Big boss man Media Ninja asked me to post a little something about what I do.
I go by Cyto, but you can call me... Cyto. I run a pack of misfits that call themselves writers, artists, role players. Yeah, the nerdy type of crowd you see drawing on a sketch pad at 5pm, sipping on a latte somewhere in a Starbucks near you. That's us.
RPN is a haven that isn't like anywhere else online. It brings a whole new level to online role playing and integrates it into developing art. A little story:
About a year ago I was in a slump in my artwork, I had a lull in my writing, and I couldn't really stick with any projects for very long. My muse was gone. To kill some time, a friend got me into making a fake account on social networks and running riots as troll gags. I, of course, picked a character from one of my developing stories I was writing.
As I interacted with real people, and then later finding out I wasn't the only nutjob on facebook with a fake account, I discovered that I was becoming very motivated to draw again. When I finally made it back to my pad of paper, my pencils, my pens, I discovered that my talent had leaped in skill on a very noticeable scale.
RPN is the creation of a community of people just like me. Writers, artists, and fans alike can gather together, tell stories, and even network to find new ways of creating new art. In short, our mission is to allow others the liberty to create on a much larger scale than just themselves.
Thanks for taking some time to introduce your site. As I mentioned to you previously, I think using your Ning as a virtual character world is quite innovative. Facebook makes people represent themselves by name, but there's a lot of merit to allowing people to choose how they represent themselves and relate to others who share their preferences. This is especially true for creative types, and what you are doing opens new doors to the interactive art of online expression. Other Ning Creators will benefit from having a look in.
I noticed you had created a simulated hierarchial social structure with a government body, rules for the game, and objectives for members to focus on. For example, I think some member had abused the forum, so you had announced he was scheduled for trial or something like that. Network creators often find themselves challenged in defining their niche, concept, and policies for engagement. What you have is instantly immersive, involves suspension of disbelief- like how good writers get people into stories, and stimulates participation like a choose your own adventure book.
RPN has the potential to be a "hot app" so to speak. The virtual world on a Ning platform could scale to thousands of members in a relatively short time. It's activities like these that get more traction than practical social networking. On Facebook a few years back, if I recall correctly, a role playing game called Mob Wars was the most popular activity on the site. It also happened to be a monetization strategy, as I guess realworld brands and advertisers put up coupons, products, surveys etc, that people had to engage in order to reload with weapons, ammo, hitpoints, and other resources to play the game.
I also think it's great that you have some transparency about how you use this and present it as a value for artists, writers, and the like. As you evolve it more in that direction, the quality of media and interaction is surely going to be enhanced, and you can deserve to be taken seriously by the greater online community for contributing to a modern artform in social networking and social media.
Nice job and keep up the great work!
Very good analytics for the site. I think I'll keep you on retainer for that. Haha.
Thank you for the words, it only encourages me further. In fact, I might want to copy this as part of a review, if I could.
The only thing stopping us from growing fast is getting the word out. We're only 7 months old and still working out kinks in the system. It's a learning effort. As you saw, the government structure and the feel of it being an actual location gives us a way to combat the issues that occurred. Issues that make or break features like the chat. We don't carry chat because of the abuse was present in a format like that. So we find what works and what doesn't really fast.
Thanks, actually I've positioned myself to be a consultant on retainer on my social network, but here on Ning Creators I'm just doing it for free in the spirit of good sharing and community.
Take the encouragement and run with it! If you liked something I wrote, then you are welcome to use it. I will also endorse my comments with more formal signature if you like.
Check it out... I spend a lot of time exploring what's going on in technological and online advancement. A major part of my niche is Northern California, so that naturally includes Silicon Valley and Bay Area disruptive technologies and online social behaviors to include what Ning represents in Palo Alto. My site is very much like a concept car- a prototype incorporating over 4 years of intensive research and development. Over the course of earlier versions, I had more members than you currently have, and approaching the activity as a learning organization I shut down those projects & evolved to what I have now. This is why I recognize what you are doing and am assessing it as "hot". You no doubt have your work cut out for you to improve upon it, but that is what it is all about, and you are right on it!
