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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody was published in the beginning of 2008, which probably means it was written in 2007. Social media has grown exponentially since then. I found that some of the concepts and examples he gives don’t really ring true anymore.

As I was reading the section on fame, I kept thinking about how Twitter has changed everything. He writes about Oprah:

Oprah has e-mail, but her address would become useless the minute it became public. These social constraints mean that even when a medium is two-way, its most popular practitioners will be forced into a one-way pattern. Whether Oprah wants to talk to each and every member of her audience is irrelevant: Oprah can’t talk to even a fraction of a percent of her audience, ever, because she is famous, which means she is the recipient of more attention than she can return in any medium.

Although celebrities stilly may not be able to respond to every tweet, Twitter has made it easier for them to connect with fans, haters, whoever. Before starting the program and cleaning up my follow list, I followed more celebrities than I cared to admit. I’ve also been mentioned in tweets by two “celebrities.” If you’re curious, one was a host of an HGTV show and winner of Design Star Season 5 and the other was a contestant on the Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad. What I’m saying is, Twitter has made it really easy for celebrities to connect with everyday people. In some cases, Twitter is making unknowns celebrities themselves. The web is taking interactive to whole new levels and it will continue to do so. Shirky’s point is that just because the technology is possible to interact with anyone, doesn’t necessarily mean that you will. Seems the easier it gets the more we see it happen though.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about this week is our discussion about Facebook on Monday. We talked about strong ties and weak ties and how those related to social media. It was said that Facebook makes all ties equal by putting them in the same news feed – but in real life those people aren’t all equal in your life. I think Zuckerberg has caught on and addresses the problem with the new “timeline” in Facebook. I haven’t actually seen the new changes, but I’m interested to see how it plays out.

I am more of a Twitter person. I think Twitter relates, again, to the strong and weak ties theory. I also think this relates back to my proposed research topic. Maybe the reason Twitter is such a good networking resource is because it brings users closer to their weak ties. There are a ton of people I follow on Twitter that I’ve never met in real life. I follow them because I’m interested in what they have to say and what their companies represent. Which in turn helps me find ways to connect to new opportunities and bring new information into the network. Thus, networking FTW!

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Thesis

Why is Twitter a better networking resource than sites specifically built for professional networking?

Rationale/Motivations

Social Networking sites are reshaping the way we connect with each other. Twitter is one of the most popular social networking sites and ranks as the 9th most popular website in the world according to Alexa.com.

My research proposal is inspired by a TED Talk, given by Evan Williams, the founder of Twitter. He shared that the concept for Twitter was born out of another idea he was working on the time. Twitter was only meant to be a broadcast medium for simple status updates. Today it is much more. It’s now a medium for real-time event updates, citizen journalist news, a platform for social causes, marketing and advertising, etc. William’s main conclusion stated that users are the ones who transformed it into the vast social network it is today. I am interested in how users have transformed Twitter into a network and platform to create professional relationships.

I have multiple reasons for my interest in this research. In my first couple weeks in Elon’s Interactive Media program I was told that Twitter would be one of my best resources, not only for information but also for networking. In addition, I am interested in the increasing number of people being hired through social networks. I am also interested in Twitter as a company and brand.

The uses and gratifications theory can be applied to my research.  This theory applies because the users are the ones discovered Twitter’s potential and shaped it into a social network with many different purposes, including professional networking. Uses and gratifications theory can explain how consumers use Twitter to gratify their needs and identify the positive consequences of its use.

The Technology Acceptance Model is also applicable when studying the value of Twitter as a networking site.  It will help in comparing it to other networking sites like LinkedIn that are less successful.  The theory will help me decipher what makes one adopt some networking sites and what makes them reject others.

My next step is to continue to research how people use Twitter.  Find out what makes Twitter a trusted source for networking.  I also plan to research sites designed specifically for professional networking, like LinkedIn, PartnerUp and Upspring and their effectiveness

Methods

Primarily, I will research previous literature on the TAM and U&G theories. Then I plan to collect new data. I will shape a strategy for either surveying or interviewing Twitter and professional networking site users. I also hope to interview someone employed by Twitter about how users have shaped the direction of Twitter and where it’s going next.

Outcomes

We know that Twitter has grown exponentially in the last couple years and has become trusted networking resource. I hope find more evidence on what makes Twitter great for networking and also why it works better than sites that are built intentionally for professional networking, like LinkedIn. Twitter rolls out new features as the public demands them. Twitter Analytics was just launched this week, which will affect my research. I am also interested in the rise of jobs being landed through Twitter. In the future I hope to work as a social media manager or an online content community manager. With this research I hope to help myself and others to get the most out of Twitter through networking and creating relationships.

 

 

 

I enjoyed this reading and thought Shirky presented some new concepts I’ve never thought about.

  1. Shirky and McGonigal ideas seem to intersect. McGonigal preaches that gamers are only interested in intrinsic rewards and to make the world a better place we need to be more like them and everyone should focus on intrinsic rewards. Our society and economy is based on extrinsic rewards. Shirky says that people need incentive to get them to do something. One of the few uncontentious tenets of economics is that people respond to incentives. If you give them more of a reason to do something, they will do more of it, and if you make it easier to do more of something they are already inclined to do, they will also do more of it.” (18) I’m curious as to what kinds of incentives Shirky is talking about, whether they’re intrinsic or extrinsic, or both. And if he thinks this will change with the technology.
  2. Shirky talks about how companies don’t have enough money to start campaigns as big as the example of photos for the Mermaid Parade. He says that unorganized groups are doing this on their own and are tagging photos in Flickr with the same tags which makes one really large group of photos. Since the users decide what to tag, what does this mean for the unorganized groups? Will hierarchical systems die out?
  3. I am a little unclear on user generated content. Shirky said that Stephen King writing a novel wouldn’t be user generated content not only because its just a file on his computer but also because he gets paid for novels. So if he posted a free book online to something like WordPress, would that then be user generated content? Or not, because he’s not an amateur? Also, is something as small as a Facebook status update considered user generated content?

