‘Here Comes Everybody’

Amateurization is becoming a wide spread phenomenon in part because of the internet and the easy access to materials needed for publication.  This specific question troubles me because I am seeking to be a media professional and mass amateurization seems to be becoming the norm with the cheap easy access to computers and media tools that were once out of reach.

‘Everyone is a Media Outlet’, the title of this chapter says it all, any person has the potential to put forth news and information.  Not only that but this new information comes from a fresh perspective that may not be seen ordinarily.  At one point Shirky talks about Alisara Chirapongse from Thailand, who did something that no major media outlet could do.  She, as an amateur blogger,  reported on the coup when no one else could.  She provided information to the rest of the world at a time that was critical. She contributed wikipedia as news was happening in her country, garnering the attention of the world.  Chirapongse was in no way a professional, and yet people cared about what she was putting out there.

Another example of bloggers taking the place of major news outlets are the comments made by Trent Lott at Strom Thurmond’s birthday celebration, had it not been for bloggers the story would not have gone far.  While these things will not replace large news outlets, the blogosphere is definitely a new source of information for the public.  It will alter economies because the public is looking to different sources, and there are a multitude of choices at one’s disposal.

Shirky opens chapter five talking about wikipedia, which is a great example of a massive amount of information that has been collated by people of their own free will, and anyone can have access to it for absolutely no fee.   The earliest inception of wikipedia did not work because there were professionals doing all of the work and the pace was slow, and it was not until there was a massive collaboration that wikipedia took off, did I mention that this is all free information, being provided on a volunteer basis?

While the effect on economies may be subtle it is there, and it will just take time to realize the entirety of the impacts these new found collaborations have had.  Shirky gives the example of the London bombings being on wiki within a matter of minutes.  Another barrier with print publication is that it is set in stone, once it is printed it cannot be changed.  However wiki is an ever changing being, if a particular subject changes or evolves there will be a user there immediately to edit that information.  Thusly pointing to mass amateurization changing the way our economies function.

The past has shown us that the way things work evolve and change.  In recent years the internet has given rise to many new exciting possibilities and it is connecting people in numerous ways.  The way we do things is changing and there is nothing that can be done about that change, other than adaptation.  The economic shift that is occurring due to this mass amateurization is going to force the professional world to become creative and adapt to a new set of rules, and accept the changes that are happening.

Status Report: My developing relationship with Adobe Flash

It is roughly six weeks into my experience with Flash and the beginnings of confidence are starting to emerge.  However I am fully prepared for Flash’s mighty hand to come down on me with all its might.  Until that happens, I remain cautiously optimistic.

I credit much of my new found understanding to the students around me, for they have been a major source of clarity for me when it comes to this particular program.  There is no greater feeling than to input action script given to you by another student, and to have it work perfectly.  Six weeks ago I did not realize that my happiness would be dependent on a successful movement to the left or right with a mouse over. For me the movement through projects is slow going, but I have been pleased with all of my end results. I have come to know that simplistic Flash success excites me, and I find myself paying attention to small details.

The other day I made the comment ‘I love your buttons!’ about another student’s project, and his reply was ‘I bet you didn’t think you would be admiring Flash buttons before this’.  Alas no, I did not think that at all, however I cannot stop myself from deconstructing the things I see and thinking about them on a deeper level.

My troubleshooting skills have been improving noticeably, and I do not feel the same panic stricken feeling I once did when something goes awry.  I have taken to going back to my old projects and enhancing them, or fixing what may have been imperfect with them.  Fixing the things that were incorrect in my past projects has given me an enormous amount of gratification, because it shows me that I am moving forward and making progress.  I have come to view my relationship with Flash as a steady unyielding climb, to hopefully, a point of clear understanding.

Alternate reality game – Zombies, Run!

‘Zombies, Run!’ is an alternate reality game that makes running a game.  It was developed by ‘Six to Start’, and their goal is to combine interesting stories with interesting game.  Zombies, Run! pairs the player with a smartphone and encourages them to run, while at the same time telling a compelling story.  Like a traditional running application it also provides the player feedback on running progress and statistics.

The game takes place during the ‘zombie apocalypse’, and the player takes on the alias of ‘Runner 5’.  The goal of Runner 5 is to collect resources that aid in the survival of the apocalypse.  The further the player runs the more resources they are privy to, and as the player progresses in running, the more game content is unlocked. As the player runs the storyline is also revealed .  Players can also enhance their experience by participating in the game online after their run is over.

