Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Organised Cyber Mobs - How Do Online Communities Organise Themselves?

The question of how online communities organise themselves is one of those multifaceted matters. Do they organise themselves in a regimented manner, does chaos somehow bring order in a fashion similar to folksonomic classification systems or is there even an organising mechanism at all? In consideration of this aspect of virtual cultures, one needs to investigate the following five aspects to gain even a basic understanding of the dynamics of online communities:
  1. The motivations individuals possess for engaging in online discussions.
  2. The contributions they make to the online community.
  3. The level of involvement and factors influencing participation levels in online communities.
  4. The influence of 'offline' experiences, and 
  5. The nature, purpose or function of the community itself. 
Early investigations into the dynamics of online communities entertained the possibility that online environments and computer mediated communications would reinvigorate a sense of "community building, citizenry and participation in public life" (Flew 2005, 62). Furthermore, it was anticipated that virtual communities would be "communities not of common location, but of common interest." (Licklider & Taylor 1968). Despite this observation seeming painfully obvious in todays modern, media saturated world, in 1968, when it was proposed the nature, appearance and dynamics of the internet were barely conceivable. The simplicity of Licklider's and Taylor's (1968) statement however provides what I consider to be perhaps the most influential social phenomenon governing online communities. That is to say, everyone who is involved in an online community, is so because they choose to be. Regardless of whether an individual's intentions or activities are productive or destructive, they are taking the time and effort to engage and contribute to arriving at a consensus or sate of equilibrium. 
There are a number of different roles one can assume in online communities. These roles are directly related to the level of involvement, commitment  and mutual respect any one individual develops within a particular community. Roles within online communities can range from administrators to consumers, observers to contributors and anywhere in between. A succinct analogy to illustrate this type of hierarchical governance of online communities manifests itself in the power levels, skills and abilities of various characters within MUDs, MOOs and other MMORPGs. Social hierarchies are a phenomenon that have organised and governed human interactions, mediated and unmediated, since the dawn of civilisation. Furthermore, managing individual contributions in the online environment, such that they amount to constructive contributions, is governed by rules and values appropriated from those which organise and maintain order in offline communities.
Laws, codes of conduct, codes of ethics, standards, expectations and social norms all maintain a cohesive offline society by communicating what constitutes favourable, permissible, condonable or unacceptable behaviour. An understanding of social norms in an unmediated environment is transfered into online communities and governs online interactions. The difference in cyberspace is the anonymity provided by fanciful usernames, avatars, characters and geographically distanced users. Wikipedia overcomes these problems by requiring contributors to be members and by tracking IP addresses to avoid a phenomenon known as "sock puppeteering" (Collis 2008). 
Not every online community is as robust as Wikipedia however and as can be observed in the real world, vandalism, abuse and other antisocial or destructive behaviours persist. Computer viruses, worms and trojans are obvious examples which not only plague mainstream and social software programs but plague the entire online community. Other forms of antisocial online behaviour include: edit warring, vandalism, defamation and attacking or abusive language. These have all occurred within the Wikipedia and will probably continue to do so, however destructive behaviour also occurs in chat rooms, within the blogosphere and in almost every imaginable online community. Regardless, the majority of participants within the spectrum of online communities are there to actively contribute by advancing the project, developing the community or creating new and interesting networks and connections.  
Thus, online communities do possess either a written or unwritten code of conduct or both. It is established by the sites creator, the community itself and the laws and norms governing the offline world. The multitude of interactions and the democracy of the medium will never and could never eradicate destructive behaviour entirely, the irony however is, in an environment increasingly organised by tagging and folksonomies destructive behaviour adds a dimension of understanding inherent in chaotic systems. 
The below video graphically represents this phenomenon with regard to the open source software community: 
  1. Bruns, A. 2008. Wikipedia: Representations of knowledge. In Blogs, wikipedia, second life, and beyond: From production to produsage, ed. A. Bruns. New York: Peter Lang, pp.101-136.
  2. Bruns, A. 2008. Blogs, wikipedia, second life and beyond: From production to produsage (accessed May 1, 2008).
  3. Bruns, A. 2007. Produsage: Towards a broader framework for user-led content creation. (accessed May 3, 2008)
  4. Collis, C. 2008. Wikipedia: a guide to user led content creation. (Lecture, Queensland University of Technology, May 15, 2008).
  5. Flew, T. 2005. New Media. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 
  6. Licklider, J. R. 1968. In Cybersociety 2.0: Revisiting computer-mediated communication and community, ed. S.G. Jones, 1-34. Thousand Oaks: Sage. In New media, ed. T. Flew, 63. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Citizen Journalist's Perspective on Citizen Journalism - A practice in "Blogging in a new media world"

The emergence of online and global media has significantly impacted upon the ways in which contemporary news and current affairs can be consumed and new online media formats such as mp3-downloads, mobile phone alerts,podcastsblogs and RSS Feeds have completely transformed traditional media consumption.

