The Dumbest Case Against Games Journalists You’ll Ever Hear

on Thursday, Aug. 28th

WARNING: Contains Opinions.

WARNING: Contains Opinions. (Oh no!)

When I look at what the culture of gaming has become this summer I recoil in disgust. The worst excesses of geekdom, wherein the bullied become the bullies, have been on display.

The most hideous form of this has been what’s happened to developer Zoe Quinn and feminist cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian in the past two weeks. Quinn was doxed as part of a revenge campaign begun by an ex-boyfriend. Sarkeesian was driven out of her home by threats of violence against her and her family.

Quinn’s story has splintered into a ranging discussion about journalistic ethics in the gaming enthusiast press, even though no one has been able to show that an ethical breach occurred. The problem is that the accusations of unethical behavior found an all too willing audience: gamers just don’t trust the enthusiast press.

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Something Wicked Heads To Social Media: ‘Project: Alibi’

on Tuesday, Aug. 26th

The spooky season is almost upon us, and that means its time for storytellers of all stripes to try and scare our socks off.

The spooky season is almost upon us, and that means its time for storytellers of all stripes to try and scare our socks off.

Such is the plan behind what’s currently called Project: Alibi, a mulit-platform ghost story from a pair of transmedia luminaries who are working together for the first time.

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Copyright Marisa Allegra Williams (@marisa) for Twitter, Inc.

Copyright Marisa Allegra Williams (@marisa) for Twitter, Inc.

Censorship & Trolls: The Battle For Twitter’s Soul

on Friday, Aug. 22nd

It feels slightly ridiculous to talk about Twitter being in a state of crisis while the world falls apart, but the social media network has become the main artery for news around the world.

It feels slightly ridiculous to talk about Twitter being in a state of crisis while the world falls apart, but the social media network has become the main artery for news around the world. Which means that a broken Twitter helps to foster a broken world.

Not only do headlines and links spread across the service in 140 characters, but actual news is reported directly in places as far apart as Ferguson, Missouri and the Gaza Strip as reporters, citizen journalists, and ordinary citizens alike on the scene deliver brief dispatches in real time.

Which means that Twitter’s decision to suspend some accounts linking to the video of execution of journalist James Foley this week set off warning bells for journalists like Glenn Greenwald.

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You’ll Believe A Geek Can Fly–Virtual Reality in LA

on Tuesday, Aug. 19th

This past weekend in Sylmar, a neighborhood in the far north end of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, a few hundred curious nerds descended upon New Deal Studios, a production company and special effects house who played host to the latest Virtual Reality Los Angeles event.

This past weekend in Sylmar, a neighborhood in the far north end of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, a few hundred curious nerds descended upon New Deal Studios, a production company and special effects house who played host to the latest Virtual Reality Los Angeles event.

Companies on the cutting edge of the virtual reality scene—from Oculus VR to Sony and a host of smaller companies in between—showed off their latest wares. Some of it is consumer-ready, while other companies are essentially giving sneak peaks at what they believe will be the future of entertainment.

If the flying simulation I got to play with at the start of the event is any indication, they just might be right.

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Robots and The Case For Basic Income

on Tuesday, Aug. 12th

Buckle up, because we’re headed for the future, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Buckle up, because we’re headed for the future, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Last week the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project released a report on “AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs,” and the basic conclusion is this: the droids are coming for your job. The idea that we are facing a robo-sourcing wave is perhaps less surprising than a proposal  that a few notable economic thinkers are honing in on: Basic Universal Income.

Before we go there, let’s dig into the Pew report. First the good news: drudgery is going bye-bye and technology usually creates new jobs to replace the ones that are lost. Yet the “reasons to be concerned” section that follows the upside is more than a little heavy:

  • Impacts from automation have thus far impacted mostly blue-collar employment; the coming wave of innovation threatens to upend white-collar work as well.
  • Certain highly-skilled workers will succeed wildly in this new environment—but far more may be displaced into lower paying service industry jobs at best, or permanent unemployment at worst.
  • Our educational system is not adequately preparing us for work of the future, and our political and economic institutions are poorly equipped to handle these hard choices.

As former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers put it in an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal last month, “the economic challenge of the future will not be producing enough. It will be providing enough good jobs.”

That’s the nice way of putting it.

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Hungry For Numbers: Kickstarter Feeds Us Potato Salad

on Tuesday, Aug. 5th

Remember, if you can, a more innocent time on the Internet—also known as last month—when we we all collectively losing our minds over a $10 Kickstarter project that became a five figure phenomenon.

Remember, if you can, a more innocent time on the Internet—also known as last month—when we we all collectively losing our minds over a $10 Kickstarter project that became a five figure phenomenon.

I’m talking about Zack “Danger” Brown’s Potato Salad project.

Kickstarter’s Fred Benenson and David Gallagher bring us a look at the numbers behind the Potato Salad project, which closed up three days ago with a jumbo-sized total of $55,492.

It’s a fascinating look, revealing that this joke gone wild managed to become the fourth most viewed project in the site’s history beating out the Oculus Rift (#10) and Reading Rainbow (#8) and Double Fine Adventure (#5) amongst others.

Of course, it didn’t come close to the dollar amounts on those projects. Much of the traffic was probably guys like me: coming back every few hours to stare at disbelief in the rising total.

Missing from the tale of the tape, however, is the mystery of the two great drops. The story of this missing cash is hidden between the lines of Kicktraq’s chart which traces the arc of the full campaign.

