Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lessig "Google Book Search" Video

Laurence Lessig argues in 'Google Book Search: The Argument' against the claims of piracy made by publishers in their attempts to sue Google. Lessig falsifies these claims through written law. He showed what the claim actually argued was that the copied material was not done so in 'fair use,' He described the parameters of 'fair use,' as explained by written laws, and how what Google is doing fell within the boundaries. He made the stark point that what Google is doing with books is what they have already done for the Internet and all the markets involved.
After Lessig proved the what Google was doing was within the law he made the argument that the publishers rebellion was due to advances in technology at the expense of their profit margin. Just like the farmers trying to claim their rights over the airways above their houses after the invention of the aircraft, in the case of the publishers arguments; "Common sense revolts at the idea" (Lessig, 2).
The foundation for his opinion lies within the common good of the people, which is being overlooked in our capitalist society. The heart of invention is to increase the efficiency of man-kind as a whole, a motive that is ignored in today's world. Drawing from Lessig's argument in his latest blog (Feb. 14, 2007) we can say that a person can capitalize on anything is this world that could be considered a scarce resource, which is almost everything. Resources like wood can be sold for cheaper because they are less scarce then say gold. The Internet, more so its volume, is one thing we can label as infinite, why shouldn't this tool we've invented be given to everyone?
This for me raises larger questions, have humans stopped evolving as a whole? yes, look at the gaps between societies of the world, those which globalization arguably aims to close, in terms of technological, and otherwise, development. If this is so, how far could these gaps get? how far can we leave people without money behind? is a collapse, a crash, inevitable?

Lessig, Lawrence, comp. Google Book Search: the Argument. 14 Jan. 2006. Stanford Center for Internet and Society. 14 Feb. 2007 .

Thursday, February 8, 2007

What Video Games Have to Teach us: Learning and Identity

In the third chapter of his book James Paul Gee demonstrates, using a role playing video game as the contextual setting, how learning can best be done if the learner creates an identity with which to pursue the material. In real life he uses the example of a school-child learning science who should take on the role of the scientist. Within this imaginary role when the child make mistakes the consequences they suffer will be smaller-than-life, while the experience they gain larger. On page 65 he suggests three requirements to learning, the learner "must be enticed to try [and] to put in lots of effort [which] must issue in success at the appropriate level." They must give "values, desires, choices, goals, and actions" to their 'virtual' identity, for "this is what creates ownership."
I think Gee's ideas are profound, learning is my favorite thing to do, as such I am, and always will be, an avid supporter. The point he made about video game creators being more equipped to entice players than teachers to students is astounding, but sadly very true. They have to sell a product, they have to entice, they research means to get the job done. In the case of educators none of these things are true, and may educators have merely given up, claiming, in Gee's words, "It's too bad, but that's just the way school is and, indeed, life is." It's too bad that administrators and teachers don't look for ways of innovation, to me it seems the only field left that isn't taking such a path, creativity and innovation are the present as well as the future. Education seems to be stuck in the past.

Gee, James Paul. "Learning and Identity." What Video Games have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy. 2003. Palgrave Macmillan: New York, NY.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

GAM3R 7H30RY 1.1

The book/website GAM3R 7H30RY 1.1 is an innovative approach to studying the interdisciplinary nature of gaming in a multimedia setting. The "About this Project" section sets you up for something that you can't imagine, this interactive, user friendly display of information. Here the concept of the chapters pales in comparison to the concept of the presentation. The Book (and its online presentation) are broken down into a large number of chapters, each broken down into 25 sections, each of which are only a paragraph long. I found the reading to be very wordy and abstract, almost too much so, considering they are trying to present profound ideas to the public. Even I, a college student, had to go back and reread, another reader might not be inclined to do so. The content of the sections, the few I read at least (Ch1, sect. 1-10), seemed to be about the parallel relation of gaming to real life. It presented examples of each that supported this claim. I found section 10 of chapter one particularly interesting, it makes a miraculous connection;

"...each agonizes over their worth against others in the price of their house, the size of their vehicle and where, perversely, working longer and longer hours is a sign of winning the game. Work becomes play. Work demands not just one’s mind and body but also one’s soul. You have to be a team player. Your work has to be creative, inventive, playful – ludic, but not ludicrous. Work becomes a gamespace...Play becomes everything to which it was once opposed. It is work, it is serious, it is morality, it is necessity."

