Global Bread: from Yeast to West

Join me on my journey around the globe in search of freshly-baked artisan breads in countries far and wide. Every week, I will introduce you to a different country, share one of its traditional bread recipes – and as a bonus you will get to know the baker and their story. 1 country, 1 bread, 1 person.

About me

Hello and welcome to my blog, Global Bread: from Yeast to West!

My name is Kristina. I have three passions: baking bread, travelling the world and collecting stories about different people. It all started with my grandmother’s bread. She baked it weekly. I remember waking up in the morning to the delicious smell of fresh buns. Buns with butter – what can be better?! Perhaps, only buns with butter in Paris. As I grew up, I discovered the beauty of travels. I explored a number of countries in Europe before moving to North America. I met many wonderful people along the way and was inspired by their stories.

Destination baking

Corn bread in Canada, baguette in France, ciabatta in Italy, naan in Pakistan, pumpernickel in Germany, black bread in Belarus, etc. Is there such a thing as destination baking? If not, then let’s invent it.

Based on research, “culinary activities such as “trying local food and drink” is one of the top leisure travel activities that travellers choose to do when visiting”. France and Italy are the first to come to mind when we think about this type of tours. Bread is baked around the world. Combine bakery tours with wine and cheese tours – what else does one need?! Ancient Romans might’ve added “circenses” (from Latin, “panem et circenses”, means bread and circuses, or bread and spectacle) to the list.

1 country, 1 bread, 1 person

Country: Belarus

I would like to start my journey around the breads of the world with my home country, Belarus. It is a country in Eastern Europe with a population of just under 10 million people. Belarus has a variety of traditional breads made with wheat or rye flour. Some of the recipes are recognized as a “non-material heritage” of the country. Fun fact: some bread is baked on top of oak or birch leaves, this adds a beautiful flavour and a pretty pattern.

Хлеб – pronounced “khleb”, means “bread” in Belarusian language

Bread: Belarusian rye bread recipe

Source: Kristina Stankevich Photo

Starter:

  • 50 g rye sourdough
  • 300 g rye flour
  • 300 g water

Mix sourdough, flour and water and leave to rise for 12 hours.

Dough:

  • Starter
  • 150 g rye flour
  • 150 g wheat flour
  • 150 g water
  • 12 g salt

Mix all the dough ingredients with a wooden spoon first, continue with wet hands. The batter should be moist and slippery. Grease your bread pan with butter. Put batter into the pan, cover with a plastic bag and let it rise for 1.5 hours. Pre-heat the oven to 490 degrees and bake bread at this temperature for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 460 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 395 degrees and bake the remaining 40 minutes. Spray the top of the bread with water about 10 minutes before you pull it out of the oven.

Baker: Veronika

Source: Kristina Stankevich Photo

Veronika’s baking was inspired by her grandmother. She is a nurse and works hard during these difficult times of coronavirus. About five years ago she decided to pursue her passion of making cakes. It didn’t stop her that she lives with her husband and two children in a one-bedroom apartment with a shared kitchen. She worked hard and now creates magnificent and delicious masterpieces. A few years ago she ventured into bread baking. After months of trials and errors she became a master baker. She treats her family to a few fresh loafs every week.

Bonus: Bread around the world

Source: https://youtu.be/K2dQxnoy-I8

Let’s talk

What is your favourite type of bread? Who inspired you to bake? What is your favourite country to visit? Would love to hear your thoughts – share via the comments below and find me on social @Yeast2West.

Personal Reflection on COM0014 Digital Communications

Being a publishing professional for 25 years, I understand that storytelling is important in all communications, whether it’s print, broadcast or online. Storytelling brings the content to life by painting a picture for the audience. By putting things into context, storytelling makes complex concepts easier to understand.

