Archive for March 2008

Your Final Project

March 28, 2008

For your final project, as we discussed in class, my hope is that you will be able to apply the lessons learned in class to your own professional lives and careers. You will prepare a project plan to incorporate social media/Web 2.0 techniques into your current workplace or towards a cause on which you work or care about. My recommendation would be to use the same topic/cause/project that you started on with your social media report two weeks ago. The final project must include no fewer than five different “Web 2.0” platforms, including but not limited to social networking, blogging, gaming, Google ad campaigns, podcasts, vlogs, online viral videos, wikis, Wikipedia, and anything else you’ve stumbled across that interests you.

The ideas need not be budget-constrained (i.e. even though games or Facebook widgets can be incredibly expensive to build, you may include them). For each idea, you must outline and include the following characteristics: (1) the tool’s purpose; (2) the intended audience; (3) the social component; and (4) how it fits into your larger strategy. For instance, if you’re building a game, who would you want to play the game, what would the game play be like, and what’s the game’s intended message? If you’re building a Facebook widget, what would it do, what’s the social component that would make people put it onto their Facebook pages, and how does it advance the your workplace or cause, and/or educate people as to your position? If you’re building a Google Adwords campaign, who would you hope to draw into your website, what search terms would the campaign be built around, and what’s the hook/language you’d use to get people to click on your ad?

You must also include a survey of the existing Web 2.0 landscape for your project: Who are your online competitors? Your online friends/allies/potential partners? What are the leading authorities on your topic online? If you choose a cause, what are opponents doing? What’s going on around the world on your topic/cause? What lessons can you draw into your own projects from the successes or failures of allies/competitors? This is where your social media report should prove quite useful.

Your plan should be written in the form of a memo to your boss (in this case, me), outlining each tool and its potential applications. While there is no set page length, I would be very surprised if you could accomplish all of the above in fewer than five pages with normal spacing and font sizes.

Your final project plan must be ready for class on Week 13 (April 16th). That week, you’ll exchange your plan with another student in the class and for the last week in class you’ll prepare a critique of that person’s project plan, including any additional suggestions, challenges, and overlooked potential partners/allies/opponents. Again, there’s no set page length for this, except that I’d again be surprised if you could accomplish this in under two pages. On the final class, Week 14 (April 23), you’ll turn in both your own project paper and your critique of a classmate’s plan.

As the syllabus says, your final project is worth twenty points, i.e. twenty percent of your final grade. The grading will be divided into the following: Fifteen points will be based on your own project and five points will be based on your critique of your classmate’s project. You will be graded on how realistically your plan is outlined, how fully you demonstrate comprehension of the Web 2.0 landscape and its various tools, and how clearly you establish your goals and objectives. I want to specifically emphasize the first and third criteria, because those can get lost in the rush of fun tools.

Any project plans not turned in on April 16th will be docked three points. Full plans and critiques not turned in on April 23rd will also be docked three points, meaning that if you turn in both halves of the project late, you will lose six points off the top. I will deal on a case-by-case basis with those assigned to critique another’s late project.

Please email me if you have questions. We will also discuss this more in class next week. Make sure to put some good thought into how you approach this. Your social media report should be a good start.

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Online and Overseas

March 26, 2008

For next week’s class, I want you all to go to Global Voices Online, which rounds out the bloggers around the world, and pick a country that begins with the same letter as your name (to get the country listing click on countries in the upper right-hand corner). Explore that country’s blogosphere and write your blog post of the week about your findings.

Stay tuned as well for a post on Friday about your final project. Looking ahead to the schedule of the last month, I want to make sure I give you plenty of time to get the project done.

Omni-class

March 22, 2008

First, sorry this post is later than normal. The good news, though, is that there’s no reading for this next week. just make sure to finish your Wikipedia project,  blog about something interesting you find on the web, and do your del.icio.us links. We’re going to spend Wednesday in class talking about a couple of random subjects: Digital rights management, search engine optimization, a little bit more about Second Life, and maybe two or three other subjects like Creative Commons licensing. Please e-mail me if there are any subjects you would like to learn more about on Wednesday. This is a really good opportunity to fill in any gaps that you feel like you’ve missed so far in this class.

MMOGs

March 14, 2008

Online gaming (and related consoles like the Wii and Xbox 360) is quickly graduating from a teenage past-time to a massive industry, partly because the generation raised on Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers is aging and still playing games. Adult gaming is huge today. Movies today can gross more from the associated games than from the movies themselves. XBox’s Halo 3, which released in September and allows people to play joint missions from multiple locations connected online, had the biggest release in entertainment history—grossing some $170 million in its first 24 hours.

Massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs) are a huge business today—they’re even being used by the U.S. Army to recruit (as well as train).

Second Life is probably the best known of the various games and it has spawned a massive economic industry within it (although the benefits are questionable). Before class on Wednesday, please sign up for a Second Life account (basic membership is fine) and download the application before class so we can get started in class. If you’re using the school’s computers, just create your account. Read the Wikipedia page carefully so you understand the game (tech subjects like this are where you can trust Wikipedia better than just about any other source). BusinessWeek also had a good cover story on this phenomenon last year (make sure to note and listen to the podcast). If you love this and are interested in journalism, then go ahead and join the reporting staff of the Second Life Herald, the game’s virtual newspaper, or become one of the game’s embedded reporters. Also check out the Second Life Showcase to see some cool things going on in the game and listen to a podcast or two. Confused? Don’t be. Very few people understand how this world works and what its impact could be; that’s especially true of groups with an agenda.

Beyond Second Life, World of Warcraft is probably the second-best known, with a huge passionate following. How huge and how passionate, you ask skeptically? Try roughly 2 million North American players, 1.5 million European players, and 3.5 million Chinese. That’s some seven million PAYING users.

Companies are beginning to realize how big gaming is and how influential games can be in helping people make decisions, as well influencing decisions and policies. The North Carolina firm Persuasive Games is probably the leader in online game development. Go ahead and play a couple of them. Blog about your experiences. Are the games effective in getting their point/message across? What surprised you about this week’s readings?