With the rapid rise in online technologies, traditional newspaper providers have been forced to create online print versions and face the challenges of online ‘produser’ involvement which allows audience members to become users and creators of their own news environment (Bruns, 2008). Oblack states in one of his articles that online media is creating interactive and contribution-based opportunities for readers to “express their opinion, to exchange viewpoints and to participate in public life” (2005, 91). I believe this is an important point as online media contribution is dramatically impacting on the relatively passive position of the reader who before was not able to quickly interact or respond to material. The adoption of new media technologies has also signalled a shift in the distribution and consumption of news with Grossberg (1998, p45) confirming that new electronic means of communication have revolutionized how people communicate and consequently live.

Currently, some forms of news are becoming unique to the online world (Pavlik, 1999, 56). The availability of chat rooms, discussion groups, feedback mechanisms and email links on webpages have meant that online news can now be discussed, analyzed and critiqued much simpler than before (Oblack, 2005, 100). In addition, other digital advances such as podcasting have signified development for public broadcasters in a global sense (Cook, 2006). One direct benefit of podcasting is that it allows people to attain information directly from providers not filtered by the traditional methods of the media (Cook, 2006). ABC Online:Podcasting is a perfect example of a traditional news media company using new technologies such as podcasts to keep up with technology and attract a larger listenership.

New media technologies have rapidly expanded in recent times with web logs or ‘blogs’ becoming popular alternative news providers. According to Downie and Macintosh, blogs can provide readers with niche information and tailored services which allow for people to express their own opinions and analyse specific issues (2006, 11). It can be therefore said that blogs (this link is for the BBC blog network) reflect what people want to see, read and hear which allows users to integrate and customise the news to their particular tastes, lifestyles and opinions (Cook, 2006). This is where ‘citizen journalism’ comes into the equation. Sites such as IndymediaSlashdot (for technology news) and Ohmynews (Korean opinion leader) are examples of sites which are fundamentally disrupting the “industrial journalism model” (Bruns 2008a). Interesting to not that Ohmynews has the motto 'every citizen is a reporter' as the majority of articles are written by freelance contributors.

Comments and feedback are very important parts of citizen journalism as they allow for rich discussion and evaluation rather than passive media consumption. “Open participation allows a post to be freely and immediately evaluated by anyone. This may result in either positive or negative feedback, in effect rating the quality of the post. This process is constantly evolving, overlapping and interwoven.” This statement is particularly relevant as it links back to my idea that ‘open’ user-generated sites need some kind of monitoring and moderation to ensure consistency and effectiveness. Indymedia in this respect lost impact as anyone could add material which led to irrelevant content flooding and spam issues. One of the most successful ‘open’ gatewatcher sites is which by comparison uses a communal moderation system whereby users are able to rate the quality of their peers’ contributions. Based on these ratings, articles and comments are “displayed more or less prominently, or even disappear from view if their rating falls below a threshold” (Bruns 2008b). I believe this kind of system is key to the success of these websites as user comments and ratings ensure content is consistent and relatively reliable.

The creation of Youdecide2007 and by Axel Bruns and Jason Wilson is an excellent example of citizen journalism at work with the project encouraging users to submit their own articles and critique others with the aim of stimulating debate and discussion. Additionally, citizen journalism moves away from the idea of ‘gatekeeping’, towards a more new form of collaborative news produsage known as ‘gatewatching’ (Bruns 2008b). This process signals a shift away from the traditional news process (see diagram) towards more produser-led content creation and collaboration. This new process bypasses journalists and editors to create bottom-up rather than top-down news coverage. For diagrams explaining these two concepts please see my post 'Gatekeeping vs. Gatewatching'.

