I did coffee too…

Wikipedia is an incredible source of knowledge with a vast amount of diverse information written through the collaboration of thousands of people. This is what Henry Jenkins describes as “the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal”, otherwise known as collective intelligence (Jenkins). As discussed in Jenkins’ blog, it’s common for educators to criticize Wikipedia as a source for information because of its collective intelligence, which results in their “concerns about the credibility of online information” (Jenkins). Jenkins, however, disagrees with these educators and believes Wikipedia is a good tool for young people “to evaluate information” and “work together to achieve shared goals” by learning how to evaluate information (Jenkins).

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The Wikipedia page for Coffee provides many examples of the capabilities of collective intelligence. This particular page was created April 8, 2004 and has been receiving constant edits from over 4,500 editors. 4,500 coffee enthusiasts, historians, biologists, and so on all came together to create an elaborate Wikipedia page over the course of 11 years. However, the vast amount of knowledge put onto this page did not begin to pick up and receive massive edits until 2006. This is largely due to the fact that the current number one contributor began editing in 2006. My hypothesis is that this editor, known as DMacks, began contributing valuable information that eventually encouraged others to begin branching off from his edits. From then until 2008 the number of edits continued to increase.

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Large amounts of edits in 2006-2007

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Top contributor began editing in 2006, the year the coffee page began to pick up.

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Despite the majority of the information on the page is about the production, health benefits, and chemistry of coffee, much of the discussion between the editors is heavily focused on the history of coffee. Historical content tends to be one of the most frequently debated topics in most Wikipedia pages (Jenkins). However, the editors discussion is very valuable to the success of a Wikipedia page because it allows them to give suggestions for ways to improve the page and it allows Wikipedia users to request information they believe to be valuable to the topic.

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An example of a detailed discussion about the history section on the Wikipedia page.

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An example of a suggestion.

While Wikipedia does benefit from collective intelligence, it does have its problems. When reading the coffee Wiki page I didn’t notice any huge errors, just a few very minor numbers or statistics that I didn’t agree with, such as ideal brewing temperatures, which are subjective anyway. Wikipedia says the ideal temperature is anywhere from 185° F to 199°F, I prefer to brew mine at around 202°-205°F and in some cases certain brewing methods bring out more flavors with the temperature as low as 170°F, but that’s just me being a pedant, otherwise the information seemed to be pretty accurate. I was, however, surprised the page lacked information I think should be included, such as the Specialty coffee movement and the current movement of third wave coffee. These two movements have drastically changed the perception of coffee as a commodity to an artisanal beverage, so I was surprised that there was no mention of these two movements at all. The page also had little information on national coffee associations, specifically the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). There is however a citation from an article on the Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia website.

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Wikipedia is a great source for learning the details of practically anything, but I don’t think it’s great for learning all the details. Instead I see it as a source that can give you a base amount of knowledge for a subject that will then lead you to finding more elaborate information.

Sources

Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART ONE).” Confessions of an AcaFan. Henry Jenkins, n.d. Web.

Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART TWO).” Confessions of an AcaFan. Henry Jenkins, n.d. Web.

Breaking Bad Transmedia

Saul Goodman became a popular character in the AMC series Breaking Bad as the notorious “criminal” lawyer. So popular in fact that a website was created to advertise his fictional law practise. www.bettercallsaul.com

Better Call Saul Website

The website’s most important function is as a hypertext media extension. According to Janet Murray, hypertext is “a set of documents”, in this case a website, that contains multiple hyperlinks that branch out into different pages of a website that lead to all types of information (Murray 55). Bettercallsaul.com branches off into sections that offer links to webisodes, E-cards you can send to people, and a link that directs viewers to the official AMC website for the series Better Call Saul as well as a link to the Breaking Bad website savewalterwhite.com. On this particular Breaking Bad website there is a donate button and if anyone clicks the button it directs them to the AMC Breaking Bad website.

E-Card

Save Walter White

The many webisodes linked on the website include a few minor characters from Breaking Bad who talk about how Saul Goodman helped them win their case, other webisodes are advertisements for Saul’s business. Two of these webisodes take content from Breaking Bad, such as the plane crash and one of the minor characters arrests, and expands the depth of these particular scenes by adding the characters views of the situation that were otherwise not included in the actual show Breaking Bad.

