Category Archives: participatory culture

Give and Take: Personal Learning Networks

Here is a mindmap of my PLN.


After some examination, I realized that most of the time I am a Taker. Liking, commenting, purchasing, donating to a Kickstarter project are all forms of inactive participation that I have carried out previously. However, I am very seldom a Giver in the sense of giving by ‘creation’ in which my output would be new or curated material that would be useful to others. As a heavy content consumer and content curator for private enterprise, I believe that my way of cultivating and returning to the social capital of the internet would be through the creation and curation of content and knowledge.

Unfortunately, creation is something that takes a lot of time and effort, and is not something you can do without passion, dedication and well, time to put into it. Many thoughts have crossed my mind before – ‘When I have time, I am going to make a Wikia for this band so people can learn more about them’, ‘Next I shall upload a YouTube tutorial on how to…’, and the list goes on. However, needless to say, I have never actually carried out any of those things. On top of the time factor, there is also an audience factor – even if I do put up stuff, it is likely that nobody will ever read, find or care about what I had created. Contributing to collective intelligence as a form of manifesting social capitalism is tough.

However, I have found my way of dealing with this dilemma by joining a media outlet. As a staff writer, I am able to curate and contribute to a pool of knowledge that would benefit and entertain my readers. On top of that, as a member of a larger media outlet, I have an audience ready to hear what I have to say. For example, I was able to get a fair amount of awareness and discussion among netizens by publishing an article on Julien Blanc recently. On the other hand, even though I am still keeping up my personal curation/translation blog and Twitter account, the growth and reach are much smaller and less gratifying. Nevertheless, I will continue to both with the belief that I am contributing to a global collective knowledge pool in my own little way.

Interview: Stephanie Parker

For the ‘interview someone’ part of this week’s learning activity, I reached out to Stephanie Parker (who is also a former student of Professor Rheingold’s) who previously worked at Viki as a community manager. As her title implies, she had to work with fans of the community everyday as part of her job. Viki is a primarily Asian pop culture subtitling platform where fans subtitle the TV shows they want to watch into multiple languages (crowdsourcing!) in a legal and moderated environment. The company was purchased by Japanese conglomerate Rakuten a few years back and is based both in San Francisco as well as in Singapore.

Stephanie said that she had enjoyed her time at Viki and that it had been a ‘valuable learning experience”.

As a community manager, the bulk of her work involved:

1) Communicating directly with community members, hearing their concerns, solving their technical issues

2) Creating social/marketing material for the community, such as blogs about Korean dramas, contests or giveaways

3) Meeting internally with other teams (like product/engineering) to make sure new features are coming along, and bugs are fixed

She is a big fan of K-Pop, so her job at Viki allowed her to work in communication and social media, while at the same time still be involved in K-Pop regularly. She has attended events such as K-Pop conventions as part of her job as well.

For Stephanie, the most challenging part of managing a community online was maintaining a distinction between being a ‘manager’ of the community, and a ‘member’ of the community.

Being a K-Pop fan, Stephanie also considers herself to be a member of the community she is in, so when conflict arises she has to remind herself to stay professional as a manager and follow ‘an established procedure for conflict resolution’. There are also social dilemmas as your relationship as a manager morphs over time when you become closer to the other members of the community. Furthermore, sometimes there might be a conflict of interest between the desires/wishes of the community vs the direction of the company. In these cases, the community manager might be sandwiched between both sides.

As a community manager myself, I find that my concerns are very similar to Stephanie’s but on a smaller scale. Viki is known to have a very active fan community so it is interesting to hear from an insider on the workings of the job. It also reminds me a lot about this article. It’s great how Professor Rheingold’s advice stays true and valid after more than 15 years.


Chances are if you are into some sort of video game, anime/manga or TV show, you’ve been on a Wikia community before. Originally a spin-off of Wikipedia, Wikia now functions as an independent company and is a formidable growing community platform for fandoms that influence decision-making within each of the industries that Wikia engages with – which is a lot.

The front page has some stats on the website. Well, talk about impressive!


My encounters with Wikia previously were mostly restricted to landing on one of the Wikia communities after Googling the name of some obscure character in some TV show whose back story I had forgotten after abandoning the show for a few months. I knew that the content was generated by fans, so they were most likely accurate. What I didn’t know was the scale and the business model that Wikia runs on.