This game is a great way to get people into running.  It takes an interesting piece of popular culture and applies it to something very mundane.  Zombies have erupted with popularity in recent years, through many other forms of story driven media.  It keeps the player wanting to run by rewarding them with resources while at the same time revealing secrets about the storyline.

Integrating this kind of storyline in this kind of game is such a great idea.  Many of the games played on consoles are highly story driven.  The fact that this game incorporates running in tandem with an unfolding story opens it up to many gamers that might not otherwise participate in running.  It has the potential to appeal to massive amounts of people, due to that fact that it includes the popularity of zombies and an interesting story.  It took less than a week for Six to Start game developers to get enough pledges to develop the game, this game has great potential to become wildly popular among several different groups of people.

Information retrieved from: Zombies, Run!

Thougts on ‘Reality is Broken’

Prior to cracking this book open, my ‘gaming’ experience, if you will, was limited to the scrabble iPhone app and of course Tetris.  When McGonigal touched on both of those games I was glad to feel included in this complex world I knew nothing about.  It seems that games can be a great conduit for improving our lives. I really like the idea of integrating ARGs into schooling, I think that it is a wonderful idea that should be closely looked at to improve the overall involvement of children in their own educations.  My thoughts on other types of gaming differ somewhat.

The subject of leisure gaming is something I was interested to explore.  I did not realize the breadth and depth of these games, and how serious users take them.  I have heard of WoW and Halo but I had no idea how invested people are in these alternate universes.  It makes me wonder, are we, like Herodotus’ people, actually starving for happiness or some other need that is not being met?

My initial thought on the hours and hours spent on games, was that it was forcing individuals to become introverts, while allowing them to have the feel of social interaction.  It seems however that there is a good deal of computer mediated communication is occurring, even though it is not traditional in that users are communicating about fictional happenings.  In reading further as McGonigal described multi-player games and the intrinsic feelings of good and camaraderie that come along with playing them, my skepticism changed direction.

I was struck by the fact that people could be so gratified over 10 billion kills in Halo.  Nothing has been gained, it is simply a number on a computer screen, and is there nothing to show for it except for thousands of hours spent behind a computer.  And when McGonigal went on to talk about how Halo players have used almost as much space as the entirety of written human history in just six years I was taken aback.  If all of these gaming hours could be spent in ‘chore wars’, then maybe we’d be getting somewhere.

I look at the depth of involvement of users in all of the games McGonigal brings up, this makes me wonder what specific quality draws people in such numbers, and spans across age and gender.  Is it simply the feeling of fiero?  I am very interested in what drives people to expand wiki pages and to create full fledged online museums that create a virtual world.  I am also interested to see where it goes and what it turns into as the years go on, because we are surely to see great innovation as technology allows us to push boundaries even further.

It seems as if these gaming individuals could be working toward something better, something more substantial.  Yet on the other hand it is their free time, to be used as they see fit. While they might be doing something I do not fully understand the draw of, they sure are doing an amazing job at creating an alternate reality.  I am curious to see if McGonigal’s predictions about gamers creating great change across the world will come to fruition, because they certainly harness the power to do great things.  If the educational side of gaming could take off along with games like Halo and WoW, then the entire gaming industry is truly onto something great.  It is clear that we need one to harbor and facilitate the other.

Flash Flash Flash

My initial impression of Adobe Flash was that it was going to be a very difficult program to learn and utilize.  Well guess what? I was right!  I have for the most part really enjoyed everything that I have created with flash, no matter how many hours it took me to get there.  It may not look like I have spent a lot of time on my projects, due to their simplicity, however everything I do in Flash takes me 967 hours, though that is just a rough estimate.

My strategy thus far has been to stay within my bounds with Flash, because I feel like any time I reach too far with it I end up having to start over again, which is never any fun (especially after the initial 967 hours).  I have been trying to keep it simple at this point and just practice what simple things I know over and over.  This has been working for me so far, I have been becoming more comfortable with Action Script 3.0.  I feel, at this point, that I can understand the simple code and I can determine what my errors are when I have them.

My main source of concentration with my Flash projects has been organization and labeling.  I make sure to label every layer as I create it, and naming every button with an instance name as soon as it is created is an absolute must.  I learned quickly that when things are organized problems are much easier to deal with.  As one can guess output errors are no stranger to me.

I would say that my main anxiety in this second week of classes has been with flash.  In an effort to ebb my anxieties I watched a few videos from lynda.com, not to be dramatic, but this just frightened me more, good thing I won’t give up that easily.  So onwards and upwards with learning Flash!