Mknac’s Weblog

Diving into the shallow pool of Web 2.0 and Social Media head first!

On-line gaming, MMOG, MMORPG, SL from virtual to real cash?

I like computer games although I don’t find much time to play them anymore.  Luckily my kids keep me up to date with what is going on in the gaming world.  As far as games go I really like playing them on-line against other people rather than against the unit’s processor. 

We’ll we’ve got them all: IMac, PC, XBOX 360, PS3, PS2 and a *$^# Wii too.  Jeez we’re keeping the video game industry afloat by ourselves.  Lol  Some of my favorite games to play on-line or Madden, Halo, and Call of Duty Four; Modern Warfare.  Madden of course is a NFL football game.  There’s nothing like sacking the quarterback or breaking a tackle for TD run while you hear your opponent cursing over the Internet.  Good times.  Halo and Call of Duty are FPSs or first person shooters.  Boom Headshot!”1 These games were made to be played on-line.

 

These three games are massive multiplayer online games (MMOG)  not to be confused with massive multiplayer online role playing games.  If you haven’t seen any of these three games link up with a teenager and watch them play.  You’ll be amazed.  MMOGs may have thousands of players at any given time.

A couple popular MMORPGs are World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Ultima, Never Winter Nights and Second Life.  In a MMORPG players take on an Avatar or character for you non-gamers. Generally you can be anything you want within the framework of the game.  Male, female, tall, short, fat, skinny, blonde, human, elf, cat, dog or catdog depending on what is available in the game.  Once you have character you can explore the world of the game you are in.  Like MMOGs MMORPGs also support thousands of players at any given time.  Generally MMORPGs include more talking and interacting with other player characters and non-player characters than MMOGs.  In many games groups of people meet and join up somewhere in the game to help each other on their adventures.

 

Second Life (SL) is MMORPG but different than those mentioned above.  In SL you aren’t trying to slay dragons and slaughter orcs and level up you are more or less interacting in a virtual world similar to ours.  You can earn money, buy property and even engage in cyber sex if that’s what you like. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  😉 Some companies and governmental agencies even have a presence in SL and are trying to determine how to make money in the real world or how to use SL to distribute information to SLers that they can use in the real world.  It will be interesting to see how this works out.

I’m not sure if Second Life interactions will lead to increased sales, use or interaction in the real world.  Perhaps the model to transition sales to the real world hasn’t been discovered yet.  Much like Google’s trials in finding a revenue stream that worked for on-line ads documented in “The Search” by John Battelle.   Perhaps it is just a matter of time before the connection between MMOGs/MMORPGs and real life sales in found.  Given the amount of on-line gamers of all kinds playing MMOGS/MMORPGs the next gold rush will occur when somebody discovers the direct relationship between virtual on-line gaming interaction and real world sales.

 

1 – FPS Doug

 

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June 27, 2008 Posted by | social media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Cluetrain Manifesto”

ManifestoAuthors Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls & David Weinberger, in their book “The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual” predict that social media and specifically blogs will change the fundamentals of business communications.  They believe that “markets are conversations” and social media is a powerful new mechanism that will allow buyers and sellers to engage in on-line conversations to the benefit of both groups.  Their “manifesto” provides a call-to-action for sellers and buyers to meet and converse in this new digital frontier.

Essentially this means that for goods and services to be exchanged people, not corporations, S-Corps, or LLCs, need to speak to each other.  In the old market square of yester-year sellers brought their goods to the market to meet buyers.  They argue that today with the help of social media buyers and sellers are engaging in the conversation of business in global virtual market places.

 “The Cluetrain Mainfesto” provides a list of 95 theses to help usher in this new area of free flowing market conversations.  There are too many to list but I’d like to show you a few of my favorites

1-Markets are conversations.                                                                                                         

2-Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in the human voice.                                                                                                                                    

19-Companies can now communicate with their markets directly.  If they blow it, it could be their last chance.                                                                                                           

38-Human communities are based on discourse ¾on human speech about human concerns.                                                                                                                                           

83-We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as you take one reporter from “The Wall Street Journal.”                                                                                                               

95-We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

MarketMost of the rest of the 95 theses run in this same line of thought.  Essentially they say that the companies that aren’t talking in the new virtual global market place conversation are going to place themselves at a competitive and economic disadvantage compared to those that do take part in the conversation.

I actually agree with the authors and many of the theses and other points.  However I’m not convinced that “The Cluetrain Manifesto” is going help sweep in a new era.  I feel that much of the impact “Cluetrain” might have on the business is diminished by its whiny tone.

