Tag: #vox

Essay 2

 

When I think about making a website and presenting it to the world, I think about the first scene of the Watchmen movie (which, as a side note, I’ve never seen).

 

I mean, isn’t this what usually happens? You naively put your stuff out there and blammo! the haters have found and annihilated you.

Of course this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you put up your website and people love it. And…sometimes you make a website and hardly anyone sees what you do. Except the bots. The bots see all.

My website is about yarn bombing, a non-harmful method of graffiti. It’s for crafters and people who enjoy a bit of illegal craft work now and again. My real audience would be my talented classmates (seriously, how are you guys so talented??) and bots, according to my Google Analytics, lots of them. Out of my 309 pageviews, I’m hoping at least some of them were from passionate and crafty people. This is my imagined public.

I’m addressing my public through what is hopefully a fun and unique site. I try to make my writing no-nonsense, but I’m sure most of the time I come off as a self-absorbed hypocrite (this is fine, leave your complaints in the comments section.) I use a lot of images because I believe they work better than me just describing everything I crochet. Also, they’re easy on the eyes.

As for value, I believe most of the value of this website is going towards me. Yes, it’d be cool if other people got value from this site, but I doubt that’s happening. My site is for other people, yet most of the stuff I do really just helps me learn more about the web, gives me time to practice writing and editing, and lets me grapple with website building and design and finding the perfect funny widget that lets you fly a little rocket around my page, blowing things up.

 

 

I didn’t want my page to be too clean because what’s the fun in looking like a million other websites? This makes me think back to Travis Gertz’s article on how the machines are taking over because everyone uses the same website template. Whatever, man. People are just going with the flow to make a living, which is fine. People who have money and time or must find money and time for an obligatory publishing class website can make something fun.

To the four people who have given me website feedback, I thank you profusely. It really was helpful, and I made some important changes because of you.

Beyond this page, I’d like to continue to develop my Instagram crochet account and perhaps move all my work from here over to a free place like Tumblr or Blogger or something that doesn’t cost me $45+ a year.

Aside from all my reminiscing and reflection, there is one big topic I’d like to touch on in this essay. It’s something that’s been bothering me for a while now.

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The more I think about yarn bombing and graffiti, I wonder is it really non-harmful? 

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These comments seemed so weird to me when I first saw them. What? People don’t actually appreciate vandalism?

Well, duh, of course not.

1) That’s kinda the point of it and 2) it can be destructive and harmful. Number two can be a problem. That’s when I start asking myself some serious questions. Where do I draw the line? Should I have to draw it when it comes to graffiti?

I believe I should. And to figure out where to the draw the line, I’d like to look at some of the most frequent complaints of yarn bombing. From there, I will see if the complaint is valid or invalid depending on my experience as a yarn bomber, and sources from the web.

 

Yarn bombs hurt trees

They can. It’s true. Shannon Sperati asked the American Society of Consulting Arborists about yarn bombing trees. Arborist Marty Shaw replied that yarn bombing can cause mildew, mold, and insect infestations. Additionally, yarn bombs could hide tree defects that could later cause harm (imagine not knowing that a tree branch was severely damaged and could drop on you at any moment.) He also noted that depending on the yarn, toxins could leak into the tree and damage it.

Solutions: Don’t yarn bomb trees. Yarn bomb trees for a short period of time, and then take down your piece(s). Make yarn bombs that leave lots of breathing room for the tree. Yarn bomb trees only when the weather is dry and cold (this prevents bugs and mildew). Yarn bomb indoor trees. Make a small, non-intrusive yarn bomb for the tree.

Yarn bombs are ableist

In most cases, they are not. This concern stems from people who yarn bomb railings specifically. The website No Award tags yarn bombing as “ableism” in their article “Having a Yarn(Bomb)”, but does not explain this further than saying a yarn bomb “renders mobility and accessibility aids useless or difficult to use” (Barr, 2015).

This is a vast generalization, as yarn bombs come in many shapes and sizes and are attached to a variety of objects. On an inclined railing, such as one for a staircase, I can see this being a problem for a person who needs a better grip on a railing. However, crocheted or knit yarn can often have more grip than a wet metal pole. Further, the yarn bomb No Award pictures in their article (shown above) is on a level railing, which should not make it difficult to grasp at all. However, I don’t have a disability, so I’d be happy to change this based on a more experienced person’s view.

Another issue can come from yarn bombing reflective signs. It could cause danger to drives, which is serious.

Solutions: Don’t put yarn bombs on angled railings. Don’t put yarn bombs on important/reflective signage. Don’t restrict peoples’ accessibility with a yarn bomb.

