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  Anshe Chung Courts ‘Streisand Effect’  
Posted 2007-01-05 by Tony Walsh
Anshe Chung Courts ‘Streisand Effect’
Avatar Anshe Chung gets griefed.
Reuters reports that Anshe Chung Studios is attempting to use copyright-infringement notices to control how founder Anshe Chung is portrayed in the media. Last month, a live interview with Chung, conducted by CNET's Daniel Terdiman, was marred by a penis-bomb attack. Since then, articles, videos and pictures of the event have been posted by a variety of outlets and individuals. Acording to Adam Reuters, YouTube has since removed a video of the attack after being issued a takedown notice (likely without looking into the matter), while blog BoingBoing and the website of the Sydney Morning Herald have also been issued an informal takedown notices for running pictures of the event.

Reuters reprinted one such takedown notice as follows: "Unfortunately I have to point out to you that you, most likely by accident, posted an image that contains artwork copyrighted by my wife Ailin Graef and by Anshe Chung Studios, Ltd. and without obtaining our permission to do so. … We can not authorize the use of this image and the replication of the artwork and textures of the Anshe Chung avatar in this context." Embedded avatar Adam Reuters considers the ramifications of the situation, finding that "Anshe Chung Studio's claim could call into question the ownership of hundreds of thousands of photos taken within Second Life..."

Continue reading: Anshe Chung Courts ‘Streisand Effect’
  ‘Neuronet’ Disemboweled  
Posted 2006-12-31 by Tony Walsh
I'm a couple of days late to the bloody mess "Neuronet" has become. In summary, an upstart "nonprofit group" reportedly plans to establish a network ("Neuronet") for virtual-reality and other high-bandwidth applications. The group plans to sell memberships and domain names, but, at the time of this writing, offers very little in the way of detailed information--other than pricing, of course. Red flag central.

Csven of reBang did an excellent job of scraping through the entire operation with a fine-edged scalpel. My take on his findings (and the comments from his readers) is that the so-called "International Association of Virtual Reality Technologies" that sponsors Neuronet has no real plan, backing, or credibility. Prior to reading Csven's analysis, I'd done a WHOIS check on the group's domain--the results were not impressive, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. I don't see how anyone could take the group's legitimacy or value for granted after doing even the slightest amount of research. Should be really interesting to see this story continue to develop.
  Scan Skype Stress With ‘Lie Detector’  
Posted 2006-12-15 by Tony Walsh
A so-called "Lie Detector," which analyzes Skype audio in real time, has been certified as an official Skype software add-on. The third-party program purportedly shows the stress levels of the other person during a Skype conversation, according to a press release by the add-on maker's parent company. A review of the Lie Detector web page shows that its maker has been very careful not to claim the software actually detects lies, but it does relate voice-stress analysis to lie-detection. Skype's house blogger says "You should obviously exercise caution because no analysis can be fully accurate, and of course inform the remote party that you are recording the call." I take this to mean that Lie Detector doesn't by default inform those involved in the call that it's being monitored.

I'd have to use Lie Detector for some time in order to gauge its effectiveness, but that assumes I have a way of proving whether or not I'm actually being lied to and that I associate with people likely to lie to me. Despite the likely shortcomings of the software, I have a feeling some people are going to consider it infallible. If Lie Detector is somehow proven effective, I can see many useful applications for it, such as iTunes integration (listen to a podcast, scan for "lies"), real-time "lie" detection in online games, or a dedicated "lie" meter superimposed on TV news channels.
  Tech Digest:  ‘Justin Bovington Was Not Misquoted’  
Posted 2006-12-13 by Tony Walsh
At issue: Whether or not Justin Bovington of metaversal branding agency Rivers Run Red said "'We did a block party with Reebok, and it was the first time we saw black avatars coming into Second Life." The quote appeared in a Tech Digest article on Bovington's Second Life efforts. I re-published the quote in a post about Bovington's alleged statements.

Bovington says he was misquoted by Tech Digest, and "doubly misquoted" by Clickable Culture. The author of the Tech Digest article, Stuart Dredge, stands by the accuracy of the quote.

