Saturday, 25 September 2010
Germanic Village in Second LIfe
Neufreistadt it is really amazing the emergent reality forming in a free community like Second Life. There is endlessly new stuff to explore. What is amazing is that despite the less than impressive growth in numbers compared to Twitter of Facebook, the level of emergent construction dazzles, its really amazing.
One of the things I think SL and Wikipedia show is that you only need a small part of "everyone" to make something amazing. As long as you have a model that embraces user creation and user ownership. Facebook and Flicr have millions of regular users but nothing really has emerged from it. Flickr is just a collection images, mostly either boring or porn. The central control prevented users from experimenting a creating new things beyond what they wanted them to create. The same is true of Facebook. Companies can create Apps, but the mode is still company make, user consume.
Second Life and Wikipedia have embraced a prosumer model where the line between creator and consumer is blurred, where a community is allowed to crate and these leads to amazing emergent properties that planned systems like Facebook can't have. This is why so much more new innovation is coming out of Twitter, because the platform allows emergent uses the inventors could never think of.
There is an interesting story about Wikipedia's co-founder Larry Sanger. Larry actually was the one who brought the wiki technology to Jimmy Wales attention and it is he who created the "technology." In 2001 he sent a letter to all volunteers on the than early project asserting that he had the power to make all final decisions on the project and that to oppose him was to oppose the project. (Clay Shirky reports this in "Here Comes Everyone").
The Wikipedia community quickly got him off the project. Jimmy Wales had a different vision, a vision of communities able to create emergent properties that the engineer Sanger probably could not grasp. If Sanger had been allowed to keep in control these emergent properties would have never happened. Over the next 6 years Wikipedia was a constant battle against those admins who felt they knew best and felt they could trust the community. In the case of Wikipedia overall the community and anarchy won, and look at the wonder it has.
On the other hand in 2005 Flickr was probably the most amazing collaboration tool on the Internet. During the Israel Lebanon war the site exploded not only with images or protest, but be using the site to link up protest images, to organize and debate, to show images from both sides. I even member going to Northern Israel to help take shots and send them to Flickr right away, so intense was the passion for it.
Then came in the Filters and the Censorship. Since that time Flickr has become a pathetic second to Facebook for image upload. The rate of image upload to Flickr has not even improved with the introduction of smart phones, and the social communities that used to exist are replaced with groups generally opposed with rules.
Its not the technology, and its not the size of the user base, it is having good enough technology, enough users and a culture that trusts the users to create. You can become massive like Facebook without producing one bedimming or interesting thing about it. And lets be honest, if your friends were not on Facebook would you ever visit it?
Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life