This week at USC was both my second faculty seminar and 5th APOC class. The students' first significant papers were due and most gave short presentations. For the faculty seminar, since my first talk had generate a fair amount of Second Life-specific interest -- and inspired by James' new book -- I decided to use the history of SL as a backdrop for the themes, behaviors, activities, and topics worthy of further study and exploration. It runs a bit long, but I had a lot of fun doing Google archeology. Sadly, there is very little content from the early Alpha and Beta period, so I hope more of that makes it onto the web.
The student's module papers were their opportunity to focus on the first four weeks -- online communities, niche communities, virtual worlds, and journalism -- and tug on some thread that had caught their interest. I hope more of them end up online, as they are quite good. Lightning round tour of interesting thoughts from students:
- Until recently, usage time on social networking sites have been declining. Facebook and LinkedIn have still grown. Is this a sign of social network fatigue? Amusingly, Facebook just posted a sharp increase in their usage time, reversing the trend. Political interest perhaps?
- Is anyone using Twitter for non-business use? Outside of the geekosphere, Twitter and microblogging are not yet making an impact, although some use cases do exist. Twitter, in particular, is losing credibility through outages and lack of transparency around usage.
- Even as newspapers attempt to shift to online ads, current trend lines indicate 10 years before online revenue grows enough to replace offline. Trends will get worse, because of continued generational shift away from offline reading.
- Mostly led by the brilliant Jeremy Bailenson's group at Stanford, a ton of research is continuing to support how strongly we connect to our avatar representation. Huge implications for trust, learning, and training online.
- Whyville makes some good steps toward being a strong learning platform, and tries to offer protections for young users.
- What happens when hyperlocal meets collective intelligence? Innovative media organizations are trying to find better ways to balance information flow between citizen journalists and media organizations to generate local media options that never existed before, particularly in more rural areas.