Thursday, June 28, 2007

Michael's Final Hypertext

Hello Counterpower, I apologize for the tardiness but my final site is finally up. It attempts to explain how the video-sharing website YouTube is already, and can be moreso in the near future, a major platform for counterpower and social change. It provides two such current examples (Dropping knowledge and labor unions) as well as two major and more general movements that need to be achieved (international integration that benefits people rather than corporations and the bridging of the digital divide).

Michael DuPuis.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Final Hypertext Project

Here is my Final Hypertext:

The Final Hypertext itself is just a click away under the Coursework section. It discusses the way that social interaction in the world of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) promotes a form of self-regulated normative behavior within communities, as well as how that behavior is very much a replicated version of the interactions that we each experience on a daily basis. Feel free to check it out and have a great summer everyone!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Final Project

Here is the link to my final project. It is on pro-eating disorder websites and how the internet is conducive to generating subcultures of stigmatived individuals. Some pictures are pretty graphic but it is interesting stuff I promise :)

Thanks for all of the intriguing class discussions and projects. I hope all of you have an EPIC summer!

Hypertext Project

Hypertext Topic: How the differences in use and management of the internet effects a society, more specifically focusing on the development of the China and how the internet effects there growth in the modern world.

I'm DONE! Thanks for the great times!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Finally, my project

My project is on the potential and the limitation of online activism and hacking. I am now going to stay away from my computer for awhile. It has been a great class.

In Peace, love and unity,

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ryan's Final Project

My final project examines the emergence of Blogs into Iranian internet culture. The social and political environment found in Iran proved to have the perfect conditions for an explosion of blog activity.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I'm done. So come get a piece.

The Hub

My hypertext project is all about how Internet stardom is changing the media landscape. As you read this, many Internet personalities are drawing in hundreds of thousands of fans a minute, whisking them away on the obscure ride known only as: the Internet. Join me in my adventurous journey, as we explore the many different types of Internet celebrities, including their origins in contrast to what they've become. How is the Internet changing the face of the media? Come and find out in my fabulously decorated web page.


My project only supports the Internet, so any other means of attempting to connect to my website will be a fruitless effort. Don't bother. Instead, get yourself connected (even through a library computer!) and lose yourself in my Hub of awesome-ness.


- Adrian

Here it is! My beautiful website

I am in love with my website! Check it out!

lizette's final project

I’m sure that this is something that you’ll read over and over again, but I want to make it clear that I was probably the most lost, most confused, most uncomfortable, most frustrated, and most angry person that was in the Internet Culture class this quarter. This project is an homage to those feelings, most of which were the direct result of Second Life. From the creepy feeling of designing my own avatar, to the frustration with filming, to the weird “people” that would come up to me in SL when I was trying to finish my diary—this is for all of that. This project examines the ways in which we use Second Life: corporately, socially, and academically. Starting out, I had only thought that Second Life was the place where anti-social gamers and pedophiles hung out. Now, at the end, I know that Second Life is more than creeps, bullies, and people who pee on you. Second Life is all of that and more. Let’s not dwell on the “Second” so much as to forget about the “Life” that is so integral to this alternate world.

Here’s the link:

Have a beautiful summer.

Finished Site!

And here lies my academic hypertext. Behold me bretheren! Tis a Feminist Critique of Pro-Ana and Pro-Mia communities.

Enjoy, drink ye mead, and have a great summer!

I'm Done!

With increase involvement in social networks, such as Facebook and Myspace, college students are now learning that their words and photographs are reaching far beyond the peers whom they were intended. The increase of student involvement in social networks has caused authority figures to monitor what students are doing online. There are numerous reasons why different institutions are feeling the need to monitor students' activity. Because of its popularity, though, these sites has become a topic for debate about free speech, privacy and whether the Internet should be a tool for surveillance.

Final Site


oops, i didn't make it a link.
here it is again:

My Facebook Space

All finished! It's not a great work of art, but I still feel accomplished. My final project was about why users, college students in particular, use Myspace, Facebook, or even both. Although I had used a small number of sources to complete this website, my main source of information came through interivews, and using these, I entertwined the information about self presentation and social status to get my final piece. Enjoy.


I finished my hypertext. It is on student athletes and facebook. It looks at different aspects of the athletic community and how they view and use facebook.
Here is the link:
Hope everyone has a good summer!


Here's the link to my coursework page

Specifically, here's the link to my final on the social implications of the content in video-games - mostly violence and gender.


Ben's Coursework

Did you know that businesses and media giants have been showering popular bloggers with free gifts in order to get them to say something positive about certain products in their blogs? Most bloggers are given cheap things, like DVDs and free gym bags, but some popular bloggers are given video iPods and even all-expense-paid vacations. One blogger even got a speaking role in “Scrubs”!

My final project focuses on the phenomenon of blogola, and the ways in which it affects bloggers and the blogosphere. Blogola is essentially the purchasing of bloggers’ opinions, a marketing strategy recently adopted by Big Business in America. In addition to defining and providing examples of blogola, I discuss first-hand accounts of blogola and examine bloggers’ reactions to it (not surprisingly, most are opposed to it until they are targeted and receive free gifts themselves). I also have a lengthy section of my essay dedicated to the benefits offered by the blogosphere, and how blogola counteracts and lessens their effectiveness.

The conclusion of my paper ties together all that I have learned about blogola and addresses the solution that must be pursued if the benefits of the blogola and the independence of bloggers are to be preserved.

I had a great time with this project, and I hope all who read it enjoy it as much as I did! Here are the links:

Hypertext Essay & Site


So here is the link to my homepage:

and here is the link to my actual hypertext project!

My topic for the project was prostitution and the internet and how the improvement of the internet has changed the face of the prostitution industry. I included information about what prostitution was like before and after the internet along with some police cases that involved internet prostitution. The section called is a real website where customers of prostitutes can write reviews and you can set up sex tours and stuff. Just so you know, if you go to the actual site, it is very graphic so just a warning that you might get offended when you read some of it. I know I did. Anyways, hope you like my site!

So Long and Farewell!

Here is the Link to My Homepage:

And this one will take you to my final Hyptertext project:

Please feel free to enjoy or not enjoy them at your leisure. Oh yeah and Have a Great SUMMER!!!

My Hypertext project is on the use of New Media in the political sector and the effects and implications of its use on the individual consumer/voter.

As a society we are on the precipice a time of increased integration of different forms of media. In the last few years we have seen an explosion of vastly popular social networking websites such as mySpace and Facebook. In conjunction with this trend online digital media has become less expensive and represents now a veritable playground of possibilities of expression. The major player in this arena is YouTube, a video sharing website that allows its users to upload and download and share amateur and professionally made video free of charge.

With these two phenomenons sweeping popular culture across all age demographics the range and possibilities of user made multimedia seems endless. Some of the newest players to explore some of the possibilities of New Media are politicians. With the 2008 Presidential election coming up the candidates are turning to this newly popular arena with a wide range of goals. They are utilizing video sharing sites like YouTube and social networking sites to bring in more revenue for campaign funding and also as a way to avail themselves to a society of younger Americans who no longer get their news from the television.

One of the burning questions surrounding this shift from the TV to the internet is what will this hold for the future of political campaigning. The issue that I will explore on this hypertextual journey is the way that the rise of New Media has altered the conception of the individual. And what affect this “new individual” will have on preexisting political constructs as politicians attempt to assimilate to the changing culture.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Andrea's final

I wanted to research a subject that is relatively new and pertinent to our demographic. Because many of us are either employed or looking for employment, I thought that the topic of online background checks would be an interesting one to look into. In my personal experience in applying for an internship for this summer, I was constantly being warned to be wary of what material I had online. Specifically, I was cautioned about the content on my Facebook and/or MySpace pages.