 could also be considered a form of citizen journalism as users are encouraged to edit articles based on the most up-to-date information possible. For instance, when someone dies or a huge disaster occurs, users are instantly editing wiki entries to reflect the most recent information available. Just like users of Slashdot, Wikipedia users can also be considered gatewatching produsers and content contributors as they are constantly checking facts and improving articles both in terms of reliability and consistency (Bruns 2008b). Articles that have misleading facts are quickly edited by more informed users and once accepted by general consensus become ‘fact’. 
Citizen journalism however raises a number of issues including credibility of sources and ideas, bias in reporting and a lack of the "expert factor". Additionally, produsers are generating content outside of a commercial environment and generally are not paid for their efforts. For instance Tyson Ibele, a 19-year-old from Minneapolis only won $1000 for her intricate and time-consuming advertisment she created for Sony. In a professional agency, an advertisment like this could end up potentially costing millions. 
For more information about the variety of different online news sites now avaliable please click here.
  1. Bruns, A. 2008. Who controls the means of produsage? Re-public. (accessed April 7, 2008)
  2. Bruns, A. 2008a. Produsage: Towards a broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation Re-public. (accessed April 7, 2008)
  3. Bruns, A. 2008b. Gatewatching, Not Gatekeeping: Collaborative Online News. (accessed May 10, 2008)
  4. Cook, T. 2006. Blogs, the Internet and media diversity. Type Pad. (accessed October 1 2006).
  5. Downie, C. and A. Macintosh. 2006. New media or more of the same? The Australian Institute, May 2006: 1-15.
  6. Grossberg, L., E. Wartella, D. Whitney, D. 1998. Narratives of Media History. In Mediamaking: mass media in a popular culture. Sage: Thousand Oaks.
  7. Oblack, T. 2005. The lack of interactivity and hypertextuality in online media. Gazette: The International Journal for Communication Studies, 67(1): 87–106.
  8. Pavlik, J.V. 1999. New Media and News: Implications for the Future of Journalism. New Media and Society, 1(1): 54–8.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

How Is Open Source Work (as an example of community produsage) Different From Commercial Production

Howard Rheingold, in a presentation he delivered in 2005 states:
"... businesses and nations succeed, only by defeating, destroying and dominating competition. Politics is about your side winning, at all costs. But I think we can see the very beginnings of a new story beginning to emerge. It's a narrative spread across a number of different disciplines, in which cooperation, collective action and complex interdependencies play a more important role. And the central, but not all important role of competition and survival of the fittest shrinks just a little bit".
Open source  work is a collaborative process whereby users who have the knowledge, skill, tools and desire to innovate, collectively produce a product that is free, modifiable and useful. I have italicized the word 'product' because by definition and connotation it isn't appropriate in an open source context. A product in the traditional, commercial sense is a discrete entity which is normally produced for commercial gain. Open source products are typically free and their creation and constant innovation requires them to be so. Furthermore, 'free' in this context is not limited to a fiscal interpretation. The Four Freedoms, as defined by Stallman, provide a framework for understanding how open source is aligned with community produsage  as opposed to commercial production practices. The Four Freedoms relate specifically to the free software movement but could easily be adapted for the purposes of other disciplines. The Four Freedoms are:
Freedom 0 - Personal Motives
The freedom to run the program for any purpose. Giving publics the freedom to use the technology for any purpose or application.
Freedom 1 - Customization
The freedom to adapt the software to suit your specific needs - Access to the source code is a precondition.
Freedom 2 - Redistribution
The freedom to share the software with others without violating copyright or piracy laws.
Freedom 3 - Innovation
The freedom to better the program and release the innovated program to the entire community of users to foster an innovative environment and aid progress.
Every minute of every hour of every day the precise form of the Wikipedia is altered by someone, somewhere who is both a user and a producer. Imagine if Wikipedia ceased to be amended at any given point in time and was published in a printed version. Only moments would pass before the printed version became out dated.  
In a financial sense however, open source projects are what Wired Magazine's Chris Anderson calls Silicon Valley's gift to the world. This is because the majority of open source projects rely upon digital technologies which facilitate the collaborative process by enabling: communication with negligible costs, reproduction with negligible costs, distribution with negligible costs, publication with negligible costs and enables users to create and collaborate freely.
To illustrate the point that not all open source projects rely on digital technologies consider the humble mountain bike. Most people think that the mountain bike came from one of two places. Most believe it was created in a corporate R&D lab where researchers spent hours on end analysing the market and analysing the product, and as a result the mountain bike we all know and love came to be. The alternative and equally incorrect belief is that the mountain bike was created in an inventor's garage and commercialised by one of the big companies within the road bike or leisure sports category. The truth is, the mountain bike was developed by a group of young bike riding enthusiasts in Northern California as a result of their frustration with traditional bike models. They took the frames from bike models which were robust, the gears from racing bikes and the brakes from motorcycles, and because of their hybrid origins were originally called clunkers. Nonetheless, as Larry Lessig argues "... the most significant thing to recognise about what this internet is doing is its opportunity to revive the read-write culture..."
The Read-Write (RW) culture that Lessig refers to is one whereby users are also producers. Lessig argues that the 20th Century was a period dominated by a top down deliverance of culture and creativity as a result of the broadcast technologies. He terms this a "Read-Only (RO)" culture. The internet and its complementary digital technologies are reviving a Read-Write culture by giving people the opportunity to have  a voice. Those with access to the internet are seizing the opportunity in droves. The number of individual blogs comprising the blogosphere is a contentious point but it is certainly in excess of 100 million. I've included this figure simply because it illustrates people's desire to be involved in virtual communities and engage in dialogue in an online environment. 
Interestingly, two notable authorities on open source models Charles Leadbeater and Jochai Benkler, predict that the economics of open source projects along with their ability to innovate will challenge the accepted conventions of the commercial sphere. Leadbeater contends that the divide between the commercial sphere and open source projects will lessen and the corporate world will learn to harness the power, resourcefulness and diversity of the open source model.

A thought/reflection... that's all.

A little off beat from the focus of this blog, but for some reason I felt compelled to post this one. The contents of this post should really be in the 'About the Author' section, but it's only a fragment so...
Today is my birthday. Nothing exceptional happened. I did some study, some exercise and went to work. I work in a wine bar and restaurant called Liquorish in the relatively affluent Brisbane suburb of Bulimba. While I was in the middle of polishing the extensive range of glassware we use every night, I wrote the following...
I live in a horrible world.
We all do
full of deceit.
It's the worst you know, deceit.
It's based on trust
on mutual understanding.
Like a love where one flame dims to an unrequited glow.
I am                alone,
not entirely
But d i  s   t    a     n      c       e        d.
I live a life governed by self-discipline and punctuated by moments of indulgence
and then,
My interactions entertain me.
Some more than others.
But it is my thoughts that sustain me.
To counter the deceit,
I am privileged to see beauty in the ordinary.
I think beautiful thoughts, and hold on to them with every sensory faculty my mind can muster.
It wasn't always this way
A smile induces another
a moment
upon which, faith in the potency of optimism becomes unquestionable. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How Is Web 2.0 Different From Web 1.0?

Web 2.0 is a term that has not yet been clearly defined. Web 2.0 is commonly understood to be a second phase of Internet architecture comprising of Web applications that enable users to engage in a dialogue with other users rather than semi-actively consume posted content. The 2.0 in Web 2.0 alludes to the version number commonly reserved for the designation of software upgrades. Thus Web 2.0 indicates an improvement or upgrade of the World Wide Web. Web 1.0 was initially hailed as the medium that would make extinct the passive media consumer. However, this statement appears to be more true of Web 2.0 applications because they invite users to belong to communities, shape those communities and collaboratively contribute towards their creation and development. Thus, although Web 1.0 applications and sites require users to actively navigate through cyber-space, it wasn’t until the adoption of Web 2.0 applications that users were able to shape and manipulate the appearance and content of their ‘cyber-scape’.

The "retroactively labelled Web 1.0" was, and still is, a form of the Internet that speaks to users and consumers instead of with them. Web 1.0 represents a less dynamic space for professional or specialised publication rather than user interaction. There is no denying that Web 1.0 applications will continue to exist as the performance of specific tasks rely on its rigidity. Internet banking and other Web applications that require a secure environment will continue to operate using the characteristics of Web 1.0. The portion of the Internet that is expanding exponentially however is based on Web 2.0 applications and hence the hype, interest and activity surrounding these new age Web applications.


Web 2.0 is a term that incorporates the trends of user publishing, including both blogs and wikis. Furthermore, Web 2.0 is in part, characterised by the social phenomenon of distributing web content itself. Enabled by the open communication pathways, the decentralisation of authority and the freedom to share and reuse material, Web 2.0 is challenging many of the conventions established for broadcast media and even Web 1.0 applications. Web 2.0 also indicates a more organised version of the Web, which is has resulted from the act of ‘tagging’ and folksonomical classification systems which are user established, popular and intuitive rather than systematic. More loosely, Web 2.0 is a buzzword that includes everything newly popular on the web such as tagging, pod-casting, RSS feeds and social networking.


