Although I finished Avatar Emergency early Tuesday morning, and there is much to extract from Ulmer’s testimony, I would like to simply post some comments on AE’s platform ― Socialbook ― which I’ve been using the past two weeks. Socialbook does have potential, but in these early stages of development, I encountered similar frustrations as Jake has articulated in his blog post. I see Socialbook as a limited platform due to some obvious adjustments that need to be made if it desires to serve as a meaningful and collective engagement space. (1) Needs to have page numbers of the text. (2) Needs to have an index. I have to sift through comments upon comments, some of which are simply highlights by readers, to find important remarks about the text. Possibly a sidebar, similar to how the “community” tab appears and functions, would enable “group” comments to be better organized and easier to browse through. In addition, I have to continually browse through all my comments to see if another reader has responded to my comment (no notification of new comments or responses). Also, when I comment on someone else’s annotation, I have to continually check back, as well as sift through their annotations, to see if they responded to my comment (again, no notification via email). (3) I think a “bookmarking” feature would be helpful (if page numbers are absent). As I’m reading a page on 50% and decide I would like to revisit ideas from earlier pages, let’s say at 10%, I have to write down the beginning of a paragraph on 50%, go back and reread earlier pages or comments, and then return to 50% and find the paragraph. It would be better if I could bookmark the last page I’m on at any given time and be able to return to the bookmark easily.
But more importantly than these basic issues is the clarity for how socialbook functions with “group” and “community” tabs. As Greg remarked that he couldn’t get into the “group” tab and thus couldn’t access many of those comments, I had to be “signed in” as “Avatar Emergency – Just Me” (which is confusing because that assumes my comments will be inaccessible by other readers) and annotate with the “community” mode. Ulimately, many of my “group” comments did not transfer to the “community” tab, and hence Greg was not able to see or respond to all my comments. The instructions in the “Help” tab aren’t clear either, so better articulation for how Socialbook functions and commenting/annotating works would be beneficial.
This issue with the “group” and “community” tabs and comments caused an important conversation to be inaccessible to Greg. Since Greg is working within the “community” tab and not all comments and thread conversations from the “group” tab are appearing in the “community” tab, he missed, and we lost his insight into, a conversation that may help us understand better the group project. Nevertheless, I think Socialbook has potential and using it for the past two weeks has been an interesting experience. Particularly with AE, I think if these problems were resolved, we (our class) could find the dialectical engagement more fruitful.