Jerz: Writing for the Internet (EL236)


3 November 2004

Due: Ex 2-2 (Wiki Reflections)

Send me an email, with "Ex 2-2" in the title.

1) Include links to the Wiki entries you created and/or modified as part of the Wiki Workshop. Make some further edits/changes/expansions, as appropriate. Describe how this electronic authoring exercise differs from traditional writing activities.

Also, please print out your Wiki pages and submit them with the other parts of this exercise.

2) Read the following peer-reviewed academic article (excluding footnotes, it's about six printed pages): "Phantom authority, self-selective recruitment and retention of members in virtual communities: The case of Wikipedia".

Tips for reading an academic article: first, read the abstract, paying special attention to what the author plans to do -- in this case, the article will examine the online community of Wikipedia authors (which includes you) using speicalized social theory developed to study the behaviors of "teams" and "clubs".

Next, glance at the introduction, where the author defines important terms and introduces key concepts -- in this case, "virtual communities," "voluntary virtual associations" (that is, people who get together because they want to, rather than because they are forced to), and "open source" (intellectual property that is freely donated to the public domain, with the understanding that it will be reworked, expanded, and even possibly sold by other members of the public).

Pay closer attention to the passages beginning with "The case of Wikipedia" and continuing to the end of the conclusion.

Note especially the following passage:

Despite their positive aspects, virtual communities such as Wikipedia are not absolutely free of troubles. While the processes of recruitment and retention have been working quite well so far, but will they continue to operate in the future? Are the mechanisms that allow accumulation of reputation and hence, authority distribution, strong enough to guarantee medium–term sustainability, and to maintain the sense of trust and identity among members? Some instruments for entry selection, such as a compulsory registration, may further improve the quality of recruitment and therefore the outcome of the cooperative effort, without being detrimental to the community’s momentum. At the same time, more intense use of personal profile pages and a direct recognition of the contribution made by each user could foster a sense of trust and help retain retain participants. Finally, let me mention another problem related to the exercise of authority. If the number of administrators, retaining a certain degree of institutional authority, continues to grow over time, will a new complexity make it necessary to increase the number of hierarchical layers in the structure and discourage participation? This issue will need to be resolved at some point in the future.

3) What was your emotional response to Wikis? Positive? Negative? Mixed? Explain.

4) What does your response tell you about your own relationship to writing? In other words, if you loved or hated wikis, what does that tell you about yourself?

(Rescheduled from Oct 29)

Introduction to CSS

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) help you take control of the design of your site. If you have personlized your MoveableType display, you have already fiddled with CSS.

When used in the right way, CSS lets you separate the content of your site from information on the color, layout, and design. The design information is centralized, so that you only have to change one file, and hundreds of pages on your Web site will automatically reflect the changes.

While CSS may seem to be more bother than it's worth when you create a very small site, understanding CSS will help you make sense of huge re-design jobs (on sites with hundreds or thousands of pages, such as my own jerz.setonhill.edu).

See instructions: CSS In-Class Activity

(If you are interested, you can find much more on CSS on the Internet. Try searching for "CSS tutorial" for more step-by-step instructions, or "CSS reference" for a detailed description of exactly what you can change and how.)



Linkcheck Area
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