#Blogging Course and The Ivy, Tower Bridge, #London – Part 1 (Blogging)

I recently went on a blogging course in Whitehall, London. Christine and I, agreed to meet on the train and travel together. The trains were chaotic and we had to keep changing the route but eventually took the next one to London Bridge and then to Whitehall via the London Underground. We arrived, exhausted but dived into the cloakroom, knowing full well this would tip us over the lateness line. I absolutely hate being late, but we were not the only ones, due to the transport problems.

Luckily, the lecturer was just starting and we plonked ourselves down and listened. As usual, with these things, they don’t give much away, but the content (below) did remind me of what I should do in order to be a tenacious blogger. I’ve listed the key features at the end of this blog, as they may help remind others what you need to do to improve your blog.

I found this information useful, but without much substance. On the plus side, the tips I liked helped refresh my mind about what I need to do to improve my blog. My main wish is to interest people and maintain their interest. The main reason for blogging is because I love writing and researching stuff. On this basis, I will continue, and it doesn’t hurt to remind oneself what needs to be done.

I’ve decided to have another look at blog themes, although will keep the rolling blog format. I need a strategy for social media as I want people to read my blog. I find reading other blogs, interesting too, so will keep an eye out for fascinating blogs to read and follow. As far as improving my skills, I am taking a photography course and may decide to do a Photoshop course too. I already use CANVA.

Another thing I plan to do is look at old blog posts and do some updates. I like the ‘break a story’ idea as I get out and about so could do more of this so long as it will interest people and remain relevant.

Anyway, after this event, we rushed back to London Bridge for our delicious meal in The Ivy. To be continued…

 

Blogging Course (Key Points)

Checking up

Look at your blog and check colours, fonts, style and branding. Compare to others. Have a responsive layout. Plugins, links, platform?
Have a Media Kit (with case studies, traffic, engagements) – This is when you have lots of traffic!
Skill Up – Html, editing (photo shop), etc.

Branding

Is the theme consistent with your brand? Imagery/photos (you could be known for your pink, filtered photos). Know your style. Have a dialogue with followers. Go to networking events.

Enhancing

How are you doing as a writer? Tone/style…is it consistent? Visuals – Are they good enough. Photos should be very good. Text over pictures – CANVA is good for this. Search engines love videos. User experience – check for broken links, updating blog posts and make sure dates are relevant. No popups (although some disagree with this advice).

Promoting

Traffic
Networking and ask peers to share (something that I won’t do). Meetups, trade shows and FB groups. I haven’t found FB groups all that good. Collaborations, link ups and identify similar blogs.

Subscriptions, giveaways, competitions, list posts and check your headlines. Be controversial (finally found something I’m good at).
Break a story (e.g. review a new restaurant/exhibition).
Evoke an emotional response. Be personal and find new content/ themes.

Social Media
Have a strategy and be methodical. Post three times a day (Twitter), once on FB, once on Instagram but keep it the same and scheduled. Engage others through content, peers and brands you like. Use news stories that are relevant to what blog about. I often use studies to back up what I am blogging about. Network with journalists. Pitch stories to local newspapers.
If you write about a product encourage the business to retweet (promote) what you have written.

Monetising

Advertising with Google Adsense. Free to sign up and put the code on the blog. Affiliate marketing. Instagram is good with links.(This is not applicable to me at present.)
Sponsored posts – Someone pays you to write a post, newsletter or podcast. In other words, go freelance with your writing/photography. If you are an expert on something, then write an ebook/course.

Effectiveness

Check to see how effective you are with Google analytics, FB insights, Twitter insights, reader surveys, etc.

Secrets of Silicon Valley – Review and Opinion

It does not matter whether you watched the above programme, you will read here about the far-reaching effects of social media on society.

