Growth of Healthcare Support Groups in Google’s Lively

Lively was a virtual world run by Google. It only lasted about 5 months before Google shut it down. I spent some time there, created an area devoted to healthcare support groups, made a video, and had some thoughts about its demise.

I also collected some data about the various support groups. I feel there is not enough data to use for my previous analysis of other virtual worlds, but I include some of it here for those that are curious.


I collected information on Lively on November 20, 2008. At that point Lively had been around for four months and it was known to be closing at the end of the year.

Browsing through Lively’s places, I found 19 healthcare areas. While Lively did not have groups with members, one could see the number of unique visitors to each area.

Many of the places I would categorize as miscellaneous, and some were more educational than support areas. Because there were so few heathcare areas, I included the healthcare educational areas as being support ‘groups’ and placed them under miscellaneous. I did not do this for the other virtual worlds in this study.

Results and Discussion:

Due to the small amount of data, not much discussion would be fruitful. The results are simply published here for those who are interested.

There were 185 total visitors to all areas. “Addictions House” garnered 96 visits, “Multiple Sclerosis Sucks” had 36, and the rest of the areas had ten visitors or less. This is indicative of the long tail effect.


I thought on Lively might be able to tie it into Google’s Personal Health Records project.

About John

Interested in how information intersects daily life, technology, and art. Collaboration specialist, working in social and collaborative media. Biomedical Informaticist, focusing on patient/patient, patient/provider communication.
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