Meme and You Part II

I Was a Teenage Meme

It is my belief that, like the common moth, memes have a lifecycle which can be divided into stages.

Stage One: Creation

The creation stage is just that: creation. Every meme must go through this stage, whether made from pre-existing content or not, and this stage affects the meme early life, particularly during propagation. Our example, Gentlemen, started on 4-chan:

The original is a picture of the Spy class from Team Fortress 2 who’s smoking problem has become greatly exacerbated with a caption of the character’s catchphrase.

It was funny, but got even more so whenever a Microsoft Paint version was posted.

And thus Gentlemen was born.

As aforementioned, it originated on 4-chan like many others. 4-chan is pretty much the meme headquarters of the internet and even those that don’t generally do a circuit around the messageboard before getting really popular.

Stage Two: Spread

After being created, the newly born meme lurches off into the sunset to search for new minds to inundate. Sometimes this can be a slow, slow process that happens after many re postings and passionate arguments but at other times proceeds rapidly when new information comes to the forum.

This was the case with Gentlemen when this humorous calendar entry was posted:

It's funny because Spy is French

Thereafter, June 5th became known as Gentlemen Day. Of course, Gentlemen was aided as Tf2 is a rather popular First Person Shooter.

The greatest impediment to becoming a successful meme is to be what is known as a “forced” meme. A forced meme occurs when someone sets out with the intention of creating a meme. Usually a meme is accompanied with a genuine story and tends to be funny. A forced meme has no story and is generally unfunny.

Milhouse is a forced meme... which fails

Stage Three: Memetic Mutation

Having insinuated itself into the group conscious the time is ripe for change. In the form of photoshops, drawings, and other manipulations of the original!

Gentlemen started out with those subjects closest to home- like most memes. Coming from TF2, the logical place to begin was with the other classes other than Spy, each saying one of their catchphrases while a class related weapon/item/beam fires from their open mouth:

Meet the Team! Heavy...

Soldier...

Engineer...

Demoman...

Scout...

Sniper...

Medic...

and Pyro!

From here it spread. Instead of pertaining to the game itself, new memes could be about literally anything. You have slight alterations of the original,

combinations with other memes,

captions over Gentlemen in reality,and references to popular shows/games/what-have-you.

DnD reference is DnD

Bender is a true Gentleman

Jesus wishes to inform you that it's worship time

Stage Four: Death/Ascension

Of course, natural selection would be pointless if it didn’t… select… so, inevitably, something must die. Most dead memes are also old memes, though others could die due to a sudden change of feeling/cataclysm.

Gentlemen is not a dead meme, yet, so it won’t work as an example.

Chuck Norris jokes are an old meme, however, and dead. It will work splendidly.

The Chuck Norris Joke, for those of you who live under a rock but are not Patrick Star cause even he knows what a Chuck Norris joke is (of course, if you don’t know what a Chuck Norris joke is, you probably don’t know about Spongebob so this went right over your head),¬† is a joke describing the incredibly awesome power that Chuck Norris wields. In joke format. Such as “Chuck Norris doesn’t push himself off the ground. He pushes the ground down.” Now lame, these were once the slug’s mug, the bee’s knees, and many other wonderful perversions of nature. They began on Something Awful forums when a thread discussing the wonder that is Vin Diesel metamorphisized into a Chuck discussion.

So what happened? It got old. The fun of memes is their dynamics and once something gets old it’s tossed aside like an old toy. But, unlike earthly deaths, a meme can be revived after death, to serve again in zombie servitude.

Some memes take the high road, though. They become as gods and sit above mere mortal memes. These, paradoxically, are usually old memes but they are so ingrained into the internet psyche that to destroy them would be to destroy the internet as we know it.

NOTHING CAN STOP THE POWER OF LONGCAT! HE IS LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG!

These memes can be considered ascended, shuffling off their electronic coil in exchange for an upgraded one with lots of RAM and memory.

Another sort of ascended meme occurs when a meme is incorporated into the item it’s based off of. This doesn’t guarantee the immortality of the previous condition as even the best games can fade from memory, but, in the case of a long, ongoing affair, it can sear itself deeply into your psyche.

