Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Lessons of MMORPGs Today

Via Boing Boing:

I find this interesting because of its commentary on the limitations of internet social existence. Limitations waaaay too often overlooked by scholars eager to find "revolutionary social potential" in new techology (or anywhere else for that matter). I wonder how much the particular medium of the MMORPG and the business model behind that medium are responsible for the effects this author is noting. He points out that they tend to convey the message that: "Intelligent beings who have civilizations and languages of their own are generally evil and should be slain." This, of course, is driven by the central game mechanic of the genre... killing, gaining experience, levelling up. But what makes this mechanic compelling?

I think it has something to do with visible, measurable achievement. For folks in jobs where they are deeply alienated from the actual, tangible outcomes of their employment, workaday life may seem an endless repetition of almost ritualized actions that never lead to anything, or make any progress. The illusatory progress of the gameworld may be a welcome relief from this. But of course, its not really progress at all. And why the game world may seem to allow a character progressive change and development, as the author of this post points out, it is in fact dangerously static. The monsters just regenerate tomorrow, after all.

The question then becomes, can we build on-line experiences that don't have these sorts of dengerous static natures? Second Life would seem to be an attempt, but it hasn't caught on, and I must admit, I found it weridly uncompelling when I tried it.

Or is it time to give up on the idea of internet as "social space" entirely, and imagine instead as communication medium, transferring information between real spaces, but not really able to exist as space on its own?

Monday, February 27, 2006


Blech. Illness has beset me. Crappy.

Just to keep any remaining readership checking for updates I give you this image of protest against the insanities of net-censorship... care of boingboing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Somebody stole my ipod shuffle...


More Dada Spam

I won't keep posting these, cause I know we all get them, but this one is better than the last one, so I have to:
drew a thats next. news make turning purpose benefit. fire goes fire,
raise reading pretty reference respect hard. he appearance news.
edge development why,
supposedto fascinate allow or added prison. music edge servants rich principle suddenly.
make sandwich love pride?

The spam was supposedly advertising online sales of prescription medication.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Is it obvious I've bee bored today?

So this sick bastard in Iowa kidnaps his wife after she tries to leave him. After he's caught, she turns over to the cops a "Marriage Contract" he had drawn up for them, detailing her "wifely duties." The document gets leaked to a fun little yellow-journalism website called The Smoking Gun (who also leaked congressional candidate Randy Kuhl's divorce documents... which revealed he had threatened his ex with a shotgun at a dinner party... fucker won anyway), and its now available here for anyone who shares my morbid fascination with human awfullness.

That link goes to a "contract" (the woman never signed the thing, not that its legally enforceable) that includes some pretty explicit sexual description, just FYI.

Anyway, this guy makes the Promise Keepers look like NOW. I honestly don't know what is creepier... the 12th century concept of proper gender roles that this espouses, or the fact that it couches everything in management-ese (he had his sexual expectations plotted to a daily timeline, with rewards for "compliance" given out by quarters).

Sadly, as backward and inhuman as this document is, its not hard to see some links between its dream of a submissive, robot-like wife and some awful ideas about the women that circulate in the popular culture. I can't say I see what the attraction to that hyper-submissive archetype is... isn't part of the fun of having a relationship with another person that their... you know... another person with their own thoughts and ideas and desires? If you want a body to lay there and take it... they make silicone dolls for that now, dude...

Is anytbody reading this thing?

Just curious. Toss me a comment if you are.


From the ever brilliant fafblog

Q. Why are we in Iraq?
A. To prevent the failure of the occupation of Iraq. If we pull out now the occupation will be a failure!
Q. Would it have been easier to have never occupied it in the first place?
A. Ah, but if we never occupied Iraq, then the occupation certainly would have been a failure, now wouldn’t it?
Q. [meditates for many years]
Q. Now I am enlightened.


Today I was told I had a "Mad Max Approach to the Quotidian." Hehe. Fun stuff.

I do.

Dada Spam

In the body of a Spam e-mail advertising a technique to "bigger your d11ck":
you miserable wrong off. window letters benefit reference. out embarrass use did out goes.least nothing companion slow night.young across social love? fascinate letters miserable force leader?yours yours again principle. thus wife leader fascinate social a? here force promised drew goes?anything teach development she. she leader friends social, love embarrass companion.
Where do these come from? Are they written by machine, thus to create large numbers of unique e-mails and refute the idea that a single "mass-mailing" is going out? Are they purposefully composed this way by a human being to defeat spam filters? Are they translated from another language? Is it the ghost of Gertrude Stein, floating around the internet, trying to sing to us one last time?

Isn't "fascinate letters miserable force leader" a fun way to describe George Bush... haplessly enraptured by "My Pet Goat" while his country falls around him? Also, I'm going to have to invent a "yours yours again principle" and start citing it in class.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Well, well Grey's Anatomy Fans

That was quite the little episode wasn't it? Poor George. Poor, poor George...

Watching that man is like watching a mirror of myself on television. Actually, that's getting kinda commonplace these days, either a whole raft of 20 something boys with complicated, difficult relationships with traditional masculinity have been doing TV writing recently; or my internal sense of self has been so warped by my recent heavy-dose TV exposure that I now completely identify with a mass-media archetype.

Probably a little of both.

But yeah, I had a whole rant I was gonna put up here about the "George tells Meredith how he really feels" bit of tonight's episode. How the idea that you should "always tell her how you really feel" is perhaps the biggest lie on television... how maybe sometimes you should just read the writing on the wall and keep your damn mouth shut. But... meh... not much new information there.

Besides, I think the show is going to do pretty well at rendering the unfortunate consequences of George's confession.

Don't worry George, its TV and all you have to do is hang in there a few weeks and your mid-season love interest will be right along. Hell, I'd be willing to wager that it'll be that Paramedic Christina Ricci played for the "bomb in the hospital" episode. Go you!

For those of us out here in what's left of reality... things ain't so predictable...

Then again, we ain't doomed to be archetypes


Friday, February 17, 2006

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Gentle readers, it just occurred to me that the prior post may read as if I went through a period in my 20s in which I changed genders. This is not the case. I should have put "she's not pregnant" in quotation marks, as to indicate that time-traveling self was in fact reassuring 20 year old self that he had not impregnated someone else.

I apologize for any confusion or sensations of disorientation this may have caused. As we are living in the post-modern era of gender uncertainty, however, perhaps we had all best get used to it. Who am I to make the essentializing claim that a man could not be pregnant?

That would be a dangerous deployment of normative power, on my part. Donna Haraway's Cyborg assassins would hunt me down, skimming from rooftop to rooftop with their hydraulically boosted legs, aiming on infra-red to thwart my attempts to use this smoke machine for cover.

Speaking of confusion, behold this weird bit of Web ephemera:


Its a blog to make parodies of blogs obsolete. Mmmm, tasty meta-irony. I found it by accident, I was looking for information on political party registration in Ohio's fifth congressional district, and did a google search for "oh5 party" and google, like Dick Cheney's drunken hunting dog, dragged this back to me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

This is what you do with one of these... right

You post stuff you are doing, yes?

Current Heavy-Play Album: The Frames, Burn the Maps
it has that perculiar mix of bombast and vunerability I tend to identify with.

Current Project: Trying to come up with a Cyberpunk paper for my Popc Theory class
my dissertation is probably going to be way more historical, so I'm not sure if this will even be that useful to me , but its an area of interest and it fits the class. Gives me a chance to try to sort out my thoughts on Humanism vs. Posthumanism...

Current Neurosis: Making a bad impression
I'm enjoying expanding my social circle, but it makes me worry about what all these new people think of me. Sure, things seem cool now, but what happens if they catch me zoning out in class and absentmindedly scratching that zit behind my ear? What can I say, neuroses...

Current thought experiment: What to do with a time machine?
Came up in class today. I've always had a vague list, lets see what it looks like

1. Give 16 year old self list, telling him which women he is going to tend to want to pay attention to he should pay less attention too, and which women he's going to tend to ignore he should pay attention to.
2. Tell 20 year old self that she's not pregnant. She won't be the next time either. Calm down 20 year old self.
3. Arm Narragesets and Pequots with modern firearms. (Note, changes in time line due to this may invalidate rest of list. Hmmm.)
4. Bring $4000 back to 1930. Buy land outside of Pheonix or LA.
5. Prod boomers into actually having revolution. Stupid boomers.

that's a tenative and massively self-centered list...

Aiight, I gotta get back to the physical world, such as it is. Peace imaginary readers...

PS: and you Gavin... peace to you too...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Inconsistent Diaryest

I've always been an inconsistent diaryest (Diaryer? One-who-diaries?). Don't know why. Attention Deficit Disorder probably. In case anyone wants to know, here is basically where my life is at:

-I had a sort-of-kind-of not-really relationship last semester, which pretty much, basically, more-or-less fell apart over break. (Welcome to the Post-Modern moraine of Infinite Undefinablity. Fuck You Derrida.[Sigh, but on the other hand all the old definitions were basically fascist, huh. Thank You, Derrida])This sucked, but I feel pretty much recovered. The pattern I had gotten into last semester was way too closed-off anyway. This semester I've been making some new friends and acquaintances and its been a lot of fun.
-Among these new acquaintances include my downstairs neighbor and a girl who works in the office next to mine, both of whom I met in totally random circumstances. Somebody queue up "Synchronicity". Anyway, the downstairs neighbor meet was surreal, because apparently I had figured as a minor character in her existence since I moved in. Due to my heavy, recognizable footsteps, she had taken to calling me "the stomper," and knew my daily schedule practically
better than I did. She heard me singing in the shower while she was on the phone to her mother and remarked, "the stomper is singing now!" Very strange to think of how we brush past other people and never know it. The girl in the next officewas more normal, she just picked on me for mis-pronouncing "Hegel."

-My courseload is way less structured than last semester, which has occasionally left me spinning my wheels. I'm trying to come up with some sort of project/plan/course of action to organize myself. This not being my forte, I'm still working on it. In the meantime, I've been trying to organize my day to day existence.

-I gotta say though, I really do like teaching... at least when it goes well. Its a fun kind of performance.

-Volunteered for a local congressional candidate. Its a very, very long shot race, she lost in 2004 33% 61% and has $4000 COH to her opponents $300,000. Its local and its a chance to play the game though, and if we even get on the radar we'll have contributed to the larger fight for the congress in 2006.

So, yeah, back on the Blog. Let's see if I can keep this up.