DIGITAL AMERICA

Author Archives: Phylicia

MIT’s Tetris Hack

// Posted by Phylicia on 04/22/2012 (3:05 PM)

 

We all know the students at MIT love a good hack, but what’s better than playing a game while doing it? Last night, a team took over the side of MIT’s Green Building and turned it into a giant,… Read more

 

We all know the students at MIT love a good hack, but what’s better than playing a game while doing it? Last night, a team took over the side of MIT’s Green Building and turned it into a giant, playable, multi-color Tetris game.”

The Full Article Here


Categories: Discussion, Uncategorized

Slacktivism (Phase 1)

// Posted by Phylicia on 04/14/2012 (9:29 PM)

The focus of my project is slacktivism. In recent years, activism is changing as a result of the use of social media. Thus, I had many initial questions:

Does a shift in how activism is carried out, change activism all… Read more

The focus of my project is slacktivism. In recent years, activism is changing as a result of the use of social media. Thus, I had many initial questions:

Does a shift in how activism is carried out, change activism all together? On a very basic level, what is activism today? Since it is so easy to become an “activist”, do individuals know what they fighting for? If activism is usually described as vigorous campaigning, is this new activism through social media too easy? What does pure activism lose when social media becomes part of the equation?

Obviously, these initial questions are very large brushstrokes when exploring slacktivism (a new theory in and of itself). Still, they have been very helpful in engaging slacktivism as each individual question acted as a jumping off point.

Like anything, my project has faced some roadblocks. First of all, slacktivism is a huge topic so I had to find a way to reframe my project on some more specific questions that were relevant to the notion of “Digital America.” My research was spawn by the eruption of the Kony 2012 campaign. Kony seemed to be a prominent example of how formal “take to the street” mentalities of protest have morphed into “click (or like) to support” campaigns. Thus, I engaged in Facebook and Twitter to understand the nature of this new activism, slacktivism. I then took it a step further and looked into three websites that encourage virtual protests, petitions and activism:

  • Change.org
  • MoveOn.org Civic Action Center – SignOn.org
  • ai50.ca/smac (Canada’s Amnesty International)

Each of these three sites have a clear culture. Change.org seems to be the easiest to navigate which suggests that it is more accessible to the generationally-diverse public. You sign petitions on Change.org, but the site also provides tips on how to rally through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Trayvon Martin Petition Goes Viral on Change.org

Canada’s Amnesty International has a Social Media Action Center which “gives you the opportunity to take a simple action for justice every two weeks from May 2011 to May 2012. These actions link with Amnesty supporters from across the globe.” Thus, becoming part of the action center for AI takes a little more commitment since you have to sign up, but its nature is the same in terms of social media. The site explains that virtual events are online protests, which “take the idea of a traditional protest and [bring] it to the digital world. Virtual Events bring people together at the same time to speak out about the same issue. Each event is made up of digital actions, like signing a petition or posting a Facebook message. On [the day of the release] everyone’s posts, tweets and emails are sent out at the EXACT same time. The result? Networks and inboxes are flooded with the same message at the same time. Pretty powerful!”

Social Media Action Center

It seems that MoveOn.org and SignOn.org are the least accessible and mainstream. Of course, both have users, but unlike AI and Change.org the users seem to be a much more specific group. Unlike the other two sites, it does not encourage its users to share in the same capacity (e.g. Facebook and Twitter).

SignUp.org

Through this semester, much of what we have read has contributed to the theory in which I have based my research. The shift in activism suggests Marshall McLuhan’s idea that the medium is the message—without the medium of Facebook and Twitter and other social media sites, slacktivism would not be possible. The fact that individuals can instantly organize and support throughout the world at the same time is another example of how powerful the medium is with regard to slacktivism. Additionally, Poster also suggest that multiculturalism or diaspora leads to global understanding which is turn can lead to the sort of activism we see today. On each of the sites I have engaged in, the causes are not located in any one location, the causes effect various and diverse places in the world. Like the causes, the supporters are more all over the world. This suggests that borders have begun to disappear relative to the increase in protest social media. The notion of feedback is also key. It is much easier to get an individual to support a cause, when their feedback shows that their friends also support the cause. This is the power behind the AI SMAC and sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Shirky’s theories are also immensely powerful in this discussion. Through my research thus far, it seems that it is important that “Everybody knows that everybody knows that everybody knows” when it comes to slacktivism?