The complete list of 95 theses can be found here if you’re interested.

 

June 26, 2008 Posted by | social media | | Leave a comment

Blogs; changing business communications?

The blogosphereIn “Naked Conversations,” by Robert Schoble and Shel Israel, they advocate that blogging is changing the way business approaches communications on all levels.  The title “Naked Conversations” refers to the transparency of corporate blogging with their customer rather than hiding behind politically correct corporate speak, PR lingo, or buzz words.  The authors claim that honest straight forward conversations with customers and other stake holders are the trend of communications and benefit both parties.

They cite many examples of companies that have successfully used blogs and where a blog may have helped a company during a crisis communications situation.  Two examples that stick in my mind are Microsoft and Kryptonite.  Mainly because I use many Microsoft products and being a cyclist I used a Kryptonite lock at one time.

In the Microsoft example Schoble and Israel show how through blogging Microsoft was able to shed or seriously diminish the “evil empire” reputation Microsoft had acquired of many years.  When customers, suppliers and contractors where engaged with individual bloggers within Microsoft they came to know the individual employees working on different projects with different goals, objectives and problems.  Before Microsoft started blogging people just thought every employee as part of machine.  Afterwards they were people.

Kryptonite on the other had a very negative experience as they got steamrolled by bloggers.  Kryptonite was a leading manufacturer of bicycle locks.  A customer with a serious issue called the company to tell them about a design flaw in one of their most popular locks.  After not receiving a response he post directions on popular on-line bike forums about how to pick the locks with a Bic pen.   The directions spread to more widely read blogs.  The company, unaware of the blogosphere, worked in a traditional communications strategy.

Schoble and Israel state “By ignoring the blogosphere, Kryptonite gave millions of people the impression that the company had neither sympathy nor remedy for its customers.”  Eventually a video of how the pick the lock ended up on the blogosphere.  A little over a week after the first posting of the issue Kryptonite announced that it would replace all “Bic-pickable” locks at an estimated cost of $10 million.  If Kryptonite had been engaged in the blogsphere and the cycling community knew they were working on the problem could the outcome have been different?  We’ll never know but I suspect Kryptonite’s customers would have been less critical in this situation if they had engaged their customers through blogging.  Kryptonite had huge customer loyalty that was quickly lost when customers believed the company was treating them indifferently.  (I no longer use a Kryptonite lock myself.)

I believe that blogs are a powerful communications tools and that government, NGOs, and business will begin using blogs to communicate directly and more effectively with customers and stakeholders.  I do feel that blogging rather than wiping out communications practices will become one more tool in the savvy communicator’s bag that he or she will use to get messages out rather than replacing what we view as traditional communications practices today.

******

The picture of the blogosphere is courtesy Matthew Hurst.

For an explanation of Matthew’s picture see “Map: Welcome to the Blogosphere” by Stephen Ornes.

June 26, 2008 Posted by | social media | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wikis, powered by people; The more the merrier

During class last week we talked about Wikis and focused predominantly on Wikipedia. We did discuss some other wikis in class and our readings. But the question is; do you trust the information on a wiki; how could a wiki be set up to be more accurate; should a wiki be open to everyone or just “experts?” Today you can find wikis on many subjects. For example there is even one about “Star Wars” called Wookiepedia.

wookiepedia

I believe at some time President Ronald Regan said “trust but verify” as it related to the SALT II negotiations with the then Soviet Union. I actually like Wikipedia. However you need to verify the information in any given article. If you are relying on one source of primary or secondary research for a paper or article you’re most likely not going to produce a document of much depth. Wikipedia is certainly a great resource and it provides many links to other information on any given topic. So by all means go to Wikipedia, but like anything else verify what information you choose to use or believe. I went to Wikipedia and looked up the organization I work for. I was amazed that somebody had gone in and submitted articles, over a hundred, about many aspects of the organization. But he or she did very little secondary research about my organization. They basically just cut and pasted things from our website into the articles. Perhaps I should ask for another employee whose job would be to rewrite all those Wikipedia entries? Lol

I think that anybody should be able to edit a wiki, not just “experts.” The whole point of a wiki is that the information of hundreds is greater than that of one so-called “expert.” The great thing about a wiki is that is the contributions of all who are interested in any given subject makes the greater article better. For example an “expert” who writes a great technical article may not be a good writer. A non-expert in the subject but who understands grammar my edit the article to make it a better read without changing the content of the expert. Would you rather read a technically accurate article that is poorly written or well written? So yes there is opportunity for everyone to contribute to a wiki not just “experts.”