 

Yarn bombs get “wet and grimy after the first rain storm”

Completely false. This is by far the most frequent complaint. Some even complain that yarn bombs go grey within a day. This is false. Here I will use my personal experience and a famous yarn creation as examples of the truth.

Three years ago, I turned a lot of scrap yarn into crochet flowers. I hung them up around my neighbourhood. Sure enough, many were gone within a few days. They were cute, so I assume people took them home for decorations. It warmed my heart. Anyway, two of my flowers (both hanging from trees) remained untouched.

Fast forward to now. Those two flowers are still in the places I left them three years ago.

One is still mint green with a little moss growing on it. It still looks like a cute flower. The other was made with grey yarn already, so it couldn’t really get any greyer. This one has more moss growing on it and a spider has moved in. Look at that, I unknowingly made a cute spider habitat.

Those yarn bombs have lasted for three years and are doing fine. Most of my yarn bombs are indoors, so I avoid this problem completely.

My other example is the creepy giant pink bunny that haunted a hill in Italy. The New York Times called it a “big, dead, rotting, silly rabbit.”

You see that orange blob on its belly? That’s an adult. This thing is massive. Look, here are people standing by its foot:

It was made by an art collective of four called Gelitin in 2005 with the help of many others. The picture above was taken shortly after its completion in 2005. The piece stayed pink until 2006. After that, it turned grey but its iconic shape remained for a few more years.

This is what it looked like three years ago:

So no, it doesn’t take one day and one storm to deform and discolour a yarn bomb. This bunny even lasted through snow. You can see other photos of its deterioration here.

Solutions: Yarn bomb indoors. Yarn bomb where there’s some protection from the elements. Remove your yarn bombs after they get grey/start to fall apart/get moldy.

 

Yarn bombing is a waste of time and resources

Maybe, but then so are most things. This is perhaps one of my least favourite arguments ever. “Why aren’t you doing something more useful with your time and resources?” The real question is why aren’t you? You, the commenter and complainer. What’s stopping you from learning how to knit and make dozens of blankets for homeless people? Why are you wasting your time on comment threads?

This is another big complaint that I find ridiculous. Someone pointed this out on the “Having a Yarn(Bomb)” article:

The co-owner of the website replied:

Erm, okay. I don’t even want to touch this one.

Solution: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Yarn bombing does not send a deeper message

It depends. What counts as a deeper message to you? Many people believe that yarn bombing is all about the aesthetic and doesn’t have the same edgy message as other piece of graffiti. Sometimes, yes. People might just want to brighten something, or make it look pretty. But there are example of yarn bombs such as The Knitted Mile and the tank covered in pink that do mean something more.

Also, does something have to “mean something more” to send a deeper message? If a yarn bomb evokes a smile, on some level, isn’t the smiler interpreting a deeper message?

I believe they are. The person smiling is interpreting a message of love, care, time, effort, and vibrant beauty.

Sure, yarn bombs can be tacky. They can get dirty and wet and fade away to nothing. But if we really want a deeper message, wouldn’t we say that we too are just like yarn bombs?

Solution: Want to do it for the aesthetic? Then do it. Want to make a deeper message? Then do it.

 

Mandatory conclusion

Yarn bombing isn’t as evil and wasteful as people make it out to be. From this examination of complaints, I feel like I can move forward and make truly non-harmful graffiti. Hopefully some of it can be meaningful. Hopefully most of it will make people smile. I hope in the future I can continue to do this thing I love, and encourage others to join me in these silly acts of vandalism.

Oh, and improve my online presence. That too.

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Works Cited:

Barr, Liz. “Having a Yarn(Bomb).” No Award, 2 Sept. 2015, no-award.net/2015/09/02/having-a-yarnbomb/.

Gelitin. “Hase / Rabbit / Coniglio.” Gelitin.net, 2005, www.gelitin.net/projects/hase/.

Odyssey. “’Yarn Bombing’ Is The New Graffiti, But Is That OK?” Odyssey, 13 Nov. 2017, www.theodysseyonline.com/yarn-bombing-graffiti.

Sperati, Shannon, and Marty Shaw. “Q: What Are Some Thoughts on ‘Yarn Bombing’ Trees?” American Society of Consulting Arborists, 30 Dec. 2015, www.asca-consultants.org/news/267498/Q-What-are-some-thoughts-on-yarn-bombing-trees.htm.

Taylor, Tracey. “Berkeley Library Not Thrilled about Yarnbombing.” Berkeleyside, 6 May 2017, www.berkeleyside.com/2012/04/09/not-all-creative-contributions-welcome-at-library-reopening.

Process Post 12

For my website I developed one community guideline. I put it under my ‘About’ section and it says this:

“1) You can comment whatever you want, but if I think it doesn’t belong on my website, I will remove it.”