For my group assignment, I asked the group to look into one of the three above sites with these questions as a framework to look into one of the three sites: Is it “American” to want low-risk, low-cost, technologically mediated participation/activism? If it’s not “American” what is it? What are the positive and negative outcomes of such participate (slacktivism)? I felt as those these questions would be crucial in reframing my broad research of slacktivism to fall more in line with the focus of the course. However, I also provided the group with my initial research questions to give them a background of my project. So far the feedback I have received has fallen in line with what I myself had found on the sites.

Phase 2 of my project will be focused on the questions I provided to my group for feedback: Is it “American” to want low-risk, low-cost, technologically mediated participation/activism? If it’s not “American” what is it? What are the positive and negative outcomes of such participate (slacktivism)? I am going to really engage more of Shirky’s theory to better address these questions. The following parts of Shirky’s theory from Here Comes Everybody will be particularly helpful:

“[B]ecause the minimum costs of being an organization in the first place are relatively high, certain activities may have some value but not enough to make them worth pursuing in any organized way. New social tools are altering this equation by lowering the costs of coordinating group action.”

“Information sharing produces shared awareness among the participants, and collaborative production relies on shared creation, but collective action creates shared responsibility, by tying the user’s identity to the identity of the group.”

“Our social tools are not an improvement to modern society, they are a challenge to it.”

 

Here’s the link to my final blog!


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Internet: The Next World War?

// Posted by Phylicia on 04/09/2012 (11:35 PM)

My May issue of Vanity Fair arrived in the mail today. While thumbing through the magazine, I stumbled upon an article titled World War 3.0. The article discussed the current question over who will control the internet. For a… Read more

My May issue of Vanity Fair arrived in the mail today. While thumbing through the magazine, I stumbled upon an article titled World War 3.0. The article discussed the current question over who will control the internet. For a simple question, the answer is rather loaded. Interestingly enough, the article brought most of what has been discussed on this blog full circle.

The question over who will control the internet has come to the forefront of any debate regarding the internet. At the end of 2012, there will be a negotiation between 193 nations to revise a UN treaty pertaining to the Internet.

“The War for the Internet was inevitable—a time bomb built into its creation.”

There is no doubt that the question of control would eventually arise. However, it seems that no one is ready to answer it on a global scale now that the question has come knocking. The article clearly explains that the “Internet was established on a bedrock of trust: trust that people were who they said they were, and trust that information would be handled according to existing social and legal norms. That foundation of trust crumbled as the Internet expanded.” The issue of trust arises because of four crises regarding the internet: sovereignty, piracy and intellectual property, privacy and security. From PIPA to SOPA to Anonymous to MegaShare and WikiLeaks, the initial trust which the internet was founded on has begun to crumble.

Thus, the world of the internet lies in the midst of two polarized notions: Order v. Disorder and Control v. Chaos. The article explains that “the forces of Order want to superimpose existing, pre-digital power structures and their associated notions of privacy, intellectual property, security, and sovereignty onto the Internet. The forces of Disorder want to abandon those rickety old structures and let the will of the crowd create a new global culture, maybe even new kinds of virtual “countries.” At their most extreme, the forces of Disorder want an Internet with no rules at all.” What would the Internet be like with no rules at all? Would it function? Would the users of the Internet truly be able to self-govern? Could the entire Internet run like Wikipedia, where every contributor checks and ultimately balances every other contributor? Or is such a notion idealistic?

When thinking about the Internet and thus, control over the internet, why the internet was created must also be address. The Internet was intended to deal with a military problem, it was not intended to does what it does today. Vint Cerf a “father of the Internet” and the “Internet Evangelist” (his actual title at Google) along with Robert Kahn created the TCP/IP protocol which allows computers and networks all over the world to talk to one another. However, the development was initially created to help the military, not for you or I. Since it was designed to be undetectable in terms of a center, the Internet has no center.

Internet has no center

The testament to the nonexistence of a center for the internet was the creation of ICANN in 1998. ICANN “signaled that the Internet would be something akin to global patrimony, not an online version of American soil.” When thinking about the Internet, many people, especially Americans, think of the Internet as an extension of American culture. While American culture is widely dispersed throughout the Internet, it is not the only cultural that is shared. There exists a multiculturalism through the Internet that does not make it merely an online version of America. This perhaps is the reason why the Internet economy was grabbed globally. The Internet economy was not just an economy for American, it was an economy for everyone. However, with a shared Internet economy, nations lost old ideals of governance.

