Category Archives: phd

Can Twitter be used as viral marketing?

I’ve been redesigning my website – www.sakcreations.co.uk for the last couple of weeks, it was long overdue an update.   Sak Creations has been my Web Design moniker for the last 10 years, but as web design has now become a sideline to my PhD I’ve also put a section up to be the formal home of my research interests.   Leaving this blog to be the home of my infrequent ramblings.

I’ve been giving some thought to SEO whilst redesigning my website,  also sparked by a discussion with my graphic designer friend KJ Creative about how to improve google rankings.  The main reason I’ve kept my research on my Sak Creations domain (as well as the fact I have hosting and everything set up already and I don’t really want to have my identity pinned on Stacey Greenaway, in case I don’t always stay Stacey Greenaway) is that it is creeping up the page rank scale (slowly) and Google know to return Sak Creations if someone types my name in.   So shameless backlinks aside, I have given thought to how you promote websites nowadays when you can’t compete with just good meta information, textual content and the good old reciprocal link.  It seems any designer creeping up the page ranks does so by promoting themselves and their work on various forums and designer community websites, commenting on blogs, writing blogs, twittering about their work.   This social web gives a whole new depth to viral marketing.  I remember sitting in meetings discussing how to market our current projects in viral emails, is it as simple now as just twittering about it and posting a link on facebook?  Well maybe if you have enough followers and friends.   So here’s the next question, how do you get all the followers and friends in order to make you viral marketing/shameless self promotion a success?  Do you have to spend more time twittering about your work than actually doing the work?  Does a marketing assisitants job spec now include running the companies twitter account?

There are more problems with relying on social web to improve those rankings, first to engage in the social web and make it work for you, you have to be a social person and second you need to invest the time on the sites ‘networking’ instead of doing the work.  Is social media really only useful for people with ALOT of time on their hands, or for big companies who can afford to employ someone to be the ‘social’ face of the company/organisation?

So, as a person with not enough time on my hands, but a desire to find new ways to avoid doing the actual work of my PhD by finding tasks that can loosely be deemed as work;  I have decided to succumb to the power of Twitter and set up an account for VideoTag.  I can start twittering about the game and ideas and struggles during development, then hopefully have some followers who want to play the game when it launches.  then I can continue to use it as a vehicle to launch new games.

I’d like to just add another problem to using social media to promote yourself/project – usernames, they are always taken by someone!!! Mr jesse videotag isn’t even using his account!!!  So you can follow videotag2 instead.  Now comes the hard work knowing what to twitter about!

Twitter Button from twitbuttons.com

**Is part of Twitters appeal the cute little bird?

What makes MMOG’s so popular?

I used to love playing Sid Meier’s Civilization back in the child free, care free days of being able to spend 3 days solid in front of a computer screen fighting for world domination.  So I can understand the mass appeal with Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG’s) and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG’s).  I have come across these terms whilst researching online games for my PhD.  I want to know why people play online games?  What motivates them to play a certain type of game?  What features of the game sustain gameplay for long periods of time?   And what makes a player keep returning to play the game?  Once I know this I want to see if any of these features are present in existing tagging games and what features could be applied to the design of a tagging game to make them more successful.  The findings of the VideoTag experiment revealed the main user motivation to be one of ‘just trying it out’.   Is it possible for a tagging game to harness a proportion of the people power playing MMOG’s and transfer all that online game time into participation in a useful task that is still fun to play?

In the nature of research and also filling a night where there was nothing on TV, I registered to play the MMOG Civ-Online.  Initially I was impressed and panicked that I had found a new way to procrastinate and spend all my time instead of working/sleeping/eating.  However unlike Civilization, Civ online runs in real time, so if something takes a game hour to do, it takes a real-time hour to do.  So whilst in the very early stages there is a fair amount you can do getting set up, pretty soon you run out of gold and have to wait a day (a real time day) for your resources to accrue again.  You can buy and sell resources, but you have to wait an hour for the tradesman from the next village to arrive with your resource.  There is a gimmick that allows you to vote for Civ-Online with MMOG Top 10 sites, you can vote once every 24 hours and you get gold or crystals for doing so!  So for me it is impossible to sit and waste a whole day sat playing the game as you are forced to find something else to do whilst you wait for enough resources to accrue again.  As I am not a hardened game player, it is very likely I will get bored of this game quickly.  Unless you fully embrace all of the features, invest time in the stategy behind the gameplay, make armies and go start wars, I don’t think there is enough to sustain interest.  But that’s me, I can see why there is plenty to sustain interest for a lot of game enthusiasts.   Civ-online is one of many, the biggest most well known MMORPG being World Of Warcraft.

The key things I have gleamed from my short foray into MMOG playing are the cleaver features they use to make players come back.  The game exists in its own world, the game continues after you have logged off, your workers farm your land, chop down trees and make wood, mine for coal and pay taxes while your off living your real world life and are ready to come back and deplete those resources again.  By playing the game you are rewarded with resources that keep you coming back and playing the game more.  During gameplay you are immersed in a solitary interaction, but there is opportunity to be social if you want to be, with forums and comments boards and an option to add buddies.   There is of course also the league table and the main goal, becoming the most powerful kingdom in the game.  How can the fun and addictive qualities of MMOG’s be applied to a video tagging game?  Can any features be adapted in a video tagging game to encourage players to log in once a day and tag some videos?

N.B  Whilst writing this blog I managed to generate enough gold to build my level 7 house and am now waiting for enough to build my level 8 lumbermill.  I’m wondering if linking to Civ-Online and reviewing it (kind of) warrants me some free gold?  I need to get my claypit up to level 8 as well.

PhD Proposal

I seem to have spent the last 6 months writing proposals. In reality I have spent 6 months attempting to write them and procrastinating and putting it off until the critical moment when I have to get it finished. Some of the more productive procrastination I’ve done is a lot of literature searches and reading. Which whilst very constructive, I now have too many ideas I want to pursue and absolutely no idea how or what to focus on.

Also in the 6 months I had attempted to write a research paper of my VideoTag project, it’s still not finished (this is a worrying trend for the next 3 years!). Point being, that I realised while writing it that I never had a clear aim at the start of my MSc project, I simply had loads of ideas for investigations that could loosely be classed as objectives. I also struggled working out what my method was, I know what I did, but why did I choose to do things one way and not another?

So now as I find myself again writing a proposal (I thought this was over for a few months now I have a place!) I’m aware that I need to have a specific aim and explicit objectives, and set out a clear method of experiments that will hopefully achieve my aim. And all I have is what I had throughout my MSc, a page long list of research questions and ideas for lots of little experiments and potential tag analysis strategies, within the umbrella of a tagging system development. So I need to establish what I will achieve by answering these research questions. What purpose my tagging system will have that contributes something to what already exists. How do I turn a page of questions into a two sentence statement of a clear and focussed aim?

As always it seems recently I have about 2 weeks to make these decisions, before my self imposed deadline because I (maybe foolishly) want to get started as soon as I can.