Category Archives: Internet

Heaven is Virtual Reality. Heaven is a fantasy. This is heaven.

Imagine this:

Sometime in the future, everyone on the planet decides to live in a utopian virtual world [think Second Life 100 years from now], however they don’t access that world via a computer screen and keyboard.

The physical body would be stored away on life-support. Everyone would be tube fed the perfect amount of energy, fat, vitamins and minerals; delivered in a constant stream throughout the day.

We would have electronic messages sent right into our brain so our eyes wouldn’t have to be open. Smells, tastes and touch would all be created in our brain or spinal cord. The mind would be free to escape the physical disabilities of real life; the paralyzed would be able to walk, no one would have AIDS or bird flu. We could all choose to live our lives however we chose, free from the constraints of real-life.

In a utopian virtual world, where resources are unlimited, would we have to buy products and services, would we have to work to earn currency, and how would goods and services be priced?

Some other questions:

  • In the absence of work, what would we do all day?
  • What would we talk to our friends about?
  • Would we be immortal?
  • What value would life have if we were immortal?
  • Would there be a government; someone to make decision about the world?
  • How would that government be chosen?

How would heaven be different to this utopian virtual life?

If every ‘good’ person goes to heaven for eternity, there must be quite a few people up there. Just like in a virtual world, they won’t need physical things like food, water, medicine, money, and they won’t need to go to work to buy things.

  • What would these people do and what would be their purpose?
  • How would they feel fulfilled?
  • What would their dreams and aspirations be?
  • What would they talk about with their friend and family?
  • Maybe they will decide to learn and gain knowledge and wisdom. But, for what purpose?
  • Maybe they will decide to play sport or compete against each other. But how will teams be chosen?
  • Will there be rules and regulations for competitors? Who will make these rules?
  • Would they compete for a prize? What could the prize be?
  • What if I am really passionate about my team and someone says they’re rubbish? Could I dislike them?
  • Would there be arguments? How could arguments be resolved?
  • Would music, art, movies, entertainment or literature exist in heaven?
  • If I was passionate about writing theatre, film, music or poetry, could I continue with that in heaven? Could I share my work with an audience, maybe in a theatre? Who would perform my work? How would they be chosen over the many others who wanted to perform? Who built the theatre?
  • How would someone passionate about food or wine get on?
  • What if my whole family was here except my very lively and entertaining gay sister and her caring partner? Their two adopted children are here though, forever without their parents.

Heaven is a fantasy. This is heaven.

My Wikipedia Prank

My Wikipedia spam lasted 20 days.

My strategy: I posted on the List of Awareness Ribbons page on Wikipedia on the 18 September 2007. I suggested that wearing the green and blue ribbon was a symbol of support to people with ‘centophobic tendencies’. I referenced this fact with a link to http://www.centophobia.com/fromprank/.

This sneaky addition was removed on the morning of 8 October; 20 days later. My prank was quite clearly spam and yet it still remained for 20 days. While the List of Awareness Ribbons page isn’t necessarily a hugely popular page, you would wonder how long it would take for less obvious changes to be corrected. I just hope no school children (or from my experience, university students) were reading this article during this time period.

Why did I do it? Because I wanted to know how efficient Wikipedia is. Tell me about your experience with Wikipedia. Do you love it?

A quote I had to share

A quote I just had to share:

It is sheer magic that I should be able to hold a one-sided conversation by means of black (and pink) marks on paper a webpage with an unknown person halfway across the world. Talking, broadcasting, writing, and printing are all quite literally forms of thought transference, and it is this ability and eagerness to transfer and receive the contents of the mind that is almost alone responsible for human civilization. (Beatrice Warde, Graphic design and reading: The crystal goblet. 2000.) – my alterations.

So don’t be centophobic. Go forth into the world, and share the “contents of the mind” with others.

A non-post

I haven’t blogged for over four weeks!

I just don’t feel like I have anything to say at the moment.

It is interesting how for the first six-months of this year I was really interested and willing to give some of my time to write on this blog, and then I just stopped. It is like something happens and you don’t have the same motivation to write about current issues and events. I mean I still think about the things I blogged about like religion, advertising, politics and media but I just don’t have the same drive to spend time writing my thoughts and opinions down.

