Ligon Analytical Report

Usage

Webmail: 49 mins

During the week I recorded my Web 2.0 technology usage, I spent 49 minutes on my Virginia Tech webmail account. I spend most of my time on Webmail checking email. I don’t tend to write emails that often. The emails that I do write are typically academic in nature (rarely do I communicate with peers).

Content consumed: moderate
Content produced: very little

Facebook: 28 mins

I don’t spend much time on Facebook at all. I see it mostly as a way to keep my social network extended. It lets me see how friends studying abroad and keep those friendships alive until they return. I don’t play any games or use any applications. Most of my communication takes place through the private message service (I hardly ever post serious communication on “walls”).

Content consumed: very little
Content produced: very little

Digg: 1hr 25mins

Digg is my main (and often times my only) portal for news and current events. I almost never watch the news or go to websites dedicated to current events. I do not have an account and hence I do not comment or submit stories. I use Digg primarily to get immediate notification of breaking events, provided that they make the front page (which they usually do). I also use it as a way to diversify my web browsing habits.

Content consumed: significant
Content produced: none

Pandora: 8hrs

Ever since my last laptop died (taking all of my music with it) I do not own music anymore. That means that I don’t tend to buy or even pirate music anymore. One reason for this is that my Netbook has very little storage space, so it is easier to stream music. I also don’t tend to be very engaged in expanding my musical tastes, so Pandora’s model seems to help me diversify. Unfortunately, Pandora’s content management only really reinforces my preference, which does little to helping me expand my tastes.

Content consumed: significant
Content produced: none

Youtube: 2hrs

Youtube is mostly a way for me to listen to music, which I find on Pandora, on demand. I also use You Tube to watch clips and whole TV shows that I can’t easily find through standard means (i.e. BBC comedies). A portion of my Youtube usage comes through Digg hyperlinks. I have a Youtube account, but I never use it, hence no commenting.

Content consumed: moderate
Content produced: none

Online Gaming: 13hrs

11(MAG) 2(Left 4 Dead 2)

I tend to buy games with online communities more than I do games with only single-player experiences. The reason I do this is that the game play has the opportunity for greater diversity through Peer to Peer competition and cooperation. I this sense, the other players create content for me to consume by diversifying my gaming experience. In that same sense, I create content for other players every time I play online. From this perspective, the developers produce content that acts as a framework for players to produce their own community of content.

Content consumed: significant
Content produced: significant

Analysis

My experience with Web 2.0 technologies is mostly that of a spectator. Throughout most of the websites I visited, I produced little to no content. The opportunity to produce content is readily available and perhaps this production would take little to no effort. After all, producing content doesn’t mean that I need to make a Youtube video. I could produce content by simply commenting on articles, videos, or even other content. However, I find myself still producing very little content.

Generation Divide

There are a few explanations of this we could look at. The first is that I exist in a generational divide. While my generation is the first “digital generation”, we were still raised in a pre-digital model (by a world still foreign to the technology). I didn’t use Google until high school, didn’t trust Wikipedia until I was 15, and didn’t get on Digg until a roommate pointed it out to me in college.
It could be that I’m conditioned at least partially in the old media model: content is produced by the dedicated few and consumed in relative isolation by the masses. I was never encouraged to share my information or opinion for the benefit of the group. I have never witnessed something and felt the need to record it with my phone and link it to a network. It is entirely possible that my behavior is the last imprint of the old guard.

The Cost/Benefit balance

Another explanation is that producing content on a regular scale consumes a degree of time and energy. It is true that the digital age makes it much easier to produce content; I can simply “comment” on a story. However, making said comment count is something else entirely. People have posited that the Internet has flattened the top-down hierarchy. This may be true, but hierarchy always emerges when there are limited resources to compete for. Today, people who produce content for the web must fight tooth and nail to snag a space in my 2-3 hrs of web time. This “awareness” is the new commodity; just ask advertisers.
My goal is to get a good “awareness” return on my investment. If no one sees my comment then my effort is wasted. If I comment on Digg, how likely is it that everyone will see it? The truth: next to no one. All of Digg’s content is user rated, from the articles down to the comments themselves. The comment with the most Diggs goes to the top of the comment section (unless you change the filter in your account). There are a couple factors in getting a top comment:

  1. Make my comment relevant and useful to the subject. I must have a level of awareness of my subject + a level of wit and writing ability. Cost=time and energy.
  2. I must post my comment early. The earlier I post, the more traffic my comment is likely to get. However, that means I need to dig deep and find the recently submitted articles like to get a lot of Diggs. I must be very savvy. Cost=more time and energy.
  3. I need a network of friends to help me by Digging my comment so it reaches the top sooner. In order to build this type of network, I need to be incredibly social. Cost=substantial time and energy.

There’s a lot more to producing a successful comment than meets the eye. Balance that time and energy between work, classes, standard social endeavors, etc. Those resources could be better spent earning me more money, getting better grades, increasing my social status or increasing my chances at a relationship/sex. Which is a better aggregate result? For some people it’s the popular comment. For others, it is something else entirely.

As a cultural standard, that balance may shift over time. But at the moment it may help to explain my lack of a desire to produce content.

Consumption is the new Production

The only category that I produced significant content for was online gaming. In order to understand this, we need to look at why games are different than other forms of content. Mediums like books, films, art, etc. are all “representation” mediums. The idea is that their consumption is “static”. Video Games are a simulation medium. This means that my consumption is the result of data input. This medium is open ended and different for every user.
As mentioned above, every other gamer in my current game is producing content in real time for me to consume. This could be a sniper’s bullet or an absent minded grenade toss. They create diversity through their data input. At the same time, I am producing content for them with each decision I make.

Q. So why do I produce content for only online video games?
A. Because online video games have merged consumption and production.

In order for me to consume the game, to play it, I must also produce content. Online games have all but stripped the time and energy cost of production. I consider the time and energy spent while playing these games to be used for consumption, just like reading a book or watching a film. The developers have created a model which harnesses my consumption as production, using my data input. I’m also less concerned with the awareness of my “product” because I am not spending energy on that; I’m playing a game.
It is no surprise to me why Online Games (competitive or cooperative) are the only type of Web 2.0 technology that I produce content for.

-Gordon Ligon

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