At the 2014 New Context Conference in San Francisco, I learned about Wikia during a pitch by CEO Craig Palmer, and it made so much sense that I became a fan of the company right there (even though I still don’t use Wikia as a contributor). It became as just a Wikipedia-like platform for fans to organize and curate information about their favorite things. However, over time, Wikia had developed strong communities that have even become ‘official communities’ recognized or endorsed by the companies that produce some of these ‘things’ that people are crazy about including games and dramas. What I liked best was how Wikia involves its Superfans (the tribal leaders within this collaborative intelligence ecosystem)

They have selected (or accepted applications in some cases) for Wikia stars who get to be the ‘leader’ of their respective Wikia communities. It is like the equivalent of earning a recognition or certification of ‘I’m your Number 1 Fan’. Wikia basically harnesses the power and potential of fandom.


Superfans are not just leaders in creating and curating content on the site. Sometimes they are even involved in the planning stages for the next big thing from the companies whose products they are fans of. With Wikia, the gap between industry and fandom has been brought closer together.

According to Palmer, Wikia believes that in order for a company to successfully interact and engage with superfans, they have to let go and give the fans:

– acknowledgement
– honesty
– trust
– attention
– authencity
– swag
– somehow create an ‘insider feeling’

The fact that something like Wikia even exists and runs on such an interesting business model is just absolutely fascinating for me (so fascinating that I’m doing a Learner Lecture on it even though I just wrote this). Thanks to this talk I saw a lot of new possibilities within my own line of work as well. Wikia rocks!

Second Life

This has been sitting at the back of my mind since about two or three classes back when we briefly discussed virtual communities and environments. I recalled using some sort of really cool virtual environment for my freshman PWR class but couldn’t remember what it was. After some researching and contacting people, I finally recovered that missing piece of memory and rediscovered the awesomeness that is Second Life.

Like any other MUVEs, Second Life is a piece of software that connects online into a boundless virtual world. It functions a little like a cross between the Sims and Minecraft. You get an avatar you can dress up, talk to people and explore different world. On the other hand, you can also purchase (using an in-environment currency) materials and build your own world from scratch. Most of the places you can visit in Second Life are built by fellow fans.

When you first enter, you end up on this island with other recently born Second Lifers.



After wandering around, you end up at this portal that takes you to the Welcome Center.


Not sure why 15 minutes into Second Life I was already break-dancing alone in a club…


Other than wandering around, you can also choose to teleport to anything from places to events. Even live concerts and as you can see, ‘trivia in bars’!


I searched ‘Disney’ and somehow found myself in a beautifully constructed ‘Walt Disney’ museum. Here’s a fan-made curation of what she considers to be the history and progress of Disney.


Also, one of the coolest thing is that there is actually a Stanford within Second Life. This was where I had my first ‘virtual class’ in PWR class three years ago. If you look closely, there are black squirrels scurrying around everywhere! This is a virtual environment built by Stanford’s Libraries.


In our glamorous Second Life, Searchworks go on a huge life-sized wall, there are no less palm trees than in real life, and the fountains are still working.



I think running Second Life requires quite a fair bit of computing power, so my old, low-spec Lenovo froze on me after some time. However, I definitely recommend going in to Second Life for a very virtual yet very real representation of the power of curation and collaboration. Also, if you visit the Stanford Library in game, you get a virtual SULAIR T-shirt. I haven’t figured out how to put it on though…

A Self-Observation of Social Media Participation

This is in response to this week’s learning activity. I am not very aware of what I do on social media each day so it is actually very eye-opening after I realized what I’ve been doing all day.

Thursday, 10/23/2014
1:00~2:00AM: I have a full day of class on Wednesday from 8:40AM to 7:30PM so by the end of the day I’ve used up all the brain functions allocated for the day. I end up falling asleep between 8:00~9:00PM on Wednesday night so I couldn’t fall asleep earlier. Instead, I had my tablet and phone in hand scrolling down Twitter and Tumblr endlessly, adding ‘Likes’ and ‘Favorites’. I choose not to comment on anything or interact with anyone on Facebook at this time because my brain wasn’t working anymore, but it’s easy to participate in Twitter and Tumblr by supporting content that I enjoy.

2:00AM~: Fell asleep with phone in hand and face on tablet.

9:00AM~10:00AM: My mornings begin with me waking up but staying in bed. I spend a good 30 minutes at least responding to Facebook and LINE messages, checking my emails and work assignments. Because Thursday is a lazy day for me, I go back to checking Tumblr. I feel compelled to participate on Tumblr because of my Tumblog, so I also go through specific news sites to select content I might want to publish onto my Tumblr later in the day. I’d save links to these news articles as drafts to work on them at another time.

10:00AM~11:00AM: Some friends catch me online in Facebook and LINE, so I end up chatting for a while, before falling back asleep.

11:00AM~12:00PM: I finally roll out of be and told myself I need to stop using social media.

12:00PM~2:00PM: In class. Swiped phone twice to look at Facebook for no reason. Liked a few comments and pictures from friends. Did not comment because typing takes two hands and I was using one hand under the table.

