Incase you guys weren’t aware…”What I Know Now…” was created for a class that I am enrolled in this semester. So, it’s the last two weeks of class…
(Thank fucking god, because I’m two seconds away from a mental breakdown!)
And we were asked to write a reflection paper on what we learned by creating these projects…
Which is basically that this shit takes forever to make & it sucks up ALL your time.
…but I don’t think that’s what my professor was looking to hear, so I had to actually write a legitimate paper without using the word “fuck” or making any references towards how much I drank last night.
So, as you can see this was naturally super hard for me, but here goes nothing:
The following is what I know now about “What I Know Now…”
Everybody, one way or another, is subjected to new experiences and those experiences allow us to obtain a new gained knowledge. These pieces of knowledge are things that we take with us after each experience can and should be shared, which was exactly why “What I Know Now” was created. There are many things I wish I knew in the beginning of this semester about participatory media that I know now. I created a blog on WordPress, which I used as my homepage, along with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Being that I have never created anything like this before, everything was a learning experience for me. There are things I would have changed looking back and things I’m glad I was able to learn and incorporate, but the overall result I feel was a success.
These participatory media’s used for “What I Know Now…” allowed me to substantially expand my network, which was necessary in order for my opportunities of interaction to increase. The blog itself has gotten over 1,000 views and of those 1,000 views 70 of them have been from other countries. Without these participatory technologies, this would have been near close to impossible. A contributing factor for these statistics were small world networks that Shirky described. The “What I Know Now…” Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages had smaller groups, but more dense connections. The majority of these people were classmates, friends, or family that I had personally invited myself. These people helped spread the word about the project initially by posting to their own social media sites and I even had a few people send out e-mails to family, which jump started expanding my network. Not only did I use the “What I Know Now…” social media pages to promote my posts, but I also used my own personal pages, along with the WordPress community. By posting to my personal pages I had a large group that I was speaking to with hundreds of loose connections. A few of those loose connections ended up being people who were highly connected. These people contributed to a large part of these views when they posted the link to their own personal page, where then thousands of their friends then had access to my blog. The WordPress community also allowed for me to expand my network when two people reblogged my post “67 Things I Wish I Knew at 18…” which allowed their own followers to be referred to my site. I quickly realized that expanding your network is critical when using participatory technologies, but it is much harder than it seems.
Rainie and Wellman’s theory of networked individualism was described as an operating system, because it described the way in which people connect, communicate, and exchange information. “What I Know Now…” utilized all these aspects of networked individualism clearly and efficiently. Immediately after creating the participatory technologies I used for this project, I began to send out friend requests and searched hashtags, names, and topics so that I was able to connect with people and vice versa. Once I did this, I made a mistake. I didn’t go back to following people or searching for people who may have had similar interests for about a month. I figured people would both see my personal pages and spread the word by sharing them on theirs or somehow someway people would miraculously find my blog or other participatory technologies. I quickly saw I was wrong and this ended up setting me back in regards to communicating with people. I published my last post for this semester today and I have a grand total of sixteen comments. I did increase the communication towards the end of this semester by commenting several times a week on people who used some of the same hashtags or keywords as the “What I Know Now…” blog. Although it was tedious, it did allow me to gain some unexpected feedback through communication with these people who chose to participate with me. Several people that I connected and communicated with actually ended up sharing and exchanging a post I had written on Facebook or on Twitter close to 400+ times. Scrolling through my newsfeed one day I came across a screen shot with part of paragraph I had written on Instagram. Even two people from the WordPress community reblogged the whole thing all together onto their own personal pages. There were several exchanges going on throughout this experience. I myself could’ve done more for the communities I was involved in, but thankfully I had a network that was happy to help spread the word. Most of the networked individualism I experienced happened in a looser more fragmented network, which allowed for the barriers to break from my small groups to a broader personal network by using these participatory technologies.
Even though I exceeded all my personal expectations, “What I Know Now…” is still in an early developmental phase. In these early stages, it is vital that the virtual self is on that is well connected and accepted by the targeted online community. Virtual networks give you the ability to leverage the human resources we need to make these technologies work. Expanding my network and engaging in the process of networked individualism will allow me to continue to expand my audience and online presence.