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Everybody’s A-Buzz About Amazon Tanking

on Friday, Jul. 25th

Amazon, the online retailing giant, saw their stock drop as much as 10% after a weak earnings call yesterday.

Amazon, the online retailing giant, saw their stock drop as much as 10% after a weak earnings call yesterday. This came on the heels of other bad news: the smartphone that CEO Jeff Bezos sunk so much of the company’s R&D money into has been universally panned as a dud.

Could it be that the bloom is finally off the Amazon rose? This after years of the company being rewarded by Wall Street for operating at a loss?

Eh, not necessarily.

AMZN_-_Google_Search

This isn’t even the first big drop that Amazon has experienced on the market this year. While it is true that the narrative in the tech and business press is shaping up to be “Amazon has spread itself too thin” the stock will have to keep on falling for this to be anything more than your usual post-earnings call profit taking.

The thing to watch is this: will Amazon keep pushing into the hardware space, or has Bezos lost his appetite for making craptronics?

The One Terrabyte SmartPhone Could Be Yours

on Friday, Jul. 25th

Researches at Rice University have made a breakthrough in manufacturing resistive random access memory (RRAM), a new form of computer memory.

Researches at Rice University have made a breakthrough in manufacturing resistive random access memory (RRAM), a new form of computer memory. The MIT Technology Review explains what RRAM is:

Like flash memory, RRAM can store data without a constant supply of power. Whereas flash memory stores bits of information in the form of charge in transistors, RRAM stores bits using resistance. Each bit requires less space, increasing the amount of information that can be stored in a given area.

What’s more, it should be easier to stack up layers of RRAM, helping to further increase the amount of information that can be packed onto a single chip. RRAM can also operate a hundred times faster than flash. Some prototypes can store data densely enough to enable a terabyte chip the size of a postage stamp.

While a number of companies have been in the RRAM hunt for years the chips have required extremely high temperatures to make. This is they did until the Rice University researchers figured out a way to make the material  at room temperature. Bigger local drives on mobile units would take pressure off cloud servers: why stream something on the fly and deal with unreliable connections when you have a massive amount of storage on a phone?

 

The Name of the Game is Consolidation

on Thursday, Jul. 24th

The rumors have been swirling for weeks now that Google was aiming to snatch up video game streaming platform Twitch for a cool billion dollars.

The rumors have been swirling for weeks now that Google was aiming to snatch up video game streaming platform Twitch for a cool billion dollars. Now VentureBeat is reporting that the deal is done, and other sites are following suit on the reporting.

This comes just one day after Re/Code broke word that AT&T and The Chernin Group’s Otter Media will buy a controlling stake in Multi Channel Network Fullscreen. While this is a bit like comparing apples to oranges—Twitch is a platform, Fullscreen a major player in the YouTube universe—it still shows that we are hip deep in a wave of major media consolidation.

Comcast is attempting to pick up Time Warner Cable. Disney just gobbled up Maker Studios. Rupert Murdoch is trying to get his hands on Time Warner itself.

Sooner or later the wave of mergers and acquisitions has to stop, right?

Reddit Says ‘We’ll Do It Live’

on Thursday, Jul. 24th

Reddit, the popular link-sharing site best known to the wide world for its “Ask Me Anything” events with celebrities has always styled itself as the “front page of the Internet”.

Reddit, the popular link-sharing site best known to the wide world for its “Ask Me Anything” events with celebrities has always styled itself as the “front page of the Internet”. In the past few years this has proven to be apt, as the site has become a place where news junkies gather when rapidly evolving tragedies unfold.

My own first experience of this involved coming home after a screening of The Dark Knight Rises to discover the Aurora, Colorado shootings had happened. I then proceeded to not sleep but instead obsessively refresh reddit until I passed out.

The site, however, is not designed around the idea of breaking news, or at least wasn’t until a feature called “reddit live” entered beta months ago. Now the feature is being rolled out en masse. From the reddit blog post announcing the arrival:

reddit live is a new feature of reddit for real-time updates. A reddit live thread’s multiple contributors can post updates, and anyone watching gets sent those updates immediately without having to refresh. Unlike with self-post or comment based live threads, there’s no limit to how many updates can be posted during the course of an event. These live threads exist outside of subreddits and are designed to be submitted, like any other link, to whichever (multiple) subreddits are relevant to the thread. Pictures, video, and more can be embedded in the updates by simply pasting a link.

The feed rolls in reverse chronological order, which is how any sane news live blog is organized. What the feature doesn’t do is prevent rampant speculation and ham-fisted amateur sleuthing from occurring. That feature-set is expected sometime in the year 5,000,000,000 AD, when human nature is finally solved about six minutes before the sun goes supernova.

Via: ArsTechnica

 

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The Good And Bad Memes In #Ferguson Race Conversations

A friend of mine launched a depressing conversation recently, and asked me how much I think he is worth.

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Amazon Joins Mobile Payment Game, But Have They Lost The Magic Touch?

Once upon a time it seemed that Amazon could have been destined to be that rare company that could do no wrong.

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Augmented Reality: German Firm Shows Off Touch Based UI

We seem to be on a collision course with wearable computing.

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Will VR’s Killer App Make You Sick?

Polygon’s Ben Kuchera has a close-in look at the design philosophy going into Eve: Valkyrie, the “killer app” for virtual reality systems.

Image: Rachel I. Berman (Alice); Publicity image by Darial Sneed for Then She Fell.

Immersive Cinema And The Age of Voxelpunk

In the wake of the Facebook acquisition of Oculus VR the issue of the future of virtual reality beyond games has stepped into the media spotlight.

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