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Critical Analysis of Group and Individual Blogs May 17, 2010

Posted by Ben Smith in Uncategorized.
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When we were deciding on the subject matter for the group site, we first came up with the idea of a music and fashion site. This was because all had an interest in music, with varying tastes which would allow our site to cater for a wide audience. Cheyne also has a keen interest in fashion so we knew we were using her strengths and would get a high quality of material from her as result.

However, after much discussion we decided to change this idea to become an entertainment site. We did this because we thought it would allow us to generate more material for our site on a variety of subjects. This in turn we hoped would allow us to draw a larger audience for our site. In trying to come up with a name for the site, we searched google for a list of entertainment buzzwords. This resulted in the bizarre discovery of the phrase ‘popcorn lung’. We chose it because of popcorn’s links to entertainment and also because our perhaps rather dark sense of humour. The phrase also happens to be the name of a debilitating lung disease mostly contracted by popcorn factory workers.

We then moved on to choosing a theme for the site. In doing so we looked at some entertainment sites such as E! Online and Perez Hilton’s celebrity gossip blog. We chose the Hybrid News Theme as it seemed very flexible as how we could choose to present it. It has also had a slider feature which we liked and thought added a touch of style to the blog. We did have some problems with the site design. Originally we had an idea for a banner for the site, where the popcorn lung title would be in red and placed on a background of a popcorn picture we found on a google image search. This banner was put onto the blog, but after some consideration we decided as a group to change this as it seemed a bit tacky and unprofessional. In light of this we did some research into customised fonts that we could use for the blog. We came up with a combination of two fonts, ‘Hollywood’ for the word popcorn and the ‘Mad Scientist’ font for the word lung. We chose the ‘Hollywood’ font because it connotes glamour and that is attached to the entertainment business. The ‘Mad Scientist’ font was chosen to represent the unsual and wacky nature of the name we had chosen for our site. The title was set against a white background, with a bar of red above and below the text. This was done because those colours are also associated with the bags that popcorn sometimes comes in at the cinema.

In terms of the content on our site, I do feel that the categories we chose for the material on our blog, comedy, film and tv, music, news and gossip were appropriate as they covered most of the areas attached to entertainment. This gave us the platform to produce a well structured and thorough exploration of the subject of entertainment. In the content I feel that myself and my colleagues have produced material suitable for an audience of an age similar to ourselves and that is fitting for the subjects we explored. With regards to my work on the site, I have endeavoured to write the material in a light – hearted, interesting and humorous manner that would be suitable for the entertainment genre and attractive to our audience. I looked to make good use of links to make the material less static and more interactive for the reader. I also made use of the polldaddy widget to encourage the blog’s audience to interact with the subjects I was discussing. This would hopefully make the audience feel part of the site and what we were doing as a group. We also each produced small biographies of ourselves in the authors section to let our audience find out more about us as people and writers and what we intended to give to them in our site.

I was disappointed that we failed to include our podcast on The Oscars on our site. The work was a good example of us working effectively as a group and producing what I thought was a well-structured and coherent piece of discussion. However, we failed to work well as a group by not collectively taking responsibility for editing the piece and placing it on the site.

We attempted to build an audience for the site by my idea to use a Twitter feed to post updates on Twitter when a post was added to our site. Overall I think the site is fairly successful in the design and the content, however the idea for the Twitter feed came quite late so didn’t really give us time to alert people about the site. In future, we will look to build the audience at an earlier stage to allow us to accrue would hopefully be a substantial and loyal audience.

I chose to do a music blog for my individual site. I chose this because previously I had focused on sports – related material and I thought it would be a valuable experience to try a different direction and approach a different subject. I chose the theme for my blog as it was designed specifically for a music blog so was perfect for my site. The only slight problem was with the header image. It was quite large so it would require the user to scroll down to see the material. I tried to halve the size of the image on the style sheet but that resulted in the image being out of proportion so I decided to restore the image to its former size. I actively looked to build an audience for my site. I set up a twitter account used a feed to post tweets on twitter giving updates when I posted new material on my site. I also set up a Facebook group for the blog, which I invited friends onto and encouraged them to leave comments on my posts on the blog. I am a member of a Reading FC forum and I posted on there asking for members to take a look at the site and comment on the material. Users were also able to contact me on an about/contact me page that I created. I used the zc mail widget to put a simple contact form on the page that would send users comments and queries to my personal email address. I did get a reply, and I was glad of the feedback to help me improve my site.

In hindsight I think I did not take full advantage of the possibilities of building an audience via Twitter. I did not get any followers, which I think is in part due to the fact that I needed to put tweets other peoples pages to get the site noticed, rather than just relying on people finding my Twitter page. I would look to be more active in raising awareness of my site in the future. I could also have set up a forum to stimulate music related debate from the users on my site. That is a feature that I will definitely consider including in my next site.

Overall I think my site has achieved what I wanted it to. I think that the content suits the audience that my blog would attract. This is because I have looked to include a good mix of the type of material usually found on music sites, such as news, reviews, interviews and my own video content. My aim was to write the material in an interesting and entertaining fashion, with humour where appropriate, and good use of links to external material. Where I could improve would be the inclusion of more interviews and video content, and I would seek to address this on my next site.

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