Connecting life between life at home and life in China is sometimes difficult and confusing, especially for students who are new to life in the Middle Kingdom. Luckily, for students wishing to find a connection between life in China and the UK, there’s DISS., a media platform catering to art, life, entertainment, news and culture for university students studying abroad in China and Britain, specifically those at the University of Nottingham. We spoke with DISS. founder Frazer Worboys, currently back in the UK after studying abroad at UNNC, about why he started DISS. and what he sees for the future of the platform.
Ningbo Focus: Why did you decide to start DISS.?
Frazer: I originally started DISS. as an “upper class” blog so to speak. I didn’t find the options of publications available in the UK good enough or find one that was willing to let me publish what I wanted. So I started a personal blog publishing higher end pieces. When I spoke to my friends I said I would like to accept guest pieces, and they said why don’t you start this as a rival to the main student magazine in the UK. I found enough people wanting to publish their stuff and started designing the site differently and editing the business stricture, from there it’s been a work in progress and now we are repositioned as a magazine for the youth by the youth. Trying to Crowdsource youth opinion by gathering as many articles and opinions as possible.
NF: Why the name?
F: I have always been fascinated by the choice of topics for people’s dissertations, and these are the topics I want people to write on. I obviously couldn’t call it dissertation, so I shortened it to DISS. and here we are! Plus it looked like the best logo.
NF: What challenges have you faced in making the website successful? What further challenges do you face?
F: The main challenge up to now has been exposure. We get content in regularly and have become better at finding writers. But getting their works exposed to the world is incredibly tough. All social media has become a question of how many likes and shares you get and good content isn’t valued highly. A picture of a cat is valued higher than a professional photo. It’s just the way Facebook works. It’s an impulse game and unfortunately those type of things win. Although on the reverse side of that, all it takes is a few articles to reach a lot of people to get exposure, it’s becoming easier and easier to go viral. So it’s a double edged sword really. Social media dominance is incoming though. That being said I can’t complain too much, we’ve had nearly 200,000 hits in the space of a year!
NF: What made you decide to branch out to China?
I decided to branch out to China as it holds a special place for me. I love China and feel like I was given enough support when starting DISS. and I should return the favor and give the people something to read.
NF: What’s in store for the future of DISS.?
F: Video, video and some more video. That’s the thing we’re focusing on as a brand. I’ve been very careful about organizing the structure of DISS. and keeping the brand image and building a reputation for quality with an edge. Now we’ve built that we want as much video content as possible. However with video content it takes fewer people much more time, to create a decent documentary takes hours and hours of work from 3 different people compared to an article which can take hours but generally from one person. The way we’ve encountered this issue is starting 2 minute documentaries. These aim to explain and issue with interviews in the same format as a normal documentary in 2 minutes. Most documentaries create suspense and a story, so we’re just looking to cut out the story and make it short and snappy to keep the millennials interested.
NF: How can people get involved here in Ningbo?
F: In Ningbo you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or go onto the site diss.ltd and just fill out the contact form. We are always looking for writers and want to help people grow as writers and let their stories reach as many as possible.