Monday, November 24, 2008

Keeping Connections in Social Networks

Shirkey (2008) focuses on how relationships within social networks are built and maintained, and some of the strategies that are necessary in order to control vastly expanding networks. The Small World network is used to explain the important functions amongst groups, mainly focusing on the theory of “…small groups connect tightly, and then you connect to other groups” (p. 216). This strategy allows for individual groups to form a stronger relationship between each other, but it is necessary to have a group member that reaches out and links to another group among the network. This horizontal structure is particularly effective because most users aren’t vital to the existence of the network, but only those who are considered as the connectors between groups. These social networks allow people to reach out to friends of friends to gain more knowledge about similar interests that occur between groups.

Another focus of Shirkey in the chapter is how “good” ideas are brought about in organizations. It is best to mix in outsider’s opinions and ideas to gain a 360 degree view of the organization. This will help prevent only mainstream thoughts and ideas that often occur when taking opinions from only with a specific department.

As a current user of both Facebook and MySpace, I often find myself looking through my friend’s buddy list to discover connections that I might not have realized on the surface. Some people that one may want to relate to might slip through the cracks, but the network allows for groups to link out to other people. The theory of having a couple of highly connective people can easily be related to my personal experience in social networks because I have a couple of people who everybody seems to know and have a personal connection with. These people would be vital to the existence of social networks.

Shirkey, Clay. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power if organization without organizations (chapter 9). New York: Penguin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Final Observations on Awful Announcing

In my wrap up of the week of observation, i want to discuss a couple of comments I made with regards to some articles and my level of interactivity among the community. i did notice some patterns that took place in the comment sections of the blog. Most people either didn't comment at all or copied your quote and pasted it into their own comment, usually responding with an "lol" or "haha great post". Very few times were people called out for the content of their posts, and the only significant time I can recall was during the Sunday football games when people disagreed on the teams they were rooting for. There seems to be a common understanding of the community at Awful Announcing; It isn't a place where people go to argue politics or to vent about their lives. It is a place where people can visit and find entertaining information about sports and leave comments that add to the enjoyment of the blog.

Kendall on LiveJournal

Kendall (2007) discusses problematic factors that occur if people chose to express their thoughts and opinions in an online journal. Over the course of two years, Kendall looks at several examples on the website LiveJournal and how people may change their style of writing and their personal thoughts to conform to public acceptance of the writings. Four main themes are incorporated into this experiment and observation which include private journal vs. public performance, efficiency vs. audience management, control vs. connection, and Autonomy vs. the desire for comments.

In some of the examples, there are many reoccurring observations made. People are less likely to deeply express their true emotions and often leave out details of how they feel because it people are worried about the effect of their self in other’s views. Also, the managing of an audience can be a cause for great concern. LiveJournal is a useful tool to get spread information, such as getting engaged, to a large number of people simultaneously. But one problem that may occur is how we interact with certain groups of people. The way a person is around their family can be completely opposite when interacting with social friends, so therefore the context of the message can vastly differ. One last problem is the struggle between control and connection. People can enjoy the control over what they read and post on LiveJournal, but sometimes experience problems when people try and connect with them by commenting on an entry. One of the interviewees said it was “really weird to me to comment back on my own journal” (p. 10).

As opposed to a typical journal, an online journal in which friends and family can read and react to will definitely change the nature of your posts. In my personal experience with posting public information about myself, I’ve felt constrained to saying or listing my exact thoughts or actions simply because they may not be interesting or appealing to other’s thoughts about me. For example, if I was to write a journal that had to do with my personal relationships, I wouldn’t want my mother or father reading into detail every account of my private life.

Kendall, Lori. (2007). "Shout into the wind, and it shouts back." Identity and interactional tensions on LiveJournal. First Monday, 12. Retrieved on August 21, 2008 from

Essay 4: Blogging

Over the past few years, the Internet has introduced a new way for people to display their actions and opinions to a worldwide audience. This new technology, called blogging, has transformed how people interact in the online community. Any user, whether they have experience or are a novice, can easily set up and maintain their blog to discuss any issues, feelings, or personal accomplishments to allow either restricted or public users to view. For my assignment, I have chosen to view the blog Awful Announcing for one week in order to overview and comment on the nature and makeup of this blog. Awful Announcing has two main contributors that post multiple stories daily pertaining primarily to sports. Each entry consists usually of a picture or media clip followed by a short excerpt of the author’s personal opinion. The main theme of the site is to provide humor over knowledge in a casual and informal style. Aaron Barlow (2008) discusses what makes a blog successful, taking six key points from David Benjamin Auerbach’s blog “Waggish”. These six key points include The Short Horizon, Quantity, The Gestalt, Specialization, Instant Feedback, and Need for Triage (p. 75-76).

