a week of discord

This week I decided to track the number of work related discord messages that I received. For some background, I work within a group of four supporting the physics undergraduate labs at the University of California, Riverside. Currently, I am focused on developing and converting simulations for our remote labs. We use a discord server for voice and text chat between the tech staff (the team I am apart of), select faculty members, tracking our git updates, and a text based role-playing game; not to mention the various direct message chats. For many reasons, this week was relatively relaxed with only 435 messages!

To track the messages I recorded: (1) who sent the message (bot, tech staff member, or myself), (2) when the message was sent (morning or afternoon), (3) was the message sent as a group message or a direct message, (4) and how I viewed or sent the message (desktop vs phone). There were no faculty messages sent in the discord chat this week. Data from the role-playing game was not recorded.

A week of discord messages

Looking over the visualization, it appears that I am not as active in conversations than my coworkers, which is true to some extent. However, this data fails to capture all areas of engagement and loses the context of the messages. For example:

  • I may respond to a message containing a yes or no question by using the thumbs up or thumbs down emoji rather than replying yes or no.
  • One of my coworkers is one of my housemates so we generally talk in person rather than online.
  • This week we used the discord voice channels rather than the text channels for some of our conversations.
  • Some messages were sent in the group chat that were directed towards specific people (rather than a direct message)
  • I often send “block” or “paragraph” style messages rather than “sentence” style (i.e. one message may be equivalent to 2 or 3 from others)

Some trends can be identified from this data set:

  • I exclusively send messages from the desktop discord application, but view on both my phone and desktop.
  • The number of messages decline throughout the week with Tuesday having the greatest number of messages. This makes some sense as Tuesday’s are generally our busiest days of the week.
  • Most messages are sent in the afternoon/evening. This also makes some sense because 75% of our labs run between 12:30 and 22:00.

It will be interesting to further collect this data to see if these trends hold.

11 thoughts on “a week of discord

  1. Really intriguing visualisation. As you point out, there is so much more behind the data than has been recorded (or perhaps could be) and this is just one week (which may not be typical).

  2. This is a fantastic visualisation Dillon. First of all, I like how you’ve framed it in a ‘window’, complete with close, minimise and maximise buttons. And it is a very stylish piece of work, well done!

    One can definitely get a sense of your ‘week’ here in interesting ways: lots of direct messages on Monday, seemed quite busy Tuesday, then a lot more DMs before it gives way to a ‘mobile’ Friday. I think the choice of marks is quite interesting too, very minimal, and brief, as if these messages are blips, or otherwise every minor encounters, even distractions. In future visualisations, it would be good to include some reflection on design choices, e.g. why these shapes or colours? And what do you think your choices convey?

    Very interesting that you felt the context was lost here. I suppose that always happens with data collection in some way, but maybe you get a wider picture here of your conduct? This issue of losing context might be one to return to in later visualisations and reflections.

    And finally, I agree that you have some great insights about your work here, but what about your learning on this course? What might this kind of visualisation say about your capacity to engage with the course? Further, could you build on this to track activity more directly related to ‘learning’?

    • Hi Jeremy! Thank you for the feedback. Yeah, I wanted to try to capture the style of a chat log. Trying to keep the visualization simple, i.e. not busy, took a few attempts. For example, the brackets grouping AM messages were originally dots on the line, but some of the lines became too busy and hard to read. I’ll be sure to include some reflection behind the design in future posts!

  3. Looks beautiful to me, Dillon!

    You mention that you found out that you might be less active in the chat than the rest of your colleagues. Was it a surprise for you? Is it good or bad if it’s possible to make a conclusion here?

    • Thank you! Trying to jump to any conclusion from this one week is a bit problematic. I see activity (participating in chat) as sinusoidal – you have some highs, some lows, and a baseline over some period of time. Thinking over a longer period of time across different platforms I will say that I am generally as active in chats compared to my colleagues/friends. However, if we take snapshots there will be times where I have low activity and times that I have high activity. For example, if had I had collected our discord activity a couple weeks ago, when we had some significant technical issues, the data would show that I am just as active, if not more, than some of my colleagues.

      The question, then, is what does it mean to have a high or low activity? What is it relative to? What are the factors that contribute to it?

      • I am with you here, Dillon. Before making any conclusions, we need to think and observe broader, since data as Williamson put it, ‘are inherently partial, selective and representative, and the distinguishing criteria used in their capture has consequences’ (p.4).

  4. Very interesting visualisation! I love the perfect circles and the way you present the data in an easy to read graphic.

  5. Very nice, Dillon, so neat and visually appealing. How do you find discord, this is something I have been looking at to use for teaching, instead of teams, for example. What do you think? I think this is similar to my email visualisation, the volume of traffic doesn’t tell you much about the content, and I suppose this is the issue with high level and quantitative data. You obviously picked up on this yourself.

    • Thank you! I have used Discord for quite some time for various servers (games, coding, friends, etc) and quite enjoy it. My only complaint is the native video chat capabilities – it has not been very stable for me. I saw a vlog from a teacher who uses game based learning to teach EFL and, due to COVID, uses Discord to facilitate the group activities; he has had success using the platform. If I remember correctly, he created each group a text chat and voice chat, and assigned them a role (which gives them different permissions). Text chats for announcements and more general discussions were created as well.

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