MMOGs and Social Media Report

Posted February 26, 2009 by Garrett Graff
Categories: Uncategorized

As I explained Wednesday night in class, your social media reports are due the first class after spring break, yet all of your first half reading blog entries are due by class next week. Entries completed after Wednesday, March 4th, will not be accepted. You do NOT have to have done any of your optional blog posts yet, although frankly you should have an entry or two done just to pace yourself over the course of the semester.

From last night’s class, here’s the graphic that Mollie asked for me to post. Let me know if there are any other links from class you ever want posted or emailed to you.

For the social media reports, I’m going to be looking for at least 15 social media sites spread across at least three of the four following areas: Blogs/Microblogging, Wikis, Social Networking (including both sites and groups), and Social Media (Vlogs/Podcasts/Citizen Journalism/Audio/Video). If you have picked a subject that doesn’t get you 15 sites in three areas, you need to change your definition or pick a new topic.

Write up a brief description of each site, classify it, the URL, any traffic details or size numbers you can track down, as well as some analysis of the level of engagement. Don’t forget some of the resources we’ve used like TruthLaidBear and Quantcast. Here’s an example entry for a Facebook group that I belong to that would be useful if I was researching Vermont:

Site: Vermont State Society Facebook Group
Type: Social Networking Site
Traffic: 83 members in group; Facebook ranks 15th on the web according to Quantcast
Description: This semi-active group supports Vermonters in Washington and members post job listings and news stories of interest to it. It is an open group which anyone can join with a single administrator. No one other than the administrator has posted to it. There’s some minor wall activity—about one post a month.

I want your paper to be written on dead wood (paper) and handed in during class on March 18th. Since you’re getting extra time on this assignment, I’m going to have particularly high expectations for you. Please put real thought into the sites that you select. I don’t want you to just list the first 15 sites you find—which ones would be most useful? Which ones are active? You shouldn’t expect to get full credit for the assignment if you list 15 inactive blogs and Facebook groups. Where is there activity online around your chosen subject? If you were setting out to build a community in your chosen area, where would you turn?

As for class, we’re going to be looking at gaming. Online gaming (and related consoles like the Wii and Xbox 360) is quickly graduating from a teenage past-time to a massive industry, partly because the generation raised on Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers is aging and still playing games. Adult gaming is huge today. Movies today can gross more from the associated games than from the movies themselves. XBox’s Halo 3, which released in September and allows people to play joint missions from multiple locations connected online, had the biggest release in entertainment history—grossing some $170 million in its first 24 hours.

Massive multiplayer online games (MMOGs) are a huge business today—they’re even being used by the U.S. Army to recruit (as well as train new soldiers). They are also complicated stories, almost mini-novels.

Second Life is probably the best known of the various games and it has spawned a massive economic industry within it (although the benefits are questionable). Before class on Wednesday, please sign up for a Second Life account (basic membership is fine), download the application, and email me with your chosen account name. Spend a total of 45 minutes playing in Second Life, so you can at least master the basics of walking, talking, and flying (!). Read the Wikipedia page carefully so you understand the game (tech subjects like this are where you can trust Wikipedia better than just about any other source). BusinessWeek also had a good cover story on this phenomenon last year (make sure to note and listen to the podcast). If you love this and are interested in journalism, then go ahead and join the reporting staff of the Second Life Herald, the game’s virtual newspaper, or become one of the game’s embedded reporters. Also check out the Second Life Showcase to see some cool things going on in the game and listen to a podcast or two. Confused? Don’t be. Very few people understand how this world works and what its impact could be; that’s especially true of groups with an agenda.

Beyond Second Life, World of Warcraft is probably the second-best known, with a huge passionate following. How huge and how passionate, you ask skeptically? Try roughly 2 million North American players, 1.5 million European players, and 3.5 million Chinese. That’s some seven million PAYING users.

Companies are beginning to realize how big gaming is and how influential games can be in helping people make decisions, as well influencing decisions and policies. The North Carolina firm Persuasive Games is probably the leader in online game development. Go ahead and play a couple of them. Blog about your experiences. Are the games effective in getting their point/message across? What surprised you about this week’s readings?

