Blizzard Entertainment today announced that total World of Warcraft [WoW] subscribers has surpassed 11 million, equal to the population of the entire state of Ohio, according to 2007 census estimates.
The news comes as anticipation builds for the release of the game's second expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King, which launches on November 13.
"Since debuting in North America in 2004, World of Warcraft has become the most popular MMORPG in the world," Blizzard announced in a statement today...
World of Warcraft is unique (compared to most games) in that gamers must pay a monthly subscription fee of $13-15 per month to play, in addition to buying the game for $30. The MMO has also drawn criticism from disgruntled spouses and researchers for being abnormally addictive.
Jeff's Thoughts: No word on whether congress is going to allow the WoW state special representation in the Electoral college. Okay, that was stupid...
Yet another stat showing that the 2.0/virtual world is becoming more tangible.
There's 11 million people spending a TON OF TIME hanging out in a virtual world that I know absolutely nothing about... like I got time for that.
Anyone involved in WoW? Does it still live up to the hype? Do you see anyone from the WoW world in the real world? Someone once told me "What happens in Facebook stays in Facebook!" Is that true of WoW? Or does the virtual world bleed into the real one?
I met two interesting people today through web2.0 means...
1) I got a comment on a post earlier today from Senzo, who was asking me some questions on stage lighting for worship. We started an email conversation. I thought he was a local guy and I was going to bring in a couple of my volunteers over and do another Reach Beyond at his church. Uh, Senzo lives in South Africa. Sounds like it'll have to be an email conversation...
2) Got Facebook'd by Veniese, who is moving into the South Miami area and looking for a church? She wants to know if I can recommend one? After directing her to CFMiami.org, Veniese tells me she's moving into a place a couple blocks away from CFWK. She's coming this wknd.
There is a large portion of society that is immersed into the 2.0 culture, and having a conversation with a stranger via email is almost easier than face to face. It's exciting to see how these simple tools can be used through my own life to reach out to others.
With that being said, how else can we minister through 2.0?
Who can you reach out to in Facebook?
What's your MySpace promoting?
What does your representation represent?
Evidently, our social networks are split depending upon our geographical location. Check the graph...
So while USA is hugely Facebook and MySpace (ugh, MySpace...) those networks are not majority holders anywhere else globally...
Theoretically, it's the Tower of Babel all over again. We've got access to communicate with each other, yet nobody is speaking the same language.
Honestly, isn't it time the Social Networks go open source? Develop a standard of communication so I don't have to do a Facebook, and MySpace, and FaceSpace, and MyBook... or whatever else they come out with in the next couple years...
The Internet's strength is that it enables the world to communicate. Hope the corporate sector will play along too...
Capt. Bart Mancuso: [Ramius comments in Russian to Borodin that Mancuso is a "buckaroo". Ryan laughs] What's so funny?
Jack Ryan: Ah, the Captain seems to think you're some kind of... cowboy.
Captain Ramius: [in Russian] You speak Russian.
Jack Ryan: [in Russian] A little. It is wise to study the ways of ones adversary. Don't you think?
Captain Ramius: [in English] It is. Hunt for Red October, 1990
I know, I don't think it sounds like something I would read, either.
Let's be honest...
I am the amateur.
I am the hack.
I am the guy, according to Keen, that's killing the Internet.
To the loved ones of the Internet, I truly am sorry. I send you my condolences.
In the past five years, the Internet has 2.0ed. It's social. It's open. You can say what you want to say, do what you want to do, be who you want to be. And people will listen. Millions will watch some stupid YouTube video, hundreds of thousands will see your photographs, tens of thousands will read your article thinking you are an expert.
The Internet normalizes the playing field. Experts or newbie. Pro or Amateur. Everyone is level. And, according to Keen, this is driving the Experts nuts. Gotta love it.
Looking at my own small piece of the Internet... Do you know what my most popular article ever written is? The article that I wrote on Paula and Randy White divorcing. Life changing stuff I know. (I'm embarrassed that this is the article that I am known for.) Since I wrote the article, Google has me as it's #1 webpage when someone searches for "Paula Randy White". Check the graphic on the left. I'm #1... their (old) own church's website, "Without Walls" is #5. Dude, I beat their own website by an article I wrote... that's pretty sad...
Thus the normalization factor. All of a sudden I'm the expert on the Whites. (To the Whites, I'm not a stalker, really. I'm just a guy that knows how to play a game.)
Keen's view of the Internet sounds a lot like the Music Industry ten years ago, or the Motion Picture Association in the past five... We can save the world, change our culture if we do this or if we change that...
