Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reflection on Joined Online Communities

"In a relationship and it's complicated," most of you must be familiar with this post. You will be in this situation if you joined online community (OC) without well known how to maintain your participation on it. You feel engage with the communication, friendship, sharing-exchanging information, and convenient on purchasing products. By the same time, you experience receiving tons of waste email, overwhelming with the keep changing on navigation of the site features, and your information were shared to public without having a consent from you. The entire articles for this week, with an explicit or implicit tone, pointed the double blade of OC. LaRose, Eastin, & Gregg (2001) used the term "paradox". Galston (2000) questioned "Does the internet [OC] strengthen community?". Tedjamulia, Dean, Olsen, Albercht (2005) mentioned about valuable and invaluable contribution of OC's participants. Weeks (2009) and Albrechtslund (2008) mentioned about there are positive and negative effects of OC to personal and social system. Furthermore, a classic article from Licker and Taylor (1968) had made an excellent prediction about the paradox of OC.

I will start the discussion about paradox of OC by reflecting to my personal experiences. I will then end up the post with summary about the similarity and nonparallel pieces from the referred articles.

My Experience with Online Community

A not user-friendly navigational, informational, and transactional aspect on the OC (Java, Finin, Song, & Tseng, 2007) will be burning head, not only for novice users but also for veteran users. How do not your head get burn because normally you want to become more productive by joined the community, but you are wasting too much time to resolve the problem on these technical aspects (LaRose, Eastin, Gregg, 2001). However, for veteran users with more advanced computer skills and high self-efficacy, overcome the difficulty on technical problem on the Internet will be easier compare to the beginners who have the lower self-efficacy (LaRose et al, 2001). A good example for this is setting up account and privacy on Facebook (FB), as well as keeps up date with the innovation on this site. In my pilot project on looking at the adolescent awareness on security and etiquette of FB (The, H.Y., Kong, K., Masaki, E., Ackerman, L., Ayala, P., & Borengasser, C. (2010), I found that the majority of adolescents did not know how to use the setting of account and privacy on FB. As a reflection, if you are a FB user, did you notice that something has change in FB recently? Do you follow the innovation update of FB through its blog or other technology's blogs, or from news? Have you notice that now FB users have their personal email address tight with FB messages that named with user' Do you also have disabled the sharing of your personal information by FB through the apps that you joined on FB?

Now I will move to the consequence of getting unwanted email because of you joined a OC. Unwanted email or I prefer to called it wasted email has caused some people become stressful (Gregg, 2001; Galtson, 2000; La Rose et al, 2001). Usually, when you joined an OC and registered to their site, you will automatically subscribe to the OC site mailing list. You must get to know this earlier and realized about this. While a little bit tricky, you can set up your OC site account for only sending you the email that you are willing to read. Every site has the unique way on doing this setting. It will be useful to look at their online manual, help section, or get assistance from their customer services for performing the setting. Another important strategy is maintaining your email account management. All email services, currently, has email management system. You are allowed to create a folder for your incoming email. You are allowed to make a rule to short the incoming email to exact folder. You are allowed to block and identify incoming email as spam. Moreover, you are allowed to receive email forwarded from another email account that you have. Performing email management system will help you safe your time on shorting the email that has a priority to be responded.

The third important piece from the reading is about cyberspace. According to Albrechtslund (2008), the cyberspace is related with the physical space. This is contradicted with Licklider and Taylor (1968) that stated for OC the concept or proximity become less important. In some certain, Licklider and Taylor correct. With the improvement of computer and Internet technology, OC can help on mediated the relationship across the border of the country and region. There is no boundary for people to meet and interact online 24/7. I experience with what Licklider and Taylor predicted about 50 years ago when I utilized Elluminate, Skype, Google apps, WiZiQ, and Social Networking Website. Other amazing experiences are watch my local TV program live through and read my hometown newspaper, Pontianak post on their site. I also keep in touch with colleagues, in my field of study, through join professional education OC, such as,,,, and With a friend in Indonesia, I administrated as our personal blog. However, on the other hand, I also agree with Albrechtslund (2008). Through conferences OC, I can have communication online and also meet in person with people while we have our annual meeting. Through Second Life (SL) and IMVU, I can send my avatar to attend a meeting, a class, or a presentation. Furthermore, I want to show you one excellent online virtual conference that held by campus technology 2010. In this conference, the whole representation of physical space was represented in a good setting for the campus technology virtual conference sim.

