For the immersion assignment of the course, I had some hard time to really focus on one technology. Games are not practical for me. I am more interested in some technology that can help users to personalize their information sources, a personal desktop management kit. There are some products out there with different focuses and strengths. What I am interested in is a software that can allow me to sort the updated information, including text, picture, and/or video out there in the cyberspace. A way I can keep in touch with the minds and people in the cyberspace.
I found a free software named Klipfolio. It has pretty much the functions I need: RSS seeds collection and content update, google news update, youtube update, flickers update (and other functions that are not about the information of from cyberspace, like To Do list reminding function, weather update, and CPU/RAM monitors). This software is helpful for me to get real time update of the thoughts and happenings.
Since the software is a personalized information and management station (or personal assistant?), I tried to find a window or a pathway to keep myself active in community of the cyberspace. I chose the RSS seeds that I am interested in. The software is doing its job to update me with new entries or posts in different website and forums. But how and what to communicate with people on the other side of the monitor is still determined by me. Frankly speaking, I am not very active in joining any online community for socialization. My main goal for online activities is to search for information. At this point, Klipfolio meet my needs.
It has been a while after I started to use Klipfolio. But it becomes kind of routine. I noticed that the subjective behavior is the key for the quantity and quality of cyberspace socialization. Meanwhile, I recognized that the "technology" selected for the course assignment should have something directly to do with online socialization. I connected my experience of an online forum of Chinese Gourmet I started in late February. This is technically the first online forum I joined as a member and perform like a member: responding to different original posts, expressing my idea/reactions actively and openly, having my level changed based on my performance (quality and quantity of my posts), and sharing responsibility as a member of the forum (report to the administrator of repeated post, posts that copy others' ideas, or meaningless reply).
But I am still not motivated to really socialize with people in the forum. What I have been doing is just to get information (learn new recipes and ways to cook the same dishes better or differently) and share my experiences and opinions. So far, my forum experience is very different from the cases we read in class in which individuals socialize with the others in the community. Besides the participants' user names, I barely know them. I may know that they all like to cook. But I only know some of them for very basic information. Some of them like to cook certain types of food, such as Sichuan or Guangdong food. I may know the genders of some participants (when they mentioned their spouse). I may also know the occupation or location of some participants (from their posts mentioning when and where they tried the recipes). Again, all these information was gained from their posts not socialization. So other than that, I do not know anything else of the participants.
I started another online forum which mainly is about children's education. Like the cooking forum, this forum is also run by Chinese. The difference between these two forums is that the participants for the education forum are in China and the participants for the cooking forum are in the US (at least most of them). I chose these two forums mainly because I am motivated intrinsically. I like to cook and I am serious about my daughter's education and development. In my free time, I also like to travel and to watch movies, but I'd rather search for some opinion on different websites when I have time and plan to travel in certain places. Or I will see a trailer to know a movie rather than from participating an online forum. I am not interested to do it that way.
Another thought is that I want to see whether the location of the participants influences the quality and quantity of the posts in the online forums. I do not have a clear hypothesis for this thought. Just want to observe.
I participated in these two online forums only because I am interested in the topics and willing to share my experience and opinion. I noticed that it is, to different extent, culture oriented.
The design and the layout is different in both forums. But there are very similar structures the forums used to regulate their members participation. For example, the cooking forum has a structure to measure the status of each participant. It is quite a standardized structure that applied in different extent by different forums. The items included in this structure include rank, contribution level, honor points, number of posts, deposit, number of gold coins, registration date, number of days visiting the forum, and number of days missing (did not visit the forum).
My performance has been influenced by the hierarchical system built on the rating structure applied by the forum. In the cooking forum, as a new member for only a couple of months, I have been trying to respond as many as possible to others' posts (but only to the posts that I think are good and useful to me) to get more gold coins and deposit. That is because the more gold coins and deposit I got, the higher the rank I can be. And I tried to visit the forum everyday just to keep the days of missing as zero (This seems to be another factor that influencing my level in the forum). I clearly see the extrinsic motivation that Keeps myself engaged in the forum's activity. In this case, both intrinsic (my interest of cooking) and extrinsic motivations influence my choice and performance in the forum.