This is the Metapost (or analytic post) of SleepStuff, for the course Networked Media Production. It may be boring for you if you are not in this course, although if you are interested in Networking you may find it useful!
TECHNO - LOGIC
My biggest technical hurdles were of course, the CSS and HTML.
PLACES! “Where to put things?” was often a question when editing the HTML. If I looked at ‘page source’ from another blog I was adapting a code from, things would be placed entirely differently, and using something in the same place on mine would not necessarily work.
Working with HTML and CSS resulted in a couple of successes and a few failures. These include;
- Difficulty finding a place for the ‘Add This’ icons and the tumblr feed for social integration/widgets. It seemed wherever I placed them, they would turn up in some random or inappropriate location on the page. To solve this I looked at other people’s pages to see where these were placed in their HTML and CSS. Even copying this turned ineffective. I was finally successful after a lot of trial and error.
- I was however a lot less successful in reformatting the blog layout to ‘post-card’ style photos, without ultimately changing everything I had already worked on. I did not want to re-set too much, for fear of losing my other HTML and CSS that I had worked hard to get right. This is not a major need, so I left it as is.
- A success story comes from integrating the Twitter running feed for #sleep on the page. It was rather difficult to place correctly, with enough space. I am pleased with the result.
- Adding an interactive quiz aspect was one of the last ventures, and it was somewhat easier since I had learned my way through the structure of the HTML and CSS, so this was a success.
- Lastly, one of the biggest technical hurdles was Tumblr itself. It was can be unpredictable to work with. Most notably, when updating a feature of the blog it would often either take a long time to update (sometimes an hour or a day), or not update at all! The background and headers would randomly be removed as well. Aside from this, it was a good platform to work with (being more accustomed to a blog like Livejournal).
NO (HU)MAN IS AN ISLAND….
This project without the aid of the internet would be quite challenging. Effectively, it is full of nonsensical jargon and formats that I have never worked with before.
To figure out how to use HTML and CSS (something I was fairly unaccustomed to, particularly CSS) I looked around using Google, Youtube and recommendations by Amelia and Sam for a variety of guides to help.
LEARNING JOURNEY IN NETWORKED MEDIA….
The lectures provided a background understanding for the purpose of the blog exercise. Through these lectures I gained an appreciation for the development of the internet, its dynamics, and how to harness it best.
History: Through learning Internet History, particularly about the ‘Endless September’, I better appreciate the social dynamic and unseen rules that once guided the internet, the loss of them when the internet became mainstream, and the modern attempts to bring things back to more adherence to standards with the use of HTML. I’ve kept Eternal September in mind when creating this blog, and avoided using anything too obnoxious in it’s formatting. I have however had to resort to non-traditional HTML codes (such as <small>) due to the lack of flexibility in Tumblr’s auto-formatting. Furthermore I took the lessons about Web 2.0, and the importance in integrating the viewers to mind.
Dynamics and Harnessing it: Through learning Search Engine Optimisation, I have been able to adjust the way I use and format my blog to bring a bigger and more relevant audience.
- Gaining followers through use of as many tags that were relevant (White hat), as opposed to attaching irrelevant search tags (Black hat).
- Upon noticing a lot of my audience was North American, I often set my posts to update around mid-day, Canberra time - when U.S viewers would see it late in the day. This meant that people searching my tags would more likely see things posted, after they get home from school or work.
- Keeping in mind the idea of Web 2.0, I used social integration - asking followers questions, adding a poll, and allowing followers to submit material or ask questions.
- Networking: I also found a lot of other sleep blogs on Tumblr. I communicated with these, re-blogged their items and made a post referencing to them.
GREEN LIGHT: Traffic Analysis
- Search Engine Optimisation: In order to the appearance of the blog on search engines, I used extensive ‘White hat’ tagging. I also recently realised that linking within the blog, to other pages on the blog also increases the presence of search capabilities. This has been done on my About page.
- A major FAIL was accidentally listing my blog as ‘Not Safe For Work’, after a string of days with very few visits according to Google Analytics. I re-posted some of this work to get it re-listed freshly with the tags, and found a lot more people were then visiting my blog and interacting with it.
- When I liked other people’s posts, re-blogged or followed them my traffic increased somewhat. When I frequently posted my hits also went much higher.
- Greatest traffic came with pictures that were re-blogged at the appropriate time, and were then re-blogged by these people’s own followers - like in this post.
- Followers mainly appear to be genuine Tumblr users, with perhaps one or two following just to promote for advertising purposes.
(images extra small for sake of people’s privacy…)
- I consistently followed updates that were tagged on Tumblr to do with Sleep. Through this I found a variety of other sleep-related tumblrs, and people I could re-blog from. This lead to further followers.
INTEGRATION WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
- I tried making a ‘twin’ Facebook site, but was not very successful! It was mostly to redirect people to the Tumblr. This perhaps could have been helped by advertising it better on this Tumblr.
- I attempted to work across the networks by communicating with a ‘Sleep Artist’ on facebook though, and notified him when I posted his artwork.
- Used ‘Add This’ to integrate the ability to share across networks. It has been used occasionally, although I am not sure who by! (Apart from myself a couple of times)
- Added a Twitter feed, although the hash-tag is very general and broad. More of an interest factor. If I had made the blog more specifically about, say, sleep-science, the twitter feed would have been more useful. It was good technical practice regardless.
Summary of lessons learned:
In future practice, I now have a better grasp on the ways in which to network myself or a blog. These following things were notable;
- Self-directed learning. Understanding how to achieve things through my own research is a useful tool, rather than relying on being given specific instructions or a set path (which is what I am used to, coming from studying in science). This allows for the ability to maintain up to date knowledge and independence.
- Failures are expected. Basically, I kept trying various things until I found something that works. This applies to both the technical aspect and the networking aspect.
- Patience. From the start if you have little knowledge it can seem overwhelming, but if you give it time and have fun with it, it becomes rewarding and a very useful tool!
- Keep an eye. Stats are awesome. Analytics was a great indicator of when I might have been going wrong or what I should harness.
This may not have been a huge success as a blog, it certainly didn’t go viral, but I think I have a much better insight into how to go about my next one.