For my project, I decided to create a space online where prospective UVA Nursing students could ask questions about admissions and general information about the School of Nursing (SON). The questions asked on the blog are answered by current UVA students of all years, 1st through 4th. The blog is intended to be a space where students can ask questions informally without the pressure of the formalities of asking questions of the “officials” of the Nursing School. I created a blog on blogger.com and it can be found here.
I learned a great deal throughout this project about how institutions greatly impact the web traffic and legitimacy of online media. To help generate traffic for my blog, I decided to talk with the Dean of Students at the School of Nursing. After this meeting I was successfully able to get my blog linked directly to the UVA SON website in the section for prospective students. I have found that institutions, such as the UVA SON website, act as "connectors" and allow for the spread of content over various social circles, and this spread would have otherwise not been achieved without the help of the institution. Prior to my blog being linked to the SON website, my blog received very little traffic because I was unable to reach my target audience. This is when I decided to meet with the Dean of Students about getting my blog linked to the SON website.
I also feel like the institution of the School of Nursing helped legitimize my blog. While there are hundreds of thousands of blogs being created everyday online, very few have established legitimacy and loyal visitors. I believe that institutions are able to act as “connectors” in the first place because of their recognizability and established legitimacy. The established reputations of these institutions give legitimacy to any content associated with these institutions. Since being linked to the UVA SON website, I have received 748 page views from over 200+ individual visitors. These visits range in geographic location to 21 states in the US and two countries overseas, India and the UK.
I believe that the power of UVA School of Nursing as an institution has allowed my blog to receive multiple visits everyday as well as legitimize the content on my blog making my blog more credible and desirable as a viewer to remain a loyal follower. By realizing that it is becoming increasingly hard for web content to gain visibility due to the growing numbers of Internet users and thus Internet content, perhaps we can better use the power of institutions to help organize and attract visitors to helpful websites that would have otherwise been lost in the growing abyss of cyberspace.