Author Archives: namesarehard

A Horrifying Fusion of Unproductivity

You can now play Peggle and Bejeweled while playing World of Warcraft.   That is to say, it’s an addon that lets you open a window within WoW and begin one of these game.

It’s an interesting social phenomenon, and perhaps an interesting step in the direction of a unified internet, but all I can really think right now is “THE END IS NIGH!”

The Definition of Machinima

So, we discussed this a bit in class, but I think it’s still a bit of an issue.   As such, I’d like to put forth a few pieces and ask if people think they are Machinima.

Obviously, RedvsBlue is Machinima.   It’s people controlling the characters in highly intentional ways to create a traditional (if absurd) narrative.

“Leeroy Jenkins,” too, seems to be Machinima, although it is posing as an unscripted gameplay video.


But what about this video?   It’s a serious attempt on (at the time, several years ago) a new boss.   However, they do have a dedicated “cameraman,” since no UI is showing on the recording.   The use of music, too, seems to have a pretty big impact on the footage.   And there’s definitely a narrative here.


I’m not sure if it’s Machinima or not, but I can’t say I can just clearly dismiss it.

Anyway, I think it’s worth questioning how much you have to be “using things in unintended ways” for it to be Machinima, since the act of recording video games is (until recently) rather unintended in and of itself.

A Pre-Emptive Response to Thompson’s “Xbox Auteurs”

The article that I modified in Sophie was Clive Thompson’s “The Xbox Auteurs,” a piece written about RedvsBlue, machinima, and the phenomenon that has sprung up around them.

Here it is!

Fan Fiction and Rule #34

So, for anybody not familiar, Rule #34 of the internet is that “if it exists, there is porn of it.”   The articles for this week demonstrated an interesting example of that phenomenon, and the internet seems to be the catalyst that lets this exist.

As we have mentioned before, subcultures thrive on the internet because it unites people who are otherwise  divided.   It takes surprisingly few people to create an active subculture, but without the web, it is unlikely those people would ever meet.   Sexual subcultures are an even more extreme example, as it is very unlikely that people will mention even fairly tame  sexual fantasies in passing conversation.   The internet, however, strips away both social  constraints around these issues via anonymity  and the physical  boundaries that divide people who share an interest in them.

Fanning the Flames (forgive a horrible pun)

I was very intrigued by the article “Why Heather Can Write,” and was surprised that there was no mention of the historical roots of fan fiction.   Fan fiction is not a recent invention.   The Aeneid is, in essence, a piece of fan fiction, taking a minor character from the Iliad and expanding upon his story (whether this piece of fan fiction shows signs of that other hallmark of fan work, I will leave up to your interpretation).

The recent trend towards a desire for every part of a story to be original is just that: recent.   Most works that received substantial notoriety prior to the last few centuries were either retellings of existing stories or were advertised as such.   Myths and legends are another example of “fan work.”

It is very interesting that the internet has provided an easy way for people to simultaneously return to an earlier model and drastically expand upon the way it works.

Video Mashup: Hot Fuzz and Toy Story (1 and 2)


Here is the mashup that Isso and I created, using the trailer for Hot Fuzz and video from Toy Story and Toy Story 2.

For reference, here is the original version of the trailer we drew the audio from (though we got it from iTunes for the higher sound quality).   We tried to match most of the shots as closely as we could with the Toy Story footage.


In case anybody is curious, we used iMovie HD (6).

Mass Truth

I thought that Schiff hit upon Wikipedia’s greatest weakness in her article “Know it All” when discussing the case of how William Connolley, an expert on global warming, ended up losing a shouting contest on Wikipedia against an opponent with little knowledge of the subject material.

People who edit Wikipedia for purely malicious reasons (aka “Trolls”) are far less of a danger to accuracy than those whose intentions are good (or at least not actively bad), but are misdirected.   With Trolls, a patient expert editting Wikipedia simply has to out-wait juvenile attempts to spread false information for fun (which is hugely annoying, but also usually quite obvious and easy to revert).   People who are spreading misinformation because it is what they truly believe, however, can be very difficult to deal with.

Part of the reason this is more problematic for Wikipedia than it is for a more traditional encyclopedia is because it biases vary greatly from page to page.   Of course, older encyclopedias are frequently biased, as well, but usually these biases are consistent and can be determined, and so a reader can be conscious of such biases when they appear.   On Wikipedia, there is no such consistency.   Of course, this means that no single bias rules the encyclopedia- which is good- but it is also very hard to tell what political or social message any given page supports.

Audience Atomization

One interesting point that the article on the sapping of the strength of the mainstream press failed to mention was that, frequently, events or opinions make a significant splash because they fall within the so-called “Sphere of Deviance.”   While it’s true that such views are frequently silenced before they can make headlines, there is an entire culture built around using them for profit.   Many extremely conservative or liberal figures, whose views fall outside of the accepted realm of consensus, are able to build careers on their extremism.   Ann Coulter, for instance, frequently garners the attention of the mainstream media because her views are so radical that they cannot be ignored (and because they sell newspapers).

The reason for this phenomenon is, of course, that people are excited by shocking news.   Just as a news report regarding a bear falling onto a trampoline becomes a hit on Youtube, people respond strongly (even if frequently negatively) to political beliefs that are so ridiculous as to go against the national consensus.   Hence, reporting on “deviant” views can be pretty profitable, even if it runs against the views supported by the particular media distributer.

Benkler and the Wealth of Networks

Although Benkler’s article was very interesting, there was one small point within it that I took issue with.   On page 5, Benkler claims that “Science is built around many people contributing incrementally- not operating on market signals, not being handed their research marching orders by a boss.”   While the first part of this statement is accurate, the second is not.   Scientists must get funding to perform research, and so they must appeal to either public or private interest to recieve that funding.   The suggestion that scienfitic research exists free of corporate interests is simply not correct, and this strikes a hard blow against Benkler’s point that open source software can follow the same model.   Of course, this is not to say that open-source software need follow the same model, but the comparison provided here seems to suggest that it should, and so it is disapointing that Benkler points to a field that is so often bogged down by the old model of private interests to demonstrate how technological advances should occur in the “commons.”

Trailer Recut Thread

I’ll kick things off with The Wickerman (the remake) as a comedy

Nicholas Cage Punches a Woman Whilst Wearing a Bear Suit also effectively captures how music can change a scene.