The Persuasion Machine

The above documentary is a fascinating insight into the realms of a futuristic world that is here now, in Silicon Valley, and makes you think. Yes, really makes you think. Jamie Bartlett, a cool, bun wearing hipster, sets out on a expedition of self discovery concerning the effects of social media on society, culture and most importantly, you.

America has become a contemporary idyll that has to be sustained for many reasons but mainly, these days it appears, political aspersions by rich and powerful men. We were shown many interviews where Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook Founder, is forthright in his hope that Facebook will connect everyone globally and will also help society create a globalised world. Barack Obama was said to be a kindrid spirit and felt the same way and was shown on stage joking that he was the man to get Zuckerberg in the shirt and tie. By his second term he had mastered the ubiquitous social media and enjoyed the capabilities of the online platforms.

Ultimately, Facebook has helped Trump come to power and without Facebook, his Facebook writer, Theresa Hong, Cambridge Analytica, tells us “he wouldn’t have won”. Cambridge Analytica used data relating to around 220 million Americans to target potential voters and possible donations. These few words clarifies the effect of using social media for not only social interaction, but also fostering political influence. The social media campaign was submitted by teams of computer personnel from Google, Facebook, YouTube and other ‘creatives’. Hong even shows us the empty offices where they used to sit during the Trump campaign.

Facebook, with other platforms, finds out your intimate traits including political views, sexual orientation and personality. The concern is obviously the disruptive power occurring and a new unpredictable world throwing us all into a political turbulence, never seen before. The technology community has, indeed, “opened a can of worms” that it was, evidently, mobilising against. Freedom to connect doesn’t just let us share holiday snaps and family news, but also provides a world of targeted advertising and bombarding political views.

Jamie Bartlett finds out just how powerful Facebook is. It has huge repercussions for our society as the data informs how we think, what we like and how we like it! A psychologist Michal Kosinski shows Jamie how Facebook and internet driven data cleverly informs about personality, background, education, etc. here so people like Trump can turn the statistics into votes. The persuasion machine can now secure you a place in the White House. Allegedly, Trump spent eighty-three million dollars on his social media campaign. One hundred, almost identical ads, were placed in one day, to see which one did best. This constant stream of cosy ads aimed at families, must have driven the public mad. You can imagine what they thought -*All right! I’ll vote for you, just stop the ……. Ads!* Cambridge Analytica were using data on around 220 million Americans to target potential donors and voters. Armed with Cambridge Analytica’s revolutionary insights, the next step in the battle to win over millions of Americans was to shape the online messages they would see.

 

“An algorithm that can look at millions of people and […] hundreds of thousands […] of your likes can extract and utilise even those little pieces of information and combine it to a very accurate profile,” Michal Kosinski tells Bartlett. “It can also use your digital footprint and turn it into a very accurate prediction of your intimate traits, like religiosity, political views, personality, intelligence, sexual orientation and a bunch of other psychological traits.”

 

Just in case, you were smugly thinking they can’t find much about you because you don’t use Facebook, think again. Amazon, Google and other internet sites, drive data to inform the nerds, all about you. Well, that is what Jamie Bartlett appears to discover.

A clause relating to media legislation The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was designed to make the internet safer, confirms the lack of responsibility of any media platform: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by anther information provider.”  This means the platform is not responsible for the content that is posted on it. Facebook does not own the information like Uber doesn’t own cars and AirBnB doesn’t own any property. Is this not just business and the formulation of an economy? The difference is the tech giants are not drilling for business they are generating it.

The trouble is this is infiltrating out lives and manifests a persuasion machine that is being exploited by, shall we say, unsuitable beings. As our visible footprint appears to revolutionise how democracy works, fake news is infiltrated online by emotion. It is not all about the written word but also inducing emotion by imagery. A picture of a sad looking Theresa May, which is easy to find, and a jolly Jeremy Corbyn, acting like he has won the election, plays on your psychology. This, I find hard to believe, but the point is illuminated by focusing on the fake news about Hilary Clinton, which may have lost her the election.

