Mark Pesce and #fuse20

This morning I was at the SLV for a presentation by Mark Pesce to hear his thoughts on how to create meaningful and useful Web2.0 applications. I found it a very engaging presentation full of interesting ideas, but more importantly useful suggestions.

The key points I took from this session:

When developing web projects the Web2 aspects need to be imbedded rather than add-ons.

When encouraging participation on the web, it has been, and always will be, about hooking people in by their interests. Not about the technical aspects. This means: users needs, passions, interests are foremost – what we want to provide is secondary.

Users will find ways to share, but well designed sites that encourage sharing and create the means to do it will not only engage users more fully, but make good business sense.
The users experience is central to the creation of any web project. The focus must therefore be on what the user does with the information we provide. We want to encourage their response to and use of the information. This will create a richer experience for them and others.

It is natural human behaviour to want to share experience with others. Connecting to others allows us to create something better: collectively we are smarter than we are individually. When creating a project we need to consider how our space allows users to connect. Can they connect in a variety of ways (tiers of engagement)? If not, does the space leave them lonely and friendless – or – does it crowd them in too close? But, there should always be a space where users can go that is private.

Their are many issues than can arise when users contribute and create online. However, we can learn from other successful sites methods to manage this, using social solutions. For example, TripAdvisor’s has responded to bad data by automatically give anonymous posts a lower rating. Blogs and Facebook allow users to report posts. And Slashdot allows users comments to be rated, and users can filter comments by rating.

We need to watch what our users do to see how they are using the site and respond to their needs. Soft release new sites and content, allowing for change and development in response to users:

Release > Observe > Adapt > Re-Release.

We need to build openness into our sites. Always thinking about how our users can access and use our information. Considering: where does user data live, and, can it be reused? If we don’t make room for our users, they will find another space.

There is no big daddy. As adults, we need to be able to deal with ambiguity. We (and kids) might want definitive answers, but that “leads to madness”. The future is in collective knowledge and shades of grey.

From this talk I can see clear ideas of how, when we put users first, we can develop richer sites that are more likely to be used. I also really responded to the idea of soft-publishing: don’t create it and hope they will come… monitor and adapt.

The questions I had though where mainly about content credibility and discussions about the power and validity of Wikipedia. Although Mark mentioned that “there is no big daddy” and we need to be able to deal with ambiguity, and I agree. But I think cultural institutions still have a role to play in offering researched information (that doesn’t mean it is ‘right’ and nor should it be presented that way). In fact, we should encourage the development of ambiguous ideas and draw attention to contestable ‘facts’. Somehow though, our content can provide a more ‘real’ base for contributions, particularly for kids.

Mark Pesce’s talk in full:

One thought on “Mark Pesce and #fuse20

  1. Great Steph,
    The big things for me out of today are passion and sharing. What do we have that is of intrinsic interest to users of our web site? What are they passionate about? What do they want to share with their Dunbar number (the 150 people we are all connected to) or to their class and school community?
    Considering our major target group is Year 3 to 6, I think they are passionate about the experience of visiting Sovereign Hill, it’s uniqueness and the activities they can do here including the characters they meet. I wonder if this is our leaping off point. Share your experience, what you did and what you know? How do we create an attractive way that they can ‘boast’ about what they did and what they know and how can we use this as a starting point for deeper interpretation of Victorian colonial history?

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