Ever wondered how we got where we are?

I’ve been meaning to watch this documentary ever since it was up for grabs as a film review for the Loyola Phoenix.

Today, I finally watched it and let me just tell you, I was both impressed and concerned. Legendary internet pioneer, Josh Harris, launched a live experiment in which he selected 100 people, interviewed them, and told them that the participants were to conduct their everyday lives–at Harris’ expense–as they wished. They only catch was that their privacy was literally stripped away from them. These people were under camera surveillance twenty four hours a day for about 30 days. Oddly enough, you find out by the documentary’s end that this is where lots of our social networking, blogging, video blogging practices stemmed from.

I have included a trailer. For your information, there is some swearing and a few butts.

The actual documentary is not edited whatsoever, so just giving you a heads up.

The war on illegal downloading.

I understand fully all the legal consequences and moral implications of illegal downloading, but I strongly feel this is a battle that will never be won. You can

monitor our IP addresses on the daily, order subpeonas for appearances in court, limit our internet usage, and fine us to the point that we all have to file

bankruptcy, but honestly, are these measures actually deterring the crime or increasing it? The recording industry and several media outlets like to cover the dark

side of illegal downloading, but there are also some positives to be considered.

For instance, illegal downloading is great for struggling artists who are trying to make a name for themselves. Sure, sure, there’s the counterargument concerning

major artists, but look at it this way: People that actually care about music (and rest assured our generation puts a HUGE emphasis on the importance of music. Don’t

believe me? Just take a good look at all the people toting aroudn iPods around the city.) will find SOME way to contribute to the artist’s salary. We may illegally

download a song, an album, or an entire discography, but we reciprocate this by purchasing concert tickets, attending live performances, buying miscellaneous

merchandise/memorabilia, and telling our friends about the artists we listen to–hello free advertising! Let’s not forget to mention what those small struggling

artists do for the recording industry. Sooner or later, these smaller artists are going to produce a sizable amount of listeners and followers. What does this mean?

This means, that those once struggling artists are now on the market for a record label to record the artist’s songs and distribute them to the masses as they see fit.

Additionally, they’re going to need publicisits, managers, sound technicians… see where I’m going with this? There is money to be made even if the recording industry

thinks otherwise.

If the recording industry seriously intends to battle illegal downloading, they should probably reconsider their business model and change the way they choose to

market their music. Music affficiandos will always appreciate having a tangible object that they can display in their homes and have just in case their computer

crashes (trust me, I’ve lost my music collection several times, it really sucks, but lucky for me I have the albums shacked away somewhere in my closet).

There was a GREAT marketing gimmick that Radiohead did back in 2007 when they released their album, “In Rainbows” that worked beautifully. The band chose to distribute

their album electronically for a price that the fans could choose. Some opted to pay nothing, while others made contributions as little as a penny for the album up to

about $20 for the album.

There has been a lot of speculation about whether Radiohead’s release of their last “album” on a pay-what-you-want basis worked out. Only 40% of users paid for it. Did they stumble trying to sidestep the tradiitonal channels?

This month’s Wired has an interview between Thom Yorke and David Byrne (looking oh so wizened).

“Q: Are you making money on the download of In Rainbows?

A: In terms of digital income, we’ve made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together, forever – in terms of anything on the Net. And that’s nuts. It’s partly due to the fact that EMI wasn’t giving us any money for digital sales. All the contracts signed in a certain era have none of that stuff.” (http://johnbell.typepad.com/weblog/2007/12/did-radiohead-s.html)

Enough said, I could go on forever on this subject. I think a great anaology for this issue can be illustrated as thus: Illegal downloading is like the war on drugs, you may be able to apprehend a handful of people, but you cannot catch us all. We will find a way around the system. :p

McGonigal sheds hopeful light on the future of gaming.

Last week when Don Heider came to speak to the class I recall him referencing a TED conference about gaming. While I am unsure if this is the one he was specifically referring to, it is still worth watching.

