Category Archives: Internets

Odds and ends

As of this writing, it looks like Stephanie Miner is Syracuse’s new mayor. More girl powah in the O.C. (er, Onondaga County). Wondering if any Upstate counties have ever had a female county exec and a female mayor of the major city, at the same time? I probably should know this, but I don’t. It’s a new day.

Also as of this writing, it looks like Republicans are sweeping all those races which are supposed to be a referendum on Barack Obama’s presidency. If Hoffman squeaks out a win in the 23rd district, I do hope NY Democrats are red-faced. I honestly have not been following this race closely and haven’t been reading the national coverage to see if any of the more astute political writers have bothered to study the regional-alienation angle as a factor (homely Upstate voters gladly taking the sweaty GOPcon hand at the big dance).

I was downtown to see the Turner to Cezanne show at the Everson last weekend. I heartily recommend it to anyone and everyone. I like art, but even if you aren’t artsy, you really owe it to yourself to be in the presence of these amazing works – there is something for everyone. You can even see one of Vincent Van Gogh’s final paintings, completed shortly before he tragically killed himself in 1890. I am probably going to even go see it again before it leaves after Christmas. Sean Kirst commented (can’t remember where, either on his blog or Facebook which I don’t think you can link to) that there were all sorts of cool things going on downtown this past weekend – the art exhibit, the horse show, etc. Notice that none of these events were connected to the University in any way. Hmmm.

Sean and Phil bring up Facebook. I still don’t enjoy Facebook as much as my friends and family seem to. I find it constraining and visually dull – no good for personal expression (unless you take those goofy quizzes that Facebook uses to gather data on your likes and dislikes, which they sell to advertisers). I feel like a wild animal not taking well to domestication. I can’t say I’m surprised at my reaction. Maybe this online “schism” says more about who we really are as personalities than we’d care to admit. And as Merlin said in the movie Excalibur, (and I quote),

“The days of our kind are numbered. The one God comes to drive out the many gods. The spirits of wood and stream grow silent. It’s the way of things.”

Facebook is turning into the One God of the Internet. I maintain an outpost there, but it won’t ever be my virtual “home,” I’m afraid. (PS: Unfortunately if anyone tries to contact me via my Facebook inbox, your message is likely to go undiscovered for weeks. Sorry! I will try to do better.)

To boldly go…

Brian Cubbison of the Post-Standard has a new blog called Future News, which is going to look at ways that newspapers will be able to use things like RSS and Twitter and Facebook and other tools that will show great communications promise to generations of journalists yet unborn. He points out that the world of Ridley Scott’s allegedly futuristic Blade Runner (1982) still had good old fashioned paper newspapers, which is very funny in hindsight.

On a personal note, I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark 14 times in the theater (a major Harrison Ford crush playing out in an era before home video) and spent the entire next year eagerly waiting and hoping and wishing to see Blade Runner. Then I found out Blade Runner was rated R and that there was no way in hell I’d be allowed to see it even once, much less 14 times. This is sometimes what happens to our great expectations.


Wow, I had no idea that the birth of the ubiquitous “smiley” emoticon had an actual date (and time): 11:44 a.m. (I presume, Eastern time) on September 9, 1982.

You can talk all you want about how Internet communications make for obscurity, but I don’t think a more trustworthy and helpful invention has come along during the modern technology age. It says, Nudge nudge wink wink! Just kidding! I come in peace! No Kill I! How can that not be a great thing?

If we could flash this symbol somewhere on our cars while driving, there would be a lot less rage in the world at large.

Class warfare on the web

Interesting article, linked via Boing Boing, about a study of who uses MySpace and who uses Facebook:

The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other “good” kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. They are part of what we’d call hegemonic society. They are primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities. MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, “burnouts,” “alternative kids,” “art fags,” punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn’t play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn’t go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. Teens who are really into music or in a band are on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.

Gosh, MySpace suddenly got a lot more interesting… But seriously, we might need a third category here – for people, like myself, who fundamentally don’t understand the appeal of either site. (This is no laughing matter for me because I am supposed to go to an office meeting about the uses of Facebook this very week. I feel like I’m in one of those dreams where you have a test that you haven’t studied for all semester.) To me, it is a puzzlement. Why would one need a third party (a company) to provide a space for one to network in? Why would one want to subject their expressivity to the aesthetic or content limitations of someone else’s system? Why would one want to show off (via one’s friend list) who they’ve networked with? How can someone really have 400 “friends”?

The article is speculative, but interesting nonetheless and touches on how we take new technology and proceed to drearily recreate all our same-old same-old biases within these exciting new “virtual worldspaces.” I checked out Second Life once, and lasted all of ten minutes before I realized that it’s the same boring rat race in there as it is out here. It’s just like real life — including the emphasis on amassing money and acquiring “things” — except with clunkier graphics and more name-dropping (“Wow! I just attended a virtual seminar with John Edwards!!”) The difference with Second Life is, you don’t need to feel guilty if you feel schadenfreude when you hear that their master computer has gone down, causing absolute havoc in Second World for a few hours.

Also of note is the recent NYT article on Chinese “gold farmers,” who slave away in a small room together daily playing repetitive online games so that their characters can earn game credits and then their bosses can sell the credits to lazy American gamers who want to reach the highest levels… and somehow manage to find real adventure along the way.