Strong Storytelling


Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

The key to excellent storytelling is clear and concise language. Authors construct straightforward sentences with active voice and use the inverted pyramid scheme to grab the reader’s attention. They also consider the interaction they want to have with their audience and how they will engage their readers.

As stated in this week’s readings the attention span of the average reader is waning. This leads to more inspectional reading with skimming, and superficial reading becoming more common. Brian Clark describes the four methods for reading and understanding text as elementary, inspectional, analytuval, and syntopical.

Grammar and spelling play a major role in making sure a blog, or social media post is considered professional and worth reading. Common grammar mistakes should be avoided and rereading and editing everything is key. It is also important to consider what action you want your audience to take and make that action as easy as possible. Creating sharable links is very important. One of the websites I like to use to create links is bitly which creates smaller and more manageable links for websites like Twitter.

The other major take away from this week’s lesson is not to “bury the lead”. In other words make sure that the opening paragraph of a blog or article has the most important information with details and context in the following paragraphs.


Iceland: Rye Bread Ice Cream, Viking Battles, and Little People

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In June 2017 I took a trip of a lifetime to visit Iceland with my Dad. To be honest the trip wasn’t quite what I had planned (I had initially planned the trip with an ex boyfriend of several years with whom I was living at the time I booked the trip) but instead was even better than I imagined.

On June 10, Dad and I were packed up and ready to go. We left from the St. John’s international airport backtracked to Toronto before heading to Iceland for two weeks. The first week was mainly spent in and around the capital city of Reykjavik before heading out in a campervan for a week on the Ring Road.

The highlights include a food tour of Reykjavik with samples of lamb stew, local cheese and cured meats, skyr, crab soup, and a famous Icelandic hot dog. The most intriguing food stop was for a taste of rye bread ice cream that was surprisingly delicious! What is your favourite food that you’ve eaten on vacation?

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Rye bread ice cream with whipped cream.

I also booked a black and blue tour that my dad was adamant he would not do! The black stands for the lava tube cave I crawled through, and the blue stands for snorkelling at the famous silfra. This fissure in the earth is where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. While I was exploring underground and under water my dad was relaxing in our hostel’s hot tub.

The rest of the week was a blur of local shops, flea markets, and antique stores. We adventured to Hafnarfjörður just outside the capital city to explore the hidden worlds of elves, little people, dwarves, and trolls. While in the town we stumbled upon a Viking battle re-enactment complete with a Viking village. I also managed to “drag” my dad to a 90s themed drag show.

Once we hit the open road we were struck by the vast and changing landscape of Iceland. We drove around, over, and through mountains; past lava fields, stopped at an iceberg lagoon, visited a glacier, warmed ourselves on mud cauldrons and steam vents, and swam in many lagoons. We photographed waterfalls, geysers, craters, canyons, and a plane wrecked on one of Iceland’s black beaches.

We ate delicious pastries, visited a textile museum, and tasted ice cream fresh from a local creamery. Before heading back to Newfoundland we stopped at the birthplace of Leif the Lucky, also know as Leif Erikson, who is thought to have settled in L’Anse aux Meadows at the very tip of Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula.

The experience of traveling with my dad across a foreign island is one I wouldn’t trade for anything. We had a lot of fun on the adventure – and best of all we both made it home to Newfoundland in one piece with a bucket list travel visit checked off.

Where is next on your list? Or where have you always wanted to go?

Check out the video below for more snippets of this amazing trip!

Dirty Hypocrite – How Social Media Made Me Less Social

I recently became a bit of a hypocrite as a result of social media. I tend to try to shop locally and support small businesses in my community. However this week I purchased a product online as a result of Facebook’s target marketing. A product that I know a local store carries but which was much easier and convenient to purchase online.

***Spoiler discussion of women’s hygiene product ahead***

Although I’ve always recycled and composted at home I’ve recently tried to cut down on the amount of disposable products I use in my home. This includes plastic wrap and Ziploc bags as well as pads. I’ve started using a beeswax paper purchased at a local eco friendly store. Due to the costs associated with environmentally friendly products I tend to do a lot of research before jumping in and replacing a disposable product with a reusable one. I tend to research the different bands, read reviews, and consider Canadian options as well as the cost of shipping.

I’ve done a lot of research on Thinx underwear, which are a designed to be used in place of pads during a women’s period. I talked recently with a friend who has a pair and while she said they work she said she wouldn’t purchase them again given their high cost. While Thinx has done some great marketing around menstruation and has been able to generate discussion around a bit of a taboo subject they have also recently had a bit of a set back in their social media marketing. Within the past few months Thinx released a period blanket for use when people get down during that time of the month. The cost of the product in Canada is $496.90 and it was this high cost combined with a particular Facebook promotional video that saw the company receive backlash.

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Screenshot from Thinx’s period blanket ad.

After talking to a friend and reconsidering the cost of one pair of Thinx I started researching reusable pads online. I came across several varieties and on my last trip to the Bee’s Knees I saw that they carried a version in store. I did a bit more research into different companies and this week an ad showed up on my Facebook for Hannahpad promoting a deal on your first purchase. I checked the website, compared it to similar products online, and registered as a new customer to get the deal. This lead me to question how local businesses can use social media to their advantage in today’s world of instant consumption.

I follow several local businesses online and the businesses which grab my attention are those who advertise new products such as a one time beer, who make use of Instagram stories to let me know when I can visit a local food truck, and those which give me all the information about a product including the cost!

