MMOGs

Posted March 14, 2008 by Garrett
Categories: Spring 2008

Online gaming (and related consoles like the Wii and Xbox 360) is quickly graduating from a teenage past-time to a massive industry, partly because the generation raised on Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers is aging and still playing games. Adult gaming is huge today. Movies today can gross more from the associated games than from the movies themselves. XBox’s Halo 3, which released in September and allows people to play joint missions from multiple locations connected online, had the biggest release in entertainment history—grossing some $170 million in its first 24 hours.

Massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs) are a huge business today—they’re even being used by the U.S. Army to recruit (as well as train).

Second Life is probably the best known of the various games and it has spawned a massive economic industry within it (although the benefits are questionable). Before class on Wednesday, please sign up for a Second Life account (basic membership is fine) and download the application before class so we can get started in class. If you’re using the school’s computers, just create your account. Read the Wikipedia page carefully so you understand the game (tech subjects like this are where you can trust Wikipedia better than just about any other source). BusinessWeek also had a good cover story on this phenomenon last year (make sure to note and listen to the podcast). If you love this and are interested in journalism, then go ahead and join the reporting staff of the Second Life Herald, the game’s virtual newspaper, or become one of the game’s embedded reporters. Also check out the Second Life Showcase to see some cool things going on in the game and listen to a podcast or two. Confused? Don’t be. Very few people understand how this world works and what its impact could be; that’s especially true of groups with an agenda.

Beyond Second Life, World of Warcraft is probably the second-best known, with a huge passionate following. How huge and how passionate, you ask skeptically? Try roughly 2 million North American players, 1.5 million European players, and 3.5 million Chinese. That’s some seven million PAYING users.

Companies are beginning to realize how big gaming is and how influential games can be in helping people make decisions, as well influencing decisions and policies. The North Carolina firm Persuasive Games is probably the leader in online game development. Go ahead and play a couple of them. Blog about your experiences. Are the games effective in getting their point/message across? What surprised you about this week’s readings?

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Social Media Report

Posted February 29, 2008 by Garrett
Categories: Spring 2008

As I explained Wednesday night in class, your social media reports are due the first class after spring break, as are all of your first half reading blog entries. Entries completed after Wednesday March 12th will not be accepted. You do NOT have to have done any of your optional blog posts yet.

For the social media reports, I’m going to be looking for at least 15 social media sites spread across at least three of the four following areas: Blogs/Microblogging, Wikis, Social Networking (including both sites and groups), and Social Media (Vlogs/Podcasts/Citizen Journalism/Audio/Video). If you have picked a subject that doesn’t get you 15 sites in three areas, you need to change your definition or pick a new topic.

Write up a brief description of each site, classify it, the URL, any traffic details or size numbers you can track down, as well as some analysis of the level of engagement. Don’t forget some of the resources we’ve used like TruthLaidBear and Quantcast. Here’s an example entry for a Facebook group that I belong to:

Site: Vermont State Society Facebook Group
URL: http://harvard.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8156815255
Type: Social Networking Site
Traffic:  22 members in group; Facebook ranks 15th on the web according to Quantcast
Description: This largely inactive group supports Vermonters in Washington and members post job listings and news stories of interest to it. It is an open group which anyone can join with a single administrator. No one other than the administrator has posted to it.

IMPORTANT PROGRAMMING NOTE: For the next two weeks of class, I’m going to flip the subjects. We’ll do Wikipedia first and THEN MMOGs so we can build off the last two weeks of class without interruption. With the Wikipedia class, we’re going to delve into the world of what Stephen Colbert calls “Truthiness.”

As your first journey into Truthiness and the challenges of the web, take a look at the documentary “Loose Change,” which was put together online to highlight the U.S. government’s role in the 9/11 attacks. On YouTube, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to view “Loose Change”—and, if you take the time to watch it, it makes a pretty convincing case that we don’t know the full truth about the 9/11 attacks. All told, across its various postings and versions, more than ten million people have watched the video. The challenge, of course, is that at best the documentary aspires to “truthiness,” that is it’s hard for a lay viewer to judge its actual level of factual interaction. Places like Popular Mechanics have tried to debunk the theories. One student last semested pointed out to me in class a parody of “Loose Change” called “Unfastened Coins.”

It’s easy to dismiss endeavors like “Loose Change” (or is it?), but the journey into Wikipedia is much more complicated. Here’s some background reading and viewing on Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia. Its founder, Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales, has turned into one of the web’s big celebs. He’s a big proponent of collaboration and “crowd-sourcing.” The project, though, despite becoming the default research tool for most college students and lazy journalists/researchers is very controversial for its “truthiness.” It’s very hard to know what exactly you can and can’t trust on Wikipedia. Newsman John Seigenthaler got very burned by a libelous write-up, and not surprisingly Encyclopedia Britannica thinks the project is the devil incarnate. On the other hand, a Nature study found that the two are about equal in accuracy. Of course, the beauty/challenge of Wikipedia is that anyone can edit it, as Colbert likes to demonstrate by raising the subject of “Wikiality” on subjects like elephants.

If you want a few other examples of wikis and how they’re used, check out the DisInfopedia and these useful resources on what wikis are and how to use them to collaborate. The articles also include some useful tips on how you might apply wikis to the work that you’re doing.

This is the week that I want you to be most wary of what we’re learning. Ask hard questions about wikis and Wikipedia—we’re going to talk in class about your mini-project, which will include contributing to a Wikipedia entry and preparing a research report on using a program that allows you to track who’s been editing a particular entry. Your blog entry should focus on the following two questions: Should we trust Wikipedia or an expert-led encyclopedia more? How could Wikipedia be better set-up to better provide accuracy? Should it be open to everyone or just verified “experts”?

In class, I’ll walk you through some Wikipedia pages, help you set up accounts, and explain WikiScanner.

Collaboration

Posted February 21, 2008 by Garrett
Categories: Spring 2008

So has your head stopped spinning from last night’s class? There’s so much of the internet to cover! I’m worried that we won’t get through all the internets this semester.

Anyway I posted the class links from last night at del.icio.us and I’d encourage you rather than do any new reading to make sure that you’re caught up with del.icio.us, your blogging, and your reading for next week. We’ll spend the week talking about Wikinomics and collaboration online, including Overeager Gregg’s PBWiki. Spend some time perusing the sites/information I threw at you last night and blog about what you find interesting/surprising.

If you are hungry for more, I would, as the syllabus suggests, read “The Wisdom of Crowds” for next week. It’s a great book and there may be an extra credit opportunity at some point if you’ve read it.

By the way, I wonder when the first vocab quiz of the semester will happen?

Be My Friend!

Posted February 14, 2008 by Garrett
Categories: Class Notes, Spring 2008

Good morning! I hope your heads have stopped spinning from Google last night—I know I threw a ton at you. We’ve just got so much to cover and so little time! I’ve put all of the links from last night (and will put all the links from future nights) at del.icio.us/mppr850class. Check out the links to your heart’s content.

This week’s topic is social networking and social media. Just as last week was entirely about Google, we’re going to spend most of this week looking at a a few of the major social networking and social media sites: MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, and del.icio.us. These are sites we’ve passed over earlier this semester briefly and now we’re going to dive into them.

I hope you enjoy Wikinomics, I think it puts together lots of the class themes and the world into which we’re moving.

For starters, dig through my files on Facebook, and make sure to read the following articles: Jeff Jarvis, Fast Company, Wharton, Mashable, CNN, and check out this tips and tools for Facebook. Does it seem like we’re coming closer to the “Google Grid”? Here’s some info on how companies are using social networking and who are the demographics. Compare who uses MySpace and Facebook? What’s different? Why? What does friendship mean online? Watch Scoble’s take on Kyte TV (you may have to install Flash) and then ask yourself: Is Robert Scoble media? What does the future for media look more like? Scoble or the Wall Street Journal?

We’ll play with Digg, Flickr and YouTube in class some, so if you’ve never used those sites, make sure to spend some time on them. Here’s some background on Digg. They are some of the leading examples of social media. Del.icio.us is a form of social media too, and here are some other examples. You asked in class for some more concrete examples, so take a look at this report on social media and public radio. And take a look at how to do effective online advocacy in social networks.

