Exercise Six: Screencast of a Social Software

For Exercise 6, I created a screencast for the website Sparkpeople.com using screenr.com. This website was one I addressed in my social software impact paper regarding health, fitness and weight loss.

Screencast for Sparkpeople.com

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Library Training Video Critique

This video was created for the San Diego County Library (SDCL) system, and demonstrates three ways to request items: from other branches in the SDCL system, using the Link+ network of libraries and Universities, and San Diego Circuit network of University libraries.

Pros:

  • The video provides step by step instructions for the three types of requests.
  • Utilizes screen shots of the library website annotated with directions and red arrows to guide patrons through the various stages of the process
  • It gives a brief overview on searching the catalog as part of the requesting process.
  • Remind patrons to be aware of the format of the item they are requesting (audiobook, book, DVD, etc).
  • It shows how the system will even be forgiving with spelling mistakes to help you find the author or book you are looking for.
Cons and Suggestions for improvement:
  • Must be viewed in full screen to read much of the directive text.
The annotations are added in as text white boxes surrounded with a red border with a red arrow coming off of it to direct the patron to specific locations on the webpages. The text in these boxes, as well as the general text on the screenshot of the webpage are not easily readable if viewing the youtube video at it’s embedded size. The videos are intended for people who are not all that proficient with computers or the library catalog, which often times are older patrons. Unless the video is viewed as fullscreen, the small text size could render the instructional video near useless.
  • There are two different versions of the catalog: Classic and Encore. The video only addresses one, and doesn’t explain which one they are using, or even address the fact that there are two methods.
The classic catalog is a basic database. Novice searchers or those who are mostly familiar with general internet search engines might have a difficult time utilizing it. Encore is “prettier” and slightly more intuitive and is the method used in the video. The classic catalog isn’t even mentioned or addressed, nor is the fact that the video takes place utilizing Encore. This might cause confusion for some patrons when they are attempting to do things on their own.

While I still have yet to play around with screencasting much myself, I might re-make this video and use the screencasting method instead of the series of annotated screenshots. Screencasting allows the viewers to see the process, including mouse and keystrokes, in real time with narration to clearly explain the process while you see it. The narrator is also free to mention various tips and tricks that also might be useful.

How does Facebook do it?

What are some of the challenges of building an active online community?

I think today, the main challenge in building an active online community is that there are already SO MANY in existence. In terms of just social networking from back in 2003 to now, we’ve seen the rise and fall of Friendster, Myspace Six Degrees, and many, many more. Facebook seems to have prevailed as the overall winner, though who knows for how long. People are overwhelmed by all of the social websites out there, and are being asked to join more and more each day. I know often times I lose track or can’t even remember some of the places I’ve created accounts, which when I think about it makes me a little nervous in the sense of internet privacy and security.

In my opinion, to create a successful online community today, you need to either have a really original idea or simply do things better than your competitors.

Facebook has risen above the rest because they have worked out how to do things better than their competitors like Myspace, and even a new competitor Google+. Google+ came about in an attempt to give users some things that Facebook didn’t by introducing the concept of “circles”, but didn’t quite execute it as well.

Facebook retaliated by introducing “lists” which allows users to further customize who can see what they share, and how they view their contacts.

So many people are already established on Facebook that it would take a lot for a competitor to sway away the masses, especially if Facebook turns around and offers their users the same exact thing.

The other way I can see a successful online community being created is to have a unique and original idea that people will be drawn to. I see this happening in the beta project fronted by Chris Hardwick, aka The Nerdist. He is in the process of creating the online collaborative community called The Node.

“The Node is the official Nerdist community. It is a collaboration network for creators to nerdsource (crowdsourcing with nerds) and exchange ideas. We share photos, links, videos, and pretty much let our nerd flags fly. Seriously. Look at my face. I am serious.” – Chris Hardwick, The Nerdist

Definitely a fairly unique idea to celebrate nerds and nerd culture, with a positive message to promote collaboration and innovation amongst talented and like-minded people!

There’s even a sub-group for librarians, future librarians and people who simply love libraries  🙂