News Flash by FlashDesignsStudio.com shares stories of photography events happening in the Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal triangle. It also shares research news stories that advanced photographers might find interesting. Photography 101 uses a story format of having a beginning, middle and end when explaining basic concepts and how-tos for novice photographers. In the future, I hope to tell stories about some of Norm’s and my theme photography shoots. As good storytelling is important to any medium, I could have easily submitted most of these blogs to a hobby magazine for possible publication as articles.

While the course covered basic communications concepts of storytelling and target audiences well, I’m disappointed that the course did not provide any digital– or social-media-specific information. As I mentioned in my discussion board introduction, I was hoping this course would cover how to write for the different social media platforms. While writing a blog is similar to writing an article, getting something substantial in 140 characters or less on Twitter is a challenge for me. The course did not address this. It would be useful to know how to use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to their fullest potential. I understand there are too many social media platforms to be able to cover them all, but Facebook and Twitter are by far the largest and would be part of every social media strategy. Perhaps writing one or more Facebook posts and tweets with every blog, whether related or not, should be part of future courses.

COM0015 – Assignment 1 -Blog 4 – Out of the Box

Combining everything that we already knew about SOCIAL MEDIA with all the cases we’ve studied and all the best tools that are to be had: it feels like I’m only ever getting half-way to a solution.  Before starting this program, I thought I had a hunch about a few tools and programs out there in the real world of business meets social media… but.. wait a minute: ‘Things are changing… how will I ever keep up?’

LISTENING + LEARNING + STAYING IN ACTION  = keep to keeping up with trends and generating new ways of looking at the world through the lens of #SocialMediaMeetsBusiness.

 

So what do I hope to accomplish with social media?  Is it working? Well, I’m constantly learning new tricks.

From what I gather, I’m using platforms that are suited to my particular field and/or project(s.)  I’m learning from others about the varied style of communication using social media = the ins and outs of sharing your message.  What works for some people is worth a try but it might not quite work for me.  I guess it’s all a question of finding a style and sticking to it..

GOING MOBILE?  Here are a few tools that might come in handy…

I’m always looking for social media inspiration: taking free webinars and online courses.  I have found a whole bunch of useful information about how mobile apps come into play

Instagram can house short videos… Hilary Rushford, of Dean Street Society, hosted a webinar called: ‘Doubling Your Instagram Following.’

Distributing a free workbook, her program talked about free tools for editing and posting images on Instagram.

VSCO CAM = where you add a photo to your library and she talked us through using the editing tools.

@HilaryRushford also talked about the PERISCOPE App = live mobile video streaming; which works really well when you’re sharing content on a road trip, from various locations.

Another useful tool that I’ve grown to love is HOOTSUITE Suggestions...

Right from my iPhone, I am able to call up HOT TOPICS that I can easily share on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

FYI>> It gives you THREE topics to search for and you can assign unlimited accounts… so make sure that you tweak the settings before posting on multiple accounts.  Be #strategic in what you post and where.  Double check your postings on each platform to catch anything that goes wrong.  If in doubt, delete and give it another try.  Skill takes practice.

Puzzled by PINNING?

PINTEREST is a social media platform that would appear to have limited application to business… but Melanie Duncan’s webinar gave me a whole bunch of information about optimizing this platform to steer traffic from PINS back to your company site.

> The type of material you PIN is part of the formula.  Inforgraphics are the most popular format (they spread like wild fire.)

Melanie also suggest the following tools:

PICMonkey =  Protecting your content with a watermark

Easily creating infographics = www.infogr.am

Getting a Pinterest tab for your Facebook Page = www.woobox.com/pinterest

Pinterest stuff = Courtesy of Melanie Duncan (www.powerofpinning.com/course

> The BLOGEME poster thingy I built (featured image)  still lives on scribd.com which I’ve embedded on my personal blog (backdoor access = click expand button on bottom corner) http://ow.ly/MFQx302Y1sy

COM0011 – Risk Assessment, Corporate Responsibility and Finding a Social Media Voice

By: Kamal Hylton

One of the major challenges in marketing for business is developing a voice for a brand. The ability to strike a delicate balance between corporate professionalism and authentic uniqueness can be difficult, but especially risky when factoring in the power of social media.