Jane McGonigal, game developer, discusses how the gaming environment can be channeled into productive activities such as solving the oil crisis, world hunger, and social injustices. She suggests that gaming can make a better world on the basis that it is helping to create a more collaborative society in which people are more likely to collectively work together to achieve a common goal. The sole reason being that games provide the player with numerous types of motivation to keep the player going as he/she attempts to achieve their goals. This is something that is totally lacking in society today. Although we do offer words of encouragement and praise to individuals for their hard work, it is often earned for going above and beyond what was expected of the individual (and this does not usually occur on a daily basis, but rather one a month, every other month, or even once a year). Whereas, in a game, it doesn’t matter if you did the bare minimum or if you exceeded the game’s expectations–the player still receives several forms of encouragement through earning points, items, money, titles, etc in addition to the praise and encouragement one receives from fellow players.

While Heider discussed with us his experiences with Second Life, I had thoughts that were both optimistic and similar to that of McGonigal’s. While this may go to the extremes, I believe that many people go into Second Life, not only to escape the realities of everyday life and to waste a few hours here or there, but rather to develop themselves as a person. As Heider said, many users not only create their avatars in their own image, but they also improve upon them ever so slightly/drastically. Additionally, many Second Skin users fashion their avatars into certain roles. Using Ric Hoogestraat from the Wallstreet Journal article as an example, Hoogestraat enjoys designing shopping malls and lingerie for his shop. Although this could be seen as just a silly hobby to one, it definitely sheds some light on the user. For one, it can be inferred that Hoogestraat enjoys making/designing things. That being said, I believe that Second Life could be used for good. When i say good, I mean good for the individual. By taking notice in the things that one does in Second Life, one could be aware of strengths and aspirations that the user has been ignoring in their waking life. I know it is a fair stretch, but games like Second Life could definately be used to channel people’s skills into something they could use in the real world.

Confessions of a gaming addict.

Speaking of StumbleUpon.com, I did happen to stumble upon this article about a man who found his life falling apart shortly after forming an addiction to the game EverQuest.  In Mike Fahey’s article, “I Kept Playing–The Costs of My Gaming Addiction,” he chronicles a true story account of how his life was negatively impacted by his highly addictive gaming habits. From the loss of his job to the loss of his weight, it’s all there. By the article’s end, Fahey took full responsibility of his actions by saying that it is not the fault of these gaming companies, but rather the fault lies on himself for not properly regulating his gaming habits. Let’s get real though, just like any addiction be it cigarettes or video games, it’s kind of hard to regulate your habits when you’ve already been consumed. Your judgment is clouded; your loyalties are to your addiction and no one else. The funny thing about this guy’s experience, however, was that he really wasn’t interested in the game. At first, he’d only watch his roommate play when he had some down time, and eventually, after breaking up with his girlfriend, he too became an active player to escape the realities of life (just like any another addiction develops).

This story hit me on a personal level as I have a close relative that was deeply affected by his addiction to the game World of Warcraft. Long story short, he quit going to work just to play the game and his parents got fed up with it, so they suggested that he enlist into the military. When I came over to visit him one day, I would casually watch him play the game while we chit-chatted about the on-goings of life. As he would log onto the game, something caught my eye and I just laughed out loud literally. Each time you sign into the game, a pop-up would come up reminding the player about their obligations to their pets, jobs, schooling, and families. I found that rather odd for a game to give gamers this “friendly reminder,” but then again, I had no idea how addictive these types of games were at the time. So what do you guys think? Should reminders like this be posted before gameplay? Should there be reminders after a player hits a certain hour mark? Or is this simply the gamer’s responsibility to regulate their habits?

((To be quite honest, I am unsure if WOW still posts these reminders or if they completely did away with them, but I do distinctly remember seeing this message in the summer of 2005. ))

Stumbling for your dollar.

