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Links for March 19th 2009 through March 20th 2009:
- The Hugo Awards : 2009 Hugo Award Nominations – Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is up for a 2009 Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. That’s quite an achievement for a web one-off!
- 94% of Facebook users hate new design – web – Technology – theage.com.au – “Facebook’s redesign is getting an emphatic thumbs down from the notoriously change-wary users of the social network. Ninety-four per cent of the nearly 800,000 Facebook users who have voted in a poll on the site said they do not like the changes rolled out in the past two weeks. Only six per cent said they approve the redesign. Among those writing comments alongside the poll, user Nik McCarthy said the change “Pretty much sucks. Better before.”” (Interesting use of stats, but, yes, new Facebooktwitter design is silly. Very silly.)
- (fake?) ACMA Blacklist leaked; citizens threatened with prosecution [nic.suzor.com] – Nic asks a very good question: “The list is apparently from late last year, and contains just over two thousand URLs (about double the size of the current list). On the list are some sites which look like they may possibly contain some child sexual abuse material. Unfortunately, there are also a very high number of innocuous sites – dentists, tuckshops, dog kennels, favourite collections of lolcats. Reports are coming out that these sites may have been hacked in the past and found their way on to the blacklist. This raises an immediate problem – what happens when the website owner fixes its security hole and removes prohibited content? How do you (a) find out you’re on the blacklist; and then (b) get your site removed?”
Links of interest for October 31st 2008:
- War and Social Upheaval Cause Spikes in Zombie Movie Production [io9 – Chart Porn] – “There’s been a huge spike in the production of zombie movies lately, and many of them seem to be inspired by war. Everything from 28 Days Later to Zombie Strippers make explicit reference to wartime, as did seminal 1968 zombie flick Night of the Living Dead. Is there really a connection between zombie movies and social unrest? We decided to do some research and find out. The result? We’ve got a line graph showing the number of zombie movies coming out in the West each year since 1910 — and there are definite spikes during certain years, which always seem to happen eerily close to historical events involving war or social upheaval.”
- Beatles make digital debut in new game [The Age] – “The Beatles are coming to a game console near you. For the first time, the legendary group’s music will be featured in the lucrative video game market in a deal with MTV Games and Harmonix, creators of the Rock Band series. The game is scheduled to make its debut in time for next year’s holiday season. “The project is a fun idea which broadens the appeal of The Beatles and their music. I like people having the opportunity to get to know the music from the inside out,” Paul McCartney said in a statement. The game will not be titled Rock Band, but will work with the existing instruments – a guitar, drums and microphone. Game developers were cagey about whether new instruments, such as a keyboard, would be incorporated.” (One final frontier for Paul McCartney to get royalties … and, yes, I suspect when this comes out he’ll get a few of my hard-earned dollars!)
- Hulu, Dr. Horrible Make Time’s 50 Best Inventions of the Year [NewTeeVee] – Dr Horrible is a horribly good idea, it seems!
- Election ’08 Fanfiction – US election fan fiction and even slash fiction … Obama/Clinton is one thing, but Obama/McCain … hmmm. [Via Waxy]
Links of interest for October 24th 2008 through October 26th 2008:
- (SPOILER) What happened when the lights went out. [Whedonesque] – Joss Whedon talks straight to the fans about Dollhouse: “Sadly, this is not a naughty post. It’s just Joss nattering on again. I thought it was time to check in with you once again, gentle viewers. Or readers. Or pictures-looker-ats (that might be viewers). Also listeners, sniffers, haberdashers, Olympic hopefuls, the elderly, the youngerdly, and the mighty state of Oregon (go Oregon-based sports franchise!) Welcome all. Welcome… to me. What’s me up to? I’m glad me asked. Me’ve (I’m not doing that any more) been working on a little show called Dollhouse. Yes, perhaps you’ve read about how it’s blazing an untrammeled path to surefire success, with nary a hitch or a hiccup, just pure blazing blazery, comet-like and meteoresque. What’s that, you say? You’ve read other things? Dark, Yog-Sothothy rumors about shutdowns and delays? Poppycock! They’re true. But I never pass up a chance to say “poppycock”. “
- Flunking Spore – John Bohannon [Science, 322 (5901): 531b, October 2008] – Apparently Spore fails to live up to the expectations of scientists and the promotional material for Spore might have been a little disingenuous: “So over the past month, I’ve been playing Spore with a team of scientists, grading the game on each of its scientific themes. When it comes to biology, and particularly evolution, Spore failed miserably. According to the scientists, the problem isn’t just that Spore dumbs down the science or gets a few things wrong–it’s meant to be a game, after all–but rather, it gets most of biology badly, needlessly, and often bizarrely wrong. I also tracked down the scientists who appeared on television in what seemed like an endorsement of Spore’s scientific content on the National Geographic channel. They said they had been led to believe that the interviews were for a straight documentary about “developmental evolutionary” science rather than a video promoting a computer game “
- The Medium – The Hitler Meme [NYTimes] – The New York Times on that Hitler (Downfall) meme: “On YouTube, we’re in a bunker, and the enemies are always, always closing in. The ceilings are low. The air is stifling. A disheveled leader is delusional. This is the premise of more than 100 videos on the Web — the work of satirists who for years have been snatching video and audio from “Downfall,” the 2004 German movie of Hitler’s demise, and doctoring it to tell a range of stories about personal travails and world politics. By adding new English-language subtitles, they transform the movie’s climactic scene, in which Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) rails against his enemies and reluctantly faces his defeat, into the generic story of a rabid blowhard brought low.”