Perhaps the best way of distinguishing between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 is to compare the brand names, web sites and web applications characteristic of each:


Web 1.0


Web 2.0






Google AdSense

Kodak Gallery








Britannica Online



personal websites




--> and EVDB

domain name speculation


search engine optimization

page views


cost per click

screen scraping


web services




content management systems



directories (taxonomy)


tagging ("folksonomy")





(O’Reilly 2005, 1)


The transformation of websites from discrete and disconnected information posits to highly linked sources of content and functionality thus serving as a computing platform extending web applications to end users, marks Web 2.0 as the next generation. I believe Web 2.0 embodies what we all expected the Internet to be in the first place. Certainly, Web 2.0 is closer to the democratic, personal, interactive and DIY medium of communication originally conceived by Tim Burner-Lees.

Beyond Web 2.0

Already we are seeing propositions of another evolution in Web development called Web 3Di. The distinction between Web 2.0 and Web 3Di is fundamentally a matter of co-creation and a freedom or liberty to change website structures entirely. Dr Tony O'Driscoll explains this concept in his YouTube video below. However, I question whether Web 3Di is really distinguishable from Web 2.0 or is this just classification for nomenclature and categorizations sake or will the future of Web applications embody Web 3Di's premise to substantiate the distinction?


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nicholas Negroponte 1984 Interface Interactivity and Learning

The rise of social networking and user-generated participation can also be seen in the online gaming industry with the internet shifting gaming from an independent experience to a more complex, social one. Funk (2005, 396) suggests that online gaming has become increasingly popular especially with the rise of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) which are played simultaneously by potentially thousands of players.

Funk goes to explain that multi-player games are enhancing social connections as users can communicate in a variety of ways which in turn encourages team play and co-operation. This is true to an extent. In terms of online relationships the social connection is definitely there as users can communicate with each other in an online social setting (i.e Second LifeSims Online). Hypothetically however, what would happen to a gamer if suddenly the power went out and they instantly lost all connections to the internet and their online social world? In the end they may realise that they have become so dependent on a single machine; a machine which takes users to a completely intangible world that can be whisked away in a matter of seconds. But this can be said for many people…think about the amount of time you spend on Myspace and Facebook? Check out this site if you are addicted to Myspace. It has some helpful tips...

“Social interaction and communication has a physical element that does not and can not exist in an online network” Jenkins (2006). Furthermore, Jenkins (2006) suggests that “while gaming cultures can extend past the world of the internet…physical communication and the element of touch is lost on these online cultures”. I have to agree with this idea because at the end of the day we can have as many Myspace and Facebook accounts as we could possibly have but it is true human interaction that will stand the test of time (and power outages)!

This said however, there are examples of MMOGs include Everquestand The Sims Community which rely on social experiences and network participation for their success. Currently, Everquest is estimated to have over 90 000 players at any one time online (Marshall 2005, 297). But this game is not without its problems either with gamers becoming addicted (known as EverCrack) leading to dangerous antisocial behaviour. On a more lighter note, the Sims has built up a community of fans who can participate in forums, blogs, discussions, chat, fansites, podcasts and contests. Fans of the Sims are now creating custom-made products for the game ranging from furniture to clothes, appliances and houses. Check out this site to see what some fans get up to…While on one of these sites I saw that a user had created a soft drink vending machine which got me thinking that perhaps big businesses should really capitalise on this movement and create their own merchandise and products that users can interact with. This would definitely improve the interaction between consumer and product. For instance users could see their Sim enjoying a tastyChicko roll and want to experience this same utter joy too! Additionally, Sims 2 players are using the game to create and edit music videos which they then upload onto Youtube. These contributors are produsers as they are not only using the program but are creating their own content (Bruns 2008). Gamers in online worlds can participate in many-to-many forms of communication and one-to-one correspondences (Marshall, 2005, p.297). Traditional games such as Literati (similar to Scrabble) andisketch (alike Pictionary) have also been transformed into online games resulting in players being able to interact and chat across the globe (Marshall 2004, 68). 