For a small startup looking to make its mark or a company that has developed a game changing product or service, all it takes is one perfectly timed post on the big social media platforms to propel said business to the next level. However there is a flip side to this coin, as it only takes one poor post to set off a domino effect that can lead to major financial losses, a spoiled reputation within the industry and potentially a business up in smoke. Assessing all of the risks and outcomes, the best course of action to avoid all of those potential pitfalls is to think before pushing send or as the old saying goes “measure twice, cut once”. This certainly isn’t new advice but it’s often taken for granted or ignored. One tip I use as a safeguard in my work as a social media marketing consultant is to write and go over my posts in a word processor before posting on social media. Although this is a little more time consuming, it’s a small price to pay considering the alternative.

This leads to the topic of customer interaction. Successful companies on social media use these platforms as a way to engage, ask/answer questions and listen to consecutive feedback that can be implemented to make themselves better. Simply put, nobody wants to be inundated with sales material and promos throughout their feeds or be made to feel like they’re interacting with a robot spitting out scripted responses from a playbook. To truly make an impact and grow a customer base organically it’s just not enough to respond in a timely manner, but there has to be a genuine back and forth that makes them feel valued and cared for. A good way to approach this is to take a few moments to come up with a well thought out and honest response before answering any questions or engaging with customers, as there are no prizes being given out for quickest answers nor are there bonuses being given out for meeting a quota.

The difficulties and pressures that marketing teams face is understandable when growing an online presence of a corporate brand, but that’s no excuse to putting emphasis and value behind things that don’t matter. For corporate social media to be successful it’s much simpler than we tend to make it:

  1. Properly assess all risks and outcomes before posting
  2. Take the time to think and be thoughtful with answers
  3. Ask the questions you actually need answers to
  4. Listen to constructive feedback and take emotions out of it
  5. Keep social media feeds as a genuine platforms/don’t use social media as just another sales tool

Let me know your thoughts. How important is a companies social media voice to you? What do you feel is the best way for companies to deal with customers on social media? Do you have any positive/negative experiences to share?

Reference Material:

Five Tips for Corporate Social Media Responsibility – http://bit.ly/1XtAyPj

How the voice of the People is Driving Corporate Social Responsibility – http://bit.ly/1TMniqY

COM0011 – Can Snapchat Become a Primary Social Media Tool for Small Business Marketing?

snapchat-logo

By: Kamal Hylton

When it comes to how useful a social media platform is to the business world, I zero in on how effective it is at interacting with an audience, sharing ideas and/or getting a message across.

During the current era of social media boom, the impact of tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn on big business have made a clear impression. However it has made an even bigger mark on small businesses, startup companies and given local entrepreneurs marketing power and global reach like never before. Twitter have allowed owner/customer relations to blossom and build productive long-term relationships through short and simple messages, Facebook has enabled startups to unleash detailed marketing campaigns that are professional quality at little to no cost, Instagram is tailor-made for video or image marketing equal to any big advertising firm and LinkedIn has done away with the old rolodex in its ability to keep up with contacts and find like-minded professionals.

That said, one social media platform I personally can’t wrap my head around as a “go to” tool for small businesses social media marketing is Snapchat – the video messaging app that allows viewers to see short videos up to 10 seconds in length before being deleted permanently.

Being a writer/social media marketer on behalf of a media company, part of my job is to help startups acquire and sustain an online following. Typically these are companies with little to no advertising budgets or are in fields like healthcare, data security and employment services that although important aren’t exactly sexy or exude excitement like the music or art industries nor do they have the ability to get a big star like Justin Bieber or Drake to do a social media takeover of their brand. When it comes to Snapchat, I’ve found it hard even suggest as a primary tool to our clients simply due to its premise and main selling points not making sense for them. There are some good selling points to Snapchat that I’d love to use for specific projects like the “Discover” feature, giving companies a 24 hour channel of videos and short articles. The easy way Sanpchat can be used to promote specific events is also a plus, its immediacy perfect for pop up giveaways or the creation of citywide treasure hunts all in the name of publicity.