As for next week, a reminder that you need to be all caught up on your blogging. It’s the eighth week of class, which means that you must have six (6) blog entries. One each on the following:

1) For your first blog entry, write about whatever aspect of Dan Gillmor’s book you found most interesting. For this and all future “response blogs,” please start your blog title with “RESPONSE #1:” and then the title of your post. In future weeks, use “RESPONSE #2:” and so on, through #13. This is to delineate for me which blogs are in response to questions and which ones are free-form blogs. If your entries are not properly labeled, please do so by Wednesday. I will not give full credit for entries not properly labeled.

2) Talk some exploring podcasts and Vlogs and what you chose to listen to. Do you regularly  listen to any podcasts?

3) Should we be afraid of Google?

4) Do we need a Bill of Rights for the social web?

5) Where, in your personal experience, do you see the long tail playing out online? What interests/tastes/hobbies do you explore or use the web for that would have been difficult in the pre-web era?

6) For next week’s class, write about your experience playing Second Life. If you know how, illustrate your post with a screenshot of your character in Second Life. What do you make of this new world? What do you make of MMOGs in general? Second Life in particular?

If you are all caught up, I’d strongly encourage to work ahead on an extra blog post or two. You can’t do them all at the end of the semester. If you don’t have all RESPONSE blog entries done by next week, you won’t be able to make them up.

Phew. That’s all for now. Go forth and conquer!



Posted February 19, 2009 by Garrett Graff
Categories: Uncategorized

Next week’s class will be the second one focused on social media; in particular we’ll look at how collaboration happens online and in joint web projects. I think, out of the deep goodness of my heart, that I’m going to go easy on you this week and not assign any online reading. Thus:

1) Work on your linking for next week. Remember, no new terms! If there are more than the current 335 terms next week, there’ll be hell to pay.

2) Blog on the Long Tail: Where, in your personal experience, do you see the long tail playing out online? What interests/tastes/hobbies do you explore or use the web for that would have been difficult in the pre-web era?

3) Catch up. We’ll talk about the social media project in class next week and I might even push back the due date a week if that helps people.

4) Go forth and conquer.

Be My Friend!

Posted February 12, 2009 by Garrett Graff
Categories: Uncategorized

Good morning! I hope your heads have stopped spinning from Google last night—I know I threw a ton at you. We’ve just got so much to cover and so little time! We do have the Omniclass later on this semester to double-back to any topics you feel like we passed over too quickly, so be thinking of topics/questions/subjects you want addressed during that period. We can even carve out two Omniclasses if there’s demand.

This week’s topic is social networking and social media. Just as last night was entirely about Google, we’re going to spend most of this week looking at a a few of the major social networking and social media sites: MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, and These are sites we’ve passed over earlier this semester briefly and now we’re going to dive into them.

I hope you enjoy Here Comes Everybody—it’s the most recent book you’ll read, since it came out just about a year ago, and I think it puts together lots of the class themes and the world into which we’re moving.

For starters, dig through my files on Facebook, and make sure to read the following articles: Jeff Jarvis, Fast Company, Wharton, Mashable, CNN, and check out this tips and tools for Facebook. Does it seem like we’re coming closer to the “Google Grid”? Here’s some info on how companies are using social networking and who are the demographics. Compare who uses MySpace and Facebook? What’s different? Why? What does friendship mean online? Watch Scoble’s take on Kyte TV (you may have to install Flash) and then ask yourself: Is Robert Scoble media? What does the future for media look more like? Scoble or the Wall Street Journal?

We’ll play with Digg, Flickr and YouTube in class some, so if you’ve never used those sites, make sure to spend some time on them. Here’s some background on Digg. They are some of the leading examples of social media. is a form of social media too, and here are some other examples. You asked in class for some more concrete examples, so take a look at this report on social media and public radio. And take a look at how to do effective online advocacy in social networks.

