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Digital Culture Links: March 8th 2011

Links for March 2nd 2011 through March 8th 2011:

  • Angry Birds is coming to Facebook, which means it has now pretty much conquered the entire world [News.com.au] – I’m genuinely curious how a hugely popular single-player game will deploy the social dynamics of Facebook in when Angry Birds is re-engineered as a social game: “ANGRY Birds will be flinging itself onto Facebook next month, the makers of the hugely popular game said today. Finland-based Rovio Mobile told tech magazine Wired UK that the Facebook version of Angry Birds will include new aspects of gameplay. “There will be completely new aspects to it that just haven’t been experienced on any other platform,” said Rovio chief executive Mikael Hed. “The pigs will have a more prominent role.””
  • Angry Birds – Letters from the Front Lines [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency] – “Dearest Martha, It has been some time since I’ve had the opportunity to write you, perhaps seven or eight levels. The green pigs have fortified their defenses and there seems to be no end to this madness. They are an industrious lot who have remarkable construction skills in spite of their lack of arms or legs. They’re a formidable enemy but I still envision the day we can bring our eggs home safely. Keep the nest warm for me, Yellow Bird” There’s a lot more where that came from! 🙂
  • Twitter Spoils the Oscars Party for Channel Nine [Mapping Online Publics] – “In addition to their massive global TV audience, the 2011 Academy Awards also featured the #Oscars hashtag for the first time, of course, encouraging even more discussion of the Oscar ceremony on Twitter. And discuss they did – globally, over 500,000 tweets were posted during the marathon five-hour live event of the red carpet arrivals and awards ceremony, peaking at nearly 2500 tweets per minute during the tongue-in-cheek ‘best movie’ song montage. […] what’s especially interesting from our perspective in Australia is the local takeup of Twitter to discuss the Oscars. With ‘spoilers’ about winners and losers being posted on Twitter and other social media sites, it’s now almost impossible not to be aware of the Oscar results well before they reach our screens in the evening – which means that local viewers may still watch the delayed telecast to catch the full pomp and circumstance of the Academy Awards, but the party’s already over by then.”
  • German minister quits amid plagiarism scandal [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Germany’s popular defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has announced his resignation a month after being stripped of his doctoral title over accusations of plagiarism. […] The suave aristocrat, who can trace his family back to the 12th century and whose wife is a direct descendent of the 19th century “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck, had been dubbed “Baron Cut-And-Paste” and “Zu Googleberg” by the media. […] the plagiarism row, which broke after a law professor close to the opposition went through his doctoral thesis, was what finally broke him. Internet sleuths set up a wiki, or collaborative website, to comb through the 475 pages, concluding that more than two-thirds of the dissertation contained evidence of unattributed copying.”
  • Bloody battle over Mortal Kombat ban as critics decry ‘broken’ classification system [The Age] – Australian Video Game Classification: Still Broken, Still Confusing Everyone. “Warner Bros. is appealing a ban on one of the most anticipated game releases of the year, Mortal Kombat, as the federal government’s censors defend their decision to ban Mortal Kombat while allowing a sexy spanking game to be classified PG. Earlier this week it was revealed that the Classification Board had given Mortal Kombat a “refused classification” rating due to its violent gameplay, effectively banning it from sale in this country unless the publisher, Warner Bros., submits a more toned-down version. At the same time, a new risqué title for the Wii, We Dare, is due for release tomorrow and has been given a PG rating despite the game promoting spanking, stripping and sexual partner swapping. The Australian Christian Lobby said the We Dare decision showed the classification system was “broken”. Even the game’s publisher, Ubisoft, says the game is intended for an “adult” audience.”
  • Charlie Sheen Joins Twitter [The Age] – Could the whole Sheen meltdown be part of a campaign to sell a brand of milk? (I’m joking … I think?)
    “Charlie Sheen has once again become an advocate for chocolate milk consumption in his much-anticipated debut on Twitter this morning. The troubled actor, who has been racking up a phenomenal 100,000 followers an hour after joining the micro-blogging site overnight, posted a Twitpic of himself in a kitchen holding a bottle of flavoured milk. Last month the Hollywood bad boy received a round of applause from a university baseball team in California when he offered some anti-drug advice during a congratulatory speech. “Stay off the crack. Drink a chocolate milk,” Sheen said at the time. In an apparent reference to that, the dairy fan posted on Twitter a photograph of himself, the milk and porn star Bree Olson, one of two “goddesses” who lives with him in his Los Angeles home. Olson is pictured holding organic “Naked” juice.”

