Too Manly for Social Media

I recently came across an article by Brian Solis on how women rule the social media. You can read it here.

Being ‘manly’ in today’s social world is a handicap.

Let’s face it guys. The time has long passed when we could enjoy privacy in the comfort of our man-cave without having to worry about six different platforms grabbing for attention. It’s impossible to get into parties unless someone sends you an event invitation. Status updates now tell us banal facts on a ‘really-dont-need-to-know’ basis like Tom’s new haircut or Jessie’s new dress which becomes a conversational piece the next day. You’d think we’d at least have Twitter figured out, talking with only 140-characters or less, but no.

Women rule the social media scene and I’m not surprised. Scientists have told us for centuries what we’ve known for millenia: women dominate the social arena.

Well what do you expect?

We’re (or at least most of us) just not cut out for it. How many of you guys would rather tweet about what happened at school today than slay a fire-breathing dragon with a talking longsword? Its in our blood.

But is it all over for us?

I don’t think so. I went ahead and did my own research and came up with some pretty conclusive evidence that shows we’re not as socially retarded as we’re made out to be. This is for our egos:

Men still rule in certain countries





Hah! Take that! We still rule Germany and UK across the board.

Okay… maybe its not so big of an achievement. But we’re getting there.

The reason why the Germans have less females consuming social media is because Germany is still new in the social media scene. Blogs in Germany have no influence with the local public and are far and few between. According to Frederic Lardinois, on his article here, Germany is five years behind the rest of the world with regards to social media. Political discussions, a male dominated subject, might be the only form of social media consumption the Germans will do. The internet is also described by the German mainstream media as a dangerous place full of pornography.

Maybe that’s why the social media consumers from Germany are largely males.

If you remove the fake accounts, men would rule

The methodology on the above study done not were elaborated. If they only took account data into account, that is, data that’s supplied by the user at the point of account creation, its obviously going to be biased towards ‘female’.

That’s because automated accounts are almost always female for two reasons.

First, female accounts get more friend invites and twitter follows from male users especially if their display pictures are hot (even if they’re obviously fakes). This allows the marketer to reach out to more users and drive male traffic to their websites. These bot accounts can be spammed and made multiple times by the same user and thus overestimate the social medium’s female population.

Second, male users get a kick out of making female accounts. Its fun to string other males along into falling in love with you or give up their personal email accounts. They like the power and domination they gain from being a sexually active ‘female’, and the ‘lulz’  when he takes your female puppet seriously. A good rule to follow in the internet is simply to ignore any sexual offers you get online. They’re all fakes, and even if they aren’t, you don’t want to talk to sluts.

I would like to see a study done with thse bot accounts filtered. I think its far more accurate than the current studies.

Men still rule in certain platforms

Linkedin, Perfspot and Digg still had some male domination.

Linkedin had 50/50 across the board, Perfspot had 67% male, and Digg had 65% male.

Its not saying much though.

Linkedin ain’t exactly ‘social’. I’ve never heard of Perfspot. And Digg is sorta lame.

Men still rule in certain age categories

Men aged 35 and above are far more likely to use social networks than women 35 and above. That’s pretty cool evidence since men are also far more likely to die young. I might be grasping at straws here, but it could mean that men have a higher Death : Using Social Media ratio. What that means is that we might be using more social media, its just that there’s less of us alive.

Yeah, I know. Pretty conclusive.

Men still rule in virtual worlds

According to Reuters, virtual world inhabitants tend to trend towards male (80%). Read the report here.

Thinking back on the old times, I’m reminded of the popular meme “there are no gurls on the interwebs”.

I don’t think its true anymore.

But at least we still get to keep our virtual worlds. And they are as social as any social networking platform even though socialising might not always be the end goal of the world. Virtual worlds also happen to be the perfect place to make new friends and find love (read my last post). There’s no stronger bonding than being trapped in a dungeon full of monsters with your party as your only ally.

Now that’s a manly social media.


Its both awe-inspiring and daunting when we look at the modern virtual worlds. We’re slowly blurring the lines between what exists in cyberspace and what’s actually real. Whoever said perception was reality had it right.