The issues I’m presented with in regard to Snapchat could come down to demographic  or nature, with more than half of Snapchat users under the age of 25 and companies I tend to work with not catering to the flashy nature of the app. It could also be as simple as Snapchat still being a new tool that hasn’t reached its full potential enough to make it a primary social media pillar like the others mentioned. Whatever the case, right now I can’t recommend Snapchat for a company right out of the gate in the same vein as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

I’d love to hear from you (especially if you are a regular Snapchat user). What makes Snapchat appeal to you? How could a small business make best use of Snapchat? How do you see Snapchat evolving in the future?

Reference Material:

Snapchat for Beginners: 6 Ways To Use It For Business –  http://bit.ly/1TOdR8F

Making Sense of Snapchat for your Small Businesshttp://bit.ly/1TqZ31q

Guide to How Snapchat is being used todayhttp://read.bi/1UjutWv

City should recognize More Local Rescues

About two weeks ago, I read an article on CBC News focused on the new bylaw to put a ban on selling pets from breeders in pet stores within the city. While I mostly agreed with the article, I felt like this article missed the opportunity to showcase all the amazing non profit animal rescue organizations in the city, which have animals equally deserving of adoption.

The article mentions that any new pet stores opening up in the city should “only be able to sell dogs, cats and rabbits that come from the Ottawa Humane Society. ” (Foote, 2016) The mention of other animal rescues in the city should have gotten some spotlight here, simply because I am aware of cat and dog rescues in the city doesn’t mean everyone is. It could have been a golden opportunity for some of the other hardworking rescues in the city.

Don’t get me wrong; I like the OHS. It brought me my beautiful, blue-eyed, deaf cat, Winter, whom I adore tremendously. I found her because she, like most other OHS animals, was on display at oscatrmy local pet store. I love looking at those little guys and gals when I go into pet stores, and it makes me happy to know that they’ll be adopted. However, there are so many additional rescues out there doing amazing work that need recognition.

I do some volunteer work for the Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue (OSCatR). I picked this organization because they have a “TNR” program, which stands for “Trap Neuter Release”. TNR “ends reproduction, stabilizes feral cat populations, improves individual cats’ lives and curbs the spread of infectious disease. The behaviors and stresses associated with mating — pregnancy, yowling, and fighting — are reduced or stop entirely.” By trapping and neutering/spaying stray cats, the population of stray cats slowly and steadily decreases. The OSCatR also takes stray cats in and places them in foster homes, giving them the care; medicine; and affection needed so they can be adopted out. I think the work they do is amazing and I feel like OSCatR and other hardworking rescues should be getting more attention in the media.cbc

 

As seen on the Facebook comments, others also agree that including other rescues in the article would have been nice to see. It’s definitely an area of interest for others as well. In my opinion, this article missed an opportunity to inform readers of local, non profit rescues in the city. These rescues work hard, if not harder, and do not get anywhere near as much attention  as the OHS; this must change.

 

What do you think? Do you think the media should have made mention to other animal rescues in the city? Or do you think the mention of the OHS was all the article needed?  Let me know what you think!

 

References:
Foote, Andrew. “City of Ottawa to Mull Tightening Leash on Dog, Cat, Rabbit Sales.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 22 Jan. 2016. Web. 07 Feb. 2016.

Tucker, Terry. “My good friend is Mark Taylor’s assistant. ” Facebook.com January 25 2016. Web. February 7, 2016. Web.

 
“Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue.” Ottawa Stray Cat Rescue. Web. 07 Feb. 2016.