Blizzard does this all the time. The most notable instance is when, in what I must assume is a fit of mad genius, the corporation included the achievement LEEEEEEEEEEROY! into the new WoW achievement system with Wrath of the Lich King. To obtain it, you had to succeed at the task Leeroy failed: killing the whelps. Then you get the nifty title Jenkins!

Also, he gets a card in the trading card game as well. AND he still has his chicken.

Relating It to Some Reading

For that rare internet denizen just drifting through, I would like to remind you that this blog is for class. As such, it has certain needs to fulfill, such as stroking my ego relating to readings done for the class. Which I shall do right about now.

The Galaxy Reconfigured from The Gutenberg Galaxy

McLuhan was a smart guy, make no mistake, and here he proves it by showing us how the electronic age changes us. For starters, everything is quick. Really quick. That takes some getting used to.

Everything’s changing, everything’s shifting, everything’s moving fast. And that’s where memes step in. They’re perfect for the everchanging electronic world. They evolve quickly, sometimes over night, they try to stay fresh and new, and they can even help us communicate.

They let you know when it's Goofy Time, for example

McLuhan describes the modern world as an “age of mass-culture.” Everyone’s interacting all the time. Vast distances mean next to nothing- Australia? Japan? Britain? All are but a moment away. So how do we communicate amongst the masses? How do we develop our own unique culture? We don’t. I don’t mean that you should surrender yourself to the hive mind (though that wouldn’t be a bad idea and it would help further our my goals…), but that we need to create something that everyone can access, that everyone can change. Does that sound familiar?

Will There Be Condominiums in Dataspace?

Aside from asking the obvious, Viola describes dataspace as a place. He draws comparison to the sand Mandala.

I'm not sure if it's made from sand, but it sure is purty

Mandalas are abstract, unifying, and not bound by physical constraint. When finished, they are often destroyed. Meme’s are abstract by nature- much of their content is implied, external, or situational. Existing only in cyberspace, they are not bound by physical constraint either. Finally, like the sand mandala, when completed, they are often destroyed, preferably with fire.

Time Frames

Scott McCloud is a comic artist and here he challenges those of you who make comics: why not try something new?

Close, but no cigar

This selection comes from Understanding Comics and it emphasizes how overlooked yet important the frame of a comic is, in an amusing comic. It can give atmosphere, add emphasis, and affect the perceived flow of time. Another topic touched on is the importance of an individual panel.

Now, I doubt many creators of memes have read this selection, but they manage to carry out his ideas. Memes are… chaotic and everything about them can be important. The frame, the passage of time implied, the atmosphere- a slight change could drastically alter the meme. Furthermore, they challenge commonly held values by giving completely unrelated and often nonsensical phrases and images meaning and value.

A Parting Shot Word

Veg-e-tab-le.

I always say it that way because no letter gets left behind on my watch

Final Words

So remember, memes are important. They may look like, and actually be, toys, but they shape the way of the fledgling net. They hold more power then you can imagine and, someday, entire classes will focus around them… classes you may teach.

Published in: on December 11, 2009 at 1:47 am  Comments (1)  

Meme and You Part I

OI'M BACK N' OI'M MAD! YOUZE LOTZ BEST BE CLEANIN' DA MUCK FROM OUTTA YOUZE EARZ AN' LIZZEN UP REAL GOOD! CUZ OI GOTZ SOME STUFF TA TELLZ YA AN I DUNT WANNA 'AVE TO REPEAT MOISELF! GOT IT!?! GOOD!!!

And for today’s topic, I have something really, really special planned. I’ll give you a hint:That’s right, me duckies, today I’m going to rant talk about memes!

And what better place to start then before the beginning? By this I mean that we shall hearken back to the days when the memes existed but not the internet.

What’s in a Meme?

The phrase was coined by British scientist Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene.

Another British scientist

He used the term to explain evolution and natural selection and all that kinds of potentially heretical stuff.

Eh, close enough

The term encompassed all sorts of cultural paraphernalia such as clothing, building architecture, building techniques, melodies, and practically anything else that could be transferred from one person to another by communication.

