Thanks to those who gave me feedback about Second Life and Twitter.
Dennis said he didn’t get Second Life, but referred me to one of his posts about Twitter.
Since then I have tried out Twitter and tried to get some friends on board, but it hasn’t been productive yet. A problem for a South African on Twitter is that the text messages (SMS messages in SA-speak) come from a UK number, and replying to an international SMS is an unnecessary expense.
What has been much more interesting to me, though, is to have got Mxit (pronounced Mix it) running on my cell phone. It has a huge market amongst young people in SA as a social network, and my kids helped me load it on my phone. Through Mxit I can also connect up to MSN Messenger and so can send messages via my phone when I’m away from the office.
Mxit runs as a web application on the phone, using a fast connection like GPRS. The two main advantages are that SMS messages is not limited to the 170-odd characters of a standard SMS, but can be as much as 2000 characters, and because it runs as a web app, the cost per message is less than 5c per message (compared to 40c+ for a standard SMS). Essentially it works like a chat or messenger app on a cellphone; contacts are identified either by their cellphone number or MSN nickname.
Of course, it has had its problems – predatory adults pretending to be kids, pornographic images spread through schools – but from the way I see my kids using it, it has far more pluses for them than minuses.