Reminiscing On My Digital Discoveries.

As the semester comes to an end, I must say farewell to my time spent learning and exploring digital communications.

My finals thoughts about digital communications revolve around what I believe it means to be “digitally literate”.

My generation has grown up in a world where technology is constantly becoming more complex, diverse, and cutting-edge. The digital realm is a space almost everyone has frequented.  I believe having digital literacy means you are knowledgable, experienced, and adept with digital media in today’s society. Glynda Hull, professor of Language and Literacy, Society and Culture states in her definition of digital literacy, “Ours is an age in which technologies for multimedia, multi-modal authorship proliferate, challenging logo centric habits of mind…”

Throughout my journey working with digital communications, I have embraced the perspective of the “inside-looking-out”, rather than the “outside-looking-in”. By this I simply mean that I have experienced an insiders-view on being the creator of the media, instead of being the audience. To be a successful media producer, there are certain elements that build the framework for digital literacy:

  • Self Branding
  • Editing 
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • User experience
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The About page for Ashley’s Appetite. Photo taken by Ashley Trice.

How you choose to brand yourself plays a major role in the development of your digital work. This is how you let your personality shine through your work. You are the designer, the planner, the visionary. You get to decide what you create and how to go about doing so.

For example, in my blog, Ashley’s Appetite, I designed it in a way that felt fun and light-hearted. I wanted my food blog to be friendly, and inviting. All of the food images on my blog were taken by myself. I think is an important aspect of my blog, because it not only shows that I am just focused on food and nutrition, but I also want to be creative and document my love for food.25587274613_63340c8fa0_o

Editing is also a huge aspect of media development and requires a large skill set to do so. There are a plethora of different editing tools found in different multimedia programs that allow you to enhance your work and sharpen it up for your audience. Great quality is admired, whereas poor quality is instantaneously noticed.

In both my personal video and my group video, the majority of the time spent working on the project was devoted to editing. My teammates and I wanted to created the best work we could offer. In order to do so, we were constantly making changes by fine tuning the audio, video and overall quality.

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An insiders-view to the editing process. Image taken by Ashley Trice.

I believe SEO works hand in hand with user experience. Now that I have been a user of media as well as a creator of media, I understand the importance of making sure the media you display is accessible, easy to navigate, simple, and enjoyable. In my blog and website, I made sure to include multiple hyperlinks so that reader/viewers could explore the topics I was addressing. I also included tabs at the top of my sites so my content is clearly organized.

Throughout this course I have gained an abundance of skills that will be beneficial in my future endeavors. I have learned how to use a number of different tools such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Premiere Elements, WordPress, and more. I had experience prior to the course with video and iMovie, however, certain assignments gave me the opportunity to improve my skills further.

Although I am not a communications major, I plan on continuing to advance my skills with digital media and apply it to my passion for health sciences.

 

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Who Faces Digital Inequality?

“Digital equality means bringing the world of access and opportunity to every person, no matter where they live.” – Melissa Greene 

Digital inequalities exists among all ages, races, and genders in society.

In Digital Inequalities And Why They Matter, by Robinson et al, this information is presented categorically.

First, age.

As technology continues to evolve, usage is also spreading to younger generations. In today’s society, it is not uncommon to see a child using some form of technology. Parents share information about their families on their social media accounts as a way to stay connected with their friends, and distant relatives. However, depending on a number of different variables, not all families have the same access to certain technologies.

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source: google

Socioeconomic status plays a major role in digital engagement. Individuals faced with economic disadvantages tend to have limited access to resources. Children who grow up deprived of digital use have a harder time in school and struggle later in life when applying for jobs.

The level of digital skills an individual acquires can either be detrimental or advantageous when it comes to entering the work force. Some jobs require experience and knowledge of different programs and devices necessary for particular jobs.

Next, gender.

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source: google

Studies have shown that women have a lower frequency of use, lower intensity of use, and weaker internet skills compared to men. Over the years as technology has advanced, women have been filling the gap between male vs female digital use.

Recent studies have shown that men are more likely to have jobs that involve technology. Also, women are more likely to use technology for communication and social support due to underestimating their skills when they compare themselves to men.

Finally, race and ethnicity.

