My final analysis of Venturepax

What features would you change/add/delete in this tool?

I believe that the main struggle for Venturepax will be to clearly define the action steps for a new visitor and returning visitor to the site. Social Networks, which Venturepax is one, must be so ubiquitous that questions about how and why to use the network must not even be in the head of users. Users should immediately know what they are supposed to do when they show up on the site. For Venturepax, this struggle is based around the fact that users first experience the outdoors and are then asked to report about it or “punch in” at a later time. While a mobile application is in development that will address this disconnect, it is hard for users to understand the idea of “punching in” when they are not, in fact, at the location when the “punch in.”

Also, I envision a more standardized database of locations. For example, the difference between a “Destination” and a “Venture” is relatively straightforward once it is explained, but to expect a user to identify that a Destination is Hub, but a Venture is an actual activity, may be stepping a bit ahead. For example, the “Ohio River” can act as a “Destination”, but “Split Rock Climbing” in Petersburg, Kentucky is a “Venture.” Interestingly enough, Split Rock could also be considered a “Destination.”

Will you persist in using this tool after this project is completed?

Less than a week into this course I signed a contract to work as an outside consultant for Venturepax as a Community Manager. After having developed a very close relationship with the Founder and CEO I began closely analyzing the site and offered regular feedback about how to engage the users of Venturepax to create a stronger community and build brand equity. As a result I was offered an opportunity to play a strategic role in building Venturepax through a round of seed funding. Therefore, I will be a  very active user of Venturepax moving forward. Additionally, I can’t think of an organization with a better social mission than Venturepax. Inspiring people to get outside and share their experiences is at the heart of what I love, so I am excited about the future for this burgeoning brand.

How have your perceptions about the tool remained the same or changed since you first adopted this tool?

As I’ve worked within Venturepax, I’ve come to recognize many confusing problems, Most importantly, is that many users believe Venturepax can only be used as a mobile application where they check in based on their GPS coordinates. Despite the fact that a Mobile Application is in development poised for release in mid-summer, Venturepax lets users check-in on the website. Communicating this is very difficult as Venturepax’s target users are already accustomed to “checking-in” on foursquare, facebook, yelp, and others.
How would you describe/introduce the tool to a colleague in your given discipline?

As I’ve been actively engaging the users of Venturepax via Facebook and E-mail newsletters, my pitch for Venturepax has been narrowed greatly from what it was when I first started using Venturepax almost 7 months ago. Originally, I had explained Venturepax as a social network that allowed users to create a profile, create Destinations and Ventures (explaining the difference between each) and share stories, tips and warnings about those Destinations and Ventures. I would then explain that users could earn points and rewards for posting pictures and videos and stories and punching in, etc. Now, I simply state that Venturepax is an online community that lets people who are active in the outdoors share information with folks who may be looking for things to do outside in their physical communities. The hope is that people will understand the vision for Venturepax and be able to understand the details once they visit the site.

Where does this tool fit in your study of social informatics?

Venturepax is an online community that enables the sharing of information, and creates a specific call to action for visitors to the site. In alignment with many social movements today, Venturepax encourages people to get outside, engage in activity, and generate interest by sharing their experiences with others who are part of the community. In effect it beings people together in a common bond, uniting them in support of a social movement. Like an effective grassroots political campaign, Venturepax will enlist an army of passionate followers who will speak publicly, whether FtF or online, of the values it supports!

Venturepax proves that virtual communities can be created  and proves that these online communities can effect social change and align with a specific message.


1 comment so far

  1. Renee Human on

    Keith, I have not doubt you’ll influence and help guide this burgeoning brand. I think in 5-10 years, I’ll be saying “I knew him when…” I’ll be watching the progress of Venturepax, thanks for sharing with us!

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