything that isn’t a screen. Conversely to RGB, this model of colour is called Subtractive meaning that the more of the inks added to a page, the darker the colour will appear, until you eventually come to black. In a similar fashion to RGB, CMYK uses DPI too, although it’s much greater, coming in at a whopping 300DPI. Each inch gets covered in dots and the ratio of different colours in that inch, make our eyes believe that we see a solid colour, zoom in though and it’s a different story altogether.

The main difference between CMYK and RGB is where you find them. RGB is found on any media that shines a light into your eye whilst CMYK you’ll find on all print media. It’s important to note that whilst RGB is the standard model for media on a computer, if you’re sending anything digital off to be printed, you must make sure the colour format is CMYK. The printers will have a hard time understanding RGB, and you could end up with some nasty colour errors. Also, due to the high-quality nature of CMYK, 300DPI, the file will be much larger than its RGB equivalent, something to think about when saving.