What Web 2.0 Really Means… Ourselves…

The hype over Web 2.0, and beyond is not as much about the new technologies and ideas that is brings rather the popularity people are given, new jobs, and employment opportunities that is has created. For the first time in our modern age, the media and regular users are relying on “the independent press” (i.e. bloggers) for news; new actors and shows are created not through a new television network, but vloggers (video bloggers) and YouTube; people are getting paid real money to make virtual products (weirder than amazon.com), but their skills match that of some design companies; DJ’s are not spinning turntables in clubs and bars, but on their computers through the Internet right to your home; love is being found on the most popular match making software in the world, MMO’s. It is the opportunities that exist in Web 2.0 to recreate a new legitimate employment, educational and social sector is the core of what Web 2.0 is. It is less about the technology and more about its opportunity, employment, and status.
While this may not be news to some people, to others it is quite shocking, but this is not the true meaning of Web 2.0. The Internet has become a breeding ground for new ideas, marketing campaigns, and a way to make money – the commercialization of the Internet with banner ads, the dreaded spam and marketing tools is what kept the Internet sustainable. While Web 2.0 has all of those things and at times feels very commercial, but it more about the freedom of personal expression that the net can give us and not just the commercialism. Major companies attempt marketing campaigns to generate the sort of attention that an amature kid in his basement with a webcam can generate from a funny YouTube Video. This is the ability of Web 2.0, to have a personal journal for the world to read and follow, have your own other life on the Internet and still have a 9 to 5, about the ability to have an idea, film it, edit it, and let the world to see. Web 2.0 is about US, it is a very personal, me driven culture. My design, my blog, my twitter, my event, around these communities that give us the ability to do all of your me stuff, it’s even in their names… MYspace, YOUtube, hell even Second Life is YOUR world. Not only are we there or at home we still twitter and jaiku to make sure that our Faces are kept in other books. But we are loosing touch really with ourselves and entering into our EGO.
Web 2.0 gives us the ability to tell everyone why we are so hot or so important and why our ideas matter so much over someone else’s. At times Web 2.0 feels less about these great ideas and cool new technology and more about us, me, why I should be listened to. What used to be a commonality on forums has become blog wars, people are popular for writing their thoughts or posting pictures of themselves at parties online or the fact that what we design or build in a virtual world is so important to so many people. Don’t get me wrong, these things that Web 2.0 are great! The sort of expression that we can have is so dynamic and unique and uplifting that governments have to block its content from their networks. My question has become at what point does it turn us into some sort of untouchable social divas? At what point do we get drunk on our own hype that we generated that we cannot see the real light at the end of the tunnel, that when you walk outside the tabloids, news papers, paparazzi aren’t waiting for you – they are too busy checking out Paris Hilton getting out of jail. When we turn on E! we are not on it, or Star! does not have our tips for our thoughts about weight loss. I’m still waiting on my reality television series!
The ability to express our selves through Web 2.0 is really wonderful, it’s great, and technology as a whole benefits from it but while the large corporations are struggling with the means of trying to reach this market, we as individuals are grabbing every little amount of fame that we can gather. If there is anything that Web 1.0 taught us through the use of forums, listervs and group e-mail is that community is important. Don’t get me wrong, without Web 2.0 I would not be where I am right now but while Web 2.0 is a great and wonderful thing it lacks the strong commitment to community that Web 1.0 had. It’s almost as if Web 2.0 needs a patch… it needs Web 2.1 to come out that balances these great ways to express ourselves, our ideas, to be popular but in a way that helps, grows, and fosters community rather than some attention grabbing, site number increasing, Technorati ranking, PR splash that we always want it to make.

Understanding the Innovation Potential of Second Life

What makes Second Life a really unique thing is that it has so much potential to change the way we think about the way we interact with others online and offline. Explaining in theory, the potential of Second Life is a wonderful thing and it creates an endless list of possibilities. What would really help understand the phenomenon that occur in Second Life are its numbers. Linden Lab has been pretty good of releasing it’s numbers and metrics, but these are only aggregated information. While some people can take a look at this information and determine general trends or statistics, the individual or resident level data is really important in understanding the true potential of Second Life.

I’m always interested in what the numbers tell us and I’m always interested in what sort of Market Data is available. While there are very unique projects that take a look at Second Life, such as indicating trends, innovation, progress in the Virtual World, I’ve been informed of one survey that attempts to answer other questions about the true potential of Second Life.

Rocketgrrrl Tripp/Shenja van der Graaf (a PhD research student at the London School of Economics), is attempting to look at understanding the true Innovation Potential of Second Life (you can take the survey here). What makes her study interesting is her emphasis in understanding the connection between what residents are doing and the support they receive from Linden Lab. I’m really interested in what sort of findings Shenja will come up with, possibly dispelling the notions of a FIC or Noospherists and also reaffirming that, like the Internet, everyone is on a pretty even playing field (come up with an idea and you can profit from it.)

Even if you don’t agree with me about the potentials for these findings take the survey to provide a research with one thing that hard to come by, good, accurate, data (and you can wind some Linden as well)! It is very hard to get enough cases or enough accurate data to really make accurate findings. You can take her survey by clicking here or going to http://www.questionpro.com/akira/TakeSurvey?id=703590.

Good luck on your research Shenja, I can’t wait to see your findings!

Playboy Enters Second Life

Playboy is finally entering Second Life! While there is a lot of excitement about this, I remain skeptical. I am really interested to see how Playboy takes on this opportunity to extend its brand and its popularity virtually and pits themselves against already established adult entertainment entities such as Eros, Amsterdam, and Players Magazine. While Playboy has their websites, magazines, etc, it would be interesting to see how they extend those items into the virtual world, and how they extend their brand virtually. Are they strictly going to sell virtual versions of their ware, and push people to their website? Are they going to have Second Life Playboy Bunny Competitions? Is there going to be the Second Life equivalent of the Playboy Magazine?

If they do all of these things, Playboy will only be going up against already established publications, entities, and contests in Second Life. The decision to hop into Second Life is interesting, especially “late” in the game (as I see it). Playboy is entering Second Life on it’s name alone, everything that they have to offer is already in Second Life and quite strong, so the move into Second Life confuses me but at the same time can offer opportunities for people. Playboy can have adult item contests, modeling competitions, they could do designer showcases for fashion, rent out their location for events, or develop a community where they openly discuss sex and cyber-sex.

Playboy in Second Life will be interesting, what is more interesting would be the opportunities that will grow from it.

Games For Change 4th Annual Festival (G4C)

I’ve always been excited about community based projects that relate with gaming or virtual worlds, primarily because of this generations focus. In the 70′s when Television was a big thing, School House Rocks was the way to attract the attention of those watching (who can’t remember “I’m Just a Bill?”). Today, games and the Internet is the new medium for reaching the minds of today’s youth. The Games for Change is built around just that, a part of the Serious Gaming Initiative, and will be holding their festival on Monday, June 11th thru Tuesday, June 12th, in New York City. The festival looks very interesting as the panels will cover a lot of topics from Virtual Activism to Media Policy and Games. Visit The Games For Change Conference Website and sign up to attend if your interested!

American Cancer Society Second Life Relay For Life Meets Its Goal!

One of the most interesting and well run community projects for the last three years has been the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life in Second Life. Each year participants schedule events, fund raisers, and host a Virtual Walk in Second Life. This year the events have included having sponsoring teams, and events to help raise money to meet their goal. Word out of the American Cancer Society is that they have achieved their goal of raising $75,000 a full month ahead of the walk. Congratulations to the Second Life Relay for Life! For more information visit www.slrfl.com.