Just a few minutes ago, I read an article on Kotaku about a man who’s marrying a video game ‘girl’, right off a dating simulation. I won’t judge the man’s pursuit of happiness, whoever or whatever the form that pursuit takes. What disturbs me is that the simulation could actually give someone as much, if not more satisfaction than a living person. I’m not surprised. Simulation has been taken to a whole other level with Sims 3, Spore, Second Life etc. And, being simulation, they can be modelled into whatever is desired.

Our new communication technology has given cyberspace a greater influence over our world. Now, I believe, virtual worlds are starting to reach out.


EVE Online, a virtual world set in the far future, has an elected council of players who are sent to Iceland (yes, the real Iceland) once every 6 months where they work with developers to pass new laws and bills, which are then implemented depending on how the council votes. EVE Online encourages players to employ whatever tactics they deem necessary in their elections, leading to coercions (as long as it isn’t illegal), bribery and other methods we find oh-so-common in real world politics.

A virtual world that’s less well known, but I find equally fascinating, exists in a game called A Tale in the Desert. This is a game where a combat system does not exist. Its a completely ‘social’ game, where fighting is not the focus, but politics. Gamers write laws, vote, pass bills and debate with other players and even developers, who then implement the laws passed. Some laws actualy end up changing the whole virtual world and require the installation of patches etc.

Politics are also prevalent in forums where the culture dictates certain rules that posters have to follow. Debates on unfair rules or practices and ensuing flame wars are common.

Other situations where virtual politics cross into our own world exist in the form of angry letters of complaints and street protests (as in the case of WoW warrior nerf protest).

Social Groups

Every virtual world has a form of social grouping which exists as very small groups of 2-5 (parties) to massive groups of hundreds and thousands (guilds) banding together with a common goal. The ‘common goal’ need not be very different from the ones in our world. In fact, the underlying principle of grouping together to ‘kill that badass monster’ is strength in unity, which is really why any human on the face of the planet seeks a social group.

Perhaps a better indication of how virtual worlds simulate our social groups is in the intensity in which we bond. People on virtual worlds, Maplestory being the classic example, meet up, get married and have real life kids, or even virtual adopted kids (my friend’s sister actually got married with a guy he met on Maplestory).

Sometimes the connection is so strong people are driven to murder and suicide. Everquest’s Shawn Woolley suicide case became one of the most publicised example of how much power social groups in virtual worlds have on some people. Just browse through the web and you’d find tons of examples of murders, stalkers, vandalisers who are influenced by the virtual world to act in the real world.


Every virtual world has some form of currency decided by both the developers and inhabitants of the world. Virtual currency like Second Life’s Lindex cross over to our world’s economy where the exchange is done solely on a player-to-player basis, through Paypal (read my last post if your interested).

Other virtual worlds may indirectly interact with real world economy when in-game items or services (like power-leveling services) are sold in auction sites or other third party platforms. A level 80 WoW character can go for thousands on eBay, for example. In a way, virtual worlds create jobs.


A language created in cyberspace called ‘l33t’ takes the form of dialects in virtual worlds, with its own different grammar and vocabulary. If you have no idea what l33t is, I suggest taking a look at this l33t translator or taking a look at the wikipedia thread.

The influence of l33t on our own language is obvious. Teenagers are using “pwn”s, “noob”s and what-have-you in everyday speech. L33tspeak is usually associated with the tech savvy or hackers, but most anyone in the 21st century have seen some form of it.

Internet slangs like lols and omgs are even more pervasive. It’s quite literally been added to our real world vocabulary.


Virtual cultures are one of the most hotly researched topic on the subject of virtual worlds. Virtual cultures are unpredictable and no developer has any control on what their virtual world culture will turn out to be. Its astounding to note that no two virtual worlds have the same culture.

In Everquest for example, meeting and greeting someone online is done with “Hail”. An old english form of saying Hi. In EVE Online, departure and goodbyes are done with “Fly safe.” as in take care travelling the galaxy. In WoW, there is a “language barrier” between the two warring parties, Horde and Alliance, whereby one side can never properly speak with the other (the alphabets are rearranged). As such, players wanting to communicate will have to rely on emotes or in-game “body language”.

Cyberspace is filled with different cultures depending on the virtual community or cybersociety your in. There are the general netiquettes that apply to all cybersocieties, like “no spamming”, and specific ones, like introducing yourself before posting in some forums. Not following these rules can sometimes result in a ban or block.