Digital Culture Links: October 12th 2010

Links for October 10th 2010 through October 12th 2010:

  • Simpsonic Business as Usual? [Antenna] – Jonathan Gray’s excellent piece discussing the tensions evident in Bansky’s Simpsons’ opening sequence: “… it leaves us with uncomfortable questions about Groening and co. How are they complicit, and are they simply making this a joke so that they and we can say, “Oh yes, that is bad, isn’t it? But we know about it, so it’s all okay. Let’s just get back to business as usual, shall we? Pass the Cheetos”? I was left with many conflicting responses here myself, on one hand thinking it was a brilliant statement, on the other hand feeling deeply uncomfortable that this is the show’s response to its labor practices – making an opening credit sequence rather than actually fucking doing something about them. Yet, the contestation of authorship in which the sequence engages leaves us wondering whether the American animators (who are largely responsible for the couch gags, by the way – these rarely involve the writers) can do anything about The Simpsons Factory.”
  • Traditional developers look to Facebook games for inspiration [WA Today] – The rise of casual gaming: “While casual games might seem like innocuous time wasters, the sort of drop-in, drop-out games played on Facebook, mobile phones and through web portals have seen revenue grow from $US300 million in 2005 to at least $US3 billion ($3.05 billion) today. The real-time farming simulation game, FarmVille, made for Facebook and smartphones by the developer Zynga, has more than 62 million active users, which is equivalent to about 10 per cent of Facebook users. […] While console-game developers charge a large upfront fee, casual-games revenue is derived through micro-transactions. “You may see 90 per cent or more of your audience never pay you a dime,” Kozik says. “They engage in the game absolutely free and can see if it is something that appeals to them or not. Then the 10 per cent or less who do pay more than justifies the continued expansion of the game.” Casual and social games are less expensive to develop than console games.”
  • Apple Awarded Trademark for “There’s an App for That” [Mashable] – There’s a trademark for that: “Apple has filed a trademark application for the company’s now ubiquitous catchphrase, “There’s an app for that.” Apple filed for the trademark back in December 2009, citing first commercial use of the phrase on January 26, 2009, per trademark documentation. The trademark was filed in the Advertising, Business and Retail Services, Computer and Software Services and Scientific Services categories. The trademark applies to “retail store services featuring computer software provided via the Internet (Internet) and other computer and electronic communication networks; retail store services featuring computer software for use on handheld mobile digital electronic devices and other consumer electronics.””
  • The Search – Is Your Web Identity Hurting Your Employment Chances? [NYTimes.com] – Web presences as (un)intended CVs: “You looked wonderful on your résumé. Your references raved about you. The interview went swimmingly. Yet you didn’t get the job. Oh, no: did they see that Facebook photo of you dancing on a table? Or find out that you’re six months behind on your mortgage payment? You may never know why you weren’t hired, but be aware that background checks can make or break a job application. And in a data-rich world, the person with the fewest red flags may get the job. Little hard research has been done on how hiring managers use the Internet to vet applicants. But you should assume that they are at least looking you up on search engines. So it’s wise to review the results of a quick search of your name. It is very hard to remove anything questionable about yourself from a search engine, but you can at least push it lower by adding positive entries, said Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, a career management business in New York. “
  • Short Attention Spans for Web Videos [NYTimes.com] – I suspect the quality of the content matters, too! “After watching an online video for a full minute, 44.1 percent of viewers will have clicked away, according to Visible Measures. But an outsize slice of that loss occurs in the first 10 seconds, during which 19.4 percent of a video’s audience defects. This phenomenon, known as “viewer abandonment,” is of intense interest to those who make online videos or advertise alongside them. Visible Measures studied the abandonment rate of 40 million videos over seven billion viewings. Music videos had especially high rates of abandonment, as did videos slow to reach a punchline — for example, a Budweiser ad about a man humiliated while buying pornography, which loses nearly 40 percent of viewers in the first 10 seconds. “It took a shocking 12 seconds to get to the conceit,” said Matt Cutler, the head of research at Visible Measures.”
  • Keeping Our Distance, the Facebook Way [NYTimes.com] – It’s all about the weak ties: “Facebook is the best distancing tool since the creation of the Christmas card. Sending holiday greeting cards began in the 1850s in England and spread quickly as a way to stay in touch with far-flung friends and relatives. The cards, whether religious or not in theme, went to people you rarely wrote to and even more rarely spoke to, but for whom you still had a measure of affection — or curiosity. You wanted to know what was going on in their lives, and one exchange a year did the trick. The cards kept the people in your social network at a distance, while maintaining ties to them. I recall my parents sending and receiving Christmas cards. I did it for a year after I married, but I stopped because it was just too much work. Facebook, which tries to replicate our real-world relationships online, now helps me maintain those connections. But it does cards one better. It preserves the weak ties in my social network without creating obligations.”
  • 10 Unbelievable Twitter Stories [Oddee.com] – A bit silly, but some useful extreme stories of what Twitter communication is very good for (and very bad for).
  • Bathurst delay angers viewers [The Age] – Interesting idea; I don’t think a social media blackout would work, but there are definitely issues to sort out: “A social media blackout is needed when watching so-called live sport. The poor TV networks just can’t win when it comes to sport. They regularly get canned for cutting away from the action to screen ads. But Sunday’s Bathurst 1000 race was so tight that Seven claims it didn’t want to risk missing too much of the action. Instead, the network started pausing the coverage to drop in ad breaks. As a result, the broadcast was almost half an hour behind the race by the time the cars crossed the finish line. […] Rather than treat viewers like idiots, perhaps the networks should start treating them like a precious commodity that will dry up if not handled with care. This means being honest when live sport isn’t really live.”

