Online Personas: Defining the Self in a Virtual World
Online social networking sites are now among the most popular web sites on the internet. Facebook is the seventh most trafficked site in the U.S., and millions of young trendsetters have made MySpace and Second Life the most disruptive forces to hit pop culture since MTV. LinkedIn is at the forefront of an emerging networking frontier focused on business and boasting a network of more than 7 million professionals. In a world of IMers, bloggers, podcasters, burners, P2P buccaneers, mashup artists and phonecam paparazzi, people have entirely new ways of expressing and reinventing themselves, and fact can blend with fiction. The founders of the most successful and innovative web sites allowing people to interact, trade, meet and network will explore how their sites are evolving to keep up with the future of online networking.
The idea of INFORUM began with the basic tenet that young people not only deserve but desire unbiased, trustworthy information from a full range of stances, and that they want their sources qualified. The Commonwealth Club has a 103 year tradition of civic debate, and INFORUM honors and continues this tradition by providing a forum for young people to access the best informed, most involved, and brightest minds - be they politicians, business gurus, policy workers, thought leaders, trendsetters or culture-jammers.
David Ewing Duncan
David Ewing Duncan is an award-winning, best-selling author of six books and numerous essays, articles and short stories, and a television, radio and film producer and correspondent. He is the co-host of NPR's Biotech Nation.
Duncan's most recent book is Experimental Man: What one man’s body reveals about his future, your health, and our toxic world (John Wiley). His last book was Masterminds: Genius, DNA and the Quest to Rewrite Life (Harper Perennial). He also wrote the international bestseller Calendar: Humanity's Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year (Harper-Collins/Avon), published in 19 languages, and a bestseller in 14 countries.
Duncan is a Contributing Editor to Wired, and Discover, and a science columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, a commentator for NPR's Morning Edition and co-host of BioTech Nation on NPR. He has been a special correspondent and producer for ABC's Nightline and 20/20, and a producer for Discovery Television. He is a correspondent for NOVA's ScienceNow!. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic, Fortune and MIT Technology Review, and was a longtime correspondent for Life.
He also writes for Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian, Outside, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Washington Post Book World, and The New York Times, among others. He contributes to the Dialogues column for Discover.
Vice President of Content and Marketing, MySpace
Shawn Gold is SVP, head of marketing and content for MySpace.com, an online social network with over 85 million members focused on Personal expression, human connection and the discovery of popular culture. He comes to Myspace with a 14 year history in digital marketing and business strategy.
Previous to MySpace, Shawn was publisher of WeblogsInc (now an AOL company), the largest publisher of professional blogs on the web with over 8 million monthly readers. Among his 85 Blogs were category leaders Engadget, AutoBlog and Joystiq. Prior to WeblogsInc, Shawn was president/chief strategy officer of publicly held Intermix.com. At Intermix, during the dotcom downturn, his team created the webs most popular entertainment network online (24 million monthly visitors) and achieved profitability.
Prior to Intermix, Shawn headed marketing and communications for ecommerce company WHN, providing ecommerce and marketing service to entertainment brands, including The 2002 Olympics, ABC, NBC, Comedy Central, MTV, and Fox. Prior to WHN.com, Shawn served as head of strategic planning at Rare Medium where he created the inaugural interactive communication strategies for P&G, General Foods, Mattel and Nestle. In 1995, Shawn was GM and Founder of Icon New mediaâ€™s Advertising Division, publishing Word.com and Charged.com. There he created the first interstitial ads on the web and an industry-leading advertising system based on time rotation and contextual integration.
He started developing interactive content in 1992 as a partner with TouchTunes Interactive, a telecommunications music marketing service in the USA, Japan and New Zealand. He is a founding board member of the Producers Guild of Americaâ€™s New Media Council.
Vice President, Community and Support, Second Life
As VP Community Development and Support, Robin Harper is responsible for shaping the evolution of the rapidly growing community of Second Life users. This includes facilitating communication at all levels, interfacing between users and Linden lab on issues of social mores and technical development, and ensuring inspired creativity never veers into total anarchy.
Prior to joining Linden Lab in 2002, Harper was the Vice President of Marketing at Maxis, a division of Electronic Arts (EA). At Maxis she played a prominent role in their emergence as the leader in PC simulation games and was a core member of the senior executive team that guided the company through their IPO and subsequent sale to Electronic Arts. Also while at Maxis, she established SimCity as one of the most recognized brand names in entertainment software, and was named one of the marketing 100 by Advertising Age/Newsweek. In addition to Maxis and Linden Lab, Harper has held senior marketing positions at Ninth House Network (corporate learning and online education) and at Mondo Media (online entertainment). She holds an MBA in marketing from the University of Chicago.