While it seems that the battle for control is driven by corporate ambitions, the real war is driven by governments. Cerf explains that “If you think about protecting the population and observing our conventional freedoms, the two [the Internet and Government] are real­ly very much in tension.”

The DefCon Hackers Conference intended to bridge the gap between hackers and the government. Jeff Moss (or Dark Tangent), DefCon’s founder, uses DefCon to promote conversation between the Internet’s forces of Order and Disorder. Moss has become the go-between who translates his subculture’s concerns to the culture at large, and vice versa. Each year, increasing numbers of law-enforcement, military, and intelligence personnel attend Def Con. This is one unique way that the bridge between the world of the Net and the world of government have successfully and peacefully (without war) converged.

Among the things that are explained by Moss are the nature of hackers. Collective hackers, like Anonymous work as a hive. There allegiance is to the hive above all else. It is not to a government or corporation. Such a notion of a hive speaks directly to Jane McGonigal’s belief in the power of the hive. Perhaps the power of the hive is the true power of the internet. The truth that allegiances have shifted from nations to hives.

 “Everybody always calls it rebuilding the airplane in flight. We can’t stop and reboot the Internet.”

Since the internet can’t be stopped, its challenges must be addressed. Vanity Fair suggests that there will be three issues on the table at the negotiations in Dubai at the end of the year: taxation (a “per click” levy on international Internet traffic), data privacy and cyber-security (no more anonymity) and Internet management (global information-security “code of conduct”).  The article suggests that anonymity has contributed to, if not created, almost every problem at issue in the War for the Internet. Is anonymity really the issues? Would we need control if our real names were attached to over Internet habits? Vanity Fair suggests that currently “the task at hand is finding some way to square the circle: a way to have both anonymity and authentication—and therefore both generative chaos and the capacity for control—without absolute insistence on either.” Perhaps the greatest challenge with the internet is that there is no real absolutes. Black and white issues are much easier to address than those with shades of grey.

Many believe that the Domain Name Systems, the Internet’s only central feature, must be shielded from government control however, through organizations like ICANN governments will still be involved without controlling it. Arguably, the most important issue when debating the control over the internet is the need to preserve “network neutrality”. One thing that many agree on: The Internet is open to everyone, service providers cannot discriminate and all applications and content moves at the same speed– this should not change. If the Internet is one thing, it ought to be fair.


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A Case for Collaboration?

// Posted by Phylicia on 03/26/2012 (10:21 PM)

Collaboration can be a powerful tool. However, is it in our nature to collaborate? Forbes says yes, at least for female collaboration. While musing over the general notion of collaboration, I looked back on my personal experiences. Collaboration is arguably… Read more

Collaboration can be a powerful tool. However, is it in our nature to collaborate? Forbes says yes, at least for female collaboration. While musing over the general notion of collaboration, I looked back on my personal experiences. Collaboration is arguably frowned upon in schools (think doing homework or assignments collaboratively… in most schools this is considered cheating). If individuals are conditioned through education and collaboration is not encouraged, is it possible to expect collaboration through the internet to solve problems? Of course, there are moments—group projects— when collaboration is encouraged in schools. However, most individuals fear group projects because they cannot control every aspect. In group projects, every member should have an equal share in the work. While that’s wonderful theory, anyone who has ever been part of a group project knows that this is rarely the case. There is usually a group “leader” who usurps the power and probably does most of the project allowing the other members to merely write their names on it.

So this morning when I stumbled upon an article on Forbes.com that discussed the rise of social collaboration, I was intrigued. The articled discussed a theory of the owners of HACKEDit.com “that acknowledging a major difference between men and women will make all the difference for the tools of Web 2.0 being built today.” The difference is simple, four words:

Men network, women collaborate.

About 77% of Groupon’s income come from a female consumer base. The company just took their ability to tap into that market a step further through the creation of the Groupon Scheduler, which will allow women to collaborate online directly with the businesses they use. There is no denying that men network and women collaborate. Linkedin has done it’s own research and found that “globally, men are more savvy networkers than women.” Moreover, the Pew Internet Research found that nearly twice as many men use LinkedIn as women (63% vs. 37% respectively).

The article ultimately states that it is surprising that such a “lack of online social collaboration tools being designed for women” exists. I found this whole article rather interesting and surprising, since I do not usually view females as better collaborators than men. I think Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk on Gaming and her I Love Bees article, really challenge the legitimacy of this theory. From McGonigal’s viewpoint it seems that anyone can be an excellent collaborator if provided the right mindset.