 

 

Blog 1, COM0011 -The Birth, Struggles and Resurrection of Eminem

Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers, is a pre-eminent rap musician of the twentieth century.  He was born into poverty and deprivation and raised by a drug addicted single mother.  Although he lacked much formal education, he was interested in words and the poetry form of rhyming words.  He succeeded in a black music genre despite his colour.  In spite of many challenges, he has achieved stardom in the music and motion picture industry.

Marshall Bruce Mathers (Eminem) was born on October 17, 1972 in Saint Joseph, Missouri to Marshall Mathers Jr. (twenty-one years of age) and Deborah Nelson (seventeen years of age).  His parents were both musicians playing in a band called Daddy Warbucks.  The father left the family when Eminem was six months old.  He and his mother bounced from place to place, school to school and eventually ended up in Detroit, Michigan living on the rough side of the “8 Mile” line which divided Detroit’s neighbourhoods.  In Detroit, 8 Mile road was the border between the poor black and the white neighbourhoods. He lived on the poor black side of the line. (Eminem, Eminem – The Way I Am, 2009)

Eminem’s early life was characterized by poverty, neglect and mistreatment.  As a child, Eminem was poor, often on welfare, sometimes without a home and couch surfing with family and friends.  He often changed schools as many as two to three times a year.  When he was in grades eight and nine, he was the victim of bullying and physical assault.  He dropped out of school after failing grade nine three times.  He reported that he never had many friends and never felt like he belonged to anyone.  He had a deep love for words and language and he used to read the dictionary.  “I found that no matter how bad I was at school, like, and no matter how low my grades might have been at some points, I was always good at English.” (Eminem Biography, n.d.)

Eminem’s introduction to Hip-Hop occurred at the age of eleven courtesy of his uncle Ronald Nelson.  By the time Eminem was fourteen he knew he wanted be a rapper.  He was called “trailer park trash” so often that he decided to court this image. (Eminem, Eminem – The Way I Am, 2009)  In Detroit he frequently participated in rapping competitions held locally in his neighbourhood.  He was often the only white man competing in this black art form.  It appealed to him because he found his voice in this tough streetwise talk.  He said that rapping was all about bragging and boasting and releasing his anger.  His early songs were an attack on his parents, a painfully public way of settling his scores. (Eminem Biography, n.d.)

Eminem’s fascination with words and rhyming has made him one of the most important musicians in this genre of music.  In an interview on 60 Minutes, he described the importance of breaking down words to make them rhyme.  He carries around with him boxes of word ideas which he calls “stacking ammo”.  These are short bursts of words that rhyme and are congregant with a single idea.  He said that reading the dictionary helped him develop this process. (Eminem, Eminem 60 Minutes Full Interview, 2010)

In 1997, Eminem travelled to the Rap Olympics competition in Los Angeles.  He won second place as well as the attention of the staff at Interscope Records, who sent a copy of his demonstration tape the company’s chief executive officer Jimmy Iovine.  He took this tape to record producer Dr. Dre, founder of Aftermath Entertainment.  Dr. Dre recalled, “In my entire career in the music industry, I have never found anything from a demo tape or a CD.  When Jimmy played this tape, I said find him!” This man launched Eminem’s career.  He is now the winner of thirteen Grammy Awards and a 2003 Academy Award for best original song “Lose Yourself”.  His net worth is more than 170 million. (Eminem Net Worth, 2015)  He has sold more than 42 million tracks and 49.1 million albums in the United States, and 100 million albums internationally.  (Eminem, Eminem – The Way I Am, 2009)

Eminem has faced many challenges in his life as musician.  The first challenge was protests from women’s groups and gay alliances about his offensive lyrics against them.  The second was his addiction to drugs like Ambien, Hycoden and Valium which resulted in an overdose in December 2007. (Eminem, Eminem 60 Minutes Full Interview, 2010)  He almost died of respiratory failure because all three of these drugs depress your breathing.  In addition, he was also addicted to alcohol. His third challenge was being a white rapper in a field of music where the artist were almost always black. (Eminem, Eminem 60 Minutes Full Interview, 2010)

