The end of the semester seems like the perfect opportunity to look ahead and explore what might come next. We’ve examined the social networks that we’re familiar with, looked at sites that encourage user generated content, and imagined what the implications of dating and gaming sites might be for real world relationships. Now, we should take what we’ve learned and a tell a story about what the future has in store.
At this stage, I’d like to leave it fairly open ended. We could take a sci-fi approach and create something dystopian, extending and exaggerating some of our fears about surveillance, homogenization, and the demise of quality cultural production. Alternatively, we could keep our feet more firmly planted on the ground and explore companies that are being developed at tech start-up incubators like Y-Combinator, BetaWorks and TechStars. We would likely be able to interview mentors in those programs, as well as some of the budding entrepreneurs. We could use their insights to drive our analysis.
Maybe you have a genius idea. Maybe you’re bursting with creativity but you simply do not have the resources or the financial aid to help you make that idea into a reality. That’s what Kickstarter is for, “a funding platform for artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, explorers…” It’s quite the genius little start up. So how Kickstarter works is that project owners choose a target minimum of funds and the deadline by which people can donate/pledge money (via Amazon Payments). If the goal is not met by the deadline, none of the pledged money gets collected. If the goal is met, the funds go to the project creator, after Kickstarter has taken 5% of it and Amazon has taken another small percentage (~2%). Successfully funded project ideas are permanently archived on the site.
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More and more I have been hearing about online communities taking to the streets in real life “meet-ups.” Gamers, photographers, writers/bloggers, anime enthusiasts, and many other groups have adopted this practice and regularly schedule events in major cities around the world. Now, I am not claiming that similarly-interested individuals gathering in public is a novel occurrence by any means — such congregations have existed for a long time in the form of “comicons” and “Trekkie” conventions et.al.. What is interesting about the more recent meet-ups is that, since they spawn from tightly-knit internet communities, there is a good chance the people attending already have a certain relationship with one another (friendship, mutual in-game benefice, romance, etc.), but one that has been mediated by the standards and practices of the online world, which are more often than not inapplicable to real world situations.
Whereas Kyle and Andrew examined the migration of individual relationships from the online to the offline environment, I would be interested in analyzing the migration of a whole community. There is a difference, hear me out!
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