Hasn’t It Always Been About Status? is a little article tracing the status update mania (such as Twitter) to AIM status messages.
I have now spent two days with Twitter, and I have decided that it is basically guild chat in Internet-the-MMO. It’s a form of /grouptell, and we’re all out slaying bookmarks instead of orcs.
Putting it in TwitterFox in my browser rather than in Twhirl on my desktop helped this perception a lot, since I use Firefox for my feedreading (Sage), my FTP (FireFTP), my IRC (ChatZilla), MP3 player (FoxyTunes)…
Which made me think back to a feature that I put into LegendMUD in 1995 or 96. We already had an AFK command. It used to be
and when someone sent you a tell, they got
Ptah is away from the keyboard.
but then we added
> AFK Grabbing something to eat.
which relayed that status to the user.
But then we said “gosh, scrolling back through all of these missed tells is very annoying!” So we added a feature to record the tells you missed. When you came back, you typed
and got back something like
While you were away, you got these messages:
Hey, we’re thinking of dinner at Rudy’s, wanna come?
Oh never mind, I see you ate.
At the time, I thought of this as an answering machine. Now it seems like a direct message in Twitter.
Perhaps a recipe for the next big viral technologies on the Internet is go through the various basic things that were present in muds, and figure out the HTTP-based versions of them that people would want in the sidebars of their browsers.
When we think of the Internet going virtual-worldy, it’s going to be on the back of technologies like these, rather than our classic conception of what a virtual world is. It will be by absorbing all thee features of virtual worlds except placeness, because placeness will be embedded rather than being the context.