Usability of Facebook Tool (SPL)

The usability of Seattle Public Library’s Facebook site for a new user is quite good. Patrons don’t have to wait long to become active participants in the site as Facebook’s Wall feature encourages them to “write something.” If the user was completely unfamiliar with social networking, he/she could always post a question or ask for help.

At the time of my visit, many of the library’s postings encouraged user interaction. One of them asked, “Psssst! Watcha reading?” The friendly, conspiratorial tone of the question garnered 78 comments. It may be the case that many of these commentators are first-time users. How is that possible?

In his blog, Derek Wenmoth shares his Four Cs diagram to explain a person’s participation online. The user begins as a consumer, moves to commentor, contributor and eventually, commentator. The first phase, consumer, is when a participant “simply read[s] and explore[s] the posts of others.” At the next level, commentor, the user “make[s] comments on others posts (either on blogs, or in discussion forums), often seeking clarification, agreeing with a statement, or offering a suggestion or link to something similar.” First-time users of the Seattle Public Library’s site may start by just exploring but once they make a post, for example sharing their latest read, they have moved up to the next level. In a subtle way, they are “offering a suggestion” to their fellow users.

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