In Lineage, an MMORPG popular in Asian countries, culture war is taken to the extreme where Korean gamers hunt down Chinese gamers over disputes on ethics. You can read the article here.

Rickrolls, Chuck Norris, Pedobears are all forms of popular internet memes (cultural ideas) that are formed by the virtual communities. They inevitably end up in our conversations and jokes.

I get sick of defending Second Life to newbies and stiff-necks who tell me I should just concentrate on my First Life and leave the virtual world to the nerds, otakus, trolls, furries, pedobears and the friendless. Its not just Second Life that’s getting these unfair abuses. Its ALL virtual worlds and MMORPGs. I don’t really have the time, patience or capability to defend every MMORPG out there, so I shan’t.

Before I begin this part-rant-part-informative post on the wonders of second life, I’d like to point you to the  SLURLs available throughout this post. Go ahead and click it if you have SL installed and it should teleport your avatar to the location I’ve linked. Think of me as your personal tour guide, if you will, and feel free to stop reading every once in a while and explore second life yourself.

Reason Number One: In SL you are God

Why? Because you basically get to do whatever you want, whenever you want! Build a boat, house, car, cat, country, continent, planet. Whatever you want, its probably already been built. True, it might take you a while to rein in your godly powers and you might need to follow some netiquettes else the other gods strip you of your powers (a temporary ban if your lucky) but you are pretty much a God.

One of the SLs greatest weakness is undoubtedly the high learning curve. Baby second lifers get little help from the developers who are really just content in watching you squirm and struggle. The controls are pretty messy and confusing. Tutorial island feels more like advertising island, with people focused on getting you to try out free stuff, which is pretty cool but kinda not helping.

My recommendation is to get out of tutorial island and into SLTutorials. Its quiet and comprehensive. There is a sandbox area where you can build your own objects though it might frustrate you into suicide if your not tech savvy.

Reason Number Two: In SL there is no Sin

No, virtual sin does not count.

(Cybersex is a large part of SL. I’m not gonna tell you to partake in the forbidden fruit. In fact, I recommend you dont. Its not dangerous or anything, but I can’t help wondering if the person on the other line might not be who they say they are. Save yourself the trouble, the animations are terrible anyway)

What I mean by no sin is simply that there is no wrong. Killing someone in second life in fact, is encouraged! Civil war veterans do it all the time. WoW and EQ gamers dress up and hack each other to pieces with swords. Calling someone a whore in second life gets you laughs. And best of all, gambling, investing and shopping are all done with Linden Dollars (aprox. L$250 is US$1) a cheap commodity when compared to real world dollars.

Less guilt, more fun, no responsibility.

Try visiting Amsterdam. Its one of the better built cities with fully operational transport systems and shops.

Amsterdam is also the biggest sex industry. I mean that both in second life and first life. Just walking around Amsterdam might get you some offers. Reject them as you would and explore the place. You’ll get a decent SL experience just exploring this town alone. Remember to turn on media with Ctrl+P and then Audio Video Options and checking both streaming preferences.

Reason Number Three: In SL you make tons of friends

Because everyone is practically anonymous in SL, you could be approached at random and approach at random yourself to engage other SLers. Everybody is friendly. And I do mean everybody (sometimes overly friendly). Approaching random strangers in RL is just too embarrassing for most people. In SL, you don’t really feel hurt when your avatar gets rejected for that date. After all, you know it isn’t personal! Now if only everyone in RL could just feel that way, there would be far less insecurity in the world.

Warning: Never offer or accept an offer to meet someone in real life unless your perfectly sure the person is safe. Most people strongly guard their privacy in SL and you should do the same.

A really great place to meet people are obviously clubs, in this world as well as in second life. A particularly favourite club of mine is the Sweethearts Jazz Dance Club. Don’t be shy and go ahead and talk to that person in the corner you’ve been eyeing. If your still too afraid to approach people in a virtual club, get help.

Reason Number Four: Get paid to play

Some people work in second life for a living. Its easy to start. Just use the in-game search engine to check the classifieds for a job you think your avatar has no problem handling. You don’t need any fancy degrees. Most of the jobs require people skills which in the virtual world is pretty simple. The high-paying jobs are in the sex industry (do your own research for that). You can earn as much as 20 dollars an hour in second life. Even just leaving your character on afk while you work or school in RL could net you 30 cents an hour in a modelling job. Buying and selling land sort of feels like real estate in the game and its pretty lucrative if you know how.

