Trudging along deep in the murky jungle of your personal reality, it’s almost impossible to figure out what everyone else is thinking about a given topic.
Do 100 people agree with me or 100,000? Do enough people agree that there’s a consensus or, even bigger than that, a consensus that’s become a group self-awareness, which is to say that the agreeing individuals go beyond just being a crowd or cohort to self-identify as a party, a club, a movement?
In physical space, these jellings are easier to track… people gather in a space together and enact certain rituals that identify themselves as a group. In churches people sing. In squares, people march and chant. In stadiums, people wear purple and scream ‘kill the ump.’
In the virtual world, this group identity is harder to track. Google Trends is one way to get a view of the sheer volume of a crowd, though not its cohesiveness or self-awareness.
The Farmville explosion shows up nicely in Google Trends. We can be pretty sure that Farmville players were, very briefly, aware of themselves as a group.
Clearly the continent of “virtual reality” isn’t yet big enough to have its own passport stamps, but it is clearly growing steadily. How long before we’re there?