While googling myself I came up with several interesting results. I tried to google both “Nick” and “Nicholas” Johns and it lead me to over 40 linkedin profiles with my same name and from all over the world. Locations varied form United Kingdom to the greater Pittsburgh area. The google search also lead to many facebook profiles, including mine. The search didn’t just bring up “nick johns” results, instead, it brought any combination of a name that included nick, nicholas, johns, or john.
In addition to linkedin and facebook accounts, it brought up a a news article about a Nick Johns in Minnesota who died in a cliff jumping incident. It was creepy to read the article and watch the news telecast reporting the death of Nick Johns and seeing the name printed on photographs of the deceased.
There was also a link to REVERBNATION with a musician named Nick Johns’s profile. The profile had links you could click on to hear his music and look up his tour dates. I always knew my name was common and “googling” it confirmed this.
I spent yesterday further utilizing and discovering all of the various tools and characteristics of the Daily Strength support group website. While my focus has been on participating in an alcoholism support group chat, there are literally hundreds of other support group topics available on the site. They range from depression in children, ebola, acne, and how to cope with divorce. I clicked on a few of the topic choices and was suprised to see that even some of the least popular topics such as “tooth grinding” still had many active blog/chat participants. The support group website truly does provide a platform for discussions of any controversial topic.
Other characteristics of the support group website include building your own profile. You can upload pictures of yourself to share with the other participants. In addition, you can share daily journal entries and control who has access to them. Also, you can update your current moods or “hug” other members. ” Hugs” are the equivalent of facebook “pokes’ and are just used as a way to console others and show that you are there for supporting them.
Lastly, there is a link on the support group website that allows members to ask health related questions to experts on the topic. You can ask questions anonymously and they are answered in the timely manner. It is similiar to a webmd but it’s more formatted towards participants of the suppot group.
After being slightly discouraged from Chathour, I decided I needed to return and play along a little in order to get anywhere in my research.
The variety of chat rooms is quite interesting, there are user-created chat rooms such as “friendly chat” or “emo chat.” There are also chat categories like “Lesbian chat”, “Asian chat”, “Music chat”, “New York chat”, “Christian chat”, “Heartbroken chat”, etc. One could have access to any of these chat rooms, as long as you behave yourself and aren’t kicked out (yes, you can be kicked out of a chat–I know from experience). People can post chats that they created in already existing chat rooms, to invite people to a more exclusive chat.
When testing new chat rooms I came to find that many people had met outside of the chat, and probably knew each other on a more personal level. These people are not all too interested in meeting someone new. They also probably aren’t interested in meeting me because my chat name isn’t something like “cutiesexxiibabii384.”
Many people in the chats throw around terms that I am not yet familiar with, but I do plan to do more research. People ask me to “C2C” or “PVT” and each time I decline because I still do not know what that means!
I will definitely figure it out soon and delve deeper into chat hour.
So I thought it would a fun and informative to explore a little deeper the type of member that Amnesty International and Rock the Vote attract online. My methods are by no means scientific or truly representative, thought that would be ideal. Sadly, I just don’t have the means to look at all 32,633 members of the Amnesty International Facebook group or all 301,671 followers on Twitter. I did, however, look at around 30 profiles and a few twitter followers, though Twitter profiles aren’t nearly as informative to the demographics and interests of people. The rise of popularity in privacy controls on Facebook limited a lot of what I could see unfortunately. So who are AI members? Here’s what I found:
Age: There is a wide age range. The oldest person I came across was 68…not too old…but old for Facebook 🙂
Religious views: Everything from Christian to Agnostic to “mind your business”.
Political views: Again quite a variety here. A lot of people didn’t share this information with non-friends. But some interesting ones I found were “all are equal” and “socialist capitalist cynic”.
Interests: All over the place, but often included similar organizations or “activist-minded” activities like the outdoors, Green Peace, staying healthy, and “dancing to the beat of my own drum”.
From: Everywhere! Made me want to do some traveling. Here were some good ones: India, Spain, Greece, Belgium, Germany, France, Japan, Ireland. Amnesty clearly has an international reach.
Rock the Vote also has a diverse group of members, but is more concentrated on what might come to mind when you visualize activists. That is, there seems to be a greater concentration of young, university students. The organization is aimed at motivating our generation to participate in politics so this makes sense. Also, given it is a national organization, the vast majority of members on the Facebook page are from the United States.
Domestic Abuse Intervention Services Facebook members were largely from Madison, WI and surrounding areas. There were a few people from neighboring states, like MN and IL, often having some association with Madison, like being a UW alumni. This makes since, as it is a local organization. Another non-surprising trend given the topic of interest is the larger concentration of female members. Males still have a strong presence though.