What do you think? Are women natural collaborators? Can men be as well? Does Jane McGonigal challenge your initial beliefs?

 


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The Spread of Knowledge or Opinion?

// Posted by Phylicia on 03/12/2012 (11:59 PM)

 

Since its birth, the power of the internet was derived from its ability to spread information. From the Whole Earth Catalog to Wiki Leaks, despite form, information is dispersed to all those with access. This past… Read more

 

Since its birth, the power of the internet was derived from its ability to spread information. From the Whole Earth Catalog to Wiki Leaks, despite form, information is dispersed to all those with access. This past week, social-media networks experienced something else, the spread of opinions. After the Invisibile Children campaign against Kony: KONY 2012 erupted all over Facebook, among other sites, individuals quickly adopted opinions. I am not here to favor one opinion over another, I am just making observations.

In my opinion, the virtual campaign exploded so quickly that many individuals posting about and “supporting” the KONY 2012 campaign did not even have enough time to fully research what they were supporting. This would seem to suggest that as a result of a lack of complete information (the complete picture), individuals were rather quick to “choose” sides.

Awareness is a wonderful thing. However, I am less comfortable with activism that occurs because its “social” or “cool” to support a cause. What is happening in Uganda is not just. However, activism isn’t solely about following the crowd. Real activism creates change not only through awareness, but also of knowledge. I hope individuals choose to become more knowledgeable of the causes they support. Even when they are worthwhile.

Here’s the KONY 2012 video if you haven’t gotten a change to check it out!

 

 


Categories: Uncategorized

The Raison D’être of Hacktivism

// Posted by Phylicia on 02/28/2012 (10:58 PM)

After an Anonymous attack against the Vatican failed, Imperva, a data-protection firm, began to analyze it in order to map out the attack methods. Below is a chart with the discoveries made by Imperva after a failed 25-day assault by… Read more

After an Anonymous attack against the Vatican failed, Imperva, a data-protection firm, began to analyze it in order to map out the attack methods. Below is a chart with the discoveries made by Imperva after a failed 25-day assault by the hackers.



This infographic shows the profile of an Anonymous attack (Credit: Imperva)

Perhaps the most interesting part of this article was its discussion of the first phase. In Phase I: Recruiting & Communication, social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) allow the hackers to gain access.

“The raison d’être of hacktivism is to attract attention to a cause, so this phase is critical.”

Personally, I rarely think about my use of social media sites as means for hackers to understand and find targets. However, this report by Imperva proves that without social media channels it would be much more difficult for hackers to find a target and justify their attack. On top of this, social media is used for recruiting purposes: getting volunteers to participate in the hacking campaign during the first phase.

After reading the report, the role of volunteers became clear:

” The Anonymous hackers are comprised of two types of volunteers:

• Skilled hackers – In this campaign, we witnessed a small group of skilled hackers. In total, this group numbered no more
than 10 to 15 individuals. Given their display of hacking skills, one can surmise that they have genuine hacking experience
and are quite savvy.
• Laypeople – This group can be quite large, ranging from a few dozen to a few hundred volunteers. Directed by the skilled
hackers, their role is primarily to conduct DDoS attacks by either downloading and using special software or visiting
websites designed to flood victims with excessive traffic. The technical skills required range from very low to modest.
In this incident, there was about a 10:1 ratio of laypeople to skilled hackers.”

To me, this is the power of groups like Anonymous: its ability to gain volunteers through promotional videos which justify their attacks. The truth is that people choose to support Anonymous. The group is not made up of a small, isolate population; the group is alive because of its ability to connect. Do you think this is what the founders of the internet foresaw for their creation?

 


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RSA Animate – The Internet in Society: Empowering or Censoring Citizens?

// Posted by Phylicia on 02/28/2012 (9:40 PM)

This is a very interesting and brief RSA (Royal Society for the Arts) Animate which is adapted from a RSA talk given by Evgeny Morozov, a Belarusian writer and researcher who studies political and social implications of technology. The… Read more

This is a very interesting and brief RSA (Royal Society for the Arts) Animate which is adapted from a RSA talk given by Evgeny Morozov, a Belarusian writer and researcher who studies political and social implications of technology. The animate explores his take on the role of the internet in society and ultimately how the internet effects democracy. He recently (January 2011) published his first book: The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. I enjoyed this video because it provided a different perspective for looking at new media throughout the world.


