Am I too soft, naive and romantic when it comes to Twitter?

Spam_marketing
The other day I went to meet someone to talk to them about
supporting them in organizing an event here in Singapore.  We’d spoken briefly about this on the phone
before and he seemed pleased at my offer to help. 

Practically his first question to me when we met was,
however, ‘how many friends do you have on Facebook and how many followers on
Twitter?’   Clearly a good part of my
perceived worth in helping organize this event was how large my networks were –
and not my real world network or ‘sphere of influence’, but my virtual friends
and followers numbers.  At least I was
able to give him an actual number which I don’t suppose I would have been able
to do had he asked me a more pertinent question about what my influencing power
was. (That's where the really interesting bit is I think)  He seemed slightly disappointed
when I told him and then revealed that he had about twice as many people following
him on Twitter and considerably more friends on Facebook.  It should also be noted I think that in both
worlds we are very small players when it comes to numbers of followers and
friends.

I should not have been that surprised at his question I
suppose.  This guy – who is a friend of mine – had recently been
involved with an event in Singapore that had been a big success – certainly
in terms of the number of visitors.  As a
friend of his on Facebook I had received a lot of emails on the run up to the event
giving me the latest information and news. 
There was an event ‘group’ too of course.   So I suppose if he wanted to adopt the same
social media ‘strategy’ in promoting this next event, then having an organizing
partner with lots of friends and followers would be a good starting point to a repeat
strategy.  But isn’t this a tiny bit like
looking for a mailing list?  I say ‘tiny
bit’ because clearly there are some big differences – I know or at least have
some sort of relationship with my virtual contacts whereas a mailing list may
be cobbled together in any which way. 

It still irks me a little that I should be valued by
this criterion (at least in some part). 
Needless to say the strategy would have involved me being asked to email
(within Facebook) all my friends but this is a bit like spamming isn’t it? And
it begs the bigger question of course – is social media just a numbers game?

I really really hope it isn’t.  I’m aware that I might be kind of a bit naïve
and maybe, in some ways, romantic when it comes to what goes on with Twitter.  My friend, whom I was having the meeting with,
sees social media simply (I think) as a marketing gig.   Indeed – almost all (if not all) of his
tweets are links to web pages often promoting an event or promoting social media
as a marketing tool in itself.  Hey ,
there’s nothing wrong with this and I think he knows that I think that, but I
have, shall we say, a ‘softer’ approach and I love Twitter because I get to,
for example,  follow Stephen Fry, someone
who  sees and uses Twitter from a
position a million miles away from my friend. 
I can’t help be reminded of the ‘marketing at’ position and strategy adopted by some
companies in Second Life bombed.  Isn’t seeing
a bunch of tweets from someone you follow that just point to websites that
advertise an event or advertise the marketing medium itself a bit too much like
getting direct text (SMS) messages?

I don’t know where Twitter will go when it gets monetized in
the future but if it simply becomes a place full of social media marketers then
I’ll probably bail – for me, whilst I am happy to see all sorts of people doing
and experimenting with all sorts of things, the magic remains seeing what
people like Stephen Fry are up to, having a laugh with Will Carling and being
part of topics and conversations with some really cool and imaginative people.

Call of Duty 4 is Incredible

Cod4_x360_thetaI recently finished playing Call of Duty 4.  I’ve played Games on Computers and consoles for years – my earliest memories being catching falling arrows in a little green line drawing truck on a BBC computer, the tennis paddle game on a TV at a friend’s house and also  Manic Miner.

But I have never been really into them and my playing has come in fits and starts depending on who’s been around and other external factors.  There was a time 5/6 years ago when I played a lot of Pro Evolution Soccer on the PS2 with my brother, Edward in South West London.

So, basically – on and off for a long long time with a pretty good idea of what’s around based on my general fascination for all things techy rather than as an active participant.  And, I suppose, with games like COD4 I am interested in them for their immersive qualities as part of my broader interest in what it takes to get someone immersed in an experience. 

I have been playing Halo 3 on and off since I got my xBox 360 and I suppose it’s pretty good.  The graphics are beautiful and all the other stuff is great….. it’s just that, well, I find the whole futuristic setting detracts from my experience.  There’s something about immersing myself in an environment I can relate to (if I can relate to modern warfare at all) that I find hugely appealing. 

The sniper mission in the game was just awesome.  Crouching in the long grass as a patrol (including tanks) passes by just inches from your position was incredible.  Visually it was comparatively ordinary compared to some of the other episodes in the game but from an immersion point of view the experience was very powerful.Sniper_escape

The game continued to surprise and delight me.  I really enjoyed the lack of a puzzle element.   I remember playing games where  it was a real pig to find your way and then you had to remember a series of confusing turns to get back.  I’m not interested in this.  COD4 makes it extremely simple to find your way and progress to the next episode.  This leaves someone like me able to concentrate on becoming part of the  incredible experience.  I will be looking to repeat  this kind of experience with other games.  A couple of people on the xBox forums  have suggested BioShock although I’m wondering about that futuristic element again.

And then again, there’s always a Wii and Super Mario Galaxy

There will be a 100,000-fold shrinking of computer technology over the next 25 years

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Check out what futurologist Ray Kurzweil is saying about computer processing power, its size and what this will mean for our learning environments.  Powerful stuff.  I was speaking on Virtual Reality yesterday and talked about how we (and companies and organizations) need to learn to play with people in these environments.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Fully emergent games is really where we want to go. We
will do most of our learning through these massively parallel
interactions is how we principally learn and principally create,"  he said.