I have a news flash for people who think this...
you cannot change culture...
you cannot make people think like you want them to...
BUT you can play their game.
You can learn their systems, what makes them think.
You can learn their laws, respect their authority.
You can learn their language, communicate on their level.
You can learn their culture, modify from within (instead of fighting windmills)
To think that you can impact, change the culture without obeying it's rules is just silly. Instead of lamenting loss, figure out how to play the game. Leverage culture against itself...
Nothing groundbreaking. Let me give you highlights.
"82% of churches with more than 200 worship attendees have a website." That could be an impressive stat. coming from a guy that started a company that built websites exclusively for churches, this is misleading. I cannot tell you how many pastors I talked to over the years who would say something to the extent of "Why should I pay you to do this when my 10 year old (Please, no more 10 year old jokes relating to my iPhone irrelevance.) can do the same thing with Microsoft Frontpage)." So, while 82% of them have websites, what are they broadcasting on them? How/What are they connecting to the culture/their target audience.
To continue quoting the article:
Semblance of a connection
This reality leaves [Steve Clark, Pastor: Evangelical Free Church of Salt Lake City] with mixed feelings. On one hand, he's glad to be communicating with people far and wide. But he also is concerned about offering a tool that creates the semblance of a spiritual connection but doesn't ultimately satisfy a thirst for God.
"It definitely concerns me if it stops there," Clark says. "That's not actually attending church. You miss the benefits of community, of being with other people who will correct and encourage you."
I totally and completely disagree with this. Are you not surprised?
You don't think community can be created online?
Tell that to the 120 people who are my friends on Facebook.
You don't think the Internet can create a venue where people can communicate, correct, and encourage?
Um, ever been on a blog? Discussion Board? Forum? Ever sent an e-mail? Ever talked via IM? All of these are viable communication forms that enable us to communicate, correct, and encourage.
I have friends across this country that I keep up with on a regular basis. We talk, we share, we pray... rarely is communication verbal. More often than not, its text-based communication via the Internet.
What's frustrating to me is that we are NOT doing things differently than the early church did. The Media Small Group I lead is going through II Corinthians. IIC is basically Paul encouraging and correcting the church in Corinth. (More correcting than encouraging, but both play a part). Did Paul do this face to face? No. He tried to, but unforseen jail time prevented him from making the trip.
So what did Paul do. He wrote a letter. Text communication. Paul didn't abandon the church he started. He didn't say "you need to figure out your problems on your own." He didn't say "Find someone else to solve your problems". He communicated with them the best way he knew how. He wrote a letter.
To quote Tom Bandy, EasumBandy & Associates (Church Consulting Company) from the USA Today Article:
"The Web has allowed people to be cowards about profound religion," says Bandy. "It allows us to hide behind our e-mail, jargon names, URLs and stuff like that. But religion is really an act of courage — to submit, to surrender, to be vulnerable to the other, to that which is beyond yourself."
Yes, people will hide behind usernames (what's a jargon name?). But they're probably hiding from judgmental Christians who would criticize them for their mistakes, views, etc. These people are searching, seeking... they oftentimes are being vulnerable. But no, really, thank you for limiting the spiritual depth of thousands of people across America who use the Internet to communicate and invest in people's livevs.
Funny. I never viewed Paul as a coward. I guess he was, though, because what he said he didn't say face to face. Maybe I'm a coward too, for saying what I say via this blog. Maybe being a coward is a great place to be.
I'll wrap this up with a quote from Paul. II Corinthians 1:13-14 "For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ."
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the future.
It's a beautiful sight.
Aside from that, though, it's amazing to me that that many college students have laptops they use in class. Honestly, I graduated from college in 1999. I took my laptop to class maybe a half-dozen times. Mind you my Macintosh Laptop back then weighed 16 lbs (not kidding) but times are changing... always changing.
A question has been batting around my head for a couple years now... how can we incorporate this laptop-driven society into a worship service? All those laptop screens offer another avenue for people to connect... Is it possible to create a worship experience that can reach the televisiophonernetting society, live? Can we create a live, multi-sensory worship experience that is interactive in addition to educational, informational, and spritual? (Note: Don't have an answer. Just talking...)
I ran across a story in the Wall Street Journal that I really wanted to share. I've been trying to figure out how to spin it.
Second Life, if you're not familiar, is a virtual fantasy world. It's an Interactive role-playing game of sorts. It's a real life simulation. The game isn't filled with warriors with swords or monsters or aliens. The characters look and act like normal people, and in fact are all controlled by real people. Millions of people have a "second life" in Second Life. They work jobs. Have relationships. Go to church. Go to concerts. Spend money. All in a video game. It's technological escapism. You don't like your life. Create a new one online, and pretend.
