MOO-cows Mailing List Archive


Re: Talker-ization of MOOs

> >In any event, the first step in approaching this question probably
> >shouldn't be talking to the people on this list; in should be talking
> >to your users and finding out what they want/need that you might
> >be able to provide.  The tools that are most likely to succeed are
> >those that your users ask for.
> What you've said is excellent, and I only object to what is said in the
> above paragraph. When you are dealing with emerging technologies, the
> important question is not so much what the users want, but what they want
> that doesn't exist yet. How many people 10 years ago knew what they wanted
> out of something called 'MOO' which didn't exist at the time?
> This is the same logic which is leading the somewhat blind information
> superhighway advocates to conlude that people want 500 channels of
> television, rather than something yet to be invented that could be
> revolutionary, exciting, and innovative.

Possibly true, but as you yourself point out, it's a matter of
knowing "what they want that doesn't exist yet."  This presumes that
either you 1) know what they want already, or 2) are sufficiently
well-enough informed about your user community's general desires,
motivations, current means of interaction, etc. to be able to infer
what potential applications might be usefully constructed out of
the emerging technologies.  In order to achieve 1) you should probably
just go ask your users.  In order to achieve 2) you probably have
to engage in a fairly substantial ethnographic effort to obtain 
the necessary level of understanding in regards to your community.

As a digression (skip to next paragraph if you want to stay on topic :)
I'd say that I'm generally suspicious of 'revolutionary advances in
technology.'  They're usually a social construction that occurs well
after the fact.  In the case of MOOs, it should be pointed 
out that the entire technology is derivitive of the 
early gaming programs.  Features common to most contemporary 
MOOs/MUDs/M* that better facilitate communication (news,
e-mail, message bots, etc.) were slowly added to the technology over
a period of years as a user need for such was recognized.  In re
the 'information superhighway,' I'd say a revolutionary, exciting, and
innovative alternative already exists.  It's called the Internet,
and it enjoys (I'd assume) the enthusiastic support of most of the
participants on this list.  I'd suggest that that enthusiastic level of
support is primarily because the Internet's development was driven
almost entirely in its early years by the needs and desires of its
users (who, generally, in the early days of the 'net, had a
level of technical competence sufficient to develop on their own
what they needed).  That the Internet's support amongst corporate and
certain political interests is essentially nil owes more to what
*they* find useful, rather than what users might (and do) find useful.  
Ask yourself this: If you had to have one group decide the future of
the Internet, would you rather it was A) the current user base, or
B) the Boards of Directors of the Fortune 500?  

In any event, the current question I think focuses more on the matter 
of dissemination than of development.  The users in this case
aren't using tools that already exist.  Assuming that you've done
an adequate job of informing users about the tools' existence/manner
of use, then I'd say you're going to be forced pretty quickly to
the conclusion that the tools aren't something they want.  In that case,
I'd say your best course of action is to find out why (too hard to
learn? too inconvenient?  Didn't do anything they really needed?)
from your users and use that information to either refine your tools,
or use as a basis for developing something new.  The only real
alternative is blind stabs in the dark, hoping that eventually you
hit on something the user needs.

Jerry McDonough -- jmcd@info.Berkeley.EDU             |    (......)
UCB Sch. of Lib. & Info. Studies                      |    \ *  * /
"Tell him I've been too fucking busy.  Or vice versa."|    \  <>  /
             -- Dorothy Parker, explaining a missed   |     \ -- /  SGNORMPF!!!
                deadline                              |      ||||

Follow-Ups: References:

Home | Subject Index | Thread Index