Social media and the internet seems to be having a profound consequence and projects negativity and misinformation that we haven’t had before. However, we’ve always joked never to believe what you read in the newspapers and the internet does provide us with an array of useful information. It is difficult to evaluate but maybe we will all become tired of social media. In fact, a recent study denotes that this is already happening with under 18 year olds choosing other platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Funnily enough, I spotted the article on my Facebook feed by Mashable UK here. My Facebook newsfeed shows a definite slow down of posting by ‘friends’ and more articles and ads. I find myself reading books more and getting out and about so although they reckon that people spend fifty minutes a day on Facebook, this I think, will change as we get bored with it. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but look at Twitter and how people got bored with that!

Also, this wide reaching knowledge has been around for a long time and probably for longer than we realise. Information has always been extracted by ten yearly census, loyalty cards, where we live, if we go to a posh school or university. I’m not sure that the internet can be blamed for everything. Although I am continually shocked about how much people look at their phones and wonder what books are not being written and art not being created because of the mobile phone addiction.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed social media for connecting with other people. It is a way of joining an interesting conversation but it just has to be contained. These days, blogging is my favourite way of communicating although originally, I favoured Twitter due to the micro blog element and fast moving commentary.

It is our responsibility to read and educate ourselves on these matters. There are plenty of outlets providing information on all sides of the political spectrum and if we, as a society, rely on Facebook then maybe we should broaden our horizons. Don’t you think?

 

Watch the programme here: Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0916ghq

 

Musings about travel, health, Eastbourne and social media…

Travel

Further to my previous “update” post, I will soon be off on my travels, as I’ve saved most of my annual leave for the summer.

First, I’m going on a trip to Iceland via Cornwall and  Scotland and will report on my trip. I won’t just focus on the places I visit, but add some musings on how I feel about various experiences. I’ve recently acquired a new camera, so there should be some photography too. After that, I’m not sure where I will travel to so watch this space.

Health

Unfortunately, a friend of mine has had bad news about his health and this has reminded me how important it is to enjoy life and try to be healthy. Certainly puts things into perspective doesn’t it?

Fitness

The fitness thing has been wobbly this month, although I’m now back in the gym most days. Had a few days break due to some stifling hot weather, in England, and feel so much better now I’m working out again. I have a new trainer who seems enthusiastic and very good on technique. Hopefully, the gym will be good on holibob and the plan is to use it and get some walking in too!

Recently, been able to run the 5k on the treadmill and do some if not most of my new workout. Everything is a little slow, but fitness is slowly improving.

Eastbourne

Recently, enjoyed a birthday trip to Eastbourne. It was incredibly hot and we spent the first hour or so checking out the town. I bought some posh trainers, half price, in the sale. Don’t you just love it when that happens? Also, stopped at the local Wetherspoon pub and had a glass of fizz. Afterwards walked on the beach eating obligatory ice cream and later, had a cup of tea and cake. It was a glorious birthday, followed by a jolly nice meal with the family.

Eastbourne

 

Social Media

I’ve recently become irritated by the irrelevant content on my Facebook feed and feel that the contemptuous attitude for people who think differently, is flipping inexcusable. So I’ve permanently unfollowed people (who, oddly enough, seem lovely in real life) and deleted the Facebook app off my phone. A family member has done this and highly recommended it. Are you thinking of doing this? So much of the stuff on Facebook is without depth or knowledge nowadays, or just plain fake, so it is not worth wasting any precious time reading it. Although I do business social, I’m now spending less of my own time on FB. Blogging is my new interest for sure. Rant over.

Tip.. the magazine The Week is a good read as it gives the week’s news in a concise manner and informs on current affairs. (This isn’t sponsored btw.)

I will blog soon about my travels and thank you for reading. Any follows are gratefully appreciated.