Studies have shown that disadvantaged minorities in the United States have less social capitol and smaller networks. On a global perspective, digital inequalities come from the division between the Global North and Global South. For example, only 3% of the world’s internet users live in Africa.

 

 

User Experience & Self Branding

You are young. You consider yourself “tech-savvy”. You have known how to surf the web your whole life. But then something happens. You come across this blog that is so appealing you cannot help but wonder what you’ll find if you choose to interact. So you open the blog. But for the first time in your life… you have no clue how to search through the blog because it is an unorganized, chaotic mess of what could have been a work of art.

Ok. The example given may or may not be slightly outrageous but the concept that it portrays is user experience, which is just a fancy way of saying “user-friendly”.  User experience is SO important when it comes to getting your audience engaged in your website or blog. User experience refers to the interactions your audience has with your product.

For example:

  • Does your audience enjoy browsing through your site?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Is it simple or difficult to use?

 

The next concept that plays a key role in the design and layout of your blog or website is self branding. Self branding allows you to establish what you stand for. In “The Art Of Self Branding”, written by Nur Costa, there is a beautiful quote about self branding I would like to share.

“Someone is going to be looking for that essence, and that something will be able to give it to him/her.”

Costa establishes 10 actions towards good self branding:

  1. Celebrate your singularity and conduct a self-branding auditing
  2. Overview control
  3. Do not avoid competence
  4. Find the sweet spot
  5. Take advantage of the self-introduction power
  6. Take advantage of the power of words
  7. Think big
  8. Expand your networking and visibility
  9. Put in action your personal branding plan
  10. Stay relevant

 

 

 

California Here We Come!

Spring break is here! While everyone is busy preparing for their vacations, I am busy playing lacrosse. I am a member of the Furman Women’s Lacrosse team. Lacrosse is a spring sport so I am in season during spring break. This year, my coaches planned a trip to California to play games but also get the opportunity to travel!

This was my first time ever visiting Cali and boy, was I excited.

NOW THIS IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. San Diego was exactly what I imagined Cali to be like. There were mountains, palm trees, beaches, cool people, and… wait for it… GOOD FOOD. I think it is safe to say that the Furman Women’s Lacrosse team ate their way through San Diego.

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In Cali you eat ice cream for lunch! The Baked Bear is a build-your-own ice cream sandwich shop. Definitely my favorite stop of the trip!

Our first meal in San Diego was at an authentic Mexican restaurant called Guadalajara. It was phenomenal. They made their own tortillas and the portions were massive. Another night we ate at an authentic Italian restaurant where they served us chicken parmesan that was the size of our heads!

When we went to Pacific Beach we were allowed to go anywhere we wanted. I went to The Baked Bear which is a build-your-own ice cream sandwich shop. IT. WAS. AMAZING. I made a sandwich with a chocolate chip cookie on top, a brownie on the bottom, and birthday cake ice cream in the center with M&Ms around the outside.

Finally, we went to In-N-Out Burger, which is a popular fast food restaurant only in California that is known for it’s burgers. I ordered the double-double (pictured below) and it was fantastic. Final thoughts afterwards: California needs to share the love, bring In-N-Out to South Carolina!

Check out this video about the lacrosse team in California!

Good Food & Good Friends.

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act hat should not be indulged in lightly.” – M.F.K. Fisher

There is truly nothing better than sharing a great meal with your closest friends. Friendship is very beneficial to your health. It relieves stress, enhances your mental well being, and friends can motivate one another to make healthy life decisions.

This year for Valentines Day, I decided to surround myself with friends and food.

My friend Alyssa and I decided to surprise our roommate Samantha by asking her if she would be our Valentine. (Disclosure: she said yes.) We made reservations at a restaurant in downtown Greenville called Soby’s for just the three of us. I highly recommend Soby’s to anyone who wants to indulge themselves in an exquisite meal!

I love going to Soby’s because they have great seafood entrees and seafood reminds me of my friends and family. I am from Ocean City Maryland; a popular beach vacation destination. Growing up at the beach definitely had it’s perks, one of which being I have always been blessed with fresh seafood (I am, and forever will be a seafood snob). Whenever I visit home, I eat as much seafood as I can since I do not get to eat it very often in South Carolina. I can always count on Soby’s to serve me a dish that is full of delicious seafood with a southern flare.

