How Facebook Killed the Virtual World

Almost all the promise once held by virtual worlds has since been realized by Facebook. For every social interaction, brand engagement or persistent multiplayer social experience that Second Life or World of Warcraft or MTV’s Virtual Lower East Side was supposed to provide, there’s something the same or very similar available on Facebook — probably better, cheaper, and more reliable, and no doubt more accessible. —How Facebook Killed the Virtual World

Hm… This article reads as if it was written when the dominant news narrative about Facebook was still positive, as if it was quickly edited to conform to the “Facebook’s IPO was a disappointment” theme that’s now dominant. Lots of weasel words — such as “almost,” “very similar” and “probably” — cushion the striking main claim to the point of meaninglessness… almost.

Despite the fluffiness of the story, it is worth observing that much of the activity once taking place in MOOs & the blogosphere is now happening in Twitter and Facebook, which function by encouraging and demanding a constant stream of new updates. Compared to that stream, blogs do a much better job at providing a place for discussions to happen, though I find the kind of chatty Facebook micro-social conversations I have nowadays get along just fine without that sense of place. I have, however, come to appreciate the power of Twitter hash tags for creating ad-hoc communities, for topics of professional or macro-social interest.

At any rate, the author is spot on with this observation: “I’m your great-aunt and I need a place to post pictures of your cousin’s bat mitzvah, I don’t necessarily mind joining a network in order to do so. But do I really want to join another world?”

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