Tuesday, January 08, 2008


It has already been documented -- via a screen shot in Ian's excellent discussion of Facebook -- that I am zombie app user. After all, how else could I utter the true statement "Marc Andreesen is in my zombie army"? For those lucky enough not to know what the zombie app is, Rolf has a pretty good description in his recent post about the moral, ethical, and emotional issues involved with receiving a zombie "invitation."

More specifically, receiving a zombie invitation from me.

The zombie app, looked at seriously, is spam. I don't send many invites out anymore because of this and have generally ignored the many copies of it, including vampires, werewolves, slayers, pirates vs. ninjas, and others too numerous to count. I have kept an eye on my zombie, however, mostly because the minor multi-level marketing piece of it and the combat component ensure that it continues to slowly increase in level. Occasionally, I do send out invitations to someone who I think will either find the app funny or not be particularly offended or bothered by it if they don't.

Like Ian, Rolf took a somewhat more nuanced -- and more tongue-in-cheek -- look at the invite and came to the conclusion that the motivation for accepting or declining springs from mammalian dominance behavior.

(Declining, in his case, and thereby ensuring that his promising career will come to an abrupt and messy end at the hands of my zombie hordes -- most likely in a school or shopping center -- but that's another post.)

That motivation is, of course, just one component of the app's virality. Worse, it's probably a neutral or net negative contributor if you consider average power relationships between friends. It is interesting to consider how much more viral an altruistic or positive sum app might be instead. Perhaps this would be the app equivalent of Jane's "pronoia" idea.

No comments: