Defining the Social Media Landscape, Literally

What would any good definition be without a dictionary? Here are the “real” definitions of our social media landscape, archaic or fleeting though they may be…

Social– adj. “relating to society; organization of the way people live and work together in groups; seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community; relating to the public as an aggregate body; consisting in union or mutual intercourse”

Media– noun “the means of communication that reach or influence people widely; something intermediate; surrounding conditions or influences; an intervening agency or means by which something is conveyed or accomplished; channels of general communication, information, or entertainment in society, such as newspapers, radio, or television”


Social Media– According to our old friend Wikipedia, and who better? Besides, perhaps Wordia the “next-gen social dictionary”… I digress, Wiki says social media is “primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings; most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio; AKA: user-generated content (UGC).”

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Defining the Social Media Landscape, Comparatively Speaking


Vivity Scenes allows users to create a 3-D virtual scene “experience” to embed on any blog, brand or site. Vivaty created services for  Facebook and AIM in May 2008.

To sum up in response to my original question – are social networks (SNs) and virtual worlds (VWs) merging into one medium? In my opinion, not only are they converging, rather social networks are, at the core, just more user-friendly versions of virtual worlds.

The only real differences are user interface (UI), visual presentation, text opposed to graphics/pizzazz, and most of all, the idea of escape from- versus extension of- real life. In other words, either it’s an “escape” – as in an MMOG, where players create an avatar and explore a fictional world and/or storyline, or it’s an “extension” of the real world – as in a social network.

The 2008 VW Report shows that adult and teen VW development numbers are on a steady decline, while kids VWs are more rampant than ever. I firmly believe this is because adults today aren’t generally interested in treading the confusing and often complicated waters of a VW user interface. Our lives are increasingly busy as it is, and most adults don’t have time to build and maintain a “second life”, or for that matter even bother trying to figure out the technology. But we sure as hell have time, and eagerly welcome a SN where we can easily keep up with friends, family, professional colleagues and a million and one other things in-between. I think it’s safe to say that an “extension” must be more important than an “escape” to adults and teens in today’s society…

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Exploring KidZui, the Internet for Kids


These days, everyone’s looking for the safest way to let their kids go online. Adults have an array of internet browsers, social media sites and search services, but what about kids? Enter KidZui

KidZui is a web browser and social media app for kids to browse a safe internet. It’s “fun for kids, and smart for parents.” KidZui has content from Aardvarks to Zebras, Art to Science and Music, soccer, games and everything else that kids are learning about, including the largest number of Web sites, games, videos and photos relevant to kids, anywhere.

KidZui is free BUT (of course) “kids get even more fun and parents get more tools with a paid membership.”

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Defining the Social Media Landscape: Virtual Shift to a Social Web

Image Courtesy of Geek and Poke
Image Courtesy of Geek and Poke

“You’d better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin’.” – Bob Dylan

Virtual shifting ahead

Are social networks (SNs) and virtual worlds (VWs) merging into one medium? – This was my original question. But when you consider the overall state of social media, it quickly becomes all but irrelevant. For one thing, the main difference between SNs and VWs is merely more than user interface (UI). Besides, I think the nomenclature all really depends on how you look at things, and in the end, the majority (if not all) VWs can be classified as either MMOG or SN (and all MMOGs are by nature VWs), which leaves little discrepancy between SNs and VWs at all. But I’ll get back to that soon enough…

Once I realized the broader potential of social media, and the enormous impact it has (and will continue to have) on our daily lives, my research turned in a new direction. Instead, what’s more important and worth asking – Where is social media headed, and is the whole Web going social? The shear wealth of information and aspects to consider on this new topic made my project, at first look, severely overwhelming. But now that I’ve digested the facts and figures, it’s really not all that complicated.

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Defining the State of Social Media – Introduction

Social Networks vs. Virtual Worlds: Categorization, Convergence, Aggregation

      Image courtesy of Matt Hamm 

Introduction: Serious Social Interest

This white paper incorporates my insight and personal opinions based on a broad range of resources, viewpoints, facts, statistics and trends to address the benefits, opportunities and challenges of social media. I’ve broken things down into three main sections: the virtual shift to a Social Web (defining the landscape), digesting the “noise” (aggregation and virtual desktops), and what it all means (real world implications). I’ll be posting the full paper section by section, to explore the ins, outs, ups and downs of social media, including social media’s new role in society, where it’s headed next, and most importantly, what I/we really want and need from social networking.

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What They Play Gets Early Look into LEGO Universe


What They Play’s President John Davison got an exclusive first look at LEGO Universe during GDC last week:

“Unlike the ‘building’ found in titles like Lego Star Wars or Lego Batman (where players simply hold down a button to automatically construct predetermined objects) Lego Universe incorporates a full building simulation where players can construct items within the game environment just as they would with real blocks. The team told us that one of the main objectives for Lego Universe has been to work very closely with the community to build the game world, and to enable fans to have a deep impact on it from the beginning.”

Check out what the parents’ guide to video games had to say about the upcoming MMOG from the LEGO Group and developer NetDevil in the full story.