muds and moos

I’m not much of a gamer. In fact, game talk is equivalent to a foreign language for me, so when I was informed I would be playing an online game for homework, I wasn’t too happy. When I found out it was a virtual reality program in which multiple players were connected at the same time, I was kind of worried for the safety of my virtual character.

While exploring the LambdaMOO community I felt like I was constantly in some sort of maze, searching for my way out, almost like a bad dream. I kept trying to see how far I could go and hoped I would make it to Paris (since I heard someone say that’s where they were in class). After 45 minutes I found myself in a Chinese-like area trapped in a cave (needless to say, I didn’t get to see the Eiffel Tower).

I didn’t like the lack of actual visuals, I felt limited in movement, and I wish I didn’t have to read directions in order to get anywhere. I especially didn’t like that I did not feel a part of the community; I felt like an outsider who was a complete stranger to this multi-dimensional world. I even felt as though they made it purposefully difficult to navigate within the dimensional world alone, forcing interaction among community members.

The house seemed to be the main area of social interaction but since results from Diane Schiano’s article, Lessons from LambdaMOO: A Social, Text-based Virtual Environment, detailed that MOOers spent most of their time within the home, I wanted to make sure I got out of there as soon as I made a friend (results from Schiano’s article also showed that most social groups consisted of two characters).

After a dip in the pool, I soaked up the house, moving my character into every direction of the mansion. I hoped to be social with MOOers within the living room but was immediately grossed out when one of the living room MOOers informed everyone he/she was masturbating. I quickly made my way out the door, friendless.

During my time within the rest of the community I tried to keep my sense of identity by following directions I would be comfortable making in real life but I freaked out each time I found myself somewhere creepy, like a graveyard and a barn with doll heads. Honestly, once I made it to the graveyard I wished I was back within the swimming pool being social, instead of out in the world on my own. I especially wished I wasn’t on my own when I was trapped in the cave, because I have a feeling having a friend would have helped prolong my online life past the cave.

I explored LambdaMOO before I read Julian Dibbell’s, A Rape in Cyberspace, because I was worried it would deter me from interacting with others (I didn’t want anything bad to happen to me). After reading the article I was glad I waited to read it but I also felt as though I’d be perfectly okay with never exploring LambdaMOO ever again.

It might have to do with my lack of interest in the world of game, but my feelings toward the identity aspect of virtual reality are now mostly negative, while my feelings toward the social aspect of virtual reality are somewhat positive. The ability to create a life within a virtual realm is possible, I’ve heard of SIMS, and to do it all text-based seems impressive, but to cause havoc and violate MOOers against their will is sick and scary.

It’s weird to think how people create new identities for social MUDs and do things they normally wouldn’t. It completely goes against the need to be ourselves, as Douglas Rushkoff points out in his chapter on identity. Being in a virtual world is the same as being on a social media site, both forms of digital fall under the umbrella of life with technology. There seems to be a life of anonymity within LambdaMOO that MOOers enjoy taking advantage of. It’s as if users want to live another life within the MUD, pushing the limits of the virtual world that they normally wouldn’t push in the real world.

read about MOOers having relationships on LambdaMOO and even some getting married

Although there is a lack of authenticity within LambdaMOO, when it comes to the social aspect, I will admit I did like the lack of advertisement. I’m used to social media sites throwing consumer ads my way, so it was refreshing to go about something online without an ad being forced upon me. The program allowed for social contact to take place without outside interruption, which Rushkoff points out in his chapter on social, to be the main purpose of a social network.

What were your feelings toward LambdaMOO?

How does Rushkoff’s chapter on identity relate to your experience exploring LambdaMOO? How does his chapter on social relate to your experience exploring LambdaMOO?

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tweet tweet tweet

Last summer I had this grand idea that I would join the world of Twitter because there was still so much buzz about it, I felt like I was the only person in the entire world who didn’t tweet, and because of the benefits listed in this article. I created an account and composed creative tweets every now and then and kind of enjoyed it. I found it especially useful to gain newsworthy information from @chicagotribune and @nyimes without reading the newspapers, it was sort of, as Douglas Rushkoff explains, “Reading as a process of elimination rather than deep engagement.” (This worked for a while until my professor handed out a current events news quiz and asked for detailed news descriptions. Needless to say, since I was not reading just looking at what there was to read, I didn’t so well on that quiz) My usage went from lurking, to simply stalking the lead singer of my favorite band, to completely lacking the desire to update followers of my thoughts. I deleted it after a couple of months and thought I’d never go back.

I thought wrong.

I created a new account for my #comm200 class and I have to admit, I feel quite weird about having it up and I don’t plan on keeping it up for very long. I’ve been trying to take advantage of it and compose tweets but I guess maybe I’m not fit for the Twitter world.