Being an avid Facebook user, I was not willing to end my existence on the site. So, I looked into to censoring "sensitive" material that may be frowned upon by an employer. The rule that many recommended was "If you don't want grandma to see it, don't post it." I, however, have a pretty wild grandma. This being the case, I decided to look into censorship based on the advice "If you wouldn't want it on the cover of the New York Times, don't put it on your profile." That thought definitely put things into a whole new perspective. But I came to realize that I pretty much would have to cut ties with the majority of my profile. The removing of pictures, leaving of groups, and deleting of content was more than I could bear. I did not want to change this representation that I had created for some employer. So, i left my profile unchanged and still managed to get a job.

In my research, I wanted to look into the ethics of doing such searches and find out how much companies actually screen job applicants using sites such as Facebook and MySpace. I learned that the idea of Internet backgrounds checks on personal profiles is a newer phenomenon, one that is increasingly frustrating college students like myself. While employers are entitled to do such exploration online, it is still a tricky topic that can lead to legal entanglements.

My finished website:

Danny Crawford

Danny Crawford’s website: Closet Nerds

Direct Link to Hypertext Essay: MMORPGs – World of Warcraft

My final hypertext essay is concerning the role of Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games and how these MMORPGs affect the community, social interactions, and culture. I used the ever popular World of Warcraft as my vehicle to explore the implications of online gaming. The hypertext is designed to provide an understanding to the popularity of MMORPGs, the social aspects to playing online games, the community reconstruction presented by online gaming, and the cultural identities being developed by online games.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Allie's Final Project

This site is about how ages are used in such different ways on myspace. I thought that it would be interesting to look at reaons why people use different ages online, and why they lie about it. I also wanter to see what myspace was doing about it. During research I found so many different articles about sexual abuse that was going on through myspace, but most them had to do with someone lying about their age and someone never knowing they were lying. One article was about a 19 year old boy that was being sued by a 13 year old girl. The girl lied on her account and said she was older and the boy had no way of knowing how old she really was. Does myspace need to do something about this??

In my paper i decided to explore all angles of myspace, I went and found the rules for entering the site, and I even found a place where people were trying to make a law that said that myspace needed to do checks on peoples ages. I discuss whether or not this was fair to the members or not. It was a fun essay, and i had fun doing the research for it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Alexandra Seppala's Final Project

In today’s digital culture, the increasing abundance and popularity of social networking cites have generated new problems in regards to dating behavior. Specifically, Facebook, which has become the most popular social outlet for college students, has complicated traditional dating behavior to such an extent that it is impossible to go back. Facebook has crucially and unavoidably altered contemporary dating behavior both positively—by making romantic interests readily accessible—and negatively—by adding significant pressure to defining romantic relationships in our cyber obsessed world.

For my final project I chose to investigate how Facebook has permanently changed contemporary dating behavior. The two specific areas of Facebook, which I explored in depth, are: how Facebook influences first dates and how the relationship status box on Facebook has caused troubling side effects for Facebook users. The majority of the criticism and articles I found in regards to my topic, dating behavior and facebook, discuss the negative implications and concerns surrounding the relationship status feature on Facebook. However, the purpose of my paper was to explore how this feature has both positive and negative connotations. In addition I sought to prove that Facebook has permanently changed contemporary dating behavior both unavoidably and necessarily. In an age in which Facebook is the primary social outlet for young adults across the country, why should it not be the primary means of announcing relationship status? If a couple really cares about each other, why would they be hesitant to announce their status to their entire social network? With my research as the backbone for my analysis of this topic, along with these guiding questions of inquiry, I hope my final project has revealed how Facebook has crucially and eternally changed contemporary dating behavior.

Here is the link to my final project:

Here is the link to the homepage of my personal website: Feel free to browse and enjoy!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Emily's hypertext essay

As we studied earlier this quarter, the use of web logs is on the rise, serving as either a creative outlet for people to publish their thoughts, art or observations or as a form to spread information about world events. Because of the possibility for just about anyone who has access to the Internet to publish onto the web, the web log is emerging as a popular form of literature. Now with the Internet now accessible by our military as they fight in Iraq, there has been an influx of what are now known as military blogs, which are now even organized on the site Primarily utilized by the military to maintain instant contact between soldiers and their families, the military blog is now becoming the voice of the soldiers as they disclose what the media doesn't say.

In my essay, I chose to examine what exactly these military blogs are and what they have to say. In looking at this, the existing debate is discussed whether soldiers have the right to publish on the web, when many people believe that the information that is published is in fact endangering the troops. Others maintain that these soldiers have the right to speak their mind on these blogs. Despite the current regulations, soldiers are continuing to post on their blogs, furthering this very important discussion concerning First Amendment Rights.

Josh's Hypertext

As I mentioned in class, my hypertext is about flaming and new identity creation. It seems not many people are realizing the responsibility maintaining their numerous identities involves. Most online discussion boards are reminiscent of war zones, with flames and insults being thrown left and right. Perfectly decent people turn into vicious fonts of hatred and vitriol as all restraint is lost. This hypertext seeks to examine why this occurs, and the process of creating a new identity that differs so much from one’s real life identity.

To do so, I examined not only the academic research behind the subject, but also a few actual examples from the Naruto Collectible Card Game online community. As a judge and tournament organizer for this game, I am expressly aware of the changes that occur. These are people I see every week who are very nice people – but when I see them participate in discussion boards and chat rooms, it’s as if I barely know them. The identities they have created online are dramatically different from the identities they project in real life. These examples culled from real situations perhaps are the most common situations one will find on the Internet – quiet, socially awkward teenage males attempting to escape from their dreary lives by creating a new life online.

There actually have been a few studies done on the subject of flame wars, as it is a very rampant problem on the Internet. Possible reasons why flaming occurs and why it is so widespread include anonymity, gender interactions, the faceless nature of the Internet, and the ease of overexpression of emotion. As a result of the sheer amount of flaming that happens, there have also been methods developed to combat destructive flame wars that either rip groups apart or can bring down a public figure.

The personal focus of my paper is on a few people, aged 13 to 25, who partake in the aformentioned online discussion boards for the Naruto card game. I know all of these people personally in real life, and interact with them nearly every weekend. Because of this, I have noticed a large discrepancy from their offline behavior and their online actions. Offline, they are well behaved, quiet, and decent people, whereas online they flame, they make fun of people, and are loudmouth, brash jerks. Some of them recognize this problem and have attempted to rectify it (with some success), while others are still flaming away regularly while being very nice people offline. My hypertext is focused on these people, and why their behavior can change so radically when they sit in front of a computer.

It's been a great quarter... I hope everyone has an amazing summer!

Monday, June 4, 2007


As King addresses the naming of her class on Feminism and Technology I think that it’s interesting that her colleagues said that women would be resistant to take the class because of the word “technology” in the title. Growing up in a cyber friendly age I’ve really not encountered too much of a a divide between male and female interest in technology. There seems to be an interest or disinterest in technology across the board. I see class and age to be more of a sign of interest than I do gender. I guess I should consider that I am stating this as a feminist with a keen interest in different and often useless forms of technology. I feel like the word “feminism” is also far more stigmatized than “technology” is, wouldn’t more men be afraid to take King’s class than women?

Alex Foti’s interview was of specific interest, after I had just read Terranova’s piece. Terranova looks at how technology and culture shape each other and how this in turn effects the global marketplace. Foti highlights different ideas about class throughout his interview, and I think that class is something that needs to be considered while considering Terranova’s claims. What hand does the internet play in the economy of the future?

I wasn’t able to get very far into Haraway’s article. Maybe it was the bizarre intro image, the heavy language, or my own senioritis. My own answer is pending.

