Each Wednesday, I write a post that is from my dissertation.
I am not a chat room kind of person. I find them overwhelming. As an industry worker, however, I knew that there were scrapbookers visiting these chat rooms because they would talk about something they had seen on Two Peas when they came into the store. Some of my co-workers talked about visiting these chat rooms, too.
Interestingly, industry workers overall do not regularly visit internet chat rooms or message boards devoted to scrapbooking talk. Industry workers said that they visit these places if somebody directs them to read a particular thread or to solve a scrapbooking problem. Industry workers visit for specific reasons, and not to build any sort of community with other industry workers or scrapbookers. In fact, industry workers are typically discouraged from visiting online scrapbooking forums because the comments are often just unconstructive criticism. One industry worker said that it is mainly the really devoted scrapbookers who spend a lot of money on the craft that are commenting in the chat rooms—such a small group that she should not shape her business based on their opinions. Another industry worker actually owned and operated a message board for scrapbookers so that her customers could communicate with one another because as an online retailer, her customers were not going to meet any other way.
Scrapbookers also rarely visit discussion forums about scrapbooking. Several respondents had no idea they even existed. They use the internet primarily to share their own work, for ideas for their own pages, to come up with ideas for pages through scrapbooking challenges issued online, or to research scrapbooking products prior to purchase. A couple of respondents regularly upload copies of their pages to share with online communities via online galleries or their personal blog. Though scrapbookers generally avoid discussion forums, some read blogs about scrapbooking or listen to podcasts about scrapbooking. Only one respondent visits discussion forums with any regularity—several times a day—but he works for a scrapbooking manufacturer and visits for his job.
Have things changed?
One word of caution is that these interviews were conducted in 2008. Much has changed in the industry and scrapbooking has really exploded online in the past couple of years. There are thousands of blogs about scrapbooking. There are several scrapbooking education online programs now. The chat rooms and message boards still exist and new ones are popping up all the time. As local scrapbook stores close up shop, more people will turn to the internet to fill their scrapbooking shopping needs and in the process find a scrapbooking community online. It is possible that more scrapbookers and industry workers are going to the internet now than they were when my interviews were conducted.