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PG News…. for America

// Posted by Phylicia on 02/20/2012 (11:26 PM)

This is a really neat comparison of some Time covers in the US, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific in 2011. Check it out. Do Americans need the “PG version” of the news?

This is a really neat comparison of some Time covers in the US, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific in 2011. Check it out. Do Americans need the “PG version” of the news?


Categories: Uncategorized

Caught in the Web?

// Posted by Phylicia on 02/20/2012 (8:56 PM)

This morning, I read the same article on Al Jazeera as Cameron. Just as he did, I found it extremely interested, so I decided to do some further research on “Internet Addicts.” Now I… Read more

This morning, I read the same article on Al Jazeera as Cameron. Just as he did, I found it extremely interested, so I decided to do some further research on “Internet Addicts.” Now I hope that most (read: all) who are reading this are not so addicted to the internet that they forget to feed their (real or hypothetical) infant daughter because they were so completely consumed by an internet game of a virtual child (which the parents did in fact remember to feed). Sadly, these Korean parents, lost their daughter because she starved to death because they were so severely addicted.

This traumatic and heartbreaking story caught my interest. I decided to look into Internet Addition Disorder (IAD) which is believed by some to be a new mental disorder. (NOTE: It is not yet included in the DSM-5, but there is hope since “google” is now a verb in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.) Since 2009, there have been Internet Rehab Centers popping up around the US, but is this necessary? For some, it seems like it is. One of the Internet Rehab Centers I explored was the Heavensfield Retreat in Falls City, Washington. The program at the center is called reSTART. ReSTART is a rather witty name since many wish that life was as easy to restart as their computers.

It’s slogan is something rather powerful… “connect with LIFE” insinuating that those who are addicted to the internet, do not have the ability, the power nor the choice to connect with life. However, this notion makes it seem like there is no such thing as a virtual life. I would argue that there is. The issue I have is that there is more than merely a virtual life. There is a real life; a life where individuals must connect personally, not just virtually, and enjoy the physical world around them.

Below is the list of symptoms that the program believes determines an Internet Addict based on a Mashable article:

1. Have a strong desire or impulse to use the internet.

2. Decreasing or stopping of the internet leads to withdrawal symptoms (e.g., general malaise, restlessness, irritability, lack of concentration, dyssomnia); and the above mentioned symptoms may be relieved by similar electronic media (e.g., TV, handheld games, gaming devices).

3. Continually increasing the amount of internet use and the extent of internet involvement to reach sense of satisfaction.

4. Use of internet in spite of its harmful effects; despite knowledge of harmful effects, internet use is hard to stop.

5. Difficulties controlling beginning, and finishing, and the duration of time of internet use; efforts to modify internet use may be attempted multiple times without success.

6. As a result of internet use, interests, recreation or social activities are decreased or abandoned.

7. Internet use is seen as a way to escape problems or to gain relief from negative feelings.

8. The extent of internet use is denied or minimized to teachers, schoolmates, friends or professionals (including actual time and expenditure of internet contact).

9. Everyday life and social function is impaired (e.g., in social, academic and workability.)

Does this list seem to define Internet Addicts as you image them? Anything you think should be added to the list?

Perhaps an even better questions, does everyone need to reSTART? Why are we, so incredibly uncomfortable with being disconnected even for day?


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The Union of Retail, Politics and Web Fundraising

// Posted by Phylicia on 02/12/2012 (9:48 PM)

Check out ClickZ’s article, Retail Politics Comes to 2012 Web Fundraising, on how politicians are using retail politics to increase their web fundraising.

Check out ClickZ’s article, Retail Politics Comes to 2012 Web Fundraising, on how politicians are using retail politics to increase their web fundraising.


Categories: Uncategorized

In[nova/ven]tion

// Posted by Phylicia on 02/06/2012 (8:39 PM)

Once finishing Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture, I found myself musing over the difference between invention and innovation. The difference seems simple. An invention is something (a device or process) that has been invented. Whereas, innovation is the application of… Read more

Once finishing Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture, I found myself musing over the difference between invention and innovation. The difference seems simple. An invention is something (a device or process) that has been invented. Whereas, innovation is the application of new inventions. So why does the thesaurus on my Mac’s dashboard tell me that invention and innovation are synonyms (equivalent words)? Surely Steve Jobs, Apple’s mastermind, knew better than anyone than innovation is not the same as invention. Jobs was innovation.

