Committed To The Backlog

Backloggery is an excellent example of a social network encouraging user commitment.  According to Bateman, Gray and Butler (2011), commitment is a psychological bond that describes a person’s relationship to a community.  In the case of Backloggery, this type of bond is affective commitment.

Affective commitment is a generally positive emotional connection to a community, which causes members to want to further the interests of that community as well as developing an attachment or feelings of belonging or identification (Bateman, Gray & Butler, 2011).  Backloggery does this through its central theme; it is a social networking site that focuses on users listing video games that they own, and whether they have beat them to completion or have left them unfinished.  The point of the site is to encourage its users to keep track of and complete unfinished games.  It allows self-identified gamers to connect with other gamers, while showing (or showing off) their achievements as a gamer, almost as a sign of status.

Bateman, Gray and Butler state that “online communities produce immediate benefits in direct proportion to effort invested,” (2011).  In the case of Backloggery, other users can see a person’s updates as soon as they are posted, with those updates also automatically contributing to an individual profile’s statistics (such as number of beaten/completed/unfinished games) as well as entire site statistics (such as most played consoles/systems).  In their research paper, Bateman, Gray and Butler put forward the hypothesis “A member’s level of affective CC [Community Commitment] towards a community will positively influence the number of replies he or she posts in that community.”  In the specific case of Backloggery, this could apply to the amount and frequency of new games added to a person’s account.  This is not necessarily reflective of the number of games a person actually plays, but the dedication towards wanting to update their profile to display their gaming habits.

The type of commitment associated with Backloggery can be defined even further as identity-based commitment because of the focus on gaming as a main theme.  As stated above, members can identify themselves as gamers; a particular sub-culture with a well-defined shared interest and similar attitudes.  However, elements of bonds-based commitment have been personally experienced by myself as the site was introduced to me by several of my friends, who encourage the use of Backloggery and use it a way of challenging themselves, or setting challenges for each other.

Reference

Bateman, P. J., Gray, P. H., & Butler, B. S. (2011). The impact of community commitment on participation in online communities.  Information Systems Research, 22(4), 841-854. Retrieved from http://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/pdf/10.1287/isre.1090.0265

 

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Motivation To Create The Unknown

The SCP Foundation wiki uses simple yet effective elements of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to encourage users to contribute.

The SCP Foundation is a wiki of the fictional Secure Contain Protect (SCP) Foundation, an organisation responsible for capture and containments of paranormal entities and phenomena.  The main content of the wiki are the SCPs themselves; over two thousand different creatures, artefacts, monsters, and anomalies; some are creepy, some are amusing, and others are downright terrifying.  All of them are small works of fiction created by a community of writers.  Like most wikis, any person can contribute to the SCP Foundation and submit their monster or object, but is subject to an approval process.

The Web 2.0 elements of the SCP Foundation are limited but simple. Pages can be voted up or down, forums, much like Reddit (although there is no corresponding karma system), and can appear on either the ‘top rated pages’ or ‘lowest rated pages,’ which can be seen as an extrinsic form of user encouragement.  However, it is important to note that articles contained on the ‘lowest rated pages’ are not intended to be subjects of ridicule, but to encourage readers and users to suggest ways of improving  or editing the pages to make them better and more interesting.  This is much more indicative of intrinsic motivation, and in fact the entire website seems to be built around creativity for creativity’s sake.

In their article on contributions in a web 2.0 environment, Yan, Davidson and Mo bring up a report about participation in Chinese online communities.  Apparently, a good method for incentivising participation is a tiered membership, where members can achieve a higher status in a community by contributing more to that community.  They also state that “we believe that in the activity of knowledge sharing in virtual communities, it is the optimal experience of flow that works as a salient intrinsic motivation.”

These values of motivation are reflected in the SPC Foundation’s users ability to up or down vote articles, and by the wiki itself for encouraging users to create a members’ page for themselves (either real or fictional) after they have authored at least three separate SCP articles.  It is also possible that the experience of ‘flow’ in this context happens during the creative construction of these fictional scientific articles.  This is supported by Yan, Davidson and Mo’s statement that creative freedom and deep engagement in an activity can directly lead to a state of flow, with that flow state often being an intrinsic motivator in itself.

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A Treasure Trove Of Contributions

Trove is an online program developed by the National Library of Australia that focuses on collecting and documenting Australian culture.  The website contains books, maps, photos, newspapers, diaries, letters, and even archived websites from Australia’s past; almost four hundred million individual resources.  One of the biggest endeavours is the digitisation of over 6.8 million pages of Australian newspapers.  Unfortunately, as the conversion from paper to text document is done purely by computer, the process is not perfect and many spelling errors are made during the process.  However, Trove has very cleverly been made into a Web 2.0 platform that allows users to communicate with others and, most importantly, add and alter the information contained within the database.  Trove encourages users (and guests) to correct the text of the digitised newspapers, which would ultimately help people researching old newspapers to search and locate information much more accurately.  The incentive to contribute is purely to help build accurate knowledge for the use of others.  In my opinion, that is a very noble cause.