I feel like this is the best guideline I could make. In theory, I could come up with an extensive list of don’ts, but what would happen if someone wrote a comment that was completely fine according to my guidelines, but personally I thought it was a bad comment? Of course I wouldn’t post it. If I did that, however, what would be the point of guidelines that I wouldn’t always follow? I have no intention of lying to my audience.

That’s why the one guideline I settled on is broad. I welcome critique and harsh words towards myself on my website. Even if the critique is not critical and just a long rant about how I’m an idiot, I don’t really mind. That actually sounds kind of funny and I’d love to see that on my page.

Despite this, I do recognize that if my website were to get big, I would want firmer guidelines in place. The world is a nasty place, according to Jon Ronson’s TED talk on online shaming.

I should be careful, as Justine Sacco had only 170 Twitter follows and still got torn apart by the world. I don’t think that anyone could get too offended by yarn bombing, but you never know.

The Guardian also noted that the majority of abused writers on their website are women. It’s a good thing I’m not talking about feminism or I’d be torn apart. Perhaps because I’m doing such a traditionally feminine task no one is out to get me.

If there were many people on my site having conversations in the comments, I’d want better guidelines. I don’t mind people bashing me, but I would want to protect the people on y site and make it a safe area for them. My one guideline would still work in that case, but if I had many people mingling on my site, I’d need guidelines in place to regulate their conversations. One person doesn’t have the energy to moderate comments 24/7.

At the moment, though, I don’t think my website gets enough traffic from real people to need firm guidelines. And even if I did put guidelines, would anyone really listen to them? The Guardian has extensive community guidelines, but still face abusive comments on a daily basis. The best guidelines for me are the ones that give me wiggle room to assess comments on a case-by-case basis. Implementing my one guideline will be easy since I have control over which comments get posted. And since no one has commented thus far except Suzanne and spammers, I think I’ll be okay.

Quiz: What kind of yarn bomber are you?

What kind of yarn bomber are you?

Only this quiz can tell you your true yarn bomber identity!
Who would you take on a yarn bombing expedition?
What’s going to be the first thing you yarn bomb?
Do you consider yourself a logical person?
What would be your ideal yarn bombing snack food?
What is your go-to drink at the bar?
What do you think of authority figures?
What kind of yarn bomber are you?
You got {{userScore}} out of {{maxScore}} correct
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Process Post 10

This week I really liked the article about Pokémon. I had never really reflected on how transmedia worked, but the articles this week helped my thinking. I don’t really believe that YouTubers are ruining the publishing industry; they are just taking advantage of another medium.

Spreading your work out is important, especially when you’re catering to a wide audience. Videos, images, articles, and interactive elements work together to help you in the long run. The Pokémon article made me realize this. The card game, TV shows, books, movies, and video games all contribute to Pokémon‘s continued success. There is a love for Pokémon that carries on as a person grows up; this was intentional.

For my own blog, I use photos, words, and some small “videos” AKA gifs to make my website seem more alive. I don’t think I’d ever be able to videos by myself, but if I were to get a large group together, it might be fun to make a timelapse video of a yarn bomb.

Some interactive elements I’d like to pursue are quizzes and scavenger hunts. I downloaded a quiz plugin and I hope to make a “What Kind of Yarn Bomber Are You?” quiz before my time in this class is up. I also want to make a series of scavenger hunts around SFU campuses. I would put up yarn bombs and get people to find them, take photos of them, and then send them to me for a prize. I don’t even know if scavenger hunts appeal to people any more, but I’ve heard they can be effective.

Either way, I’m a strong believer in transmedia. And I know some people are angry about YouTubers making books, but I think it’s a good idea. For many people, books are a way to collect their best works and give fans something physical to hold onto. This reminds me of the “Humans of New York” photographer who eventually put his best photos together into a book.

Maybe one day I’ll write a book. I think it might be fun.

Process Post 9

My Google Analytics findings were mostly anticlimatic. I’ve looked at them twice and and only twice have I’ve seen “high” traffic of around 20 people. The bounce rate for both times was around 90%, so that’s not promising. It seems that bots like my site quite a bit, but not actual people.

I don’t mind this too much, honestly. After all, I’m having a lot of fun making my site, and also looking at the sites of people in this class. I’m really impressed by how professional some of them are, and I hope some people will choose to keep their sites. On the other hand, I hope none of them turn Facebook-level evil. But if they do, I guess it wouldn’t be so bad. They’d make a lot of money…

The articles this week touched on Facebook’s scummy behaviour, especially around the Messenger stuff. I find it funny that people still migrated over to Messenger after Facebook let up and still let you message from their main site. I don’t have either of the Facebook apps; usually I just go on it through a browser. This move was bold for Facebook, and we know their pockets are getting a little bigger because of it.