In spite of his destitute childhood and many challenges, Eminem is making a recovery.  He has been sober for two and half years.  He has just released a new album called Shady XV.  He is teaching himself how to write and rap again.  His charity, The Marshall Mathers Foundation, provides funds to organizations working with disadvantaged youth in Michigan.  He continues to support his daughters and push them towards college because he never got to go.  Eminem stated “I’m as happy as I can be, I guess…. Hip-Hop saved my life, man.  It’s the only thing I’ve been decent at.  I don’t know how to do anything else.  I think they have a word for that – what do they call it? Idiot savant?” (Stone, 2013)

References
Eminem. (2009). Eminem – The Way I Am. Detroit : The Penguin Group.

Eminem. (2010, October 7). Eminem 60 Minutes Full Interview. (A. Cooper, Interviewer)

Eminem Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved from bio.: http://www.biography.com/people/eminem-9542093

Eminem Net Worth. (2015). Retrieved from Celebrity Networth: http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-celebrities/richest-rappers/eminem-net-worth/

Stone, R. (2013, November 20). Eminem Reborn: Inside the New Issue of Rolling Stone. Retrieved from Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/eminem-reborn-inside-the-new-issue-of-rolling-stone-20131120

Things you can do to make your Social Media content more accessible – COM0011 #a11y

Initially I was not sure of how much information is out there for accessible social media or how much work would be involved in putting together resources to help with making accessible social media more accessible.

Turns out that many other people are sharing their thoughts, tricks and tips on how to make their online content and social media more accessible.

I was not sure where to start, should I explain the issues by disability related access problem or Functional Limitation or tackle it 1 tool at a time.

Not know what to do I did what a lot of people do I turned to Google to solve my problems. I also, suspected that a tool like Twitter might be a good place to start because I assumed that since it is mainly sharing text content it would be an easier place to address some of the access issues so I Googled (great that Google is now a verb isn’t it?). I was excited to see that after Googling “accessible Twitter” I came up with some great hits right off the bat.

Social Media Accessibility – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube http://www.queensu.ca/accessibility/how-info/social-media-accessibility

This Queen’s University is an interesting resource. It is simple and covers some basic access issue for 3 heavily used tools. Many of the ideas are cross service/platform meaning the ideas could apply to other tools once you understand why they are needed. In the case of the above 3 tools it is not that the content can’t be made more accessible it is more that the service needs to be more developed from an accessibility point of view. It all seems to boil down to WCAG concepts like Percievability, Operability, Understandable and Robustness.

  1. Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.

o    This means that users must be able to perceive the information being presented (it can’t be invisible to all of their senses)

  1. Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.

o    This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform)

  1. Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.

o    This means that users must be able to understand the information as well as the operation of the user interface (the content or operation cannot be beyond their understanding)

  1. Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

o    This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible)

It seems to me following the WCAG Accessibility Principles also enhances the tools usability.

Instead of looking at a specific disability or going over some ideas for each tool I want to introduce 5 things that you might do with any of your on-line content to help make it more accessible. My hope is that using these ideas will make your content more accessible regardless of the tool you are using (assuming the tool support what I am suggesting) that way you have some things you can do to help more people access your content on more platforms and services.

Text

Many different tools allow text content. Almost any tool and device supports text so looking at things you can do to improve text accessibility should have a big impact.

Plain English or rather plain language may be a good place to start. “Choose your next words carefully…”. Working at a college I often wonder about the language we choose and whether it is readable/accessible to the intended audience? What terms do we understand, what grade level is our reading at and are the people trying to reach us using language that makes sense? I see tons of short forms and acronyms on the web, especially when trying to cram a lot of info into a Tweet, does it make sense to the people we are trying to reach?