Kwei-Jay Lin states that users are the most important resource for Web 2.0, and that their content creation, consumption, and distribution are the keys to success in online communities.  Trove users have proven this, because without them the correction of millions of newspapers containing billions of lines of text would be a next to impossible task for NLA staff.  A task that would no doubt be mundane, repetitive and extremely boring.  Yet Trove has turned it into a fun hobby for some.  There is also a somewhat competitive element to Trove as well, as users who have corrected the most text are listed in the Text-Correctors Hall of Fame.  That’s right.  Competitive text-correcting.  I’ll just let that one sink in for a moment.

In his book What Is Web 2.0, Tim O’Reilly mentions that Amazon out-did R. R. Bowker and Barnesandnoble.com as the number one source for bibliographic book data, because Amazon allowed its users to annotate and contribute to the accuracy of that data.  So while Trove and the National Library of Australia may not be competing against another corporate body, it will certainly be a huge boon to the collators and researchers of local Australian history.

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The Average Collective Intelligence Of Yelp

Yelp is both an online and mobile app that hosts reviews of bars, cafes, and restaurants from its users, as well as using a five star rating system to create an average score for any one establishment.  I find the mobile app particularly useful, as it automatically searches for nearby places based on your current location.  The app also has a very cool function called “Monocle” that uses your phone’s camera to place an augmented reality overlay on top of bars or restaurants that are right in front of you, removing the need to search for them manually.

As stated above, Yelp crowd sources its reviews and scores from its users, utilising Web 2.0 functions to also gather photos, tips, pricing information, likes, bookmarking, and a Foursquare-esque check-in system to paint a pretty detailed picture of a place before you’ve even walked through the door.

John Adler likens the collective intelligence of social network applications to a new form of peer reviewing born of the age of the internet.  He deems the crowd sourcing abilities of the internet as powerful tools, and even mentions Yelp specifically as a particular type of tool that provides users an average score of an establishment to help inform user decisions.  He also briefly mentions the problems associated with this type of crowd sourcing.  Using the app personally brought up the particular issue of inconsistent reviews when viewing a particular restaurant that I do want to try.  Mado, a Turkish restaurant in Southbank, has a total of four separate reviews attached to it.  Two ‘two star’ reviews label the place as sub-par and pricey, listing a relatively negative experience.  Two more ‘five star’ reviews tout the restaurant as “The best Turkish I have ever had in my life,” in all-caps of course.  This equals an average score of three and a half stars, but who do I trust?  The two star reviews, the five star reviews, or the averaged Yelp score?  This brings up an interesting point about collective intelligence in Web 2.0 applications.  Some applications, especially, as John Adler states, “when the number of responses limits statistical power,” should only be used to help inform our decisions, and not make our decisions for us.

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Final Words – Week 13 Reflect

Here is a list of hyperlinks to my Play and Reflect posts throughout the semester:

Final Reflection

The most challenging activities, in my opinion, were using Storify and gamification.  I found gamification challenging because it was difficult to come up with a system that I thought was somewhat meaningful, and didn’t just consist of me slapping a point system onto an existing process (which is lazy gamification in my opinion).  Storify was challenging because it was a type of technology that I had actively avoided, but with no real reason in particular.  I think I only saw that type of curation tool as a rather vapid place to post pictures of inconsequential things like food, clothes and “selfies.”  Much like Twitter when I first started this LIS course, I had not been introduced to the professional applications of the tools.  It also took me a long time to settle on a topic. 

I can’t say that I had a least favourite topic.  They were all very interesting in their own ways.  Although, while I enjoyed reflecting on Synchronous and Asynchronous Communications (I think that topic is fascinating, both in a library context and on its own), just taking a screenshot of Skype for the activity was a bit dull.  However, I know that the point was to get students using Skype and I guess the screenshot counted as evidence towards that.  As for the most interesting topic, Audio, Visual, and Presentation Tools was my favourite because I am in love with podcasts.  I think they are a great way of communicating ideas, information, humour, or general content to a wide audience, and it was great seeing this validation on a professional and academic level.  A topic I felt was missing from the unit was online storage applications.  It was sort of touched on during week 12 in Online Applications, but perhaps online storage applications in particular like Google drive or Dropbox could be explored?  I’m still rather new to these applications, so I’m not entirely sure how they could be looked at within the context of the unit.

In regards to interacting with my peers online, I have mixed feelings about commenting on other peoples’ blogs.  It did seem very forced at times, especially at the end of the semester when everyone remembered it was part of the marking criteria.  Like we were only doing it because we knew we had to.  On the other hand, it did prompt some really good discussion in some cases.  There was probably a lot more natural conversation on the unit contents going on in other kinds of forums, like IM, but I appreciate that can’t really be tracked and marked like comments on a blog, which are visible to everyone and somewhat more permanent or at least accessible. 

I think the biggest weakness of this unit was that the workshops didn’t really match up with the weekly content.  There were several times where I came into the physical class really wanting to discuss a particular topic (I remember getting excited about talking about social networking, and podcasts in particular), but then not really getting a chance to as the workshop was about something else entirely.  It also meant that I very often felt unprepared for the workshops and never had anything much to add to the conversation, because I hadn’t been able to look into it beforehand.  That being said, I had a lot of fun with this unit and it was by far the most enjoyable unit this semester.  I really enjoyed being introduced to and using the different technologies, even if I was familiar with a few already.  The biggest take-away of this unit for me is now knowing that there are new technologies out there (some I still may not even have heard of) that can be utilised in a deep, meaningful, and professional way.   I have learnt my lesson from Twitter, Storify, Tumblr, and Instagram that just because I can’t see a useful purpose for an application straight away, it does not mean that one does not exist or cannot be created.

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Games and Gamification – Week 10 Play

I think that getting the children themselves involved in the creation of the gamification process is a wonderful opportunity that is often overlooked.  Instead of just telling students what they are going to do, ask them what they want to do; what do they want to explore or discover, and how do they want to go about doing it?  Whether they are designing the entire process, or supplying ideas of what they would like to experience, or even helping to physically create the giant board game (for example), students love to be involved in the direction of their own education.  It gives them a greater sense of responsibility and achievement because they helped design the system.  Students are also more likely to be engaged in something if they had a hand in creating it. 

However, if I had to design a gamification experience by myself, I would look into creating scavenger hunt within the library.  Students would need to find clues that would direct them to certain pages or passages within certain books.  This would be a good opportunity to give students experience in using the Dewey Decimal Classification system (rather common within school libraries) to find items.  Although I think I would want the main purpose of the hunt to introduce students to books they would not normally read or pick up, to try and expand and challenge their reading comfort zones.

As a reward system, I would prefer not to offer extrinsic rewards such as food, toys, or even books.  Partly because they can be expensive (and far too often come out of the teacher’s pocket), but also because they can become stale or ‘not worth it’ in the eyes of children.  In my experiences as a student teacher and as a childcare assistant, children love jobs.  They love responsibility.  They love to help take out the garbage, for some reason.  I think it either gives them a feeling of superiority over their peers, or a feeling of equality with adult supervisors.  Either way, it makes them feel special.  I would like to consider offering responsibility as a reward, intrinsic motivation.  I think that making a child Assistant Librarian for an afternoon would be an excellent prize.  Provided the job is varied and does not get monotonous.  They would need to be constantly doing something; sorting books, minor cleaning, using the scanner, welcoming other classes or guests and providing information.  Other non-tangible rewards can include games or activities, such as sports or extra computer time.

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Games and Gamification – Week 10 Reflect

You can listen to the audio of my reflection here, or just follow the RSS feed to the right.

In this podcast I reflect on the following:

Post a short reflection on the role of gaming in libraries or information organisations. Do you see a place for it? 

The Moreton Bay Regional Council Library “Game On” page

Uni in Minecraft can be found here and here.

The Oculus Rift

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‘How To Use Levelator’ Screencast – Week 8 Play

I describe how to use the Levelator2 software to edit the volume levels of audio files.

Watch the video here!

You can download the application here!

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Week 8 Reflect – Audio, Visual, and Presentation Tools

You can listen to the audio of my reflection here, or just follow the RSS feed to the right.

In this podcast, I reflect on the following:

What is the role of podcasting, online video, screencasting or slidecasting in libraries or information organisations? Do you see them as enhancements to the existing work, or services in their own right?

The Vsauce Youtube channel can be found here.
The Crash Course Youtube channel can be found here.

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Social Network Sites – Week 6 Reflect

You can listen to the audio of my reflection here, or just follow the RSS feed to the right.

In this podcast, I reflect on the following:

Best practice for library social network presences – what are they?

The Moreton Bay Regional Council Library Facebook page can be found here.

Reference 
Salaway, G. & Caruso, J. (2008). Social Networking Sites. In EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (2000). The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology. ECAR, EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research, Boulder, Colo.

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