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Port Rexton’s Instagram post for a recent one off beer.

In today’s world when it is so easy to buy online how do you see local businesses standing out? Do you have suggestions for what brick and mortar stores should do to compete with online giants? How do we get people out of their homes and into the stores?

facebook Dirty Hypocrite – When Facebook Makes You Your Own Worst Enemy

Twitter Dirty Hypocrite – Is Social Media Making Me Less Social


The Risk of Confidently Oversharing

Red Butch Ale, Queer Beer's first brew. Photo by Alex Stead Photography.

Queer Beer’s first brew. Red Ale. Photo by Alex Stead Photography.

This past week I found myself considering the risks of social media but not just as a result of course readings. Instead I found myself anxious about a very exciting opportunity that presented itself as a result of social media.

On Tuesday evening after work I packed a bag and headed out of town with three friends. We were on our way to Port Rexton, Newfoundland to brew a beer with Port Rexton Brewing Co. We spent the vast majority of the ride googling brewing terms, and discussing our varying levels of anxiety about being asked to brew with the Port Rexton team.

Queer Beer

Queer Beer’s original five members with their first home brew. Photo by Alex Stead Photography.

So who are we and where does social media come into play?

We’re four ladies who have been brewing beer for just over four months. We started brewing beer at the end of March and settled on the name Queer Beer due to the Newfoundland usage of the term and because three of the five founding members are queer. We’ve done a couple of kits and one recipe based on traditional Newfoundland spruce beer but we haven’t advanced from partial to all grain brewing or moved beyond my kitchen.

We all come from different backgrounds. We have a nurse, a photographer, and two folklorists (one working, one grad student). We decided to create a social media account for Queer Beer after friends and family members inquired about our home brewing adventures. We posted some photos in early July of our labels and our different home brews thus far. We also had a couple of professional photos of our group and our very first beer. (Having an in house photographer helps!)

Less than two weeks after we created the account Port Rexton Brewing Co. reached out about collaborating on a beer for their pride celebrations in August. We were all delighted! Then we were anxious! Did they know we were home brewers? Did they know we hadn’t moved to all grain brewing yet? Did they think we could come out and brew a delicious beer in their brewery?

All for Naught

We travelled to Port Rexton and met with the co-owners. They were delightful and explained how they got their start in home brewing and how they opened their brewery. They had no expectations and on brew day let us mill the grains, stir the mash, keg beer, shovel the grains, and add hops, coriander, and orange peels. It was a wonderful day that probably would never have come about without social media!

Thankfully our anxiety was all for naught but the experience really made me consider the potential risk of confidently oversharing on social media. Without careful consideration of what your content or your account portrays you could find yourself in a sticky situation where it is assumed that you know more than you do. Organizations and individuals should really create a policy for social media content which outlines the content they post as well as how they will mitigate the potential risks which come from using social media.

Have you ever overshared? Did you end up in a similar situation?

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The Instragram account that started it all: @QueerBeerNL

If you want to learn more about Port Rexton’s Pride events or our collaboration check out this article from The Packet!

facebook The Risk of Confidently Oversharing: Home Brew Boils Over into Excited Opportunity

Twitter The Risk of Confidently Oversharing: Home Brew Boils Over #homebrew #craftbeer

Bubbles in Our Social Media World

One thing I’ve thought about frequently in relation to social media within the past year is our social media bubble. This filter bubble is a form of isolation created as a result online algorithms which track your interests and responses on social media and other websites to bring you more of what you love. You may end up with oddly specific ads on Facebook for that particular dress you had in your online shopping basket (this can’t just happen to me – hello Modcloth!).

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Photo by nabuhunso:

The Issue At Hand

The issue of the filter bubble was widely publicized and discussed as a result of America’s most recent election. There was a lot of discussion around how Americans who were left or right-wing were only seeing one side of the election and the story being told rather than a more rounded view of the political issues and candidates. This led many Americans to believe that the majority of the population felt the same way they did about election issues.

On a smaller scale this filter bubble is something I’ve noticed on my own personal Facebook account. I am left leaning politically as are most of my Facebook friends and followers. I tend to see posts promoting multiculturalism, immigration, and LGBTQ+ issues.  It was not until I added a person who I had met professionally in order to request the use of their photos on a work project that I noticed I lived in a bubble. While this particular person and I agree on the importance of local heritage the posts we share and see on Facebook are wildly different. Their Facebook feed is almost totally opposite to the things I stand for and believe in. I found this upsetting and considered the possibility of unfriending the person.

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Still image from the Filter Bubble Show a discussion from the Institute of Network Cultures. Photo by Martin Risseeuw:

Do the Cons Outweigh the Pros?

This leads me to ask questions about the benefits of these algorithms and the cookies which track browser history. Is is helpful to see only what you want to see, or what you already believe? Is it useful to think most of the population shares your worldview on politics and other issues?

The result of the realization that my Facebook newsfeed was skewed towards my own thoughts and beliefs led me to read a wider range of news stories to better understand what is happening in the world around me, and in particular outside my filter bubble.

And that Facebook friend? I still have them.  I reconsidered my discomfort with their posts and continue to try to understand where their point of view is coming from.

What would you do in this circumstance? Have you unfollowed or unfriended people on Twitter and Facebook due to the material they post?

facebookBubbles in Our Social Media World. Is your newsfeed only telling you one side of the story?

TwitterBubbles in Our Social Media World. Are algorithms all they’re cracked up to be? #filterbubbles