I think we've come quite a long way since the beginning of semester, when we were still indecisive (haha, ironic!) about what we wanted to do or how we were going to achieve this. I thought that for my final assessment piece I'd do a bit of an informal reflection, talking about some of the different thoughts and processes we went through in creating this project.
In the beginning, we started with all of us sitting around a table tossing up ideas. What were we going to do? What could we possibly focus our energies on?
In the groups we had been put into (I was with Maddie Kilby, Paddy Hassall & Celine Choo) it seemed that I had the most experience with different online mediums, being the only group member to actively be using Twitter and Tumblr (alongside everyone's favourite - good old Facebook). For me, this project was not about learning the basic strategies of these mediums, but learning HOW to use them as a platform for this type of venture. In demonstrating the things I learnt, I find that it would be best (for the purposes of this assignment) to talk about how my knowledge of each medium changed, and how I tried to develop skills to adapt to each, and try and carry out our goals.
I had a bit of experience with Tumblr already, with my own personal Tumblr, which I'd been using since last year. This Tumblr (like so many other personal tumblogs out there) is full of 'found material', where I either reblog things I like or share things I have found on the Internet. Sometimes I add personal commentary or explanations, such as this post, which features the song "Less Cute" by the band "Say Anything". I had the song stuck in my head (from listening to it on repeat over and over again) and, in a bout of curiosity, decided to have a look online for anything the band themselves had said about the song. I did happen to find a quote from the songwriter, Max Bemis, and so made a blog post using these methods:
- I searched Tumblr for the song (by typing "Less Cute Say Anything" in the "Explore Tumblr" bar). By doing this, I could see if someone had already uploaded it which would save me from uploading the song myself. (Also, it's kinda illegal to upload music that isn't yours - so it was better that it was already done for me.)
- I reblogged the song that I found.
- While reblogging the post, I edited it to insert my own caption. I used 'blockquote' to format the quote by Max Bemis in a traditional style, so it could clearly be seen that these words were from another person. After this I wrote something about my own feelings and opinions, a personal reflection that my followers could either read and identify with or skim over.
Basically, what I'm meaning to do here, is detail the processes I'd go through for a post that was not part of the Integrated Media 2 project but instead a post for my own individual blog. This is simply to highlight that for me, at the beginning of the semester, Tumblr was not unexplored terrain. I had built up a collection of skills through using the medium that I could in fact share with other people, and even though I'm only an 'average' sort of Tumblr user with a quite minuscule amount of followers I still had quite a lot of knowledge about how the medium worked from looking at my favourite blogs and seeing how they built up followers. Blogs seemed to get followers through interacting with other blogs and getting them to promote them, and it helped if the blog had a 'cool' url name, which would encourage people to click on to see their blog and then perhaps follow them. However, because there were so many blogs on Tumblr that simply 'reblogged' found material, people were more likely to follow 'original' creatives rather than duplicates. For example, if Person A took awesome photos that Person B simply reblogged, you would technically be better off following Person A.
WHAT I LEARNT DURING THE PROJECT:
Even though I had used Tumblr before, I hadn't had any experience with single-topic blogs, which are more in tune with what the 'magazine format' requires. Single topic tumblrs focus on...well...a single topic. These can be as diverse as Boyfriend Replacement - a blog of delicious looking food, Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber - which is pretty self explanatory, and
The Starbucks Name Game - a collection of submitted photos of coffee cups with misspelt names on them from Starbucks. Creating a single topic tumblr is a lot different from a personal blog in that you have to stay on topic. People follow personal blogs (such as mine) because they are interested in the person behind them, so therefore you are 'free' to reblog anything that takes your fancy, and therefore allow for even more points of connection and interaction with your followers and fellow Tumblr users. Single topic tumblrs, such as what we aspired to create with 'Being Indecisive', are followed because people are interested in the TOPIC alone (generally speaking) and any deviation will therefore cause annoyance and 'unfollows'. For example, if you go to Mustache Disney, you expect to see pictures of Disney characters with mustaches stamped on their faces. NO exceptions.
I think one of the things we found difficult in the latter days of 'Being Indecisive' was that we were reblogging too much on the Tumblr, and choosing pictures that had more to do with 'love' and 'confusion' rather than our original goal of focussing on decision making DEVICES, such as the chatterbox.
We also found it hard to get followers as we didn't 'beg' for follows or ask to do cross promotion. However, I think this maintained the integrity of our blog. One of the things I've learnt about Tumblr as a medium is that there are a lot of snobs and elitists who don't take too kindly to people begging for attention. (I am one of these snobs, just without thousands of followers. )
I was already quite familiar with Facebook (as most people are!) but I think even in this arena I made a few mistakes. For example, we made both a Friend page and a 'Like' page for Being Indecisive - through this, we attempted to have the best of both worlds, but I think it may have become unclear and confusing for the people we were interacting with. Still, we did get quite a lot of feedback on our facebook page - the only problem was that people began to want US to solve their dilemmas, when in reality we were trying to get THEM to use devices such as the chatterbox THEMSELVES. This could either be through a lack of communication, or through a bit of laziness on their part (but I'm actually going with the laziness for the most part).
