May 22, 2008

Life imitates Ar...flying penises?

If you haven't heard, a press conference with Russian chess player and political hero Garry Kasparov was interrupted by a flying penis... that is, a remote-controlled sex toy hooked up to helicopter blades. While that sounds quite unusual in and of itself, the act was actually an imitation of a similar act that occurred on the virtual reality title Second Life.

An unusual blending of virtual and real to say the least....

April 14, 2008

Computer Games and Children

Huzzah! A just defense of computer gaming as a medium to be compared--at least in critical terms--to books and film. I particularly love the comparison between using the word "addicted" for gaming vs. "engrossed" for reading (although it has been argued since the early '90s that the physiological habit of online interaction--not necessarily online gaming--can be linked to an actual "addiction," complete with mental and physical withdrawal).

Despite the latest numbers indicating that over 72% of Americans now play video games (link), I think there still exists elitist overtones that suggest that gaming is positioned on the hierarchical scale far below reading, and even under commercial television as anti-social, anti-educational junk-food. As James Paul Gee would say, games provide a vital form of education in today's burgeoning information and social networks, and to deny our children access due to a lack of understanding what options exist out there would be sheer folly.

April 13, 2008

Against Innovation for the Sake of Innovation

Technophiles are petitioning to keep Windows XP on new hardware past June. This reminds me of what happened when Windows '95 replaced 3.1. Everything became so much more opaque and the interface more roundabout (under the guise of "usability") that it left some feeling that Microsoft goes through new software like many auto-manufacturers go through new car models.

Whatever happened to the adage, "If ain't broke, don't fix it?" Or, in Microsoft's case, "If it ain't broke, don't expose it to umpteen security holes." Certainly, this little bit of economically-inspired technological determinism is nothing new... but one wonders if it will drive many more PC users to OSX.

It's just a shame that OSX is so bad for gaming....

April 10, 2008

I Can Post!

I sing that inside my head to the music of Peter Pan....

As long as I have no life and all, I felt I might as well share something with the rest of you: quite a hilarious take on the recent--and inept--Congressional hearings regarding virtual worlds (in particular, Second Life, "the online game for those who don't have a first one").

From The Daily Show

While I must admit that I am thrilled by the prospect of virtual world discussion crossing over into the realm of politics (at least in a more explicit manner), using such a discussion as a forum for fearmongering isn't quite what I had in mind....

March 19, 2008

First Annual Lego Drive

As many of you know teaching technical/professional writing (WRIT 3562W) means a project on instructions. In order to teach this skill students are often given Legos and asked to construct an object and then instructions for creating that object. In the past, teachers have gone to the toy store and invested in a personal supply of Legos or borrowed Legos from another instructor, but now there will be communal Legos! I am organizing the first ever LEGO DRIVE!

There will be a bin in 201 Wesbrook and in the Saint Paul office. Please donate any old or unused legos or other building-type toys (ex: tinker toys, blocks, duplo blocks, connects...etc). The toys will be weighed at the end of month with the hope that the department will "match" our collection in weight. This is a department-wide event so bug your advisers for their legos or P&A's you work with. The department-wide Lego Drive email will go out on Monday.