Expect to jump through some hoops if you want a job. Hiring managers in second life and RL are particular about one thing: That you show up for work! If your just a casual SLer and you only pop up in SL every few weeks, your not going to land a job anytime soon.

The best way to find a job is obviously Job Island where employers advertise their jobs. Here’s a common SL job requirement:


1) You must be able to speak english, either fluently or speak English well. It does not have to be your first language.

2) Confident, talkative, energetic, friendly, reliable and dedicated.

3) Look good, i.e good quality skin and nice clothing, hair etc.

4) Dancers & hosts- training can be provided so experience is not neccesary. No stripping, escorting or emoting needed.

Notice that it pretty much looks like any RL job ad. Good quality skin, clothing and hair btw can be purchased at rock bottom prices.

Reason Number Five: Events and games in second life are free and interactive

When was the last time you ate through your monthly allowance so that you could watch your favourite live band perform in RL? In second life, most events are completely free! Anyone can get in and watch performances by musicians like Duran Duran, Chamillionaire and Kevin Noble. If your an addict for books, authors like George Martin have done book readings and meet and greet sessions online in second life.

Another large part of second life that most newbie SLer miss out on is the gaming aspect. Second Life is treated as a virtual interactive chatroom but rarely does anyone know the myriad of games just waiting to be played. GoKarts, sailing, Dungeons & Dragons, chess, soccer, slot machines, you name it, its there. Some of these games, especially the ones located in a casino, can be pretty lucrative if your willing to risk your Lindens on them.

A lag free casino I found that has an easy Deal or No Deal machine is The Golden Room. If your new to SL, your probably not going to have the money to play anything here. If that’s the case, The Brainy Games is a fun and graphically pleasing location for free games.

So there you have it. All the reasons why you should start a second life account right now. Or you could just live your real life account, which has a termination date. And your not exactly sure what happens after its terminated.

Evolution of Social Media…

In Darwinian’s theory of evolution, natural selection is “the process in nature by which only the organisms best adapted to their environment survive and transmit their genetic characteristics to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated”.

Truer words were never said of social media.

Treat every online social networking service as an “organism” and we could probably trace back its ancestry right back to its most primitive form.

I decided to do a rough evolutionary timeline in the short span of 30 years that social media have been around:


Social media platforms are constantly being replaced with newer, better, succeeding generations of services which in turn must adapt and change or risk elimination.

In the cruel game of natural selection, “mother nature” takes the form of social media consumers: a fickle group of individuals ultimately deciding who lives or dies in an arena where each service has to literally fight for survival.


In this article, I will review how social media has evolved from the “primordial” 8 bit generation to the present day 64 bit service and platforms.

Usenet: the social media “Adam”

Usenet Interface

Born in 1979 from the minds of Duke University graduates, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, the Usenet system allowed users to read and post threads of discussion, called news, on one or more newsgroups.  Its similar in several respects to the modern day forums and indeed, Usenet could effectively be named the father of all forums. It gave consumers the first taste of “social networking” in the loose sense of the phrase.

Many of us would cringe looking at the graphics we had then. I wasn’t alive during the launch of Usenet but I couldn’t imagine having to network on an interface like that. Just goes to show how spoilt we consumers are these days.

Status: Deceased

Though a friend of mind says Usenet is still being used by hackers wishing to remain anonymous, I can’t say for certain.

Bulletin Board System (BBS): fathers of the World Wide Web

The comic strip sounded like sarcasm to me.

“Well of course you can connect to other computers without being the same kind of machine! That’s just plain obvious.”

Well of course we would think that way. We’ve had the internet since we could work a computer. But even before the World Wide Web was established, people in the late 1970s could still communicate with one another using the BBS. In many ways, the BBS was the inspiration for the World Wide Web and many other aspects of the internet. It allowed users to upload and download data, read and post news on a public message board, and find and communicate with each other by way of email.

The BBS even allowed online games and a primitive form of chatrooms that provided communication using multiple phone lines called MUT, MultiUser Talk. MUT was later replaced by the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) system.