Awful Announcing has one of the highest authority levels on the blog search engine Technorati. This advises users the particular blog has been interlinked to a high number of other blogs. The first point in successful blogs is the short horizon. This term deals with a blog posting short entries. On Awful Announcing, each entry consists of about one hundred words or less, and can be read rather quickly. Depth and details of each story are not the main focus of the entries. Instead, the authors try to incorporate witty and partially inform readers to the topic they are discussing. This is necessary for successful blogs because people don’t have the time or patients to read a three page story on a sports game or interview.

Quantity is the next point that is emphasized for successful blogging. This point relates closely to the short horizon in the sense that blogs are meant to be kept short, but also posted often. Readers want to be able to read or chose to read from as many postings related to their interests as possible. Posting too many stories in which readers have to select from is more appealing than not having any entries for readers to view. Over the course of a week, there were approximately twelve new entries daily posted on Awful Announcing. This high number of posts has allowed viewers to be able to read all of the day’s news stories in about fifteen minutes .

The gestalt is the third point of focus which pertains to the structure of the blogs. Successful blogs are seen to be less detailed and profound than a typical published article on a major news network. There isn’t a sense of wholeness or completeness regarding the story. Awful Announcing follows this same pattern in writing their entries. Only segments of articles will be looked at and discussed in their columns. Now this may be a problem in a highly respected media outlet that leaves out part of the story to frame or shape the audiences view on the topic, but with blogs they are less professional and briefer.

Specialization of one topic at hand is the next criteria to accomplish a desired community. Awful Announcing has a main focus to deal with top sports stories and mistakes that occur in the sports media. A couple of articles a day did relate to other top stories around the world, particularly to the presidential candidates and the election. As a reader, these stories did not throw off or turn me away from this blog because sports should be viewed as a past time, not as a lifestyle. Being able to extend into national news events once in a while does not take the main purpose of combining humor and sports away.

Instant Feedback is the ability for users to read and respond to the topics that are posted on the blog. Unlike many media outlets, blogs allow for people to express and debate their particular points of view regarding an issue. After every article, there is a comment section that allows members to convey their argument or to contribute humorous remarks about the discussion. This is important to both the users of the community and the authors as well. Public opinions allow for the authors to react and maybe help shape the content that is published on their site.

The sixth and final criterion is the need for triage. This theme has to do particularly to blogs as a whole and not to one particular site. Auerbach argues in Barlow’s book that “a role for aggregators/gatekeepers to point people to selected pieces of content was inevitable” (p. 76). This idea is stating that when people are looking for particular information about a topic that it is important the people have some sense of direction in determining the quality of the content. With millions and millions of blogs, users may view them as consisting only of unique content and not understanding the sources that it may have came from. Sites such as Technorati for example allow users to search for a particular blog that they want to read, and it has a rating system to assist people in finding what they are looking for.

Awful Announcing has all of the criteria that have been stated for creating and maintaining a successful blog. In my exploration into the blogosphere, it is become apparent that the content and structure are a strong determinant in the success of the blogs.

1. Barlow, Aaron. Blogging @merica: The New Public Sphere. CT.: Praeger Publishers, 2008.

Awful Announcing Observations

Awful Announcing, even after my assignment is done, will become an everyday site that I check out. Today I saw the best feature that was posted on the blog. It is a complete schedule of all of the NFL games for the upcoming weekend, and lists the specific times and channels that each game will be on. Also, the voting was in for the quotes of the week and it was humorous to read everybody's reactions on the "awful announcing" that occured during last weeks game.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 11th

Awful Announcing seems to be a very interactive blog where users take place in a lot of events. For instance, users get to vote for the "Pammy Awards" which basically lists the most outrageous quotes from the week that announcers have said, and put them into a voting forum. Another feature is a create the caption contest where the blog posts a random photo and users get to use clever one line phrases to sum up the actions in the photo. Sunday was the busiest day of the blog, particularly due to the NFL. Comment sections were heavily overloaded during the afternoon games with people expressing their opinions about the games going on.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

November 6th Observations

There were about a half dozen new posts today on Awful Announcing. I've been noticing some trends about the way the entries are designed and the content of each. The use of video clips are a often a main theme for the entries. The humorous videos are embedded within each article, followed by clever and witty remarks regarding something in the clip. Along with sports themes, pokes of fun are made at advertisements, such as commercials and website ads. With all posts, the writing seems to be kept to a minimal which allows for the reader to quickly move from post to post instead of being stuck with one article. Also, I noticed the advertisements within the page link to video games, sports betting sites, and financing ads, which are all sites marketed towards men.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 5th Observation

The blog I choose to observe over the next week is Awful Announcing. I discovered this blog on the Technorati website when just browsing for sports blogs. I made the decision to observe this blog for two reasons. First, I’m an avid sports fan and the first couple of articles caught my attention. Secondly, the blog had a high authority which means that it links to a lot of other blogs. My first reaction to this blog is that it is both humorous and informative and should be an interesting read for seven days. I plan on commenting on the blog later today and reading my reactions tomorrow.