Convergence Conference: Newspapers in Second Life
Andrea Guzman just finished a fascinating session on research into newspapers in Second Life (example, the Herald).
She was trying to do a content analysis on the papers. I won't get into all the details, which look a lot better in graphs anyhow. But I did take away one thing that I think is worthy of note: There can be difficult methodological issues. Guzman, for instance, explained how she had to go through two pilot studies just to begin to get to acceptable levels of intercoder agreement. And even then, some of the stats were less than ideal.
Why are such issues surrounding virtual reality newspapers of importance?
First, slowly but steadily virtual worlds are becoming parts of young lives. Not so much Second Life necessarily, but massive multiplayer games, for instance. AP already has a newsfeed going into the Wii. It's not unreasonable to think that virtual newspapers in virtual worlds some day will be part of some folks' communications mix.
Second, I can see some of these same issues coming up as we get deeper into the atomizaton of journalism. Getting agreement on definitional issues is getting harder. We might learn something from what issues are emerging as we explore Second Life.