Your blogging question for the week: Do we need a Bill of Rights for the social web?

Have you created an RSS reader account after last night? If you have and you find some great links or feeds, send them to me.

Google: Veni, Vedi, Vici

Posted February 5, 2009 by Garrett Graff
Categories: Uncategorized

Hope you’re all Twittering up a storm at your desks this morning. I sent you an email this morning with my favorite Twitterers, so look for that.

We’re going to spend all of next week’s class looking at Google, which has become the most powerful media company the world has ever seen. It’s so huge that the presidential candidates are beating a path to its door (as are desperate authors like myself). Your assignment for the week’s blog: Should we be afraid of Google?

As you read Battelle, think about what he means search as a database of intentions. What impact does this have for better and worse? In class next week, we’ll watch a video about Googlezon, predicting one possible future.

Make sure to also check out this Economist article, this piece by Google about why it remembers searches, some Google tips and tricks, this explanation of page rank, this article about Google hating America, and this funny story of Ted Leonsis and how he seized his own page ranking. Also this funny story from recent weeks about Vice President Cheney on Google versus VP Biden.

Simply Google puts all of the various parts of Google on a single page—it’s an impressive representation—and Scoble, whom we discussed last night and the author of NC, says there’s DOG afoot! Could Google end up owning the internet? Could sites like do search better? Yahoo!, the perennial also-ran in search, has been expanding too, although as you probably saw Microsoft may end up owning Google. Will Google kill Wikipedia? Will it own the wireless arena? Google today encompasses some huge brands, like Blogger we mentioned last night and YouTube, so here’s some YouTube history for you. Here’s a Google cheat sheet.

GoogleEarth and GoogleMaps are incredible products, putting resources that in our lifetimes once belonged only to the wealthiest and most advanced governments in the hands of anyone. Here’s some fun stuff about them. Have you looked for your house in GoogleMap? I know if you go to my address, you can see my car sitting in the driveway.

Want some alternatives to Google? Try this resource for 100 other search engines or use Googlonymous. Why do alternatives matter? Because it turns out that what you find depends very much on where you search!

Also, try to send me an email this week about how class is going for you. I’ve thrown a lot at you in the last three weeks—do you feel like you understand the material? Are we covering too much in class? Too little? Am I talking too much? What do you need from me to be able to do better and learn more? I want to make sure that you all are equipped at the end of the class to navigate the digital world and so if we need to spend another week on blogging, online communication and PR tips, etc., we certainly can do that.

Blogging 101

Posted January 29, 2009 by Garrett Graff
Categories: Uncategorized

First some links from last night: Metadata and tags, folks and tax, RSS (more) and Technorati. Here’s a good Seth Godin blog post on Bobcasting too. You should load Seth’s blog into your RSS reader if you haven’t already. He writes one of the best marketing blogs out there. If you don’t have an RSS reader, we’ll still tackle that next week in class.

Also, for next week’s class I want you to watch some vlogs (video blogs) and listen to some podcasts. Here are the links to TWiT, Rocketboom, Webb Alert, and Ask a Ninja. Feel free to explore and see some other vlogs and podcasts.

If you have iTunes on your computer, the best place to find podcasts is in the iTunes store. You can download individual podcasts or subscribe. You can get a ton of your favorite NPR shows (This American Life, Day by Day, Diane Rehm, etc.), listen to speeches, and even download the Sunday talk shows, among the many professional podcasts. More fun, though, are the random podcasts. Dawn and Drew anyone?

For your blog entry this week, talk some exploring podcasts and Vlogs and what you chose to listen to. Do you regularly  listen to any podcasts?

Next week in class, we’ll be talking more about what makes a good blog and some of the various formats blogs have taken. Here are the blogging tips from last week’s class (read them if you haven’t), as well as some other tips here, here, and here. Let me know how your blogging goes. I’ll let you know next week if I think you’re terrible off-base blogging-wise. In most cases, no news from me is good news.

