(for a better version of this picture see Kozinets 2010, p.28)
Whilst this diagram is a useful summary it misleads slightly in the way the arrows suggest a linear progression through the different stages of communication as time increases. For my part whilst I found a general tendency for my engagement with Drumeo to follow this structure, there could also be posts where I reverted back to topical information exchange. There could also be posts where there would be a mix of different types of communication. But then that is the nature of theoretical models, generalisations are inevitable.
So here is how my experience with Drumeo maps onto Kozinet’s model.
Stage 1 – Task oriented information seeking and topical information exchange
Typified by lots of seeking information through a variety of sources, lurking on the periphery* of certain online communities before being drawn into a particular community.
I had watched numerous youtube drumming education channels and visited several sites over the last few years. I eventually settled on drumeo exclusively and got intrigued enough to want to do my netography project on it.
(* periphery implies that lurkers are not central to or are in a minority in the make up of a community. This is a dangerous assumption to make about online communities and I didn’t want to imply this, however I liked the wording so kept it in)
Stage 2 – Identity information exchange
Posting my responses in established pinned threads such as “where are you from?” “what drum covers are you working now?”
Stage 3 – Cultural norm exchange
I think I’ve managed to avoid stepping on any toes but then I did read a lot of threads about forum etiquette, particularly on giving constructive critiques to people’s playing. In looking through other threads I also saw a lot of posts that were “correcting” people who posted things in the wrong thread category.
Stage 4 – Clarification of power/status
Bit tricky given my short time in the community but it’s pretty easy to spot how this works due to the badge systems on the forum. The members with the highest status were those with:
- Were employed by Drumeo (visible on their forum avatar)
- The most posts (visible on their forum avatar)
- The longest running threads in the student progress forum
- Had their student progress thread pinned to the front page of the student progress forum
- Got the most responses to their videos,
- Displayed the greatest drumming skill in their videos (although not always, there were a few exceptions),
- Had lots of acronym badges next to their avatar (I could never find an explanation of what any of these meant)
Stage 5 – Cultural Norm Enforcement
This was subtle but when I posted topics that were of interest on the forum or gave detailed feedback to a video the number of appreciative responses increased. This reinforced the cultural norms of the community.
Stage 6 – Relational Exchanges
Gradually more personal information started to slip into my posts, what Kozinet’s identified as convergence. e.g. when talking about space and texture in playing mentioning that I got married to this particular tune .
I don’t think I advanced much further than this in Kozinet’s model and as I metioned above, I don’t think it’s accurate to describe it as a straight progression.