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Affordance: YouTube and VoiceThread

2011 July 14
by doyin25

After reading McGrenere and Ho, I was able to differentiate between usability and affordance. I think the term usability deals with user’s experience with a system, while affordance deals with the properties of the tools that are utilized to design a system. For example, a blog might not be usable (usability) if “comment” is hidden whether by its location with the post, colour, or/and size. In the case of affordance, the designer of the blog is availed of the tools, i.e. comments, search, blogrolls, tag cloud, and many other widgets, in blogs.

The FVRL maintains a Youtube account that helps both librarians (public library especially) and the public. The videos are educative and serve as resources for librarians of public libraries, especially. Posting comments in a similar fashion as blogs is a good prove of its affordance as a social media tool. Comments in YouTube are only textual. I think this is a limitation to YouTube affordance.

Some people prefer audio/visual to textual communication. VoiceThread gives one the opportunity to comment on posted video (or multimedia file) in different formats other than typing the comments. Thanks to Dean for making reference to VoiceThread in one of the class discussion forums. Its About page is a starting point to know more about its affordance.

5 Responses leave one →
  1. July 15, 2011

    Hi Doyin,

    Interesting blog post but comments on YouTube are not limited only to text. Anybody with a YouTube account can post video responses to Vlogs or even videos uploaded by the FVRL. YouTube has an information page on how to upload/make a video response located here:

  2. douellet permalink
    July 15, 2011

    Excellent post. This really clarified things for me. I have done usability testing and usability research in the past and I think I was hung up on this issue. But you are totally right.

    Usability has to do with how easily users are able to conduct specific tasks on your website. it mostly has to do with the websites information architecture (i.e. navigation system, labeling system etc…). But it seems to me that affordances is about possibilities. It is about what users are able to do, and what they are encouraged to do on the website.

    Thank you for helping me make the distinction.

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