Unlike most, Jobs had the ability to “Think Differently.” Under his guidance, Apple developed a commercial mouse that could be affordably purchased by the public. The ‘Lisa mouse” as it was called was not the first mouse ever invented. However, it was the first that was built to cost $25 rather than $400 or so created by Xerox. Jobs believed that if could make a mouse that was affordable, people would buy it– he was right.

When it came to computers, Apple was runner up to PCs, until the iMac. Unlike all other computers at the time, iMac was able to change the relationship between people and their computers. Instead of building a computer inside which the hardware hidden, people could see inside Apple’s iMac to the hardware. This allowed a relationship between the hardware and the “i” (or the individual using the personal computer) to develop. Of course, the “i” of “iMac” also stood for internet, only forging an even stronger relationship between people and their computers.

For Jobs and Apple, content was key. Sony already invented the Walkman, a personal music player. Sony had the capability, but not the vision to develop the iPod. Apple had both. Napster was booming, and the music industry wasn’t too enthusiastic about the file-sharing capabilities. Still, it was difficult to play the digital media. That was, until the iPod was unveiled. The iPod was the medium that could play the shared media. This could have really destroyed any relationship Apple hoped to have with the music industry, but he had another step in the plan: iTunes. Apple and the music industry both benefited. Apple made money even after their product was purchased through iTunes. It also made it so accessible, convenient and fairly priced to purchase music that the music industry was again making money on music. Jobs and Apple were able to fulfill everyone’s needs.

And then there was the iPhone which uniquely focused on software rather than hardware, like its competitors. Again, Jobs had the foresight to realize that this new step in technology was not only about the product, but about the Apps. Just as iTunes allowed Apple to produce revenue after the product was purchased. Apps also make using the technology, in this case the iPhone, simpler for the user.

What do you think will be more influential on future technologies: invention or innovation?

 


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Are Digital Technologies Really So Digital?

// Posted by Phylicia on 01/31/2012 (7:36 PM)

In February’s issue of Wired, Clive Thompson asks an interesting, but often overlooked question: why are analog interfaces still being used in digital tools? If we have the capability of digital tools, shouldn’t our interfaces also be digital. While skeumorphs… Read more

In February’s issue of Wired, Clive Thompson asks an interesting, but often overlooked question: why are analog interfaces still being used in digital tools? If we have the capability of digital tools, shouldn’t our interfaces also be digital. While skeumorphs (“bits of design that are based on old-fashioned, physical objects”) are effective in some new technologies e.g. the Kindle, they are outdated and rather unnecessary in others, especially calendars.

Unless we start weaning ourselves off [skeuomorphs], we’ll fail to produce digital tools that harness what computers do best.

Thompson argues that there is no reason iCal and Google Calendar should display weeks past when looking at January’s calendar. Instead, both should display what is to come. There is no efficiency is having these calendars display an analog calendar when a digital calendar would be much more pragmatic when trying to plan for the future not the past.

In with the new (& the digital)…

Thompson points out two digital developments that are on the vanguard of the switch to digital interface:

1. Soulver: A calculator for Mac designed by two 18-year-old Australians who wanted to design a less “derivative” calculator. Below is an image of what the pair came up with: a digital calculator that “dummies” can use.

 

2. Flipboard App: An iOs app used for browsing status updates, pictures & news. The real digital aspect is how the pages flip. Rather than flip like normal ebooks or emagazines with a pivot on the left. The pivot point of the flip for the Flipboard is at the center. Not only is this a more innovatie way for the page to change, it also is easier on the eyes. Thompson explains that the new position of the pivot “minimizes the rate at which material changes onscreen during the flip, reducing eye fatigue that comes from scrolling or making sudden full-page swipes.”

 

 

After reading Thompson’s article all I could think of is: why have such changes not occurred sooner? We have developed such advanced technologies in some aspects, but have left other aspects behind. Is it due to some sense of nostalgia of the past and the “old-fashioned” or did we become so excited with the actual new technologies that we forgot about the details? If we have the capabilities to digitize, shouldn’t we?

 

Click here to see Thompson’s full article in Wired online.