King's Analysis of "Stories Technologies"

The depiction of the four types of "stories technologies" that King examines in "Women in the Web" was one of the most interesting aspects of the articles that I read this week. Some of the articles, such as Terranova's ongoing discussion of the way in which the digital economy has in ways replicated the historical development of the "real" (which I employ for lack of a better word for non-digital) economy, while interesting at parts, hardly held extraordinary interest for myself as one who is hardly keen on the study of economics. King's article is particularly interesting, however, because it provides a way for me to analyze and categorize not only my impressions, but impressions that I've heard from outside sources, of the way technology is viewed. These "stories technologies," an idea initially introduced by academics such as Ohmann, were particularly intriguing even if potentially confusing as a result of their apparent similarities.

The first of these is the story of technological determinism, which is one that I certainly can recognize hearing quite frequently, particularly regarding the way technology influences society. This story discusses technology that appears to have been invented on accident, but that has consequences for society that seem to be inevitable across the spectrum. The example that Ohmann gives is the way in which, "The TV caused middle-class families of the 50s to retreat from community life and intensify their nuclear focus, huddling together around the warm glow of the living room TV set." The downfall of such a view is that "they suggest that these consequences are inevitable, that the technologies were invented without specific intentions, and that the technologies are singular, in themselves social forces" (King 306).

The next of the "stories technologies" is what is described as symptomatic technology. In this description, one discusses the way in which symptoms emerge from the invention of an important technology. The example provided by King is that "we might say, 'Our children have become ravenous consumers of junk watching TV commercial after TV commercial.'" In doing this, we neglect the technological invention in itself in order to focus on "other great social forces which exploit such invention" (307).

The third narrative is known as neutral technology and is particularly interesting in that it looks at the way in which certain technologies do both positives and negatives for society, whether socially, political, or economically. King cites the example of the Digital Divide and the claim that, "Computers are not the problem, it is everyone not having access to them that is the concern." While this view of technology appears to be an unbiased appraisal of the pro's and con's of certain technological developments, it is important to recognize that this assessment fails to "recognize,technologies as create and deployed within, indeed embodying, relations of power." It is here that King discusses a very important way to identify this "neutral technology" by looking for three particular signs that indicate such a view. "The first is using phrases like 'the computer' 'as if it were a stable device.' The second is deploying such a phrase as a grammatical agent (for example, making it the subject of a sentence), and the third is using phrases like 'man,' 'the mind,' and 'the human condition'" (307). Ohmann demands that one recognize the crucial point "that technologies interact with people or with 'culture' in global, undifferentiated ways, rather than serving as an arena of interaction among classes, races, and other groups of unequal power" (qtd in King 307). This "neutral technology," which seemingly looks like the most potentially unbiased view of technology, is shown to neglect the relationship that technology has with its users, and the varied types of users that themselves have different relationships with such technology.

This idea leads finally to the fourth type, which King considers the most neutral and what Haraway termed as technologies as frozen social relations. This mode of viewing technology is the most complex, stemming from the fact that it examines the transitions in relationships between technology and its varied users, particularly relationships that were previously nearly incapable of comprehension until their recent evolution. The danger here is once again to revert to the three signs in technological discussion that Ohmann warned against in the explanation of the "neutral technologies." One must be exceptionally careful in examining the emergence and role of a technology in relation to all its users and forms. The result is a very intensive discourse for the relationship of any sort of technology to society, a condensed version of which King provides in the following page regarding merely the understanding of the term "VCR." The intense scrutiny that one must undertake seems nearly painful, but unfortunately the field of studying technological emergence in society demands such specified investigation to avoid generalized and inaccurate claims.

While this entire explanation seemed to offer little impact on the remainder of the article, and seemed to only be explained for informative and not argumentative purposes, I found it to be by far the most interesting examination of the field of technology. As King later discusses, in her classes there is so much more than learning how to use technology to do things such as build websites, which is what most presume a tech class will entail. To examine the way in which technology interacts with all aspects of our society, which is what we have done primarily in this class, in addition to the integration of technology to display our research, is of just as great importance.

I apologize for the length of this post, but I thought it of great importance in a class on "Internet Culture in the Information Society" that we pay specific attention to the way in which technology's relationship with our society is viewed, examined, and explained. King does a great job explaining these four modes, and as a result it seemed important to highlight it for the purpose of this class.

cyborg manifesto

so i had a really hard time trying to get through the cyborg manifesto. i read this as if i would read theory, and as such, i kept in mind a very helpful tip from one of my professors: read it as if you knew what was going on. whenever we get to a rather difficult theorist, she tells us to just keep reading, and pretend that we follow. more often than not, she says, we will have picked up on more than we think.

this advice didn’t really help this time.

so, i went search on my own for some help. first, i checked out donna harraway on wikipedia and skimmed through some of her biography and her previous writings. then, i stumbled on some reading notes here: i’d highly recommend skimming through these notes. they helped me understand the manifesto a little better. after that, i called my feminist friend, sarah, who had read another article by harraway called you are cyborg, and we talked about it for a while. the most clarifying point of our conversation was when i finally asked her what a cyborg is. i know how harraway defines it in her manifesto, but i wanted to know how she thought of drawing a distinction between robots and cyborgs. sarah was telling me that a cyborg is kind of like the bridge between a robot and a human: you can speak about a birth and a death with a cyborg, but not in the same way when you’re talking about a robot. she was talking about how technology has become so insinuated and entangled with humans that, in a way, we’re not humans anymore. people who have metal rods in their backs for a spine or heart machines aren’t really human, and in a larger sense, neither are people who wear glasses, and in an even larger sense, neither are people who use alarm clocks. she pointed me to these articles: and


First off, what I found the most interesting when I started reading this was that I was able to understand to what Terranova was talking about when she spoke of MUDs, MOOs, and the "unreal" empty space. That being said, I think that our society, as fast paced and growing as it is, is still relatively naive about the Internet as a whole. The larger part of our society is completely unaware of these so called empty spaces, much less the labor that goes into making them tick. Because of our constantly changing world, the word "labor" becomes such a broad term. Terranova speaks of the Internet in particular, describing it as a "flexibility of the workforce." This idea of free labor is hard to fight in a time and age like ours where a lot of the things online are taken for granted and basically free. The Internet opens up doors that is a giant Pandora's box. "Free labor is the moment where this knowledgeable consumption of culture is translated into productive activities that are pleasurably embraced and at the same time often shamelessly exploited." As bad as it sounds, we as consumers love free stuff, and are not afraid of, as she puts it, exploiting. With all the scares of fines and arrests, people still download free music and free movies all the time without a second thought, yet when asked to give up something for free, no one wants to. It is interesting what she says about the open source movement, though: it relies on this free labor, and had even gotten $7 million a month for AOL. The big thing I realized though, is that it is a necessary to building the open source market.

King asks, "What are the politics of making distinctions between the oral and the written?" This is followed by a series of questions clarifying exactly what she researches including questions about assumptions, power, historical divides, and the practical. King uses feminism to research the "technologies of knowledge-making." How I see it, is the relationship between technology, the improvements of culture throughout the years, and the real world. I have never heard of "writing technologies," and am interested in what it is exactly. King says that it is to engage the objects intertwined with stories, and that these stories are important in the overall picture. It is because of these stories that technology has glamour and depth, yet I'm still confused on what stories of technology entails. Maybe it is my need for a definition and the lack of a concrete one, that prevents me from understanding.

Ben's Reading Responses (Haraway & Foti)

"The Cyborg Manifesto"

In her search for a kind of politics that simultaneously appeals to socialist-feminism and embraces “partial, contradictory, permanently closed constructions of personal and collective selves” (157), Haraway makes some very interesting discoveries and claims. One of the most striking ideas brought up was that of us all being cyborgs, part machine and part organism. Technology definitely plays a large role in my life as a student: SCU (like most universities) has made technology a central component of the academic experience and without access to it, I would not be able to succeed in school. But even though I have such a strong relationship with technology, with computers, cell phones, and the internet, I do not feel that I am part machine. So, needless to say, in reading all that Haraway had to say about cyborgs (and about dualisms in our society in general), I was very fascinated.

