Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Forsquare? Not another social network...

I recently became aware of a social media network 'Foursquare' which enables users to 'follow' celebrities in the same way Twitter allows people to 'follow' business, people, industries rather than actually becoming a 'friend' on a network such as Facebook.

My initial reaction was are we not already a culture obsessed with celebrities? There appears to be a growing fascination with the lives of others especially celebrities and consequently how celebrities are managing and manipulating how the public see them. The media is a feeding ground for the narcissism of celebs and this new social network facilitates a growing frenzy of celebrity culture and obsession.

However, the idea is that Foursquare also acts as a recommendation tool for celebrities who can leave posts about restaurants, bars, places of interest, and venues in their city sparked a thougt about its potential. In this respect I can see how Foursquare may become hot property for brands who are looking for celebrity endorsement. If brands and businesses alike want to increase their profile then all they need to do is compromise a way of integrating their name and/or recommendation into a chosen celebrity's status post. However whether or not celebs would do this for a minimal fee would need to be negotiated, as ultimately what would the celebrity actually gain from this?
I do think however it is a new area which should be explored by brands and advertisers, but effectiveness will ultimately depend upon the growth of fans using the site.

Although I do believe we are a culture indulged by the movements of the celebrity, I cant say for certain how well Foursquare will evolve. If I'm not uploading photos and updating my status on Facebook, I'm scanning all the latest tweets or checking my hotmail, or uni email, or reading/writing a blog. So with all these online touchpoints many people are already devoted to, the idea of yet another social media network seems a little unnecessary.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Virtual Reality or just Reality?

I have never really thought to deeply about the role that virtual reality plays in creating ones identity, however since deciding to write an assignment on the subject for my Media Studies course at Uni, have begun to consider the 'reality' of virtual reality.
Take a look at Xbox's 'Project Natal'
This is the first games console which has both face and voice recognition enabling the user to create a virtual self. You can connect with friends using the device in a completely different location and you can interact with them through your TV screen. What's more impressive is your movements are picked up by infrared sensors enabling the first free from controller gaming experience.

To me this is extraordinary. We are entering a world where our reality is becoming virtual as we can co-exist in such computerised games while playing them in the real space of our homes. Project Natal reaches far beyond the interactivity characteristic of the noughties. Not only are gamers becoming part of the experience, but their whole body is immersed in the virtual-ness of the TV screen giving them total empowerment.

My criticism of this technological movement is that the westernised world is fast becoming totally dependent upon the fantasy of the virtual. People become so entangled in their online persona and gaming avatar that when faced with the reality of what would appear in contrast, a mundane life, they are suffering from what has now been diagnosed as 'Post Avatar Depression'.
I was shocked to recently find out that there are actually people suffering from this after watching James Cameron's 'Avatar', as they see their own life as inferior in comparison to the world of Pandora featured in Avatar. In a sense the 3D glasses cinema-goers put on to watch the film, transports viewers to the fantasy world where they feel so close to reality, that when the film ends and they remove the glasses they are faced with a not so exciting world.

With technology continually progressing and people increasingly subjecting themselves to the virtual world, how long will it be before we are all living our lives through a virtual platform?
In this sense, we are living in a hyperreality where the boundaries of the real and the imaginary are blurring to almost become a reality.