Electronic Thesis/Dissertation

 

Write My Thesis: Magazines, Blogs and Design...Wiki-style Open Access

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The day Domino magazine folded in January of 2009, a silence was heard throughout the design community. This marked yet another design magazine that had fallen victim to declining advertisement sales in recent years. Until this point, magazines were at the forefront of identifying design trends and up-and-coming designers, while providing one of the only locations to provide guides of where to find products and how to assemble looks. The rise in social media, including blogs, vlogs, wikis, podcasts, wall postings, and photosharing, has quickly assumed a more prominent role in the wake of printed magazines. Like Wikipedia, this thesis is mass-collaboratively written by the users of the Web 2.0 through crowd-sourcing the content on a wiki site with the author acting as mediator and main contributor. The aim is to discover the benefits of social media versus traditional print and how it affects design.The project describes the qualities that made the magazine successful in its golden age and how they eventually grew outdated as social media became more popular. Using other fields as models, like journalism and business management, the project explores the roles of community and collaboration and how they influence design via a blog called Write My Thesis. Also explored is the importance of tribes as essential elements in successful social media by creating a built-in readership, as well as the necessity of audience feedback. Other important elements to the project include the importance of easy-to-use features, the time required to maintain social media programs, and the statistics required to make a blog successful.Interviews with editors from magazines that have folded, editors from magazines that continue to thrive, and editors from magazines that have both a successful print and web component in addition to successful design bloggers and online magazines comprise a generous portion of the research and are woven throughout the wiki site as major discussion points for the reader. Blogs and wiki sites contain the most up-to-date information and allow for author-to-author contact; thus they fund the bulk of the research.The research shows that designers and design enthusiasts with varying levels of experience are able to create blogs while acting as authorities on the subjects because of the availability and ease of the programs. They build up their audience by associating with other bloggers and attract readers with the same interests, thus building communities and encouraging a less-formal, participatory experience than magazines. The speed of disseminating information is quickened so that designers' work is discovered more rapidly, but also shortening the duration of their popularity.By treating this thesis as an experiment in social media through crowd-sourced efforts versus the traditional researcher versus reader format, the most current research is collected that is mutually beneficial to both the designer and the reader. Readers and designers address the pros and cons on social media and in the process attract their own audiences. By attracting a larger audience, the author collects a wide variety of examples of how new media has changed design and what it means for the future.The information gathered from Write My thesis lays the foundation for Baker Street, an online magazine in blog format featuring people in Washington, D.C. and their places. The author photographs people from a variety of walks of life in their homes, offices, or studios and writes about their relationship to their well-designed space. Much like the online web community that blogs enhance, the project focuses on D.C. as a physical community. By getting to know the people that inhabit the neighborhoods, the communities are strengthened and awareness of D.C. as a creative hub expands. The website features crowd-sourcing opportunities to its readers and offers tools on how to find well-designed spaces.

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