This practicum project has been a great learning experience. I’ve discovered quite a bit about the workings of forums, and observed quite a bit of interaction between individuals.
Users can create their own identity. Can progress through levels (earning new titles with level of engagement). They can create a community base by adding other users to their friend lists. The forum allows for sharing of resources, ideas, opinions, correcting misconceptions. They allow for conversation outside of the specified topic (Ex: Dr Who).
These forums can create a sense of community for sharing and learning and creating a home away from home. But, that only counts for people who actively seek a second family. For those people who use the forum for updates and information, or infrequently, these forums do not create the sense of identity or community that it would for those who truly delve into the cyber world.
For myself, I do not feel the sense of attachment or connection that would draw me towards this forum again and again, as it does for some users who post daily/biweekly.
Although, some users posted some really cool peer production content : videos of mash ups and updates on series news. It was cool to see the user created stuff, and convenient to find the news I wouldn’t have normally sought out.
Looking over the Wikipedia page on Internet Forums, I realized they had nothing included about identity.
To me, identity is very important to participating in a web forum, because it shapes how others perceive you. You have the ability to include or exclude information about yourself, or even generate made-up information. Before I really added much to my account biography, many people weren’t viewing my profile, and that may have been a reason no one really interacted with me – because I was no one, I had no identity! … Either way, no one really interacted with me a whole lot on a personal level, but that’s possibly due to other factors, like level of engagement, timeline, etc.
So, here is the post I added to Wikipedia!
Well, in observing my community of Dr Who fans at the SyFy.com forum, I’ve gotten to understand a bit of the etiquette, how one identifies themselves within the website and with others, and been able to observe a lot of interactions amongst these members.
Members tend to have relationships with one another. These members are more engaged, having posted often and frequently for a long period of time. They grow relationships, I assume, from their extreme active engagement. By clicking on one’s screen name, anyone can view their biography, their ‘status updates’ similar to those on Facebook, conversational topics they have started, as well as the history of their posts made. On the sidebar, more information about the individual is available. Number of posts made, when they joined, number of profile views – (using Facebook lingo : how many people have ‘stalked’ this user), last active, currently viewing which forum, and demographics provided by the user. Individuals may leave personal messages (PM) or write a comment, again comparing to Facebook, as if writing on one’s “wall”. All of this personal information and track record of their involvement within the SyFy community, as well as the ability to interact with them enables and encourages the formation of friendships. Individuals may add friends, I have 3, all of which are moderators of the Doctor Who forum that seemed welcoming and very active in the forum.
However, not all members identify with one another on a personal level. Most of the time communication is friendly, helpful, inquisitive, and welcoming.
Ironically relevant to the reading for tomorrow, the thread I’m currently reading begins:
“Doctor Who has inspired a level of “vidding” that I don’t think I’ve ever seen with any other TV show. (Not counting the legions of poorly edited romance videos.)So, post your favorite Doctor Who fan vids, whether they be music videos, title mashups, fake titles, anything. Well… keep fan films down to trailers.”
This is relevant to the article about remixing – these are videos that viewers have created about or based-off Dr. Who. Although, it appears the producers of the original show are not concerned about property rights or whatnot, since so many videos and mashups exist.