By using memes to explain evolution, Dr. Dawkins gave rise to the theory that culture, in the form of memes, goes through an evolution of its own the strong surviving, spreading, and prospering while the weak die.Fast forward some twenty odd years and the word gains partially new meaning.

In effect, you take the old term and just slap internet in front of it. See? It’s that easy.

At its most basic, the internet meme is any cultural phenomena spread across the internet. Sounds simple, yes? Well, that’s because it is. But it’s only the beginning. Internet Memes differ from the traditional meme in many respects.

For starters, being online they utilize only two of the five senses: sight and hearing. True, the other sort are generally seen or heard as well, but they invoke the other senses at will. The feel of a cut of cloth, the taste of ice cream, the smell of a skunk- all of these can be experienced in “real life” but not on a computer- at least not yet.

Furthermore, the speed at which Internet Memes propagate is exponentially greater than that of Meme Classic. Traditional methods tend to be slow and finicky. A letter takes days to reach the recipient, telephone’s require the called to be present (though you can leave a message… or forty-three), and word of mouth requires you to be in their very presence. And don’t even get me started on messenger pigeons! In contrast, the internet is instantaneous, moving at the speed of your connection, and allows you to leave messages that can be, and are expected to be, returned or modified, depending on whether its an email to a friend or a post in a crowded message board.

Next we have the accessibility- everyone can take a part. Before hand, trying to create or change established culture was rather difficult. Sure, it was done, countless times, but most of them were celebrities or powerful.

Or perhaps both...

Aristolol’s Categories

Thanks to the marvel that is the internet, any idiot can become integral in cultivating our budding culture!

And often do- someone says something unwise, makes a stupid video, or does something so mind boggling stupid that you despair for the human race, and you’ve got yourself an inadvertent celebrity.

You’re words of “wisdom” will be posted again and again, your very name a synonym for stupidity regardless of how much you protest until, finally, the joke gets old.

This can happen to celebrities, too, and overlaps with real world memes. Everyone knows of Cheney’s prowess with a rifle, Paris Hilton is renowned as a simpering wossname, and do I even need to mention Brittany Spears?

Regardless of how true this stereotyping is, it will persist until it gets old.

The other sort of inadvertent celebrity is one who embarrasses himself in an amusing way. Unfortunately, he does this while a “friend” or “family member” has a camera and inevitably posts the mortifying film online for the amusement of the faceless horde.

Of course, I’m loathe to laugh at these videos. Not because I’m an honorable paladin, standing for justice, light, goodness, and general decency but because whenever you suffer from the level of oddness I do, I’ve got some pretty big skeletons in my closet, almost exactly like these (sometimes I have to watch the video again to ensure its not me and that I don’t have to break off all ties to civilization).

Another rich source of memes is pop culture.

If you deigned to watch the video I so kindly posted, you should get the picture. Something makes its way onto the internet and becomes wildly popular for whatever reason (in this case for incredible amounts of camp, shirtless man, and muy macho violence). Then liberal amounts of fan art and tributes are created as seen here, compiled and set to a techno remix. Certain phrases from the original may be spouted everywhere and soon you can’t move for posts explaining how this is, in fact, Sparta and it is clearly not madness.

Of course, these pale in comparison to the most popular and widespread internet meme: video/photo/sound editing. This can range from simple captions all the way to a complex and interconnected video that would make the finest of hoaxsters smash their video recording equipment in envy.

And we waste it all on CATS

How I Use Meme?

Memes serve many a purpose in the web of today.

Of course, first and foremost they’re for entertainment. Regardless of what their primary purpose is, memes are always intended for entertainment. It’s sorta what the internet does: it entertains us.

Except for trashcat. For he is not amused

Aside from this, they have a legion of uses.

One of the more popular uses is for communication. A meme can be added to emphasize your point or even replace typed communication.

For example, say you desire whatever it is that the original poster on a thread (i.e. the guy who starts a conversation on a forum) is offering, let’s make it images of potato pancakes with pickle chutney, for the sake of example.