From time to time, I’ll waste countless amounts of time on the interwebs clicking the “Stumble” button on my Mozilla Firefox toolbar and magically, a website will show up to my like or dislike. I can then choose whether or not I find it browse worthy and continue on stumbling upon random webpages with another click of the “Stumble” button. This free service is offered through the website StumbleUpon, which takes the liberty of sifting through websites based upon your interests. I have been blindly using this service without even realizing that you can actually share your finds with other people–making it ultimately a social bookmarking site, but that’s not what I’m addressing, so we’ll just skip that part.

I read this article, “StumbleUpon launches personalized ad recommendation engine” and while, I understand that advertising is just another annoying part of life that we all must put up with, I feel like this is just going a little too far. It’s already bad enough that we are bombarded with advertisements everywhere else in our daily lives from the commute to school to just a quick run down to the grocery store. When I get home, I would rather not be spoon-fed advertisements during my daily browsing sessions, although we already put up with that anyways. BUT by implementing this new personalized ad recommendation feature to StumbleUpon only heightens the problem. I fear that we will never fully get away from advertisements and while it is good for business, it is just plain annoying to click out of all those pop-up ads (despite having pop-up blockers enabled on my browser) not to mention scary that the things that you like show up randomly on the sidebars of all your searches. It could get a little embarrassing if say, I had all these Hannah Montana ads show up in the google search sidebar when a friend of mine used my computer…. (Oh, and trust me, I am NOT a fan of Hannah Montana.)

StumbleUpon launches personalized ad recommendation engine

Shoppers beware! You’re no longer safe from embarrassment.

I had a friend of mine randomly throw a link to a website my way a few months ago.  I decided to revisit this site today for the purpose of our digital media class discussion on privacy. People of Walmart.com is essentially a humorous website that encourages viewers to go out and snap photos of people while shopping at Walmart. Images can range from overly obese people in tight spandex outfits to photos of cars with shoddy custom jobs. Some things that I have seen on this website are just plain sad, but as we discussed in class several times, as long as these people are in the public sphere, they are all fair game to humiliation on the Internet. Now, this one is not so much of an issue as the Korean Dog Poop Girl because for one, she is for the most part, a “normal” person and we can only assume that she normally does not allow her dog to poop on public transportation and considering the fallout of events, she obviously cares about her reputation (hence the reason why she dropped out of school). For the people on People of Walmart, however, one can assume that those three criteria I used for the Korean girl, are most likely not the case. Ultimately, we can assume that these people have no shame, otherwise… why would they be out in public shopping dressed the way they are? But then again, looking at the context of the photos (being at Walmart and whatnot), it’s not hard to see why these people appear the way they do in these photos. Let’s take this a step further, though. How would you feel if your photo got snapped while you were shopping and you either a) looked quite ridiculous or b) were shot doing something embarassing (i.e picking your nose, scratching your butt, etc.) ? Hmmm…

Here are some things I found online that were pretty hilarious.

This one, I found especially hilarious, but could potentially gross you out.

Internet predators strike again!

So on my Sunday morning cab-ride to a lunch party, I caught the headline of this news article…

“Man Posing As Priest Allegedly Solicited Teen Girl On Internet”

Oddly enough, it hits close to home! Apparantly, “…41 year old Robert D. Shaw of Alton, IL, [was charged] with three felony counts of Indecent Solicitation of a Child”

It’s interesting to see this case played out since the cases we’ve seen covered in class where barely anything has been done to the offenders. Here, Alton is officially charged with not only three felony counts, but there is a name attached to the offense: “Indecent Soliciation of a Child.”

Evidently, this occurred last Thurday (2/18). Although no child was harmed, it should be noted that there actually wasn’t a child involved in this case whatsoever; it was an undercover cop, but Alton is still being charged and from the article I read is currently jailed at the Madison County jail with bond set at $60,000.

My question to the man: How does posing as a priest make it okay for you to engage in this kind of behavior with a child?