Virtual Marketplaces, Virtual Communities – The Best of the Web

As I begin this blog, the amazing potential of the combined information, talent and effort that people share on the Internet feels overwhelming.  Groundswell has described social media as a revolution or “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations” (Li & Bernoff (2011), p. 9).  This revolution has two parts, a commerce piece in which goods and services are exchanged, and a communications piece, in which individuals interact with each other.  Technology facilitates both of these interactions.  Early in the social media revolution, sites seemed to specialize in either the exchange of goods and services or the building of online communities.  Think eBay.  Originally an auction website, it grew into a way to connect people to each other through the selling and buying of goods.  The virtual marketplace established by eBay, became what a traditional market in the ‘real’ world is, a place where people buy, sell, but also learn, gossip, and explore.  According to the site, “eBay continues to passionately believe in the potential of technology to connect people around the world” (eBay).

The sites that bring together the exchange of goods and services with the establishment of communities of people through technologies are the ones that illustrate the potential of virtual worlds and social media.  Four networks (described below) incorporate commerce and community into their essential workings.

Etsy is an artists’ marketplace that espouses a philosophy of making art a part of life, and challenges the cheap commodification of the goods and services people buy.

Twitter not only promotes conversations, but it promotes tertiary links between online communities and as such plays an extensive role in the viral nature of social media that is essential for maintaining communities (they need to exist in real-time).

You Tube, like Twitter, is a successful commercial and commercialized social media site with its own brand to promote and maintain.  It is an interesting site, however, in that it allows film clips and commercials produced by the major studios and agencies to be posted next to videos uploaded by the average next-door neighbor.  In between the commercial advertisers and amateurs, You Tube hosts video by news agencies, non-profits, educational institutions, and political campaigns, among other groups.  Commerce meets the world on You Tube.

Finally, Skype uses new technologies to let people communicate in what may seem to be an ‘old fashioned’ way – through real-time voice and/or video communication.  However, in a world market, it is essential that people have access to each other without crippling fees.  Skype allows businesses and individuals to maintain personal relationships without pricy institutional intermediaries.

When we think of the internet as a marketplace, it is important to remember that markets are where people exchange goods, services, information, lifestyles, and shape communities.  Although the internet moves at lightning speed in some ways, the goal should be more than efficient exchange of currency.  It should also be the inefficient, pleasurable, creation of lasting connections.

Network Business or Consumer User Primary Purpose or Focus Presence of Blog/ user feedback? Advertising Content Information Content Source(s) Single country or Global?
Etsy Both Handmade artwork sales; also sells   vintage items and supplies,  site   states its mission is to be “anthropologists of commerce” and to help people   learn more about being human. Yes – the site encourages   feedback, and states that “markets are conversations and we ask that you talk   vigorously back to us.” Yes – Etsy offers sellers the   option to pay more for a Showcase listing or search ad keywords to increase   traffic to their listings. Sellers post their wares;   designers and collectors also create blogs that link to multiple sellers;   Etsy links also found on Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, etc. Global – UK, French and German   versions
Twitter Both Quickly share something of   interest real-time through short (140 character) tweets or messages Yes – Twitter is created by user   content and user activity.  The site   offers multiple ways to contribute and follow tweets from various platforms Yes – Twitter offers Promoted   Tweets, Trends, and accounts along with Analytics tools that let large and   small businesses promote brands, products, and learn who is following them Users post and follow tweets.  There are two main types of content –   tweets on what is happening to a person/ situation real-time or retweets of   content available elsewhere on the web.    Twitter is fast becoming the glue that connects sites to each other   and therefore communities to each other Global – 27 language options are   available from the homepage in addition to English
You Tube Both Allow anyone to share video   content with a world audience; amateurs and professionals share video on this   site, all placed next to each other Yes – You Tube’s popularity is   that anyone can make a film and anyone can be a critic Yes – Almost every major advertising   campaign has a You Tube component Video postings from professional,   commercial, individual, and groups form the basis of the content.  Additional commentary on the postings form   the secondary content. Global – 43 countries are listed   as content locations
Skype Both Skype says its mission is to allow   users “to bring their social networks to life” b providing voice and/or video   communication in real-time; in a new campaign, Skype promotes the more   personal connections created by voice and face-to-face communications No, not directly.  But Skype does connect via Facebook, and so   extends the communities created there and elsewhere Yes – Skype has a business tool   that companies can use to make contacting them via Skype simple; Skype also   offers online Display advertising Skype’s online content consists of   listings, locations, and contact information for businesses and   individuals. Global – 23 languages in addition   to English are supported; calls place via the internet can reach many   countries


About Us, Etsy.  (2012).  Retrieved April 8, 2012 from

Li, C. and Bernoff, J. (2011).  Groundswell:  Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies.  Boston:  Harvard Business Review.

Skype Challenges Impersonal Social Media in New Ad Campaign. (2012, April 6).  The Think Tank Blog.  Retrieved April 7, 2012 from

Skype. (2012).  Retrieved April 8, 2012 from

Start Advertising, Twitter. (2012).  Retrieved April 8, 2012 from

Timeline, eBay. (2012).  Retrieved April 7, 2012 from

You Tube. (2012).  Retrieved April 7, 2012 from


Does Happiness Make You Live Longer? Maybe Not!

Is happiness correlated with a long life?  Drs. Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin published a book on this topic in 2011 that was based on the data gathered from The Longevity Project, a longitudinal study of 1,500 United States individuals that began in 1921.  The key finding was that happiness was NOT correlated to long life, but that both happiness and long life were correlated with specific patterns of living that included honesty and health-consciousness.  The authors state, “Following over 1,500 American across many decades, we have found that the same behaviors, personalities, friendships, and careers that make you happy are the ones that help you stay healthy” (Friedman, para. 7).

The Longevity Project was initiated by Dr. Lewis Terman, a Stanford University psychologist, who looked for children born about 1910 for his study.  Dr. Terman died in 1956, but others continued the study.  Individuals who were selected for the study were tracked over the lengths of their lives, including information about what they ate, how they felt, when they were sick, what they did for a living, who they married, and when they died.  The data gathered was invaluable, because most of it was factual and contemporaneous, rather than based on recollection or self-reporting.  Some of the myths of long life that this study disproves include the following (Friedman & Martin):

1. Get married and you will live longer (not true)

2.  Thinking happy thoughts reduces stress and leads to long life (not true)

3.  Worrying is bad for your health (not true)

In fact, the study suggests that worrying can actually be good for a person, and that living a “meaningful” life “dedicated to work, genuine friends and dependable lifestyles” was the key to health, happiness and longevity (Friedman, para. 9).


Friedman, H. (2011, April 2).  Does Being Happy Improve Our Health?  You Might Be Surprised.  Huffpost healthy Living Blog, Retrieved April 24, 2012 from 

Friedman, H. and Martin, L. (n.d.).  Read the Introduction.  The Longevity Project Website, Retrieved April 25, 2012 from

Getting Started

What are the things that seem to get in the way every day on the journey from there to here?  Between work, family, school, and me, I have had the tendency to curse those things.  But why not embrace them instead?  In this blog I am going to take some time to look into the stray pieces of information that come in (and out) of my field of vision each week.   Efficiency is over-rated – sometimes it is important to be inefficient, to take a detour, to look in the underbrush.  So, take a moment and a deep breath, and please – give me ideas about the things that get in your way, too!