Affinity spaces are locations where groups of people are drawn together because of a shared, strong interest or engagement in a common activity.
–James Paul Gee
I randomly stumbled upon Photoblog a few months ago and thought it looked interesting. But didn’t come back to it until a few weeks ago when I trying to decide on an affinity space for my Games and Learning graduate course at CU Denver.
I selected PhotoBlog as my affinity space for a few reasons. First, photography is a passion / hobby of mine and I’ve been putting it on the back-burner. This seems like a good opportunity to dive back in and improve on my work. In addition, I’m hoping to use it as a way to gain some insight into how my practice is deepening my understanding about the importance learning through play.
A bit about PhotoBlog:
PhotoBlog is a website open to anyone interested in publishing ideas and perspectives through the lens. It offers opportunities to share, learn, and collaborate with a like-minded community. Bloggers can also leverage online resources to improve on things like shooting techniques or post-production editing or chat about general photography questions, equipment, or request critiquing.
Now that I’m about two weeks into my engagement with Photoblog, it’s time to take a step back and outline some initial observations.
There is an approval process to join, which is a characteristic Gee talks about this in, Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning. As a newbie, my first post had to go through review and approval before going live. This took about 24 hours and the notifications came through via email:
Once my post was approved, Mike, the founder of Photoblog, made sure to immediately add a comment on my blog. He seems to be very active in fostering community engagement as I saw several of his comments on other blogs too. He even followed up with me via email to congratulate me for posting my first blog, remind me to comment, and why it’s important to support other bloggers.
It is very easy to navigate the site and post blogs; no coding required. You can find everything you need from the top navigation menu (pictured below). Simple design is important for this type of space as it helps bloggers focus on the community and content vs user interface. It makes engaging with the platform more fun with less pressure. I have yet to feel frustrated with it!
Photobloggers are a positive and supportive group! The initial comments on my blogs not only made me feel good about my work but inspired me to want to reply. Some bloggers commented on composition and asked about location. Others simply provided a compliment, “great shot!” This type of support and engagement makes me want to keep blogging!
Photoblog is fairly limited to it’s online domain. Their social footprint is rather small (and that’s okay) and I couldn’t find an app. I would love an app for this site. It would make it easier to publish and participate on the go. For instance, I would love to be able to snap a pic with my iPhone and directly upload. As it stands today, I have to download my photos to my computer and go from there.
While poking around in the “learn” section of the site, I read an interesting article about street photography. This led me to find more affinity spaces specific to street art!
I’m finishing out the week with 6 likes, 771 blog views (nice!), 3 followers, and 6 following.
I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of possibilities within Photoblog. Throughout the upcoming weeks, I plan to continue to post content on my blog and start observing more on how others are leveraging the platform to engage in play and what I can learn from receiving / providing thoughtful critiques on uploaded photographs.