A related part of the reading I found particularly interesting was Haraway’s discussion later in the chapter regarding dependence on electronics (165). We have had relied so heavily on electronics, she says, that the difference between the machine and the organism has become blurred: “mind, body, and tool are on very intimate terms” (165). Is this true? Has technology become a part of each of our selves? Haraway also claims that, because of this new “intimate” connection between organisms and machines, the organism has lost its classification as an “object of knowledge,” that we now consider machines to be objects of knowledge. The idea made me reflect on the extent of our dependence on technology, and I wonder if it will be the fatal flaw, the cause of the downfall, of humanity.

Alex Foti Interview

In his response to the third question of the interview, Foti stated that knowledge workers--students, researchers, educators, etc.--were “probably the most organized” out of the Italian “precariat.” This was the most notable part of the interview, for me. Earlier in it, Foti talked of looking to America and seeing the future of exploitation in Italy; in the same way, I believe we should look to Italy (and France and Denmark) for a model for knowledge worker organization and activism. As we have read, the corporatization of universities is creating a dire situation for students and (especially) for researchers and teachers. Foti’s statement sort of surprised me: I feel that out of all the groups in America that should and need to be organized, knowledge workers need to be the most, and yet I don’t think of them as being organized at all. Much good would come from having students, educators, and researchers (and all combinations) organize together to put a halt to exploitation. But would American students would be willing to unionize? Would they be able to overcome universities’ inevitable efforts to prevent organizing?

Trouble in digital paradise...

I just came across this article and thought it might interest some of you:

Friday, June 1, 2007

Katie King: Women in the Web

Katie King is a woman that works in women’s studies teaching university courses on contemporary meanings of word processing and the Web. Her interdisciplinary field she titled “Feminism and Writing Technologies," investigates oral and print cultures, new cybercultures, and the feminist investigations of technosciences. By the description of one of her classes, it seems that it parallels our own with its usage web interface and website design.
A topic that King addresses in this text, that was mentioned by Julianne in her post, is the idea that technology is largely considered masculine.
She discusses how the title of her class tends to scare off women who are naturally inclined toward literary aspects as opposed to technical ones. Women come into her class claiming that they have little or no experience with technology, writing off sewing machines, stoves, televisions and music players as simple domestics. It really is a strange phenomenon that there is this masculinity in the field of technology, and it is something I have wondered about since there isn't any clear cut reason for why it is the case.

When I first learned about Second Life, I was initially not thrilled to partake in the exploration of this new world. It looked as though I was going to have to enter a video game land characteristic of teenage boys. I couldn’t help but feel that I was slightly disadvantaged in my interactive abilities in Second Life. It is strange to feel immediately out of your element in any locale, but this case, I felt especially unsure as a girl. That is not to say that I have never been exposed to videogame elements before. Growing up, I was drawn to Tetris and Lincoln Logs, slightly more gender neutral than Barbie dolls. Yet, the typical childhood upbringing of boys entails much more computer-oriented activity. There are very few guys I know who do not own an Xbox or N64 or Playstation. We do have a Nintendo player tucked away somewhere in my house, but I received it as a gift from a crazy uncle and never really got into it.

That being said, I don’t think that women should be discouraged to interact with this technology since it is clearly the way of the future. I work at the Information Technology Help Desk in the Kenna Lab, as one of 4 girls on a staff of 15. Students oftentimes do not think I work in IT when I am sitting at the desk, which can be irritating. When I am working with a male on the staff, it is typical for people to go out of their way to talk to him about their questions. There's nothing I love more than fixing a guy's computer when he clearly thinks I am incompetent.

Internet fotr freedom of speech

Thought this would be interesting to anyone who is writing about the effects of YOUTUBE / Video Blogs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Reading Response

It’s strange to think of the internet as a digital sweatshop for most the interest is a vast intangible space that runs not on man power but machinery. We completely forget as Terranova says, “Internet is animated by cultural and technical labor…a continuous production of value that is completely immanent to the flows of the network society at large.” Terranova focuses on how there are connection between society and the internet. Labor and culture are linked through this technology saying that our society today is developed through this connect. This technology will soon start to shape the way capitalism will work in the future and the future laborers. How will one structured such a vast wide spread technology. I can only think that this kind of capitalist society people have found numerous ways to take advantage of the laborers and the technology. There are many people that believe that the internet should be free from any capitalist agenda but as our society stands today there is no way for our world to move in any other way.

Harraway’s interview was interesting because it focused on those that don’t have access to the internet. In the modern globalizing world cultures that are made to have a disadvantage to the rest of the world. This is interesting subject to me because there are so problems with making our world a internet focused world because they are some many that don’t have the technology, and even if they do have the technology doesn’t mean they know how to use it or it is made for them to use it. Harraway talks about the “digital divide” because of this third world countries are thrown even further into poverty. They have to compete with a market they don’t even have the technology or training to enter. If we could change the way we see technology as a way to help the world to equalize itself then we could if ways to make it benefit all and not just the few.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thought Provoking Readings from The Politics of Information

Terranovas claim in her essay “Free Labor, Producing Culture for the Digital Economy” that the Internet embodies a complex relation to late capitalist societies is rather fascinating. She asserts that this relationship is based on free labor: a trait of the cultural economy and fundamental yet undervalued part of capitalist societies. She cites that the internet is a specific instance of the role played by free labor. She states that the internet is not an unreal, empty space, but rather “the Internet is animated by cultural and technical labor through and through, a continuous production of value that is completely immanent to the flows of the network society at large” (100). However, I became increasingly enthralled as Terranova expanded on the social implications of the internet. She goes on to reiterate how she seeks to discover ways in which the Internet connects to the “social factory”: that is, how the social, cultural, and economic relationships of the internet connect to the larger relationships of labor, culture and power. Accordingly, the notion that the internet is connected to the development of postindustrial societies is a captivating one. Terranova makes her claim that “cultural flows” have originated in a field that is already capitalism. The active participation of subcultural members in the production of cultural goods provides the look, styles, and sounds that sell the goods. Consequently, the product of collective cultural labor has been challenged and structured in capitalist business practices. Complex, I know…

What are the politics of making decisions between the oral and the written? This is the question King addresses in her essay “Women in the Web.” King calls her field “Feminism and Writing Technologies” and she asserts that it combines the study and practices of oral and print culture, the creation and study of new cyber cultures, and the feminist investigations of techno science (wow, talk about a hefty workload!) She asserts that these practices all produce the others and serve as forms of everyday life.

Working in the field of writing technologies and feminism has led King to question the movements of power involved between the oral and the written. Additionally, I thought Ohmanns point about whether it is possible to describe technologies without using phrases such as “the computer” and making them grammatical agents and without using other phrases like “the man” “the mind” and “the human condition” to be thought provoking. How can we describe technologies without implying that they interact with people and cultures in global ways? Thus trying to do without phrases like “the computer” not only seems daunting, but by using it individuals are engaged in the discourses of technology.

Accordingly, I found Kings discussion of the gendering of technology to be extremely pertinent. For example, when she titles her class” Feminism and writing Technologies” her colleagues pointed out that this might sway female students from taking the class since it had technology in the title. The course also entailed addressing contemporary technologies of writing and their social meanings and power. But when contemporary technologies started being introduced in other classes, King sought to create a class that fused cyber culture, orality and literacy studies, and feminist technoscience: thus resulting in the formation of Women on the Web: Ways of Writing in Historical Perspective. I think that the resistance to technology on behalf of some women is making them subordinate. All too often women see the “maleness” associated with technology and fail to see women’s creative engagements with technology: particularly writing technologies. Consequently, I think that it is important for women to read Kings essay in order to reflect on how technology is intertwined with social meaning and power.

