Virtual Worlds, Collaboration and Meta-Design

Collaboration between individuals in a virtual space is a frequently researched topic, often focusing on virtual worlds such as Second Life (Koehne, B., Redmiles, D., & Fischer, G., 2011). The connection between virtual worlds and meta-design research is particularly relevant in this research when it comes to previous studies on meta-design as interactive art (Fischer, G., Giaccardi, E., Ye, Y., Sutcliffe, A. G., & Mehandjiev, N., 2004). YouTube mirrors platforms created specifically to limit conditions for the process of interaction. It allows for an amount of creative freedom and manipulation within its boundaries (freedom in content delivery, tagging, video quality, and more), and in turn the content uploaded to YouTube can shape the direction that the service itself will evolve. Part of this research hopes to dig deeper into these studies done on meta-analyses with YouTube as platform, how users interact with said platform (as users often interact with virtual worlds and other virtual spaces) and how that differs from traditional virtual spaces.
In a similar fashion, YouTube’s use as a video distribution tool also doubles as a collaborative platform between individuals. Work done in Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) (Koehne, et. all) indicates that these types of interactive communities thrive on providing tools that encourage strong cooperation between users. In LOTRO’s case, the game itself was designed to encourage participation and user interaction within the game’s ruleset. Systems designed by the games are created to intentionally force players to cooperate, as they would not be able to do so themselves. As such, a sort of meta-design evolves from this within the community, with collaborative work practices taking the form of wikis, FAQs, or other such tools created by users. This research into collaborative interaction and informal content generation on a meta-level is something this research hopes to discover and analyze when looking at YouTube content creators and how they work amongst themselves.
The concept of YouTube as a meta-design platform is not covered extensively within this thesis, but research into LP creators did reveal both parallels and differences between the YouTube community and other, more studied virtual spaces such as Second Life. These connections are mentioned as part of the discussion.