Hi, please

Concluding post: What makes people collaborate online?

The answer is: a mixture of circumstances. Some of them we can’t control, but in general what the leader of the project does or doesn’t, either helps or complicates the process of online collaboration. The key element? Planning.

During the past 3 weeks, I tried to get people to share pictures of interesting situations they encountered in the subway. I tried with a web page, a Facebook Fan page, and a Twitter account. What I got was collaboration from my own social network—friends, or friends of friends submitted some stuff, but always with a short-spanned interest. The next attempt was to tap directly on audiences already interested in the subject—Flickr groups that shared subway pictures. I also added the competition factor—first, the prize was only about prestige: getting voted as the best picture. Then, I finally got an online photography blog interested in publishing the winner picture on their site.

I hoped that would spark interest a bit more, but the fact is that the new collaborations continued to spring from my previous social network and its subsequent effects. That is, when I launched the contest, I got more response from my original Facebook group (which had grown from my own contacts and the “work” I’d previously done on that platform) than from my call for Flickr collaboration. Even though I tapped on the communities that were already interested in the topic (three groups focused on underground transportation photography) and got “professionals” involved by getting them to publish the winning picture on their sites, my guess is that the Flickr group didn’t find enough reasons to take me seriously: I’d never been an active participant in Flickr before, all of my photos are uploaded on Facebook, and I’ve previously “worked” that audience much more.

What did this experience bring? A lot of learning. Not just based on my own travelogue, but I tried to learn from Leslie’s excellent results what had worked in her case as well.

I’d like to share my findings in this video:

YouTube Preview Image

As sidenotes:

Even though the contest wasn’t successful, I did receive some great pictures, and I’d like to share with you the most popular:

metro zocalo

Author: Davii Rangda.  Caption: A night before the “Day of the Dead” in Mexico City.

I will submit the picture to http://lagiraffe.com/, the site that was most interested in publishing the contest pictures.

Special thanks to Leslie for her help and sharing.

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4 Comments

  1. Ryan 13:57, Apr 20th, 10

    Great job, I thought the best thing about this was seeing what you learned from experimenting along with the actual experimental contest. I loved your media use and thought that it was very clever and unique. I enjoyed how you broke it up into 10 points and included text before the video to contextualize the video. Thus, they both complemented each other to enrich the travelogue post.

    I could see how planning is very important but also like you said knowing how your audience or the environment communicates. I wonder why your idea of what was most important shifted from “incentive” so that people would collaborate and participate in the first place to “planning” where you recognized that the responsibility in generating online participation started with great planning.

    I was surprised by the most popular photo. It didn’t wow me but was cool. I also thought even though you could have the best plan, things always don’t go as planned or as anticipated, but still, preparation is essential.

    What were your thoughts on how you marketed your competition via Twitter, Facebook, Flickr? I thought this would have been another vital point to having a successful project such as this? Did you feel like it was a success or a work-in-progress success?

  2. Leslie 15:20, Apr 20th, 10

    I love your use of images with voice over! I always look forward to what’s coming next. Awesome job, & I’m glad I could help out with your final conclusion. It’s tough building a following online! A lot more work & planning has to go into it than you’d expect.

  3. nadine 10:42, Apr 22nd, 10

    It’s great that you also did an analysis of Leslie’s project! It almost reads as: marketing strategies for social media. Though I feel a little bit ambivalent about them:
    I like your bold assertion that it is ok to fake it a little bit to give the illusion of online collaboration and create a snowball effect. I assume that it’s true: people like to bandwagon. But how do the participants feel about that?! Aren’t they participating because they want to be part of something real, authentic, interactive? Let me play the devil’s advocate:
    Where do you draw the line between the promotion of your project and the Kotex campaign? Besides the fact that your ultimate goal is not to sell a product. In the end, you treat your participants as marketing objects too…Or is this the point? A nobler reason justifies the means?

  4. Juliette 12:03, Apr 24th, 10

    Your travelogue was espacially interesting because we learned while you were learning. And you made us learn a lot out of your experience that did not meet success.

    Also your travelogue moderates the great enthusiasm generated by the collaboration that new media would enable (Clay Shirky and his book here comes everybody are a great example of this tendency)

    I have contributed to the wikipedia page on collaboration. There is a part dedicated to collaboration and technology where I have added the 10 steps that you have defined to organize and manage a good collaborative action online.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collaboration

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