Places where somebody cares

  • Sep 14, 2012

Jordana, Michelle and I are working through a social web class as an independent study this semester. The first part of the course focuses heavily on wikipedia so we've been reading and they've been contributing. In our discussion this morning Michelle made a comment about feeling like someone cares about the project that she contributed to which has started me pondering a little about how we can make the Looking Glass community feel that way. This is obviously something that will require more mulling than the few minutes I have in between other commitments today, but in the meantime...

When we first started designing the Looking Glass community last summer, one of the values we emphasized was that it was first and foremost a place that was about programming and sharing stories. For that reason, we chose to support commenting on projects but not in other places. There are some strange consequences to that. When our first non-team member account appeared on the site, I found myself wanting to reach out to say "Hi! We're excited to see you here." But, there's no real way to do that up until the point that a new user posts a world. Well, that's not entirely true - if someone posts a comment, we can respond to it. But in either case, the honus is on a new user to say the first world and for many people that might be a tad intimidating. 

In the spirit of keeping with a focus on Looking Glass worlds, Jordana proposed that we be able to share "welcome worlds" which is an idea that seems very promising. A general mechanism of being able to share a specific world, challenge, remix, or even user with another user along with a comment provides a content-centered way for people to reach out to and interact with each other.

The communication channel is an important aspect of the ability to convey the sense that a digital space is cared for, but it seems like there's a second ingredient - an awareness of things that happen. The current site has activity feeds that create alerts when new people join, Looking Glass team members write a new blog post, or someone uploads a world. In sharing a world with a specific user, we were envisioning having the world and a message from the sender to the recipient show up in the user's activity feed. The ability to customize what events show up in your activity feed seems like a way that we can alert interested users to events that they may want to respond to. Wikipedia has a welcome committee. Perhaps some day there will be a subset of Looking Glass users who welcome newcomers. They might do that by setting their activity notification profile to include new member notifications. Another user might be really interested in stories that feature the ogre and therefore be following the tag "ogre" to be alerted when new worlds or remixes appear that include the ogre.

Enjoying the social web extravaganza...


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