“Citizen Big Brother?”


Robin Hamman at cybersoc.com has joined the beta test of Plazes, a new social networking site that “adds physical presence to the web. The Plazes website automatically detects your location and connects you to people and places nearby. See people in your area, discover other locations and follow the whereabouts of your friends.

So far, so ‘police state’.  Robin describes it as… “a service that tracks your mobile phone and/or the points where you connect to the internet and plots them on a map. You can then add descriptions and images to the new plazes you create so that other users can find them. Another nice bit of functionality is that you can search for Plazes and other users, including your contacts and others who have chosen to make their location visible, within a user determinable distance of 2 or 5 km.

It’s an interesting concept, merging offline with online worlds, but one that I’m still not wholly comfortable with. The UK isthe most scrutinised nation on earth; with 4 million cameras filming everyone – on average – 300 times a day, is there a need to amplify our Orwellian society with rampant web 2.0 narcissism?

I’m all for the expansion of social networks, but I find a system that uses mobile tracking to pin-point your location (albeit with the users’ consent) a little intrusive.

Robin’s going to continue with the beta test and write a fuller report sometime soon. I’ll keep you posted…


Magellan hits the social interweb…

Like some Tolkein-esque scrawl at the front of a dusty tome, XKCD has found a map of online communities.

Odd (clicky for larger)


“The first rule of blog club is: You Do Not…. oh.”

Gartner research – 80% of active internet users will have a “Second Life” in the virtual world by 2012

Interesting stat from Gartner – in their research they go on to explain how companies should participate in virtual worlds:

First Law: Virtual worlds are not games, but neither are they a parallel universe (yet)
Second Law: Behind every avatar is a real person.
Third Law: Be relevant and add value.
Fourth Law: Understand and contain the downside.
Fifth Law: This is a long haul.

Link to full press release

Jonny Bentwood’s take on this is slightly more cynical and pragmatic…

Virtual worlds, communities and nations are here to stay. Whilst emerging media is exploring new ways for companies to interact with their target audience, businesses must be careful not see this as another outlet where they aggressively sell.

Users go these sites often as a form of escapism and would probably take a negative reaction where vendors try and conflict with this. However, this can be done well – take Toyota selling their cars on Second Life as a great example of complementing a virtual world rather than fighting it.

Even though Gartner do suggest this is a “long haul”, there is a lot to be said for being early entrants into a market. My advice would be to start now but passively.

Also – don’t get hung up on the main avenues. Technology is changing fast – who knows what new scenario will be the best place to virtually hang-out in a few years time. Have a plan that is flexible and go for it. Nevertheless, Gartner have made some sound suggestions that would be foolish for any would-be vendor in the virtual world not to follow… but perhaps they should use mine too.