To me tweeting is equivalent to shouting out into a massive crowd. It’s like saying, “This is what is on my mind and I think everyone should know #imawesome,” with a link and extra hashtags inserted somewhere in between. Someone might think it is truly awesome and might even benefit highly from the composed thought but the truth is, most people don’t care what you have to say.

In the Future of Social Media: Is a Tweet the New Size of a Thought?, Julian Dibbell explains the reasons for Twitter use aren’t known. Personally I believe it is an easy way to keep in contact with family, friends, and celebrities, but I already have a Facebook for that, so why do I need a Twitter?

Maybe it’s because I have never really had the average Twitter experience that I feel this way, but I don’t see it being much different from Facebook or other social media sites; either way it’s the uploading/publishing/composing of what interests us and those who share the interest engage while those who don’t share the interest tend to ignore.

While composing a thick tweet I felt a mix of embarrassment and unease. Embarrassment that my thoughts wouldn’t be hidden, rather shown to a class full of strangers and unease because I’d prefer to keep most of my thoughts to myself. It also doesn’t help that I have to break down my thoughts into 140 characters or less. While I understand the benefits of learning to be simple and getting straight to the point quicker, I feel as though 140 characters sometimes isn’t enough space to compose the fullness of my thoughts.

I could fill my tweet with four of even five layers of information, as David Silver encourages, in The difference between thin and thick tweets, as the proper way to, “Craft creative, meaty, and to-the-point messages that attract other people’s attention.” I can say something catchy in under 140 characters, but I can say even more attention grabbing things in over 140 words, as well.

Each time I have tweeted, I often found myself going over the limit and had to figure out which words I can take out or how I can reword my sentence in order for it to fit. One size does not fit all, Twitter. The Twitter media is biased toward abstraction; I can say what I want but under Twitter terms/within the proper Twitter character count. Twitter becomes even more abstracted when thoughts are linked to similar subjects, links that aren’t necessarily original sources of information (and the original sources of information become further disconnected with every re-tweet). But Twitter lovers don’t care about abstraction, they get to encroach their thoughts into everyone and anyones head every time they want, which satisfies them.

In Program or be Programmed, Douglass Rushkoff says, “Everyone wants to have his or her model of change scale up, to host the website where the most important conversation takes place, or aggregate the Twitter feeds of all the people one level below.” Everyone wants attention. They say what they want (under 140 characters) so they can gain loads of followers, seem really cool, and become ‘Twitter Famous’. It’s a media outlet that will allow them to shine brighter than twitter lurkers, twitter self-promoters, and twitter newbies.

It’s a medium allowing many to believe they are more important or better than the average person, all because Justin Bieber retweeted what they had to say about McDonald’s. It’s a medium allowing everyone who hates Miley Cyrus to tweet her hideous messages.

It’s the reason you have skimmed this post and then suddenly became very distracted and are now opening a new tab.

In Is Google Making Us Stupid?, Nicholas Carr says, “The more they use the Web, the more they have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing.” With the exception of a good book, I can’t read anything longer than 500 words without wanting to surf the ether or eat a snack due to boredom. Sites like Twitter and Facebook distract us from what we should fully engage in but instead we fully engage in them. We can spend hours reading status updates or even commenting on pictures of our friends but we can’t dedicate a full hour to Sarah Coyne’s peer-reviewed journal without checking Facebook or Twitter every couple of minutes. So we skim.

We skim because have search engines like Google, that provide us with reliable information and allow us to no longer need to know everything. Google is not making us stupid, it’s just making things convenient; making it easier to find what we are looking for in a timely fashion. I often think with each new thing I learn, a piece of old information I lose so I am grateful for Google so I can refresh my memory when I need to.

I am well aware that I have brought up many different points along with many different readings throughout this post but my overall purpose is to connect social media, specifically twitter, to the specific readings I addressed:

I believe twitter connects to Rushkoff in how it allows us to read posts but not engage with the details and how it allows disconnection through media to take place. Twitter connects to Dibbell in how it only allows for a minimal amount of clever to shine in our words. It connects to Silver in how it allows us to compose thin or thick tweets, and it connects to Carr in how it serves as a distraction.

What do you consider to be the five best things about Twitter? The five worst?

Do you think social media sites like Twitter are making us stupid?

to program or be programmed – choice

‘Life is full of choices. Choose carefully’

was a sign I read every M-F of my high school days. The mantra hung outside the classroom door of my senior English class and I always despised it. For an indecisive individual like myself, I find choices to be annoying.

Where should we go for dinner? What should we do Saturday night? When should we call the landlord?

There are so many choices and with these choices come many different options, which makes it harder to make a choice. I find myself having to play a game of eeny-meeny-miny-mo in order to make a decision for some of the minor choices I have to make, and sometimes I feel as though I am forced to make a decision because others are way more indecisive than me. I’d rather not make the choice at all and have others I am with make the choice instead, that way the pressure is off.

I admit though, that choice making is best when there is more than one option; making a choice when there are only two options is very limiting and can have an unexpected result. Yes or no, right or left, stop or go, are all choices that can have adverse affects if chosen incorrectly. That’s when the pressure is really on.

I feel as though media offers many limiting choices. To tag or not to tag, to update or not to update, to blog or not to blog, to reply or to ignore: the choices is ours, and it’s entirely limiting. If I don’t tag my sorority sister in a picture, she most likely will tag herself (or better yet, one of our 100 will). If I don’t update my status the less of a presence I will have on Facebook and the less people will know about me so and that’s the main reason I have a Facebook right?so might as well update. If I don’t update my blog I am going against the purpose of creating it and I might also lose followers, so might as well blog. If I don’t reply to that Facebook message or text message that person will think I am ignoring them and freak out as well as probably second guess our friendship therefore, might as well reply. These thoughts consistently take over my decisions limiting my choices preventing me from the choice I seem to be forgetting –> none of the above.

In Program or be Programmed, Douglass Rushkoff believes, “We are free to withhold choice, resist categorization, or even go for something not on the list of available options…Withholding choice is not death…it is one of the few things distinguishing life from its digital imitators” (p. 60).

So here I am all this time thinking I have to make these choices and I must choose them carefully. Here I was feeling pressured that my choice wasn’t the wise choice, the careful choice. I’ve been too busy making choices that I haven’t had time to realize that I don’t have to always make a choice or even that I can pick or suggest from different options, not just what I am presented with.

Realizing that choices can take a back seat or be emptied in the trash every now and then is a relief for my indecisive self. I think this realization will really help with my upcoming new media diet because I won’t feel as big of a need to make a choice about one of my many social media sites; I can withhold the choices for the 72 hours of fasting and from there on lessen the choices I make with social media (and maybe even life decisions).

still need some help making decisions/choices? maybe this will help!

Do you think it’s possible to withhold from making choices?

Has a social media site like Facebook or Tumblr ever forced you into a choice? Did you have a hard time accepting the choice? or, Did you like that the choice was made for you?

the bias of communication

At Epcot, a Disney World theme park, there is a ride located inside of Spaceship Earth (the large globe located at the beginning of the park). The ride takes you through scenes of cavemen developing the first spoken languages,  Egyptians inventing a system of hieroglyphs and papyrus,  merchants developing a written alphabet, Aristotle addressing audience members in a theater, a charioteer carrying messages to and from a Roman court, Islamic scholars discussing texts, a monk inscribing a manuscript, and Gutenberg carrying out his printing press. The ride takes you through each scene ending in a world we have yet to experience; a world well equipped with very advanced technology. The theme – the development of communication – is obvious throughout this ride.

Never been on the Spaceship Earth Ride? Don’t fret, you can experience it here or better yet, read The Bias of Communication by Harold Innis.

While reading The Bias of Communication, I felt as though I was on this ride, traveling through the ages of communication in chronological order. The detailing on the different mediums of communication and how they affect the content of the message being sent is well portrayed in this piece by Innis. Innis takes you through the history of communication, detailing upon details of how different mediums change media content.

I’ll admit, it is a lengthy reading that could have gotten its point across in fewer sentences and I had some trouble analyzing everything that was stated but I think I got the main point, which is that it’s important what we write our ideas on. We are bounded by time and space. Time media allows me to physically experience historical architecture like the coliseum and understand the history of it. Space media allows me to experience history through texts, images, and history lectures. Both types of media allow our ideas to reach people, but time media is more set in location, while space media can travel far and time media will last longer and make stronger connections, while space media does not have a lasting ability and will make larger connections. If I write out my ideas and try to get them across in a time media fashion, I’m making it possible for my ideas to stick around for a while but not necessarily making them available worldwide. If I write out my ideas and try to get them across in a space media fashion, I’m making it possible for my ideas to make it out to distant spaces but not necessarily making them available forever.

It’s as though we need to find a balance, like somewhere in between time and space there is some sort of balance. I guess iCloud lies somewhere in the middle of both ideas of media, but I still feel as though technology is advancing to the point of allowing this in-between media to be a part of our society and we will no longer have to worry about what the content of the message we are sending is and what the medium of that content is.

Any ideas of how we can find a balance? Do you think a balance is possible?

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What do you think about Innis? Did you understand him differently than I did?

to program or be programmed – place

Hihi bloggers,

Do you have that one friend who is constantly on his/her phone? I mean, text messages, status updates, and tweets all within the same time and place kind of friend?

