Thursday, October 23, 2014

Social Media at Momiji: Week 4


When it comes to the internet, one of the biggest issues for artists in all fields is copyright or intellectual property rights. Some social media critics/ academics believe that the claim an artist has to credit for a tune, image or piece of prose, is a thing of the past. While others believe that copyright needs even more protection now. Among Canadian authors, Corey Doctorow would side with abolishing copyright protection, while Robert J. Sawyer represents the opposite point of view. Record and the movie industries have come down hard on copyright protection. They stand to lose millions. You may have heard of Sony’s efforts to prevent piracy of music and films.  Visual artists, who always have the original hand-painted piece, aren’t immune, but some use ‘watermarks’ (a translucent logo superimposed on the image) among other options to protect our intellectual property online.  A program called ‘tineye’ was designed to search an artist’s image or photograph on the net, and turn up any copies including those used without permission.

The internet is jam-packed with artists in every field. More writers, painters, musicians than ever. Hobbyists are there alongside the professionals. It’s so easy to publish your artwork, songs or writing now.

Visual Art and Writing

One large and long-standing social media platform for both art and literature is Deviant Art, ‘Deviant’ in the sense of a pastime or deviation, rather than the other meaning. However, you must be 14 or older to join the site. Marking work as “mature” is left up to the artist. And reporting spam, trolls and pornography (illegal) is up to community members. Artists tend to be more tolerant of those on the fringe than society at large. So this website is home to people with a variety of atypical sexual preferences (consenting/ legal). You can block and/or report any unwanted follower as with Facebook and Twitter.

The site allows you to set up a gallery for your fine art, illustrations, photography, short stories, non-fiction or poetry—and give and receive criticism and ‘favourites’. Daily contests are held by volunteer moderators. I’ve won a few for my writing oddly enough.  Experienced artists mentor new ones.  It was because of this website that I made the leap from traditional art media to digital. I received tremendous moral and technical support from my followers. Techniques are shared in comments, or in ‘tutorials’ put together by individual members. Groups and clubs encourage sharing of ideas and artistic feedback as well. You can designate your art or writing as available for sale via dA (as it’s known for short). The prices are very low, so I don’t participate in this aspect of the site.  Overall I highly recommend the site for emerging artists, or artists trying out new media.

Saatchi is another predominantly visual arts website. I opened an account some time ago, but didn’t fully investigate all of the features. Feedback is possible, but the main activity seems to centre around art contests. Sales are possible as well.

Writing specific social platforms abound. Baen’s bar, , is a speculative fiction writing forum, but also a publisher. Members submit work to a ‘slush pile’ for critique. Editing may lead to a piece of writing move to the top of the pile and even possibly to being published in the online magazine or through a traditional publisher.  However, there are many vying for a limited number of spots. 

Fiction writers of almost every genre, freelance non-fiction writers and poets gather in online groups to exchange feedback.  Most writing forums simply offer a place to post your writing and give and receive criticism.  Not surprisingly erotica was one of the earliest forms of writing published on the net to make profits for writers. 

Fan fiction (there’s also fan art) is written by fans of specific authors for fun or as a tribute. Fan writers write continuations of famous series and works, or write stories based on the world and characters depicted in traditionally published novels or graphic novels. Fan work makes up a sizable part of online visual art and literature forums.  It’s doubtful the fan phenomenon could have grown to present proportions without the existence of creative social media. Not sure if this is a good thing or a not-so-good thing.

Writers more than any other artists have to watch being preyed upon by scammers. Some sites on- and off-line take advantage of writer’s eagerness/ desperation to be published by trying to sell them ‘editing’ or vetting services on the promise of hooking them up with agents or publishers.


Vines allows users, generally young people, to create and publish 6-second videos (including made via cell phone camera). As I mentioned in class, William Shatner had some fun with the idea of extremely short films in a recent talk. I haven’t created a vine, but I encounter other’s vines frequently on Facebook and Twitter. “Best” vines can be found on Youtube, on the Vines video website and elsewhere. They’re often smile- or cringe-inducing.