Thankfully the class discussion on Wealth of Networks helped me make some sense of Benkler’s motivations. While I still think he could have written the text to be more accessible, realizing he has a law and economic background helps me understand his writing style.

My third blogged question was addressed during the class discussion. While reading, I found myself asking some of the same questions as my classmates. How does Benkler want society to make money? Benkler isn’t asking that question. He’s focused on the greater good. I have a hard time separating the two concepts: working for the greater good and being paid. I suspect that I feel this way because of the economy I grew up in and the hard financial times our country is going through. The ideas we talked about today really do make sense though. Building on other people’s information really is the fastest most efficient way to get things done and innovate. Because of my own naiveté, I hadn’t really realized other countries don’t view copyright like the US does.

I found it interesting that Benkler and McGonigal brushed some of the same topics. There is a point in chapter 3 where Benkler talks about NASA Clickworkers, Folding@home and of course, the ever popular topic, Wikipedia. While Benkler’s ideas are not as game-oriented as McGonigal’s theories – they still have some of the same over-arching concepts. They’re both interested in how we can collectively come together as a society to innovate better and faster.

Although we didn’t talk about the relation in class, I think Benkler’s ideas mesh with the lecture we had on Monday on open source websites in government. By letting everything be open and transparent, we would invite more people to be involved and hopefully, this in turn, enhances innovation. Besides trolls, getting people involved and keeping them involved seemed to the biggest flaw in the Obama open government website. I actually didn’t know about the site until we talked about in class. I hope they’ll try this again and get better results.

At the very end of class Professor Lackaff asked the question, “What happens when reality becomes non-rival?” Apparently there are 3-D printers are in the works and eventually we might be able to print ourselves a car. Mind officially blown.

I will preface my questions with the fact that this assigned reading from Wealth of Networks was quite challenging for me.  I hope to get some clarity from class discussion tomorrow. These are more thoughts rather than questions.

  1. If Benkler’s main point in the first chapter is that the internet makes knowledge more accessible to everyone why he choose to write this in a way that is not accessible to everyone? It reads very scholarly and with some attitude.
  2. The section about Babel objection made me reflect on the Presentation Professor Lackaff gave on Monday. Babel objection – when everyone can speak, no one can be heard. I was wondering how this relates to the open government websites we talked about.
  3. When Benkler talks about copyright is he saying that everything should be free domain for the greater good? I had a hard time deciphering.

There seems to be a love/hate mentality when it comes to Flash. I have seen people create incredible projects, websites, games, etc. with Flash. I am just not one of those people…yet.

There’s also a lot of discussion on whether Flash is a dying breed. It’s just been announced that Windows Internet Explorer 10 will not support the Flash plug-in. This happened similarly when Mac barred Flash from iOS, iPad, and iPhone. Adobe has responded by saying it’s had to adapt in the past and they’ll continue adapting.

All in all, Flash is still relevant for now. Every job I’ve looked at and been interested in has required Flash experience. So for now, I will keep tweening.

This week I played Consumer Consequences an interactive game by American Public Media. It’s an online game that is designed to “illustrate the impact of our lifestyles on the Earth.” At the start of the game, you choose an avatar that represents you. As you continue the game, you are asked questions about your consumption in categories including, electricity, waste, transportation, food, and goods and services. At the end of the game, it calculates your score and reports “how many ‘earths’ of natural resources it would take to sustain all 6.6 billion humans… if everyone lived like you.” It would take 6.8 earths to sustain everyone on the planet if they all lived like me.

To critique Consumer Consequences, I used McGonigal’s criteria for a good Alternate Reality Game: optional, compelling obstacles, and well-designed feedback. I actually think it satisfies all three requirements. The game is completely optional. I was actually sent this game by a friend in the Public Health Department of UNC Chapel Hill. I didn’t open it until I needed an ARG to review. Consumer Consequences has fairly compelling obstacles. In recent years, society has become increasingly more aware of the impact humans have on the Earth and “going green,” so I think that makes the topic of the game extremely relevant. I think that they could have gone a much further with the obstacles by making them more interactive than just answering a question. Although the tasks aren’t that difficult, the game really stands out with well-designed feedback.

There are many ways the game gives feedback. It uses the data you provide to generate bar graphs, so you can see where you consume the most. It includes a “behind the numbers” link that provides information on how they calculated the scores. At the very end of the game it gives you the opportunity to compare your score with others. I did this and was able to compare scores with people from all different locations, economic statuses, gender, ages, political parties, etc. I was also give the opportunity to go back and try and get a better score by “changing my life habits.” I think that this gave you many different ways to evaluate the results and gave good feedback on how you can reduce your consumption.

consumer consequences screen shot I learned that I could try to find better, more environmentally friendly modes of transportation –perhaps riding my bike or taking the Elon Bio Bus. I also learned my food and shopping habits leave a lot to be desired. I’m sure the next time I’m out and about that I will think about this game. I say that because it’s already happened. Speaking with the friend who sent me the game already had me thinking about my habits and consumption. The game is still going on, so there is not really any research about it. They do welcome feedback and ask for your information so that they can make the game better. While I do think there are more effective and challenging ARGs out there, I think this one does a pretty good job of making you more aware of your actions and how they impact the environment.