All these features offered on the website are examples of world-building, which Henry Jenkins defines as content that adds additional story and information to characters and other elements of the fictional setting of the narrative. Two more examples of this are the phone number given on the website and an ad in the Albuquerque yellow pages for not specifically the show, but the attorney Saul Goodman. The only direct link to the show on the advertisement is the phone number, which is actually functional. If you call the number you get a voice message from Saul Goodman who directs you to his website.

YellowPage

(Dykes)

These elements that draw people’s attention to the transmedia extensions and ultimately the show itself are what Jenkins calls cultural attractors, which he defines as anything that draws people to a franchise. Cultural attractors are probably one of the more important transmedia extensions because their primary purpose is to bring in an audience to view a companies product. Once an audience is obtained then the company can focus on creating an extensive transmedia network in order to maintain a steady fanbase.

 

Sources:

 

Dykes, Brett Michael. “Behold, The Saul Goodman Yellow Pages Ad.” Uproxx. Word Press, 25 June 2012. Web.

Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an AcaFan. Henry Jenkins, 22 Mar. 2007. Web.

Murray, Janet H. Hamlet on the Holodeck. New York City: The Free Press, A Division of Simon and Schuster Inc., 1997. PDF.

Kramer Gifs

The most common use of gifs that I have seen are as reactions gifs, where a person will post a specific gif to add some sort of context to their feelings or how they reacted to seeing a picture, video, text post, etc. Usually the reason to use a gif is to add a comical emotion to the posters feeling or reaction as opposed to something more serious. A good example of a reaction gif is Kramer from the television show Seinfeld due to his outgoing and eccentric characteristics that lead to nonsensical and humorous outbursts. Kramer make great reaction gifs because the context of the television show is a comedy sitcom, so when a viewer familiar with Seinfeld sees the gif they immediately think of it as a funny response.

Some of the gifs I chose of Kramer are single purpose gifs, in which they can only represent one emotion, for the most part. Gifs such as these:

 

Source

Source

 

Depending on the context that the gifs are posted they can have different meanings, but the gif itself only gives off one emotion. These two in particular express shock or confusion or even a disturbance in a funny manner. These two gifs are more focused on facial expressions and strange movements and are best used as reactions, whereas the two gifs below have multiple purposes and are better used as responses than reactions.

 

(No source)

Source

 

These gifs, unlike the reaction gifs, focus more on the text and the action of the subject in the gif instead of the facial features. In this case, the text says it all, while in the reaction gifs the face does. The text in a gif adds another layer to what is being expressed by clearly stating what a poster is trying to say. The textless gifs on the other hand tend to be more ambiguous.

The Kramer gif I created in photoshop is more similar to the reaction gifs than the response gifs. It doesn’t have any text, focuses more on the goofy movement of Kramer,and expresses one clear meaning, that being rushed and hurriedly trying to get somewhere. The reason I chose this particular scene was because it was the most visual funny moment I saw of Kramer after watching a few episode of Seinfeld that did not require any sort of text.

 

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Created with makeagif.com because 64 bit photoshop can’t make gifs.

Original Video

 

From what I have seen, gifs are dominantly used as digital social cues, however they are very limited in what they can represent. While gifs do allow an emotion to be perceived through it, a gif most often gives the emotion a funny connotation because it’s challenging to capture any other emotion through a gif since it has become the standard through social media that gifs are supposed to be funny. Humor can easily be captured in a couple of seconds, jokes for example can be funny while only being one or two sentences. Other moods such as suspense or sadness require more detail than a 3-5 second mute gif can provide. (Baym)

Besides expressing emotion, gifs can influence and establish communities, which result in what Limor Shifman calls shared social phenomenon. Shifman states, “memes shape the mindsets, forms of behavior, and actions of social groups”, this is very true (Shifman, 18). In regards to Kramer gifs, there is an entire Reddit community with about 5,000 followers called /r/kramergifs that’s dedicated to creating and posting gifs exclusively of Kramer because of peoples love for his character. Many of the gifs posted aren’t even used as response or reaction gifs, they’re just peoples favorite scenes of Kramer posted as a gif.

 

Works Cited:

Baym, Nancy K. Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Cambridge: Polity, 2010. Print.

Shifman, Limor. “When Memes Go Digital.” Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge: MIT, 1974. 18. Print.