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Spacewar: “A Flawless Crystal Ball”

// Posted by Phylicia on 01/23/2012 (10:08 PM)

In his 1972 article in Rolling Stone, Stewart Brand delves into Spacewar, the first digital computer game developed by Steve Russell. Ironically, for Brand, “gaming” did not yet exist (we need to flash forward about 8 years to see the… Read more

In his 1972 article in Rolling Stone, Stewart Brand delves into Spacewar, the first digital computer game developed by Steve Russell. Ironically, for Brand, “gaming” did not yet exist (we need to flash forward about 8 years to see the world of gaming explode). So his report didn’t credit Spacewar as part of a natural progression of software or even hacking, and Brand definitely did not view it as genuine piece of the technology revolution puzzle, but it was still fun.

What Brand did acknowledge about Spacewar was (as quoted from Spacewar: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums):

  • It was intensely interactive in real time with the computer.
  • It encouraged new programming by the user.
  • It bonded human and machine through a responsive broadband interface of live graphics display.
  • It served primarily as a communication device between humans.
  • It was a game.
  • It functioned best on, stand-alone equipment (and disrupted multiple-user equipment).
  • It served human interest, not machine. (Spacewar is trivial to a computer.)
  • It was delightful.

So Spacewar was a crystal ball… how?

Recently I stumbled upon this gem of a TED Talk:

Now I am probably the furthest thing from a gamer, so McGonial’s theory was eye opening, even if I didn’t really buy it.

My disclaimer before I get into Spacewar’s prophecy, if you will…

I apologize to any mother whose gamer also stumbles upon Jane McGonigal’s talk. Much to your and Marie Hemming’s (see comments on McGonigal’s Talk and you will quickly learn why) dismay this will only encourage his/her gaming.

Now onto the “how”… (based on McGonigal’s theory)

Spacewar was interactive:

  • COLLABORATORS: at every level and mission, hundreds of thousands of people ready to work with you
  • EPIC STORY: inspiring story of why we’re there, and what we’re doing
  • POSITIVE FEEDBACK: leveling up, plus-one strength, and plus-one intelligence

 

Spacewar encouraged new programming:

McGonigal created three games that that are an attempt to give people the means to create epic wins in their own futures:

  1. World Without Oil: an online game in which you try to survive an oil shortage
  2. Superstruct at The Institute For The Future: the premise was a supercomputer has calculated that humans have only 23 years left on the planet.
  3. Evoke: if you complete the game you will be certified by the World Bank Institute, as a Social Innovator

Spacewar bonded human & machine through graphics:

photo by Phil Toledano

 

Jane McGonigal explains the above gamer expression, photographed by Phil Toledano, as:

“a classic gaming emotion… if you’re not a gamer, you might miss some of the nuance in this photo. You probably see the sense of urgency, a little bit of fear, but intense concentration,deep, deep focus on tackling a really difficult problem… If you are a gamer, you will notice a few nuances here: the crinkle of the eyes up, and around the mouth is a sign of optimism, and the eyebrows up is surprise. This is a gamer who is on the verge of something called an epic win.”

McGonigal hopes to make it as easy to achieve an epic win in the real world as the virtual world.

 

Spacewar served as a communication device between humans:

Games like World of Warcraft make gamers virtuosos at: WEAVING A TIGHT SOCIAL FABRIC

“There’s a lot of interesting research that shows that we like people better after we play a game with them, even if they’ve beaten us badly. And the reason is, it takes a lot of trust to play a game with someone. We trust that they will spend their time with us, that they will play by the same rules, value the same goal, they’ll stay with the game until it’s over. And so, playing a game together actually builds up bonds and trust and cooperation. And we actually build stronger social relationships as a result.”

 

Spacewar was a game:

Games can save a civilization, as McGonigal explains through Herodotus’ story of Lydia during an 18 year famine which eventually lead to the Etruscans. Games allow us to ignore real-world suffering because they are engaging and immerse the player in satisfying blissful productivity. McGonigal believes if we game long enough, we can eventually solve real-world problems instead of virtual ones.

 

Spacewar served human interest:

McGonigal claims that if we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity, we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week, by the end of the next decade. We need to answer these questions:

What about games makes it impossible to feel that we can’t achieve everything? How can we take those feelings from games and apply them to real-world work?

 

Spacewar was delightful:

Games like World of Warcraft also make gamers virtuosos at: URGENT OPTIMISM

“Think of this as extreme self-motivation. Urgent optimism is the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle, combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success. Gamers always believe that an epic win is possible, and that it is always worth trying, and trying now”

 

So, the question then becomes: do you think gaming can save the world?

 

Jane McGonigal: How gaming can make a better world


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