Microblogging such as Twitter is also a unique OC. I am not an active Tweeter. Regarding to Tedjamulia et al (2005), my participation on Twitter can be labeled as a lucker. As mentioned by Java et al (2007), Twitter has been used particularly for daily chat, conversations, sharing information, and reporting news. I used Twitter in order to gain information and update from several technology blogs. Several names of those blogs are mashable, education week, the young and the digital, and Google blogs. The updates from these blogs are running quickly, and I could not read every single update of them. I feel the benefit of joining this running information, particularly for mining new resources and getting ideas for writing my research paper.

There are so many things to tell about my relationship with the OC. I still want to continue on telling a story about getting discount from online book store, benefit of free book for book club, and a free magazine send to me every month by an OC that I joined. It is also interesting for discussing apps on FB or Google by reflecting to the paper from Bernstein, Michael, Tan, Smith, Czerwinski, & Horvitz (2010) that focused on Collabio, a tagging game. More specific, it will be awesome to discuss IMVU and SL by making the connection with the concept of online identity and affective emotional such as mentioned by Bigge (2006). If I keep continuing those things, this blog will be too long for a session post. I will keep that for the next posting.

The similarities and differences from the referred articles

The common things that appear on all these referred paper are:

  1. Analyzing characteristics of OC in general or in specific (Twitter, Collabio, and Internet Paradox).
  2. Starting the discussion with the usability and functionality of OC and then narrow down to identify the impact of OC to its members and the society.
  3. Authors try to be neutral by provided in balance the discussion and evidence for positive and negative impact of OC to its members.
  4. The main purpose for doing the study is the author want to contribute on determine how the members of OC develop and benefit from join the community.

The uniqueness of each paper are:

  1. Using a different concepts or terms for starting the discussion about OC. For example, Java et al (2007) specified on understanding the usability of OC and Tedjamulia et al (2005) focused on motivating contribution of participants on OC.
  2. Convincing audiences by implementing different methods. For example, Biggie (2006), Albrechtslund (2008), and Galston (2000) wrote opinion papers; while Java et al (2007)and LaRose et al (2001) are using statistical data.
  3. Variables that become focus are specifically different and in my opinion will be adding exclusive contribution for developing the hypothetical and theoretical framework on analyzing OC.

Albrechtslund, A(2008). Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance. First Monday 13(3).

Bernstein, Michael, Tan, D., Smith, G., Czerwinski, M., & Horvitz, E. (2010). Personalization via Friendsourcing. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 17(2), Article 6.

Bigge, Ryan (2006). The Cost of (Anti-) Social Networks: Identity, Agency and Neo-Luddites" First Monday 11(12).

Galston, W. A. (2000). Does the Internet Strengthen Community? National Civic Review 89(3), 193-202.

LaRose, R., Eastin, M.S., & Gregg J. (2001). Reformulating the Internet Paradox: Social Cognitive Explanations of Internet Use and Depression. Journal of Online Behavior 1(2).

Licklider, J.C.R., and Taylor, R. (1968). The computer as a communication device.

The, H.Y., Kong, K., Masaki, E., Ackerman, L., Ayala, P., & Borengasser, C. (2010). Adolescent awareness of security and etiquette on Facebook. 33rd AECT 2010 Annual Conference Proceeding Volume 1.

Weeks, L. (2009). Social Responsibility and the Web: A Drama Unfolds. 8 January 2009.

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mbco said...

Interesting post! It is fascinating how you pointed out that many adolescent Facebook users do not know how the privacy controls work on Facebook. Since Facebook has many options, I am wondering if simpler options with less customization would be better for younger users. In this sense, one could make all or no information available. It may also be possible for on-line communities to start accounts as completely private and allow users to open access to specific people or groups. However, companies would probably not prefer this method, as it would make networking difficult for low skilled users. I also thought that your insights into e-mail management are practical and can help a lot of users manage the stress of unwanted messages from on-line community sites. Regarding your third point about cyberspace, I also find it amazing how individuals can connect with such a variety of mediums.

HansomeAvatar said...

I agree with you that FB has too much customization and innovation on its features. This is good for an advance users in the computer mediated communication. Why I am concerning to adolescent is because not less we heard information about misuse of SNS for inappropriate online interaction that can be harmful for the adolescent development.

For business entities, unavoidable, information have to be open up to public and sharing information between customer will benefit customers. I think we also more likely to read review about products or services, such as hotel room, restaurant, new technology, etc., before we decided to use it.

Regarding to email management system, while it is a practical and efficient technique, rarely people implement it. That's the reason I try to mention it here, so at least our small group in this class can be the pioneer to help people who stress out because of receiving waste email.

GabrielW said...

Great point on Facebook privacy settings being difficult for novice users to discern. It's likely that the settings were designed as such in order to keep novice users from fiddling with the controls. Mark Zuckerberg said last year that privacy was no longer a social norm.
Though he's been a little lower key about privacy after complaints from the public,it certainly lets you know what the philosophy of his company is.

Your point on spam Email being a deterrent for new users reminded me of the time I first set up an Email account for my mother on Yahoo. Eventually her inbox got so flooded with spam that she just stopped checking her Email. Thankfully, I received a Gmail invite a few months later and was able to set her up with an account which was fairly spam proof(at the time).

How to stop "wasted email" from OCs is one of the most frequent requests I get from novice users. I make sure I take them through the settings and show how they can control what kind of notifications they receive.

Bit of a tangent, but I have to express my appreciation for your layout! Great design that is easy to read!

HansomeAvatar said...

I do agree that privacy is no longer a norm for advance internet and OC users. However, setting up privacy online and be able to use the online tools to improve your life and productivity become a "digital literacy."

Hard for me to define the word "spam". What I know, spam is related to email that send as a part of advertisement,campaign, or promotional issue. Currently, notification email from your OC is also send to your email, if you do not disable the send out notification on your OC setting. In some sense this email important, but getting too much notification on one email will be also make you difficult on shorting priority email.

Thank you for notify me about the layout. I learn a lot from maintaining my prior email. Many users feel its to hard to be navigate and read. Based on their comment and suggestion, I try to accommodate and redesign my blog post, including this blog.

Song said...

Thank you for sharing the information about how to change the privacy settings of Facebook. Because I am a Facebook newbie, it is really helpful. When I compared how to report fake Facebook and Twitter pages for this week’s assignment, I was impressed by the fact that Facebook is more user friendly than Twitter. I also agree that with the development of technology, people can broaden their relationships through online communities. Your experiences on various social websites and comparison was so interesting that I actually joined Second Life to figure out how to perform various online activities, such as meeting avatars from different people and having conversations with them in the virtual world.

Rich Gazan said...

Complicated doesn't begin to cover it! How online communities maintain contact and send out notifications to their members, and how members push back by adjusting settings on the site or by routing mail to one or more spam folders, is very much understudied. Web content is now customized to rank highly in search engine results, without so much regard to the content itself--too much effort spent customizing notifications and interfaces may filter out content you might find useful, make you spend more effort getting through the filters of others, and dilute your overall site experience.

HansomeAvatar said...

You may use setting as a prevention, but controlling the posting of information that you want to share or not want to share is more important. As you posted online, your information are there and it always has a possibility to be open to public and misused.

When I just joined 12manage, SL, and NING, I decided not want to receive any email notification from those sites. After about two weeks, I realized that because of no notification come to my email, I almost forget that I am a member of those sites. I log in to the site and change the setting to receive one or two essential notification. I also created a folder for that notification on my inbox. By doing that, at least with looking at the the number on my email folders, even I do not open the email, I am like being remind that I have to contribute something on the site and get something from the site during the week. Thanks also for mentioned something that probably can become an idea to develop my final project.

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