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Presecco with my lovely dates! Photo taken by Ashley Trice

On the night of my romantic Galentines soirée, Soby’s was offering a scallop special – my mind was immediately made. The dish consisted of four fresh scallops accompanied by grits, mushrooms, butternut squash, and a balsamic maple glaze drizzled on top. It was stupendous. 

Most people know that fish is good for you, but what about other kinds of seafood? Turns out scallops contain the vitamin B12 which plays a key role in normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Vitamin B12 can lower your risk of developing atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease, heart attack and stroke. In addition to vitamin B12, scallops also contain magnesium and potassium which provide significant benefits for you cardiovascular health. 

No Place Like Home.

There is nothing better than a home cooked meal. Something about it is just so comforting. You get to relax, stay home, lounge in your favorite comfy clothes, and eat a fantastic meal. Sounds great, right? Well it can only get better if you have delicious recipes to work with! I love to cook (and my roomies love when I do). I always try to cook something new, different, and healthy. So here are some of my favorite dishes that I like to make at home that warm my soul.

This week I made homemade chicken meatballs. YUM. I found the meatball recipe on Pinterest, which is my favorite way to find new recipes. I was inspired by my mom to make the meatballs. One of my favorite meals that she makes when I come home is Italian Wedding Soup. She makes homemade chicken meatballs to put in the soup and they are TO DIE FOR! So I decided to cook some of my own. They were super easy to make and are also a lean source of protein!

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Homemade Chicken Meatballs inspired by Pinterest and my mama!

Another one of my favorite dishes to make is spaghetti squash! It is a healthy substitute for pasta and it is pretty simple to make. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW ABOUT SPAGHETTI SQUASH: caution when cutting it in half!! Spaghetti squash is very difficult to cut but once you get past that step, it’s smooth sailing. Just stick the halves in a dish with a small amount of water and bake them in the oven. Once it is done, you use a fork to fluff the squash and serve it however you please. I personally like it serve it with spaghetti sauce.

Another fun way to change up this meal is to add zucchini noodles! I bought a nifty handheld spiralizer for vegetables so I can make vegetables into noodles … I know, I know … I’m a dork. BUT IT’S SO COOL! You can also add a protein with the squash to enhance the meal!

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Examples of Zucchini Pasta and Spaghetti Squash (Source: Google Images)

So if you are a loyal reader and viewed my previous post, you will remember my talk about carbohydrates. These meals are just more examples of carbohydrate-rich foods, as well as incorporating protein in your diet. Protein is another important nutrient that is beneficial for your body. Like I’ve mentioned before, carbohydrates serve as the main source of energy for our bodies. Proteins can be an energy source as well but that is not it’s main function. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. Proteins make up hormones and enzymes in the body as well as building blocks for bone, muscle, skin, and blood, aka take care of yourself and eat your protein!! 

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(Left): Homemade Spaghetti Squash & Zucchini noodles with ground turkey meat-sauce (Middle): Homemade Paella (Right): Homemade chicken meatballs with asparagus and angel hair  |created by Ashley Trice|

How Healthy Can A Sweet TReat Be?

Joyce Bridges and Dawn Hawkins are the proud owners of TReats, located in Travelers Rest. This mom and daughter duo are local women who wanted to share their passion for healthy treats with the community. TReats is the only smoothie and juice cafe in the area. All of the ingredients used are 100% organic meaning there are no chemicals, additives, or artificial flavorings. TReats offers a number of different fresh pressed juices and smoothies, as well as wheat grass shots and protein energy balls.

When I visited TReats I ordered the black-n-blue smoothie which consists of blueberries, blackberries, banana, spinach, kale, and almond milk. It was 222 calories of pure deliciousness. I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves tart smoothies. Plus they give students and teachers a 10% discount! 

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Photo taken by Ashley Trice at TReats

On my next trip to TReats I may be adventurous and try a wheat grass shot (no promises…) HOWEVER, I am absolutely going to try one of the protein energy balls. These are super simple to make at home, plus they are a great snack!