There's an old podcast of Gina Bianchini, the original CEO and Co-Founder of Ning, where she talks about the emerging role of social networking vs. what she learned getting the company going. One of her great take away points had to do with control. She had an analogy that it's becoming more like a concert- you've got the band and that's got most of the attention and is guiding the experience, but there's also the crazy stuff happening like people running up on the stage, people getting all messed up, etc.
Traditional media like tv, radio, print etc, was an exclusive one way controlled experience. Contemporary "media" like Myspace, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc, are mostly trying to be "social" while affording their business partners and advertisers the same kind of control they're used to. They want that feedback loop now, but there's no doubt they want usable data like real user accounts, and they want to control that action to conversions, i.e. the ROI of increased sales in products and services. So what I think Gina was saying is that the old models no longer apply like before, the current models are becoming quickly outdated, and the rules have yet to be written for what's going to be hot tomorrow.
It's the people that are in tune with what they want, and what people like them want, that are going to have the breakthroughs. It's a learning process in the globalizing, online, and knowledge-based economy. So yeah, I think you should definitely keep on doing what you are doing, push yourself to keep improving, and find a way to stay inspired with that vision you've got. In my professional opinion, you're really on to something, so don't worry...it's not just your imagination, lol!
I'm all about community, in anything really. As I work this site, I'm working full time, have a family, run another business, and I'm writing/drawing my own graphic novel that's based on the stories told on RPN. I'm determined to show that it works through my own actions.
I understand that social networks are the key to many things online. I see more and more companies making their own versions of sites like this. Military outfits, large corporations like Walmart and Sony, even big named music stars have their own personal networks now. I believe Ning actually supports a good sized market for these types as well.
However, I do believe that personal networks like ours are much more powerful. They're blogs with full interaction from members. They're media centers for very centralized personas and tastes. They're smaller communities that make up the bigger ones.
These large social networks will loose a lot of steam as personal networks keep growing. It's a good market to jump into as far as business is concerned. My hopes are that none of these loose focus on the community effort. You and I both know that people are the key to everything, but the general public is still stuck on shares and motives. That will change, I'm sure of it.
I think we have a lot in common then. I tend to view what I'm doing as leading by example. I expect eventually I am going to prove I am right!
Yeah, I've been paying attention to how corporations have been trying to establish their own communities- everything from Visa to Snickers. The ones that are more successful at it understand not to position so much as "absolute" online destinations, but rather "relative". I've really studied this alot, and I'd feel perfectly comfortable consulting in a board room.
One of the main things that struck me as I studied the field was how that online- everyone is essentially like a business. Companies that try to operate on the old fashioned "We sell/ You buy" relationships often tend to come across as condescending to the people they want to market to. The modern environment presents new dynamics in economies of scale, and someone working from their garage can quickly become more popular than a company with a huge budget. So I agree with you on your points.
Interestingly, this morning I heard GE has pulled their ads from Facebook because they simply do not get clicked. I could have told them that! In fact Ning restructured from adserving a couple years ago, but I'm still paying attention to see how successful they are with the acquisition by Glam Media and their ad programs. I think big companies can have success with more focus on social media. For instance, I'm a big fan of Nike Soccer and what they are doing.
Your graphic novel sounds very intriguing. So does that mean a member of your community might develop their own character, choose how it behaves in the context of the overall storyline, maybe create their own subplots, and possibly see it published?
That's exactly what it means, Anthony. Nothing is wasted on my site right now. Everything has its place so to say. The normal users, or what I call "fans", can play out characters and scenarios. Writers and artists can see these in public view and take advantage to use them as a muse.
The fans get to be apart of something much bigger by having full input on the design, characteristics, and other things that may appear in some production art. All while simply playing on the site and enjoying the entertainment value.
When these books, videos, comics, whatever, come out- the fans are very excited to finally see "themselves" in something that huge. Likewise, they promote it, brag about it, and turn into their own biggest fan. It's what I like to call "creating a running riot market". Give the power to the people, and watch them learn.
Cool! I didn't register that you had a team of writers and artists directing it real-time!
That you guys work with the participants, accept their input & feedback, and make adjustments to keep it hot, and then have a product from it all just compounds the awesomeness!!!
Sounds phenominal. Thanks for sharing and networking! A
No problem, buddy. I'm here anytime you need me. Graphics, ideas, whatever. I don't think the "box" applies to my way of thinking. ;)