One good thing I learnt was how to ask questions as a page, which I showcased the answers to <a href="http://raws.adc.rmit.edu.au/~s3284806/blog2/?p=488">here</a>. This allowed us to adapt our content to our audience and include things like 'flipping a rubber' which is what people found the most entertaining and reliable decision making device.
One interesting thing I did learn from Twitter was that there are plenty of people out there that claim to #followback (and I found this through looking at the hashtags) but don't actually do so in reality. I'd never just SOUGHT out followers before (as I am perfectly content to talk to NO ONE on my personal account) and so this surprised me - that people would be manipulative enough to try and get followers without sticking to what they'd claimed to do. (Sometimes I severely underestimate people.) Nevertheless, I did find some places that actually promo-for-promo (that is, share your name with their followers if you share their name with yours) and we got some followers through this, but I soon realised that this was hardly a good way to get followers. There are so many people out there who are so desperate to be 'heard', to 'get their numbers up', to have some sort of validation as a human being (or what have you) that they will follow anyone and everyone in a desperate attempt to gain another follower. The problem with this is that they will probably be following so many people that any updates of yours will be quickly lost in the constantly flowing stream of the mindless garble of the people they follow.
I see Twitter as a useful tool for connecting people, but you have to put the time and effort into it - alas! it is not something that just 'magically' happens. Sometimes you may get lucky, but you do have to slog away at it for a bit, and be genuine. I learnt through this that there is no 'easy way', no 'cheats' or shortcuts, and it's better to just be yourself and work on producing genuine content.
I think that last statement rings true across the board for what I have learnt this semester. Be genuine and work on the content. If you've got fabulous stuff, you'll attract the right kind of people, not just ANY kind of people. Above all, that's the biggest thing I've learnt this semester in IM2.
Since we've gained a few 'likes' on Facebook (66 now!) I decided it was time to pose a question and gain some audience participation at the same time.
Facebook has an option that allows you to directly question your friends and the public, and I used this to ask the question below.
Since doing this project I've changed my privacy settings so people can now see my 'likes' and have my Facebook activity come up in their newsfeed and most recent. This makes it easier to promote our page as I don't even have to directly mention it in a status for it to be seen.
After answering the question myself, this method meant that other people who were online saw the question pop up and answered it themselves too. However, to speed up the process, I decided to invite some other people to answer it, by using the button 'Ask Friends'.
However, I have over 600 Facebook friends. Should I spam them all? Who should I ask?
One of the things to remember about Facebook is as the news feed is based on an algorithm, not all of your friends may be seeing your activity. Direct invitations ensure that people are presented with a message (but whether or not they choose to respond to it is up to them.)
But who to choose? I didn't want to spend ages clicking on everyone's picture, especially when they may not even respond.
I found a quick and easy solution through opening Facebook Chat - I could clearly see who was online and who wasn't. Then, I 'asked the question' to only people who I saw were online, as it was late at night and I reasoned that if they were bored enough to be online right now, there'd be a chance they'd answer my question.
All in all people started answering and also adding their own options, which was good.
Through this we realised that a lot of people liked the 'flipping the rubber' idea, and that we should probably create videos incorporating methods like these to make it even easier for them.
Here is an article written by Amanda Palmer (commissioned by the Australian Government!) about the power of the Internet, and Twitter, and why Australians and Australian music should be more Internet focussed.
It's a good read, and I will discuss it more later (hopefully) but right now I'm popping it up so you can read it and it won't be forgotten.
There is now a new course blog here, which should be good for easily accessing information.
Once again I am rather furiously tweeting through this lecture, which I think is probably productive given the context of this subject.
Marius is talking about the ways we have to approach the task - moving from things we simply think are interesting to things that others may think are interesting.
I can say now that I am not fully focussed on what he is saying, although I am listening to what's happening in terms of different roles each of us should take in the groups and different methods of production and collaborative team work. I'm amazed at how much I'm taking in, really, and maybe I'm finally learning how to multitask. At the same time I'm running off, reading the blog, applying to join the Diigo group - just an example of how information is now interspersed throughout the internet.
It might be a bit tricky, the way we are separating our individual blogs from the group reflection blog. I'm going to leave my personal reflection on this space, here, where it feels safe.
There's been a bit more clarification on 'how far' we have to take the magazine style, with each post being separate and contained.
A really interesting site we were shown today was Subtle Mob. I'm following them on Twitter now and I really do hope they do something in Melbourne soon that I can participate in.
Here we meet Marius Foley, who I haven't encountered before. I wonder how this semester will go, because I'm used to turning Adrian's lectures into weird jazz poetry. There will be some degree of familiarity though, as Paul's my tutor.
Marius is talking about how this journey will be like road trip. A nice analogy - a similar experience to online media or social media. However I think that these days it's more like drowning in a pool of information, rather than really heading off anywhere. Still, perhaps this course will equip us with the right 'transport' we need to be able to take this journey. (Yeah, watch me continue on with the analogy! Win.)
