The Progress? Project or When I was free to be nerdy…

Tom Liacas —  April 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Almost ten years ago now… wow how did that happen? I was putting the finishing touches on my Thesis report for my Masters in Media Studies. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was fiddling around with a medium that would come to dominate my working life. This was a forum on a primitive version of Drupal but, considering the multi-user setup, the profiles and interactivity, this was an archaic Social Network.

Man, I wish I had kept screenshots of this thing! One thing that I can relate is the serious and ongoing effort it took to keep exchanges alive and meaningful, despite the fact that participants were techno-literate and eager at the onset.  This was my first lab for learning about the challenges of designing a space for lasting online engagement.

Maybe the topic was too lofty for free and easy discussion. To give you an idea of how nerdy I got back when I did not have to sell these solutions to clients, here is an abstract from my project:

The Progress? Project was an internet-mediated communications initiative, which sought to establish a critical dialogue on the notion of “progress” between invited participants from two geographically distant countries. The project’s outcome is meant to demonstrate how easily current global flows of information can be diversified with existing social and technological resources.

You can download the full project report here, if you’re a lover of academe: liacas_thesisreport

The guinea pigs were friends of friends from either Canada or Slovenia, where I had made some tech and design contacts. All things considered, there were some very interesting cross-cultural exchanges. The world did seem like a smaller space for the time it lasted. But ultimately, more pressing concerns drew people away from the project, as happens every day in social networks across the world. After all, there are so many kitten videos yet unseen, so many virtual farm animals to tend to… who has time for snooty dialogue?

Tom Liacas

Tom Liacas

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An M.A. graduate in Media Studies, Tom Liacas is an experienced Social Network Strategist who first cut his teeth creating and managing advocacy campaigns as an activist.