Status: Deceased

Replaced by internet forums.


One particular IRC client stood out against the rest. The mIRC came into the market in 1995, and became an instant hit with the online crowd. The client’s main difference was in it’s scripting, giving users the power to customise commands, behaviour and appearance of their mIRC client. Filesharing, which very few IRCs at the time offered, was also possible on an mIRC. Even today, the client is still being used worldwide. IRCs were the precursors to the instant messaging clients we have today, and though no longer popular, is still in active development.

Status: Dying

The same friend told me that IRCs are still used by hackers wishing to remain anonymous. Its very rarely used for social networking purposes though, and I don’t see how it can profit anymore.

Internet forums

Bulletin boards has since evolved into internet forums like phpBB and vBulletin, bringing along with it the ‘netiquettes’ and internet culture we have today. The common features that set our forums apart from the BBS are private messaging, emoticons, picture galleries, attachments and polls. Few internet forums require paid subscription. Most rely on advertising dollars and donations to continue operation. Internet forums inspired the invention of the modern blogs we have today.

Status: Stable

Most people find internet forums to be a great source of information and since there are no visible alternatives in sight, it will likely continue for a long time.

Windows Live Messenger: entering the age of instant messaging

Formally known as MSN Messenger, the Windows Live Messenger almost wholly replaced Amercia Online’s AIM and Yahoo Messenger in 1999. The client allows for an amazing range of features and capabilities including, but not limited to, games, sharing folders, phone calls, web camming, application sharing and animated display pictures.

Instant messaging is still very much alive in our day and age. Contacts are more connected now than ever before. True, a phone conversation would flow much faster and is more personal but you can’t multitask on a phone, and you can’t leave your phone running for the whole day.

Metaphorically, signing in to the client is like entering a large living room where all your friends are gathered. The difference of instant messaging from other modern social media platforms is that most of the people in your contacts list are people you already know. There was small chance of meeting anyone new (although new MSN services available provide for that deficiency though it remains unpopular).

Status: Stable

The communication technology will likely improve in the far future, but ‘instant’ messaging is already pretty much… instant. The only technology I see replacing  this is telepathy, or mind reading.

Blogs: the creation of the blogosphere

Taking concepts and characteristics of a forum, blogs have evolved out of the primordial soup of the digital communities in 1997 and rose to popularity in 1999. Blogs were revolutionary in that they gave social media consumers the platform to have their voices heard by the internet community. There are several types of blogs for several different subjects and purposes. The most common form of blogs are personal blogs, an online diary of sorts that allowed readers to get a glimpse into the bloggers life. Corporate blogs are blogs used primarily for marketing purposes, adding content updates that relate to the product or service the company offers and giving the company a sort of personality.

What completely differentiates a blog from its ancestors, besides the obvious customability and depth, is the ability for any user to earn a profit. A blog is one of the few social media platforms that can be very lucrative. Some of the more famous bloggers blog for profit by featuring advertisments in their page. Companies know the influence bloggers have on their consumers and the evolution and growth of the blogosphere makes this platform a necessity for any smart social media consumer.

Status: Growing

There are people alive today who dream of blogging for a living. Its a great indication how much fun people get out of blogging. Theres just something about letting people hear your thoughts and feelings that makes you feel warm inside. Kinda like when you write that diary and pretend to hide it knowing it’s going to be found anyway.

Six Degrees: the first of its kind

Six Degrees was the first social networking site ever to be in operation. It evolved from the concept of ‘six degrees of separation’; everyone is at the most six degrees away from anyone on the planet. Unfortunately, no one got the concept and it was sold in 2000 for $125 million, and shut down a year after. It was however, the precursor to other social networking sites like Friendster and Facebook.

Status: Deceased

Six Degrees paved the way for future social networking sites. It was too complicated itself, which was probably why it shut down.


Taking from the concept of Six Degrees, Friendster had a highly successful reign in Asia in 2002 which continued until early 2008 when Facebook gained immense popularity, leaving behind millions upon millions of inactive accounts in the biggest internet ghost town. Friendster was an example of the internet consumer’s viciously low attention span and loyalty to any one platform.

Rumours, presumably started by rival Myspace, that Friendster would become a pay site made it unpopular with the younger Western crowd. 90% of their users are from Asia, particularly Singapore, Malaysia, Phillipines, China, India, South Korea and Japan.