But, instead, he only posts pictures of pan seared pork with garlic sauce. Oh horror of horrors!

So, realizing his mistake, he posts the requested images of potato pancakes- but without the chutney.

In that way, you can make your intentions known completely through images of cats with captions!

A third use is as political or social commentary. One of the most stunning uses of this is when the meme nyoron was used by South Koreans to criticize the indecisiveness of the Taliban after kidnapping 23 Korean Christians in the July of 2007.

Nyoron, in all its smoked cheese related glory

It was called Tsundeban, and mockingly held that the Taliban were actually nice people.

I don't quite know what's going on, but it's funny. Or sad. Very sad.

The hostages were returned in August so the meme may have had some impact. Or probably not. But you gotta admit that it’s pretty neat.

And that’s it for part one! Prepare yourselves for part two! And if you don’t… well,

Published in: on December 6, 2009 at 11:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Afraid to Progress

Maxine, from the aforementioned Immigrant, is an… interesting character. She shows some measure of mastery of the psionic skills her hosts possess. She can utilize their method of teleportation between rooms, is capable of some telikinesis, and possesses the ability to read minds, but only in the right circumstances.

She admits that her life is boring, almost unbearable. That her muse has long since fled and it’s only by ignoring her hosts that life is tolerable.

And yet… and yet she knows there is more. Another step. Yet she’s absolutely terrified of it.

She denies it, she hides it, she tries to forget. But it doesn’t work- it hangs over her like the sword of Demacles.

She is afraid to progress. Afraid of the unknown. So afraid, that she’s content to stay in the same place, the same state, bereft of happiness, challenge, or pleasure.

Is she like us? Like me? Like you? So afraid of the unknown that she’s willing to forgo any possible pleasure?

She is as a little child, clinging to the familiar and denying the very existence of the other. And don’t we do the same? Cling to what we “know” to be true, obstinately asserting it can be no other way.

Even our best and brightest, especially our best and brightest, do this.

But we must press on. Take the plunge- though it is terrifying beyond all ken. It may be fun and who knows what you’ll find at the end?

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 8:40 am  Comments (1)  

Legal Immigration

So, going into Immigrant, I was expecting something… more dystopic. An alien planet where we send the best of the best and from which none return. A supposedly all powerful race. Near identical letters being sent home from the planet’s immigrants for over a century. And this awe inspiring race is beautiful and physiologically similar to us.

There are two words for this: Space Elves. AKA Eldar.

800px-LCB_Headcam

The Eldar manipulate other "lesser" races to do their dirty work. They place so little value on the Mon-keigh (there word for non-Eldar) that they would sacrifice billions of us to preserve a single Eldar life. Also, there's a very touching, rather brilliant fanfic about one of them called "Love Can Bloom." Strange but true.

So you can imagine my surprise when, instead of finding out that they’re using us for some dark purpose, they were in fact attempting to improve us mentally and spiritually.

This brings up an interesting question: have we yet reached the pinnacle of our evolution?

The answer: probably not.

Although I would not go so far as to call us children, we still have a ways to go in our devlopment. We still fight over the most trivial things, care only for our carnal desires, and frequently give into base desires.

So, yah. We still have room to grow. Although that probably won’t includ psyonic powers. For better or for worse.

Archon

For better!

Psyker

And for worse...

Published in: on November 14, 2009 at 2:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Free Ranged Gamers

 

Every living thing has a habitat.

animalhabitats7

A place for everything, and everything in its place

This includes humans.

A human's habitat is his computer. Take this to heart, children.
The human habitat is his computer. Take this to heart, children

 

At least, this is probably the logic Lucasfilm used when naming their MMORPG Habitat. Coming even before the granddaddy of all MMORPGs, Ultima Online, it was the first (graphical) MMORPG with its Beta release in 1986. It was played via the Commodore 64.

commodore64setup

What's the 64 stand for? The number of Kilobytes this thing has.

As I said, it was the first graphical MMORPG- there had been other, textual games released earlier.

screenshot

Apparently, pantsuits are all the rage online.

Though this was a looooooooooong time ago in video game years, the lessons learned from this foray should be remembered by all developers.

