In 2001 Proctor and Gamble started a service called Tremor
In a similar vein, a Boston based company operates a service called BzzAgent and one in San
Francisco is called BuzzMetrics . There is also a fledging industry association call the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association or WOMMA.
SecondLife by Linden Labs is an often referenced example of the leading edge of immersive online worlds and an example of a game that remedies many of the shortcomings that lead to the failure of the Sims Online. The following in depth article on SecondLife answers most questions one could have about the premise, rules and economy of the game.
Certainly it also presents an exception to "Steiger's Law" -- in truth, the quality of experience improves as a function of the number of participants. Why is this?
At the most basic level we must differentiate between the centrally authored content of a system (in this case the Havok Physics Engine and the game environments and characters created by Linden). But by democratizing object and environment authoring to non-technical folks, Linden has taken a leap of faith (remember -- 99% of the world reads/consumes content created by 1%) and allowed anyone to populate the space.
Most online communities are democratic (or at least capitalistically democratic) with membership, but reserve the right to evolve the core system themselves. A notable exception is A Small World .
As I begin to type this, I pause and, recalling simultaneously the last 45 minutes of surfing and the past several years, ask myself, "How did I get here?"
In that question lies the seed of a very important idea.
To answer the 45 minutes question, I've been reading the web as usual, culminating with Rebecca Blood's thoughtful and complete History of Weblogs. Another admirable history is also available from Christopher Allen
What this and other commentary implies about the blogosphere, aside from the power-laws that begin to take hold within these and other fledgling networked communities, is a certain holy-grail. Blogs are a combination of the most personal and public/community-oriented aspects of the net and it is that peculiar cycle of confession/expression and reading/reacting that makes them fantastic.
The problem with the blogosphere is the same as the problem with Geocities (or any other fast-growing online community).
The top-level navigation of any online community degrades as a function of the number of its participants.
Solving this would be fantastic -- allowing context and a sense of space that only got richer and more informative and people populated it.
Today, after seeing a truly mediocre play The Secret in the Wings by Mary Zimmerman in Berkeley, my friend and I were driving back to SF across the Bay Bridge. While griping and the like, it came out that he's unable to get health insurance. here are his particulars. Harvard BA and MA, he's a theatre director and doesn't make a fortune. That said, the reason he can't get coverage is because he's diagnosed with BiPolar Disorder which is a "preexisting condition".
There does not seem to be a viable solution available to him, except to pay cash for services.
This makes no sense at all.
Here's a guide to patients' options in the State of California.
Interesting note today that an alternative browser company called Pluck had raised a 2nd round. This tool supports RSS feeds, blogs, I'm and lots of the next generation of web functionality that exists today but in a fragmented format.
Rather than debating their viability (pretty tough game, I'd guess, mainly based on challenges of distribution) it leads me to think of the future of data visualization.
How we examine this problem is crucial. Here are some possibilities:
1. Static HTML vs. Rich Internet Applications (here's a timely and excellent RIA that would make Edward Tufte proud)
2. Top-down vs. Bottom-Up data structure creation
3. Snapshots vs. Dashboards. This is basically the difference between a Yahoo Finance company profile and stock quote and a SmartMoney Map of the Market. For a good overview of dashboards, see this article by SBI/Razorfish
There are many more models and dualities, but these will do for now. What it suggests to me is that the Holy Grail remains something like a Gelernter Mirror World -- a sort of Sims-Like interface that virtualizes both the actors in a business as well as their tasks, goods, relationships and the documents that relate to them. Now the problems this raises are too many to address here, but the day will come when a CEO will press a button and receive a snapshot of all corporate information up to the minute. Another button will illuminate those areas of the business that are lagging. The question is, will this be the result of lots of little movements in the market or a dramatic phase-shift? Now, another interesting question draws a parallel between modern politics and the work of (sometimes evil) pollsters like Dr. Frank Luntz and current Internet Marketing. As we gain the ability to dynamically gauge audience tastes and preference patterns, what opportunities do these feedback loops afford?
Posts like this have the tendency to lurk somewhere between New Year's Resolutions and public post-it notes, but given how often these occur to me (and having just read the ClueTrain Manifesto) I'm going to give it a go.
1. No technology for technology's sake. Seems obvious, but often violated. Corrolaries for entrepreneurship include the Mom Test - if your Mom can't get the idea in 1 minute, the idea blows.
2. People don't change. This is sad but true. Most (d)evolve, but very few actually change. Hence behavior is usually indicative of character and future performance. Stop hoping for different results.