Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Social Networking and Superheroes: Hero Usage Preferences

Like any good social or behavioural scientist I will start this discussion of the results of my empirical investigation by acknowledging biases of mine that might have influenced the aforementioned results. To accomplish this end, I will briefly outline my impressions of the various social networking platforms/sites in question. Please note that I’ve had varying degrees of exposure to each of these sites:

Blogger / Blogspot:
As you’ve probably noticed, you’re reading a Blogger blog right now. For sheer numbers or at least the perception of an uber-large number of bloggers, Blogspot can’t be beat. In addition, one of the major reasons why I chose to host this blog here is the blog reader, which eliminates a lot of URL typing and even serves as a reminder to look in on blogs you follow. Other sites may have similar mechanisms to the reader, but their user-friendliness pale in comparison.

I’ve had a Wordpress blog (for past business purposes) and the overarching impression one gets from the site and its bloggers is one of hyper-organization. For one, Wordpress provides great dashboard functionality such as posting stats (e.g. number of visitors, from which links on which they’ve clicked from, etcetera). In addition, the bloggers themselves seem organised along movements (be it news, politics, finance, humor, self-development) and sometimes they seem quite hardline. However, even with WP’s Tag-surfing functionality, it is rather hard to meet like-minded bloggers on the site. The result is a difficulty in creating a robust community i.t.o. interests.

LJ users are either writers or readers. These bloggers are mostly interested in Fantasy and some Science Fiction. More specifically, they seem to writers who want to be poets OR poets who want to be writers OR writers who complain that they don’t have time to read OR writers who complain that they don’t have time to write OR readers who complain that they don’t have the time to read anything, etc. In addition, LJ seems to be a controversy machine. Every few months, an LJer does something that sparks flamewars across LJ and beyond. Also, LJers have some of the MOST misleading and incomplete user profiles of all bloggers. There is usually a minimalist BIO and interests that are created every time they tag (or label) any post (EVEN if the tag is ONLY USED ONCE in 5 years). Then, there is LJ's tendency to shut down any community that gets too large. Huh? Then there's the billion friends that LJers can amass and I must admit I have a problem calling random strangers (that have never said three words to me) the F-word. “Can I friend you?” “No.”

I’ll admit I don’t follow many Typepad blogs. So, my experience is limited and YMMV. There are some well put together blogs on Typepad. The problem is that for some unknown reason it is pretty difficult to find Typepad bloggers with particular interests through search engines OR at least more difficult than it is to find blogs on the other sites. Still, it has a passionate and somewhat intellectual vibe. I'm tempted to say, "These cats are cool."

Xanga is considered to be one of the “forgotten” blogsites of the internet. However, don’t let this fool you. Xanga is pretty useful for those who want to connect with like-minded peeps. For example, the Blogrings listed in profiles give the visitor a more accurate picture of what the blogger’s interests are and give you access to other bloggers with the same interests.

A glorified photo album for people who want to connect... to other people that they already know? Huh? How idiotic is this, really? So, lots of peeps will keep joining.

An earlier version of Facebook, which has lost much its popularity. However, MySpace is still regarded to be the music and creative promotional blogsite. Those MySpace groups still exist and represent a slightly more established (than facebook) way of promotion and testing the waters, especially for musicians.

The Ham sandwhich I had for lunch was deeeeelish! That’s the type of banality that Twitter deals in 140 characters or less (or is it 120  or 114 characters or less). Wake me when it’s over. The only thing that Twitter MIGHT be useful for someone who is co-ordinating a collaborative project and wants to update collaborators (without personal emails or long blog posts, perhaps because most of update #1 doesn’t differ much from update #2 or #6). For example, a short fiction anthology editor might update interested parties on the progress he has made in reading the slushpile, compiling the short list, and ultimately announcing the Table of Contents. Or just for people who can't / won't keep a blogging schedule (like me).

This is one of the few specialised social networking sites that has gained popularity by doubling as a personal gallery. Photographers, Comic artists, painters, digital artists, and every other kind of visual artist are on DeviantART. it seems like every up-and-coming artist on the planet seems to be on this site.

So, which superhero uses which social networking platform? For your reading convenience, I've made DC the Blue team and Marvel the Red team...

Twitter. Why? Honestly, Bats doesn’t have time to blog or set up a facebook page. Have you ever tried to talk to Batman socially? It’s like talking to a wall. He just ignores you. Furthermore, I’ve seen Batman hang up on more of his fellow heroes than any other hero in the world. Seriously, the JLA will hit their speed-dial and be like, “Batman, we’re so glad we’ve reached you. Apokolips has just invaded Central City and....Batman? Hello?”

Iron Man:
All of the above, but Facebook first... Why? Firstly, Tony Stark is a HUGE narcissist. Secondly, being on all the sites makes it possible for him to register peeps who dare comment negatively ala Civil War. Thirdly, Iron Man is a brand that needs to everywhere.

Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner):
DeviantART. Kyle is a graphic designer and artist. Also his true (????) love and photographer, Jade, is also on DeviantART.

Captain America:
Blogspot. Google’s logo colours remind Cap of the American flag. Cap also doesn’t like the backgrounds of Livejournal’s owners and their crackdown on Freedom of expression.

None of the above. She uses Youtube and various podcasting sites. Okay, not really social networking per se, but that’s how Zatanna rolls. Why? The whole verbal sorcery thing dictates this one. How is she supposed to wipe your memory via a typed blog or a photo?

“Hulk Smash!” Yeah, sound like Livejournal right there. He’s too controversial to be anywhere else. Remember, World War Hulk, anyone?

Twitter. Why? With all his constant collapsing and fainting on dry land when he gets thirsty, the short and sweet tweets are the way to go. Need... some... H2O... Please... Must... Find... Water... about... to... collapse...too...late...just...collapsed.

Livejournal. Why? Sounds like War journal. What’s the difference? Bad guys still have to go down!
Mood: Vengeful and Psychotic (as usual)
Listening to: Can’t get you out of my head by Kylie Minogue

Green Arrow:
LiveJournal. Why? Using his somewhat outdated Liberal left-brain logic, Oliver has deduced that most fantasy writers and poets must be women! And ladies’ man Ollie goes where the ladies are! Livejournal = Lothariojournal!
Mood: Horny
Listening to: Escape by Enrique Iglesias

Mr Fantastic:
LiveJournal. Why? Just to de-stress, rant about, and get away from the insane expectation of the rest of the FF and the world.
Mood: Inquisitive
Listening to: The Scientist by Coldplay

Human Torch:
Facebook and Livejournal. Why? Facebook: See Iron Man’s first and third reasons. Livejournal: See Green Arrow’s reason.
Mood: Playfully Horny
Listening to: It’s getting hot in here by Nelly

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