 

 

How boosting energy will make you run for your life… Part 2

Part 2 – Suggestions on Energy and Motivation…

The vital point is to have enough sleep, as discussed in the previous blog. The other important point is to get lots of exercise. It is ironic how this seems to energise me. Often if I feel sleepy, a walk will help cure any sluggishness.

Upbeat music often cheers me up and procures some enthusiasm for the day ahead. Even on a Monday! Often, if I’m feeling tired, I will put some lively music on and it helps wake me up. Also, if I’m going on a run, music facilitates a good energy boost. Whether it lasts is another matter but, it certainly improves my performance. Sometimes, I may just put some music on and sing along and or dance, which can be embarrassing when someone comes home and catches you, as recently happened to me. Oh well, who cares? 

Sometimes a mental boost such a doing a crossword or catching up on emails help too. In fact, writing this blog often inspires and interests me as I can research and read about topics that fascinate me and hopefully, you as well. BBC Radio 4, or any animated radio show or podcast, is a good first thing, as it helps you think about current affairs and gives perspective to your own life.

Although this seems counterintuitive, often tackling a task can motivate and give energy. Sometimes, I set an alarm on my mobile for 40 minutes and do a blast of cleaning. A boring job, but it does feel great when it is done. The same with gardening. As you watch the grass and weeds grow it is easy to feel overwhelmed, but recently I spent a day cleaning, then weeding and mowing the lawn and felt quite accomplished afterwards.

This leads to my next point, and that is to get close to nature! Go on a walk in the countryside and enjoy the fresh air and discover new surroundings. Going with family or friends is fun, but I find walking alone (with Oscar the borrowed dog) helps me relax as I explore woodlands and countryside trails. I’ve managed to find my way back home, as well without getting lost lately, and as I have a dreadful sense of direction, this is a miracle, I can tell you. 

Reading helps because it makes you think about something different. It can help you discover new interests too. Often, I find Pinterest or even YouTube is great for this as well.

Although, having mentioned social media, recently I have taken a step back from it, as I am finding the content quite benile and without depth. Unfortunately, this is due to the UK election, but I’m beginning to lose interest in Facebook, etc. I think you get more depth of content from books, documentaries and so on. Turn off any devices long before bedtime because the light stops you from sleeping.

Lastly, mindfulness and meditation are said to be good for wellbeing and energy. Ha hah something I need to try!

Let me know, in the comments, below, if you have any ideas 💡 that work for you.

Thank you for reading my musings about how to get more energy and sleep.

Sum up:

Sleep enough

Exercise

Music

Sing and or Dance!

Mental boost like a crossword

Listen to a podcast

Time yourself and clean

Gardening

Borrow a dog and go for a walk

Read a book

Mindfulness

Meditate

 

 

Criticize (plus a way to do it properly)…

via Daily Prompt: Criticize

The first criticism is that this is spelt wrong. It should be criticise! Do you take criticism well? I do not. I have taken this somewhat innocuous word prompt to address the problem.

My issue is that with the age of social media, which, incidentally, I love, everyone has an opinion. Often a hysterical one. Although, to be fair at the moment, with all that is happening in the world, I understand.

However, if we debate some of the world’s most exacting problems, maybe perspective and new ideas can be made and resolutions established.

When someone gives you constructive criticism, in a well informed manner, are you happy to take this criticism? As long as the person can back up their comments, this is fair isn’t it? Particularly, if they are addressing a situation sensitively.

This is what is missing in the media and social media. Articles and commentary are often destructive. For example, I find myself irritated by the hysterical coverage of Brexit. This, I can assure you, is whether I agree with the article/post or not.

People accuse others of racism, greed, selfishness, ignorance, stupidity and so on. In my opinion, this is just as bigoted as the people they are accusing of being racist, or whatever.

Often the posts lack substance or evidence and are offensive. Surely we can follow our ideology and not always criticise politicians, women, men, the ageing population, millennials, etc, without reasoning and of course, being proactive.  Isn’t it best to write to a politician, magazine, online forum, or join a political group rather than moan aimlessly and publicly without substance? We make ourselves look stupid if we just rant constantly. Yes, we all moan but not daily and publicly. (Rant over.)