While lacking in scientific quality, my profiling of these groups members gave me a better idea of the diversity of people involved in the organzations, but also how their membership make-ups differ from each other based on their reach and message.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN WEEKEND EVERYONE!
As I continue to search for chat rooms where I am able to be actively involved with the senior citizens, I find that the more chats I venture into, the more inappropriate seniors I find. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: An increase of age can bring on an increase in inappropriateness. I was shocked to read some of the comments that come out of these seniors mouths! Although a lot of the websites write up a list of rules, it doesn’t stop some of these adults from saying some vulgar stuff.
The last chatroom I participated in was on senior-chatroom.com. This website was interesting because you could participate in a big chat with anyone who is online, but also have a personal audio-video chat. I found that when I was on this site almost every member sent out a request to have a personal audio/video chat with me. I wasn’t comfortable saying yes, but I have included a shot of what it looks like when someone sends a request.
Since my experience with chat rooms hasn’t been at all positive, I decided recently to venture into discussion forums and see what I could find there. I think there is a large difference in discussion forums than chat rooms, and seniors get different outcomes from each of these choices. I joined a website called, Boomer Women Speak, and have observed a variety of forum topics from “Widows” to “health problems”and tried to get a good understanding of how senior citizens use these communities in their lives. Seeing the different discussions allows me to see how personal people become on the internet. These women have used this website to get through traumatic life situations and also to just talk about their feelings. It is really special to go to a place where they can talk to women who are experiencing the same types of situations they are going through.
I wanted to personally be involved so I decided to post a message on the welcome site to see if anyone had anything to say to me (I included a screen shot below) and the “boomer in chief” responded back. I also personally messaged one of the “top posters” named “chatty lady.” I am waiting for her response back but I will be sure to keep you updated. I am liking this forum environment better, but haven’t given up with chats just yet!
While frequenting the alcoholism support group I found many different patterns of use among many of the participants. Many of the participants have been members of the support group for years. Even after some have achieved sobriety they still actively (daily, weekly) participate in the blog posts and share past experiences and offer advice and consoling. I have been an active member for about a month and have come across members who’s accounts have been inactive and who just recently rejoined the conversation. One member came back looking for help because she thought she took control of her drinking problem and no longer found it necessary to participate in the discussion. She mentioned that because she no longer thought her problem effected her that she no longer wanted to associate with the support group because it showed a sign of weakness and reminded her of her past. Other people commented on her re-introduction post reminding her that the struggle with alcoholism is an ongoing process that needs constant reinforcement.
I found these differing patterns of usage very interesting. Some of the members of the support group beleive that joining a support group is a quick fix that leads to a lifetime of sobriety. Many join and occasionaly share stories/seek out help as a means of redeeming themselves, even though they are not truly taking others’ advice and experiences seriously. The more serious members who constantly post and share advice I beleive truly benefit from this online support group community which makes me believe that dedication to the support has positive effects in the long run.
So…I am still finding myself having a hard time engaging actively with my chosen advocacy groups online. I have continued to reply to news posted on twitter or facebook, and “like” things now and then and what not, but like I said before, the community aspect of providing engaged feedback is somewhat missing so my interactions remain largely at the surface. After my attempts to reach out on Rock the Vote and Amnesty International’s Facebook pages (by disclosing that I was working on a project and would love to know how the organization and its’ members used the Internet to organize and connect) were denied, as they both immediately deleted my posts, I was discouraged about my ability to gather information on their internet use directly. Yesterday, I contacted via email both organizations, as well as Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, the smaller local organization I have mentioned. Amnesty International directed me to their international secretariat. I also emailed their U.S. organization. This is what I said to Amesty International:
My name is Katherine Thibeau. I am a senior at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. For my communications class titled “Critical Internet Studies” I am doing a project on advocacy groups and their use of the Internet. I selected Amnesty International both for its personal appeal and worldwide recognition. I was wondering if you could help me, or help me to get in contact with someone, who could offer some insight into the ways that Amnesty International uses the internet (including social media, twitter, the website, email etc.) to communicate, organize and connect with its’ members. I realize that your organization has higher priorities than this, but I believe that your information would elevate my project/ presentation and potentially motivate eager college students to join AI or reinstate the UW- Madison chapter.
Thank you in advance for your help!”
My other emails were very similar… I am skeptical about the likelihood that I will here back from Amnesty International and Rock the Vote as they are both very large organizations. I am optimistic that Domestic Abuse Intervention Services will get back to me because they are local here in Madison and I pointed out that my presentation would bring more awareness to the group.
