Monthly Archives: September 2011

Here Comes the Collective Group

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The more I read books like McGonigan’s Reality is Broken and Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody, the more in awe I am of the power of people. The collective ability of people that both of these authors chronicle is absolutely amazing, and the way that technology is enhancing this ability is even more so. I agree completely when Shirky says; “Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technology, it happens when society adopts new behaviors.” People are taking technology we have, changing the way they use it, and truly changing the world.

Before reading this book I posed a question about the limit to which groups can form. Now, after having read the book I am seeing the lack of limits in which these groups are forming. Groups either for demonstrations, collective information or action have grown to become enormous. The emerging of new technology is allowing people to connect and grow a group like never before. Although in the reading it does not specifically mention the limit to the size of these groups, it seems that they are growing every day.

The second question I posed concerned the possibility of people aligning themselves with too many groups and then being too segmented. Again this question hasn’t been specifically answered in the book, but it seems not (at least so far). Shirky says, “Now the highly motivated people can create a context more easily in which the barely motivated people can be effective without having to become activists themselves.” It’s not that by being over segmented that people aren’t motivated, but instead don’t have an endless resource of time to spend being in a magnitude of groups. By being more motivated in some, and less in others, I believe, would alleviate the over segmentation.

The idea of “Big Brother” is never a thought that I’ve enjoyed, but am seeing the necessity of it in collective group setting. A third question I had after reading the first chapter was if boundaries should be set for a manager to oversee a group? Although there are different examples in the book that sway my opinion both ways, I think that overall there should be. There needs to be somebody held accountable that the intent of the group remains. Wikipedia I think is a positive example of this. Although it is left up to the collective users to add or change information, there are also managers that oversee that it’s being used for the reason it was created. I see negative overseers when examples like government are mentioned. By having strict governments do the monitoring of groups they are both taking away a voice, but also there is a possibility that they don’t have the best intent for those they oversee. People like braking rules and to combat this I think that managers of groups are the best choice, as long as the have the best intentions for the group.

Finally I had a question pertaining to if there were any negatives to so many groups and if all of these groups are just adding to our already complicated lives. Before I read this book I think I looked at the subject of so many groups slightly negatively, but now by seeing so many positive examples of the collective group I think they are very positive for our society (if done correctly). Having groups makes people feel that they are a part of something, but also give a voice to many people who wouldn’t have one otherwise. That is powerful. Our lives are definitely complicated, but groups aren’t something that should be eliminated, but instead embraced and used to help solve some of the world’s problems.

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Here Comes Everybody Questions

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After having read the first chapter and some of the reviews of Here Comes Everybody, I’m very interested in the book, but am also left with many questions. Shirky seems to take a very positive view on the emerging technology and the way people use it. I’m also excited for this, but also left thinking about some of the negative consequences.

In the first chapter he discusses the wide variety of groups forming, but is there a time when there is a limit? Is it possible that by aligning ourselves with so many groups that we have segmented ourselves too much?

My second question came about when Shirky was describing some of the absurd posts that were made on the bulletin board about the cell phone and when he discusses how many of these groups alleviate managers. Should boundaries be set and should there be atleast one manager making sure that these groups remain for their stated purpose?

My third question is are there any negatives to having so many groups? Are we just adding another layer to our already complicated lives?

Questions for The Wealth of Networks

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As I began reading this book and the reviews on the back I had a couple of questions in mind for the reading this week. My first was how accurate were Benkler’s predictions about the future in the book and what sort of predictions still relate (the book was published 5 years ago)? In relation to that question was he wrong about anything? Another question would be what sort of negative attributes can be associated with a fully networked economy? And finally, the third relates to a topic brought up in class, but who would monitor these networks?

The future of Flash seems shaky (kind of like my skills)

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Before entering into Elon’s iMedia program I had never attempted to use Flash before. Since the beginning of the program we’ve had a “love hate relationship” ever since. I find what I’m learning very fascinating and love being able to interact with something that I’ve just created. However, there are so many little details that I often get lost in. I imagine these triumphant assignments, but when I turn them in, they’re not even close to what I imagined. I’m going to stay optimistic though and hope that my skills improve and I am able to create some pretty cool things.

Another thing I want to stay optimistic about is the future of Flash. Recently I’ve been hearing many rumors about the fate of Flash (and many of them haven’t been so good). This past week, however, there was some positive promising news. Apple has agreed to let Flash be compatible with its’ iPhones, iPads, and iPods. This seems like great news! Many people are calling Apple the “winner” however because Flash had to create the working format. I’m just happy they’re working together.

Although the future of Flash is unknown, I know that what I’m learning will be beneficial no matter what. I have a new way of looking at things and have a better understanding of how technology works. Although I’ve never been more frustrated by a program, I’m excited to see what I’m able to create!

Something in the Sea, a pretty cool ARG

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While looking at some alternate reality games this week I stumbled upon one called Something in the Sea. It was designed to promote a new videogame (Bioshock 2) and launched in 2009. The premise behind the game is to find the missing daughter of the main character, Mark Meltzer. During the year this game was played new messages, documents, photos, puzzles, and even prizes were slowly given out to help solve the mystery. On August 8th those who happened to be playing the game were also given coordinates of beaches where they could find prizes. Other things were given out too to those who wrote to Meltzer (the address was posted in the game).

