A collection of writings by Chip Morningstar
and F. Randall Farmer
about lessons learned from running virtual communities, especially the Lucasfilm Habitat
Quoting Stephenson from the Bantam paperback edition of Snow Crash: "after the first publication of Snow Crash I learned that the term 'avatar' has actually been in use for a number of years as part of a virtual reality system called Habitat, developed by F. Randall Farmer and Chip Morningstar."
Found on different places on the Internet, the collection of documents consists of
The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat, from 1990,
which handles practical design guidelines for the creation and maintenance of graphical virtual communities, as well as lessons learned from daily operation.
The most important lesson in this paper (according to Randy Farmer) is :
It's the People, Stupid!
Whatever the technology, it's the people who make up a community, even a virtual one.
Habitat Anecdotes, 1988
A summary of a paragraph describing the users of Habitat, which aplies to most other online communities :
There are basically 5 types of people in the Habitat universe:
1) The Passive
(Normal users who do not actively interact with the system)
2) The Active
(Users who spend lots of time using the system and are more than just consumers)
3) The Motivators
People who use the system, trying to help shaping it into something better. For Randy Farmer, they are worth their weight in gold.
4) The Caretakers
People who run the system - usually employees of the organisation running the system.
5) The Geek Gods (system operators)
More or less self-explanatory.
To optimize the Habitat "funativity" experience, the goal is to move
the user from his/her present category to the next one up:
Habitat Citizenry, ca. 1993
A shorter, straightened and condensed version of Habitat Anecdotes.
Oracle Layza's Tales from Fujitsu Habitat, Nov., 1990
Anecdotes referring to a Japanese system and it's differences to the US based Habitat.
The Habitat papers can be found (Jul, 2001) at: