15 February 2012

Social Games - Internet Content

I play social games, I find they can help focus the mind as one works. That is, the brain does not seem to operate like a computer in this sense, it will not function in a given state indefinitely. A certain work tend to require a given state, so to give a break and help focus the mind, I find games helpful.

The reason I find this of interest to this blog, is because they are internet content, already here. It is interesting to think what their origins are, are they something almost entirely native to computers.

I remember when I was working on a masters degree in AI, as I worked away on the Sun SPARC UNIX workstations, I noticed that the undergrads behind me seemed to be involved in something.

I discovered it was MUDD, multi user dungeons and dragons. It used UNIX protocols to enable interactive playing. I never played this myself, there was not time at all for such things, as I descended into the depths of LISP and Prolog programming.

Yet I have ended up doing the same thing, with social games. But very interestingly, it seems not to be the preserve of those with whom Leonard and his friends would have a lot to talk about. It seems to be the preserve of Penny and her friends.

A little bit of a rhetorical flourish there, but there has been a significant socialization of such games in recent times.

Social sites have placed hyper user friendly, crystal clear interfaces onto that raw internet, on which MUDD made sense. The interfaces then were crystal clear, but perhaps not so user friendly, they tended to assume a certain knowledge of computing.

All this may well still happen, the old ways of communicating are used, but the great mass of people who came into it after the beginning of the new millenium, especially with the rise of the social networks, have found the same thing, in a new way.

So perhaps to look for new content, and to look at the companies which may thrive on it, it is useful to look at what is already there. This provides a rationale for evaulating social game companies, but it as well gives one something to look at. Did it work in the past and will the ever new interfaces magnify it in such a way as it reaches the internet of tomorrow.

I will just say that something about the structure of the internet, which we can perhaps look at in its stripped down form in earlier days, is providing a comfort zone for many people, as it did for those undergraduates.

For me and I am sure many others, it is a huge extension of the capabilities of the mind, an extension of things the brain is not so good at, hard search and vast storage of information, plus this unknown of what are its social possibilities (a great question indeed).

That is we make a distinction between the mind as an individual device, given a task by others or by oneself and the mind in a social context. Of course, the interesting thing, is to what extent the internet can merge this.

I would say not fully yet, but it may and seems to be a source of company formation. But there is more, there is the capacity each person has to add to the internet. There really are very few barriers to this still. It is thus the great frontier, replacing those moonbases, for better or for worse, free and with a potential we cannot define and thus limit.

So the capacity for content provision and that sense of the internet as a place you want to be, for whatever reason, is one such confluence of potential company formation.

This only underscores for me the importance of letting people feel free to express themselves. It may be useful to look at internet companies as communication companies, but the difference between the internet and a phone company (stripping away the internet component) is that the communicators can provide the content for all.

That is your speech on the phone, can become the content that makes up the domain. This makes a distinction between activity and content.

In the end that is all the control that may be needed, people want to reach others, and structure what they say thus. So the same controls, the same social self retraint that people practice on conversation, seem to work here, it converges over time, more or less, with that less giving internet speech something else.

There is a unique component to internet speech, but that wildness it can have, could also be a root for the intense creativity evidenced across internet output, already.

That is, a lack of limits leads to creative output and leads to companies, for something that, in the past we could only possibly make money from, by somehow getting it into a form suitable for the potential of media distribution.

It is not necessarily the money that drives company formation, it is the possibility of it that helps structure this formation, but the internet may be make this possibility more efficient and functionally effective. That depends on a number of factors.

But we may find this function transposed into the market itself at a later stage. It is interesting to wonder whether that provides a kind of key for a company, that may be implicitly found in company analysis. But whether or not, it may provide for more efficient markets, or at least different ones.

So we can define the internet as a place where content and structure merge over time ? Maybe, as long as the structure providers allow it, or are allowed to. It is not really a matter of providing structure, it is just we can see content as producing a finer grain over time.

Eventually it perhaps converges to words and images, as this happens these assume a greater and greater importance, indeed the structures themselves converge to these words and images, interfaces can be very stripped these days. So a future internet ?

In general we can assume such a process does not produce an endpoint of convergence, but nonetheless stimulates new things. In there something other than content and structure ? Well, there are new ways of expressing life, which those games have always tried to get at, from MUDD to the new games.

That is the social pull at the heart of much internet activity. So we can see the internet as amplifying, perhaps. If so we have a way of looking at what we might expect to emerge in the future. Something wild ? Yes, but in a fluid structure for it, one might hope.