Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bloggers Love Being First

Lol. I get such a kick out of the blogging community. Specifically when it comes to the initial hints of what might be contained in a new patch.

Slight digression where I dabble with a little social theories and what not. I'm hugely simplifying here, so feel free to chime in or tell me why I'm wrong or selfish :-P

If you want to skip my digression, scroll to the bottom, and you'll find a couple of sentences about my patch 2.4 musings.

When it comes to interpersonal interactions, social networks of all different kinds form. One such network consists of mapping out information exchange (as opposed to a network mapping out bodily fluid exchange, although that one is probably more interesting). Each of us has a list of people who we get information (bodily fluid) from, and a list of people who we provide information (bodily fluid) to. You can draw a graph that has little circles representing each person, and lines connecting them to indicate who you give and take information from.

Of course, the bodily fluid example is not an exact analogy to information exchange, as it is typically bi-directional, where as information is a single direction, with an arrow going in both directions in some situations.

As you grow the scope of your graph, nodes begin to appear where there is a large number of outgoing arrows, meaning that person is a provider of information to a large number of people.

Take your graph a little further and you'll start to see that there are a few nodes that actually interconnect to lots of other nodes, but most notably, they connect to lots of these information providers. Meaning, there are a small number of people who provide information to the people who are major providers of information to others.

Making sense? Think of the analogy of me and BRK. I provide information to a small audience, who I love and respect, even when they call me selfish :-) Then you've got your BRK's who provide information to a giant audience, and also, more importantly, they hugely influence the small information providers like me.

In social network theory, these folks are known as "brokers". They are the people who interconnect all the others, and have the ability to move information very quickly, as they can spread the word to a few, and those other few will then in turn spread the word to a larger number and also add credibility to messages received directly from the broker.

Studies show that brokers tend, among other things, to be the early adopters of technology, fashion, entertainment, and just fads in general. And it makes sense that once brokers like something and start to talk about it, since they provide information to a large audience, it spreads and the fad or technology gains momentum from there.

So back to bloggers.

Why do you think there's tons and tons of free email, blogging, social networking (facebook, myspace) services?

One of the chief benefits the companies providing these services is that they get to map out social networks.

Think about it. Sure, they get page hits which they can turn into some advertising revenue. But mapping social networks is far more lucrative.

First you provide a service that allows someone to put their thoughts out there. A blog, a personal page, some videos, whatever.

Then you provide a mechanism for other people to link in to the things they're interested in, whether through a feed reader, subscription, friends list, technorati rating, whatever.

Pretty easily, you can map out who the brokers are.

Why do companies care who the brokers are? Remember what I said before? These guys tend to be early adopters of budding technologies and products and also they vocally spread the word to an audience who grows to trust their opinion.

Talk about a giant source of market analysis, just rich with indicators of what the next big thing will be?

So what does a company like google or yahoo do? You provide the mechanism to allow brokers to be identified.

Then you give them free email. And you run your searching/datamining algorithms over their communications to see what they're talking about.

I'm not describing some big brother looking over your shoulder and privacy intrusions and identity theft.

They don't care who you are personally. They just care (A) are you a broker, and (B) what are you talking about or interested in?

Wham-o, if you've got several independent brokers each generating buzz about the same thing, you've got a hugely reliable predictor of technology and product fads, and anybody with even the slightest investing savvy can then reap fortunes galore off of that information. Which they do, or at least they sell that data to companies that do. Not data about individual people, but rather, data about what the brokers are interested in next.

I think that's the end of the digression. Now how does this sort of wonderful crapola creep into my mind?

Every time you see a WoW patch on the horizon, you begin to see all sorts of predictions and musings popping up in the blogs. Ranging from simple copy-n-paste of the patch notes, to patch notes including some commentary of what the person thinks the impact will be, all the way to major discussions of huge alterations that people are going to make to their play style or gearing or AH purchases/sales.

You even get people who are so interested in being first on the block that they actually go play on the test realm.

Man, if these corporations found the social network brokers who are so anxious to be first in on trends that they actually go play on test servers, whew, would they have a little gold mine on their hands. Oh wait, Blizz already has that info. Lol.

I always get a kick out of reading the patch musings, and let my mind drift thinking about stuff like this.

So here's my patch musings for 2.4.......

Seems like another set of changes to rush us through Azeroth and Outlands so we can enjoy some of it before they obsolete it.

Better access to gear off of raid bosses and world bosses, since that gear will be discarded in a few months (or whatever schedule they'll release the xpac). Might as well let more people get access to it. Plus, the better gear will allow them to progress a bit further and see maybe another dungeon or two before they pass into history with Molten Core and the others.

Better access to gold through bosses and more daily quests. More gold will lead to more people getting flying and epic flying mounts, which were previously less accessible. I'm just wondering if the 10k gold that I'm shooting for right now will mean squat once the lich king is here. Eh, whatever, i'll just keep gathering and selling before and after the xpac.

Actually, I'm pretty happy to hear about more daily quests most of my lvl 70 play is in the dailies. Daily fishing will be cool, and definitely help me get that skill up, so kudos to blizz. I hope the patch will go as smoothly as 2.3 went.

Changes to BG, ok, cool. I keep saying (in my head) I want to try out more BG's, but I really don't play them enough to be too impacted by a patch.

And I'm pretty happy that there's going to be new combat log stuff that'll make tools like WWS more accurate. That's a good thing, as we all know, i'm a glory hog who wants credit for full damage done :-P Actually, I'm a WWS report creator who wants an easier job of creating the reports and linking up all the actors after a run is over.

Something about a new instance? Is that in this patch? Ok, cool. A 5-man dungeon, that's some content I can get into and actually try out. A 25-man one? Eh, i highly doubt I'll ever see it before, well, ever.

Not sure if they're going to fiddle with the Hunter shot clipping mechanism and the link between auto-shot and our specials. I honestly dont want them to change this. Sure, I'd love to do more DPS, but I think shot rotation is such a fundamental of the Hunter class that I want to be clingy. But just like the smaller deadzone, once they do change it, I'll get over my spite and begin to love the new way.

So there you go. Rambling done.

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