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farewell

I leave you all with the best, most disturbing, and simple music video of the year. Made by an artist not so much older than ourselves. And the words of Hunter S Thompson: "Sometimes the energies of a generation come together in a long fine flash."

Perhaps?

Cracking Down on Blogs

Early in the semester, we asked the question 'What is a blog?' John McCain has a definitive answer. In a new and frightening piece of legislation a blog is defined as "any site that allows comments, authors and personal profiles." His bill proposes that blog sites be responsible for all content in their comments and user profiles. Its ostensible purpose is to curb the distribution of child pornography, but in reality its effects will be much more wide-ranging. Blogs are required to report any illegal images or videos that are posted or face stiff fines. Bloggers will have to police themselves, and since they may not know whether an image is copyrighted or "legal" some might have to shut down rather than risk paying the huge fines.

Ripping Delay: 75 minutes and 111 responses

Tom Delay has a blog. For 75 minutes that blog was open to public comments. 111 people used that window to vent their anger, calling him everything from a "disgrace" to an "assclown" to many much dirtier things and even wondering "When you're locked up, will you smuggle blog posts out in your visitors' rectums?" The open comments were shut down and removed, but this site preserved them as "A tribute to the 75-minute period where Tom Delay actually received feedback from America."

A few of the comments are thought-out and address specific questions, but most are just ugly name-calling. This semester we've seen comment sections used as a valuable space for dialogue between reader and author to occur. This type of dialogue seems especially suited for the political arena. Constituents could have a direct, instant, easy-to-use and respond-to, forum for conversation with their elected representatives. Yet the Delay debacle shows that this space is constantly in danger of being hopelessly corrupted by thoughtless vitriol. Granted Delay is a particularly hated and hateable politician, but I believe the same kind of comments would appear on say Hilary Clinton's blog if she were to allow open commenting.

Update from the Digital Art Department

Last night I went to watch the Digital Art and Computer-Programming Art classes present their final semester projects. I was curious to see what would come out of a semester of focusing on the technology rather than the theory. The Digital Art students' projects' took the form of increasingly bizarre powerpoint presentations. What I was really struck by in their presentations was the ability to manipulate the expectations of the viewer. We computer users are so programmed in what to expect from a machine--that it will only react when we click something, that when you exit out of a window it's gone and won't come back again, that the screen will only react in certain ways. Thus, it is jarring when those expectations are not met, like, for example, when a window starts shaking for no reason, or collapses then reopens randomly a few seconds later. These techniques could be valuable tools for an internet artist. There really is the ability to scare a computer user, to surprise them with something totally unexpected.

Get Off Our Coattails, Forbes!

Forbes just (today) published an article about the future of the book. The article contradicts what they call the "conventional wisdom" that so many new media options competing for our time put the book in danger. In reality, it concludes, "People are reading more, not less. The Internet is fueling literacy. Giving books away online increases off-line readership. New forms of expression--wikis, networked books--are blossoming in a digital hothouse."

Their special report has a series of great articles dealing with everything from networked books to internet copyright issues to new social forms of writing.

From Machinima to Norway in a Single Post

I was cruising around the net for something to cheer me up after hours of hammering out a paper when I stumbled on this machinima clip. I've seen some of these before, but this one really cracked me up and reminded me of our brief discussion of machinima earlier this semester. I did a couple searches and realized that the machinima world, like so much else we've looked at this semester, is much bigger than I had ever imagined. Complete with film festivals, contests, and even machinima stars such as Leeroy Jenkins--a character described as the "one icon of the WoW player, one movie from the game that most people have seen" at a conference at the University of Bergen.

Going Feral

A point made by Hayles and others this semester, that other people in the class seem to have a better handle on than I do, was brought up briefly today: that of how hypertexts change and become something new when they are released to the world.

This has suddenly become a very real concern to me in designing my final project. One of the major components of my project is a blog which I set up on a public forum. I didn't really think about comments when I set it up, assuming that the chances were low that a random person would stumble on it and really take time with it before it was done, but today I got my first comment, and it was extremely disturbing. This reader took my fictional characters and the fictional situations I put them in to be real, and commented accordingly. Expressing hope for their future and wishing a character luck in a specific venture. He also made the point of how much he had come to enjoy the main character through reading his blog.

The role of the game designer

I left class today very curious to see how the game designers themselves felt about game theory. How they feel they fit into the theory and reality of their medium. I decided to skim around and stumbled on The Art of Computer Game Design. "