Where generations meet

My thanks to Chris “RageboyLocke for making sure I saw this “map” of online communities:

Interesting map. You can find the original here.

I looked at it with Saturday morning eyes, and was struck by the following:

One, it represents many generations, but the generations are often isolated. Neither Orla, my 21 year old daughter, nor Isaac, my 15 year old son, would recognise Usenet or for that matter IRC, even if they used bits of what they represented. Hope, my 9 year old youngest, would spend time looking for Stardoll and not find it, much like Wikipedia does in the link I’ve shown.

Two, there are some dogs that aren’t barking, and it is worth considering why. Not seeing a Twitter I can understand, maybe that’s just a function of when the map was done. Maybe Amazon and eBay are seen as old hat communities and therefore stuck away in the Mountains of Web 1.0 somewhere in the icy north, yet I think they deserve individual mention. Surely Bebo is large enough to be on the map? Surely CyWorld needs to be represented with a much larger area? And what do we do with opensource communities like mozilla and WordPress, “ecosystem” communities like netvibes and collections of people like LinkedIn?

Three, we need to understand more about the places where the generations meet. Why that is the case. Facebook and YouTube both span multiple generations now, Flickr and last.fm have that effect as well, but I find places like DeviantArt far more intriguing. What is it about the communities like DeviantArt that they became ageless from the start? What can we learn from them?

Of course there is some presenter bias coming through, in terms of what has been placed where and how (or for that matter why Cory alone gets named). Nevertheless, there’s something about the map I find intensely intriguing, and I will be posting on it later. In the meantime, treat it like any other Saturday morning post. I think there is a lot I can learn about the different characteristics of online networks, why some are called social networking sites and others aren’t, why some seem boringly Web 1.0 and others don’t, why some support many modes of conversation and others don’t. When I get invited to a group like Booligan on Facebook, how do I learn from that? How come no one has posted any textbooks there? Lots of questions about how online communities work. Maybe I need to go sit at the feet of Amy Jo Kim, rather than just read her book again and again. Maybe I need to spend more time understanding Howard Rheingold and Steven Johnson. Or maybe I just keep having these conversations with Doc and Rageboy and David.

There’s a cluetrain running through the map. I need to figure out where it’s going. Observations, comments and pointers welcome.

4 thoughts on “Where generations meet”

  1. I enjoyed the stylist touch of old historical maps in the drawing.

    Provoked me providing you a link:

    Ancient Map of the Internet Discovered
    “Analysts are already reporting that the map reveals sites and generations that are isolated or have been abandoned, although no records or artifacts indicating hardship, starvation or cannabilism have been unearthed”

Let me know what you think

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