Thursday, June 5, 2008

For my Web 2.0 assignment, I made a account and commented on a news article ( Interestingly, I found an article about how different species of bees can learn each other’s dance ‘languages’ to communicate about the location of new resources. Learning through participating in socially valued activities…nice.

I often read news articles online, but I have never subscribed to a site or commented on articles before. I tend to not like having accounts on things, so I resisted ever doing anything that required me to sign up. However, I have a feeling that I am going to become a little addicted to Digg, because it lets you personalize your preferences for stories and have friends on the site that can recommend things. And in the true sense of being 2.0, the content on the site is all organized by user’s responses (you can ‘digg’ or ‘bury’ articles and comments based on whether or not you like them).

Commenting on the article was not difficult in and of itself, since it is similar to blog posts. However, the article itself is linked in from another site, so you have to go back to Digg after reading the article and click the comments to read other comments and post your own (that is also where you can ‘digg’ or bury articles to affect their ratings). But again, not that difficult to figure out on your own for a comment.

So, the biggest learning process for me was making an account and figuring out what I could then do with it. After reading the comments, there is a link to create an account. It asks for basic information, like your user name, real name, location, age, password, etc. I had to try three different user names, since it informed me that my first one was too short (only three letters) and my second one was already taken. The process actually reminded me a lot of what Gee described in the video game tutorials. They let you make a choice, if it doesn’t work they tell you why and gently steer you in the right direction. The site also builds up your little wins by displaying the message “Yay! The username is available” when you finally enter an acceptable one. This continues throughout this information-gathering process, with messages like, “Your email address appears valid. This is a good thing” and “Your password looks good. Remember to remember it.” It builds in a lot of humor, with the gender menu choices being “guy, girl, dude, lady, fellow, bird, chap, grrrl, gentleman, damsel, beau, belle, male, female, transgender, none of the above” (I chose damsel, in case you were wondering). After successfully entering all the information they require, they send you an email with a URL to follow to confirm the account (which you know is successful after getting the message “Victory! You’re ready to rock n’ roll”). The screen this takes you to asks if you want to search for contacts on the site by using contact lists from other programs. It then gives you a list of suggestions of where to go next, ranging from FAQ’s to jumping right in and “digging” articles. I took the route that Gee took with his video game that he should have known better than to do-I looked through the FAQ’s. I was trying to get an idea of how the site worked and what I should do with it. I read about how to ‘digg’ (Word keeps trying to correct that for me…) articles I like and bury ones I don’t, how to vote on other people’s comments, how to add friends and how to ‘shout’ (it made me think of pokes on Facebook, but it basically seems like a way to recommend articles to your friends). Of course, according to Gee this was not the best learning method for me, since I was reading a bunch of things up front rather than getting them “just in time” and through actually participating. The FAQ’s did attempt to provide answers in a relevant way that was connected to the other skills and procedures on the site, but I am sure that I will learn and remember a lot more once I start getting into actually participating. It was hard to care about where the shout option was when I did not know what it was, who to shout to and why I really wanted to be shouting on a news site to begin with. It did, however, help me figure out what digging and burying were, since I had seen those already on the site. I kind of figured out what they meant, but was not sure of how they were used until I read about the set-up of the site and how they rank. But again, that became fairly evident after looking through the site and reading comments and rankings. There was the “okay, NOW I get it” moment once I started seeing the things I had read about actually in use. There is still a lot I don’t know about how to navigate and work the site, but I am sure that I will be spending a lot of time on this weekend figuring it out.

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