Reid Hoffman is co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn Corporation and a partner at Greylock Partners. LinkedIn, which he led to profitability as its CEO and chairman, has more than 150 million members in 200 countries and territories around the world. Hoffman serves on several boards including those of Airbnb, Edmodo, Mozilla, and Zynga. Hoffman also leads the Greylock Discovery Fund, which invests in seed-stage entrepreneurs and companies. Prior to LinkedIn and Greylock, he served as executive vice president at PayPal, where he was a founding board member. Hoffman also serves on the boards of Kiva.org, Endeavor.org, DoSomething.org, and StartupAmericaPartnership.org. He co-authored the best-selling book The Startup of You. In 2010, Hoffman was the recipient of an SD Forum Visionary Award and also named a Henry Crown Fellow by the Aspen Institute. In 2011, Hoffman was named an Endeavor Entrepreneur of the Year.
Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO of Facebook, which he founded in 2004.
Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more
efficiently with their friends, families and coworkers. Mark is
responsible for setting the overall direction and product strategy for
the company. He leads the design of Facebook's service and development
of its core technology and infrastructure. Mark attended Harvard
University and studied computer science before moving the company to
Palo Alto, California.
Participating on a panel back in 2006, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg recalls the humble beginnings of the now social media juggernaut, which is celebrating its seventh birthday today. "I just threw the site together in about week when I was at school," remembers Zuckerberg. "It isn't actually that impressive, it was very simple back then."
Totality of an individual's behavioral and emotional characteristics. Personality embraces a person's moods, attitudes, opinions, motivations, and style of thinking, perceiving, speaking, and acting. It is part of what makes each individual distinct. Theories of personality have existed in most cultures and throughout most of recorded history. The ancient Greeks used their ideas about physiology to account for differences and similarities in temperament. In the 18th century Immanuel Kant, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, and Giambattista Vico proposed ways of understanding individual and group differences; in the early 20th century Ernst Kretschmer and the psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and Carl Jung offered competing personality theories. Freud's model rested on the power of psychosexual drives as mediated by the structural components of the id, ego, and superego and the interplay of conscious and unconscious motives. Particularly important was the array of defense mechanisms an individual employed. Jung, like Freud, emphasized unconscious motives but de-emphasized sexuality and advanced a typal theory that classified people as introverts and extraverts; he further claimed that an individual personality was a persona (i.e., social facade) drawn from the collective unconscious, a pool of inherited memories. Later theories by Erik H. Erikson, Gordon W. Allport, and Carl R. Rogers were also influential. Contemporary personality studies tend to be empirical (based on the administration of projective tests or personality inventories) and less theoretically sweeping and tend to emphasize personal identity and development. Personality traits are usually seen as the product of both genetic predisposition and experience. See alsopersonality disorder; psychological testing.
It's too bad the highly articulate, concept-driven Jane McGonigal was not a part of the panel.
But I'm sure interested in the fact that they seem to have focused in on the number of 150 individuals. I once heard on NPR that any company with more employees than that, stops feeling like family. And then there are the Mennonites/Quakers?, that say the same thing about a given community's size.
"Think global, act local."
Far too much pseudo-intellectualism is devoted to breathing modern air into an ancient concept: the need to interact with others. The popularity of Facebook should catch no one off guard. Reflexive schlemexive!
Interesting concept for a panel. The concept alone for your online persona(s) is reflexive and one that all on the internet should stop and think about for a minute. Part expression, part convenience, part representation, and misrepresentation
Tonight we will discuss online personas: defining the self in a virtual world. We have anall-star panel for you: Robin Harper, Shawn Gold, Mark Zuckerberg, Reid Hoffman, andDavid Ewing Duncan as our moderator. So please give them a hand for being here.Inforum is putting on lots of great events at the Commonwealth Club, if you're not awareit's a division of the club by and for people in their twenties and thirties and we offerdiscounts to all Commonwealth Club events if you join.On December 11th, Inforum will host its annual holiday party at the Supper Club. We'llhave DJs, complementary wine and hors d'oeuvres, and performance art. You can sign upfor this event during the reception with Jeremy. On January 9th, David Ewing-Duncan,our moderator here tonight will be back to share the results of his $15,000 test, paid forby National Geographic, to find out what kind of toxins are in his body just fromeveryday living. So that should be really interesting. And we hope to see you back herefor one of those events.We're recording this program for a radio broadcast, so please everyone do turn off yourcell phones. And make sure to use the microphone in this aisle during the Q&A portionof tonight's event, because we are taping for radio. Our moderator tonight is DavidEwing-Duncan, contributing editor for Wired and chief correspondent for NPR's TechNation. Please welcome David to the stage as he kicks of tonight's program for broadcast.Good evening everyone, and thank you for coming and putting up with the crowds outthere. Good evening, I'm David Ewing Duncan and I want to welcome you to tonight'smeeting of Inforum. It's a division of the Commonwealth Club by and for people in theirtwenties and thirties with a mission to inspire debate around civic issues. Tonight we'regoing to talk about something that I find quite fascinating. About online personas anddefining the self in the virtual world, or in a virtual world.In 1954, J.A. Barnes coined the term "social networking". He was writing about a villagein Norway, I don't know if you've seen this book, but he decided that the ideal number ofpeople to interact in a social network was 150 people. Okay. The combined networks ofthe panelists sitting to my left-- I don't know what it is today, but it's about 40 million, 50million people. And that number is probably low and it's going up all the time. Andkeeping track of those numbers is one of the difficult things because it's such a fastmoving target. In fact, this week, MySpace is the number four most visited site accordingto Alexa, which is a metric site, and that's just behind Google, and they're actually closingin on some of the top three, including Google.Facebook is as high as number seven, and in some of the metrics. So what is going onhere? And more important, for tonight's discussion is, who are these people? I mean, inthat sense who are the visitors? Who are we that are paying attention and going ontothese sites. And I mean this literally because tonight we're talking about defining the selfin a new age of IM-ers, bloggers, podcasters, burners, P2P buccaneers, mash-up artistsand phone cam paparazzi. When people have entirely new ways of expressing and re-inventing themselves and fact can blend with fiction...I'd first like to introduce our panelists who are in the thick of this latest cyber revolution.We have Robin Harper, the Vice President of Community for Second Life. And SecondLife is a 3D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening in2003, it's grown explosively and today is inhabited by almost 2 million people fromaround the globe. Actually I went online last night, it has 1.7 million, but I think it addspeople almost constantly.Shawn Gold is a senior vice president of MySpace, a network of personal profiles,friends, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos and I think a whole lot more. It's hometo various musicians, filmmakers, celebrities and comedians, and I'm sure a lot of youwho upload their work to share with a larger community.Mark Zuckerberg is a founder and CEO of Facebook. Facebook is made up of school,company, or regional networks that allow people to share information the way they wouldin the real world. We're going to be talking a lot tonight, by the way, about the realworld. Yeah. We might even get into a discussion on what the heck the real world is in these days.Reid Hoffman is a founder and CEO of LinkedIn, a site that helps people be moreeffective in their daily work and open doors using their professional relationships.LinkedIn has a network of more than 8 million users, representing 130 industries, andwhy don't we please welcome our panel.Okay. Now. We're talking about defining the self here, we're talking about personas.Who we are. And this has been some subject of thought for many centuries, but it's fairto say that we're moving pretty fast into a new realm. A virtual realm or whatever wewant to call it. And I wanted to ask each of you, just to get things started here, what theheck. If you could...if you could be anybody you wanted to be, or anything for thatmatter, who would it be or what would it be? Start with Robin.Well I've had the opportunity to be just about anything I want to be but I find that beingmyself is...is a handful enough. So in Second Life, I am who I am.So your first life and Second Life are the same.I have a different name, but otherwise I'm the same, yes.Sean.I'm going to have to go with Will Rogers. Never met a man he didn't like, he got alongwith, you know, regular folk, dignitaries, he was an ambassador for America, probablyone of the best ambassadors we've ever had.So you want to be living in the 25th century?Well, this is alive or dead. I guess he's dead so that's a thing. A dead thing. Will Rogers.So you want to be a dead guy. Okay. Mark.I can't beat that.This-- we're going to have a long evening if you don't answer like that. Come on. You'rein the virtual world, what do you want to be.How bout Cher? Cher's cool.Yeah, Cher is a feature we just launched, it's pretty cool.Okay, uh...Reid. Beat that.Unfortunately, one of the problems going last is, I was also going to answer myself, inpart because part of the whole thing about having a professional profile as you representwho you are, including for example, if someone Googles you by name. So I would say, myself.Okay. Well this is interesting, since you guys are in the forefront of creating the virtualworld, at least two of you want to be yourself. What does this mean. By the way, Idebated whether to give them that question before so they'd have time to think about it.Maybe we'll come back around if you guys have anything more to say about who you'dlike to be. Since you're asking us to, you know the public, to change ourselves in at leasta couple of the sites, I think it'd be interesting to maybe circle back again to that.In fact, on that same kind of idea of tooling around in a virtual world, I'm wondering--there's a big debate out there about, you know, is this helping us, is it harming us, youknow, what is this idea of being able to basically link in and talk to a bunch of people, insome cases, be yourself, in some cases not, in some cases create a whole new person. Isthis something that's you think is a harmless release for people, or is it something that weshould worry about? Anybody want to jump in here?I'll jump in. Shawn Gold from MySpace.com. A place for friends. I think it's ultimatelya positive thing, I mean any technology can be used incorrectly, but it's aboutempowerment and efficiency and the socialization process. All youth culture goesthrough this process of breaking away from their parents and creating their own identities,and sites like MySpace, Facebook, other sites on the internet, create this empowering toolto do identity production, or personal branding, as marketers would call it. Where theyuse video and images and graphics and music to position who they are as an individualand they get feedback from their friends, and they get feedback from strangers, and theyevolve it, and so it's positive in that way.Anybody else want to jump in on that?Linked In is all about accomplishing stuff that matters in the real world, alright? Sowhether it's reconnecting with classmates or colleagues you've lost touch with, finding anexpert to help you solve a problem, you know, kind of getting an in to a company to do adeal with them, or possibly find a job or try to hire somebody. I mean, the precise reasonwhy it's the exact opposite of anonymity and it's the exact opposite of kind of a playfulfantasy world is because it's trying to empower what you're doing in-- well, in the contextof this panel, in your first life.I guess what I would say is that when you have the opportunity to explore aspects of whoyou are through the way that you express yourself, either by changing your gender ormaybe putting on your sad avatar today instead of your happy one, whatever. When youhave that opportunity, to me it's another form of introspection, and I think it's veryhealthy. You know. It only falls apart when you use it in a manipulative way and break trust.I'm going to jump in here by the way, I know that a lot of you are familiar with theseterms, but explain what an avatar is.In Second Life and in there and in most online games, the avatar is the character that youuse to represent yourself in the world.And in Second Life in fact you can be anything, you can be an animal, I saw a dragonwho was having a hard time last night putting out a fire, for instance, it was askingeverybody, shouting actually, help me put out this fire.Yeah, you can. You can be very very human, you can be an animal, you can be a sputnik,you can be a robot. Whatever.Well, let me ask, while we're on the subject of reality or not of reality, is some of thisencouraging denial of reality? I mean, you're talking about empowerment, but do youhave people who maybe are not so happy with their own life, jumping in, we're talkingabout self here, creating a new self, is that, could that be a denial as well as anempowerment? Or does it matter?Well I'm not a psychologist, I don't really know if it's a bad or a good thing, but where Isee it playing out to really positive advantage is for people who are in some way disabledin the real world. And Second Life gives them the opportunity to participate in a largecommunity that's very social, has very successful entrepreneurs, and they can participatein that community on a level playing field in a way that they can't in the real world.Does anybody else want to comment on that...you know, is this a denial of reality in away, I mean...I think anytime you get new technologies and new ways of expressing media and people,you always get this. I mean, you have this television, you know I'm sure that back whenradio was created it was a similar kind of, "Oh it's alienation of what it is to be human,"as opposed to another vehicle for expressing it. So I just tend to think that it's like look,there's new vehicles in new media, actually one of the things I think is awesome about theinternet in general which is true I think of all of the panelists, is it's a way of publishingessential parts of yourself in one framework or another in order to hopefully build bettersocial ties. Whether it's in a case like Linked In, Facebook is based on connections thatalready exist in the real world, or kind of the tricking out your page in MySpace, orparticipating in Second Life.I think it's healthy, I think it rekindles the spirit of play. You know, when we're kids werole played all the time, pretended to be different things, and for some reason, westopped. And this allows you to continue to do that, experiment, have fun, take ondifferent personas...I mean as long as you, you know, use it for good instead of evilobviously, it's positive.I mean, I don't think it has to just be about creating a new persona. I know that onFacebook most of what people do is communicate with their real identities, so I mean Ialso don't think it's necessarily about good or bad change, from the real world. I thinkthat people choose to communicate online because it's more effiecient way to do whatthey would have done in other places.So I mean, at Facebook I know we focus a lot on efficiency of information flow, helpingpeople communicate efficiently, helping people publish information about themselvesthat they want to efficiently, and that means having the control over who you share itwith, being able to say who you really are, or anything about yourself.We do have a pretty wide range of spaces here, actually, and it's sort of funny in someways that we have this range because we range from very real, like Linked In, to a virtualspace, so we have to keep that in mind that there, in fact, I was reading, there are at least200 of these spaces out there, and they range from a site for 5000 people who are realestate professionals, you know, talking to teach other, to MySpace and some of the hugeones, and a lot, my favorite one that I saw today was Sneaker Play. Apparently it's peoplewho are into sneakers.I think we're actually in order of reality in the panel here.Yeah, actually, I think you are.Reality, what a concept.What does that make me, being on...Oh! Freak.In fact, since I'm sort of out here alone, not sitting there with you guys, the next question Iwas going to ask is about the idea-- what I'm going to do here is raise some of the issuesthat people have been talking about, and you know we're very privileged to have a grouplike you to answer some of these things that we all read about, so that's what I'm doinghere. I mean, I think it's a fabulous sort of experiment, what's going on, so I don't mean tosound you know like I'm being negative about it, but I think it's just interesting to find outfrom you guys, straight from your mouths, real mouths in fact, about some of theseissues. This idea of reality and communicating, it's an interesting notion that you'recommunicating sometimes with thousands of people and yet you're by yourself. Andthere is a barrier there. Do you guys worry that you're creating a world or a space forpeople where you don't have as much human interaction.I personally don't, I think that actually more human interaction comes as a result of onlinecommunication, you vet out and actually higher quality human interaction, because youvet out who's more appropriate for you. But think about like a-- I mean kids today are inmore controlled spaces than ever before. They go from work to after school programs tosports in all socio-economic classes, so they don't have the down time that we did, so thisoffers sort of you know again empowerment and efficiency in that process.If you're like a fifteen year old kid in the suburbs of Denver, you know, you don't have acar, you're stranded. You know, you go home and you're done. Now the internet allowsyou to communicate with people, connect with many people, especially if you're like theartsy kid or the smart kid who's slightly outcast in the suburbs. Now you can find lots ofpeople like yourself. It's actually a great time to be lonely on the internet.Having kids I think baby-sitter to some extent, but anybody else want to?I agree with that. I think that these things are also good because they give you differentmediums to communicate. You know, so I mean communicating in person is perhapslike the richest form of communication, but I mean there are others that cut out certaindimensions, so for example, talking on the phone, you don't see the person, you hearthem, it's synchronous, it's live, right? There are other forms, like Instant Messenger thatare still synchronous, but have none of the other senses, and I mean I think that one of thethings that's great about these is that it's an asynchronous communication vehicle, whereyou can put something in a profile somewhere and define who gets to see that, and thenanybody who wants to consume that information who has the rights to can go later on and check it out.It's just really efficient. And it actually enables interactions that wouldn't have otherwisehappened in the other, any other ways, because I mean there are lots of people who I'mjust not going to call. You know, I'm just not that comfortable with them. But I'llcommunicate with them in a different way.Or maybe they can look at my profile, because I allow them to.And also, in terms of making connections, like one of the things that I thought was anunanticipated but very positive side benefit personally is, I've had friends that I've losttouch with from high school who actually ran parallel careers, right? One of the firstguys that got in touch with me is the guy who actually worked at Amazon for a long time,and I literally hadn't talked to him since I graduated high school. And he found me andthat was a connection, that was cause, you know, finding ex colleagues, or findingclassmates, is actually enormously valuable.Relationship maintenance I think is the phrase that pays here at the Commonwealth Club tonight.And you heard it right here. Were you guys shy when you were younger? Did you, Imean, are you, I mean I imagine that you aren't now, yeah okay. So, so do you feel like,you know we're going to be delving in slightly into psychiatry here as you said, I meannone of us are psychitrists, we don't want to go there in the pseudo or any other way, butI'm just curious if this is something that you guys personally feel comfortable with,interacting in this way. I mean, you run companies now, so I suppose you...we have silence.Well you know I find when I am at a party, let's say, and I don't know anybody, that it'suncomfortable, and I find that when I go to the welcome area in Second Life and there'sall these new people that I've never met, that I feel uncomfortable in a similar kind ofway. The difference being that we have something in common. We've all come to thisplace that's unique with the intention, perhaps, of being able to transcend ourselves insome fashion. And so you know, you kind of jump in and you can kind of talk to people,and it gives you something to start with, I think.Now I admit that I just went on your site for the first time last night, and I was feelingvery shy walking around. For one thing, I didn't know what I was doing, and thensuddenly started dancing for some reason. Couldn't turn it off. We talked about that.There is a way to turn it off, if you just start spontaneously dancing.Well, part of what we're talking about here with the self, or the expression of the self, isthere's a long history and progression of us sort of coming up, out of the Middle Ages,when people didn't even have last names, and then we became more and more self awareand kind of atomized in having our own sense of who we were within our culture, thishas been called an expression of that. It's just a sort of continuum. But are we going toreach a point where everybody has basically got a pulpit and who's going to listen to all ofthat, or does it matter.Aren't we there already?Yeah I think so. Well, Andy Warhol said everyone is famous for fifteen minutes, and as aresult of social networking now everyone is famous for fifteen people. That would bethe, that's the 21st century Andy Warhol expression.Well, I guess that begs the question of what does it mean to have a million friends.Because I know some people on your space, I mean, how can you have a million friends.How can you-- you know, Malcom Gladwell, in the Tipping Point, was saying you're themaximum number of relationships you can actually manage is like a hundred and thirty.What does it mean to have a million friends, it means you're very popular. I mean, youcan't, you obviously can't manage those relationships, it's more about broadcasting at thatpoint than it is interacting.So it becomes a sort of pursuit unto itself, to try to grab onto that many people I guess.I mean, the ones who, the people who have a million friends are entertainers, and theyentertain their friends. I mean there's a saying that we choose our friends for our ability toamuse them. And actually the reason that makes sense is that our self images aresupported by an inner newsreel that we play back of people's reactions to us. If they thinkwe're funny or charming or attractive. We like them. So if you go to my MySpace pageand tell me I did a great job, I'll definitely be your friend.I think the thing to keep in mind is that all of these different pieces of software arebasically enablers, and what they allow you to do is to connect with people that you mightnot have connected with otherwise. You find people with common interests, in SecondLife I've made friends with people all over the world that I wouldn't have met and LinkedIn, I've reconnected with people that haven't seen or heard from in a long time, and I'vebeen introduced to people that I wouldn't have met otherwise. So I think it's less about doI have a million friends, and a lot more about, wow I've met new people who areinteresting and people that I wouldn't have had a chance to meet otherwise.I think it's interesting that this hundred thirty or hundred fifty number keeps on coming upbecause the average number of friends someone has on Facebook is right in that range.It's like around 125 or 130 or so. And I think that that reflects that the relationships thatpeople have on Facebook are real. You know, it's not really an application that's used formeeting people much at all, it's mostly just for keeping up with the people you know.And getting a handle of what's going on in their lives, communicating with them.In fact, I quoted right at the very beginning, the original researcher that came up with thatnumber, a guy named Barnes, who was writing about a village in Norway, but that'sapparently been a number that's been around in sociology for a really long time. Butthose, I guess those are connections with people who you really do have real interaction,or more sustained interactions with.You'd think the number would go up. From, when was that research done?1954.Yeah. You'd think the number would go up with the efficiencies of communication.Well it may be efficiencies of being a human, I mean of being able to actually handle in akind of sustainable or broad way with that sort of number of people. I don't know, I meanit's interesting. I mean, you guys are right on the forefront of that. I don't know if you'veever talked to-- if you have that kind of feedback from your visitors, but what do yourvisitors say about that? Anything? Have you talked to them about that?I think the technologies of enabling you to kind of stay in touch with a group of people, itmakes it easier when you have the technology to do that. And it's easier to for example,you know when you share a piece of information or content, you update your profile, youlet people know what's going on, that sort of thing, it's now much easier, you know I'vegot on Linked In, something about 1170 contacts, and actually they're all people I know.I've met them, I've known them, when they reach out to me and ask for an introduction tosomeone else, I know who they are.Now some of them, I haven't talked to in 3 or 4 years. Because I've been busy, start-upsare that way, right? But if they reach out to me through someone, I go, oh actually this isa really cool person. Right. They're serious, they're interesting, they're worth knowing.And that kind of referral enables them to get to somebody else. So I actually, I havefound that the number of people that I can kind of keep in my orbit has been extended bymy use of Linked In.Anybody else want to comment on that? I think the issue of time is something thatimpacts here. It's, do people really have time to do this, and you were just saying, I mean1100 people you're linked in with, if all those people all at once or even a small fractionof them ask you to do something for you, would you really, well you wouldn't have time.Well, I mean the kind of thing Linked In is targeting is a professional thing. So whenpeople ask me for an introduction, it's something that really matters to them. Andactually one of the things I think that part of building better communities is when can asmall portion of my time make a big difference in someone's life. Making the right kindof introduction is that sort of thing. Right, so I'm actually always happy to do it. Nowoccasionally what will happen is, I'm really busy this week, I'll get to it on Saturday, right,but you know forwarding an email is typing two or three sentences, it's...about 90 seconds.Reid, what is the average age group on Linked In?Last we measured, I think it was 39.So you have an older group. And I don't know if we have the same progression, probablynot, we'll stop at Sean, but are all-- what are the average age groups on the other sites?You know, we're probably close to Facebook in the fif...eighteen to twenty-five, is thecore audience.32 in Second Life.Yeah, our average is right around 21 or 22.I personally don't have as much time as I would like to be on these sites, and you knowbeing inundated daily with email and all sorts of things, is there a sort of natural barrier, Iguess in the business model, for something like this? Where you're hitting certain ages,maybe, that are people in transition, say in work, or you know, they're younger, they gotmore time, is there sort of a natural barrier where people just say, okay enough, I reallycan't, I don't have anymore time to handle all of this.I think that people do this because they need to communicate anyway, right, and this is amore efficient for them to do that. So I mean we define ourselves as a utility at Facebook,and as such we don't care so much about the number of page views that people do, or theamount of time they spend on the site. As a matter of fact, I kind of prefer it when peoplecan come and get what they need and go pretty quickly.Instead what we measure most tightly is the percentage of our users that come back to thesite daily. That find it important enough part of their routine that they'll come back to thesite every day. And this is the usage pattern that we have, it's something like, you know,you wake up in the morning, you check email, you check Facebook, you shower, you goto work, read the news, check Facebook...um. Short sessions, and the retention number,daily retention is really large. You know, it's 60% or higher sometimes.And we find that that transcends all those demographics. I mean, we started off incollege because that's where I was when I wanted this to exist, so I built it for my school.And we've been around for almost three years now, so we've had almost three years ofpeople who are in college who graduated and now aren't in college anymore, which iswhy the average is 21, 22, and we find that the retention rate amongst people who areoutside of school is right around the same as the retention in college. And the retention ofall the high school users we have is right around the same, is right around the retention ofusers in college.And I mean at this point, we're only about half college users overall. And I mean we findthat across this, just the amount of use that we get is just uniformly large, and I don'tknow, I think that that just sort of shows that it's a utility, it helps people communicatemore efficiently than they would be able to in other ways, or else they would just do thoseother things instead.What about, yeah, well.Yeah, well.I would say we consider ourself similar as a platform for self expression, humanconnection, and the discovery of culture, which is a big part of what MySpace is about.And we're finding that certainly the older demographics that are coming to MySpace arecoming for the discovery of culture. There's still a stigma, you know, if you're over forty,to connect with someone online, and it's embarrassing to say I met them on MySpace orMatch.com or whatever you're using. This generation, the under 25 generation, is the firstgeneration to really take advantage of the efficiencies of digital communication, and haveno stigma behind it. It's like no stigma behind it. It's like it's illogical not to use it. Soyou know that's part of it, but because you know we go pretty high as far as demographicsgo, but we're actually seeing that a lot of 38 year olds are coming online. I was like, whyare 38 year olds coming online. Coming onto MySpace.I'm 37, not 38.And it is because the 20 year reunion we've seen a pop in that age. And you know. Fascinating.I guess that's what these guys live in all day long.I mean the stigma that you're referring to is generally actually kind of social dating stuff.I mean, Linked In and professional actually doesn't have that sort of stigma. And Iactually completely concur with Mark's comments, that the point is efficiency and utility,and because professionals who are over thirty usually are pretty pressed in their life, asyou're describing lack of time, part of what we focus on Linked In is when it's a highvalue moment, not at a kind of a constant communication flow. For that reason.I think Second Life is a little bit different, because for many people it really is a placewhere they spend a majority of their time. We looked at one point at the top ten percentin terms of usage and their usage hours in a week were averaging about 84. And so...That's an average?This is the top ten percent, the amount of time that was around 84 hours. A week. Andso you know, we kind of stopped and thought about that for a bit and wondered what...Can we talk about addiction here?Well, and that's the question, is that a bad thing, and um, again for...when you look at itthough, there are over 7,000 profitable businesses in Second Life. Profitable meaningthey're making enough money in virtual currency that when they exchange it for USdollars, it's paying minimally for the amount of money they spend in Second Life, but formany, it's become a living. And you know, I spend 70 hours a week or more on my job.So for them, you know, that's what they're doing. And then for many people it's theirsocial life. It's where they go to be with their friends they've met special people there, sobut it's different, it's different than checking in to see if somebody's left you a note. For sure.I would like a job as a fire extinguishing dragon...do you get paid for that? Cause firebreathing dragons get most of the work.I did notice I didn't burn up though when I went into the fire, so maybe it's not so bad tobe a fire breathing dragon as well. We've got a few more minutes here in the discussiontime. Let's talk-- we were mentioning-- or I mentioned the word "addiction." I guess thatcould get us into again some of the criticism of the sites. I know MySpace has gottensome criticism for who are some of the people online and what are their real motives. Imean, the dangers, the predators, the people that might be out there with my son or mydaughter. You know, what are they really after.Well, I mean MySpace is, I mean, there's a hundred and thiry million regestrants onMySpace, about 90 million people visiting the site, about 320,000 new members comeon the site every day. So it's like over 3x the size of California. And it mirrors reality.And there's a new set of rules, to deal with online communication. So it's really, to besafe in that environment it's really about education, it's about, I mean there's certaintechnologies that we deploy as well. But it's arguably safer than real life. You're not nextto someone. You can vet people out. I mean, obviously you shouldn't meet people inperson without being in a public place, without a friend, so if used properly, it's muchsafer than real life. And your real life connections can be much safer.Yeah. I mean the guys at the other end of the table are mostly dealing with real people, Ithink mostly, right? But--You get stock for the business plan.You can get a baaaad business plan on Linked In.What about in Second Life on this issue. I thought it was, when I went in last night Ifound it fascinating what my response was, which I started to talk to people, and Irealized that they could be anyone. You know, I was looking at some good lookingwoman, or a dragon, or something like that, and it could be literally anyone, and that was,and you know it was the first time on the site, but that was a little odd but kind ofinteresting too. I mean, how do you deal with that barrier, where people come in andyou're having to get used to a whole new way of looking or using your imagination Iguess, interfacing with someone else's imagination.Well, you know, that's the way it is on the internet. It's...what was that New Yorkercartoon, I think? On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog...and you get to knowpeople the same way that you get to know them in the real world. You talk to them, youget to know what they're interested in and what they like to do, and you don't know, whenyou first meet them, very much about them. But we also have safeguards in place foryounger people, and we give people the option of saying as much or as little aboutthemselves as they're comfortable saying. You know. You wouldn't give a lot ofinformation about yourself until you trusted somebody, right? And I think the same thingis true of them. So as in any relationship, there's give and take and you get to know each other.The idea of basically lying online, I mean a lot of people lie. They lie about their age,they lie about who they are, are we enabling some sort of truthiness as Colbert might say?Well certainly verifying identity is a big issue for us. I imagine it is for everybody here.And there is a lot of work being done right now on the, by various companies out there,on how to authenticate what people tell you. And we're building a system into SecondLife right now that'll help you to do that, will verify the things that people tell you aboutthemselves in the real world.For 99.99% of the people on MySpace, and Facebook, and of course Linked In, itbehooves you to give your correct information because you want to meet people in asimilar age group and like minded people. There's always a couple bad apples that spoilthe bunch, maybe even in this audience here at the Commonwealth Club tonight.Are any of you out there?I don't want to name any names.By the way, we're about 3 or 4 minutes from question time, and if anyone wants to askquestions, if you could kind of quietly make your way up to the microphone, we'll startthat in just 2 or 3 minutes here. I got to ask this too. Is a lot of this a fad, do you think? Imean, I actually looked up the hula hoop. In 1958 and 59, Whammo, remember thatcompany, they were actually just sold for 80 million dollars, believe it or not, Whammosold 100 million hula hoops and the US population at the time was about 175 million, soyou had over half the population were crazed and had to go out and buy a hula hoop. Imean, is there any element of that here, do you think? In what's going on?I think there's an evolution of technology that maybe new things coming, but I think thetrends that you see and where they're going, I don't think they're going to go away andthen it's going to return to the bucolic agrarian past.Yeah, I mean, it's an evolution. You know, it's a fad if everyone up here stops to evolvetheir platform, then it'll be a fad, like GeoCities, it was a fad. But as long as we evolve aself expression platform, the communication platform, the content aggregation platform,speaking spefically on MySpace, and even the international platform, the safety andeducation platform, those are all things that will stop it from being a fad.Just very quickly. Is this going to replace MTV, is it going to replace television as we know it?No, YouTube is going to do that.We don't have them up here. Okay, let's shift to the questions here. We have peoplealready lined up, and if you could keep these really brief, we've got about 20 minutes andwe want to try to get to everyone if we can so...go to it.