Recently, I’ve been reading about https://yougov.co.uk/ and will explore this avenue. It is a community where we can all share our views and share opinions. The information is analysed and the results are submitted to the yougov website. Maybe this is the answer…

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Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow….

 

New… Becoming Lighter Series!

So I’ve decided to produce a new series for my blog! It is called Becoming Lighter and will include ideas about new life aims, decluttering, diet, fitness, social media and experiences that are relevant.

The first series will cover life aims. I’ve decided to call them aims rather than goals because, in my view, it’s an ongoing process. Talking of the process, many ideas will be discussed. These will include how committed are you to new life aims? Brainstorming and eliminating new ideas and aims, questioning the environment of your proposed tasks associated with your aims and how to record and measure progress. After that, I will post how we look at the emotions and benefits of the new life aims.

The blog posts will be concise and run over several weeks. These are my compilation of ideas that have been obtained from various sources, including books, papers, university study and university of life ho hum (experience and interest). The posts are light hearted, but hopefully help and be flipping useful. La de daaa….. very exciting!

Well, January was a trial month and this is February now, so let’s set some new ideas, goals, resolutions or aims… Glass of wine anyone?

Thank you for reading and if you aren’t following, please do…

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Being Social – Improving Twitter

copy-of-being-social

So with the demise of Vine, we are left wondering if Twitter is dead?  No, because Twitter still has plenty to offer.  For example, the latest news and opinions of top commentators, updates which cultivate connection and the way users can engage with random tweeters, without knowing each other. It remains easily accessible and a powerful way of real-time communication. Vine did not watch the competition and react fast enough when the platform, Instagram, began their video uploads and recent launch of Stories in August 2o16.

Social media changes at a rapid pace but it is important that everyone focuses on what they do best and not all become the same.  Twitter has always been innovative and to be fair, Facebook changed their format to include a news feed (2011) in the way that Twitter has always had.  So who is copying who?

Twitter, is still  improving and reacting to what users want.  The platform has developed many new aspects including Periscope, the live streaming video, the Hearts feature, which to my dismay replaced Favourites, and of course, Moments, to show us the best tweets in various categories.  The “In case you missed it” interrupting our timeline and the analytical information about specific tweets, are useful too.

However, it could improve further.  Twitter should cultivate subject pods.  Tweeters could write and interact about specific interests and events and enjoy conversations with like-minded people. This will support and capture an audience and enable it to spontaneously voice opinions thus creating intelligent Twitter conversations again.  The propagation of debate will seize back the purpose of Twitter and synchronise topics and news with the particular audience.  At present you have to make sure you follow an “influencer”. More subject pods will encourage Twitter to become the conversation platform, as it once was.

Furthermore, The Moments section could be updated more often, with in-depth analysis pertaining towards current news.  This could interact with twitter users thus making the platform even more interesting by observing other users’ opinions.  Additionally, Twitter is an excellent source of information but it could improve by providing more detail on why something is trending.  The #hashtag formulae still provides a vital tool for implementing the collection of tweets and tracking of interest, but the grabbing of popular, relevant tweets, on specific subjects, could also be stimulating for the tweeter.

At least Twitter is well aware that it needs to raise its game and is proactively making enhancements. It has introduced Hearts, Moments and In case you missed it. Also, increased tweet characters, as from now on, the use of various media attachments will no longer count as part of the word count.  However, the word count is part of the fun on Twitter so they should not to go too far with this.

Augmentation of the above is vital and although exacting to process, will make Twitter rise towards the dizzy heights it once was by accelerating growth and maintaining curiosity, awareness and responsiveness.  By retaining the short tweet but capturing emergent subjects, news and events it will stop the decline.

Don’t forget to follow! Thank you for reading my blog.  #Twitter #SocialMedia

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