- YouTube Enables Deep Linking Within Videos [TechCrunch] – “It’s not a big new feature but it’s certainly one that will come in handy: YouTube will now allow you to send users to a specific point in a video by appending a short tag to the end of a video’s URL. It’s pretty surprising that this functionality wasn’t available earlier, as Google Video introduced the same feature over two years ago. YouTube users have been forced to rely on third party services like Splicd to do the same thing. To specify a point, append a tag to the end of your video link with the following syntax: “#t=1m45s” (you can change the numbers before the ‘m’ and ’s’ to edit the minutes and seconds, respectively.”
- Woman in jail over virtual murder [BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific] – “A woman has been arrested in Japan after she allegedly killed her virtual husband in a popular video game. The 43-year-old was reportedly furious at finding herself suddenly divorced in the online game Maplestory. Police say she illegally accessed log-in details of the man playing her husband, and killed off his character. The woman, a piano teacher, is in jail in Sapporo waiting to learn if she faces charges of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating data.”
- Fan fury at Nine [TV Tonight] – Australian “Fans of Fringe who were unaware the show had been pulled from Nine’s current schedule got a rude shock last night and vented their anger in online messageboards. They were universally vehement in their displeasure with Nine’s programming. This site alone now totals 95 posts in one thread alone. Over on Nine’s own messageboard there were more furious comments: Fringe Dweller: C’mon channel 9, have some balls and tell the people why Fringe has been pulled! Oh I’m sorry, you don’t care about what people like. Maybe we could lose one of the four hundred different versions of CSI. God Bless ‘Two and a Half man’ where would you be without them. Maybe you can rename yourselves to Channel Two and a Half Men CSI Malibu!!! Why I’m at it, you pulled Fringe and we still have to put up with that The Strip crap.”
Interesting links for August 3rd through August 4th 2008:
- Chinese netizens rail against Great Firewall [watoday.com.au] – A look at the heavy hand of internet censorship in China and the lengths China’s netizens have to go to to avoid being blocked. A recent example shows a meme that the phrase “I’m just doing push-ups” after the line was used by allegedly corrupt communist officials. The meme is going strong, one example being these photoshopped images of a popular Chinese TV host doing push-ups in various locations across China.
- Kind Strangers, Comicons, and the People that Need a Hug. [Nathan Fillion MySpace Blog] – Nathan Fillion, sees the future in Dr Horrible (despite being Capt Hammer!): “I think it can be said that Dr Horrible was a tremendous success. More than just an incredible project to enjoy, but a more than important view of entertainment to come. This is the future, everybody. This is a window into how things will be when the control is finally wrested from the moneyed claws of big business and placed, nay, returned to the caring hands of the creators.”
- Postmodern path to student failure By Justine Ferrari [The Australian] – In a new anti-postmodernism book, The Trouble With Theory, by Gavin Kitching, “insight” such as this appears: ‘Students equate the way language is used with the meaning of words, so that the word “terrorist” always means a person using extreme violence for political ends, and anyone called a terrorist is actually a terrorist. But he said such thinking excluded sentences such as: “Calling these people terrorists distracts attention from the justice of their cause. “They have a very narrow idea of how we use words. (They believe) words have given meanings, and these meanings have certain biases or prejudices. If you use words, you have to accept the biases or prejudices – you’re stuck with them. That you can use words ironically is not something they can take seriously. Clearly that’s not true. We use words to refer to things, but we can refer to them ironically, we can refer to them sarcastically, doubtingly, aggressively.”
- Britney and McCain in 2008 – Barely Political [YouTube] – New running mates: John McCain and Britney Spears. Not the most technically exciting YouTube political mashup, but the rhetoric matches perfectly!
- Notes on Cult Films and New Media Technology [zigzigger] – Interesting thoughts: “My basic point is that the availability of films to own on videotape, disc, or computer file marks a transformation in the way audiences engage with the film text, and that this transformation makes the cult mode of film experience much more typical, more available to more viewers and to more movies.”