Today, Friendster is looking at expansions into Asia and growing its list of features to seperate themselves from social networking giant Facebook.

Status: Near Death

I think I’m being generous when I say its not dead. I checked into Friendster yesterday and none of the accounts in my friends list had been entered in the last 3 months, except two which were entered a month ago.


Also the victim of Facebook’s growing popularity is Myspace. Myspace was a copy of Friendster launching in 2003 and gained popularity over the years with the Western countries until 2008 when it lost its users to Facebook. Today, it struggles to compete with Facebook with an extreme makeover, adding applications and updates and redesigning their pages.

Status: Near Death

Myspace is probably as dead as Friendster. Or maybe less dead. But dead is dead.

Facebook: the big boys on the block

Facebook started first by focusing on smaller communities of high school students. The name itself is taken from the American college face book given to freshmen on their first day of school. It differentiates itself effectively with its many features and games, including a public wall that friends of the user can post messages on. Its integration into the iPhone and other smart phones make it the most accessible social networking site currently available. Its popularity speaks for itself and remains at the top of the food chain. However, its hard to say how long Facebook can keep its users happy before another social site pops up.

Status: Growing

Almost everyone has a facebook account these days. Not to mention ‘facebooking’ is now as much of a word as ‘blogging’ and ‘tweeting’, I’d say facebook could last.

Twitter: so simple, its smart

A service evolved from SMS (short messaging service) and blogs, Twitter is a microblogging site that enables users to send messages, called tweets, to the world in 140 characters or less. Twitter is also highly accessible, integrating itself in various smartphones like the iPhone. According to comScore and other research sites, only 11% of its users are teenagers. Its used by companies, reporters, educators and even politicians in the case of Barack Obama’s unorthodoxed campaigning online.

Where it is in the food chain is highly suspect. At the moment, Twitter looks to have a bright future with companies looking to use the platform to reach out to its target consumers, a job twitter is flawless at. Its simplicity however, is a double-edged sword; although its consistently ranked top 5 in the list of social networks most used, it also has a very low retention rate (40% according to Nielson Online) with users dropping the service after a month.

Status: Growing

Personally, I found the service jarring. It’s literally ‘too much, too fast’. I’m one of those people with an unhealthy compulsion to reply to every message and in twitter, I’m like an addict getting a constant fix.

The statistics don’t agree with me though, so I’m gonna have to call it as it is.


Youtube remains one of the largest and most effective video sharing site in the market. Naturally, with the improvement of digital technology, sharing videos was an obvious step for the online community. It’s not surprising that Youtube met with extraordinary popularity that’s still rising even today. Its reported that Youtube’s bandwitdh in 2007 consumed as much bandwitdh as the entire world wide web in 2000. Companies have engaged the site to market their products. Vloggers who were virtually unknown suddenly rose to massive fame. People suddenly lost hours of their day just watching videos on Youtube.

Although not a social networking site in the strict sense, Youtube does offer an immense level of connection in the form of comments, video replies, subscriber systems and private messaging. The site is easy to use, and highly accessible through most digital devices.

Status: Growing

The revenues earned from the site is gradually increasing, but Google still hasn’t figured out how the site can be used to earn profits. Youtube is constantly evolving and changing together with digital technology so it would stay in operation into the far future.

Other worthy mentions

Linkedin: More for the businessmen. A site that could widen your range of business contacts. Your profile page is your resume here.

Flickr: Although you can’t call it a social networking site in the strictest sense, the site offers more than just image sharing. You can also set up a profile, add friends and create groups.

Revver: The very first video hosting site to share all revenue generated by a video on their site with the video’s owner 50/50. Several video hosting sites are starting to do the same, but Revver shares revenue for all videos (Youtube requires you to have at least 500 subscribers).

Delicious: Hate the name, kinda. Its a social bookmarking site that’s pretty useful if other social news sites couldn’t already do the same. It takes it to a new level with rating systems however and is helpful when your in need of some recommendations into sites.

Digg: Same as Delicious in several respects. Digg has a top 100 Digg Users system that rewards top one hundred users with more traffic. You can ‘dig it’ or ‘bury it’ depending on how useful you thought the link was.