Clear Print and Fonts

The CNIB (used to be known as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind) has a Clear Print Guideline document that suggests base Font sizes, the use of Sans-Serif Fonts and more that can be used to make things easier to read. Many of the features would make something easier to read for someone using a small display like your phone (granted Phablets are not exactly small displays?) and make reading easier for someone when English is not their first language (funny how access is more than just a disability issue, I actually like to think of it as an ability issue).

3 things you can do to enhance your text.

  1. Keep the language clear and simple
  2. Use a sans-serif font
  3. Use a reasonable font size and contrast

Audio

The first thing that comes to mind is Podcasting. There still seems to be more audio only Podcasts out there so I am starting with Audio.

When people think about audio accessibility things like transcripts and closed captioning come up.

The Word Wide Web Consortium (W3C) says:

Transcript – required. For most W3C media, such as recordings of teleconferences, you only need to get/make and post a transcript to provide basic accessibility.

Other things to consider include how much background noise is in your recording, how fast are you talking, are there too many sound affects etc.

3 things to consider for audio

  1. Keep it as clean as you can
  2. Do not talk to fast and take time to breathe – this allows the listener some time to process
  3. Provide a text transcript

If anyone has any insight on how to make more accessible music I would love to explore it?

Video

Accessible video seems to be a sweat inducing, high blood pressure type of conversation because we use so much audio video content and it is so easy to create. We just pull out our phone turn on the camera app and start shooting, and then when we are done we click on the little Facebook “thingie” and up it goes to all our friends. I have to admit, I am not putting any thought to making these videos more accessible.

So what can I do to make videos more accessible?

Visual Description/Describe Video etc.

I have seen many different terms used in the last while but they generally mean the same thing an Audio Description: a narrator talking through the presentation, describing what is happening on the screen or stage during the natural pauses in the audio, and sometimes during dialogue.

The W3C has some information on how to create Audio Descriptions

Related to Audio Descriptions is the more commonly known Closed Captioning

Closed Captioning

Captioning is a transcript of what is said and heard that is displayed in text on screen during a video timed to when the voice and sounds happen. The important part is that the text information about the sound happens at the same time as the sound… The closed part of Closed Captioning means that the user can turn the caption on or off. Another type of captioning is Open Captioning which can’t be turned off.

How to caption your video the easy way

Put your video on YouTube and watch this video!

This is a great YouTube video that not only entertains you, explains why captioning is useful but also shows you an easy way to do it.

If you are okay with putting your videos on YouTube you can caption your videos easily.

Offline captioned videos

1 trick you can try to generate a time stamped caption file for an offline project is to load your video to YouTube on a private channel, caption the video using autocaption or do it manually, adjust the timing and correct the text and then download the caption file as a *.vtt, *.srt etc. You can do this under the Action button when you are in the Caption tab of your video.

Wrapping up

I did not really touch on Visual Descriptions but they are very similar to Closed Captioning in concept anyway and I did not get into how to make graphics and pictures more accessible. Graphics can be both simple and complex like most other issues and if I do get into it I will do it on a separate post.

Some questions for you?

How can someone who can’t see know what you are sharing in a picture?

What if you use colour for meaning and someone is colour blind?

Does a picture mean the same thing to everyone?

How many words are in a picture?

Even better, what language is a picture?

COMM 0015 Blog Post #2 Spotting Strong and Weak Social Media Strategies

like, share, tweet and followWhat organizations have a social media strategy that impresses you?

Right away the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) comes to mind since I follow them on Twitter. The COC does an excellent job of engaging Canadians by using a wide variety of social media tools. Just a quick glance on their website reveal links to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram. Their website is well laid out and has an obvious focus on Canadian athletes, their stories, photos, competitions, successes and failures. Virtually everything is sharable and relies mainly on images and videos rather than text to get their message across.

