Have just realized I've been in Prescott - 2 yrs today. Kinda neat to look back and see all that I've accomplished in that time. Makes one very grateful! I find it intriguing to see "what changes" develop over a period of time. Hey, look at me I"m blogging!! Never thought I'd see that!
I chose to look at LunarStorm… it turns out it’s a Swedish site. There is not a lot of info on it in Wikipedia … (it’s only a “stub*see below) although they do define it as “a commercial, advertisement financed Swedish social networking website for teenagers” and it says it is operated by a company called LunarWorks.
Supposedly the website has 1.2 million members (another source said only 26,000) and the demographics say that 70% of them are in the 12-17 age bracket. Although other information suggests that they are targeting their advertisements towards young adults (up to 24 or so) and older teenagers.
This site apparently was started around 1996 and was then called Style Place (StajlPlejs in Swedish). It reopened / relaunched in January 1, 2000 with the official name of Lunarstorm.
Although some information says it’s one of the top 50,000 sites in the world (Alexa), there are also articles that say there were such a high number of user complaints, that it was actually closed down in both Denmark and Britain around July 2007.
I found an interesting article entitled “Typology of On Line Communities” http://www.learnloop.org/olc/typologyOLC.pdf and it defines Lunarstorm as having been “designed for people to make new friends or stay in contact with each other”. From what else I can gather it also was designed to SELL products to the users!
So it sounds like the kids like it… some of the reviews mentioned it having “hot girls” on it, but the complaints and shutdowns may belay that it is really a place you would want your children going to.
Then, I also found an interesting site where a researcher (AnnBritt Enochson)(great quick video clip) had studied entries in Lunarstorm’s “guest book” (the major way entries are made) and she followed 15 children in a small village and her findings / conclusions were very interesting. Mainly that this was a VERY important social connection and development factor for them – even more so than personal time in school as they now didn’t even meet as often after school. She stated that 80% of Swedish teenagers / children were members of this site! So the social interaction must be what’s making it so popular. Site URL: http://www.seminar.net/current-issue/tweens-on-the-internet-communication-in-virtual-guest-books
The article did mention that there were some other global & national communities (unnamed) competing with LunarStore (in 2007) but LunarStorm seemed to be leaving the biggest mark. It sounds like Facebook or MySpace would most likely be one its biggest competitors except that with Lunarstorm being set up for Swedish children I imagine that only the English speakers gravitate towards the others, with the majority staying with Lunarstorm. I bet they may even have accounts at both.
No I wouldn’t use this myself, now… as I’m nowhere NEAR the demographics… but I’d also be sure to have it checked out a bit further if any of my children wanted to use it. I’m not sure I would have used it even if I were younger as like face to face meetings. However, I have had a German “pen pal” for over 40yrs and I can imagine that if this had been available when we started it would have been a lot of fun.
*STUB: An article marked as such, is too short to provide more than rudimentary information about a subject .
I liked his point made about how one doesn’t know what social networking sites will work at the time of creation. He mentioned that he had created one that he was sure would work - but it didn’t. We all have such good ideas sometimes, but… when they don’t end up fulfilling our dream they can become more of a stone around our necks if we don’t see that the failure is ok. His mentioning of Shirkey’s comment “failure is free” was really great. I think in today’s world where we are constantly bombarded with the “must do”, must achieve” attitude, that it’s good to be reminded that failure is ok AND sometimes necessary in order to move on. His comment about having to be “willing to move on or morph” is most likely one of the major characteristics that I see is a must in an educator in any subject area. Information in all arenas is constantly being updated, changing so quickly and the “truth” changes with it… we have to be willing to follow along, or lead into the next “truth”.
As for his point about the network needing to fulfill some compelling need – it again seems to cover all bases… No single person can figure out what everyone else’s needs are… sometimes they don’t know what it is either… until “something” clicks… apparently with the wide variety and potentials that these Social Networks have created they seem to fill a void that perhaps has always been there, but just never recognized by the contributors before.