The online game Neopets not only encourages responsibility and care for pets but also provides users with the tools to trade and communicate with each other on a one-to-one basis through neomail and chat options. Marketers are becoming increasingly more intrigued by this online world as a means of communicating with a young target demographic. This site gives a clear explanation of how marketers are using the site for their commercial advantage which presents some moral questions to ponder. For instance there are Neopets toys, A General Mills neopet cereal, a neopets game for Sony Playstation and a neopets magazine (Pace 2006). Other games also rely on human-to-human interaction to manage and organize the game and “interactivity in these games becomes a kind of cultural production albeit contained within the framework of the game’s rules” (Marshall 2004, 69). One example of an interactive electronic game especially designed for children was Nintendogs(Banks 2002). With a catch phrase, “don’t just socialize your pup, socialize yourself,” Nintendogs enabled thousands of players to chat online, discuss their own individual experiences and join social groups (including the Nintendo Kennel Club) (Banks 2002). This consequently enabled players to become active and contributing members who further expanded the social and cultural context of the game and its experiences. Marketers can jump on board in these instances, for example Pedigree Petfood could advertise within the medium and embed its brand within the online community quite nicely. The possibilities are truly endless…


  1. Banks, J. 2002. ‘Everybody knows that gaming makes people antisocial and violent’, Lecture in KCB102 Media and Society Public Lecture Gaming Cultures at Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove Campus, on 11 May 2002.
  2. Bruns, A. 2008. The Future is User-led: The Path Towards Widespread Produsage? (accessed April 7, 2008).
  3. Funk, J. 2005. Video Games. Adolescent Medicine Clinics, 16(1): 395-411.
  4. Jenkins, H. 2006. Reality Bytes: Eight Myths about Video Games Debunked. April 22, 2008).
  5. Marshall, D. 2004. New Media Cultures. London: Arnold.
  6. Marshall, D. 2005. Computer Games. In The Media and Communications in Australia, ed. S. Cunningham and G. Turner. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin.
  7. Kids And Neopets: Who's Getting Fed? (accessed 22 April 2008).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

MUDs, MOOs, MMORPGs and me

A funny thing has happened to my opinion whilst studying this subject, it has, wait for it... changed. Unbelieveable, I know, but true nonetheless, and for the better I think. So what is this thing that has changed me, and what opinion is it that has changed? Online socialistation, I was one of the sceptics, I never believed that a person who was truly happy with their 'real-word' social life would feel the need to explore the online world to expand thier horizons. But the strangest thing happened, I myself began to become involved with online social networking and also the use of Avatars, not explicitly, but through MMORPG's. The game is called Grand Theft Auto IV and I am sure you have heard of it, you can play online and the game automatically assigns a character to represent you. But I wasn't happy with my selection, I was a short and giggly chick ---> sorry GTA but that's not me. And so the customisation process began. I am now a trim, athletic looking guy who surely is faster than the rest of the other Avatars in the game. So low and behold withing the space of 5 minutes I had developed a relationship with this character. And it appears that I am not the only one. After watching a video in class (which I cannot seem to find the link for anymore), I was completely gobsmacked by the sheer success of the online world, literally another society, called Second LifeSo the following are some points raised in the video and my reactions to these: - I noticed a significant generation gap in interest of Second Life interaction. The average age of users is 32 years old, MINDBOGGLING, who would have ever thought the older generations would latch onto this technology so prolifically? Not me that is for certain. And yes I am sure there is a significant number of users that are younger but I noticed a general consensus in our class after watching the video and that is that we, Generation Y, are quite pessimistic towards the 'game'. We were worried about the effects of use, what people actually saw in it, etc. yet a great number of us also reflected an interest in at least trying out Second Life. The Boomer generation, those in the average age gap for usage, are quite optimistic and intrigued, reflected primarily in the video and by some outside opinions I have heard. So why the difference? This is something I will HAVE to explore at a later date! - There is a real economy in Second Life, and the virtual world possesses a GDP that is the equivalent of some third world countries such as Bulgaria. WHOA. That's right people are actually spending real cash online. That's a scary thought, but the program is free to join and are we all not willing to pay for entertainment? PerhapsSecond Life is onto something here, they may have just discovered a new age way for economic exchange. Third parties are developing content,form the individual, to the corporate business, la produsageAnd many venture capitalists realise that this is indeed a new economy investment.

- Back to the content production, it is simply amazing, no one asks users to create it. But they do nonetheless. Has living a Second Lifebecome a labour of love? People's creativity is driven, and whether this be from their own knowledge, education, or interests in something appears irrelevant.

- So my concern appear unwarranted. I used to believe there was a major difference between living a 'real' life and living vicariouslythrough a second one, such as in Second Life. I do still maintain some semblance of this notion, I believe these programs should be used to expand ourselves as people, but not as a substitutes. Explore yourself, and if it makes life easier and more enjoyable then embrace it. Consume it, produce it, but simply do not let it consume or produce YOU. What we can do in the 'real' world now appears re-creatable in the cyber world, so enjoy and explore.

The old saying "you only live once" now appears redundant? Just askyourself, which life are you living? And does it really matter?