Your blogging question for the week: Do we need a Bill of Rights for the social web?

Notes: Blogging II

Posted February 12, 2008 by Garrett
Categories: Class Notes, Spring 2008

Blogging Part II
February 6th, 2008

Obama’s 28 Million Online – Obama raised over 32 million in January alone, he has 170,000 new online donors.  This type of grassroots fundraising has been extremely successful; we may see traditional fundraising methods dying.  Hillary is getting her funds from big donors, and as we can see is not doing as well as Obama.  He is reaching out and receiving support from the “tail,” money is coming in organically; while Hillary is getting her support from the “head” We may see an end of big money donors.

Ex – Hart’s campaign died because the $ that they were raising was just not coming in fast enough to continue fueling the campaign. If Obama is the Democratic Candidate, it will be because of his fundraising

Barak Obama Music Video – voter generated after Hew Hampshire Primary, had 1.8 million views, this video speaks to a generation that understands the imagery used –Jesse Jackson…etc
Average online viewer is 39 years old
Average blogger is in their mid 40’s
2008 will be remembered by the way voter’s content has changed the campaign and changed the way money is being raised.  In 2004 online video didn’t exist
When we look back on this election we will see ordinary people who have had great influence outside the normal campaign infrastructure.

Challenge is that the there is no control over the content supporting a candidate, and when you tell people that they cant do something it fuels online content!

Ex –Howard Dean’s campaign –fumbled on Meet the Press, got dismissed as a candidate…but then money started coming in via his website people wanting to support him for having a different opinion.

4.  News:

There is an article in the New Yorker from October about the Long Tail and Classical music, how it has been saved online.  The onezies and twozies add up!

Data Mining – is the principle of sorting through large amounts of data and picking out relevant information.  There are companies that look at consumer data to find pockets.

Ex –the Bush campaign took this to whole new level –micro-campaigning, sending information out to a highly targeted group of individuals.

The Truth Laid Bear –how to find out if a blog is a respectable blog.  Tracks how many blogs link to a given blog.  Categories range from:
Higher Being category –has the most popular blogs
Insignificant Microbes –the least read blogs
Good example of the Long Tail: there are millions and million of blogs that never get visited or seen…in the tail.

Sitemeter – A way you can track how many people visit your blog.  You can use this to see if you go from insignificant to a higher being!

Other Blogging Platforms:  Type Pad, Moveable Type, and Blogger, which is owned by Google

5.  Non-traditional types of blogging…both relatively new movements

Micro Blogging – Twitter is an example of micro blogging, this is a site that was launched about a year ago at a tech conference.  It is cell phone based blogging.  Very much like SMS – you have 140 characters to reply with, you can blog from your cell phone, it’s easy and fast.  On twitter you can sign up and follow other friends, colleagues, etc.

Twit –is the term for what you are sending –“Sent a twit”

2 Other microblogging platforms are:  Jaiku and Pownce

People use microblogging to get information in real time, while they are happening –so in minutes they can make a decision…it’s like a big corkboard.

Steve Rubel – uses Twitter all the time, his blog Micropersuasion is one we should start reading,  he basically invented online marketing.

T-logs – Tumblelog is a mishmash multimedia of blogs, it’s not text heavy, it is more image-based and video-based.  It has a traditional format of a blog.  Example of a big platform for this – Tumblr, David Karp came up with Tumbler.  Ex of a Tumbler Blog is Julia Allison’s tumbler blog.

Blogging is moving toward these 2 categories – tlogs and microblogging; we will start to see more and more of these.

WordPress is not really made for images; Tumblr is a multi-media platform first.

6.  Lecture:  Bringing blogging back around to a quasi conclusion.

Challenges – We have come to a point where mass media is splintering –for the first time we are not all reading the same news, we are choosing to get media in different ways.  Don’t underestimate the power that iphones and TVO will have on media.  The time shifting, and what this does to a culture that use to all watch TV at the same time.

You now don’t have to catch the program on TV; this is a real fundamental change in how we consume media.

There is a wealth of new voices being introduced

Jim Fallows: This is changing public discourse –there are no truths.

