Survey: Furry fandom in digital spaces
Ben Walker, a British undergraduate student at Keele University in Staffordshire, is conducting research on the design of online social spaces. He has created a brief survey for members of the fandom and is seeking candidates for interviews and focus groups.
[The] point of this research is to aid the design of online social spaces. If forums and community sites can be made to fit their communities better, the experience users get from them improves.
This project combines my two degree subjects, Computer Science and Geography (the human centric stuff) with the aim of utilising both to provide some tangible benefits to online communities. Being on the edge of the fandom I thought looking at Furries would be more interesting.
The project supervisor is Dr D.C McKay of the School of Physical and Geographical Science. Those interested in participating may complete the survey linked above, or email Ben.
About the authorGreenReaper (Laurence Parry) — read stories — contact (login required)
a developer, editor and Kai Norn from London, United Kingdom, interested in wikis and computers
Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.
I also had this interesting idea about digital spaces, however mine was a little less furry.
The internet was originally developed with a security mission in mind, one that was not followed through on to its fullest extent. It was made to decentralize information infrastructure in case of atomic attack during the Cold War. Now that that war is over people don't think about being taken in a mushroom cloud as much as they used to, however there is still the concept of terrorists attacking main hubs of institutions. The target is not information, it is the people.
Our technology is at the point now where we can begin to do something especially important. De-centralize the structure of our very physical institutions. This would be beneficial in many regards (of course these are US examples):
1) Instead of trying to get their kid to the best schools, a parent could send their child to a 'hub' institute where the child can be taught by the best teachers, and the best teach could be thousands of miles away. Heck, if a family had a stay at home parent they could very easily sit in class along with their child instead of sending them to a hub institution. (Of course the reason hub institutions would be needed is 2 fold: Rural internet connectivity is still limited, and both parents have become expected to work as soon as their kids are all in school).
2) Instead of having congresspeople go to a city thousands of miles away to congregate and vote on bills, putting them all in one place and making them easier to access by lobbying groups than their own constituency. Imagine if you will that our public libraries within our districts were re purposed to include an office for our congressperson who can have an office right in the back yard of the people they represent. They'd use online, and very secure information infrastructure to talk with fellow congresspeople in virtual meetings, and even cast their votes.
Critics could say this is dangerous because of hacking and what not, however having all of our leaders in one city could also be construed as dangerous because what if someone successfully attacked the building they all congregate in?
More importantly, I feel, it would make it easier for the people to access their politicians and their politicians to access their people. Also it'd make it harder for lobbiests to send people to one place to talk with swath of lawmakers. They would instead have to send either multiple lobbiests to many places, or one to many places, which makes lobbying less cost effective. In theory, anyway.
Though back on the topic of furry social spaces? I don't know if it's all that broken (well aside from site specific issues). As far as how they're laid out, it seems to be niche centric rather than anything. However, the internet in general has done that. There's no longer a homogenized culture in human society where one person can go. "Did you watch the latest I Love Lucy?" and basically everyone says yes because, that's all that's on. In essence it forces us to be better story tellers because we more often than not have to introduce people to concepts and ideas they may not be familiar with far more often. So you learn about your target audience's interest and mold your interests into the shape and around the concepts they understand.
I think online spaces are fine the way they are. It's the people who inhabit those spaces that need to improve.
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