Category: Social Media
It’s right there in my “Friend Updates:” Apparently, my friend Tom — you know, the MySpace founder guy who is everybody’s default Friend — has added a new song from some singer-songwriter or other to his profile.
However there’s one small problem with this. Tom’s not my Friend.
When I first signed up for MySpace over a year ago (yup, I was late), I thought that it was a stupid idea to have Tom as one of my Friends, so I de-Friended him almost instantly.
So, if Tom’s not my Friend, why am I being told about the music he’s adding to his profile?
As digital media professionals from across the country and around the globe pack their bags for the annual trek to Austin, one question is emerging that will likely dominate the conversation at this year’s SXSW festival — can Twitter survive it’s own success?
Last year Twitter emerged as the runaway hit at an annual event that’s been described as spring break for geeks. At the time I speculated that something better would almost certainly come along within the next year. Surprisingly, a year later Twitter is still going strong. I say surprising, because Twitter is such a simple concept that it should have been easily usurped by something better.
In the past year Twitter has successfully resisted insurgencies from rival applications, including Jaiku, and to a lesser degree Pownce (which still lacks basic SMS support). That Twitter has succeeded where its competitors have failed is all the more amazing considering the downtime and performance issues the application has suffered.
Twitter’s performance problems have been blamed all manner of causes, including the service’s hosting environment, phenomenal user growth, the Rails platform, and the underlying application architecture. Regardless of the cause, the Twitter faithful continue to use the application, although they grumble mightily when the service fails.
quarterlife, the much-hyped new series from the creators of such shows as thirtysomething, Once and Again and the eternal My So-Called Life, debuted a couple of nights ago to what some are calling “the worst ratings in 20 years.”
I don’t think that this was what NBC had in mind when they announced that they had picked it up from, er, MySpace amidst a busload of hype. Given the fact that it had a pretty high profile and was debuted during a time where there is very little serious drama being broadcast, their expectations must have been that it would at least hold its own.
And yet it failed, miserably. Why? The flip answer is that it sucked, but that’s only part of it. The full answer is a bit more complicated.
It’s hard to say anything bad about Dennis Kucinich. It has been scientifically proven that he’s the one presidential candidate that Americans agree with on nearly every major issue. And then there’s his wife, Elizabeth. If he’s good enough for her, he’s good enough for America. Still, I have my doubts about where the Kucinich campaign is headed with its recent move into Second Life.
Kucinich is the second presidential candidate to officially authorize a campaign presence in the virtual world (behind Mike Gravel who has been here for almost six months). Somehow the title “Second Presidential Candidate in Second Life” doesn’t have much of a ring to it. When you’re running well behind the rest of the pack in real life, second place in the Metaverse doesn’t count for much.
I probably wouldn’t be so harsh on the Kucinich campaign if it appeared that there was a method to their madness. Unfortunately, after several visits to their new Second Life location, I’m almost certain there is no plan.
While I’ve said that second and third tier presidential candidates need to be more aggressive in their use of new media, I’m starting to think that Second Life may be the exception to this rule.
When Newt Gingrich strolled up to the podium on the steps of the virtual Capital Hill last week, it was almost like any other Washington photo-op. The differences were subtle, but noticeable to the trained eye: Gingrich looked to be a good 30 pounds lighter, the protesters were levitating fifty feet above the ground, and the audience was just a slight bit furrier than typical beltway insiders.
Such is the nature of politics in Second Life.
Political activists in Second Life have had a difficult time bringing real world politicians into the virtual world. Of the current crop of presidential candidates, only Mike Gravel has authorized a campaign headquarters here. The other candidates would apparently rather focus on connecting with voters through more traditional social networks.
Meanwhile the mainstream media has begun to cool on Second Life as the Next Big Thing. Over the past few months glowing accounts of virtual real estate millionaires have been replaced by sensational stories of illicit gambling, deviant sex, and, worst of all, a questionable virtual economy.
If Second Life has any hope of becoming a legitimate platform for real world politics, it’s up to the true believers to take action and make something happen.
As luck would have it, Newt Gingrich is a true believer.