2:00PM~6:00PM: Went about lab, running errands, etc. Did not use any social media.

6:00PM~10:00PM: This is my working hours for the day. Because I use social media in my work, I have everything from Cyfe and Hootsuite to LinkedIn and Facebook open. Here I participate by scheduling prepared content and monitoring comments about my company on social media.

10:00~12:00AM: Wind down time for the day. Thursdays are usually pretty free so I have more time on social media. There are days when I can go without looking at Facebook because I don’t have time. Watched TV and blogged a picture of a package I got from a friend on Ameba again before passing out.

It appears that even though I use social media very often, I seldom participate by contributing content. Content creation requires time and effort, and it’s much easier to participate by judging content. As a content creator, I understand that every ‘Like’, ‘Favorite’ and ‘Reblog’ means the world to the creator, so I am not stingy about what I like. Some of my friends belong to the camp where they do not want anyone to know what they’re looking at on social media, so they almost never like anything. However, I prefer to show my appreciation or acknowledgement.

When I do participate, I spend a fairly large amount of time curating the content that I post. If I’m posting a picture on Instagram or another site, I’d use a photo-editing app to trim and touch up the picture. If I’m writing an article, I’ll proofread it several times and make sure I have the right sources credited before posting. I supposed I am a firm believer of producing relevant and useful content instead of ‘just generating more crap’ on the internet.


I am going to be a Blogger.

Inspired by this class, I have decided to re-start my own blogging adventures as well. Even though I currently run a fandom news and translation Tumblr account, I have always wanted something of my own that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to show people. Thankfully, my work as a part-time writer for a popular niche media came in handy as I renovated my blog and set things up. I have actually been through this blogging process quite a number of times, usually for private blogs open only to my close friends, and I found myself going through the same set-up process every time, so I thought I’d share what I do as a reminders checklist.

1. Sourcing Content
Well, yeah. If you’re going to start a content-centric blog you’re going to need to find your niche and your sources of content. I located a few sources that I enjoy reading from and piped them into an RSS Reader. I tested a few and decided to go with The Old Reader. Despite its name, the Old Reader is actually very quick and easy to use.


I have a Notebook for articles that I’m interested in saved in Evernote, so I usually use the Evernote Web Clipper to save sources that I might want to write about.

2. Blog Makeover
While content is very important, your blog should also look nice – both on the computer and mobile. For that purpose, I generally start by checking the available responsive WordPress themes available. I am very particular about my blog being responsive because most people read on mobile nowadays, and a blog that looks beautiful on my computer but looks like it lost its CSS file on the iPhone would just be a nightmare. Once I have decided on the theme, I usually tweak them a little by changing the colors, font, and removing things that I don’t need or don’t like. For this time, I went with the theme Writr.

3. Logo
Try to have a logo for your blog that you can use everywhere. This will not only make your blog more memorable, but also make your life easier when you’re setting up your social media accounts for the blog, since everything requires some sort of a profile picture. This time I went for a fun look and used the Pixel Art Icon Generator for my purpose.

4. Sharing
Make your blog easy to follow and share. I used a wordpress plugin that automatically adds social sharing and following functions to my blog. One thing I nearly forgot though, is that you need to claim your RSS address! WordPress uses Google’s Feedburner automatically so just hop over and claim your Feed address. That way your RRS feed will not look like an ugly sheet of xml too.

5. Favicon
This might just be a pet peeve of mine, but I think a website looks better when it has a Favicon. Thank goodness WordPress has several Favicon Generator plugins that you can install, upload your image, and voila! – it will automatically generate all sorts of Favicons for you.

6. Menu and About
I like to add an ‘About’ page and have a custom menu for my WordPress blogs. Nobody ever reads them (so far) but it’s just nice to have in place I guess?

7. Content
5 hours later, my blog was finally ready to roll. Now comes the hardest part – content. This is where I screw up every time. I plan to keep a regular schedule of two blog posts a week – one on the weekends and one mid week. Making full use of WordPress’s advance scheduler is always a good idea. Now that I’ve announced to everyone I’m going to blog, I guess I’ll have to do it. (haha)

8. Twitter account – set up + link to WordPress + retweet people
Since Twitter is an excellent source of information and great way to get information out as well, I decided to use Twitter for the ‘social’ part of my blog. I set up a Twitter account using the same profile picture I had used on my blog and followed a selection of relevant accounts. I’m not just going to stick my blog posts there of course. Twitter accounts for bloggers require extra care – frequent RTs of influencer content, etc are absolutely necessary.

Anyway, I’ve written my first blog post and scheduled a tweet for it tomorrow morning. Hopefully I’d still be at it even after the end of the quarter…