Ingredients:

  • oats
  • peanut butter
  • whey protein powder
  • chocolate chips
  • honey

All you have to do is mix up the ingredients and roll the dough into bite size balls, then refrigerate. Simple, right?

Now let’s talk carbohydrates.

When most people think of carbs, they immediately think bread, pasta, grains, etc, BUT, did you know fruit and vegetables are also carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy for your body. Fruits and vegetables contain sugars such as fructose and glucose which are simple carbohydrates. These sugars are different from sugar found in processed foods. Fruits and vegetables are among the more nutritious sources to get your daily dose of carbohydrates.

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Smoothies Galore! Photo taken by Ashley Trice at TReats

Smoothies are a great option because not only are they super tasty, they are a healthy option that are easy to make yourself. All you need is a blender, fruit/vegetables, and a base (water, milk, yogurt, etc.) Smoothies are also great because you can always change up the ingredients and make a whole new creation!

The Evolution of Journalism.

Journalism for a Digital Age | Brian Carroll

 

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! SOCIAL MEDIA TAKES OVER!

As technology continues to evolve, news continues to stray away from print and expand throughout media. More and more people are accessing social media and online sources to get their news rather than reading newspapers. Could we be approaching the end of the newspaper?!

Our generation is becoming increasingly dependent on gathering news from media sources. As experienced social media users, we are more actively involved in sharing and commenting about what we read. Twitter, for example, allows people to be highly interactive by liking, retweeting, or responding to tweets. The controversy behind these sources is demonstrated when crowd-sourced news is mistaken.

Public or Private? Most digital spaces allow users to decide what can be viewed publicly and what should be kept private. Online news sources decided to allow readers to individually turn off comments in response to news articles they find “cruel, vile, or vicious”. Other news sites are beginning to disallow anonymity as well.

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Source: Twitter

Story Time! | Brian Carroll & Lynda Felder

Everyone loves a good story, right? How could you not? Lynda Felder in her book “Writing for the Web” lists all the main components of a good story:

  • characters
  • conflict
  • place
  • plot
  • premise
  • backstory
  • theme
  • tone

The question is: How do we start? Most people try to begin writing their story from the beginning when in fact, it is easier to begin smack dab in the middle. Starting from the middle allows the rest of the story to blossom and shape itself around the climax.

When it comes to writing for digital media, it is important to keep in mind that readers do not always finish the story (FYI our generation’s attention spans are dwindling by the minute) so try to incorporate as much important information towards the beginning of the story as possible to keep the reader engaged.

Begin with a hook. Draw in your readers; make them want more! Creating a sense of curiosity in your readers is key.

 

 

Back to the basics.

Edit everything. As nagging as it can be, it is SO important! Editing shows how dedicated the writer is to their work. It entails fixing grammatical or spelling errors, making sure the words you wrote down actually make sense, and even rewriting entire sections of your blog. Like Brian Carroll says, “Editing is mostly about making choices and decisions – lots and lots of decisions.” You have to be picky. Decide what works and what doesn’t.

Identify your audience. This strategy is by far, one of the most important of them all. A good writer needs to have a clear understanding of who his/her audience is in order to get the message across appropriately. Once you identify your audience, you need to determine how your audience wants to interact with your content.

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source: Google

HEADLINES! They’re all about excitement. Headlines are meant to catch your attention and make you want to dive in and read more, however, they still need to be direct, clear, and straightforward. It is important to maintain a balance between a logical headline and a fun headline. A well-written headline will summarize the content and give it visual identity, but most importantly, it will be simple. Brian Carroll provides two basic steps to compose a headline: “Determine what to highlight and decide how to phrase it given the limitations on space.”

Search engine optimization (SEO). This is just a fancy way of saying #hashtag. SEOs use key words, looking especially in headlines. The better the key words, the higher your content ranks in search results. Keep in mind: proper nouns make the best key words.

Include links for your readers to browse. There are different types of links, but they all determine where the reader goes when clicked. Some links connect to sites separate from the site or onto a new page and some take the reader to another post within the same page. Ugh, more decisions.

Writing techniques. Lynda Felder suggests tips and tricks for being a skilled writer on the web. She explains when it is appropriate to use certain punctuation, how to format paragraphs, maintain simplicity, and show your attitude. I incorporated some of these tips into this very blog post.