Web 2.0 platforms have created a ‘global stage for self-exposure’ (Warburg, 2001, p.14) for individuals to become participatory content creators disseminating information through its interactive qualities. This is central to O’Reilly’s definition of what constitutes Web 2.0 ((Rettberg, 2008) where collaborating and communicating with others online in an interactive space are essential factors in establishing and maintaining an online presence. The concept of user-participation, content sharing and creating a space that fosters communication and collaboration was central to my choices of the central node and the three contributing nodes.
I selected a blog as the central node to my web presence centrally concerned my travel experiences on a specific topic. Blogs can be easily updated on an ongoing basis including posts that are published in a chronological fashion, readers can leave comments and pages can be modified or deleted according to what is relevant to the blog itself (Rettberg, 2008).
Using WordPress offered me a free and easy to set up blogging site to present my travel related theme. As user participation is encouraged through web 2.0 platforms, people are empowered to share their experiences and information where the cohesion of the social group is more supported. WordPress is an effective user-orientated social tool to communicate online by disseminating information and collaborating with others. Individuals have the means to directly communicate and interact and most importantly where any content creator can produce, distribute and even make money from their blogs.
The ‘Adventure Journal’ theme was appropriate to support my travel-themed blog and while the paid upgrade theme was available for full customization (font, colours) opting for the free option still allowed me to utilize the features to present my blog effectively. The layout incorporates fun and adventure with a user-friendly feel to it as it features a graphic header that allows you to easily upload an image. Using the same image header and custom background image to promote the destination and relate it to the text created a consistent look, as the focus would be on the content itself and images within the posts.
Web 2.0 platforms consist of applications allowing users to disseminate information and publish to the WWW through platforms including blogs, Wiki’s and social networking sites. As a result, an interactive online workspace has been created that fosters collaboration and communication between like-minded individuals on a global scale. The three contributing nodes I chose that best illustrates this is PInterest, Facebook and Delicious. As travelling is a predominately visual notion, PInterest was a logical step as it encumbers all things visual. The PInterest link on the side bar of my blog allows readers to follow my journal as a ‘visual’ journey and acts as extension to my blog. PInterest which is a predominately photo/ image blogging/ sharing site, consists of social sharing opportunities and interactions from re-pins and followers which are all central to web 2.0. As Rettneburg states in his article concerning blogs, ‘this social network is primarily about the sharing of information. The network isn’t exclusively about information of course’ (Rettberg, J. 2008, p. 61). People can participate in a relevant and non-instrusive way visually, the communication is also visual allowing users to share images all via a pin.
Using a Web 2.0 platform like Facebook that has open and interactive space that is socially orientated where both the user and participant have a virtual space to collaborate was appropriate for my web presence. Facebook is an effective social tool to disseminate information and collaborate with each other. It facilitates greater interconnectivity through the use of its functions it provides such as comments, social networking space and by globally disseminating the exchange of information (Hermkens, Kietzmann, McCarth & Silverstre, 2011). By using Facebook as a contributing node, my audience can link directly to read more about my travel experiences and specific interests on the topics on an interactive level reviewing more information beyond the content in my blog. It has social network functionality and fosters a rich user experience offering personalization tools such as the “My Trips” folders where you can share where you have travelled to including a map detailing countries visited and ‘trips’ you have made. The reader can interact with the content creator with the opportunity to actively participate in the communication process
In addition to PInterest and Facebook, I selected Delicious as my third contributing node to add value to my blog including the social benefits. Share and disseminate information by creating a list of public links available with the benefits of tags allows users that link to my Delicious account from my blog to experience a specific approach on the topic. People that follow my blog link to my Delicious account can discover, save and organize and share information related to my specific topic by collecting links to travel-related websites and find resources of interest to them.
As blogs are self-representational writings and because the nature of blogs are posted in a public space to global audience, Protecting and managing my Digital shadow and Internet footprint was an important aspect to consider when choosing the username for my central and contributing nodes (Qian & Scott, 2007). I have been reluctant to blog with my full name and opted to abbreviate it instead because a number of concerns. As Rettenburg discusses, content on social networking sites and blogs are recorded and can be accessed in the future, similar to the wayback machine exercise earlier on in the topic (Rettberg, J, 2008). How visible I am to others on the WWW and using my full name was an issue that was continually at the forefront of my mind due to the inherent features of Web 2.0 platforms that facilitate greater interconnectivity, communication and collaboration. This has changed the way I chose to present my online identity and choosing a consistent username that was relevant to my web presence yet creating an online presence whilst remaining somewhat anonymous was essential.
Using various Web 2.0 platforms was significant in creating a web presence that has the capacity to effectively reach a global audience. Characteristics of Web 2.0 where users and participants are provided with content, consistent updates, a real-time connection to other people where the cohesion of the social group is more supported has allowed my overall purpose of my blog to be met. Each contributing node compliment each other nicely where individuals can readily choose and experience different forms of collaboration and communication in an interactive workspace.
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