Social networking Web 2.0 Young people & museums

Social networking websites for education users

Interesting paper at First Monday reporting on the results into a study of K-12 needs and users on the Internet.

The advantages of SNWs are five–fold. First, they are more likely to save time and energy than supply–oriented sites. Instead of spending a couple hours doing trial and error excavations, the user may take 10–20 minutes doing a few custom matching searches, type a few e–mail messages, and then logoff. Secondly, SNWs lead to more precise results than using a search engine or some supply–oriented site. Individuals have a capacity to reason and share experiences. Reasoning and sharing are inherent to the SNW model. Reasoning and shared experience allow for customization and tackling situational questions. Third, the social networking Web site fosters an environment that encourages informal learning. While expanding knowledge bases, social networking sites facilitate contacts to help bridge understanding and enhance judgment. Research has shown that casual acquaintances, sustained by “weak ties”, are more likely than strong relationships to offer pathways to new and varied information [10]. Fourth, rather than posing as direct competition, social networking will complement supply–oriented sites. The simplest use of a social networking site is to find reference information. As relations develop, users may be pointed to primary sources, whether they are other individuals, K–12 supply–oriented sites, or off–line K–12 organizations. Finally, to some degree, relationships should prosper. This would be beneficial at the individual level in terms of resources, peer support, elaboration, corroboration, collaboration, mobilization, or organization. Communities should also benefit as SNWs foster social exchanges and carry potential for K–12 civic–building.

Folksonomies Social networking Web 2.0

Collective knowledge, South Korea, Google

Very interesting piece from the Baltimore Examiner.

Google is not the dominant search tool in South Korea. Apparently a local company called Naver which uses a collective knowledge, community-based question and answer service is. This is an interesting parallel to something like Wikipedia – and very clearly demonstrates the impact of local culture on the net usage patterns.

The Korean slice of the Web is relatively small compared to the English-language chunks of cyberspace. Koreans often come up short when trying to find information in their native tongue.

To remedy the situation, Naver – which is more like a Yahoo-esque portal than a mere search engine – came up with what it calls Knowledge iN, where users post questions that are answered by other users – creating a database that now totals more than 41.1 million entries. A search on the site brings up typical Web results along with the Knowledge iN database and news and blog sites.

“I don’t know whether they expected it before or not, but it was actually a very good match for Korean culture,” Wayne Lee, an analyst at Woori Securities, said of Naver’s service. “Korean netizens like to interact with other people, they want to answer questions, they want to reply.”

The most popular questions clicked on Naver’s site focus on love, dieting or eradicating computer viruses. The queries that have garnered the most answers range from how dinosaurs are named to getting rid of pimples, and even musings on why telephone poles are spaced 165 feet apart.

Google relies on its computers to troll the Web and see which sites are linked most often by other sites, creating a ranking system based on how often a page is referenced. Compared to Naver’s people-created database, Google doesn’t “have a system to combat that,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of industry newsletter Search Engine Watch.

(via Bubblegeneration)

Social networking Web 2.0

Making MySpace look better

Here’s an amazing bit of CSS coding from Mike Davidson that instantly makes a MySpace page look a thousand times better.

Several weeks ago, I finally signed up for an account, and within seconds I was instantly put-off by what had been created for me: a hastily-designed “profile page” with uninspired colors, misaligned tables, and a mish-mash of extraneous cruft and design elements which made this feel more like a halfway house than a “home”. Now, granted, I am a designer by trade so my tolerance for this stuff is orders of magnitude lower than most of the population, but clearly, this was not a place I even felt comfortable having my name on.

So with the default home page this underwhelming, what is a MySpacer to do? Customize, of course. One of MySpace’s greatest features is its ability to let you skin your own home page. Unfortunately, 99% of the customizations I’ve seen are chalkboard-screechingly awful, but what could a MySpace home page look like if some actual design thought went into it? That is the question I sought to answer.

Social networking Web 2.0 Young people & museums

“Is MySpace Just A Fad?” Subcultural capital and social networking

This neat little essay looking at how Friendster gave way to MySpace was a bit of throwback to my university research days. All this talk of subcultural capital . . .

Portability of identity doesn’t matter. Easy-to-use interfaces don’t matter. Visual coherence doesn’t matter. Simple navigation doesn’t matter. Bugs don’t matter. Fancy new technologies don’t matter. Simple personalization doesn’t matter.

Before you scream “but it does to me!” let me acknowledge that you’re right. It does matter to you. The question is whether it matters to the masses. And it doesn’t. Especially for teens.

What’s at stake here is what is called “subcultural capital” by academics. It is the kind of capital that anyone can get, if you are cool enough to know that it exists and cool enough to participate. It is a counterpart to “cultural capital” which is more like hegemonic capital. That was probably a bit too obscure. Let me give an example. Opera attendance is a form of cultural capital – you are seen as having money and class and even if you think that elongated singing in foreign languages is boring, you attend because that’s what cultured people do. You need the expensive clothes, the language, the body postures, the social connects and the manners to belong. Limitations are economic and social. Rave attendance is the opposite. Anyone can get in, in theory… There are certainly hodgepodged clothes, street language and dance moves, but most folks can blend in with just a little effort. Yet, the major limitation is knowing that the rave exists. “Being in the know” is more powerful than money. You can’t buy your way into knowledge of a rave.

