Monday, November 5, 2012

Dropbox Interview

Before my Dropbox interview with Ryan M. ended, he asked if I had any questions. I decided to ask him whether Dropbox technical support would add to their forums, which are based entirely on the public answering questions that Dropboxers had, telephone support. It seemed like the most reasonable suggestion, since each Technical Support Engineer answered up to hundreds of tickets a day, some with urgent questions that Dropboxers (especially those who pay) would greatly appreciate an easier and faster way to reach Dropbox to solve their questions. 

He replied, no, because he believed that in this time and day, people should be actively looking for answers to solve their problems, whether it be through the forum or playing with the features. It would teach individuals how to use the Internet and Dropbox instead of waiting around, waiting to be fed answers. 

This reminded me of Steinert and Pilgram's argument that "the focus should be on 'participation'" (Wessels, 106). Through Dropbox's idea that forcing Dropboxers to actively seek and post answers by not having a telephone help support line, they will not only learn how to use the Internet, but in Wessels' terms, their capacity to "generate knowledge that enables people to engage in social and economic life" grows (Wessels 114). By being able to generate participation, Dropboxers are able to "develop forms of communication from a range of sources and to be innovative in developing forms of communication and networking" (Ibid). All in all, by having a public forum in which Dropbox users can have access to and those who contribute can sign up easily using their email address, inclusion is fostered because the Internet is shaped to "meet the needs and potential of local people to enable them to participate in the richness of social life... in a genuine and vibrant civil society" (Wessels, 121).


  1. Anna, interesting tidbit from your Dropbox interview! You have extracted from Wessels some of her more positive conclusions about the Internet's potential to foster community, though I wonder whether Dropbox forums can really be seen as addressing the requirements of "local people" or "civil society." We return again to Habermas's notion of the public sphere, and whether or not virtual communities can create similar bonds without another layer of physical or geographical proximity.

  2. I think it's interesting that participation is become such a huge part of Internet use. I feel that before we just used it to search for information but that has completely change. We're constantly engaging with other users and products, from social media networks to actively looking to solve our problems.

    Participation is key in this day and age because Internet users are no longer satisfied with simply looking at information. They want something to do on a website and I think that companies are beginning to realize this. If you they want to increase their traffic they have to create platforms that will engage their users and keep them coming back. We want to feel included and a part of something. The simple way to do that is to participate!
    -- Just another way at looking at the idea of participation

  3. The insight you got from your Dropbox interview is truly interesting! Your post reminded me of participation on Yelp -- where information by random members of society are more reliable and desired than participation by, say restaurant experts. In this Web 2.0 age of active community participation, more and more non-experts and random members of society are giving others advice, and it has become the case where these participants' advice are more valued because these members are ordinary just like us, and can provide unjaded and unbiased advice on certain issues.