Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chat with Robert Kluijver

Today I had an interesting chat with Robert Kluijver, one of our Mediamatic Travel guides. He's going to Skopje in March to do a creative city workshop.

We discussed what would be the most appropriate way to communicate Skopje's creativity on our Mediamatic Travel website and came to the conclusion that not only guides, but also people with a profile that would just like to add pictures or texts, should be able to participate. In this scenario the guide will become a cultural manager in the process than the sole contributor and contact person of the city's underground.

Robert was very pleased with this idea. It also made his job easier, as he only needs to contact one person who's fit to be the guide of Skopje. Subsequently the guide will invite the whole artistic network of Skopje to start contributing.

Next week I'll be focussing on the 'invite friend'-button to ease the proces of inviting a person to contribute.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A quick update: new implementations

While I'm theorizing what the communication-tools should look like and how we could improve the interactivity and participation on our travel website, the technical staff has alread implemented some improvements I mentioned in my earlier posts. Hura x3!

A quick update: The open-CI people are removed from the city pages. In other words; every person page that accidentally appeared in the citypage, is now removed. Also the images that were showing twice in the citypages are removed. The page now looks neat!

We also gave the guide-section a nice title and introduction, so people know in what kind of page they are. Still there's some work to be done here.

We are going to implement the new 'action-dialogue' or 'flap' soon. This will be a mayor revolution in the look of our website.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Homepage Cartoon

My assignment for this week is to create a way of communicating the main function of our website on the homepage. Willem suggested communicating Mediamatic Travel's main function in a cartoon. So, I've sent everybody I know that is equiped with mad illustration skills an invitation to participate in making a comic. The best contribution will be used on the homepage.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Matching guides and visitors with dating

I've noticed that my latest posts are more or less about the appearance of the Travel-profile. What should the guidepage or profile page look like? Drawing from my former posts, I can only conclude one thing: Remove the guidepage and use the principles of dating to match profiles with one another.

Why dating you may ask. Although the travel-site is not a dating site, some very important similarities can be found. In both cases the aim is eventually to meet each other in real-life. In both cases the members have the same goal, the same interest or need something only the other can provide. I've been participating in the Mediamatic Datingsite now for a while and noticed that strangers are continuously contacting each other, and interacting with each other; online as well as offline. We can learn from that. 

So, how does a dating site link people with each other? A dating site requires members to answer fixed questions, so that important features and interests are covered. Fixed questions will thus give us the possibility of linking people with each other based on their interests and demographics. They also provide visitors with relevant information about others. Moreover from the user's point of view it's much easier to answer questions than to find inspiration to write something yourself: The profile looks instantly full.

The questionnaire should have a fill-in form, be relevant, fun and quickly to complete. We should maybe even enable visitors to draw a map where they're going or at least have a question that is concerned with their travel plans. The dating aspect will also enable visitors to get in touch with eachother and link themselves to an event/organisation/place/location. This way guides will be able to see who matches to what they've got to offer. The guides will see who prospect visitors are, instead of waiting for someone to contact them.  This two-way of communication helps constructing a sense of community I spoke about in my earlier posts.

By using dating features in our Mediamatic Travel project we'll help people find others that can mean something to them and lower the barrier of contacting each other. Whether adding dating features to our project will elicit these results, is something we'll have to test. 

Guides like to share their guidance

This is an e-mail I received this morning that triggered me to write this post...which proves I'm a bit slow since I received about a ton of similar e-mails that didn't ring a bell. Shame on me. Here's the email. I've made the important things bold.

"Hi Emina,

First of all I wish you a fantastic 2010!

I'm sorry my answer took so long. After our last contact a couple of months ago, I have added more info to the page of [City] and intend to go further with it, as soon as I get some free time.
I would also love to become a travel guide. The only problem is, that I live in Amsterdam, and could be of assistance to travelers on location in [City] only for a limited time period, say a month or two per year.
However, I told some friends in [City] about it and they were very enthusiastic about taking part in making the page of [City] more attractive and becoming guides.
Of course I will keep you up to date and I hope I can turn to you, if necessary, for help.


This letter really shows what has been asked from me the ultimate three months of being an editor at Mediamatic TravelFirst of all people want to add their favorite things to a city, not to their guidepage! It indicates that having your page with your favorite things isn't that important to guides at all. What's important is that your favorites are added to the city page.

Second, people don't mind to share their guiding. I think we thought guides would be very competitive to attract the most visitors. However this is not the case, they are actually happy to share the guiding with their network.

Once again I have to conclude that the guidepage should be removed and becoming a guide should be made much easier. Also we have to find a way to communicate the inactivity of guides. Guides now just finish their guidepage and then quit participating. There has to be a way of communicating this o potential visitors/ viewers of the guidepage.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Creating sociability and the importance of tracking and linking

Sociability works in a slightly different way online than in real life. Of course there's a greater focus on textuality and online features ( images, personal information and a particular presentation). Right now I'm referring to sociability as a process of 'getting to know someone'.

Let me give you an example. Facebook does a great job with this. It offers the possibility to track people. Not only is it a great feature for you to get into contact with old buddies, but it's also a very important feature for people to track you (where did you work, for how long, who do you know who works there as well?). Facebook is also a great networking tool to link yourself to interesting parties. These appealing features assure the networks growth and the constant flow of personal information added.

Furthermore the status-feature in Facebook can be used a s a personal diary. You can basically track the status-changes of a contact to see what he or she's been up to the last few days (even if you weren't online during that period). Facebook provides outside parties with a particular narrative of an user, with the story of a particular period in time.

The more I think of it, the more I agree with what already has been said about online interaction. To form a trustworthy personality online, a person needs to interact online. Only by linking yourself with different projects, jobs, people, etc.. and by having interaction with those things, will it give your interaction online a real, a human feel. This is probably why online social networking is so fun to do in the first place. Interaction online thus requires easy tools for linking yourself to others and expressing enough to have a human and real feel to it. Within the Travel Project these communication tools for interaction are even more important since the whole reliability/personality of the guides depends on their personal presentation online.

Needless to say, we need more interaction features. But what kind? I think linking is a very good one, and it's actually one of the specialities of Mediamatic..but what kind of linking do we need? Links based on what?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A quick heads up on the results of the guides questionnaire

This is just a quick heads up on the results that came out of the questionnaire I've sent out to all guides in the Mediamatic Travel project. 

- It seems to be that friends and family play a big part in informing guides about the Mediamatic Travel project. Internet is the second player in the promotion of the Travel-site. To me, this information stresses the importance of inviting your network. It also shows we are not doing enough to promote the travel-site by, the magazine, the media or work.

- The most important reasons for guides to keep participating are 'promoting my own projects' and 'informing people about the underground culture'. There are guides that would rather promote their project and not necessarily guide others. 

- Everybody would like to have the contributions 'Place' and 'Cafe' added. Also almost everybody has difficulties adding the location to their contributions. 

- Guides are specifically asking for more communication tools. They want a visible comment bar in their guidepage, some sort of feedback section and tools for promoting themselves.

- Finally I could distinguish between 4 types of users: spectators, visitors, contributors and guides. For a profound explanation of the four types, please check out my final paper in About.  

Mind that these results are preliminary result. To see the actual questionnaire, click here.