Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sticking With It

In our interconnected world, the ever increasing ability of individuals from a vast array of backgrounds, places, and socioeconomic strata to produce online content creates an absolutely endless selection of Internet content for users across the world to access. Despite being plagued by the digital divide—or the disparity in access across social strata—the Internet is perhaps the most equal realm of communication in existence in our modern world (Martin). Once a realm reserved solely for those with power, influence, or sufficient capital, the Internet is now a place that functions as a modern soapbox. Through its very public platform, viewpoints and opinions representing every part of society are voiced, creating a medium with significant social, economic, political, and cultural influence. Though I did not initially realize just how extensive the influence of the internet was, the truth of its impact was made abundantly clear while I worked on my IDM project. In fact, one of the reasons why I feel I found such success in creating my IDM project is because the Internet functions as a very public forum, enabling individuals such as myself to publish and distribute information to the world.

Acting as a public forum, the influence of the Internet is quite strong throughout the spheres in which it influences. While the economic and political power it exerts should not be underestimated, to most individuals, the social and cultural pull of the Internet is what is felt most directly by the general public. Working in conjunction with web 2.0, which consists of the emerging, collaborative Internet and its technologies (i.e., social networking sites, mashups, and wikis), the reach of the Internet continues to spread even further, becoming even more deeply entrenched within our society (Beer and Burrows). Socially, the Internet and web 2.0 have been revolutionary in the way they have so drastically changed the way in which individuals occupy social space. Today, the bounds of space and time are easily bridged—the “here and now” becomes a “there and now”—and connecting with others has forever been changed. While the space individuals occupy has been changed within a social context, the cultural implications of the Internet and web 2.0 has altered the way an individual’s space intersects with others. Even if the scope of an individual’s influence does not make a large impact on a grander scale, the change effected within their social and cultural influence is undeniable.

For me, the opportunity to create my own unique online content presented the chance to fully engage in the Internet and web 2.0 and to bridge the last parts of my own digital divide. Socially, while I thought that the space I occupy through the Internet was rather large, considering my active engagement in social networking, creating web content only slightly enlarged my social space, but in a cultural context, more significantly altered the way in which I interact within those that social space. Though I would have much preferred to be able to create an original website, using WordPress introduced me to the versatility of blogging. Using WordPress to create the field hockey team’s website and exploring the wide variety of options a blog enables one to use, I realized that its more narrow focus better suited the scope of my project.

Knowing that my audience would fill a certain niche, consisting of my own teammates, alumni, parents, and other teams within our league, using a blog provided just enough depth and detail for the project I envisioned. Though the project didn’t expand my social space, it did alter the way in which I used that space. Deciding to “go live” only when I felt the blog was finished, I chose to utilize the social space I already inhabited in order to promote it. By emailing the team and sending a message to our Facebook group, the website garnered a huge influx of page views once the word spread, resulting in a one day total of 200+ visits. In addition, I utilized my field hockey specific social space in other ways. For example, in order to create a site that truly represents the team as a whole, I asked for feedback; this constructive criticism will not only help me to improve upon what work I’ve already accomplished, but allow for a sense of ownership among my teammates, which I hope will carry the blog into the future.



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