We are getting educated at very different levels, for example the voters for Kerry got there information through different mediums than voters for Bush.  Challenges for marketers are that people are being misinformed

Two programs that the “most educated” watch today –Colbert Report and Jon Stewart.

Journalism brought this on itself – strived to deliver both sides of the story all the time, staying neutral, not taking a position on what was write or wrong.  A fundamental avocation of a true challenge –He said vs. She said Journalism.
Who knows where the truth lies – this has given rise to blogging, finding the truth.  And media was not doing enough of this.

Today we see newspapers cutting their staffs. CBS was a world wide network – but over the course of the 90’s gave it up – Garrett argues that they’d be better off if they would have kept opening foreign bureaus instead of paying KCouric’s salary. CBS had 11 foreign bureaus –not 1 correspondent based permanently in the Muslim world.
NBC – ll countries
CNN – 26 oversees bureaus
Washington Post – has 1 reporter that covers India, 2 for China, 2 for Africa…

That is the footprint of the past, 1 reporter for every billion of people.  A lot is being missed.
Ex -1989, there were 3 networks that spent 4000 minutes on foreign news
By 2000, there were 1300 minutes -1 minute per network per night in the US
By 2005 –post 911, mid Iraq war –CBS was in the lead at 894 minutes of foreign news 2.5 minutes per night –just on this station, ABC didn’t even make 2 minutes

People are not seeing what they want, so they are going out and finding it themselves.
Warnewsradio – college students at Swarthmore – thought the news was doing a bad job of covering the war in Iraq – went out found phone directory, called Iraqi citizens – did a better job reporting on the war then mainstream media – they had no reporting background.

People are no longer content with “He Said vs. She Said” news –they want facts, want to be education and want better media.

It is easy now for people to seek out the media that they agree with – you don’t have to be confronted with media you don’t like.

With media being filtered through prisms, separate realities of how people consume the media…How as marketers do you get the consumers the real facts to be educated?

Notes: Digital Literacy 101

Posted February 12, 2008 by Garrett
Categories: Class Notes, Spring 2008

Digital Literacy 101
January 30, 2008

Del.icio.us Tips
• Do not put commas after Tag entry – only a space
• Do use existing Tags when possible to eliminate 17 variations of same word
TO DO: Post 2 articles weekly with your name as one of the Tags

How to write your email so as not to get caught in spam net:
YourName (SPACE) At (SPACE) YourDomain (SPACE) Dot (SPACE) Com
i.e.: GMG at Georgetown Dot Edu

On Blogs:
#1 Rule about blogs – There Are No Rules!
• There is a right way to write a thesis paper, not so for blogs.
• If you’re not blogging for business using alter ego can be fun.
• To find your ‘natural’ voice – blog a lot. Really, a lot.
• Getting past inhibitions will differ for everyone – to get past your blog a lot.
• No rules on ‘right’ way to blog for class topics
• GG will let you know if you’re “wildly out of line.”• Be creative – YouTube is ok response to a class topic.
• Central Theme to any blog is the writer’s perspective/point.
• Hopefully blogging will make you a better communicator.

Sites mentioned tonight:
Slashdot – News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters.
Atrios is Duncan Black (Left)
Little Green Footballs – Charles Johnson (Right)
Matthew Yglesias at The Atlantic (Left)
My DD (Direct Democracy)
Fire Dog Lake
The Huffington Post
Technorati
Pollster
Flickr – photo sharing site
Scobleizer – Robert Scoble of Naked Conversations
Feedburner
Rocket Boom
Ask a Ninja
Webb Alert
Daily Kos – Founder is Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (Left)

Meta Data – the data about data that helps categorize data.

Think book at Library of Congress – all the pieces of data used to file that book are Meta Data.

Taxonomy – is the practice and science of classification. The Dewey Decimal System used to categorize and file books is a taxonomy. This system does not work on the web.

Folksonomy – Folksonomy is what we do when we tag our entries on Del.icio.us. (also known as collaborative tagging, social classification, social indexing, social tagging, and other names) is the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content. In contrast to traditional subject indexing, metadata is not only generated by experts but also by creators and consumers of the content. Usually, freely chosen keywords are used instead of a controlled vocabulary (Wikipedia).

