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Links of interest for October 1st 2008 through October 2nd 2008:
- Google Search 2001 – To celebrate Google’s 10th birthday they’ve gone back in time and worked with the Internet Archive to let you search the 2001 web … YouTube is a nonsense word, ‘blog’ only returns 76,400 hits and Facebook has just under 1800 results!
- EA Downplays Spore’s DRM Triggered Piracy Record [TorrentFreak] – Despite credible estimates that Spore has been downloaded over a million times via bittorrent networks, EA are playing down these figures and, in a turnabout for a big media producer, are arguing that not every download would have represented a legitimate sale were bittorrent not around (something many downloaders have been arguing about p2p film and even tv for years). Despite EA’s PR spin, it seems likely DRM is one of the big things nudging fans into downloading the Spore (and bypassing the DRM altogether).
- Blizzard wins Warcraft bot payout [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “World of Warcraft creator Blizzard has won $6m (£3.36m) in damages from the makers of a software ‘bot’. The damages award comes after Blizzard won the first round of its legal battle against MDY Industries in July 2008. Blizzard embarked on the case against MDY claiming that the World of Warcraft Glider software produced by the small company infringed its copyright. The Glider software lets Warcraft players automate many of the repetitive steps the game involves. … it helped them automate the many repetitive tasks, such as killing monsters and scavenging loot, required to turn low level characters into more powerful ones.”
So, there has been a lot of talk about Spore since it’s initial release almost a fortnight ago and since I’m in the middle of a series of lectures for our new gaming based unit in Communication Studies, I figured I should definitely try it out. I’m still thinking all of the logistics through, but one thing is clear from the outset: while Spore does have a win-condition (unlike The Sims which is basically endless), it’s not a game, it’s a toy. Or, rather, it’s not overly satisfying as a game (the gameplay is, to be frank, not all that exciting), but as a toy to build cellular organisms, new species and even space-faring civilisations, it’s absolutely brilliant. Also, even with the weirdest creatures, Spore makes everything cute. To justify that point, I’d like to introduce one of my species, the Battleworm 4000:
And make sure you watch the video all the way through to meet the kids! More on Spore, I’m sure, in the coming weeks …
Interesting links for August 21st 2008 through August 22nd 2008:
- Monkey Magic – Karen Lury / University of Glasgow [Flow TV, 8.06] – Playful and engaging reading of the BBC Monkey-style BBC Opening for the Olympic Games: “A playful, irreverent choice then: a trailer that reverses a mythic journey (from West to East) and which pays overt homage to a cult TV series that was never – in any coherent sense – an ‘authentic’ reflection or interpretation of Chinese culture or mythology. … The animation itself reproduces certain static poses and a colour scheme that may have been inspired by Chinese illustration and Japanese Manga; but for Hewlett fans, this is recognisably a Hewlett world – a world that is both menacing and cute (and where ‘cute’ is revealingly close to its roots in the freakish world of the side-show). It is funny and slightly unsettling as Pigsy smirks provocatively or when Monkey opens his mouth to reveal his dirty and surprisingly sharp teeth.”
- Tiger Woods Responds to Fan’s YouTube Video [Micro Persuasion] – “This video response is brilliant marketing on the part of Electronic Arts and Tiger Woods. A fan posted on YouTube that it’s possible for Woods to hit a golf ball in Tiger Woods 08 while walking on water. How does Tiger react? By showing how it’s done and promoting Tiger Woods 09 in the process. It shows they listen and bring in the big guns to engage.”
- Digital futures report: the internet in Australia [CCI] – “This report provides an overview of our work, presenting results for each of the questions asked. We will also be publishing work that examines relationships between our key variables exploring, for example, differences between users with broadband access at home and those on dial-up connections and the differences that age, gender and education levels make to people’s use and experience of the internet. Analysis we have already conducted shows that broadband does make a substantial difference to peoples’ use of the internet. The internet is more highly valued by those with broadband connections and they use the internet for longer and for a greater variety of purposes. Younger people have been quick to integrate the internet into their lives, they use the internet more and particularly for entertainment.” [Full Report PDF]
- Few lives left for Second Life [The Age] – “Separately, figures released by the virtual world’s creator Linden Lab in April show there are only 12,245 active Australian Second Life users, down from highs of 16,000 towards the end of last year. … Australians appear to have lost interest in Second Life and the users still there appear to be shying away from the big corporate brands. Kim MacKenzie, a PhD student at the Queensland University of Technology, centred her honours year thesis around the business applications of Second Life. She studied the Second Life bases of 20 international brands over three months last year, including Dell, Toyota, Coca-Cola, BMW, AOL and Vodafone. “They were like ghost towns,” said MacKenzie, adding that many of the users she saw on the company islands appeared to be staff members.” (A significant rebuttal of the information and argument in this article can be found at Personalize Media.
- For YouTube videos, a ‘fair use’ boost [News.com] – “Copyright owners, such as NBC Universal, Warner Bros., and Viacom, were put on notice Wednesday when U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled that they must not order video be removed from Web sites indiscriminately. Before taking action against a clip, copyright owners, must form a “good-faith belief ” that a video is infringing, according to Corynne McSherry, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “
- Poor earning virtual gaming gold [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “Nearly half a million people are employed in developing countries earning virtual goods in online games to sell to players, a study has found. Research by Manchester University shows that the practice, known as gold-farming, is growing rapidly. Researchers say the industry, which is largely based in China, currently employs about 400,000 young people who earn £80 per month on average.” (Good article, but really, “playbourers”?)
- Up, Up, and Away? Separating Fact from Fiction in the Comic Book Business [Alisa Perren / Georgia State University – Flow TV 8.06] – A timely look at the relationship between comic book sales and the blockbuster movies they’ve been driving so successfully this year: “Myth #1: Comic-Con is all about comics. From its inception in 1970 well into the 1990s, this was largely the case. However, in recent years, the Hollywood studios increasingly have focused their energies on using the annual event as a means of promoting upcoming films and television programs. … Myth #2: Since movies based on comics are all the rage, comic books must be selling like crazy.”
- iTunes blocked in China after protest stunt [WA Today] – “Access to Apple’s online iTunes Store has been blocked in China after it emerged that Olympic athletes have been downloading and possibly listening to a pro-Tibetan music album in a subtle act of protest against China’s rule over the province. The album, called Songs for Tibet, was produced by an a group called The Art of Peace Foundation, and features 20 tracks from well-known singers and songwriters including Sting, Moby, Suzanne Vega and Alanis Morissette. It was released as a download on the iTunes Store on August 5 – three days before the start of the Olympics – with the physical CD launched on Tuesday this week. The Foundation provided free downloads of the album to Olympic athletes, urging them to play the songs on their iPods during the Games as a show of support.”