We'll be making a 'social media magazine' for assessment in this course, the concept of which is sort of intriguing.
Marius wants us to check out 'On the Road' by Jack Kerouac - which I think my dad has multiple copies of, it being one of his favourite books (and one which inspired him to write poetry after years of thinking he couldn't due to his dyslexia). Perhaps my transformation of previous Integrated lectures into poetry has not been completely wasteful, in that case.
They want us to really get a sense of social media. It's strange, thinking about such things we use every day but as a producer rather than a consumer, one who (hopefully) influences rather than one under the influence.
In teams of four, we're going to be creating a magazine on Tumblr (Hell yeah!) with Facebook and Twitter tie-ins, based on the theme of 'On the road.' We're meant to learn why we would put something on Tumblr rather than Facebook, on Facebook rather than Twitter, on Twitter rather than Facebook. It's kinda lucky for me then that I (quite frequently, since rediscovering my Twitter account) use all three mediums to express myself (and my annoying whinginess.) It just excites me how frequently he's saying 'Tumblr', as every mention of it makes my heart leap with joy just a little bit. (Unfortunately, unless it's a geeky or gay sort of on-the-road, most of the blogs I interact with there won't really be interested.)
Alex Switzky just saw what I wrote and asked if a gay sort of road was sort of curvy. It's definitely not straight and narrow, my friend.
We have to create an online production journal for this, but since that's done collaboratively we also have to also make clear the contribution we have personally made to the project. (On an unrelated note, I'm finding that I can no longer touch type or spell and I keep getting letters wrong. Welcome back to uni, Cassie. Although this is sort of ridiculous since I've done WAY more than my fair share of reckless typing online these holidays.)
They're not asking us to go on a physical road trip, which is kind of good considering I can't actually drive yet. Also, you probably shouldn't tweet/status update/reblog amazing semi-nudes from Tumblr while driving. That kind of behaviour causes accidents and is not good social media practice, guys.
I might sound bitterly sarcastic here (which I don't mean to be, honestly. Sometimes I think it's just an inbuilt part of my questioning personality) but could we actually make it things that are just ON the road? Like planking? Roadkill? Chalk drawings? (Oh, he's just said that we can be conceptual, so I guess so. However, besides the chalk drawings, that stuff could be kind of depressing.)
My favourite 'on the road' image is that of Noah and Ally, in The Notebook (yeah, lame, I know) lying there in the night, having to leap up for traffic. It's the perfect mix of childish excitement and innocence, and risk and danger.
I really do like the slides being used in this lecture. You can really tell that his background is Comm Design with them - they're really clear and also sort of funky. I honestly do feel sometimes that I'm an office executive being presented a plan or proposal, which is pretty excellent for someone sitting on a sort-of fold out chair in a sweaty lecture theatre.
I can't really believe we have to do a workshop on 'basic Tumblr'. I bet this would make all the Tumblr-purists roll around in agony in their comfortable beds. "WHAT? BUT RMIT IS BREAKING THE FIRST RULE. I CAN'T TAKE THIS." etc, etc.
So I'm still sort of concerned about the 'magazine' concept, because since we seem to be just posting 'found materials' (aka reblogging), is it not just a regular collaborative blog? Plus it'd be pretty disappointing to put heaps of work into something and have no followers. I deal with that enough in my everyday life without having to be marked on it. (Ha, Har.)
Hm, a new word? 'The ProAm community', professionals and amateurs. Marius used it to refer to users of Youtube, etc. I think I could probably use it to refer to myself. I'll be a SemiProAm.
Alex is whispering something about Korsakow next to me. It's becoming a weird incessant chant, although he has now stopped, breathing a sigh of relief that the word has not yet been said. I just want Marius to say Tumblr again. Hopefully he will.
We have to generate a lot of activity through our site through marketing and promotion which I probably should start thinking about right now. Getting people to actually LOOK at your blog can be really hard. Hopefully in my tute tomorrow we'll start discussing and making groups. I don't really know who's in my class, so that should be interesting.
This class does look good. Hopefully, I'll build on some skills I already have been developing, but actually learn to do it effectively. Although, can these things really be 'taught' when there are kids with thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of followers out there? I'm pretty sure they didn't do a class in order to get there, and yet they have a lot more 'pull' on the way other kids think then professional companies (etc) branching out onto online media do. Sure, people might 'like' sponsored stories on Facebook, and that is an effective method of advertising these days, but shameless self promotion often comes across as well...shameless. The best type of advertising is when a company does come up with a brilliant new idea which really draws people in. (For example, the amount of Pascal Swirl groups on Facebook after the ad certainly made the product stick around in people's minds.)
So we launch our project in Week 4-5 and wrap it in Week 12-13.
Here's the mark breakdown:
60% tutor assessed - 40% group mark: online project, project journal and 20% individual mark: individual reflection & contributions to project journal
25% Self - based on self-defined criteria
15% Peer assessment