With the Sochi Olympics just around the corner the COC is ramping up interest by rolling out their #WeAreWinter campaign which has an official partnership with Twitter. Since the COC has almost 70,000 followers on their Twitter account, it was and obvious choice. “This campaign is built around emotional videos celebrating the heroic determination of Canada’s Winter Olympic athletes and winter itself—or at least winter’s inextricable place in the Canadian psyche.” The videos included in this social media campaign are dark, tough, edgy and are aimed at appealing to Canadians and their national pride. If this is just the beginning, I look forward to what’s in store for our athletes.

Another organization that has a social media approach that’s growing at very fast pace is the Canadian Curling Association (CCA). Even though the CCA are working on a smaller scale, they have a focused approach on gaining awareness of their ronburgundysport with the aim of recruitment and retention. A quick overview of their site reveals links to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and an RSS feed. The website is easy to navigate, has videos, polls, stats, blogs, and a news feed that are all updated regularly.

Their latest social media campaign had the CCA partnered with Tim Horton’s for Roar of the Rings which are the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials. With the clever title and the addition of Will Farrell as Ron Burgundy to attract more attention, participants and spectators were encouraged to tweet and share photos via Flickr. With over 12,000 views on Flickr, 3,000 likes on Facebook and 10,000 followers on Twitter, the CCA is a great example of how an organization can gain interest for what they do (in this case curling) and the events that they hold.

Which organization needs improvement?

Sport Matters Group (SMG) is a non-profit organization that seeks to have open, non-biased communication with the sport community. They have a focus on collaboration, sharing and participation for sport organizations, leaders and the public to voice their ideas or concerns regarding sport and sport policies.  A quick overview of their website reveals links to Facebook, Twitter and an RSS feed. This site is clean, easy to read and is updated on a regular basis; for an organization that has limited resources they do a decent job of getting their information out to the public but there is a lack of consistency in the platforms they use.

Aerial ParliamentTheir Twitter account is used quite frequently and regularly engages their followers but their Facebook page hasn’t had any new postings since April 2013. Since I work with SMG on a regular basis, I know that they attend many social, sporting, and networking events.  Attending these events is an easy way to generate content for their social media platforms; photos, quotes and videos from these events can help increase awareness of their organization which will increase their likes, followers, etc.

My advice to SMG would be to start small and to work with what they have. Every year they host Lobby Day where they meet with various MP’s, ministers, senators, and senior policy advisors to increase awareness of what they do. Having a clear social media plan for the lead up to this event could futher help participation, awareness and ultimately the success of their organizations’ ability to get their message out to the key people they are trying to reach.

Having a good social media plan doesn’t always mean an organization should be on every social media platform they can sign up to. Since SMG already has accounts with Facebook and Twitter they should start with a plan to optimize those tools to their best advantage. If opportunities arise in the future for expansion into other media platforms, they could update their media strategy to accomodate them as well. Since the organization is so small, there is a chance that they may only be able to allocate time and resources to those two social media websites but as long as they use them consistently and well, they should see a positive difference.

COM0015: Blog Post 4 – Out of the Box

This is an interesting question to think about. And, really, I had to think about it. Social media is such an integrated part of our lives that it’s hard to separate the “new” from the “regular”. Upon reflection, I realized that the world (ok, a bit of a stretch) is a lot more transparent and we are having a lot more conversations. We have options and insights that we weren’t privy to in the past.

Consider for example almost any corporation or organization…even the government. In the past we were always “pushed” messages. Topic “X” is what we knew about and it was delivered in a certain way; the way that suited them the best. There is a lot more “pull” and that is a good thing!

We now have transparency, interaction and multiple points of view. Granted, this comes with hardships too. What I mean is; what piece of information to do you hold to be true? What side do you agree with? The good news is that you at least get to choose!

This leads me to my next revelation. We now need people to feed these conversations. Think about all of the people who are employed because of social media. Almost every organization has a content contributor or a writer who help to publish social content.

A lot has changed in such a short amount of time. I can’t wait to see what new applications we encounter!