GLOGSTER: a tool for creative expression (with awkward incentives for re-use..)

Last night around midnight, my colleague Monique Flaccavento (@mflaccavento) Tweeted:

I had to laugh because I could just picture Monique awake in her house, worrying about keeping abreast of trendy web services and social networking tools. I also laughed because she’s just really funny. Either way, I became curious about “Glogster” and started to investigate.

Glogster launched in 2007 as a platform for the creation of “posters” (kind of like web pages) to express oneself creatively and artistically through the use of both multi-media and text. It simplifies the practice of “creating” on the web, and fosters a space where a wider spectrum of abilities can craft and personalize their message. Inherently it encourages its users, or “gloggers”, to experiment with a wide range of visualization tools. This multi-facetted aspect of blogging is what makes Glogster unique. Basically, it’s the fusion of a traditional text blog, Tumblr, YouTube, and MySpace.

Some positive remarks about Glogster:

  • Glogster is very, very easy to use
  • It’s a great tool for classroom or group exercises, web promotion, and personal art-work/displays
  • Combines music, video, images, and colour with “limitless” customization
  • It’s FREE

Some critical remarks about Glogster:

  • Reading through the FAQ, there are several spelling and grammatical errors. Am I just picky, or does that rub other people the wrong way? I think it reflects poorly on the product and the leadership behind it.
  • The Glogster policies on “inappropriate content” are simultaneously both alarmingly open-ended and brief… see the screen-capture:

  • Why limit hate to “race” and ethnic background? What about every form of prejudice? I think a Muslim would feel offended by statements against his/her religion, and would deem it to be “inappropriate content”, as would a female to misogynistic language. Glogster admin. should update these policies to be more inclusive.
  • The creators of Glogster have added strange incentives for users to interact with, and even promote their site. They present users with “G-points”, described as “a reward for your activity on Glogster. Simply put – the more active you are, the more G you have. This includes creating good Glogs, inviting friends nd telling the world about Glogster. Promoting your Glog online and embedding it is worth most Gs” [Could you spot the typo?]. Further, the creators try to encourage (more like peer pressure) users to compete towards earning the elusive ‘G’: “People with a high G count are the most respected Gloggers. If you have lots of Gs, it means that you’re an elite Glogger.” Hmm.. Interesting ploy, but I’m not a fan of the incentive program. The subjective practice of deeming Gloggers’ Glogs to be “good” can leave others (whose consequently aren’t “good”) with the sentiment that their creative expressions are somehow less appreciated or valued.

Given the infancy of Glogster, I expect that its policies and services will expand and develop over time. The primary usership is teenagers (as you might notice from a quick glance at the page of “Best and Fresh Glogs”…), but a diversity of user groups exist. Additionally, see Glogster EDU marketed for use in the classroom (or the library, for you librarians out there with instruction responsibilities).

To end, read this hilarious review of Glogster by TechCrunch, it’s amazing. If you had a Geocities website a decade ago, you’ll appreciate the article even more.

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