Digital Culture Links: September 8th 2010

Links for September 6th 2010 through September 8th 2010:

  • In ‘Bed Intruder Song,’ Gregory Brothers Have Billboard Hit [NYTimes.com] – “Viral videos tend to have a short lifespan online. […] But in one of the stranger twists in recent pop-music history, a musical remake of a local news clip transcended YouTube fame and reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August. It was a rare case of a product of Web culture jumping the species barrier and becoming a pop hit. The song’s source material could not have been more unlikely: A local TV news report from Huntsville, Ala., about an intruder who climbed into a woman’s bed and tried to assault her. But with some clever editing and the use of software that can turn speech into singing, the Gregory Brothers, a quartet of musicians living in Brooklyn, transformed an animated and angry rant by the victim’s brother into something genuinely catchy. The resulting track, “Bed Intruder Song,” has sold more than 91,000 copies on iTunes, and last week it was at No. 39 on the iTunes singles chart. Its video has been viewed more than 16 million times on YouTube.” The background to this meme:
  • Avatar activism [Le Monde diplomatique] – Henry Jenkins on the mobilisation of popular cultural in protest movements: “Five Palestinian, Israeli and international activists painted themselves blue to resemble the Na’vi from James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar (1) in February, and marched through the occupied village of Bil’in. The Israeli military used tear gas and sound bombs on the azure-skinned protestors, who wore traditional keffiyahs with their Na’vi tails and pointy ears. The camcorder footage of the incident was juxtaposed with borrowed shots from the film and circulated on YouTube. We hear the movie characters proclaim: “We will show the Sky People that they can not take whatever they want! This, this is our land!” The event is a reminder of how people around the world are mobilising icons and myths from popular culture as resources for political speech, which we can call Avatar activism.”
  • Reputation bankruptcy :[The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It] – Should we be able to purge our online reputation record and declare reputation bankruptcy? Jonathan Zittrain: “As real identity grows in importance on the Net, the intermediaries demanding it ought to consider making available a form of reputation bankruptcy. Like personal financial bankruptcy, or the way in which a state often seals a juvenile criminal record and gives a child a “fresh start” as an adult, we ought to consider how to implement the idea of a second or third chance into our digital spaces. People ought to be able to express a choice to de-emphasize if not entirely delete older information that has been generated about them by and through various systems: political preferences, activities, youthful likes and dislikes. If every action ends up on one’s “permanent record,” the press conference effect can set in. Reputation bankruptcy has the potential to facilitate desirably experimental social behavior and break up the monotony of static communities online and offline.”
  • What Are BP, Apple, Amazon, and Others Spending on Google Advertising? [Fast Company] – A peak into adword spending: “Google is typically very secretive about the specifics of its search revenue. I can’t actually recall any other leak quite like this one, in which the budgets of specific companies are laid out–kudos to AdAge for snagging the internal document with such rarely seen information. Much of the list, which covers the month of June 2010, will be of no surprise to anyone that uses Google Search regularly (which is pretty much everyone): AT&T spends ridiculous amounts of money, as do Apollo Group (which owns the University of Phoenix), Amazon, and Expedia. It’s worthwhile to note that some of AT&T’s $8.08 million budget was probably due to the launch of the wireless carrier’s biggest product of the year, the Apple iPhone 4. Apple itself spent slightly less than $1 million, which puts the company in the upper echelon of Google spending but not all that close to the top. 47 companies spent over $1 million, so Apple was, at best, in the top 50.”
  • On Wikipedia, Cultural Patrimony, and Historiography [booktwo.org] – A fantastic way to illustrate the importance of Wikipedia histories: “… Wikipedia is a useful subset of the entire internet, and as such a subset of all human culture. It’s not only a resource for collating all human knowledge, but a framework for understanding how that knowledge came to be and to be understood; what was allowed to stand and what was not; what we agree on, and what we cannot. As is my wont, I made a book to illustrate this. Physical objects are useful props in debates like this: immediately illustrative, and useful to hang an argument and peoples’ attention on. This particular book—or rather, set of books—is every edit made to a single Wikipedia article, The Iraq War, during the five years between the article’s inception in December 2004 and November 2009, a total of 12,000 changes and almost 7,000 pages.”

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