What are the young people using these days?

March 24, 2008 at 6:58 pm (1)

That’s the question that occupies my mind of late.  By “using” i don’t mean drugs, but social software.  I don’t have a good sense of what they’re actually using, vs. what we think they’re using.  For example, are teens still using MySpace, or have they moved on to facebook, or have they decided there’s too many adults trying to be cool on their favorite sites, and have moved off to something ten times more annoying and therefore less likely to be invaded by the over-30 crowd?   A post i did a while back (november?) on the social/gaming site Zwinky has had consistently high traffic (for this blog, anyway – an average of 6-8 hits per day, all from searching in search engines for things like “zwinky cheat codes” and “free zwinky clothes” and things like that.)  I have more comments on that post than the rest of this blog combined, mostly teens begging me to tell them cheats for getting free stuff.  It doesn’t matter that i’ve yet to actually play Zwinky (the interface is invasive, difficult to download, and never works quite right.  I can’t make it work here on my work computer, and when i’m at home, i’d rather not be working and Zwinky doesn’t actually look fun, so it would be work, so why would i do it?), and have said as much, and that in my comments i suggest that people should just either play the game as it was created, or find a new game that is more fun or more susceptible to cheats (here’s a million dollar idea for the next-gen online gaming community – build cheats in to the site, and control the process – fix them periodically and start a new cheat.  Make cheat codes the prize for completing certain types of tasks, and let people share the codes for a certain amount of time.  Pretend that you don’t want people to share or use the cheat codes.  Set up forums and blogs by people who are not associated in any way with your game site, and reveal new hacks that you’ve “discovered.”  It’d add a kind of ARG element to the proceedings – hell, once it’s up and rolling and people are invested in finding new cheats, start a mystery around the whole thing, and let th ARG roll as a completely different component of the site.  Oh, and pay me a gazillion dollars if you do this, because it’s totally my idea, and there’s no way anyone on earth could think of it independently of me, and it doesn’t matter that i don’t have the technical expertise to even attempt anything like that.)

What was i talking about?  Oh, right.  Social networking and teens.  I guess the next real question is “Is there a next big thing in social networking?” or is it going to be all about niche networking – finding the social network that appeals to your interests – like ComicSpace, or Oort Cloud, or Eons, or My OpenCongress – sites that have the social networking capabilities, but focus tightly on a certain topic, like comics, science fiction writing, being over 50, or politics.  Not that i imaging the teens are clamoring to sign up for OpenCongress, but you never know.  My memory of being a teen was that if i thought something was being made specifically for teens, i would avoid it in favor of things that looked interesting that were for adults.  Like, as soon as i was allowed, i moved out of reading J level books and started reading adult level science fiction and fantasy.  If there had been teen books in my library, i wouldn’t have read them.  Of course, 15 years ago, YA fiction was in a completely different place than it is right now, so that’s something to consider…

I am just rambling today.  I need to eat, maybe.  Plenty of egg-salad for my sandwiches now that the holiday is past.  And ham.  Really really good ham.

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