Sunday, 23 September 2007

Will Virtual Worlds Become Bigger Than The Web?

I've decided I'm going to start writing a few more posts about Second Life and virtual worlds in general. I've been visiting SL on a regular basis and I'm finding that the more time I spend there, the more interesting it is becoming to me.

I've also been prompted to write by this revealing 4 part video interview with Second Life CEO Philip Rosedale. Rosedale expresses his thoughts about the current state of Second Life, their plans for future improvements, and where virtual worlds might be heading in the future. It's well worth a viewing if you are at all interested in the nature of virtual worlds and social media.

Rosedale has made the grand assertion that virtual worlds could potentially become bigger than the web is now, and that we could be at the beginning of something that has a long term impact on the world (and he's not just talking about Second Life, but other competing worlds as well). He does also state that he could be wrong.

Whatever the case, it's clear that the idea of virtual worlds has been around for a while, and doesn't seem to be going away. Second Life is the first world to reach some sort of critical mass in terms of popularity, visibility, usage and economy. It is currently about the size of San Francisco, has around 200,000 visitors a day, and has a million dollar a day economy. Is there a chance of this going backwards or coming to a halt for some reason, say if the real world U.S. economy fell into recession soon? Perhaps, only time will tell.

Rosedale makes the fundamental point that although we use the term 'cyberspace' today, the web as we know it is not really a space or a place. He maintains that to create popular 3D digital worlds with the physical presence of 'us', potentially has far greater reach than anything we have created so far on the web. He explains that the main lure of of virtual worlds is that there are other people there. You can just walk up to strangers and talk to them, more easily than you can in real life. This human interaction is empowering. Virtual worlds can bring people together in a very social way.

I'm finding that the most interesting interactive experiences emerging at the moment are ones with a shared social experience, where the core engagement or interaction is with other people. Answer me this question: when was the last time you wanted to spend more than a hour at a time interacting at a single site in 'cyberspace'? Was it a site that involved interacting with other people, using new social media tools such as Facebook, flickr, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter or Second Life? Was it game played with other people over a network?

Will virtual worlds eventually become bigger than the web? Who knows, but I'm going to keep an open mind about their value and merit before being so quick as to write them off at this very early stage. I'm going to keep exploring and learning for the time being and see where it leads.

My avatar name is jjprojects infinity in Second Life. Please feel free to add me as a friend.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Sydney Twitter Meetup 2

Well, the second Sydney Tweetup is just around the corner. If you twitter and are in Sydney next Thursday night, come along and join us for drinks at The Aurora Hotel in Surry Hills. It should be a another fun night.

I'm happy to announce that there will be a couple of door prizes given away on the night. One will be provided by Microsoft, the other by Twitter (the company).

A very big thank you to our sponsors, Happener Recruitment, and Microsoft for their support.

Here are some details:

Date: Thursday, September 27, 2007
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: The Aurora Hotel, cnr Kippax Street & Elizabeth Stree, Surry Hills

Please see for more info.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Australia's First Social Media Election

What's on your mind?

On Friday Google launched a 2007 Australian Federal Election page, and an Australia Votes YouTube channel. From the election page users can add election content to Google Maps and Google Earth, access YouTube videos and add various feeds using iGoogle Gadgets.

Inside the Australia Votes channel you are encouraged to "Get involved and have your say" by submitting video responses and leaving text comments. Voters are also being encouraged to ask questions about political issues, and presumably some answers will be offered.

Apart from the various political sites and content already launched, The Australian has reported that Ninemsn is going to launch an Australia Decides 07 site with live video feeds, opinion polls, blogs and a "taxi poll", which will feature a cab driver interviewing voters. Apparently the The Age and are also planning similar sites with multimedia news and opinion feeds and blogs. I wonder if Australian politicians will also begin to make use of Twitter, as U.S. politicians Barack Obama and John Edwards have.

How much of an impact do you think online and user generated content in particular will have on the upcoming campaign? If you live in Europe or the U.S., how much of an impact do you think it has had in politics there so far?

Peter Garrett talks about the role of the web.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

APEC Sydney: A Social Media Perspective

I've had a few APEC related social media experiences this week, mostly via Twitter. Earlier in the week I mentioned on Twitter just how much security was beginning to emerge in the lead up to APEC.

My Twitter friend Connie Reece then let me know that one of her Twitter friends, newmediajim, was part of the press crew on-board Air Force One. He was on is way from Iraq to Sydney for APEC at that very moment. She encouraged me to follow his twitter, as he was going to be twittering the event when they landed in Sydney. I started to follow Newmediajim and he reciprocated when he began twittering from Sydney.

A short time later I mentioned on Twitter that when walking down the streets near where I work in the city, I felt like I was being watched, and that I wouldn't be surprised if there were snipers around. Almost immediately I was sent a flickr link via Twitter of snipers on a roof just around the corner from the agency. Other local Twitter friends also let me know that they had heard various reports of people seeing snipers in the area.

Finally, on Saturday morning I tweeted that there was a scheduled APEC protest in the Sydney CBD about to happen, because I saw a short report on the morning tv news. Yet another Twitter friend let me know that a journalist was on the ground twittering the protest. I was able to follow what was going on, and I was also able to let newmediajim know about this apecsydney2007 Twitter feed. He said he was isolated from the protest and would like to know more of what was going on outside the security barriers.

Every day I'm becoming more and more impressed with the power of new social media, and especially of the immediacy and value of Twitter as a social media tool. As my network grows, I feel like the degrees of separation from almost any event or person are becoming fewer. It makes me wonder just who I might be able to contact or what I might be able to find out if I put a request out through my growing network. Perhaps I should do a little experiment soon...

Monday, 3 September 2007

Mobile Social Networking: It Has Begun

Although I haven't tried it myself (as the iPhone hasn't been released in Australia yet), I've noticed many positive comments in the blogosphere about the iPhone Facebook Application. For example, today Pronet Advertising stated:

"Not only does it offer a great user experience over a mobile device, it gives new meaning to the term social networking as you can actually use it to network while you are being social - as in out and about, not chained to your computer...Before I might as well have been typing in, sitting at my computer updating my Facebook status everytime I did an update, now with the touch of one button I can type in an update when I'm actually doing it."

I find all the positive commentary intriguing and exciting. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I think it's only a matter of time before we see a mobile based social network hit critical mass and really take-off. You don't need any official figures to know that there are a LOT of mobile phones sold every year, so the potential is staggering.

Together with the success of this iPhone application and the emergence of social networking services such as Twitter, it seems that we might just be seeing the very early stages of the widespread adoption of mobile social networking. If we look at the iPhone alone, there is no doubt that soon there will be millions of them in existence in many different countries, and many iPhone owners will also be members of social networking sites and services such as Facebook.

I don't want to jump the gun here, because predicting the future is always a dicey business. However, I do think it's clear that there is a real demand for mobile networking services and applications. Sure, it might take a while, and there may be setbacks along the way, but being a Twitter addict myself, I've become intensely aware of the value and power of mobile networking. I think it's here to stay, and can only grow stronger. What are your thoughts - agree or disagree?