Youtube has been around for many years. Anyone can view youtube videos at, or as links on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and more. Anyone can copy and paste the url of a video… virtually wherever they like. You must have an account to comment on other’s videos, and upload videos you have created.  In addition to countless cat videos, family videos and young musicians strumming and singing their favourite pop tunes, there is a wealth of archival film footage made available by various sources (mostly) with copyright permissions.  This includes organizations such as The National Film Board of Canada. It’s a wonderful resource for favourite film scenes and music old and new.


If you or someone in your family likes to perform and record music, this is a good guide to musian’s platforms out there at present: 

Used to be that musicians could showcase their talent, keep fans up-to-date on tours and sell CDs from myspace. A few years ago, myspace inexplicably lost its popularity. You can now find many musical artists, bands using the platforms in the link above, often featured on their own or their distributors’ websites.

Youtube, is also a music platform (see above).  Music lovers can pay to download mp3 tunes or albums from itunes or join Spotify to stream music for a premium.  CBC Radio 3 has taken over “New Music Canada” which used to be a repository or ‘indie’ music (independent (garage) musicians and bands usually not signed to music contracts with big corporations):!/artists?br=1&page=1&q=&parentgenre=&genre=&f=

 Handmade Goods

Pinterest as discussed above is a great place to share recipes, crafts and home décor that suits your taste.

Etsy is a place to buy and sell handmade goods and art: It’s like the one-of-a-kind show online.  The idea is to shop directly from crafters, artisans and artists. There are favourites to check out, which differentiates this site from straight shopping sites. The site is divided into ‘shops’. You can register and fill your shopping cart. Sellers are rated by clients. Shipping costs are clearly stated by sellers and can be high depending on your location and the seller’s country of origin.  
Pay Pal is an easy-to-use, secure web-payment service to use when shopping online. The idea is that you do not disclose your credit card information to the seller. Only pay pal has this info and they keep it locked up tight. I haven’t heard of any Pay Pal issues, including hacks and ID theft. That’s better than shopping in the real world.


I’ve never been much of a sports fan.  But here is a list of social networks where fans can get together to talk about playing sports or following pro sport:  They all appear to be rather manly, like a trip through a series of man caves.  These networks, I’m sure, focus solely on sport played by male athletes. I was unable to find social networks devoted to fans of women’s sport, but I did find many articles (often hopeful) about bringing more attention to women in sport.

Gamers don’t spend all of their time gaming. They too have social networks, often around specific games, game player systems and game-related technology.  Women are fighting for representation on these social networks as well.  Recently threats of rape and violence were issued by males on gaming social media against women. No one has been hurt at time of writing. Legal stuff is ongoing, but the gaming related social networks are working toward total respect for women game developers and female presence.  Cosplay (dressing up as game characters for fun or competitions) is an area of gaming fandom in which both sexes receive equal representation on related social media.


The best computer software rescue forum is My Bleeping Computer. This site is so good that malware have begun to include in their software instructions on evading the website. The idea is that expert moderators assist registered users with ridding malware from their hard drives. The site has also developed some excellent software for malware removal.  Do not, however, attempt to use advice given to questioners on My Bleeping Computer forums (or other computer forums) unless you have advanced skills.

CNet and PCWorld are two great sites for reviews on software and hardware. They offer user review system and comments, but aren’t social media as such. I mention them here because they’re valuable resources for computer owners. Also checkout Tom’s Hardware

Professional Networking

LinkedIn  is the biggest website for putting your professional credentials out there, and perhaps finding contracts or work. I do not have a LinkedIn page myself, but know people who use it to promote their small business, business skills and, as Steve mentioned in class, to keep in touch with former colleagues.

Facebook Pages offer space to share information about your career, business, events and achievements, to have followers and make new connections., allows you to create a single web page that advertises your skills, cause or interest and is linkable to Twitter, Facebook and other social media. I don’t have an page, but know others who do. It’s for someone who doesn’t want or require a website but would like to network for professional reasons on social media.

Setting up your own website

A website is useful for large and small businesses, charitable and other organizations and knowledge bases.  Most individuals don’t require or want one. Facebook and Twitter often serves their needs.  