Forwarding a Domain

Posted January 29, 2009 by Garrett Graff
Categories: Uncategorized

Since we didn’t have internet last night and couldn’t set up the domains, here’s a simple explanation. Here’s how to get yourself going. Gather the following pieces of information before you begin: Your blog’s address on WordPress (should be, your customer ID for, and the name of the domain you bought in class last week.

Then begin:

(1) Login to your account at

(2) Go the the “Domain” menu in the upper left, click on it, then select from the drop-down menu “My Domains.”

(3) Check the box next to your domain name and then on the toolbar above select the green arrow that says “Forward.”

(4) Under the “Fowarding” menu, select “Enabled” and then enter your WordPress address in the “Forward To” field (make sure to include the http:// part), and select “302 Moved Temporarily.” Click OK.

(5) Click OK on the next screen.

(6) Congratulations, you’re all done

If you’re utterly lost, don’t worry. We can troubleshoot in class next week if people have problems. I’ll also show you how to map your domain onto your WordPress blog if you’re interested in doing that (it costs an additional $10).

Welcome to the Wild World Web

Posted January 22, 2009 by Garrett Graff
Categories: Class Topics

Congratulations to everyone tonight for setting up a blog! You’re all journalists now, believe it or not. That’s all it took. I know I threw an incredible amount of information at all of you in a short period of time (and we had lots more we didn’t get to). We’ll cover more on the craft of blogging in coming weeks, so don’t worry if you’re still feeling a bit lost. For next week, you have a boatload to do:

1) Email me the link to your blog so I can start reading and can add you to the class blogroll so you can start reading each other. A reminder that each week’s blog posts are “due” by 10 p.m. on Tuesday the day before class to give me time to read them and choose some points for in-class discussion. Also, since this is our first email communication, make sure to tell me in your email whether you want me to use any email address other than your designated email address. If you have a personal or work email you’d prefer I use to communicate with you, let me know now.

2) You’ll find in the column to the left, by the blogroll, the link to the class feed as well as some Georgetown resources. Make sure you start reading some blogs this week and start posting items—almost anything could be relevant on the feed, from news articles to YouTube videos to favorite podcasts. And don’t forget to to tag items with your name so you get credit for them. You can go either to the website to post or you can install the browser buttons. I recommend the latter and, as I said earlier night, I also recommend switching to Firefox as your browser if you don’t currently use it. The username is socialmedia09 and the password is the class designation, mppr850. DO NOT SET UP YOUR OWN ACCOUNT.

3) Read Scoble—he has some great background on the web and blogging. He’ll also give you lots of tips on blogging and “voice.” Remember the Cluetrain Manifesto!

4) Get blogging! Read that post on blogging tips and the related articles that I posted in the feed and then take your new blog out for a spin and kick the tires a bit. I expect a lot of this is going to be difficult at first, so feel free to ask lots of questions via email or give a call. Next week we’ll spend a lot of the class on blogging tips, voice, tone, and what makes a good blog entry, and Scoble has tons of tips too. Also keep thinking back to Gillmor and the Cluetrain Manifesto, which along with the “Long Tail” and “Here Comes Everybody” (we’ll get to those soon) will be the foundational texts of the class.

5) For your first blog entry for next week’s class, write about whatever aspect of Dan Gillmor’s book you found most interesting. For this and all future “response blogs,” please start your blog title with “RESPONSE #1:” and then the title of your post. In future weeks, use “RESPONSE #2:” and so on, through #13. This is to delineate for me which blogs are in response to questions and which ones are free-form blogs.

6) If you don’t have an account on Google, please make sure to set one up before class next week, i.e., make sure that you have a address. You won’t have to use this for email, although it’s the best of the free email programs on the web.

I promise that future weeks won’t all include as much outside work; we just have to cover these important texts to establish the base on which to build the rest of the semester. As we used as a rallying cry on the Dean campaign, “To the blogs!”

(P.S. As you’re reading about blogs here and there over the coming week, think about what I purposefully did wrong in this entry that’s a blogging no-no. A bonus point next week to whomever can figure it out.)