Community Snapshot

Your social media reports are due in two weeks. Get thinking about this now and then we can answer questions in class next week. Here’s what we’re going to be looking for:

Pick a topic that interests you—I would encourage you to use your profession, an issue you care about, or a cause you care about—and then research its life online. This is an experiment both in Clay Shirky’s social media movement theory as well as Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail.

For the social media reports, we’re 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. By next week’s class (October 20th), please email Mike and me with your chosen topic so we can approve it. You’re going to want something that is somewhat specific (“politics” is a bad one) but not so specific that you can’t get to the 15 required sites.

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. You can explore some web metric systems like Quantcast to help you with the traffic numbers. Here’s an example entry for a Facebook group that I belong to that would be useful if I was researching “Vermont” as a topic:

  • 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 2nd on the web according to Quantcast, but this specific page is not very active.
  • 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.

Your paper should be written in Word (or similar program) and then emailed to me and Garrett as a Word document or a PDF before class on October 27th. 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 if you were trying to start a conversation with a community? Which ones are active? You shouldn’t expect to get full credit for the assignment if you list 15 inactive blogs and dead Facebook groups. The above Facebook group wouldn’t be a great one for me to choose since there’s not much activity there.

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?

List your 15 resources in descending order of their importance to the community, i.e., in the order in which you would contact them if you were trying to spread something through the community. This will require some judgement onyour part and the ordering will be part of your grade. For the overall most important site (your #1), I want you to spend an extra paragraph laying out the promise/bargain/tool that you see that site providing.

Any questions? To help inspire you as to the plethora of different sites available, consider using the Conversation Prism or use some tricks like this to help you.

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One Response to Community Snapshot

  1. Madina says:

    Mr. Graff, thank you.

    If I understand it correctly, our social media reports should contain 15 paragraphs (15 description of different websites and blogs) about the topic we have selected?

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