Archive for the ‘Class Responses’ Category

I love blogging!

May 6, 2009

In the article “Why blog?” blogs, and what they have to offer are discussed. Dr. Penrod lists five reasons as to why blogs are becoming so popular.

1. They’re easy to publish

2. They’re fun

3. They’re easy to understand

4. They allow for and create an atmosphere of escapism 

5. They create a feeling of empowerment

(http://williamwolff.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/penrod-blog-2007.pdf)

I agree with all these reasons as to why blogs are popular. I have been blogging for over a year now on MySpace and Facebook , and I have been able to publish my blogs to the Internet for free, and receive feedback from a wide range of people in the process.

Blogging is a fun way of expressing yourself because you don’t need to follow any paticular format. You can talk about almost anything. I also started a blog for a class on the topic of dating and relationships. I enjoyed receiving my teacher’s feedback on my dating advice. My teacher was very receptive to my writing style, and enjoyed my blog.

Nowadays, a good blogging site can jump start a writing career. For instance, the book Waiter Rant was based on a popular blog by a NYC waiter who posted (anonymously) restaurant horror stories involving management and customers.

Blogging is a relatively new development in writng, and I hope it’s here to stay. Mainly, because they are a fun,  and free way to express yourself. The most appealing part of the blogging process is that people will actually read what you write, and hopefully give feedback.

BTW…my blog is http://www.xanga.com/emmylovesbeer  (The blog on dating and relationsips)

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Sad Tree

April 30, 2009

I’m sitting outside for an art class right now, the assignment is to draw anything. I’ve been looking around for an hour and a half, drawing leaves, trees, ponds, and rocks. After a short break just a moment ago I looked up and around, searching for my next subject, and I saw one particular sad-looking tree staring right at me. It has two knots, that if on a face would be cross eyes, it has a long crevice underneath them that I can only see as being a nose, and then underneath all of those it has an upturned u shaped frown. Upon further investigation I have been noticing more and more sad faces on this tree. I can’t help but find the irony in this. according to McCloud, we see faces in everything because we see ourselves in everything. I know I’m being dramatic but with the environmental chaos today, wouldn’t you be a sad tree too?

Cars at Face Value

April 30, 2009

The concept of making the world over in our image, as brought up in McCloud’s piece reminded me of an article that I read some time ago, published in the journal, Human Nature. For many years, car companies have been spending copious amounts of time in researching the way people react to the fronts of cars, as if they were indeed human faces. Carmakers used to strive for an inviting face, but in recent years they’ve been pushing for an edgier look: Car faces that look meaner, angrier and, at times, even downright evil. This can be seen with the ‘bubble’ cars of the nineties, which put an emphasis on aerodynamic, clean lines and rounded features. The mid-nineties Ford Taurus is a prime example, as is the New Beetle.

Today, cars have taken on a more angular, boxy and sleek look with more emphasis on broken lines. Cars like the Chrysler 300 and Cadillac STS were designed under the doctrine of this new design philosophy and such cars seem to even echo the design of cars from the seventies.

Slightly unrelated, but I wonder if this interest in boxy, angular cars with ‘angrier’ faces says anything about the global mood or climate. Round, friendlier-looking cars seem to gain prevalence in mainly peaceful and decadent times, such as the early sixties and nineties, then during times of war or economic turmoil, it seems we prefer the boxier, more aggressive looking cars, as during the Vietnam/Iraq wars and during the recessions both then and now. Perhaps it’s a subconscious need or desire to vent that alters our taste in the aesthetic and stylistic elements of the automobile?

…Getting back to my point: The study that was done about a year ago concluded that about a third of all people found a 90% correlation between human faces and the fronts of the cars that they were shown. The theory is that through evolution, human brains have been wired to “infer a great deal of information about another person such as, age, sex, attitudes, personality traits and emotions—from just a glance at their face. As a result, people are tempted to see faces anywhere they look, whether it be in clouds, stones or cars (ANI).”

According to Dennis Slice, the conductor of the research from FSU, “The fact that we can so easily see faces in inanimate objects may tell us something about the evolutionary environment in which this capacity arose. Seeing too many faces, even in mountains or toast, has little or no penalty, but missing or misinterpreting the face of a predator or attacker could be fatal.”

The original and very jovial-faced concept for the New Beetle

The original and very jovial-faced concept for the New Beetle

The agressive-faced new Camaro concept.