To be honest I don’t at this time have any ideas to make wikis better or to make the articles more accurate. It seems that the community of wiki content providers for Wikipedia is doing a good job of providing accurate articles and keeping the site safe from vandals. The story that Clay Shirky mentions in his book “Here Comes Everybody” about the “Los Angeles Times” and their attempt to create a wikitorial was funny. First because it was the “Los Angeles Times,” a windbag newspaper if there ever was one, and second that nobody cared enough about the “Times” or their editorials to delete the clearly malicious posts vandals made to the site. The Wikipedia community cares and doesn’t allow such vandalism to be on Wikipedia.

I’m generally amazed at how technically correct and more in depth Wikipedia articles are compared to traditional hard copy encyclopedias. People care enough about Wikipedia to write good articles and to remove incorrect, biased and mean spirited posts. As long as the Wikipedia maintains the current level of dedication in protecting the site I don’t think any new systems need to be added. Hopefully the Wikipedia community will continue to grow.

June 23, 2008 Posted by | social media | , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’ve gone MAC and I’m not going back

I’ve had an IPhone for some time and swear it’s the best phone I’ve ever had which eventually lead me down a new path. A couple months ago I was using my HP Windows Vista Dual Core processor with 2 gigs of ram PC at home and life was good. The next evening I turn my PC on and I get a Microsoft error message saying that my copy of Windows Vista was unauthorized. WTF you say? Those were my thoughts exactly. (At least it was a change from the Microsoft blue screen of death.)

Apple IMac

So I call the evil empire help desk. Too bad dude your copy of Windows Vista is out of warranty but you can pay us big bucks to try to talk you through it on the phone. I don’t think so Darth. Other wise you can go to a Micrsoft users help blog. Here try to copy this URL down. I don’t think so Darth.

Anyhow I was so mad the next morning I take my happy ass down the Apple store in Montgomery Mall. Did you know they don’t even have check out counters in a Apple store? It’s like when you turn in a rental car. They have those same scanners and scan your purchase where you are standing, swipe your credit card and print your receipt on the spot. But I digress.

So I buy an IMac just to stick it to the man. The new really cool brushed aluminum ones with a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse. Needless to say for all you MAC users out there my relationship with my MAC is completely different than what I had with my PC.  Come to think of it I didn’t have a relationship with my PC. Now I kind of feel about my IMac the way I feel about my Trek 1500 road bike; I love it.  It’s like that movie a few years ago where everything was in black and white. Then people started seeing in color.

Even the visualizer in ITunes is much more vibrant than my Windows Vista PC.  I’m computing and surfing the web in color now and won’t be going back to black and white. I didn’t notice or appreciate the differences immediately but now that I’ve been using a MAC for some time now I can’t believe anybody actually puts up with Microsoft’s operating systems. We’ll that’s your problem, I’ve got a IMac.  Anybody need copies of Microsoft software?

Hey maybe Apple will see my blog and ask me to do a commercial for them?

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Are you a Google or a Yahoo?

The Search; How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture” by John Battelle is a book that provides a fascinating look into how Google became the largest media company in the world today. Battelle also provides insights into how search engines work and the differences between major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, AltaVista and many others.

“The Search” uses numerous examples of people, companies and events that have been transformed along with Google’s rise to the top of the search engine pile. Ultimately the search engine battle I feel boils down to two issues. Which companies can better develop a business model to generate revenue from searches and which companies can provide search results that are closer to your intent.

I’ve always been a Yahoo person myself as my experience is that I’m able to more easily find what I’m looking for on Yahoo rather than Google. Could people be predisposed to a search engine because its algorithms more closely approximate your thinking? Based on the statistics I guess I’m in the minority on this issue as more people use Google than any other search engine. Based on revenue, Google has developed a business model that’s clearly out producing its competitors.

The amount of services that Google provides is incredible. Just to think that a few years ago many of these services that we now rely upon every day didn’t exist. Google is mining our digital clickstream to develop services that they want to provide all covered with ad producing revenue.

Google has certainly achieved many remarkable goals and provided convenient and useful services and programs to its users. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad to have so much market power and information in the hands of one company. Could you argue that Google is a monopoly? I don’t think you’d win that argument at this point.