My website hosted by IX webhosting. This is the platform that I use to manage my website. My code and online content are stored there. I paid a student to create a simple (I hope elegant) space to show off my digital artwork. I use this website as a portfolio. It has four pages and I can update it easily with my limited knowledge of html. I use a free file transfer program called ‘Filezilla’ to upload content from my hard drive to the website. It has served my needs as a freelance artist and art instructor very well.

The first step in setting up a website is deciding on a host. Nowadays, your host will help you purchase (more like rent) a domain. This is the name of your website, usually the name of your business, organization or your name with a “.com” after it for businesses and a “.org” for non-profit organizations. Domains are registered and must be renewed yearly or biannually – or your domain name goes back on the market.

Like most web hosts, IX webhosting charges a nominal fee, but I’d like to think I’m getting extra services for the few bucks/month I pay. I can call IX 24/7 with questions, problems or complaints.  Most important to me: no ads appear on my website.  I felt ads would distract from the art I’m showcasing on my site.

Yes, some website hosts ask you to devote a percentage of your space to ads, which may be tailored to your site. Carrying ads should come at a lower price or greater searchability of your site.  WiX web building host  lets you create your own website using readymade templates. It has both a free and for fee hosting services. Most webhosts offer design services for a price. You can also shop around for a freelance web designer (perhaps an IT student).  There are many web designers to choose from for a range of fees.  Consider what features your website will require, how you feel about sharing your site with ads, and your level of IT skills. Ask friends who have websites for recommendations, shop around.  

Here are reviews and comparisons of several webhosts: “Go-Daddy” was brought up in class.  Here’s a review:  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Momiji Fall 2014 Social Media Workshop students,

It was such a pleasure to work with all of you. I applaud your desire to be more computer and internet savvy.  I have finally put up my notes for Week 3 and Week 4 notes will follow shortly. My apologies for the delay in posting this material. I hope it's a useful resource for you as you go forth and seek social media that suits your needs and interests.


M. Chown

Social Media at Momiji: Week 3

Social media is any website, forum or application that lets you store and share content (text, photos or videos), communicate with others, and/or have followers and follow others.  Beyond Facebook and Twitter there’s a social media for every interest, including, news, career/ business, music, art, photography, creative writing, technology and more.  Over the next two sessions I’ll spotlight some of the most popular. For those of you with children in your life, I’ll highlight what they’re up to on the net these days.

Most of the websites discussed in this workshop can be browsed without joining.  Join only if you want to share your content or express your thoughts.  Take your time, do some research (lurk) particularly for any site you decide to pay to join. Consider your internet footprint. While putting yourself out there may be well worth the risk, personally and/or professionally, get to know your comfort zone. 

Removing your internet footprint:

Before you become active or more active on social media, it’s worthwhile to be informed about your internet footprint and best practices (the legal stuff).  For instance, the first version of this blog was wiped out and renamed due to a rash, misinformed personal attack on my professional reputation and the reputation of supervisory staff at workplace where I’m employed part-time. I followed best practices and yet an individual was able to cause trouble for me in the ‘real world’.  The internet isn’t terribly fair. So, Google yourself, if you haven’t already.  Yahoo yourself too.  Try Facebook’s new privacy tool as well.  You can delete posts and content or close any account, but your stuff will remain searchable for at least 3 weeks and possibly forever.  This wiki-how article does a great job of describing the steps required to attempt to eliminate your internet presence (my apologies for the confusing ads contained in therein): 


It has become much more than just a search engine. This blog, for instance came along with my Google email account (gmail). Google+ is a social network you can personalize.  Google ‘Drive’ offers a range of free online programming for office, home and student use.  This includes Google Docs, a free document creation and sharing program, as well as a shareable spreadsheet software (similar to Window’s Excel) and much more.  Picassa is Google’s photo retouching, sharing and storage service. Most of google’s office-type services can be published to the web as a distinct page accessed by a url (which you can post in a blog, comment or status update).  Yahoo, another search engine offers email, and ‘groups’, which anyone with a or account can open and administer for free. 