Interesting phenomenon. It probably has a name like ‘blogging fatigue’, or something and has been studied down the minute detail.

Maybe I think my opinions don’t matter. If my blog is for me, and not for a wider audience, why should I publish my ideas rather than just think about them? Or, if my blog is for a wider audience, why write down my thoughts if I don’t know who is reading them and what they think about them? I have had only a few comments on my blog this year, is it really worth the effort for one comment. Where is the conversation, the dialogue?

Who really cares; I stopped blogging. One day I will start again.

Last.fm, 30boxes, Jaiku etc.

So I have been joining a heap of social networking sites lately (I don’t know why I bother, no one ever visits me).  One of these sites was Last.fm. It has probably been around for ages but I just discovered it. It listens (scrobbles) the music you play on your computer and then matches you with other people who have the same musical tastes. Great idea, because unlike other web-radio-station-things, it doesn’t mean you have to be streaming songs off the internet for it to recognize them. The interesting thing is that on many social networking sites you gain ‘credibility’ or coolness or whatever on how many friends you have or how many posts or comments you make.

However Last.fm is different. You get ‘credibility’ by listening to more music. Which is super great!

I’m weird!

I also joined twitter and 30boxes a while ago but the 30boxes sites has been down because of traffic and the Twitter IM thing is never online to IM so that is helpful. Anyway I discovered Jaiku > Basically the same as Twitter except different.

This is a really crap post but I have to keep my public entertained! I only have three assignments to go before the end of semester, so hang in there! Please forgive me.

Four Corners: You only live twice

I have heard about this ground breaking internet community and have studied virtual communities at university, however the story on Four Corners last night did reveal issues that I had never thought about, including:

  • How would a virtual Stock Exchange work within Second Life? However later I also thought that the real world stock exchange is pretty much virtual anyway – people buy and sell shares of a company, which give them no say about how the company is run and they don’t see any profit from the company (unless dividends are paid).
  • I had also never thought about the law and order problems – Do laws exist in the virtual world? Are real world laws applied to the virtual world or are laws only defined by the EULA? Should real world police enforce laws within Second Life or should the game developers cover the cost?

In the next few months and years more people will be entering virtual worlds and you would think that crime would follow. Do you agree with this – would people in a virtual world commit crimes? Why?

Companies are ‘monitoring’ this blog right now.

Did you know that companies are ‘monitoring’ blogs and messageboards to determine people’s opinions about brands and advertising campaigns?

Computers are used to “peruse” millions of blogs and messageboards and measure the amount of “chatter” or “buzz” present in the “blogosphere“. Natural Language Processing is used to analyse the language used in posts, to estimate the demographic information of the author (including their age and gender, and maybe even their ethnicity) (Morrissey, 2005) and determine if the “chatter” is negative or positive.

Umbria Communications and BuzzMetrics [now Nielson BuzzMetrics] are two companies that currently gather and analyse online chatter. Umbria’s Buzz Report, analyses content from 16 million blogs, message boards, opinion sites and other public forums (Umbria Inc., 2005). The BuzzMetrics’ Discussion Miner scours blogs, community websites, listservs and Usenet newsgroups and, according to the company website, is able to “track particular users over time” (BuzzMetrics, 2005), or more accurately track particluar user’s opinions over time.

Unlike traditional market research, this form of research does not require participants to give approval for the use of their opinions and comments because blogs are publicly published. However, as Godes and Mayzlin (2004, p.26) point out, the participation of consumers in online communities is “undoubtedly made without the consideration that firms may be observing these conversations and drawing inferences from them”. These technologies may especially cause concern for consumers who consider blogs to be personal online diaries, and use messageboards to provide personal comments.

Some ‘bloggers’ who have discovered the use of these measurement techniques have used their blogs to discuss the topic. One such blog, called Pop Occulture Blog (2005), contains posts which describe this technology as ‘amazing’ and ‘fascinating’, as well as questionable. Jonathan Carson, president and CEO of BuzzMetrics, also took part in the blog. He suggests that the company is helping marketers engage in conversation-based relationships with customers (rather than disseminating information to them) by helping marketers listen to consumers more effectively.

Which means, no doubt, that the companies mentioned have read what I have written about them (and if so I did try to be accurate and neutral).

What do you think? Please comment.

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This article first appeared at the M/Cyclopedia of New Media.