One of the things I found so compelling about this ARG was the amount of detail that was put into this game. A yearlong timeline had to have been laid out and it had to be decided when to divulge different details. Not only was the planning extremely detailed, but the level of detail in the actual game was amazing as well. Even though the game is “over” now, I was able to still poke around and was fascinated by all of the different components. There are basically three areas and each area was so detailed that it looked almost real.  The design was so well done you felt as if you were in the actual room (and had an eerie feeling from it).

A second area that I found interesting was the wiki that had been made for this game. It’s extremely detailed and reports every piece of the puzzle. There is also a daily entry of what document, message, or photo was given out that day.  Anybody could post to this wiki and they definitely did a good job chronicling the game. Before recently learning about ARGs I was unaware that wikis and other forums were formed for games like this (especially those that only last for a certain time period). However, now that I do, I’m fascinated by them. The amount of organized details I find extremely interesting and proves how many people are into these types of games.

Something in the Sea was created as a promotional tool for the game Bioshock 2. From looking at a couple of reviews, the wiki and blog postings, I would say that it definitely got people talking. The fact that clues were slowly given out and it was a hard mystery to solve definitely got people thinking and discussing possible answers to the game.

Although I’m still not positive I would have the patience to play a game over a year span and slowly getting hints every couple of days, I applaud the game and the players. I am amazed at the design of the game, but also the endurance of those who played it for so long. I just hope that some of the prizes from the beach were worth it and the mystery of the missing girl was solved!

Is Reality Really Broken?

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Jane McGonigan’s book Reality Is Broken has recently made me deeply think about if reality is really broken, or if we’re just looking at some things the wrong way. In this book she grapples difficult things such as defining happiness and also issues extreme as solving world hunger. To work out these Jane McGonigan takes an approach I had never considered before; gaming. In fact not only does she state that she can solve world hunger, but also climate change and world peace. In the world that I’ve lived in, gamers aren’t given a very good rap and in fact, are often seen as the misfits in society. However, McGonigan introduced me to a world that I previously knew little about, but am beginning to respect much more.

One of the first questions I asked myself when first reading the inside flap of this book was: Who, and in what context does she define a person as a “gamer?” She says that 174 million Americans are in this category, but how exactly did she get that statistic? I asked this question first off because it’s a shocking amount of people. The second reason is because I have played a variety of games in my past and wanted to know if in fact at times I would have been considered a “gamer.“ After beginning to read the book I quickly placed myself out of this category due to the sheer number of hours some of the people play for. In fact to be considered an “active gamer” you play on average thirteen hours per week. I can’t image the amount of time I’ve myself played games like World Of Warcraft, The Sims, and Plants vs. Zombies, but I know it’s not that much.

The second question that came to mind was what McGonigan thought was so lacking in “reality?” This question interests me, because overall I’ve led a happy, rewarding, and yet challenging life and am pretty content with my reality. However, after thinking about this question while reading the book I was able to put myself in the place of somebody like a factory working who receives little stimulation and little motivation to do better. In this context I am still able to empathize, however still don’t completely agree that gaming is the alternative to turn to. I believe it’s possible (with the right attitude) to live a life that is rewarding, challenging, and has victories that aren’t related to surviving an enemy attack.

A third question that I considered before reading the book was about the degree and how many people McGonigan believes gaming will be able to reach. Although so far this hasn’t been completely laid out, she alludes to this a couple of times. In one section she describes an epic milestone in which Halo 3 players reached the 10 billion kills mark. The 15 million people who participated in this I think gives a glimpse to the amount of people McGonigan believes gaming may potentially be able to reach. Personally, this number is astounding and do believe when McGonigan says, “those who continue to dismiss games will be at a major disadvantage in the coming years.” Having an “army” of this many people working for the same cause is literally (like she says) the biggest army in the world. As this field only continues to grow and technology becomes more accessible, it will be astonishing to see the more people it is able to reach.

When first starting this book I had an enormous amount of skepticism and judgment. However, now that I’ve read more I would add awe to what I’m thinking and take away some judgment. There’s no doubt to the amount of people and time games are able to consume, but I’m looking forward to reading how McGonigan believes she will be able to transfer this to all of the issues she says games will be able to solve. Although, issues like world hunger have been around for thousands of years (still unsolved), so maybe we really should consider trying a new alternative.

Questions about Reality is Broken

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Just from reading the inside flap of Reality is Broken there are many questions that I have about the book and its’ significance. The first question I have is: Who and in what context does she define a person as a “gamer?” She says that 174 million Americans are in this category, but how exactly did she get that statistic? A second question that comes to mind is: What does she think is so lacking in “reality?” She mentions rewards, challenges, and victories (which I believe are all present), so I’m interested to see how she finds these to be lacking. A final question I have would be: To what degree and how many people does she believe gaming will be able to reach? I’m looking forward to reading a book on a subject I know very little about and seeing if my perception of gaming changes by then end of it.