This seems to contrast the quote I used in a previous post, whose conclusion was humans who don't play are just pigs that work. If work and play are now interchangeable (in the 'major leagues' of work at least) then which author is right? I think they both are.

Wark, McKenzie. "About This Project." GAM3R 7H3ORY. 22 May 2006. The Institute for the Future of the Book. 2 Feb. 2007- .

Wark, McKenzie. "Agony." GAM3ER 7H3ORY. 22 May 2006. The Instuite for the Future of the Book. 6 Feb. 2007 -

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Where is There?

In this article author John Perry Barlow gives a testimony of his experience within online communities. As an early supporter of the Internet, Barlow suspected that everything this new community he belonged to was missing would eventually develop due to technological advances. He was soenthused by what he had discovered, he took it upon himself to co-found and organization whose goal was "protecting [the] interests...of virtual communities [the] physical government." Since then some time has passed, a lifetime for the technological world, and "many of the near-term benefits I anticipated from it seem to remain as far in the future as they did when I first logged in. Perhaps they always will." He blames his loss of enthusiasm on the lack of things "that make life real to [him]" within an online community; diversity, weather, violence, and sex to name a few. I agree with these claims, but their relevance in deciding whether or not to participate within online communities is only partial. Everything we do in life can only do so much for us. It is the balance of all the things in our life that gives us everything we need. This mirrors the idea presented in the gaming debate we read. Being so, the fact that online communities can provide everything we might want out of them doesn't necessarily mean they aren't worth our time. It may be useful, however, to understand what they, and other parts of your life have to offer. Bringing this information to your consciousness may help you maintain that healthy balance.

Barlow, John P. "Is There a There in Cyberspace." 1997. Utne Reader. 29 Jan. 2007 .

WoW 'Debate'

"Humans = Eat + Sleep + Play + Work
Pigs = Eat + Sleep

Substitute and you get:
Humans = Pigs + Play + Work

Now subtract Play from both sides
Humans - Play = Pigs + Work

Conclusion: Humans who don't understand how to play are just pigs that know how to work."

The quote (from and anonymous 'commenter') above, I think, is the most important thing to keep in mind when considering this 'debate.' I've used the quotations around the word debate, because I hardly think its such. After reading both posts, the negative and positive effects of gaming, it seems they are more so advocating the same thing; a healthy lifestyle,the exact point of the quote above. So what do these posts discuss? The first (chronologically, as well as in my order of reading), 'negative', perspective is the testimony of someone who let online gaming take an unhealthy hold of his life. For him, gaming occupied more time than a full time job, and took the place of many other healthy parts of his life; hobbies, relationships, the works. All of this time he spent achieving success online meant nothing for his life in the real world. Once I was done with this article my previous notions of role playing games were simply reinforced by this active user, who offered a less biased opinion than my own, since he had experienced this addictive virtual world first hand. Reading on through the comments to this first post only supported my opinion, that role playing games were wasteful occupants of useful time, more. I was so fueled with opinions, ideas, and related experiences I almost began this post before reading the second article. Thankfully I read the 'positive side,' or else I would have sounded as unthoughtful as the comment that spurred the posting of the quote I used above. The second post was that of an experienced RPGer as well. He recognized the first authors problem with gaming, and its prevalence with in the online gaming community “I don't want people in my guild who have the attitude 'screw this guild I'm sticking by my friends' You are NOT welcome in our guild,” he remembers one guild leader claiming. He, however, was opposed to this belief and maintained a healthy balance of the things he enjoyed in life, including gaming. He actually proved that WoW, the gaming community in question, and other, more simple, online games worked interactively to sharpen the skills he was already developing in his real life. After reading this post, along with its comments, I came to realize that online gaming, like any other hobby, or thing for that matter, can be lethal in large doses. As a life lesson, that I, and probably all of us, have struggled with, is maintaining a balance of the different facets of your life is key to living a healthy one. Furthermore, as demonstrated in the second article as well as this course (and other interdisciplinary classes), finding interconnectedness within those facets can only work to your benefit.

"A View From the Top." 17 Oct. 2006. 1 Feb. 2007 .

"Warcraft: Another Point of View." 19 Oct. 2006. 1 Feb. 2007 .