Blogging is for those who love to write and want to share information and/or ideas about their personal or business-related interests. Most blog accounts give you the ability to personalize your page display, create posts with links, photos and videos, receive comments from readers and have followers.  Google’s “Blogger” service is just one of many free and for fee blogs available.  Technically Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are blogs, because they function as platforms for putting your voice and interests out there in the internet ether, and for receiving feedback from followers.  Some blogging ‘hosts’ or platforms are more searchable than others, depending on the host’s blog access and/or your settings (open to all or limited) and popularity, or number of followers.  Some offer fancier options. Wordpress is the most popular and commonly used in business, often as a newsletter and to encourage feedback. Many workplaces expect employees to have at least a basic understanding of Wordpress.


Reddit:  This news-oriented website has on occasion made news by applying the critical minds of its users to top stories.  It is sometimes used for live Q & A sessions (ex., author Robert J. Sawyer, politician, David Soknacki). The session is advertised in advance in other social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, so that those interested can read along or join in (if they have a Reddit account). Member posts are rated on the number of responses they receive.  Reddit membership options/ privileges increase with the number of posts you write and scale of discussion they generate. Also relatively new is an option to give ‘gold’ to a poster. Gold is bitcoin, which I believe you can purchase through Reddit. I’m assuming this feature is used to support charitable or political causes.

Of course you can comment directly on articles posted on news websites, such as CTV, CBC, Fox and so on. You can also sign up for news feeds for your internet browser, which will appear on your browser home page. Twitter allows you to follow news media and/or reporters/columnists. Radio used to be the fastest news provider. Twitter now puts you with the reporter and their smartphone at the scene. For in-depth stories, magazines are available on news feeds, twitter, etc. You don’t necessarily need a subscription.  Depending on the media outlet, some are free without limitations (Huffington Post), some allow a set number of free articles per month at no charge, and others restrict select articles.  


As I mentioned, you and people from across the globe can join Wikipedia and discuss, correct or even write articles, or provide photos. For this reason I include it among social media. and How-it-works, as far as I know (things are always changing on the net!) hire and pay qualified contributors. Wikipedia has expanded to include dictionary and how-to websites. All you need is an email address to sign on. You will be confined to the ‘Sandbox’, that is you’ll be monitored and have limited privileges, until you learn how to format and compose on the site.

Another organically created website is the Urban Dictionary. Warning, it’s x-rated, by and for youth. Young people submit definitions to common and youth-culture words and phrases and the most liked definition rises to the top. I’m letting you know about this site, because besides being an example of crowd sourcing like wiki, it’s an up to the minute window into the often closed to adults world of today’s youth.

Photo Sharing

Tumblr, Imgur, Flickr:  Tumblr is very popular among tweens, teens and the under 25 set.  In addition to functioning like a blog, it’s a place to share and store photos and GIFs (photos often found via Google image search, animated together in short loops so that the subject repeats a usually humorous action over and over).  People on Tumblr (and elsewhere) also use graphics software, including Photoshop, to alter photos for artistic or humorous effect. This is called photomanipulation.  People share a variety of images on photo sharing sites as well as other social media like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.  Dedicated photo sharing sites such as Flickr, have photo contests and other features attractive to shutterbugs.

Backing up your photo albums on the cloud is wise due to the real possibility loss due to weather, flood or fire.  (Backup as well on your hard drive and external storage such as thumb drives.)  Photo sharing and cloud storage also comes packaged with major operating systems, including Windows and camera software (HP and others) and via Adobe (known for its internet, office and graphics software).  Choosing the photo service that’s right for you may involve trying out a few. 


Pinterest is a unique website. Each person has a ‘board’ or set of pages devoted to ideas, recipes, photos, home décor, art, objects that they find interesting or beautiful. This is a forum on taste, rather than personal/ family/ work life.  You do not have to have the creative rights to items you pin on your board. For example you might display a Martha Stewart cookie recipe.  Anyone can find Pinterest images and links via google or other search engines. Only members can ‘pin’ other members’ posts to their own board. The number of pins or favourites a post receives will bring it to the top in searches. I don’t belong to Pinterest, but find it helpful resource for art and craft ideas for teaching.