Although Google may have a “do no evil” ideology they certainly have done evil; whether it was intentional or on purpose is debatable. The old saying “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” might be of value here.

Why do we trust Google with this much information about us and control over that information? Is it a matter of time before the ideology of “do no evil” is absolutely corrupted? Only time will tell if Google is able to maintain the trust it has built with its users.

June 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exposed – does podcast viewing say anything about you?

Hmm well we’ve got to write about the podcasts I listen to / watch. Perhaps I should lie? Since social media and blogs are about being real I’ll tell the truth. I’ve actually been all over podcasts for some time. I only really watch two podcasts regularly. I tried many such as Rocketboom etc when there was some buzz still attached to it but found its pinko commie leftist BS to be a bit much. Bottom line here is I feel so bombarded by news that by the end of the day I’m not really looking for more news when I get home. Or maybe better said I’m only looking for news I’m interested in. Also with podcasts and particularly audio only podcasts if I don’t get hooked within the first 5-10 seconds I don’t have the tolerance to listen for 5 minutes to find out what its about. With a blog you can quickly determine if you want to keep reading. My podcast viewing is really limited to entertainment.

Tiki Bar TV

My favorite is Tiki Bar TV. This comedy podcast is great and is produced monthly. The acting, camera angles and scripts are first class. I must warn potential viewers that like all things comedy some episodes are better than others. When they are on you’ll have tears coming out of your eyes because you’re laughing so hard. Other times you could say their humor goes over your head. It focuses on three people in a tiki bar in an apartment. Some problem always arises and the resident doctor prescribes a custom cocktail. Everyone drinks the cocktail and the problem is solved — just like in real life.

Hot for Words

My other guilty pleasure is Hot for Words staring Marina. This podcast produces a new episode a couple times a week. It’s one of the most downloaded podcasts on You Tube, so I read. For those who don’t know, Marina is philologist; someone who studies linguistics and etymology. In each show Marina discusses the history and meaning of a word submitted by her viewers. On the surface that sounds pretty boring. However Marina is a pretty blond from Russia. Using her good looks, accent, personality and humor she’s hit a market for sure based on the number of downloads. As we discussed in class most of the popular podcasts seem to have a pretty lady associated with them.

I do catch some other random podcasts and those associated with the sports teams I follow. There are so many webpages, blogs and podcasts to view and limited time. What to do and why would anybody turn to a ninja for non-ninja advice?

June 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Long Tail”

I recently read “The Long Tail” by Chris Anderson. In this book Anderson describes an Internet business model that many e-retailers, such as Rhapsody, Itunes, and Amazon, are successfully using. Further the author describes old brick and mortar business models and provides some context and history on the evolution of business models.

I totally agree with Anderson’s ideas. In fact Anderson’s “The Long Tail” explains what I think that I and most others inherently understand about why e-businesses are able to make a profit and provide goods at a lower cost than a brick and mortar store. However there is one key aspect of the long tail I didn’t get until reading “The Long Tail;” volume in the long tail.

The Long TailThe long tail is a statistical curve showing the probability of sales. Rather than looking like a bell shaped curve the long tail is skewed to the left with a declining long tail to the right that never reaches zero. What this means is that although some items aren’t high volume sellers they do sell consistently over time at a low volume. What you lack in individual sales volume you can more than make up for in overall volume of items in the long tail.

If an e-music retailer has hundreds of thousands of songs that sell say 4 times a year that’s significant money as opposed to the current hit of the week. Considering that the digital storage cost of those low purchase songs in the long tail is next to nothing this isa great deal for the e-retailer. A brick and mortar store can’t afford to stock old songs that only sell once a quarter.

The other day, I now realize, I found myself buying a song in the long tail. I was surfing Itunes and came across Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” I thought here’s a great old song so I purchased it. Clearly this song is a niche market in the long tail. Not selling at high volume but selling consistently in the long tail.

The long tail concept can be applied to many other products. I thought that the example of Lulu.com, a book self- publisher, and Amazon’s print-on-demand books intriguing. When somebody buys a book from Lulu or specific Amazon books the digital file is then printed and shipped. The product exists only in digital format until purchased so there are limited storage costs. The company only incurs a cost (printing and distribution to the buyer) when it gains the revenue from the purchase.

I had a long tail epiphany at work today that reading “The Long Tail” made possible. I was looking at trends of my organization’s Intranet site; specifically our newsletter. Our newsletter is a long tail product. When an issue comes out there is heavy consumption of it then it slows off. I did a quick check of past issues out to six months and all had a long tail. Although an issue was old people are still occasionally downloading it.