Yesterday at the Social Networks stream of the conference attached to GO3 at the Perth Convention Centre I gave a fairly rough version of a new paper called “What Dr Horrible Can Teach TV About Participatory Culture.” As readers of this blog will be well aware, one of my ongoing interests is the way that traditional media forms, especially television, engage with participatory culture and their immediate fan networks. In my past writing on the Tyranny of Digital Distance I’ve looked at the way shows like Battlestar Galactica have harnessed a global fan network only to have that network turn sour as national media distributors insist on broadcasting shows at different times (implicitly encouraging fans to participate in peer-to-peer downloading of TV). While Joss Whedon’s Dr Horrible had a few similar teething issues, it looks like a very promising model for web-based media that can actually be a fan favourite and make a decent profit in the process. My thinking on this very much in process (as, indeed, is the ongoing story of Dr Horrible’s success), but my first stab at drawing a few ideas together was in this paper. I didn’t get a chance to record my talk, but I’ve uploaded the presentation onto Slideshare if you’re interested. There’s a fair bit not on the slides, but they should give you at least an outline of the argument:
Any questions, feedback or criticism would be most welcome!
Interesting links for July 28th 2008 through July 30th 2008:
- Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog [Hulu] – Joss Whedon’s 3 Dr Horrible webisodes – availble for one week only – are now back – for 4 months – on Hulu. Only, of course, if you live in the US. Or know how to circumvent Hulu’s region locking.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Trailer [Moviefone] – The new trailer for the Harry Potter 6 film looks amazing. The embedded version seems geo-locked to the US, but the HD versions should load anywhere (or, at least, they loaded in Australia). Evil Young Lord V looks very creepy!
- Conroy welcomes ISP filtering [Australian IT] – “The federal Government will embark on the next step of its internet filtering strategy after initial trials proved successful, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said. … today released the findings of a recent … ISP-level internet filtering trial…
- Scrabulous pulled from Facebook in US and Canada [ABC News] – “The creators of online Scrabble knock-off Scrabulous say they have pulled their application from US and Canadian Facebook pages due to a lawsuit filed by game-making giant Hasbro.”
- Google enrolled for schools email deal [The Age] – “Google has snatched what is believed to be its biggest single client in the world – the NSW Department of Education – away from its rival Microsoft to claim up to 1.3 million new users of its free email product.”
- Joss Whedon’s online musical comedy Sing-Along Social Media Blitz [Chief Marketer] – “WWJWD. What Would Joss Whedon Do. Marketers looking to capitalize on the power of social media could do worse than keep that mantra in mind next time they want to launch a campaign.” (A look at the success of Dr Horrible.)
- China becomes biggest net nation [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “China now has the world’s largest net-using population, say official figures. More than 253 million people in the country are now online, according to statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).”
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Absurdly Implausible Excess [NYTimes.com] – Has the phrase “jump the shark” jumped the shark? Or, more to the point, should we be saying that it has “nuked the fridge”? …which emerged from a 1980s dorm-room discussion of a particularly ridiculous episode of the TV show “Happy Days”…
Interesting links for July 25th 2008 through July 26th 2008:
- Last Lecture Professor Randy Pausch, 47, Dies [NYTimes Blog] – The sad loss of a truly inspirational educator. If you’ve not listened to Pausch’s Last Lecture, go watch it now.
- GetUp! for what? Issues Driven Democracy in a Transforming Public Sphere By Henk Huijser & Janine Little [Transformations, 16, 2008] – Article exploring the impact of Getup! on Australian politics and democracy, concluding that GetUp! is an exemplar of ‘issues-based’ democracy, where political action is organised on around issues, not via a stable political group.
- The Guts Of Dr Horrible [Warren Ellis] – Warren Ellis sings songs or praise for Joss Whedon’s business model with Dr Horrible. Also: “And if you can get an evil horse in there, that’d be good, too.”
Interesting links for July 23rd 2008:
- WarGames: A Look Back at the Film That Turned Geeks and Phreaks Into Stars [Wired Magazine 16.08] – To celebrate it’s twenty-fifth anniversary, Wired has a good overview of the place of WarGames in videogame and geek history.
- What’s In It For Doogie Howser? [Jeffrey McManus] – McManus takes an educated stab at the economics of Joss Whedon’s Dr Horrible web experiment. (Joss himself notes that these figures aren’t that far off.)
- Xbox 360 users to build and sell own games [The Age] – It’ll be interesting to see how well the coming “Xbox Live Community Games” take off and, most importantly, what terms and conditions Microsoft force game creators to accept in order to sell their work to other Xboxers.
Interesting links for May 18th 2008 through May 19th 2008:
- Positive or Not – Think you can tell if someone has HIV? – An educational game in the style of ‘Hot or Not?’ which challenges preconceptions about people with the HIV virus. [Via NY Times]
- Ikea Stuff Pack for Sims 2 Confirmed [Ad Lab] – When an IKEA extension pack is released for The Sims 2, it’s hard to tell where the game ends and the advertising begins … or if that distinction means anything at all at this point!
- Dollhouse – FOX’s second trailer – Joss Whedon [Dollverse] – The trailer for Joss Whedon’s new TV series, where the best bits of Blade Runner, Minority Report, Dark Angel, The Pretender and Buffy merge and mix in the questionable tales of ‘programmable’ humans!