Friday, April 15, 2005
Pleasure is something that everybody is looking for and is prepared to pay a premium for it. IPs who understand this and skilled to incorporate pleasure element in their information design/proposition will always thrive. As the lecture notes confirm the top sites have always been those with strong entertainment or pleasure (sensual) content. The competition for attention is fierce. People will spend more time on web sites that incorporate information which gives pleasure. Producers of goods and services – including information goods - understand that in the “most valuable item in the information age: human attention” yet “attention is scarce in the information economy” (Shapiro,Varian: Information Rules)
Linda Cornwell in an online article “Kids Who Read Succeed investigates what does it take to increase kids reading achievements? Among other things she states that “Only if kids find pleasure in reading will they spend lots of time reading.”Marketers and producers of goods will pay high premium for consumers’ attention. Thus the value of pleasure component of information is very high. Other “techniques” to win attention is providing content for free. Many independent artists & authors willingly provide the fruit of their labor in hope to attract attention. As Tim O’reilley puts it: “Lesson 1: Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.” Webcasting Live Events in Australia: The Kick-Art Experience by Tom Denison is a fascinating and insightful article. To produce information for pleasure is not an easy task. It requires thorough planning, hard work and at times little or no pleasure during the production phase. Nonetheless, making information pleasurable – whether for entertainment, education (edutainment’s the buzz word) or business transactions – will get people’s attention, thus increase their information consumption, which in turn increases the revenue.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Friday, April 01, 2005
"Communities are networks of interpersonal ties that provide sociability, support, information, a sense of belonging, and social identity" (Barry Wellman). Castells in his briliant book The Internet Galaxy makes the point in quoting Barry Wellman’s definition of community that there has been a profound shift in paradigm from the traditional concept of communities, which are based on the sharing of values and social organization and spatialy bounded to “network as the central form of organizing interaction….Networks are built by the choices and strategies of social actors, be it individuals, families, or social groups.”
I submit that since not every group can be defined as community, the context is of paramount importance when we look at any group. Whilst a community is also an affinity group, an affinity group is not necessarily a community. Understanding the context behind any group is crucial especially in this post-modern world where everything is fluid, without definable boundaries and nothing is fixed (although post-modernism has been under the deconstructionists’ scalper for some time). The most obvious although not the only determinants of virtual community are:
- Boundless spatiality.
- Time: real-time, near real-time, synchronous, assynchronous.
- Flexible structures and processes.
- Perpetual ephemerality & emphemerality, which I believe is particularly virtualization play specific trait. I can't think of any non VC exhibiting such traits. This virtualization phenomena was evident even on micro level whilst studying the communities of play.
The significance of the Information Professionals’ role in the formation and exposition of VCs was not articulated clearly until relatively recently. One of the reasons perhaps was the lack of “critical mass of participation”. The VIC Government’s Global Victoria paper suggests regarding the critical mass “participation goes beyond simply creating awareness. It involves giving people and business compelling reasons to participate”. The critical mass participation I believe has been achieved and is largely attributable to 3 reasons:
- Technological advancement: (affordable hardware, ease of use of web browsers, rich and easily accessible WWW content).
- Commercialization of the Internet, albeit many die hard cyber activists and punks keep decrying that the commercialization which is destroying communities.
- Engagement of IPs in the process of building Information Enterprises and Information Communities
Many still lament about the loss of community “spirit” or disintegration of communities (Robert Putman, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community). I beg to differ. If anything, communities have expanded both in numbers, sizes and variety. The dominance of VCs, however, had not spelt out the end of traditional communities. The slight dents on the traditional communities made by VCs are far outweighed by the benefits VCs brought to the traditional communities. VCs brought to communities aspects, which in the past would either shackle the community or would spell the end of them; such as distance, no space to “hide” unless one leaves the community, no possibility of living out multiple personalities & role plays, ephemeral relationships without uprooting the long established relationships and very importantly both polemics as well as apologetics can coexist concurrently without undermining community structures. Communities in this wired (actually wireless is gaining ground as well) online milieu are created, thrive, evolve, mutate, transform, die and re-born constantly and fast and the best thing about all this is that VCs add value to the traditional communities. Castless points out that even Sherry Turkle, one of the pioneers of the social technology in her classic study on identity-building declared that: “the notion of the real fights back. People who live parallel lives on the screen are nevertheless bound by the desires, pain, and mortality of their physical selves. Virtual communities offer a dramatic new context in which to think about human identity in the age of the Internet” (Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, 1995). I believe that by now the fight is over. Today I believe there’s a natural balance between online communities and “real” communities. VCs provide what non-VCs can't provide and vice versa. So people join or form communities according to their likings, circumstances and context. It is interesting to observe that another early pioneer of the online communities Barlow still lives in the past.