As for me, I’m not going to make too many changes based on my Google Analytics stuff. At the moment, I’m using this website to test different things out, see what I’m good at it, and figure out what needs to be improved. Aesthetic is a big thing I need to work on. I have an Instagram account for my crochet stuff (as mentioned before) and my theme is all over the place. I have troubles sticking to a colour palette, so my feed tends to disjointed.

To iron that out, I’ve been contemplating making two Instagram accounts, one for yarn bombs and one for crochet products. That way I could have a place for clean shots of items and grimy shots for my yarn bombing.

Another thing I wanna try is being less angsty. Of course, angst has been my signature throughout the course, and it is a great motivator, but it doesn’t come off as very friendly. Being friendly isn’t necessarily my intention, but then again even Rorschach found time between his angsty fits to pet the doggies.

Yarn bombing is often a solo task. That said, I’ve always wanted to be part of a crafting group. Maybe if I was less ‘grr’ and more ‘hehe hi guys i’m sooper friendly >w<~!’, my dreams could become a reality. However, I’m sure I could start a crafting group without changing my personality. That would be nice, too.

Throwback yarn bomb

This a yarn bomb I did in 2017. I made two finger cozies for this good sir, and sat across the street, watching for people’s reactions. Many people stopped and pointed it out to their friends. One family even took a photo in front of it. But most people just walked right by, oblivious. This is why your yarn bombs should use bright colours! 🌈

Peer Review 3 — Carelessly Creative

For this peer review, I’ll be looking at Mustafa Dewji’s website “Carelessly Creative.” My initial idea was that I’d definitely be part of his intended audience from my impression of his title. As someone who is also creative and (sometimes) careless, I was immediately looking forward to checking out Mustafa’s site.

I entered his site and couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. The photo of Alexandria that greeted me is beautiful, but the rest of his site is black on white and somewhat bland. To me, it doesn’t seem to give off the vibe of being “creative” necessarily, but more clean and professional and definitely not “careless.” My first impression is that Mustafa’s title is a bit of a misnomer, but I’ll look further into his site before deciding.

I first checked out his photography tab and I was immediately impressed. Mustafa does some excellent photography, and I especially love his “1950’s Rebel Shoot.” His long exposure photos are also very beautiful. I believe that if these were some of the first images people see when they entered his site, maybe in a slider, people would immediately understand what he means by being “carelessly creative.”

In his travel tab, I was blown away even further. The photos he features here are awesome. Unfortunately, it took me a moment to realize these were actually his photos; the only giveaway was the watermark. A clearer indication that Mustafa is the one who took the photos would have helped me be even further impressed by him right away. At first glance, they were so professionally done that I guessed they were stock photos.

If part of the aim of his site is to sell these gorgeous photos, I suggest that he make it a bit more clear that he’s the mastermind behind them. Other than that, I’m really enjoying the casual dialogue he frames his photos with. Now I’m getting more of a sense of his “carelessly creative” mind.

Moving on, I thought Mustafa’s music tab was also fun. I love Beirut, too! This section is a good addition, but I feel that it might be more effective as a sidebar/widget to his site. Then people can hit play as soon as they enter and perhaps hang around on his site for longer (because who leaves in the middle of a song? That’s just rude.)

Mustafa’s lifestyle tab has one entry, and it’s a short anecdote about journaling. It’s a nice thought, and it made me smile to read it. That said, I don’t think it should be isolated in a tab by itself. Maybe on the sidebar, he could do something called…I don’t know…“Mustafa’s Musings” (??) and write little anecdotes that people can look at and read while they browse through his other tabs. That way, if his audience is made up of other “careless creatives,” they might stay longer browsing through these little things that catch their eye.

His posiel tab also contains a gem: a lovely double exposure photo. This image is so eyecatching that I wish it was the first thing I saw coming onto his site, not one of the last.

Mustafa’s last category is his about page. He gives a very simple description of himself and his goals for his blog. I immediately wished there was a photo of Mustafa, or at least one of his wonderful photographs of other things. I also found it a bit strange to have the about tab at the end of his header. If he spiffed it up a bit and moved it to be his first tab, I think it would help people get a sense of his website more quickly.

I suggest that he should feature a few photos of himself. In our reading “For Many YouTube Stars, Next Step Is An Old-Fashioned Book,” I learned that people who follow big YouTube stars are willing to lay down some money for their books. I think this is because it’s their individual copy, their personal way of getting to know the star. If Mustafa’s website incorporated some more personal elements of himself in photos, I feel like the personal and creative feel of his website would be elevated.

Mustafa, your photography is amazing! I’m sure there is an audience out there who’d love to see it, and all you have to do is make it more visible on your site.