Gaming My Way!!!

If I were to create a game to have a social impact it would ideally be one that would address sexism and discrimination in the work place. The hardest part of planning a game of this type is coming up with a concept that would completely address the issue without being too broad and loose it relevance. Also with issues like these that are primarily propagated within individuals it would be had to gauge whether or not the game would actually be having a social impact.
The idea i have so far would be to put the player in the position of a boss of a company who is actively hiring new individuals. The game would consist of having the player choose the individuals on their resumes then move to a face to face interview with the chosen individuals. At this point the object of the game would be to create and foster a positive work place that is also productive. Within the frame work of the office would be other current employees that for whatever reason would have problems with the new hires, be it that they are of a certain race, sex, or sexual orientation. The players goal would be to try to keep the current employees happy and to hire a productive new set of employees. The logistics are difficult to work out but in essence failure to keep moral high, through firing of current employees or side stepping issues of discrimination through some other means would result in loosing the game.
I feel that this game could help, if nothing else, shed some light on the factors that go into workplace discrimination.

Video Gaming for Education: My mom would never believe this!

When it comes to Video games I thought I had run the gamut and seen all there is too see but now I'm not so sure. After playing around with Social impact games I saw that there are many different applications for video games. When I had originally conceived video games in my mind they are always very linear, in terms of plot line, and object. The object is to win: the player learns the parameters of the game and adapts accordingly. Social impact games incorporate this concept but also apply another goal; that the gamer walk away from the game with some new knowledge that is applicable outside of the game. For me this was a shocking concept because, as a man who loves games, I had never even believed that games could be used to teach. For me the concepts within games offered an escape from the confines of reality and a venue in which to break the law; both of physics and of society.
The games I chose to write about in my diary are the ones that affected me the most. These games were "Waste of Space" an educational game that teaches players the basic laws of physics, "The Anti-Bush Game" a political game that highlighted points/effects of the Bush Administration, and "Darfur is Dying" a game about the escalating situation in Darfur, Sudan.
"Waste of Space" was interesting to me because it reminded me of some of the reading computer games I played when I was a child. However this game presented much more complicated material in a way that was easy to follow and actively reinforced through game play. I think that this game would be a great tool to place in to elementary school classrooms, because it makes the concepts fun, however my one critique is that at time the important concepts about physics are overshadowed by the aspect of fun in the game. What I mean by that is that although the point is to impart knowledge of the concepts of inertia, at time these lessons are easy to ignore in anticipation of playing a game, regardless of the properties of science that is utilizes.
The game that I enjoyed the most but also had the most problems with was "The Anti-Bush Game." This game was focused on highlighting the social repercussion of the Bush Administration. One thing that I found interesting is that the game itself was tied to an clothing company, American Fear (AMFR). My major point of contention with this game was its method of presenting the politics. It was obviously going to be heavily biased and slanted against Bush, but I feel that by presenting its facts in game form it makes them seem very strange. The inclusion of superhero's and politics seems like a combination of iconography that appeals to two different demographics. The message being sent here I find potentially dangerous, I personally am not a supporter of Bush but I have reasons for this that I have discovered on my own. I feel that this game is attempting to appeal to the youth who may not know too much about the political situation surrounding the Bush administration and that that group would take the "facts" presented in this game as the end all of facts. I just feel uncomfortable because the game seems to be using scare tactics to coerce the ideas of the youth with facts that are not cited.
The third and final game was "Darfur is Dying." This game was especially memorable because you can't win. The game does have a "high score" wall but the only goal is to stay alive. The repetitive nature of the game seemed indicative of the the daily struggle of the people in Darfur. The most powerful part of this game was that every time that the militia attacked you, as the player, had the option to contact the Bush administration, local government, or sign a petition to make movements to help with the problem in Darfur. I feel that this game has the most potential to have a direct social impact, more so that the other ones because of it's tie to a contemporary problem and direct method of affecting said problem.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ben's Reading Responses

“The Informatics of Higher Education”

Bousquet’s “The Informatics of Higher Education” deals largely with the issue of unregulated/under-regulated “on-demand” labor in higher education institutions.

The whole idea of “on-demand labor”--labor that comes about only when it is needed by a manager--was particularly fascinating to me. I had never before thought of students (more so graduate than undergraduate) as “on-demand” laborers (or of students as laborers at all), but the more I read the more obvious the notion became. What effect would there be on higher education if we began calling students workers, or if students organized and fought for labor rights?

“Women in the Web”

King’s “Women in the Web” is a “workplace narrative,” in which she talks about a variety of subjects pertaining to her “Feminism and Writing Technologies” class.

I found her discussion of the reasons for her renaming her class to be very interesting. Female students were turned off by the title of the course because it contained the word “technology,” a traditionally male or male-dominated field. It isn’t that women do not like technology, or wouldn’t enjoy a tech-based course, it was just that the wording tended to discourage them from enrolling it the class. As I read this, I wondered: what other courses/fields not only in college, but in modern life suffer from this same feature/stereotype, both inside and outside academic circles?

"Prospects for a Materialist Informatics"

In Nakamura’s interview with Harraway, the parts that I found most fascinating had to do with labor and cyberspace.

Haraway talked about the “digital divide,” how certain people/cultures don’t have access to the internet, and that it is seen as “bad.” She argues that this is the wrong way to look at it, though, because these people are then forced to “live in relationship to standards that they don’t and can’t fit” (156). Having become so used to the internet, to having internet access all the time, I was sort of taken aback when I remembered/realized that many people don’t have access to the internet--how hard would it be to live or try to “fit in” in America without the internet?

The other part of the interview I liked was the discussion towards to end about “speedup” in both the workplace and in school, and how to resist it. It was interesting that Haraway’s solution was to “do less,” to resist the “do more” culture we live in, and I wonder if it is possible for one to actually do that today. Also, I think Haraway’s question--“how do we ask our students to read less, write less, think more?”--is a very important one. There has been a de-emphasis on thought in our society--we are conditioned to complete tasks assigned to us by others, not to think up our own tasks, to take our own steps to accomplish our goals. Haraway’s solution--resistance--is a good one, but how could such a major shift in thought take place?

"Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy"

Lately, I have been very involved with the "open source movement," swapping out the pre-installed programs on my Mac laptop with any open source ones I find. I do this because of the benefits such programs offer (benefits Terranova points out, such as the speed with which problems/bugs are fixed), but also because I try to avoid supporting big business as often as possible.

Terranova, however, opened my eyes to the reality behind open source ("The question for Netscape now is how to tame the freeware beast so that profits are secured," [114]). Thinking about the open source sites I have visited, I realized that most are clearly trying to find ways to maximize their profit--no matter how meager it is--whether through small fees for extra features or support, or by requesting donations to keep them running. The most notable recent example of this--of, as Terranova calls it, "incorporation"--would be the Dell/Ubuntu (a Linux OS) partnership.

Through the reading, I have gained a better idea of some of the negative effects of capitalism on the parts of the internet that start out as something great, or, in the case of open source, something that really benefits the collective mind. Is there any way to slow the capitalism train down? Or will big business always be one step ahead, always manage to have enough horsepower, to ensure that it will always be able to incorporate that which it desires?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Video Games - Using History as a platform for entertaining education

I think a person can learn a lot of history and culture through video games without being encumbered with the learning aspect of a video game. Math Blaster and Reading Rabbit were fun when I was 5 and technology was struggling to support the games. Now technology has outgrown basic games and so have most people. Math Blaster and Reading Rabbit will continue to be a simple, engaging, and developmental tool for very young children, but more advanced and intriguing games must be developed to capture the growing/maturing video game audience. With much contemplation I have surmised that video games on the topic of history, mythology, and western civilization would be engaging, instructive, and constructive games to build for enjoyment and educational purposes. The game I roughly propose is as follows:

This game idea focuses on mythology and incorporates original fantasy and science fiction elements as well. That is because of the little variety of games that use mythology as its center. I see many games out there that have used characters and terms that originated from mythology such as Ragnarok, Yggdrasil, Odin, Sleipnir, Sol, and Thanatos just to name a few. Huge game developers don’t mind using ideas and characters from two thousand year old civilizations; but they haven’t considered what could be produced if the right amount of creativeness was combined with the various realms of mythology that is known today. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that no games are based on mythology because I am sure that there are. I am just saying that mythology has much more potential than being a database for names to call you creatures, items and characters. I created this game to use my own creativity with the rich history of mythology to do something that isn’t just fun, but also give a sense of gratitude to mythology for it‘s role in literary history. Also, the world in my game will be a reflection of the real world in an era in the future. I have never played an RPG that is situated in any world similar to that of Earth. I decided to do this because it allows the game to have a more direct effect on someone when you speak of his or her own world. I can create science fiction elements to enhance the game. But don’t get me wrong, there isn’t any gigantic warships that travel at light speed. I am tired of people convincing themselves that the future will have man searching the galaxy with advanced weaponry when they aren’t going to be alive to experience it themselves. I just mean that technology will play a role in the game.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Video Games make me cool, even if my mom does not say so

Video Games are a form of extracurricular activity that many people engage in, particularly people of the X generation and onward. I play video games as a form of enjoyment—an activity that lets me explore the mysticism of the impossible. In being introduced to the concept of “Social Impact Games” I have been extremely skeptical of the type of enjoyment that can be extracted from such games. Conventionally I play video games as a second life, without much thought to purpose. The idea of “Social Impact Games” is disturbing and bordering on the lines of thought control and subliminal messaging. Most video games I have played have been for pure enjoyment. I play MMORPGs, RPGs, and other games without considering the “Social Impact” of the game. The thought of “Social Impact Games” comes across as Orwellian.

“Social Impact Games” seem to be a response to popular games like Grand Theft Auto. True video games like Grand Theft Auto are left with an open ended purpose that is meant to be decoded by each individual player. “Social Impact Games” are constructed around a purpose and restrict the players’ imagination. “Social Impact Games” are designed like a thesis paper—heavily structured to relay a message instead of allowing for creative game play. I am not saying that “Social Impact Games” cannot be fun; I am saying that “Social Impact Games” have ulterior motives that usurp the purpose of traditional video gaming. “Social Impact Games” have the ability to teach the player lesson(s) but they lack the ability to continuously engage the players’ imagination. Games that are categorized as “Social Impact Games” lose their appeal as a game for enjoyment and become a daunting task.

The drawbacks to “Social Impact Games” are that they do not appeal to the traditional video gamer. The traditional video gamer plays games for enjoyment, for exploring possibilities, for engaging their imagination. “Social Impact Games” usurp the traditional video gamers drive to play and replace a gamers desire to play with a purpose to play. Although “Social Impact Games” can closely mimic the real thing, they are designed with a Big Brother aspect that leaves the gamer with a feeling of being watched and controlled—ultimately manipulated.

“Social Impact Games” can pass as real video games so long as the players’ do not associate the game with a social purpose. Video games, like writing, have an ethos, logos, and pathos. The more mysterious the ethos of the video game developer the less distractions there will be to the play of the game. The more creative and innovative the logos and pathos are respectively to the video game the more disguised the video game will be as a game designed for enjoyment. Video games designed by the NAVY, the US Marines, and by other government institutions have the intrigue of generic shoot-em-up games but they lack the creativity that video games like Halo are able to master. Most video games succeed because they are able to detach the excitement of game play from the humdrum of reality. When a player begins to blur the line between reality, particularly social reality, and video game play they begin to lose their imaginative interest in the game. People do not like to be reminded of real world situations in the video game world. Now, this does not mean that people lose touch with reality when video gaming—players continue to be objective about certain aspects of video games, like gravity, lighting, and human capability. “Social Impact Games” transcend and transgress the line of social reality with virtual reality.

“Social Impact Games” are not fun because they are real. While I play video games I try to not think about the reality of the situation. I may be shooting an alien with some sort of futuristic weapon, building a civilization up through the Bronze Age, or flying around with super powers, but I am certainly not thinking about the “Social Impact” (message) of the video game. Well thought out games will be able to implement social impact strategies in their game play, but games designed specifically for social impact purposes will always have a bias that draws away from their effective purpose.

Video games that are successful share a unique ownership relationship with the player. Most players of video games continue to game because they have invested their time (money, effort, skill…) in the game and therefore feel a special sense of ownership, not only over the actual game, but also with the ownership of the avatars/characters that have been modified to reflect the players’ desires. When people invest their time in a game they expect to gain influence in the video game they are playing and expect the video game to react to their actions. A game like Fable (XBOX) illustrates the relationship between a gamer and the video game. In Fable the gamer’s conduct of his avatar is eventually reflected in his actual avatars appearance, abilities, and reputation. Where if you feed your avatar a lot your avatar is likely to become fat, if you do cruel things your avatar if more disliked and begins to look more demonic—gamers tend to relate to their avatar so long as their avatar is able to relate to them. “Social Impact Games” are too structured in their approach to gaming and present the gamer with a set world, set actions, set outcomes, and a limited amount of creativity. Instead of classifying “Social Impact Games” as a type of game, perhaps we should reconsider the nature of many of these so called “games” and redress them as simulations.

Monday, May 21, 2007

My Game

I think that it would be fun to have a game that had something to do with power or control over others. It would be a game that be based on the experiment where there were students made the guards of the prison and others the inmates. The game would give one team all the power to make the rules and regulations and the others no power. There would be no limitations to what they could do in the game. The members of each team would be chosen at random. This would be interesting to see what students would do if they had all the control over people and to see what it would be to have none. Let the craziness being.

Social Impact Game

With all of the recent immigration debate I think that an interesting social impact game would involve building or destructing a fence on the Mexican/American border. At the beginning of the game you could choose to either be a wall builder or a wall destroyer and the game would play out accordingly. I was originally just going to have the game have "wall destroyers" because I am a fan of pushing liberal agenda, but I think that I can do that from both ends of this. I think that the actions of the destroyers and the builders will fully impact the lives of undocumented Americans and their families. This game would not only highlit the struggle for undocumented workers in America but it will display their economic ties to their families. In destroying the wall more families will be able to work across both borders and relationships would be maintained. In building the wall individuals who need to find work would try harder to look for it and be forced to take greater economic and physical risks.

I think that social impact games can be extremely important and influencial. Maybe not for people like me who get a little impatient with games, but for a lot of people I think that this medium of communication is ideal.
Paper Topic

For my final project I would like to focus on the how censoring the accessible information on the internet influences a society’s world view, but also how the people of the society view their government. The question then would be: does the internet have the ability to change the world? Or is it another type of big brother? In the many ways one can use the internet, what are the ethical boundaries? Are we really able to access the world or are we just able to access the powers that control our world. After reading James F. Moore's “The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head” I see where people could be taking the internet in the future, but is this really even possible. There are many countries that censor the information that their citizen can access over the internet. It may seem like the internet is a free for all with no limitations but the truth is that is untrue. And even if it is not being censored it is still being watched.

If the internet does have the capability to change the way the world works it would first have to be truly free. Free from censorship but how free is to free. Should we allow people to do and say whatever they want how ever they want, or are these watchful eyes working for the good. It seems that there are many barriers that start in the way of making the internet the next superpower. Will be a global effort or just anyway for someone else to gain all the power.

I would like to look into in what ways the internet can be censored and how information can be blocked. Also how the government uses the internet for “the good of the people”. I want to use this information to see if one could create a superpower out of the internet or not, and if it was possible where it would led us in the future.

Am I a gamer now?

Reading Disabilities-Fast Forward Slide

I think that eventually I'll go into elementary education so I was curious as to what online games would look like for children with learning disabilites. This particular game aims to improve a child's phoneme recognition, which can lend to reading improvements. I found myself kind of annoyed by the game, even though I can understand that it could be useful. Repetition is often necessary to fully develop sound comprehension, but I couldn't bare to listen for too long. The game requires you to move squares around and match sounds with one sound presented by a sheep. This sound isn't just a "ba" sound but it varies with each game you play. I can see this games use, but if I'm annoyed I can't even imagine how annoying this could be to a child with a learning disability.

Anti-Bush Video Game
I was curious to see what this game looked like after reading some of your reviews of it. I was a bit confused by some of the opening page imagery at first (see: Hulk Hogan pixel-man) but I decided to go on ahead. Once I got into the game I couldn't help but laugh at first. Its absolutely ridiculous at times. But in the end I really appreciated a lot of the information. Definitely not the venue that I would want my political or social commentary from, but appreciated none the less. I soon found myself processing through pages and pages of text between some highly visible American figures. Then I entered the interaction section where I was assumed the roles of several of the high profile Americans presented and I tried to defeat the Bush administration. I played for awhile and killed off some mutated machines, learned some facts and figures about the deficit/surplus, and was generally entertained and educated.

Growing Your Chi
This game was terribly chi-sy. I mean do I really think that clicking on clouds of people smiling as opposed to frowning will make my day better? No. In fact it kind of made me frusturated. I lost points for clicking on the names "Marcus" and "Stewart" because they were not my name. So am I to assume that Marcus and Stewart are bad for my Chi. And then I started thinking about people who weren't physically capable of smiling, and then I felt bad. Okay, so I am taking this a little far. Basically I just didn't like this game. haha.

Ryan's Final Proposal

In an attempt to delve in to the world of online predation and pedophilia, my final project will focus on the recent events surrounding sexual predators on Second Life and Myspace. Recently a Second Life based child pornography distribution ring was disrupted and investigators are currently uncovering the true identities behind the avatar users. Not only were these individuals trading images of child pornography but also engaging in “age play groups” in which child like avatars were being sexually abused in Second Life. One way in which online activities are facing real-life consequences is in the recent events surrounding registered sex offenders on Myspace. State prosecutors are currently investigating legal ways in which information from Myspace can be obtained by State of Federal officials in sex offender investigations and inquiries. As we all know Second Life has many blatantly sexual theme based regions, however a problem arises when these themes turn to real-life crimes that warrant prosecution. I would like to examine the problems associated with such activities as well understand the interface that exists between the real-world and places or environments like Second Life

Michael's Project

For my final project, I want to explore the real possibility and absolute necessity of countering empire. After first building off the many proposals and anticipations in James Moore’s “The Second Superpower,” I want to focus on ‘digital divide’ issues—how those of us privileged with the technology we have learned about in class can and must use this privilege to empower those less fortunate, i.e., the 3 billion people who live on less that $2 a day.

I want to focus on connecting globally with these people. And not in some way like a telecommunications corporate commercial. Not the “globalization” that we know— “the world is flat,” Tom Friedman-type, reinforcing empire lies, but globalization from below. For this part of the project, I’ll probably focus on what globalization is in the first place. Right now, it is just one version international integration, and we need another that uses our technology to give power to the people instead of private interests (Chomsky).

I also want to explore the participatory aspect of the global technological culture that has been and needs to continue forming itself. For example, we are shaping technology and new media in the context of globalization at the same time that these things are shaping us—our identities and ideologies.

Then explore how indigenous and other oppressed/impoverished peoples who make up the majority of the human population can learn this technology, become literate in this medium and in dominant culture—not to succeed in it, but to dismantle it; keeping the good, demolishing the bad and beginning anew.

My site and essay will probably be called "Countering Empire" then have something about "21st Century Literacies" in it.

Social impact games

At a first glance at the official genre of these games, “Social Impact Gaming,” I immediately, as a video-gamer, thought “lame.” But on the other hand, as a political science student, I thought it could be a great awareness tool, but I was still skeptical. So, I gave them an honest, open-minded opportunity. Here’s what I played.

I started in the Public-Policy area. I couldn’t believe that there were public policy games! I intern in the public policy sector, so I was very interested in what they had to offer. Unfortunately I didn’t find anything of much worth. When browsing I saw a game that I own, which said a lot about my social life. It’s actually a fun game, but since it’s a current events game, its now outdated but check it out here. So now with heavy depression sitting, I started with the budgeting game. It sounded like a very interesting and useful game, since the government seems to always be in some sort of budget crisis (that’s weird, who would’ve thought the government would have trouble collecting taxes from citizens!?). The original Massbudget for the Massechusets budget game didn’t work, so I tried to help out Bloomberg turn his bottom line green in NY. Trim social services here, cut a little spending for the loan paybacks here, lay-off a couple thousand government employees (they’re terribly inefficient anyways), and there it is: a one million dollar surplus! It was pretty easy for me to do – why can’t Mayor Bloomberg do it so easily. Well, the answer is the reason I originally thought social impact games would be lame: it’s completely different than a real-life budget process and the only way to make it work is to have artificial intelligence in the game as good as human intelligence – and that won’t happen. Although I did send it in, so maybe it will actually have an “impact.”

Ok. So I’ll give another public policy game a try. Hmmm…how about some good old corporate greed hating! Link here. This is a simple “match-the-devil-in-flesh-CEO-face-to-his-or-her-name-game.” Aside from being extremely boring, I did learn a lot about the details of some of those ever-referred to corporate scandals. It’s a good idea, but it’s hardly a video-game and I can’t really see the importance of it. Yes, corporate crimes are bad, but is it necessary to have the skill of matching the perpetrator’s face to the scandal, while answering the follow-up detail question correctly. I didn’t gain anything from this game.

I then switched to political and social games. I was intrigued by “Catechumen” – the Christian first-person-shooter. I had no idea Jesus was down with first-person-shooters, even if they’re shooting angel dust or whatever else it is that they shoot from the first person angle. Its ridiculous. Sorry God, but as Nietzsche said, you’re dead. Unfortunately you can’t play it, you have to buy it (typical Christian gaming trick).

So I moved on from purgatory to Darfur. The game “Darfur is Dying" was made by MTV U, which makes me respect it less, to be honest. The game is made up of two environements, the desert where you run to get water without being run over by the Janjeweed and the other is at the village, where there is a countdown to an attack on the camp. This game is terribly unrealistic. There is a directional meter that tells you where the water is, the Janjeweed don’t shoot their guns, and farms grow food in seconds. I just don’t see the value of this. I don’t think there is any good way of making someone feel what the refugees feel. I know that feelings can be a powerful tool, but I don’t think that tool is attainable through this kind of thing. It’s na├»ve to think that a video game by MTV U will raise awareness of Darfur. If someone has the interest to play the game, then they are already aware.

Lastly, I gave a business game a try. This was probably the best (I thought they were all crap, though) of the games I’ve played. It’s a British better business simulation in which you respond to a memo or some other kind of announcement or news flash by choosing an action to take from three given options. It then alters the following questions based on what you choose, and also lets you know how the shareholders, employees, and community groups feel about your actions. It’s sort of like a ranked choose your own path book, but a simulation. It helped one realize the dilemma that a CEO faces when making a decision, but that’s about all the value I got out of it. Not much to offer, but slightly entertaining for the first four questions.

In Summary, I thought they all weren’t very entertaining (I know, they’re not supposed to be) and not very informative. My reason for gaming has been to not think about all the bad things going on in life, so why do I want to be a Darfur refugee. But these weren’t made for gamers (a point made obvious by very simple controls/graphics/gameplay). So I ask the makers this, why would a non-gamer choose to learn this way? And how much social impact will they have at a site called I felt like knowing it was made to be an impact game took away from the impact that it could’ve had. But, I’m not ruling out their potential yet. Simulations are the future classroom – isn’t that what a classroom is, a big simulation?

Being the Director of a billion dollar business is SOOO hard

Those goddamn radicals trying to organize my workplace, launching environmental campaign and suing McDonald's really hurt the economy. If we can't have economic growth, we will have to fire the crew and bribe the politicians to enact laws to stop workers from organizing. It is a huge pain. Those god damn commies, liberals and obese people, they never stop suing and organizing. Thank god we have money to pay them off, thank you WTO for allowing us to extend our operation to the Forbidden City in China. Thank you for corn subsidy and best of all, the right to privatize water in India and Bolivia, so we can supply tasty coca-cola to our customers.

Who cares about workers rights and the environment when we have cheap burgers for hungry children in the developing world to eat? We donate all kinds of left over to the third world. These countries must let us do business there, who doesn't want an awesome meaty burger? We need to establish McDonald's everywhere, including Mount Everest and the South Pole. Who wants to hunt whales when there is McDonald's right by their village? Who needs to preserve their culture when the golden Arch is so great?

A differnt kind of social impact game...

Social Impact Game Proposal: Dining Out

My social impact game would be focused around the restaurant industry. It would tackle several different issues which I have come to witness in my 3+ years of working in restaurants: 1.) Food waste; 2.) Obesity; 3.) Server morale, and 4.) Tipping standards.

I would divide my game into the four quadrant structure that the McDonald’s videogame had used.

In the 1st quadrant the user would pick what body type the user is. Next, they would be given a virtual menu and would have to decide what to order. The meal would be brought, and the person would get to choose if they wanted to eat until they are a.) almost full; b.) full. c.) or completely stuffed. Then the user would be presented with a visual of how much food was left over and they could choose to have it boxed up or throw it away. If the user chooses to have the food thrown away then an image of a starving person in a third world nation would pop up on the screen and a message saying, “I’m sure this person would have liked to eat it.” If the person chooses to take the leftovers home then a message saying, “That saved you money! You won’t have to pay for your next meal because you are finishing this one,” would pop up.

The 2nd quadrant would take the same menu that was presented in the 1st quadrant and would ask the user questions about it. This section would be a multiple choice quiz which would ask questions which teach the user about proper nutrition, ways to reduce calories while dining out, and would present representative nutrition facts for certain menu items.

The 3rd quadrant would allow the user to have a one-on-one interaction with their server in a number of given situations. The 1st being the response they give their server at the initial greeting, their answers to questions the server asks, and how they would respond to an issue/or concern. Users should try various options and observe what kind of service they receive from the server. For instance, when a refill is needed and the user chooses to demand rather than ask for another drink, does the server return faster or slower. This would tech the user about proper interpersonal relations while dining out.

In the 4th quadrant the user would be presented with their bill listing the items they bought, the tax, and total. Using their bill, the user will be asked to calculate the tip for a below-average server, an average server, and an exceptional server. After making these calculations a screen would pop up which would talk about the social standards for acceptable tipping. It would also provide a checklist for determining whether the server was neglectful or just busy. For example, was the serving out of breath or running? Did they come by the table to tell you that they would be with you in a moment? Did the server just stand around? Etc.

I believe this would be an important social impact game in that millions of Americans work in restaurants, and a majority of Americans will dine in a restaurant at some point in their lifetimes. This game is meant to be a way to educate restaurant-goers about the issues regarding food and food-service.

Final Project Proposal

For my final project, I want to look at the way virtual online communities form, as well as some of the self-imposed standards and regulations that become a part of such communities. In particular I’m rather interested in looking at gaming communities and the way that a community replicates many circumstances in real life, particularly the way in which social contracts and allegiances are formulated and evolve, as well as the way in which reputation within a virtual world can have positive or negative influences on your gaming experience and interactions with others.

The articles that we read for this week regarding the social impact gaming were interesting, yet I didn’t find them to be quite as interesting as things like communities within massively multiplayer online role-playing games. The social dynamics that occur in worlds where thousands of people can interact at once, often with tens of thousands belonging to a particular server, where the safety of real-life anonymity can influence actions and yet dependency upon others is equally important, creates in me a great interest in observing the way in which people interact with one another in a game that for some individuals can be nearly as important as activities in the real world.

Allie and Claire's Social Impact game

Our game is going to be about teaching water safety. You would be a character that is watching over the water and you would have to be able to answer questions about the area and what not. It would show a victim and you would have to know what to do to save them in there situation.
I would be as much like real lifeguarding as we could possibly get it. YOu would have to deal with problem children and adults that dont follow pool rules.
We would try to get Red CRoss to use it to either teach Lifeguarding class, or use it as a way to challenge expired certifications. I think this would be a fun game for players because it is kind of addicting and it is a challenge so therefore kids will want to play and at the same time they will be learning about saving lives.
We were also thinking that it would be good to have camps play it before they bring there kids to the pool so the kids have an idea of what the rules are at the pool before they just get there and start running around.
SO we think that are game would be helpful for everyone, including lifeguards and swimmers because it will help and teach the kids and guards how to save lives and what the rules are.

Social Impact Game: Diffusing Conflict

My idea for a Social Impact Game stems from my interest in the contemporary issue revolving around Northern Ireland and the consistent conflicts between the Unionist and Nationalist factions. Over 800 years of tensions between the English and Irish have led to a fierce divide in the mindset that pervades today, with religion emerging as the preeminent dividing factor, especially under the reigns of Henry VII and Elizabeth in the 16th century. With the development of the Irish Free State in 1922, the six counties of Northern Ireland remained under the rule of the United Kingdom, and eventually the Protestant (Unionist) majority began to blatantly exploit their power, causing great difficulties for the Catholic (Nationalist) minority. Violence erupted on an unprecedented scale in 1969, continuing on at a very intense level in the early 1970s and eventually declining in frequency but always remaining in the minds of those on either sides even to this day.

The ratification of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 set a plan in motion to establish a peaceful, power-sharing government in which Unionist and Nationalist leaders would work together, the formation of such a plan which has taken years to create. In the same fashion, it has taken an equally long period of time to finally set the plan in motion, requiring events like the IRA disarmament in July of 2005 and certain concessions from each side before the two sides would come together to begin operating as a joint-government in the spring of 2007.

Despite the fact that the government has now been elected and will begin operating independently of Irish and English influences from Dublin and London, respectively, there is still much resentment in the mindset of the people of Northern Ireland that permeates the social landscape today. Every city has areas that are specifically Unionist or Nationalist, with prominent signs that ensure any newcomer is aware what sort of territory they are in. The hatred and resentment for such acts of aggression or retaliation, depending on which side one aligns his or her self with, have created immeasurable amounts of suffering and loathsome feelings for the other that have not withered even to this day.

This anger is what my Social Impact Game will attempt to counteract. In an issue as difficult and tense as this, one must be very careful in creating a game that will appeal to both sides and create a common understanding between the two. The game would explore in an interactive manner the way in which both sides have experienced numerous difficulties and the pressures that lay on each, as the best way to overcome such divisive hatred is to give an accurate depiction of the injustices that each side endured to show the respective rationales. The idea is to explain how such perpetuated hatred emerged in the hope that the knowledge will decrease the resentment for each side as they come to understand that there is more to conflict than an “Us vs. Them” mentality, and that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While the game will be rather historical in content, it will have a fun, interactive element which will create an entertaining approach to conflict diffusion and hopefully lead to a more peaceful future in Northern Ireland.