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Online Communities

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Adam Bergman

on 11 November 2014

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Transcript of Online Communities

REDDIT vs CHANGE.org
Online Communities
And Their Ability To Influence Social Change
TWITTER vs KIVA.org
Hello,
Welcome to our presentation! We are "
The Rhetorical Geese"
team, and we will be presenting on the following subject:
"Can
online
communities be a force for
social
change?"
Furthermore...
...our aim is to analyze the following
two formats
of websites and
compare
their ability to influence social change:
-Sites devoted to
social media
and
interactions
-Sites
specially created
to act as a
platform
for social change
How will we do it?
We will conduct a comprehensive
comparative analysis
featuring a sampling of
BOTH
types of website formats
For the comparison, we will use the following rhetorical analysis tools:
-Visual Criticism *
-Credibility Method**
* Lunsfund and Ruszkiewicz's method - as found in our course readings
**Barbara Warnick's model of online credibility
Additionally...
Each website included will have the following factors analyzed:
Design
- visual layout and components.
Accessibility
- who is allowed to see what?
Audience
- who is the website geared towards?
Reciprocity
- "give and take" mechanisms?
Exclusivity
- is a sign-up process involved?
Anonymity
- are contributors accountable?
Which sites will be analyzed?
We will analyze the following websites:
WEBSITES DEVOTED TO SOCIAL MEDIA AND INTERACTION:
WEBSITES SPECIALLY CREATED TO ACT AS A PLATFORM FOR SOCIAL/POLITICAL CHANGE:
The Comparisons...
Each website will be assigned a partner of an opposite format, and an in-depth comparison of the paired site will be conduct.
This will allow components from each site to be compared...
Here are the following
match-ups:
TWITTER
vs.
KIVA.ORG
FACEBOOK
vs.
IDEALIST.ORG
REDDIT
vs.
CHANGE.ORG
Keep in mind...
This presentation is designed to be a summary of our actual report.
To view the actual report, please click on link provided in the Nexus discussion forum.
FACEBOOK vs IDEALIST.org
KIVA
The Conclusions
Once each site is compared with another of the opposite format, conclusions and findings will be presented at the end of this presentation.
Social media/interaction
Website Format:
Kiva.org is a charitable micro -financing website that offers small loans to business owners and entrepreneurs around the world. This money is not a donation, but a loan, which is paid back over time while the business becomes more profitable

Description:
www.kiva.org
Link:
TWITTER
Website Format:
Social change platform
Description:
Twitter.com is a social media website intended for rapid media sharing. The main media used are called "status updates" which contain 140 characters or less. Users also use hash tags to tag their posts and index them into relative categories.

Link:
www.twitter.com
User-base:
worldwide
User-base:
worldwide
Social media/interaction
REDDIT
Website Format:
Description:
Reddit creates interactivity through online participation. Users are empowered by fabricating pages of content. These pages are mainly for entertainment purposes, but some may exist in support of social causes.

Link:
www.reddit.com
User-base:
worldwide
Social change platform
CHANGE.org
Website Format:
Description:
Change.org empowers individuals to advocate for, and create the social change they want within a democratic process. This is done through the creation and signing of themed petitions regarding various social and political issues.


Link:
www.change.org
User-base:
worldwide
Social Media/Interaction
FACEBOOK
Website Format:
Description:
Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, social events, and news. User can post and view status updates, personal information, photos and videos.

Link:
www.facebook.com
User-base:
worldwide
Social change platform
IDEALIST.org
Website Format:
Description:
The world's best place to find volunteer opportunities, nonprofit jobs, internships, and organizations working to change the world since 1995. Users are able to post of find active volunteer opportunities around the world.


Link:
www.idealist.org
User-base:
worldwide
Visual Analysis
Credibility Analysis
Visual Analysis
Credibility Analysis
Visual Analysis
Credibility Analysis
Credibility Analysis
Visual Analysis
Credibility Analysis
Visual Analysis
Conclusions and Findings
Credibility Analysis
Visual Analysis
Credibility Method
Utilizes Toulmin's model of argument
Four field-dependent components:
Evidence
(accepted facts or premises)
Warrant
(the reasoning link between data and claim)
Claim
(the conclusion or resolution proposed)
Backing
(general theories and principles supporting the warrant)
Evidence
Claim
Warrant
Backing
Visual Criticism
Analyzing visual artifacts primarily through
images
or the interaction of
image and text.
Breaking down the artifact into parts and analyzing how these parts work both
separately
and
together
.
Overall, it involves analyzing the
visual appeal
and
rhetorical effectiveness
of an artifact.
Our analysis focuses mainly on the
design
of each website and how they
compare.
Claim:
Evidence:
Warrant:
Backing:
"Kiva.org is an online community that succeeds at mobilizing social change"
Three main factors:
Multiple field partners working on behalf of Kiva to ensure the micro-loans are received
Basic principle of the website being a micro-finance program that connects individuals of differing socio-economic status
Multiple partners associated with Kiva and their overall mission and vision
The link between the evidence and the claim is found in the functionality of the website: Kiva does in fact offer users a platform from which they can help alleviate poverty through micro-loans, and there is a great deal of success stories to prove this.
Widely accepted values associated with social mobilization are accessibility, interactivity, and accountability. These values are demonstrated on Kiva's website and are critical to their success.
Highlights of the Visual Analysis:
The color theme of green and white is consistent.
The color green carries a loaded connotation, referring to both the green of the environment and the green of money.
The "K" in Kiva is made to look like a tree branch. This image is used in business to symbolize growth and sustainability, as well as to symbolize environmental integrity.
Use of several engaging and content-rich images to represent the projects in progress create a connection between users and recipients.
Clean and modern style as well as easy navigation contribute to a friendly user interface.
Claim:
Evidence:
Warrant:
Twitter is an online community that succeeds at mobilizing social change.
Three main factors:
Real time updates - provide regular involvement with a topic
The #hashtag index and tracking system - organizes trending topics and allows users to easily find certain engaging topics.
Worldwide user-base - arguably the most influential in mobilization social change. Twitter is a simple method for broadcasting a message to millions of listeners. This helps generate interest and support towards certain social initiatives.
The link between the evidence and the claim is found in the ability of Twitter to generate a crowd-following of social issues, and the ability of a single user to propagate a message and develop a community devoted to a call for social change.
Backing
The backing is found in the proof that Twitter is able to congregate communities for change (ex. upheaval of government in Libya). While Twitter's functionality is undeniable, the accountability is questionable. Although users may identify themselves with a certain social issue, the level of involvement and tangible action is limited to online interaction as opposed to real-life action.
Highlights of the Visual Analysis:
Twitter's homepage consists mainly of "feeds" which are a summary of all activity of the people that users have chosen to follow on the website
Color and layout is simple, flat, and modern; creating a clean and understandable user-face
Content in feeds contains not only textual data, but also images and video media. This creates enhanced interest and appeal to users, and can help establish meaning for the textual portion.
Twitter's bird logo is heavily propagated throughout the internet. This logo is widely recognized and carries a high level of brand salience in the minds of users.
Additionally, the image of a bird speaks to the ease of accessibility of the website. Birds are generally seen as unrestricted in their movement, and Twitter wants to be viewed similarly.
Claim:
Evidence:
Warrant:
Backing:
"Change.org is an online community that succeeds at mobilizing social change"
Three main factors:
Large and worldwide user-base. Large-scale networking capabilities.
Tangible connection between online activity and real-life actions
Robust employee and managing team dedicated to the fulfillment of the mission and vision of the website.
The link between the evidence and the claim is found in the success stories featured on the website. Change.org aims to empower individuals by encouraging them with showcasing the success that other user's campaign have had in the past.
The use of the democratic process to influence change is a widely popular and accepted method in many countries and governments. The communities that Change.org hosts on it's web-platform have proven effective in their quest to influence governing bodies and authorities.
Highlights of the Visual Analysis:
The majority of the homepage consists of segregated tiles, each of which feature an ongoing campaign devoted toward a specific social initiative. There are a great deal of tiles on the page which seem to represent the large user-base and success of the online platform.
Clean and modern website layout. Bold colors and hard lines. The website makes a statement with its visual cues, which represent each individual statement its users are making in their respective campaigns.
Change.org's logo is simply their name in bold white text situated on a bright red background. The simplicity of their logo speaks to the key focus of the website (influencing change), and propagates a simple and strong statement to those who view the logo.
The website is user-friendly, offering excellent accessibility for new and reoccurring visitors. There is a great deal of tutorials and step-by-step guides concerning how to create a petition. This user-friendly interface contributes to the successful and strong community change.org has been able to construct and maintain.
Claim:
Evidence:
Warrant:
Backing:
"Reddit is an online community that succeeds at mobilizing social change"
Three main factors:
Reddit creates interactivity through online participation
Users are empowered through the ability to fabricate pages of content viewable by all
Virtually no restriction to contents of posts and threads
The link between the evidence and the claim is found functionality and accessibility of the website. All users can view the content, whether they are members of the site or not. However, only members can post content. This tactic opens the forums to all viewers, but maintains some control over posted content.
Users are able to vote on what content is "good" and what isn't. This democratic process provides an avenue for reciprocity to be experienced between users within the Reddit community.
Highlights of the Visual Analysis:
The site exhibits a minimalist style, with few colors and a basic layout.

The visual aspects of the homepage are quite bland and unappealing, however, users are able to generate content that includes other media such as images and video.

The site is utilitarian in nature: its main goal is functionality over aesthetic appeal.

