During the past few weeks, the important role that social technologies/networks, personas and online communities have, has been highlighted to me. During this time I have researched and analysed what is defined as a social network, what consists of an online community, the flow of information in social media, what is a persona and recently how social media is used in natural disasters. All of these areas, I have reflected upon and then related back to my own experiences. This has been reflected in my regular blog posts and comments on blogs within the class’s community. During my construction of my own identity map and persona poster, I utilized this knowledge to create my own version of each product.
The importance of user research is highlighted in a statement by project director, Steve Portigal in 2013; he states that “User research is really good at developing an understanding of the need/problem/situation and how your solution fits into that. It helps determine how your solution solves the problem and how it fits within users’ lives.” I agree with this statement and I think the ability to understand the user is incredibly important when building a persona or product. I utilized this idea in various ways to gain a better understanding of how a persona might be used. These experiences often led to a better understanding of the user and provided a clearer idea of how they use technology.
During my experience with persona building, I utilized user research in the workshop for week 3, where we were asked to gather information about our tutor and build a profile. I also had previously held a discussion about persona in my blog post for week 3. During this blog post, I applied my own analytical and critical thinking skills in discussing my experiences of personas. During this post, I did not link it to any of the information which was needed to back up my own statements. This discussion could have been developed further, had I completed more research and linked it to more personal statements. This is an area I feel requires improvement in future work.
I also utilized User Research during my own persona building, where I looked at a wide range of user research in relation to gaming. I then researched how gamers interacted with technology and online communities. This led to myself being able to develop a more realistic persona. While some of the initial traits were inspired by myself, I compared and developed them after looking at research completed by Microsoft and the IT University of Copenhagen. I also conducted my own research to explore my use of social technology by recording technologies I used in a period of 24 hours. When this was recommended in the learning resources for week 4, it provided a good starting point for my Identity Map. I discovered that I primarily used social technologies and networks to socialise rather than being an active user. This results in me being defined as a “Lurker” rather than an “Active” type (Lengyel, Redmond, Walker, 2010). This knowledge was then built upon, as I learnt more the various types and research such as the 1% rule. This is a rule which states that in “most online communities 90% of users are Lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action” defined by Jakob Nielsen in 2006. This was an idea which I had not known about and confirmed my own usage and knowledge.
I then started to map out my own usage of social technologies in the creation of my Identity Map. I chose a Venn diagram as it allowed me to easily visually represent and convey information about my use of social media. My identity map explores how each of the various online personas which I use connect to one another. By using critical thinking skills, I have placed within each of the circles, a word which represents who I am on this network. I have also analysed how different names convey different messages in different social media.
On Facebook, I use the name Anna Pink as it represents who I am artistically and works well with the distance I like to maintain with many of the people on there. Many of my friends, who I interact with in person, usually know my real name. I tend to be considered a “Consumer” (Horowitz, 2006) on Facebook by occasionally uploading photos but not being the one creating content. I have chosen “Friend” as I am often using this social technology to talk to people and as a messaging application; rather than just content sharing.
On Skype, I also go by Anna Pink hence the small connection to Facebook. The major difference is I do not update my Skype as regularly. My Skype profile is a lot more goofy and fun; for example I am usually represented by an avatar or in group joke rather then what I physically look like. On my Skype, I am considered a “Synthesizer” (Horowitz, 2006) as I post here often, with multiple conversations being generated in the community. The big difference is I usually do not post my own content leading to my title as “Synthesizer” rather than “Creator”. This is the biggest difference between my use of Tumblr and Skype: on Tumblr, I often post my own content while Skype is a place to generate discussions about content while adding to it. I consider “Socialiser” the best word to describe me in this space. While it is similar to the word “Friend”, I often use Skype as a way to call friends who I am unable to see physically at that moment. While Facebook, I also use to keep in touch with local businesses; Skype is purely a socialising tool.
On Tumblr, I like to provide a place where I can post my art to share while providing an easy way to gather it in one spot. I prefer this over Facebook, as I do not have to share it with university group members and there is less chance of negative feedback. On this site, I tend to be a “Creator” (Horowitz, 2006) user, as I often post my own work. I connect to the word “Artist”; as it is my most defining feature within this online community.
On Google+ and other professional websites I go by the name Anna K. This usually allows me to maintain my own identity, while providing a connection to myself. I provide information here that generates the professional image that I would like to foster on this network. I am considered a “Consumer” (Horowitz, 2006) as I tend to respond to comments rather than generate my own content. On Google+ I consider myself a “student” and therefore I present myself here professionally and am respectful of the educational space. I do not use Google+ to talk to friends, instead I use it to network and provide a space where I am able to discuss topics such as class questions and assignments.
On gaming sites, my tag is GirlGenius in reference to a web comic which I enjoy. This reflects how playful and unprofessional my online identity is in this online community. This is most often the easiest profile to remain anonymous in and I am usually very selective with who I play with. I tend to only play with people who I have met in person or are recommended by my other friends. I am considered a “Consumer” (Horowitz, 2006) on these sites as I do not often upload my own content. I usually just play the game and use it as a way to socialise with others. I consider myself a “Social Girl Gamer” in this space, as I identify with these three key elements within this space. I have chosen these words as I feel they are large parts of who I am.
These descriptions each demonstrate a way I am viewed online and how I have built my own profiles among these various social technologies. I have constructed these personal and professional online identities by being selective in choosing the site or network, which I feel communicates the appearance and message which I want to convey. This can be seen by how I have chosen to use Tumblr, Skype and Games. I have unprofessional identities on these social technologies. I use anonymous identities and pictures which are not of myself; communicating a fun and goofy profile which matches the tones of these networks. This is in comparison to my Google+ profile, which I use as a professional user and is registered under my own name. I have developed my critical thinking and analytical skills by analysing my own usage of social technologies. I have then further utilized this knowledge to not only create my own Persona and Identity Map, but then compare it to others within the community.
Overall, I feel I have gained a greater understanding in the areas of social technology. I have learnt more about my own usage, along with the importance of understanding how people experience it. I have created my own persona and identity map to create a further understanding of the topic and relate it back to myself.