Many developers want to control players, forcing them to do exactly what they want for a particular situation. This seldom works out as players are always on the look out for an easy solution to a tough problem- all well and good when you’re at home away from the studio’s watchful eyes.

eyeball_bush

Or so you'd think...

But when you play online with your friends, enemies, acquaintences, drunken college students, creepy no-lifers, small man-children, and possible aliens, the game developer is always present, always watching.

66363_aa-eyesonly-425

When Blizzard says they keep an eye out for cheaters, they mean it.

This gives the creators urges… strong urges. “No!”, they cry, “That’s not what you’re supposed to do! This is what you’re supposed to do!”

Sometimes, the urges win and the game gets changed. Sometimes it really is for the better, other times it’s simply because the developer is unable to sit back and watch emerging gameplay. Which is a pity.

Good studios soon realize that, regardless the game, players are going to do things never conceived by the makers. And they let them. After all, it’s futile- controlling gamers is like herding cats.

Herding_Cats

Ur doin it rong.

So smart developers don’t even bother, except to fix things that are truly broken, and the gamers are pleased.

And God looked upon it and said:

“Good enough.”

Published in: on November 11, 2009 at 10:58 pm  Comments (1)  

Artificial Mental Block

What can little kids do?

They can play, they can laugh, they can sing, they can dance. They can think small thoughts and imagine big things.

What can’t little kids do?

They can’t do more than the most basic of math, they can’t read well, they can’t grasp the tough concepts, and they can’t understand death.

Or can they?

I Dunno Lol

This is what most people think, but does that make it correct? Especially, when you look at it, not so long ago the world was radically different.

Once, children were not shielded and were unprotected from the world around them. There was no entertainment specifically for them, no areas to stay in for their safety, or anything to separate them from the intrinsic dangers of life.

The conditions of children prior to the twentieth century can be best summed up in the old saying “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” The phrase comes from the middle ages, when bathing was an infrequent affair and their was a strict hierarchy for the bathers. The baby came last and was bathed in water that had more in common with solids then liquid. And sometimes it would get lost and, whoops!, when the water was thrown out, so was the baby.

Even later on, children were used for a variety of tasks involving small spaces. Chimney sweeps purchased small boys chimneys for them. Children were employed in mines and other highly dangerous areas. Charles Dickens Oliver Twist was created to expose these horrendous conditions.

oliverandcompany

Isn't that cute? But it's wrong!

And the age of adulthood was younger as well.

Juliet was a mere 13 when she was fell in love with the much older Romeo, and even then, as her nurse would tell her, she was no spring chicken.

So why do we persist in the fiction that children are unable to grasp higher concepts? Even within the boundaries our own society puts up we have evidence to the contrary.

The Animorphs was a science fiction series of the late nineties that attracted children to it like flies to honey, particularly due to the flashy cover art.

The Underground

Note to future authors: this is what little boys like. The bat, not the girl, just to clarify.

I myself began reading them in the second grade and continued until the series conclusion in the fourth. I still own a large chunk of the series to this day.

Yet despite being for children, these were not “child friendly.” They heavily involved fighting, with strong description of battle wounds and deaths (in one particularly memorable scene, one of the main characters picked a chunk of alien flesh from her teeth, left from when she was a wolf). The young band of freedom fighters set up rules which they later break causing considerable psychological anguish for at least one of the members. The kids, despite being sixteen at most, suffer from post traumatic stress disorder due to the admittedly horrible battles they partake. Also for your reading pleasure is body control which leaves your mind intact to experience the full horror of another being controlling your body, creatures with appetites so insatiable that they will eat their own at the drop of a pin, and oatmeal that causes addiction in the antagonistic alien race.

Ya, it’s a children’s book.

In addition to the nightmare fuel mentioned above, it is rife with adult themes (not those kind, you dirty, dirty person). It asks us who the real monsters are, as the most physically intimidating race is genetically engineered to be docile, kind, and simple. It asks to what lengths we can go before we give up all that makes us decent. It meets death face to face and holds him up for all to see. It shows homicide, specism, the finer points torture (albeit minus the blood and such), and everything else the uncaring universe would like to throw at you.

And it does it for children.

Now, I must remind you that the series were fairly popular, so obvious children were understanding things that are commonly to be far to complex for their wittle bitty minds.

This suggests to me that we ramp up education. I’m not suggesting we bring the whips and chains¬† and force the little ones to slave away at math, reading, and science, but maybe, instead of assuming something is far to advanced for them, we should tell them the skies the limit.

Who knows? They might just surprise someone. Preferably a TA straight out of college.

Published in: on November 5, 2009 at 1:24 am  Leave a Comment  

It’s Elementary My Dear Watson… School That Is

Pardon the horrible pun, if you please, but there is a reason.

When I was but a lad, our computer class consisted entirely of the LOGO program. Grades 2-4 involved us doing naught but sending our adorable turtle avatar on increasingly complex geometric adventures.

Bentley the Turtle

Eh, close enough.

Of course, I learned more about shapes than programs, but it was a start. Kinda.

Actually, no it wasn’t. The creators of LOGO had intended for it to be a tool in which children could be free ranged with guidance and supervision. Instead, my teachers turned into a drill that would instill the knowledge of basic geometry in my skull.

And this never got better. In middle school and junior high, we got Mavis Beacon and little else. If you don’t know already, Mavis Beacon is a program used to teach the skill of typing.

typing-of-the-dead

An effective, if unorthodox, teaching program. But, unfortunately, not Mavis Beacon.

This was no doubt useful- it increased the number of words per minute a student could type and showed us the “correct” position for our fingers on a keyboard ( which I never learned, choosing instead to use my own heavily modified version).

Even in high school, we mostly used programs within the computer, never really getting into the gooey nougat. We learned how to use excel, photoshop, word, and more, but it was a tightly regimented program.

Instead of becoming a mighty tool for individual growth and advancement, the computer has become another shackle tethering education to ages past. Whereas visionaries had forseen a world in which students could use the machine to learn on their own, at their own pace, and what they wanted, the education system saw a more efficient version of drill instruction.

And even then it has failed. Computers have spread to many, many households and most teenagers are intimate with them these days. Heck, most preteens can find their way around a computer better than their instructor.

So is it really any surprise that students spend most of their time trying to get around the firewall instead of actually doing the class work?

But there are alternatives, though rarely seen or implemented. This blog is one of them.

Because my instructor is insane brilliant, I write these blog posts for my class.

I am given certain criteria I am expected to uphold, but they’re just guidelines; my leash is rather long and I revel in it, chasing mailmen and harassing the neighbor’s cat. In this medium, I am allowed to unleash my creativity, something greatly hampered in more structured environments.

Nedroid 5

Pictured here: Pure, distilled creativity. More at http://nedroid.com/

So, if we wish to make computers a useful part of education, we need to allow students to use them more freely. As is, only a fraction of their potential is utilized. Instead of making it a chore, let’s make it fun. Watch as kids use the computer skills indoctrinated from a young, and getting younger, age, to not only learn but to enjoy it.

Come on guys, let’s get those creative juices flowing!

brain-in-jar

Another type of creative juice.

Published in: on November 3, 2009 at 1:30 am  Comments (2)  

New Kid On the Block

Computers are relatively new. And many people fear them.

Robot Uprising

Wrong fear.

By this I mean that people are afraid that computers will irrevocably damage mankind. The fearsome machines will atrophy our minds, bodies, and cause us to abandon the olde ways.

Tim the Enchanter

With pyrotechnics like these, why would you wanna abandon those good ole' ways?

Of course, these claims are not without merit. Studies have shown that computers are distraction machines, causing human spawn to abandon the task at hand in favor of more entertaining pursuits (Note: This is also applies to adults).

But let us not forget that these claims have been levied at every other form of media!

Socrates claimed that writing would destroy our memories by allowing us to record information. This was proven true as even Aristotle is seen to misquote Odysseus and other Greek sources. But, on the other hand, even the finest of oral traditions can falter and some of the most brilliant writers were horrid orators.

People assuredly feared the printing press. To the medieval mindset, words were sacred and allowing for so many to be duplicated in such a manner was almost sacrilege. The clergy were certain that the common man could not handle religious texts without their enlightened guidance. Reading was considered scholars work or in the domain of nobility- the common man was simply incapable of handling it.

noxarcana_necronomicon

We know better, right? After all, what's the worst that could happen?

But thanks to Gutenberg’s little press, literacy gripped Europe and, in its throes, the Renaissance was born.

Heck, even the cro-magnon mocked poor little Debak when he brought home the flaming branch. But look at him now! His efforts are the pillar upon which the entirety of human advancement stands!

Mesolithic

So, my point is, that though people believe that the computer is the end of all that is good and light, and though some of those claims may be true, in the end, the good far outweighs the positive.

But we’ll all be dead before then.

Kidby's Discworld's Death

Aww, look! Kitty! And an anthropomorphic personification of the cessation of life...

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 2:45 am  Leave a Comment  

A Class in Second Life

Recently, for my FYS, the class that is the reason for this blog existing the first place, we held a session in Second Life.

For thsoe of you who don’t know, Second Life is what it implies: a second life. Online. You create an avatar and live life in a world with fewer limits and less aging, disease, and inherant fear of creeping death.

See the face of your destroyer, waiting to take you into the darkened depths of the afterlife. He like's cats, apparently.

See the face of your destroyer, waiting to take you into the darkened depths of the afterlife. He like's cats, apparently.

As an avid gamer, it was… disorienting. I play WoW a lot and past a certain level you can fly. You can fly on Second Life as well. But it’s a different command, so here I sit pressing the space bar, really pounding on it, not knowing why I refuse to leave the earth. Then I realize I have to press F. And I fly like a superhero. As oppossed to riding on my own self-made, Fantastic Plastic Flying Machine.

But enough about that. I immediatly noticed some pros and cons to holding class in this environ.

The biggest pro was the ease in which it was held. Roll out of bed five minutes before, open’er up, and voila! I’m present. Additionally, all the tools of a functioning computer are, quite literally, at your fingertips. And don’t ignore the increased comfort level! You can go to class from bed if you want to! It’s telecommuting without having to shower, shave, brush teeth, or even wear clothing(though for your sake and anyone who lives with you, I suggest you do)!

On the other hand, there were some glaring flaws. First, microphone quality. Yes, you can type, but it’s slower and less nuanced than voicechatting. Depending on the mike or area you’re in, you can get a lot of static and/or background noise. Really annoying. Secondly, there isn’t much in the way of body language or, if you don’t use a microphone, inflection. This can lead to misunderstandings, though none occurred during my brief jaunt. And, finally, you can get unexpected guests.

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

In our case, it was a Portugese boy, speaking a language spoken by a grand total of two nations.

Good work guys!

Good work guys!

Google came to the rescue, but twas still a troublesome affair. Until Uncle Mutington stepped in. Then all was silent.

So, to recap, Second Life is a good environ for classes because of a. the ease in which it is held, b. the lack of personal appearance, and c. the utility of having direct access to a computer. It’s bad because of a. our lack of nonverbal communication, b. varieing qualities of voicechat, and c. unexpected guests.

Published in: on October 25, 2009 at 10:23 pm  Comments (4)  

Something Old, Something New

Fear, despair, anger- these emotions describe a first time computer user’s state of being.

And that’s just the machine.

The internet is a vast, confusing jumble of facts, opinion, and emotion. It seethes and bubbles, kept from spilling out only by its technological confines. The information age is altogether different from anything we’ve ever experienced.

Or is it?

It’s a unique experience, a unique technology, but it relies heavily on preexisting infrastructure. Things are expected of it and projected onto it. Though we venture forth into a new frontier, we bring something of the old with us.

Immeasurable information awaits those who desire it, and yet we must still follow old conventions to dissimilate it. Archaic source siting, long rambling papers, and annying format all mark something that would never fly online.

And yet we do so anyways simply because we have yet to finish the transition into the Age of Computers, i.e. the Information Age.

Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 8:44 am  Comments (1)