Wikipedia – the geekier the topic the more reliable the info, not so for non-geek entries.

The Semantic Web – an direction the Web may take which would replace Folksonomy with Taxonomy. This could be possible topic for Omni Class later in semester.

Tags – a label (or graffiti). Big part of Web 2.0 to brings order to wildness of blogs. Technorati is driving the tag movement online, enter a tag on their site and get results. The New York Times uses tons of tags in their blogs. Every time the same tag is used it gets bigger in the ‘Tag Cloud’. Good Meta Data Tags on your blog will increase your presence on the Web.

Flickr – photo sharing site where every photo has Meta Data. Not only what you post/tag but built in data from camera or cell phone.

RSS – Really Simple Syndication – created by Dave Winer who gave it to Harvard Law School. Think press clippings or Google Alerts – RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts (Wikipedia). Sign up for RSS and never have to check favorite sites, blogs & podcasts (including Flickr!) – automatically come to you.

Google Reader – best choice for RSS feeds. A Web-based news/feed reader capable of reading Atom and RSS feeds online or offline. It was released by Google on October 7, 2005. (Wikipedia)

Feedburner – Allows weblog owners and podcasters the ability to manage their RSS feeds and track usage of their subscribers.

TO DO: Set up RSS feeds to Google Reader for the web sites listed on the syllabus:
• Jeff Jarvis’s BuzzMachine
• Steve Rubel’s MicroPersuasion
• Jay Rosen’s PressThink
TechPresident
Read/Write Web
TechCrunch
• Rebecca MacKinnon’s RConversation
BoingBoing

Who Knew? – Robert Scoble of Naked Conversations is famous for reading a ton of RSS feeds daily and synthesizing on his web site. Link to his site and connect to the world!

Google: Veni, Vidi, Vici

Posted February 7, 2008 by Garrett
Categories: Spring 2008

Hope you’re all Twittering up a storm at your desks this morning. Here are the two reports I mentioned in class about news consumption and beliefs: Bush/Kerry voters (PDF) and Pew’s news consumption study.

We’re going to spend all of next week’s class looking at Google, which has become the most powerful media company the world has ever seen.  It’s so huge that the presidential candidates are beating a path to its door (as are desperate authors like myself). Your assignment for the week’s blog: Should we be afraid of Google?

As you read Battelle, think about what he means search as a database of intentions. What impact does this have for better and worse? In class next week, we’ll watch a video about Googlezon, predicting one possible future.

Make sure to also check out this Economist article, this piece by Google about why it remembers searches, some Google tips and tricks, this explanation of page rank, and this funny story of Ted Leonsis and how he seized his own page ranking.

Simply Google puts all of the various parts of Google on a single page—it’s an impressive representation—and Scoble, whom we discussed last night and the author of NC, says there’s DOG afoot! Could Google end up owning the internet? Could sites like del.icio.us do search better? Yahoo!, the perennial also-ran in search, has been expanding too, although as you probably saw Microsoft may end up owning Google. Will Google kill Wikipedia? Will it own the wireless arena? Google today encompasses some huge brands, like Blogger we mentioned last night and YouTube, so here’s some YouTube history for you. Here’s a Google cheat sheet.

GoogleEarth and GoogleMaps are incredible products, putting resources that in our lifetimes once belonged only to the wealthiest and most advanced governments in the hands of anyone. Here’s some fun stuff about them. Have you looked for your house in GoogleMap? I know if you go to my address, you can see my car sitting in the driveway.

Want some alternatives to Google? Try this resource for 100 other search engines or use Googlonymous. Why do alternatives matter? Because it turns out that what you find depends very much on where you search!

Also, try to send me an email this week about how class is going for you. I’ve thrown a lot at you in the last two weeks—do you feel like you understand the material? Are we covering too much in class? Too little? Am I talking too much? What do you need from me to be able to do better and learn more? I want to make sure that you all are equipped at the end of the class to navigate the digital world and so if we need to spend another week on blogging, online communication and PR tips, etc., we certainly can do that.