Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Our Last Class Yet The First Campaign

April 19, 2009

Well, can you believe the semester is already over? Your final papers are, as a friendly reminder, due at the beginning of class on Wednesday. For your reading this class, tackle my book and these pieces: Edelman’s Obama write-up (PDF), Michael Silberman’s Obama write-up, and my piece on the campaign (PDF). For your final blog post, please predict what you think will be key to winning the 2012 election online.

Make sure all the rest of your blog posts are all caught up by class too. 🙂

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Your Final Project

April 2, 2009

For your final project, as we discussed in class, my hope is that you will be able to apply the lessons learned in class to your own professional lives and careers. You will prepare a project plan to incorporate social media/Web 2.0 techniques into your current workplace or towards a cause on which you work or care about. My recommendation would be to use the same topic/cause/project that you started on with your social media report a few weeks ago.

The final project must include no fewer than five different “Web 2.0” platforms, including but not limited to social networking, blogging, gaming, Google ad campaigns, podcasts, vlogs, online viral videos, wikis, Wikipedia, and anything else you’ve stumbled across that interests you. Want some ideas? Refer to TheConversationPrism.

The ideas need not be budget-constrained (i.e. even though games or Facebook widgets can be incredibly expensive to build, you may include them). For each idea, you must outline and include the following characteristics: (1) the tool’s purpose; (2) the intended audience; (3) the social component; and (4) how it fits into your larger strategy. For instance, if you’re building a game, who would you want to play the game, what would the game play be like, and what’s the game’s intended message? If you’re building a Facebook widget, what would it do, what’s the social component that would make people put it onto their Facebook pages, and how does it advance the your workplace or cause, and/or educate people as to your position? If you’re building a Google Adwords campaign, who would you hope to draw into your website, what search terms would the campaign be built around, and what’s the hook/language you’d use to get people to click on your ad?

You must also include a survey of the existing Web 2.0 landscape for your project: Who are your online competitors? Your online friends/allies/potential partners? What are the leading authorities on your topic online? If you choose a cause, what are opponents doing? What’s going on around the world on your topic/cause? What lessons can you draw into your own projects from the successes or failures of allies/competitors? This is where your social media report should prove quite useful.

Your plan should be written in the form of a memo to your boss (in this case, me), outlining each tool and its potential applications. While there is no set page length, I would be very surprised if you could accomplish all of the above in fewer than five pages with normal spacing and font sizes. Ten pages should be considered the outside maximum.

As the syllabus says, your final project is worth twenty points, i.e. twenty percent of your final grade. You will be graded on how realistically your plan is outlined, how fully you demonstrate comprehension of the Web 2.0 landscape and its various tools, and how clearly you establish your goals and objectives. I want to specifically emphasize the first and third criteria, because those can get lost in the rush of fun tools. I don’t care *WHAT* tools you use as much as I do *WHY* you’re using them. What about them helps you communicate with the community you’re trying to reach?

Any project plans not turned in on April 22nd will be docked three points. Any papers not turned in by close of business on April 24th will not be accepted, meaning that you will not be able to pass the class.

Please email me if you have questions. We will also discuss this more in class next week. Make sure to put some good thought into how you approach this. Your social media report should be a good start.

Online and Overseas

April 2, 2009

For next week’s class, I want you all to go to Global Voices Online, which rounds out the bloggers around the world, and pick a country that begins with the same letter as your name (to get the country listing click on countries in the upper right-hand corner). Explore that country’s blogosphere and write your blog post of the week about your findings.

For April 1

March 31, 2009

I meant to post earlier your blog assignment for the week: Blog about your experience doing the Wikipedia project. Was it harder/easier than you expected? What problems or challenges did you run into?

Wikipedia Reports

March 19, 2009

Good rainy Thursday morning to you all! I’m not going to assign any reading for next week’s Omni-Class, though if you have any other subjects that you’re interested in, please email me to ensure that we can incorporate it into the class. I want you to devote the next week to getting a good start on your Wikipedia project. Here’s what I’m looking for, due April 1st:

* Write a new page or substantially edit an existing page within Wikipedia. By substantial, I will be looking for more than 200 words of original material or the equivalent in terms of reorganization or “wikification.” You’re going to be graded not just on your contribution but how well you do within the bounds of Wikipedia—whether your contributions are welcomed, fit within the context of the Talk page within your particular entry, your adherance to NPOV and “notability” guidelines, and the like. You’ll need to spend some time learning the ethos of Wikipedia via its tutorial and reading through the tutorials and talk/discussion pages where you want to make your contribution. You won’t be penalized if your changes are undone, as long as you have a good case for your notability/NPOV, etc., and engage in the discussion if necessary.

Here’s the tutorial page to get started. Make sure to play around this week so we can answer any questions you have in class next week.

Go forth and conquer!

UPDATE: For your blog post for this week, pick something out of the Del.icio.us feed and write about it. Make sure to label it a response post. Also, since I know some of you mentally appeared to still be on spring break last week, make sure that you wrote *last week’s* entry too, on Wikipedia.

Truthiness

March 13, 2009

With the Wikipedia class, we’re going to delve into the world of what Stephen Colbert calls “Truthiness.”

As your first journey into Truthiness and the challenges of the web, take a look at the documentary “Loose Change,” which was put together online to highlight the U.S. government’s role in the 9/11 attacks. On YouTube, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to view “Loose Change”—and, if you take the time to watch it, it makes a pretty convincing case that we don’t know the full truth about the 9/11 attacks. All told, across its various postings and versions, more than ten million people have watched the video. The challenge, of course, is that at best the documentary aspires to “truthiness,” that is it’s hard for a lay viewer to judge its actual level of factual interaction. Places like Popular Mechanics have tried to debunk the theories. One student last semested pointed out to me in class a parody of “Loose Change” called “Unfastened Coins.”

It’s easy to dismiss endeavors like “Loose Change” (or is it?), but the journey into Wikipedia is much more complicated. Here’s some background reading and viewing on Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia. Its founder, Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales, has turned into one of the web’s big celebs. He’s a big proponent of collaboration and “crowd-sourcing.” The project, though, despite becoming the default research tool for most college students and lazy journalists/researchers is very controversial for its “truthiness.” It’s very hard to know what exactly you can and can’t trust on Wikipedia. Newsman John Seigenthaler got very burned by a libelous write-up, and not surprisingly Encyclopedia Britannica thinks the project is the devil incarnate. On the other hand, a Nature study found that the two are about equal in accuracy. Of course, the beauty/challenge of Wikipedia is that anyone can edit it, as Colbert likes to demonstrate by raising the subject of “Wikiality” on subjects like elephants.

If you want a few other examples of wikis and how they’re used, check out the DisInfopedia and these useful resources on what wikis are and how to use them to collaborate. The articles also include some useful tips on how you might apply wikis to the work that you’re doing.

This is the week that I want you to be most wary of what we’re learning. Ask hard questions about wikis and Wikipedia—we’re going to talk in class about your mini-project, which will include contributing to a Wikipedia entry and preparing a research report on using a program that allows you to track who’s been editing a particular entry. Your blog entry should focus on the following two questions: Should we trust Wikipedia or an expert-led encyclopedia more? How could Wikipedia be better set-up to better provide accuracy? Should it be open to everyone or just verified “experts”?

In class, I’ll walk you through some Wikipedia pages, help you set up accounts, and explain WikiScanner.

REMINDER: Your social media report is due at the beginning of class. Do not be late to class. I will be collecting reports at 7:45 and anything turned in after that will be marked late.

MMOGs and Social Media Report

February 26, 2009

As I explained Wednesday night in class, your social media reports are due the first class after spring break, yet all of your first half reading blog entries are due by class next week. Entries completed after Wednesday, March 4th, will not be accepted. You do NOT have to have done any of your optional blog posts yet, although frankly you should have an entry or two done just to pace yourself over the course of the semester.

From last night’s class, here’s the graphic that Mollie asked for me to post. Let me know if there are any other links from class you ever want posted or emailed to you.

For the social media reports, I’m going to be looking for at least 15 social media sites spread across at least three of the four following areas: Blogs/Microblogging, Wikis, Social Networking (including both sites and groups), and Social Media (Vlogs/Podcasts/Citizen Journalism/Audio/Video). If you have picked a subject that doesn’t get you 15 sites in three areas, you need to change your definition or pick a new topic.

Write up a brief description of each site, classify it, the URL, any traffic details or size numbers you can track down, as well as some analysis of the level of engagement. Don’t forget some of the resources we’ve used like TruthLaidBear and Quantcast. Here’s an example entry for a Facebook group that I belong to that would be useful if I was researching Vermont:

Site: Vermont State Society Facebook Group
URL: http://harvard.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8156815255
Type: Social Networking Site
Traffic: 83 members in group; Facebook ranks 15th on the web according to Quantcast
Description: This semi-active group supports Vermonters in Washington and members post job listings and news stories of interest to it. It is an open group which anyone can join with a single administrator. No one other than the administrator has posted to it. There’s some minor wall activity—about one post a month.

I want your paper to be written on dead wood (paper) and handed in during class on March 18th. Since you’re getting extra time on this assignment, I’m going to have particularly high expectations for you. Please put real thought into the sites that you select. I don’t want you to just list the first 15 sites you find—which ones would be most useful? Which ones are active? You shouldn’t expect to get full credit for the assignment if you list 15 inactive blogs and Facebook groups. Where is there activity online around your chosen subject? If you were setting out to build a community in your chosen area, where would you turn?

As for class, we’re going to be looking at gaming. Online gaming (and related consoles like the Wii and Xbox 360) is quickly graduating from a teenage past-time to a massive industry, partly because the generation raised on Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers is aging and still playing games. Adult gaming is huge today. Movies today can gross more from the associated games than from the movies themselves. XBox’s Halo 3, which released in September and allows people to play joint missions from multiple locations connected online, had the biggest release in entertainment history—grossing some $170 million in its first 24 hours.

Massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs) are a huge business today—they’re even being used by the U.S. Army to recruit (as well as train new soldiers). They are also complicated stories, almost mini-novels.

Second Life is probably the best known of the various games and it has spawned a massive economic industry within it (although the benefits are questionable). Before class on Wednesday, please sign up for a Second Life account (basic membership is fine), download the application, and email me with your chosen account name. Spend a total of 45 minutes playing in Second Life, so you can at least master the basics of walking, talking, and flying (!). Read the Wikipedia page carefully so you understand the game (tech subjects like this are where you can trust Wikipedia better than just about any other source). BusinessWeek also had a good cover story on this phenomenon last year (make sure to note and listen to the podcast). If you love this and are interested in journalism, then go ahead and join the reporting staff of the Second Life Herald, the game’s virtual newspaper, or become one of the game’s embedded reporters. Also check out the Second Life Showcase to see some cool things going on in the game and listen to a podcast or two. Confused? Don’t be. Very few people understand how this world works and what its impact could be; that’s especially true of groups with an agenda.

Beyond Second Life, World of Warcraft is probably the second-best known, with a huge passionate following. How huge and how passionate, you ask skeptically? Try roughly 2 million North American players, 1.5 million European players, and 3.5 million Chinese. That’s some seven million PAYING users.

Companies are beginning to realize how big gaming is and how influential games can be in helping people make decisions, as well influencing decisions and policies. The North Carolina firm Persuasive Games is probably the leader in online game development. Go ahead and play a couple of them. Blog about your experiences. Are the games effective in getting their point/message across? What surprised you about this week’s readings?

As for next week, a reminder that you need to be all caught up on your blogging. It’s the eighth week of class, which means that you must have six (6) blog entries. One each on the following:

1) For your first blog entry, write about whatever aspect of Dan Gillmor’s book you found most interesting. For this and all future “response blogs,” please start your blog title with “RESPONSE #1:” and then the title of your post. In future weeks, use “RESPONSE #2:” and so on, through #13. This is to delineate for me which blogs are in response to questions and which ones are free-form blogs. If your entries are not properly labeled, please do so by Wednesday. I will not give full credit for entries not properly labeled.

2) Talk some exploring podcasts and Vlogs and what you chose to listen to. Do you regularly  listen to any podcasts?

3) Should we be afraid of Google?

4) Do we need a Bill of Rights for the social web?

5) Where, in your personal experience, do you see the long tail playing out online? What interests/tastes/hobbies do you explore or use the web for that would have been difficult in the pre-web era?

6) For next week’s class, write about your experience playing Second Life. If you know how, illustrate your post with a screenshot of your character in Second Life. What do you make of this new world? What do you make of MMOGs in general? Second Life in particular?

If you are all caught up, I’d strongly encourage to work ahead on an extra blog post or two. You can’t do them all at the end of the semester. If you don’t have all RESPONSE blog entries done by next week, you won’t be able to make them up.

Phew. That’s all for now. Go forth and conquer!