If you don’t, you are lucky because I do and I absolutely can’t stand it. Sometimes I feel like I can’t get through to her without sending her a text, rather than physically communicating with her. The worst part is, she doesn’t realize how unattached to the world she is because her sense of attachment is located in her hands, most likely, currently typing on the keypad of her smartphone.

click here to learn about ways to limit cell phone use

Text messaging, emailing, and Facebook chat tends to take the place of over the phone conversations, and iChat, Gchat, and Skype tends to take the place of physically interacting with people. Even people who aren’t miles away from us.

In Program or be Programmed, Rushkoff explains it best when he states, “This makes them (digital networks) terrifically suitable for long-distance communication and activities, but rather awful for engaging with what – or who – is right in front of us.” (p. 41)

I appreciate that digital media allows me to keep in contact with people who are too far for me to spend time with but I don’t like that it gives people a reason to not bother hanging out with someone who lives less than 10 minutes away since it’s much simpler (in their minds) to just Skype with them. That is nonsense.

Technology has definitely made things much more convenient, but I sometimes crave the personal interaction. I would prefer to see my family and friends and have a real conversation, not just communicate with them on a blog, in a text, or through Facebook. I prefer the clearer picture, the sharpness and clarity of reality, the ability to see the exact amount of wrinkles the furrow of someones brow makes when expressing themselves. I like facial expressions and I like hand gestures and I like to take them in while walking around or at the beach, not sitting at my desk in front of my laptop, or wherever I have internet connection.

Yes, it’s cool to be able to talk online but its way better to talk in person.

Sometimes I wish everyone disconnected themselves from digital technology for 24 hours every now and then to put themselves at ease and remind themselves that the meaning of life does not involve technology. I love when it’s finals week and I put all my social media sites down, silence my cell phone, and stir clear of the TV. It’s like, nothing can go wrong and if it does, I won’t know about it’s because I have no connection to the information. If refreshing and it even feels slightly rebellious.

We need to recognize the dislocation from the world that digital media causes and in response, we need to disconnect ourselves from the media in order to reconnect ourselves to the world. It’s possible, we just have to willingly do it.

Any activity you will be engaging in that I did not list? If so, what?

Will you complete more than one activity?

to program or be programmed – time

Hey bloggers,

Time is of the essence, yet, many of us continue to sit on our laptop and reblog One Direction pictures, sift through our friends status updates liking and commenting for the heck of it, or stalk our celebrity crushes through their tweets because…well isn’t that what a twitter is for?

We spend tons of time completing these actions and when we’ve finally had our fill, we realize hours have gone by. Hours we can never get back. Minutes of precious time no longer available due to our inability to see the control digital technology has over us.

I admit I am no stranger to the suction of digital media sites; they pull you in barely allowing you to get away for even a washroom break. I once put off watching one of my favorite television shows because 1) I was too focused on reblogging Tumblr images and 2) I knew the show would be online within an hour after it aired, so I could just watch it that way. It was okay if one of my roommates wanted to talk to me, they could text me since my phone was right next to me or better yet, they could Facebook message me, since I had that up already. I basically spent all of my time devoted to my laptop, not realizing how much time I was letting get away from me. It wasn’t until I took a time management survey in one of my psychology classes (you know, the one that asks you how many hours a day you spend doing a, b, and c), that I realized how much time I spent on the internet.

This was basically my life:

It was quite disturbing to realize such a thing, but the realization helped lessen the amount of time I spent on the internet from there on in. Every now and then I need to re-adjust the time I spend on certain social media sites, but I vow to never again give more than 8 hours a day to them.

Digital media lets us dive into a realm in which we lose a sense of time for ourselves only allowing us to give all or most of our time to media. Our smartphones are attached to our hands and we respond to every new vibration, our iPad is filled with dozens of applications that scream “play me”, our laptop contains internet browsers that let us go onto Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest to communicate with anyone and everyone, even those who live a couple of steps down the hall from us. Even our TV’s are smart and let users watch shows from Netflix and Hulu if they can’t seem to find anything captivating enough from the hundreds of channels Xfinity provides them with.

We don’t wait on digital technology. It waits on us. It’s always ready to be used and surfed.

It’s quite ridiculous when you think of it, but our lives don’t have to revolve around it. In Program or be Programmed, Rushkoff points out, “The simplest way out is to refuse to be always on. To engage with the digital…can still be a choice rather than a given.” (p. 37) Indeed, digital technology is a huge part of our life, but it tends to take away from more important things in our life. Things that used to matter to us before technology took over.

Technology has made things much more convenient, but take advantage of the personal connection rather than the virtual. Physically spend time with friends and have a real conversation, don’t just read about them in a blog, on Facebook, or in a text message.

Quit being programmed, do something productive that doesn’t involve a piece of technology.

click this picture to find out how Technology Is Ruining Your Life

How will you spend your time offline? What old habits will you re-continue? Any new habits?

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