If you’re reading this there is a good chance that you too have bought or have products in the long tail but just didn’t realize it.

Reference:

Long Tail Graphic: Anderson, C (October 2004) The Long Tail. Retrieved June 12, 2008 from the World Wide Web.

June 12, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Georgetown University Is Hard To Get To

As a graduate student at Georgetown University (GU) I’ve discovered Georgetown (Gtown) and GU are hard to get to.  There is no Metro station in Georgetown.  Over the years of working in DC occasionally you see articles about why there is no metro station in Gtown.  I don’t know if they’re true but at this point that doesn’t matter; only the reality that there is no metro stop counts.  So if you don’t live or work within walking distance you’re out luck.

The available options to get to Gtown are driving, DC Metro Bus, Georgetown Circulator bus, taxi or bicycle.  There are some Gtown specific buses that run from Gtown to the Dupont Circle metro and Rosslyn metro, but they have the same issues (see below) as the Metro and Circulator buses.  Also GU has some type of bus system but I’m not familiar enough with the university’s buses to discuss them.

As far driving goes the parking in Gtown is a nightmare.  Driving yourself is the most convenient way to get to Gtown.  Of course you have to fight the DC rush hour and drivers should be wary because the DC meter maids are always out in force generating additional revenue for the city to waste.  They love Gtown because the parking is so bad and residents have special stickers for parking in Gtown.  Take a local spot for more than two hours and you’re likely to have present from the district on your windshield after class.
Georgetown terrain map by Google
Taking a DC Metro Bus or the Georgetown Circulator bus is great for getting to Gtown but not GU.  When I don’t drive to GU I usually take one of these buses from work.  All in all you can’t beat the price of a bus ride on either Metro or the Circulator to Gtown.  However if you ride either of these buses you have to deal with buses where the air conditioning may not work, be packed in the bus like an Army cattle bus and believe it or not sometimes unsavory DC co-riders.  The real problem with the bus is where it drops you off.

You can usually get off either of the various buses some where on M Street or Wisconsin Avenue.  That’s great if you’re going to Gtown.  If you’re going to GU being dropped off at M or Wisconsin isn’t so great.

At GU the term “Hill Top” refers to many things, for good reason.  If you haven’t been to GU when you go there you’ll discover GU is on top of a sizeable hill.  If the bus drops you off at say M and Wisconsin, a popular drop off point, you’ve got a 15 minute walk up hill to GU.  The season really affects the quality of the walk.  Now in the summer, with the typical DC heat and humidity, it’s terrible.  I have to wear a suit to work.  ☹  By the time I get to GU I’m soaked.

Taking a taxi is great because you get dropped off where you want and don’t have to walk up any of Gtown’s hills.  But as you might guess it’s the most expensive way to get to Gtown/GU.  Ten dollars (from the vicinity of the White House) compared to one dollar on the Circulator and I believe one dollar and thirty five cents on the Metro bus.

Being a cyclist myself I’d love to ride my bike to Gtown.  Gtown has a thriving bike community and several high end bicycle shops on the western end of M street for all your biking needs.  However biking from home to work to GU in my suit or bringing a change of clothes and carrying my books and laptop just isn’t going to work so that’s out.

Well it just isn’t easy but is always an adventure trying to get to GU / Gtown.  Too bad Gtown wasn’t included as a stop when the Metro Rail system was built.

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Blogs Blogging and Bloggers is there a rhyme or reason?

I had time to reflect today upon my fledgling blog and those of my classmates. What I noticed is that many of our blogs to include mine, although new, weren’t focused on one subject that we may be or hope to be an SME in. My blog’s first three entries covered an assignment, some of the reasons I don’t like or consume traditional news media products and brushless electric motors for RC car racing. That last one sure diverged from the first two.
So what is the purpose of this blog? Although I mentioned this in my “about me” link generally as a graduate student at Georgetown University working on a masters degree in Public Relations and taking a social media class, social media and the digital disruption, this blog is for me to experiment with blogging and other Web 2.0 and 3.0 platforms. The hope is that I’ll learn to understand how to incorporate Web 2.0 into my various communications functions in the work environment.
So between blog assignments for class I’ll blog about what ever things or events of interest I come across throughout this semester. So if my posts seem a bit random they will be. The good news is you won’t know what’s over the next hill. So stay tuned.

June 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment