I was trying to think today what "killer apps in social media" means, and it's hard to think of any for Second Life. I guess my own feeling is that it is a killer app all on its own, but one still getting developed and spread. Not everything follows the Gartner hype-cycle charts like lock-step. Why should it? Human affairs aren't "laws of nature" that you can always reliably analyze and chart like science.
One thing that is truly evil, unquestionably, is Wikipedia. It's evil in its reach and scope, and its danger to knowledge and wisdom. I was just reading George Orwell's 1984 again, and I realized that it's here already. Usually, when you read 1984, you think of the issue of "Big Brother Watching You," or you think of how these spies are posing as dissidents but then betray Winston, but you don't focus so much on his job. Sure, you remember the "memory hole" that he pushes factual news down every day as he rewrites it, but his act of constant revising and rewriting and lying used to feel like it was abstract and in the future.
Now it doesn't.
I realized this comparing my impressions from reading this book 35 years ago, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, and now. Winston's job -- rewriting history to fit with new Party directives spinning the facts and history as he know he personally witnessed it -- is a lot like the function of a blogger or Wikipedia or anyone on the Internet who can just rewrite a page and republish it, sometimes without showing that it was edited. Things get cut, erased, and don't even show up in Google anymore, and you have to look for them on the Way Back Machine.
But nowhere is knowledge pulled and tugged and manipulated more than on Wikipedia. It's like what some critics say of it: it's a cult, and back of it is one Big Lie that you are supposed to swallow as religious truth -- that it is "open to anybody" and "everybody corrects it" and mistakes and bias become opaque to thousands of citizens of good will. Baloney. Anyone who spends any time studying Wikipedia, if they are in good faith with the concerns of an open society, becoming slowly appalled, then chilled. The Byzantine system of editing orthodoxies and myriad bizarre rulings and conventions make the Catholic Church or the Kremlin look like school kids with an ABC book. It's awful. I stumbled on all those weird sets of pages describing all their editing orthodoxies and I just...boggled. Special terms. Sordid little wars. Executions at dawn...
A fascinating page shows the pictures and RL locations of some of the anonymous manipulators behind Wikipedia on one controversial subject. Largely male, largely geeky, largely in their 30s-40s. No doubt this guy's criticism page is biased, too -- I have no idea what all the politics are -- but just seeing all the *types* there I marvel at how much it's like the Second Life JIRA and the AWG.
I never knew until recently that there is a creepy function that certain Wikinistas up in the stratosphere of the Wiki FIC take on, called Checkusers. Checkusers, well, check users, they monitor their IP, their statements, they assess whether they are "sock puppets" or "trolls" blah blah blah. The more you read about all this, the more you think that Winston Smith's office should be renamed Wikipedia, not Ministry of Truth. That sub-committee of a sub-commission that he was dumped on towards the end working on Newspeak was the obvious result...
But the scary thought came when I tried to think what would happen if you made Wikipedia be the killer app to Second Life -- or visa versa.