But at what point does a game stop being a game? The WSJ shares the story of Ric Hoogestraat. Ric plays Second Life six hours a night and up to fourteen hours on weekends. He uses the game to escape his regular life. See, Ric is married to Sue Hoogestraat in real life, but to Janet Spielman in Second Life. Ric's character, Dutch Hoorenbeck proposed, married and lives with Janet's character - Tenaj Jackalope. Their Second Life marriage is so legit that Sue has caught her husband having "cartoon sex" with his Second Life wife via the computer game...
Read the WSJ article to get the insight on the online love triangle. It shows everything that is wrong with technology.
I've been researching Internet Churches lately... reading blogs, articles, books, talking to people... and what I'm hearing more often than not is that people cannot connect to God via the Internet? Their Reasons? The Internet isn't intimate enough. People put up a facade. You don't really get to know people unless you see them face to face. Physical (face to face) contact is necessary. How can you fellowship through a computer?
Tell Sue Hoogestraat that the Internet isn't intimate. Which is Ric's facaade? The one Sue sees or the one that Janet sees. If physical (face to face) contact is necessary, then Ric and Janet's relationship is completely legit and the two of them are just playing a computer game... right? They're just cartoon characters on a computer screen.
Unfortunately, I think most of us don't think that's the case. And that's the problem with technology and the church. We are so quick to condemn it because of it's weaknesses, but we to afraid to work with it, to tame it so that we can take advantage of its strengths.
I wanted to update you on my Facebook experiment. I've been doing it 48 (actually more like 45) hours. During that time I've made/been reunited with almost 70 friends. The majority are college age kids (that used to be in my youth group when I worked with youth). Some are currently in High School. Very few are 20-30 somethings. The oldest to date is 35 years old. The youngest I believe is 16.
Favorite comments from my Facebook Friends:
* Kim: "Welcome to 2004 Jeff :-)"
* Anthony: "You're now my second-oldest facebook friend... (after one of our friends mom.)
So much for being on top of technology. Really, I enjoy it as a venue to get in touch with people. But they have SOOO many applications, SOOO much of it is poorly developed crap... I really wish somebody would do quality control on web 2.0 applications. And that is the problem with open source projects. You get lots of development, but very little quality control.
Very few are students I went to high school or college with. Seems that Facebook really kicks in with people below age 25. Four percent of my high school classmates (Westminster Class of 95) are registered with Facebook. When I tried to find Westminster Class of 94, the number dropped to like 1%. 10% of my Facebook is college buddies. 5% is from High School. 10% is business contacts. However, 65% of my Facebook is under the age of 23.
For me, the draw of Facebook isn't to connect with classmates. For the most part, the classmates I connected with I already had a connection with. Facebook allowed me another venue to connect with the emerging generation (teens, 20somethings).
I'll keep Facebook online, but it will probably become the red-headed stepchild to my blog. If you're on Facebook, look me up! And if you're a fan, tell me why I'm wrong!
Okay, I'm taking tomorrow off with Amy, so I decided to mess around with Facebook. So far I'm impressed. Interface is simple, and within 2 hours of setting this thing up I've got 16 friends and was reunited with a couple college chicks I haven't heard from in a long, long time.
What wikipedia did for knowledge, YouVersion will do for the scripture...
YouVersion is a free online Bible that allows users to associate video, audio, images, text, tags, and links to other websites with any verse or series of verses in the Bible. Each piece of contributed content can be labeled as public or private, so the application can be used both as a personal study tool and a public expression of user-generated commentary. In addition to contributing content, Scripture can be organized by assigning user-defined “tags” to any verse of the Bible.
For users who are skeptical about whether the Bible has application for their lives, YouVersion provides a platform to learn from the experiences and perspectives of others from around the world in a non-threatening and easily navigated environment.
What makes wikipedia popular is that it's users define the subjects. Disagree with how wikipedia defines "missional" compared to "missions" (I did!) then tell wikipedia and let the debates (and understanding) begin. YouVersion will do this with scripture... what makes this scripture significant to YOU! what does the scripture mean to YOU! How did YOU differ with others interpretation? This is beautiful.
Danger: could users have the ability to up "altering" scripture? maybe... but could the scripture become more real, more relevant to people when it's described by normal people? Can the scriptures come alive with stories and testimonies? The beauty of this is that it is not a "Study Bible" with fact and insight. This is the scripture come alive.
LifeChurch.tv, thanks for thinking outside the box. Can't wait to see it!