Monday, February 14, 2011

Practicum #3- Michael

In my previous posts I gave you a brief introduction on my experience with’s Knicks message forum and For my final post before my presentation tomorrow, I’d like to give you a brief introduction on my experience with the New York Knicks Facebook fan page.

To be quite frank, this is the one of the three I’ve spent the least amount of time on, as I find it’s more of an intra-Facebook tool which I only think to check when browsing my Facebook. And when I’m on Facebook there are usually tons of other social distractions going on within my Facebook world that leave me forgetting to check the fan page altogether. That being said, the page itself is pretty impressive looking (for a Facebook fan page). It is generally well put together and is updated frequently. The other cool thing about the Facebook fan page is that because it is run through the New York Knicks organization, the updater for the page can get new official Knicks content that’s posted on the official Knicks website out to fans quicker than anyone and on a platform that’s designed to spread the word. The downside of having the page run through the Knicks organization is that you can’t always expect unbiased coverage/insight. They usually find ways to spin losses and never get overly negative about the team. In that sense it feels like somewhat of an inorganic experience.

The interesting part about the community aspect of the Facebook fan page is that it links all fans of the Knicks who have a Facebook. Therefore, the site is not specifically meant for intensely devoted fans who want extra content/discussion (as RealGM and TKB are more suited for). It is truly a conglomerate of active and inactive fans as well as everything in between. The only requirement is to be enough of a fan to “Like” the fan page so that it is associated with your account and you receive updates. In this sense the question of whether or not this is more or less of a community than the other aforementioned sites becomes unclear. The question becomes whether or not a community is more of a true slice of all different types fans on an “everyday” type platform like Facebook coming together (meaning that it is the closest representation of a real life random collection of fans) or if it is a group of similarly devoted fans who all sought out an isolated platform to discuss a certain thing with like-minded and similarly interested people. It is tough to say. One more thought on this: the page also tells me which of my friends like the same page, so I get to find out who of my real friends that are apart of my actual social atmosphere like the Knicks (enough to “Like” their page, at least). This builds a sense of real life community via the online community. Just another way Facebook turns the idea of reality and virtuality on its head.

A unique aspect of the Facebook group in regards to the other sites explored is the lack of anonymity. Everyone’s real names (as far as Facebook is concerned) is shown and anyone can link to your homepage just from “Liking” something or writing a comment. This makes for much less willing commentors, and much less debate. There also seems to be barely any moderation, and the discussion section of the site is the sixth tab presented. It is clearly not the main point of the fan page, as it seems most of the conversing happens in the comments section of whatever was posted that day. This makes it very difficult to have any linear debate or know what’s being talked about without reading through sometimes-hundreds of comments. Because of these facts, the ratio of likes to comments on most posts seems to be around 1000:100, although posts about actual games seem to garner much more comments and discussion than likes. To me, this seems to be quite a fragmented community, if you can call it that all.

So now that I have introduced all three of my areas of exploration for this practicum assignment, I am left with one question to ask you all to consider throughout the discussion tomorrow:

How is the concept of community in regards to special interest boards, chats, and blogs different than and similar to the way you view community in real life?

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