MySpace has grown so large that the needs, values and practices of its users are slamming into each other. It’s facing the archetypical clashing of cultures. Yet, interestingly, most users are not that concerned – they’re trying to figure out how to live in this super public. The challenge is that outsiders are panicking about a culture that they are not a part of. They want to kill the super public rather than support people in learning how to negotiate it. No one knows how to live in such a super public, but this structure is going to become increasingly a part of our lives. It is no wonder that youth want to figure it out. And it is critical that they do, especially since our physical worlds have become more segregated and walled off, partitioned by age, race, class, religion, values, etc. Yet, it is the older generation that did that segregating and they’re not really ready to face collapsed contexts at every turn or to learn how to engage with people who have very different values on a daily basis. Because of their position of power, outsiders are pushing the big red emergency button, screaming danger and creating a complete and utter moral panic. Welcome to a generational divide, where adults are unable to see the practices of their children on kids’ terms.

The rest of the article is a solid discussion of how to MySpace worked because it let its user community do exactly what it wanted to whilst at the same time Friendster was having all sorts of server troubles and locking down its system to any hacks. As the article argues, social networking sites need to maximise the opportunities for expression and personality – that’s why people use them – to create identity – and outside of those such as LinkedIn with an explicit action/goal-oriented ‘reason for being’, they need to be open, flexible and organised by their userbase.

Interactive Media Social networking Web 2.0

Sharing & economic production

Interesting essay by Yochai Benkler from Yale Law Journal titled “Sharing Nicely: On shareable good and the emergence of sharing as a modality of economic production”. Benkler looks at carpooling, distributed computing (SETI@home, Folding@Home etc), open source etc and draws some interesting conclusions about the ways in which and motivations for sharing – and how technological changes have affected this. He ends looking at potential policy directions that might emerge from an understanding of sharing.

Social sharing and exchange is becoming a common modality of producing valuable desiderata at the very core of the most advanced economies—in information, culture, education, computation, and communications sectors. Free software, distributed computing, ad hoc mesh wireless networks, and other forms of peer production offer clear examples of such large-scale, measurably effective sharing practices. I suggest that the highly distributed capital structure of contemporary communications and computation systems is largely responsible for the increased salience of social sharing as a modality of economic production in those environments. By lowering the capital costs required for effective individual action, these technologies have allowed various provisioning problems to be structured in forms amenable to decentralized production based on social relations, rather than through markets or hierarchies.

Digital storytelling Social networking Web 2.0

On How MySpace beat Friendster / Engaging young people & social networking

Interesting comments from Schonfeld on How MySpace Beat Friendster

But it was Tagworld CEO (and aspiring MySpace competitor) Fred Krueger who really put his finger on why MySpace succeeded and Friendtser didn’t (that’s him in the picture putting his finger on it):

“There is a tendency to over-intellectualize the problem. The reason kids left Friendster is that it did not allow strikethroughs of every word and personal pages with black backgrounds. Have you ever seen a teenager’s room? That’s what MySpace looks like. Friendster took people off because they put up pictures of their dog.”

The lesson there is that if you are trying to build a social network, you need to let the members express themselves however they like, even if you don’t like how they are doing it.

It will be interesting to look at MySpace in 2 years time. Riffing on Krueger’s point, I think that part of the reason MySpace is so attractive to teens is that is repels older people first in terms of visual design, and secondly in terms of content. I often get asked whether band x or y should set up a MySpace site and generally I tell them not to bother – especially not if they already have some other well indexed and SEO-ed web presence, and they are not trying to target the teen market. MySpace is good for storing and streaming audio – but how long will that last after GDrive, Amazon’s S3 etc really get going and limitless online storage becomes a reality? MySpace is also very good for Murdoch/Fox who now own a powerful market research tool – for a particular age group which is generally hard for traditional market research to deal with.

AV Related General Interactive Media Mobile Social networking

marc prensky in Australia Mar 3, 2006

2006 National Seminars – Transforming Learning through ICT
Seminar 1 – Delivering 21 st Century tools, learning and skills

This is the first in a series of two seminars for educational leaders involved in technology and learning through the use of the Internet.

Keynote speaker: Marc Prensky, the founder of Games2train, designer and builder of over 50 software games, and author of the critically acclaimed Digital Game-Based Learning and the upcoming Don’t Bother Me, Mom – I’m Learning!.

Marc’s professional focus has been on reinventing the learning process, combining the motivation of video games and other highly engaging activities with the content of education and business. He is considered one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between games and learning.

Social networking

Social networking obsessions

On my non-work blog I’ve been posting quite a bit about a very very cool social networking-meets-music web application called

In a nutshell what and its music player plugins do is track every bit of music that you listen to on your computer or iPod. It uploads the track name and artist name to its central server. Then it links you up with other people who listen to similar things.

One of the benefits of is the ability to track what you and others listen to, and of course the ability to browse fellow users playlists. Not what they say they are playing but what they are playing. (If you want to see what I am listening to . . . you can)

You also get ‘recommendations’ on other artists, tracks and users that you might like to check out. A bit like Amazon’s book recommendations – but based entirely on what you are doing not just what you are buying. (Amazon’s recommendations are always screwed up when you buy a gift for someone for example)

Individuals also get a ‘radio’ station link that lets them listen to streaming music related to what they like and already play.

But it starts getting really exciting when people join together and share tastes. Users can form ‘groups’ around shared interests.

Groups also have an automatically generated ‘radio’ station that plays licensed tracks based on the collective musical tastes of the group. Its in its early days but my group is already starting to build a collection of pretty relevant stuff – and as more small labels join the specialist radio will only improve. (Already I have heard a track from an artist on the Fonal label on it!)

The possibilities here are only just being explored.

This is really hot because it is so seamless and its addictive.

Be warned.

Giv and I have been thinking about how we could apply the same principles of ‘taste’ and ‘action’ to cultural institutions and hopefully you’ll be seeing something along these lines developed as a key part of how the upcoming Design Hub project we are creating works.

Stay tuned.