The mainly textual layout seems dated and drab. An updated appearance may draw in more users.
Claim:
Evidence:
Warrant:
"Idealist.org is an online community that succeeds at mobilizing social change"
Three main factors:
Focus of vision and mission are volunteer opportunities and non-profit sector jobs.
Worldwide user-base and opportunities for interaction, both online and in real life.
Highly moderated site with strong associations with credible organizations.
The link between the evidence and the claim is found in the ability for online action to translate into real life action. The premise of the site is linking volunteers/workers with opportunities worldwide. While idealist may not have the strongest "online" community, the real world implications of users actions definitely aids in its success in mobilizing social change.
Backing:
While online interactivity and real-world accessibility are less prevalent that the other sites, there is a great deal of accountability present. Users enter into real contracts devoted to social change that originate online but translate into real-world action.
Highlights of the Visual Analysis:
The homepage of Idealist.org has actually been updated within the past week of constructing this presentation.

A once cluttered and busy homepage is now much more user-friendly and offers much easier navigation throughout the site.

The visual aspect to the site is minimal; other than the logo in the top-left corner of the page, there are no additional images.

The logo utilizes bright and stimulating colors and is easily recognizable, although the meaning behind the logo design is not explained on the site.

An interesting aspect of the site is that Idealist encourages users to download their logo and put it in personal documents and advertising. This furthers the organizations reach without actually implementing their own marketing scheme.

The layout of the website is similar to other online "classifieds" platforms like Kijiji and Ebay.
Claim:
Evidence:
Warrant:
"Facebook is an online community that succeeds at mobilizing social change"
Three main factors:
Very high level of user interactivity present on the website. This includes chats, commenting, "liking" content, etc...
Immense world-wide user-base (over 500 million users)
Highly customizable user profiles. Users are able to project their personality and image through a variety of different media such as pictures, video, and status updates.
The link between the evidence and the claim is found in vast reach and user interactivity found on Facebook. It is very easy for users to create a "group" or "event" that caters to a specific social focus. (For example, our group utilized this feature in the creation of our report and this presentation).
Backing:
Facebook utilizes the technique of "social validation": a users content is given value by the positive feedback it receives. This in turn creates a workable system of reciprocity. While this system is powerful, the majority of the action is online only, and not observed in real-life.
Highlights of the Visual Analysis:
Facebook's homepage and overall layout is subject to constant updates. While these revisions and done to improve visual appeal and the user interface, many community members find these constant updates to be annoying and confusing.

Users are able to customize their social profiles by using several methods such as uploading pictures and videos, as well as sharing other pertinent personal information.

Facebook's logo is widely recognized and carries an immense amount of brand salience.

Facebook's color blue has always been consistent in its layout and logo.

The Facebook homepage consists of a constantly updating news-feed that displays content from other community members, organizations, and advertisers. This leads to an engaging homepage, but it can be considered somewhat busy and convoluted at times .
*However, the majority of these variables are only mentioned in the actual report.
"Can
online
communities be a force for
social
change?"
Let's revisit the research question:
...and our focus
-Sites devoted to
social media
and
interactions
-Sites
specially created
to act as a
platform
for social change
-compared to-
WELL?!?
What do
you
think?
You
will have a chance to express your views on our
Nexus discussion
...
As for our conclusion...
We decided to express our conclusion through two lenses, much like our analysis methods:
Site Functionality
Site Design
&
Functionality
Social change sites may create greater change in reality while social media may simply raise more awareness of social injustices.
Due to social media sites’ emphasis on user-to-user interactivity, messages reach a broader base of people and thus have a greater possibility for involvement, but social change sites access motivated demographic that is prepared to actively contribute to social change.


If social media websites were to pair with social mobilization websites, these effects could compound upon each other, utilizing the accessibility and involvement of social media with the truly effective nature of social change websites.

Design
The designs of both the social change and social media websites enable accessibility, interactivity and accountability, though using different features:

For social media websites
, design tends to be used to emphasize the person to person interactivity that is central to the community. Design factors such as threaded conversations, ability to reply to posts or comments, or ability to post any type of media symbolize the values of these communities, which emphasize accessibility and interactivity.


For social change websites
, design tends to be used to encourage physical or offline organization rather than online community-building. Design factors that encourage membership, regular interaction with both website and others involved in the community, and social mobilization in real life - i.e. taking part in a cause with results occurring outside of cyberspace - symbolize the values of these communities.


OVERALL,
Both site formats,those dedicated to
social media
& those devoted to
social change,
can influence social movements for change in our world, but do so in different ways...
Facebook.com
Twitter.com
Reddit.com
Change.org
Idealist.org
Kiva.org
Brought to you by:
The Rhetorical Geese
Adam Bergman
Alanna Smith
Ashlyn Peterson
Dylan Jones
Jen Doerksen
Full transcript