I really do hope that I hear back from the organizations, and that my attempts to dig deeper aren’t rebuffed once again. While I can certainly make inferences about how these organizations use the website based on my own observations and knowledge about how organizatoins in general use the internet, their direct input would provide more credibility and specificity to my understanding. I’ll let you know if I hear back! I’ll be posted again soon “profiling” members of Amnesty International, as well as posting prior to my presentation on wednesday.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Frank, the creator of Postsecret, speak at Marquette University in Milwaukee. Now, I do not mean to downplay how difficult it was to get a ticket to this event! Tickets were only available to Marquette students until the week before the event. Once tickets were available to the public, they needed to be picked up at the Marquette Student Union. I made a number of calls to the box office, but they were not allowed to hold any tickets before the event. I called everyday for a week, and as the number of available tickets decreased, I got more and more nervous. Finally, the day of the event arrived. After I found out there were only 11 tickets left, I skipped all of my classes in Madison, got in my car, and drove to Milwaukee- and I GOT THE LAST TICKET!!
I was thrilled. After killing a few hours at a nearby coffee shop, I decided to go to the event venue an hour early to see what was going on. To my surprise, people had already started to line up at the door! The people who were in line with me were obviously avid Postsecret fans. As I waited in line, I took advantage of the opportunity and asked those around me why they loved Postsecret, how long they had known about the site, and how they participated in the community. The girl infront of me in line had actually had her secret published on the Postsecret blog! She explained the thrill she felt the day it was posted, and how it had inspired her to share the secret with the person that it was about.
About ten minutes after I had gotten in line, FRANK ARRIVED! Since there were only about 10 people in line at the time, he shook all of our hands and thanked us for coming. I felt like I had met a celebrity! Frank has been called “The most trusted stranger in America” and he is just as friendly as I had assumed he would be. A father and son who were in line had driven from Chicago because they had been promised a ticket, but when they arrived, the event was sold out. Frank, after hearing this story, simply looked at the stage manager who he was standing next to, gave him a nod, and the stage manager handed the father and son two tickets out of his pocket. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!
Since I had a prime spot in line, I ended up getting the perfect spot in the auditorium- front and center! To my surprise, people around me were extremely friendly. It was clear that everyone was there for the same reason and the excitement was contagious. After a brief introduction, Frank came onto the stage. He shared the story of how the Postsecret project began and explained how it progressed from a community art project to a blog and how Frank eventually received his publishing deal. Next, Frank shared a number of secrets that had not been allowed in the Postsecret books (most were removed due to copyright laws). Throughout the event, Frank shared a number of stories- the one that stood out to me most was the story of one of the first secrets on the blog that received a large response. Frank had posted a secret that was written on a picture of a broken door (the secret was something about how the door had been broken by the individual’s mother when she was trying to get into the individual’s room to beat them). In response, Frank received picture after picture of broken doors from individuals who thought that they were alone with their secret. This story shows the power that Postsecret has to create an anonymous community of support.
At the last part of the event, Frank opened the floor for anyone to come up to a microphone in the auditorium aisle and share a secret with the group. The girl who was in front of me in line had shared a concern that since Marquette was such a small school, no one would want to share a secret at this part of the event. To our surprise, a line immediately formed at the microphone. Very personal secrets were shared by a number of students. They were so brave to open up to a room full of strangers in an honest and trusting way. The audience sat in support, clapping after every secret was shared.
On the Postsecret app, I shared the following secret on the day of the event:
When I checked back the next day, my secret had 16 “hearts” and the following 3 replies:
I had a huge smile on my face. The optimism and support I had experienced the night before was present in the responses to my secret. It was also present on the Facebook event page for the Postsecret event:
Frank says that everyone has two kinds of secrets- secrets we keep from others and secrets that we keep from ourselves. Frank says, “Free your secrets, and be who you are!”
At the start of my Practicum project I was very frustrated and skeptical about how I was ever going to figure out the command line interface of LambdaMOO and how I was going to navigate through it. Now, I have found that I am starting to actually belong in this world– I think I’ve made a friend. This friend’s name is “Donar” and he (I am pretty sure it’s a he) has gone out of his way to talk to me for several log-ins now. At first I had to seek people out and start conversations with them, disclosing a lot about myself while not always getting a lot in return. I think one of the first conversations I had with Donar consisted of me telling him that I believed in ghosts and that I wasn’t quite sure about aliens. He was not very talkative, but when I found a subject that really got him excited (engineering…) he wouldn’t stop talking. Now he always talks to me when I’m online and asks me about ghosts and all of that jazz. Regardless of how good or bad I have done in trying to understand the world of LambdaMOO, I think I have been successful- I even made a new friend.
Has anyone else made friends/connections/network ties? Does your project allow you to? If you have made friends, how do you feel a virtual friend is different from real life?