Hello… My Name Is WWW

Thank goodness Coldwell Banker has decided to sell real estate in virtual world Second Life. I guess I can cancel that benefit concert for avatar homelessness.
Coldwell’s virtual properties will sell for about $20 U.S., but they aren’t looking to make money on it. Like most businesses venturing in to Second Life, they are hoping to get attention online from a new market segment that can be converted to real world customers.

Are we becoming a society that is online first, real world second? Many companies have made big names for themselves through ecommerce (think Amazon, eBay, Expedia), and the past few years have seen a surge in online socialization (think MySpace, Facebook, Second Life).

Most actions that would have previously caused us to interact face-to-face are now being automated online. Highly targeted online advertising is all the rage.
As our real and virtual lives become more intertwined, will we still be active in the real world? Likewise, as electronic advertising takes over, will the real world be less cluttered with “clever” messaging? I, for one, would just like to be human again.

Attention Spans Shorten on the Web

We are a society with a short attention span. The Web fits right in with that trait because it is a source of immediate information. With high-speed Internet, we can quickly get online, find the answer to our question, and be on to the next task in seconds flat.

Web statistics can attest that users generally look at only 2 to 3 web pages on any given site, and 30 seconds on any given page. This indicates they look for exactly what they want and either find it quickly or give up and move on to the next site (hopefully the former, rather than the latter). We want information quick, we want it now, and we have little tolerance for websites that don’t clearly tell us where to find what we want.

So which came first- the short attention span or the Internet? Either way, the two feed off of one another. Those with short attention spans can go to the Web for quick information keep moving to the next thing.

That’s all I have to say on this subject. On to the next thing… .

Video Awards Not Just for Celebrities Anymore

With more and more entertainment being supplied via the Internet, recognition is moving online as well. YouTube announced today the winners of the first YouTube Video Awards, recognizing the most popular original videos of 2006.

Users have flocked to YouTube to watch all sorts of self-created videos, proving that it is now quick and easy to watch videos over the Internet. So much for cuddling on the couch. As I mentioned last week, online video sites like YouTube allow us to share in a collective experience. On top of that, some people are able to stretch their fifteen minutes of fame. Look at the winning videos and you will see that average non-celebrities are gaining celebrity status because of their homemade creations. Anyone can become famous on the Internet with a little creativity and PR.

My favorite new celebrities are Ok Go with their nimble choreography:

Knowing Your Website’s Purpose

Setting up websites has become rather easy thanks to free hosting sites and templates. This weekend I set up a website for the local youth baseball team in a matter of hours. The team’s parents will be able to see announcements, schedules, rules, and practice tips. The purpose is to aid communication.

It surprises me that more people don’t take advantage of web communication. Sure many have websites, but how often have you been unable to find what you need on a site? Sometimes their intentions are unclear. Sometimes their information is incomplete.

A few things to consider if you have a website are:

  • Why do you have a site?
  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Does your home page tell users what they need to know and what to do next?
  • Every website can gain from a periodic review to make sure it is still on track.

    Impact of MySpace on Presidential Election

    MySpace is joining in on the political fun of the 2008 presidential election with the Impact channel.

    The New York Times describes it as, “an online version of a town square, a collection of links to political MySpace pages that will make it easier for the site’s 60 million American users per month — many of them from the traditionally elusive and apathetic youth demographic — to peruse the personal MySpace pages of, so far, 10 presidential candidates,” (see The Future President, on Your Friends List).

    Here users will find candidate blogs, videos, photos, and links. They can even add candidates to their friends list. The Impact channel will provide voter registration tools and an easy payment method for campaign contributions. MySpace hopes that they will be able to play a strong role in online campaign strategies by “reaching people who are historically not interested in voting,” according to MySpace founder Tom Anderson.

    With these efforts and others, like TechPresident.com, the United States public will be able to follow the candidates and the election in brand new ways.

    On the flip side, candidates are readily building Internet campaign strategies as a means of reaching young voters.

    All that’s left now is to see how it is received. Do users want politicians on their friends list and “digital yard signs” on their sites, or will this be a case of the parent trying unsuccessfully to portray cool.

    Online Videos Make the World Smaller

    Online videos are exploding in popularity thanks to sites like YouTube. CacheLogic of Cambridge, England says, “TV shows, YouTube clips, animations, and other video applications already account for more than 60 percent of Internet traffic,” (see TR10: Peering into Video’s Future on Technology Review).

    Who would have thought we would flock to the Internet to watch clips of grown men dancing on treadmills or homemade Lego Gatling guns propelling rubber bands at dominoes with remarkable speed? A friend of mind told me traffic surged on YouTube after the above Panda Sneeze video was mentioned on a television show.

    Movies and television shows have long been distributed across different countries, exposing diverse audiences to similar experiences. Online videos are allowing the human race to further share experiences. Many of these short films can easily cross cultures, relying on visuals rather than language to tell a story.

    With ever-improving technology, social networking on the Internet continues to prove that it’s a small world after all.

    Blog Video Collage on YouTube

    Check out this video collage of blogs on YouTube. The video was created by Darren of Blogged Out. You may find some new favorites for your blog roll.

    As a reminder, the Blogged Out project starts tomorrow. Visit Blogged Out to find out more.

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