The agressive-faced new Camaro concept.

A news article discussing the study can be found here.

Big Brother Googles Your Name

April 28, 2009

Have you ever Googled your name? Sometimes, the things that pop up are surprising. When I search for anything floating around the Interwebs that has my name attached to it, one of the first images that shows up in the results is a photo someone took of me from a little over a year ago. I was at a literature festival hosted by Middlesex University, the school that I attended in London while studying abroad. Whoever took the picture knew who I was. I’m around twenty pounds heavier, and my hair somehow looks even more disheveled.
And this is what people see when they Google me. Great. But I suppose it could be worse. It could be a photo of me from my senior year in high school, my legs up in the air, a keg nozzle in my mouth, and beer spraying all over the place. Or something else that’s incriminating. What upsets me is that I know that my professors–and some of my potential employers–have access to these photos and information, just like everyone else. I’m not ignorant enough to become a “fan” of Rowan on Facebook so that they have open access to my profile, but I am aware that there are students who have “friended” me because they work for the University. I recently made my profile “private,” but I am concerned that it happened too late; I still haven’t heard back from the University regarding a scholarship, and I hate to think that it’s all because there are photographs floating around of me drinking beer.
Vaidhyanathan’s (Siva, consider a pen name, please, for the sake of all writing students) article, “Naked in the ‘Nonopticon’,” discusses the idea of being observed without being aware of it. The state can watch us behave “normally” and identify people who may cause a problem–and get in the way of the state’s agenda. Back in London, I knew that I was being watched by thousands of CCTV cameras. As a temporary resident of a strange new city, I did not exactly mind having the watchful eyes of the government trained on me. It probably kept me from getting mugged by football hooligans. But, I can understand how it is still a violation of privacy. We cannot always act like Grandma is in the room with us. As advanced and civilized as we claim to be, we are still animals, at least in my opinion. We obey the natural laws of nature, not necessarily this fabricated moral code that our Western society has emphasized over the last few decades (and hundreds of years, though it has evolved, and is still changing rapidly).
But I should mind my tongue. They’re watching.

You MOOs, you lose? Not really.

April 23, 2009

Reading Dibbel’s, A Rape in Cyberspace was actually a wierdly nostalgic experience. I used to dabble in the text-based network about 8-10 years ago, way back when the concept of multi-user collaboration and interaction in a virtual reality environment still seemed like a semi-new and exciting idea. Although my time on LambdaMOO was basically rape-free, I still fully experienced the network and the society that evolved within it. As I commented on Michael’s response, the whole concept of LambdaMOO seemed like a highly-evolved, interactive and electronic version of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. What was most fascinating to me about the network was the fact that in many ways it was more immersive than most role playing games of the time. Not only was it a multiplayer game, but the fact that it was text-based meant that all pictures and visuals were self-established instead of universal. This could easily be compared to the relationship between a book and the movie production of the book.

Even at the time I was using it, the MUD seemed archaic in comparison to 3D computer games, first person shooters and any game on the PS2 or N64 platforms, but this never deterred me. The game and even its concept seemed like some strange remnant of the past– a historic landmark left untouched in a rapidly changing and evolving electronic world. It was completely open-ended. Any conversation within the network that was with a character built into the game was scripted, but most conversations occured with real people. It was entirely open-ended and no two gaming experiences were exactly the same. Although I’ve never played World of Warcraft, I would imagine that LambdaMOO was just like a text-based version of the game. Now graphics are generated for the user wheras in the early days of the internet, this was all up to the user’s imagination.

In today’s high-tech and highly immersive gaming environments, the concept of a MOO or MUD seems almost ridiculous, but their visual simplicity gave them a serious advantage. They were very data-friendly and took up almost no space, allowing for a larger, more open-ended gaming experience then would have been otherwise possible back in the day. In scope, it was almost akin to today’s Grand Theft Auto game series, without the processing or memory demands, because that type of computing was simply not possible at the time.

For anybody interested, there is a way to experience retro computing and gaming on all Macintosh computers. Its just like reverting your computer back to 1977 mode. There is a seemingly ancient operating system called “emacs” hidden somewhere within UNIX. To open it up, simply open up terminal (it’s in utilities or you can open it in finder) and type in or copy:

ls /usr/share/emacs/22.1/lisp/play” (no quotes)

This should open:

This list should come up.

This list should come up.

After this comes up, bask in the user-unfriendliness and confusion of this old OS and be happy that its 2009. Use this image for reference if you want, as it wont come back. Remember the name of the game or program you want to open (no clicking here), then type in:

emacs

This will open up the prompt.

Then press the ESC and X key at the same time. It may take a few tries, but when you get it, “M-x” will appear at the bottom, left of the window. When this occurs, type in the name of the game or the program you want to open and simply press enter and it will run.

Old-school pong on a mac

Old-school pong on a mac, who knew?

Some interesting games and programs in all their retro glory are:

-doctor: a really unhelpful psychotherapist built right into your computer

-pong

-snake

-tetris

-gomoku: tick-tack-toe with five-in-a-row.

-dunnet: old-school text-based rpg game, much like a MUD or a MOO

-yow: seems to provide random facts and statements that make little to no sense

And to switch games, you have to exit terminal, re-open it and do the whole process all over again… gotta love the 70’s.

A Funeral–and Massacre–in Cyberspace

April 23, 2009

Julian Dibbell’s “A Rape in Cyberspace” describes an incident involving a virtual sexual assault. The rape was taken seriously and affected the people involved like it happened in what I commonly refer to as the “mundane world,” or Real Life. While this article and the description of the events that transpired may seem petty and insignificant to non-gamers, I understand what happened. Being a former gamer in several different online universes, including a text-based MUD (which turned out to be the most satisfying online gaming experience of all), I realize how the virtual world can begin to merge with the real world–and how gamers can experience of intense emotion and even sincere sorrow when one of their comrades is wronged.

Back when Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (or MMORPGS, which include MUDs) hit the mainstream, I created a character in a game called The Dark Age of Camelot. The game is very similar to World of Warcraft in that it takes place in a medieval-based, magical world populated by many different races of people. With the racial diversity that was present in the game came problems that are common in the mundane world. Though they could have been acting the part of their character, certain users were genuinely racist and used “derogatory” terms for certain races of creatures. Their treated other races differently. Though it seems silly to compare contempt for gnomes or trolls to the savage racism that we experience in daily life (and even at Rowan), the parallel is still stunning and reflects on our human nature. The cruelty that people are capable of when they are safe behind a computer monitor and an internet connection does not limit itself to racism.

The members of “guilds,” or groups of united players that game together, can become deeply attached to one another. During my gaming experience, I encountered a funeral service for a real person. During the funeral, a long line of mourners took turns viewing the “body” of the character (apparently someone in real life knew the deceased gamer personally, logged into her account, and made the character fall “asleep” on the ground). It was a touching moment. People who never even met the person in the mundane world took time out of their lives to pay their respects to a digital friend. Gamers of different factions, who would normally be trying to slaughter one another for points, had a temporary cease fire for this memorial. Moved by this, I looked around the internet for player-made videos of other accounts of this kind of compassion. 

I found this video of a funeral in World of Warcraft:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53ROsCDft80&feature=related

In this video, a funeral procession for a girl who died of cancer is broken up by a “raid” from the opposite faction. The mourners are effectively slaughtered. It’s ironic. It’s something that would have happened in a movie. And most of all, it’s disturbing.

Would actions like this fly in MUDs like LambdaMOO? Or would every player involved in that raid be “toaded” and kicked out of the game? Was this act of barbarianism just a release, as Mr. Bungle partially reasons regarding the rape he committed, or was the massacre a genuine display of cruelty and disrespect? When does the game stop, and the mundane world come back into play?

Oh gotta love Facebook

April 21, 2009

This article was about the creator of Facebook, and the dispute that Zuckerberg may not have been truly responsible for the popular Facebook. Also, the article focuses on how Facebook page was created. I thought it was interesting that when they started to develop the page they decided that the site would have to major objectives- “dating” and “connecting”. However, one of the people who claims to have been working on the site with Zuckerberg is claiming that Zuckerberg stole the idea of making facebook into a social networking site.

Honestly, being that facebook is so incredibly popular I can understand why someone would want credit if they had a hand in creating the site. Apprently, Zuckerberg is being targeted as being greedy. Which may be the case. There’s no real way to know who started the site or who isn’t being credited for the idea.

The most interesting parts of the article are when they discuss how the site was made, what it was inspired by, and how technologically savvy the (credited) creator of Facebook really is.

 

This was a response to http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/21129674/the_battle_for_facebook

A new machine?

April 21, 2009

The video, The Machine is Us/ing Us got me thinking…

This whole concept of a machine (the internet) that is not only an extension of ourselves, but actually part of ourselves (the human race) has pretty profound implications. Everything that the past two modules of this class have touched upon seems to be leading to the same eventual conclusion. Not only is the Internet revolutionary, informatory, and the future of writing and media, but it seems to me that given its wide-ranging power for collaboration and communications, it will one day bring almost everybody with internet access together.

I mean this not in the stereotypical peace, happiness, end of racism manner, but in the manner of a unified, almost “hive” mentality. This is a huge stretch, but I’m not talking about the immediate future. Perhaps a hundred, if not more years from now, when the internet that we now know has taken on some wild, exotic, super highly technological form, we might all be part of a giant, collaborative groupthink network, where everybody knows everything, everybody knows their role and everybody works together. As a society, we currently cherish individualism, but I think that individualism and varying ideals always causes conflict. Being one in the same could be the closest we could ever get to utopia and one day individualism might have to go out the window.

Perhaps one day we’ll have the Internet implanted in our minds. It might look like we’re asleep in class but we’re really on Future-Facebook, or we’re really tweeting about continuum transfunctioners with beta extrapolation capabilities (just made that up). It’s a pretty cool idea. We can all know everything without really knowing anything. Maybe one day we can download the entire pool of human knowledge directly into our minds. It would be like the training scene in the matrix… and the educational system will be obsolete (Sorry Dr. Wolff).

matrix31

The internet as it now exists would be baffling and incompressible to anyone from a century ago and I think given the rate at which technology is picking up, this idea of a unified hive mentality where we can all know everything isn’t really that far-fetched. It’s the post-humanist dream, I suppose—the complete merger of man and machine, but for the complete benefit of every man, woman and child.

It’s even possible that machine intelligence will surpass ours within even our own lifetimes, given the implications of Moore’s law. For this to happen, new computing methods are necessary (quantum computing) because you can only fit so many transistors onto a piece of silicon. It seems that throughout the course of history, the unthinkable will always become not only the thinkable, but the status quo. We used to say that the world was flat… right?

“Medium” Wings

April 21, 2009

So, I was looking through the “blog” of “unnecassary” quotation marks the other night. It was actaully Thursday night, very late, I had just gotten home from being out on the “lovely” town of Glassboro. I was a little under the influence but I looked at this website and I laughed and laughed and laughed until my roommate popped her head in my direction and told me to shut up. But then I showed her the website, and she also found it hilarious. The next day, I looked at it again… sure enough it was as funny as the first time.

And then I went to work . (Work is a restaurant/bar where I serve college kids and loathe my wanna-be college kid managers.) I was standing in the kitchen, waiting for my food, when I noticed a guest check out of the corner of my eye. It was written by a manager, and given to a cook. It was lying on the counter and I stole it. This is what it said:

"medium"Now, either A) the boss was trying to play a cruel practical joke on a poor man named Tom, or B) he too is an unnecessary quotation marker.

Say what?

April 16, 2009

I’m going to be honest about my feelings toward this article. Usually, I expect the articles that we are assigned to respond to will not be entertaining. And that’s okay because despite popular belief I did not come to college to be entertained. However, this article was almost impossible for me to focus on. All the words blurred together, and I felt light headed as I tried to mentally sift through the stale dribble on my computer screen.

Confused, and befuddled I went to class, and informed my assigned group of my predicament. I told my group mates that I have self diagnosed ADD. Then being the helpful group that they are explained Bush’s main idea in the article.

Apprently, in this article Bush was predicting in 1945 what we know to be the Internet. All and all I agree with Bush that the internet is an awesome idea. Hell, I love the Internet.

However, as your seemingly average college student I had a tough time digesting and understanding his message. I have no doubt that Bush makes connections in the article which are most likely extremely intelligent. However, those connections flew right over my head, and out the window.

In conclusion,

Bush is way smarter than I am, and that is why he’s able to predict Internet, and I am barely able to decide what to what to eat for dinner.

However, Bush does have leg up on me because he does not have self diagnosed A.D.D. as I do.