Day 10: Podcasts #GIG2017

Today I don’t have just some gratitude to share, but some content, too! How exciting is that?

Obviously by the title you can probably tell that each contribution still centers on a theme, and that is podcasts. Besides reading lately, I have gotten increasingly enthralled with this emerging medium. In my spare moments, especially right in the morning and before going to bed, I’m pulling out my podcast app and browsing for the latest episode of my favorites or trying to Google search for my next favorite.

I didn’t essentially see the fad this was and sure didn’t appreciate it. I remember finding the first episode of Serial and not even being able to finish it. I’m much more of a visual person, so anything that requires me to listen and keep tabs of an idea without a chance to pause and reflect is difficult for me.

I still can’t get into strictly conversational podcasts, and more informative ones need to be about an interesting topic I can follow along several episodes to keep me hooked. I’m especially fond of the audio dramas, an expanded version of an audio book or a TV show without the screen to stare at. I love feeling involved in a plotline with characters and emotions and the whole shebang.

Hence why I have my own contribution to make to the growing podcast-sphere. As part of an assignment for my Digital Media class, we all had to make a podcast with plenty of freedom to let us go wild. So the bare minimum was just five minutes with at least two voices heard and some-sort of theme.

And in my essence, I decided to take the hardest way possible to approach the assignment. Knowing my love for audio dramas, recently binging Darkest Night as inspiration, and began brainstorming on my own story to tell. With the help of my brother, we wrote a script, recorded our voices, and produced a podcast of our own.

The Witching Hour is envisioned as an hour-long program that takes some inspiration from horror and thriller genres, including Black Mirror. It uncovers the darkness in all of us and is intended to throw in some twists and turns in there, leaving listeners at the edge of their seats or just thinking far after the audio stops playing.

You don’t necessarily assume you’ll feel emotions when just listening to something. That you’ll be laughing out loud, or your jaw will drop by a completely shocking statement. But hearing a human voice is surprisingly intimate and has great potential. I want to tell some stories that I myself would want to hear, that I would be telling everyone and their mother the next day because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

If you’re into podcasts or not, I’d suggest you give it a try, plus this is my website and I have the right to some shameless self-promotion. Many people still don’t exactly know what these new shows entail, but I see podcasts continuing to buzz from here. It’s a new means of self-expression, to allow creativity and ideas to flow, even learn something new and shocking.

But in comes the time for gratitude because wow, you don’t actually realize the extent of work that goes into a few minutes of audio. All of the considerations to make, the time commitment involved to make sure you publish the best product possible. Sure, the actual equipment involved to start a podcast are minor compared to other media, but there’s still an immense amount of strategy and patience required to make the idea in your head translate as you imagine it to.

I’m grateful for the hard-working people behind one of my favorite pastimes. I’m grateful for a new way to tell stories, learn and grow. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to try it out, and simply put, I’d love to keep making more. The idea of reaching more people in a new way is so exciting.

What am I listening to right now, you might ask? Well, I listened to two seasons’ worth of Alice Isn’t Dead in less than a week. Homecoming came out with a second season without me realizing it, so that was a fantastic few days of quality content. I’m also looking forward to new episodes of Heaven’s Gate and Cults each week because the weird, dark subjects are admittedly my favorites.

Do you have any recommendations for me? New shows, or even your thoughts on my own podcast? Pray tell. I’d love to make more content for you all and just see where it takes me.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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What a Website

As you might have noticed as of last week, I switched up my website a tad. I updated my theme, adding a home page and even designing a logo. So professional. So sleek.

Among my many classes this semester, I’m currently taking one called Digital Storytelling, hence the new category to designate certain posts for said class. The instruction mainly focuses on the many new platforms available to deliver messages effectively.

Obviously then, it’s quite easy for the class to be hands-on in its activities when the technology is already a huge component of daily life. You can never tell me to stop picking up hard-copy novels, but I cannot deny how much the world is changing when it comes to telling stories. The foundation of human desire to gain information in a story format is consistent, but now we have a multitude of resources to share our thoughts.

Anybody can register for an account on a social media site of their choosing, but what does it take to actually be good at utilizing that site to its fullest potential? What makes certain accounts and people rise above others who seem to be just as competent?

Digital storytelling is much more complex and strategic than a first glance might notice. For example, it doesn’t make much sense to start live-streaming video if there isn’t anything to see. Nor is it helpful to start up a podcast without much to say, or a specific topic to discuss. The term “digital storytelling” itself is quite new, but already people are delving more into what works and what doesn’t. Even if you aren’t a classmate of mine and want to learn more, there are plenty of resources out there. An article from Skyword goes in depth about it, which might seem better suited to actual marketers, but hey, even from a consumer perspective, it’s interesting to analyze and understand what content you’re taking in on a daily basis, probably without really realizing its impact.

The information taught in this class isn’t necessarily innate, even in students who are digital natives such as myself. I have never started a live-stream until last week for class; trust me, that was a doozy. I’ve never thought much about designing content and videos in such a specific way to grab hold of a user immediately and keep them watching a full video.

My awkward self, taking on an in-class live-streaming activity. What an experience.

Even though I don’t plan on getting too deep into the media world beyond my college degree, I think the information here is still applicable to understanding communication moving forward. In every type of entity and workplace, self-employed or with a company, social media is a given. Getting a message out into the world and having an audience who’s interested in listening to what you have to say is important. That’s how we learn more about the world around us, or spark an idea you dive into further, or connect you with others who can expand your worldview. I’m taking in hypotheticals, but you just never know what might happen.

With the ideas exposed in Digital Storytelling, I’ve taken a closer look at what I’m doing, too. Where do I want to go with my blog and my thoughts? Do I want to try and actively build a larger audience and expand from here? I know I have dabbled in these ideas in the past, but it still crosses my mind to actually have a separate domain and incorporate different platforms into my usual posts. If I wasn’t so awkward on camera, maybe a YouTube channel could be fun. Or a podcast, if people wanted to listen. I’m open to many possibilities.

An important thing I’ve learned, especially on WordPress, is to reach out to others. Show that you’re an active member of this online community, and let others know how their content is. Support them. Be an interactive person beyond a writer just spewing ideas at whoever remembers to check in sometimes. Is my following large? Certainly not, but I’m very proud of where I’ve come, even if it’s simply having over 100 followers. I might not still be consistently writing if it weren’t for those who decided to subscribe to me, often without even knowing me in person, and that is so motivating and inspiring.

When we see social media content and we follow certain people, we sometimes forget that behind every username, behind every screen, is a human being. Someone real who is simply using technology to speak on a broad scale. Whether you are on the consuming end, producing end or both, it’s important to remember that, and it makes it easier relate to each other and want to put in that extra effort to leave comments and like posts you enjoy. It might not seem worthwhile, but it truly does matter.

I will continue to tell my story, digitally, for the indefinite future. I’m hoping to evolve and grow as I continue to learn more about myself and this growing field of communication. If you’d care to join me, I truly do encourage you to subscribe, reach out. If not to me, to somebody else who might be apprehensive about making an online presence at all. The online world seems like it’s becoming cluttered with new people trying to make a name for themselves, but hey, it’s inevitable. We might as well embrace it and ensure that our own efforts are genuine and, if you care about strategic social media, effective.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie