Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Next New Thing

Old media and new media have all worked off two of our primary senses: sight and hearing. However, new media has yet to have anything developed that uses our senses of touch, smell, or taste. In the future, I can see something coming up that lets us experience these senses without having to actually leave our homes by transmitting the taste, smell, and texture of the objects directly to our brains.

People could try out new foods to see if they like the flavor, try on new types of perfume and deodorant to figure out if it makes them smell worse than they normally do, or even try on new clothes to make sure it fits and doesn't have any overly itchy tags.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Presentation: Video Games and the Rise of the Internet

The goal of my topic was to cover the history of video games in relation to the internet. As the game industry grew, its reliance on the internet grew. At first, video games only used the internet for basic online gaming and discussion forums. In the current generation of video game consoles, however, consoles have grown to have various aspects of new media. Social networks are a prevalent part of today's consoles, modding and user-created content are actually possible with today's consoles compared to the last generation's, and online gaming has expanded from simple server-based gameplay to including functions seen in virtual worlds and MMOs.

Controversies have also played an important part in the game industry as well as research making outlandish claims about games. Although the response to these controversies and attacks has changed, what hasn't changed is how people still use games as a scapegoat for their own insanity and/or lack of common sense.

There were also some points that I wanted to get to in the presentation, but had to omit because of time constraints.
Game companies are using sites like Facebook and Twitter to promote their games and companies. Fans of Atlus, Fans of Bungie, and other such fan groups can all be found on Facebook. Twitter, meanwhile has been used for both standard marketing/advertising of games as well as character-based Twitter accounts, such as the one for Kevin Butler, Sony's VP.

Doom and Counter-Strike were slammed by the media for supposedly being the causes for shootings in schools. In the case of Doom, maps were supposedly made to replicate Columbine's layout. Proof of the existence of those maps has yet to surface. In the case of Counter-Strike, the game was blamed for the Virginia Tech shooting before the shooter was even identified. According to the shooter's roomates, he never played any video games at all.

Fox wasn't the only source of fun phrases regarding Mass Effect and the Xbox. Conservative blogger Kevin McCullough stated that
"Mass Effect can be customized to sodomize whatever, whomever, however, the game player wishes," and "with its ‘over the net’ capabilities virtual orgasmic rape is just the push of a button away."
Fox was still undoubtedly the leader, of course, with Martha MacCallum and Cooper Lawrence getting the most attention for their completely lack of knowledge on the game prior to bashing it.

Were video games to blame for massacre?
WebArchive: The Sex-Box Race for President by Kevin McCullough
Wikipedia's article on Mass Effect (link to media coverage of the sex scene)

For anybody who's interested in looking at the bibliography, the Powerpoint can be downloaded here.

Privacy and Confidentiality

The concepts of privacy and confidentiality are even more important now than they were before the internet reached the point it has in today's society. However, this increased importance only came about because technology today makes it even harder to maintain that sense of personal privacy.

Before Facebook and even sites like MySpace, privacy was much easier to maintain because not everyone was expected by their peers to update their status with everything they were doing.
Before e-mail enabled phones, weekend vacations were times people could relax and forget about office e-mails when they were out of the house and had no access to their computers.
Before Twitter-enabled phones, people were not expected to tweet about what kind of sandwich they had for lunch until after they came back home and were already in the process of eating dinner. People also didn't have to worry about something they did or said appearing on the internet literally minutes later.

All these technological advances have made it harder to maintain privacy, but only if the people using technology lose control over it. Privacy can still be maintained on social networks simply by choosing the right privacy options and actively screening people with access to your profile. Of course, those privacy options won't mean much if someone with that access posts your information publically (indicating that the screening process probably failed). There's not as much that can be done with work-related e-mails and phones compared to what can be done with social networks, unfortunately. Even without owning an e-mail enabled phone, people are still expected to check their e-mail constantly when they should be relaxing. One way around this is to have a work-only e-mail and a separate address for personal things.

Twitter is also rather hard to control from a privacy and confidentiality standpoint. With phones that can access Twitter, people have to really be careful with what they say, do, or don't say or do because someone with these phones might just post it online without them knowing (such as with Obama's unofficial comment that Kanye was a jackass).

References: "Obama, Kanye West and the trouble with Twitter", by Matea Gold, Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2009. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-et-abctwitter16-2009sep16,0,3179288.story

Monday, April 12, 2010

Advice to Baruch College

There's quite a few things that could be done with new media to enhance the learning process not only in Baruch, but schools in general. There was one reading from several weeks ago about a professor setting up a Twitter feed for his class to post their own notes and questions related to the class.

While this would be a very practical and useful way to use Twitter , I don't think this specific method would be effective for Baruch just yet. The library does not have enough laptops for every student to borrow, and having every student buy one is out of the question (especially considering that some students are attending Baruch because of its price compared to other colleges).

This isn't to say that Twitter can't still be used, however. Having students and professors set up Twitter accounts could be useful for asking short questions, notifying each other of potential class changes/cancellations, and even brief conversations to organize events before posting a finalized decision on Blackboard.

By extension, use of Blackboard's features (other than My Grades, Course Documents, and Assignments) should also be encouraged. There's plenty of tools that can be accessed from Blackboard, but I rarely see them used at all (one of the few exceptions being this class). Even in my senior year, there's still functions of Blackboard that I didn't even know existed because no classes have ever used or mentioned them to begin with.

To make all this work, I think it would be necessary to require use of Blackboard and Twitter by all professors. It doesn't have to be extensive use, but a bare minimum of posting course documents, assignments, grades, and class changes/cancellations would at least push professors to use the functions that students tend to use the most. I've had many classes where I never received e-mails and could not find any information on Blackboard because the professors simply refused to use them. It's one thing to expect students to e-mail others for class notes when they're absent, but it's something completely different when there's no reliable way to get their e-mail addresses in the first place.

References: "The Wired Campus: Professor Encourages Students to Pass Notes During Class -- via Twitter", by Jeffrey R. Young, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 8, 2009 http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Professor-Encourages-Students/4619/

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Our Class Wiki

I've been making more progress with the wiki since my last post about how my work in class has been. Just recently, I figured out how to make references to articles and fixed up the MMORPG page to reflect that. I also posted a link to the guide I used to do that.

Content-wise, I've worked primarily in the Entertainment and MMORPG pages. In the Entertainment page, I fixed up the Spore section and added information on the networking features of the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360. In the MMORPG page, I worked primarily on grammar editing. I also added some information about Skinner boxes and how they relate to MMORPGs.