Someone is not being entirely truthful here, and I am stuck in the middle. My position has been to update the relevant posts to reflect each party's position. However, this has been a pain in the ass for me, and possibly for my readers as well. It's also brought a lot more attention to Bovington's disputed quote than he would probably like. This situation could have been handled better from a public relations standpoint, methinks.
  ‘Whyville’ Targets Kids With ‘Edu-tisement’  
Posted 2006-12-12 by Tony Walsh
Last week, kid-targeted virtual world Whyville hosted an in-world concert for Virgin Records recording artist Stacie Orrico. I wrote that "Whyville has expanded from 'edutainment' to include brand engagement ('advertainment'?)." It turns out I was barking up the right tree, but the "actual" buzzword is... are you ready?... "edu-tisement."

In a press release issued today, Whyville's makers announced that "Edu-tisement effectively offers sponsors the opportunity to advertise products to users, but infuses the experience with a meaningful and fun educational component." Ah, educating 8 year-olds with advertisements and branded content. Why didn't I think of something so brilliant? Because I have morals.
  Linden Lab Mutes Noted Agitator… Again  
Posted 2006-12-08 by Tony Walsh
Another year, another muzzle placed on infamous Second Life celebrity Prokofy Neva by the virtual world's owner-operator Linden Lab.

Last year, Neva was banned from participation in the official Second Life discussion boards after stirring controversy by engaging in persistent, passionate criticism of Linden Lab and various Second Life residents, particularly those Neva considered part of a "Feted Inner Core." Following Neva's gag-order, the company widened its ban policy to include all official Second Life venues, including not only the web-based discussion boards but the virtual world itself. Although Neva was allowed to remain in-world, future crimes such as "intention to incite anger" could result in an avatar's deletion from the virtual universe.

Neva was informed yesterday by a Linden arbiter that he is no longer allowed to post comments on the company's official blog. No reasons were given (although the company's position is that it can get rid of someone for "any" or "no" reason), but Neva suspects he was muzzled due to his pointed questions about sensitive and complex Second Life technical issues as well as his criticism of Linden policy related to the controversial CopyBot software. Last month, Jauani Wu, another notable pot-stirring resident, was suspended for 4 weeks for stimulating a similar level of controversy on the Second Life forum. Excising known figures from Second Life's collection of verbally-combative residents might relieve Linden Lab of some pain short-term, but ultimately hurts the company in its capacity as government and god of the virtual world. Silencing controversy works in official channels, but there are plenty of unofficial blogs and other discussion venues available--so why bother wounding what you can't kill?

An earlier story on Prokofy Neva's punishment was published by The Second Life Herald.
  Learning Lindenese  
Posted 2006-12-07 by Tony Walsh
Linden Lab, maker and operator of virtual world Second Life, is responsible for a software platform some see as the future of the World Wide Web. I find the idea of a 3D Web and the experience of the virtual world significant enough that I've devoted many hours of research and writing to Second Life. And I'm not the only one--this year in particular saw a major upswing in business interest from a number of significant sources, including Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM.

Some very powerful and influential people are following Second Life's story, but Linden Lab can't seem to keep its story straight. In my view, the Second Life platform is at a stage where consistent, accurate information about it needs to be made readily available by its maker and maintainer.

Continue reading: Learning Lindenese
  The War on Anger  
Posted 2006-11-23 by Tony Walsh
Angry Netherlanders may be brought to the attention of police now that local surveillance cameras have been upgraded with aggression-detectors. According to New Scientist, the technology is installed in the city of Groningen, where three arrests have already been made during a trial of the system. Last month, New Scientist reported on a separate surveillance system designed to detect violence. I doubt either system is very effective, but perhaps a combined system would turn up fewer false positives. As I noted in earlier comments, I think systems like this encourage "the authorities" to limit personal freedoms--if the system is easily fooled by playful behaviour, I suspect that rather than find a technological fix, deliberately fooling the system will become a crime.
  Ignoring Local Gamers  
Posted 2006-11-22 by Tony Walsh
I'm a bit annoyed with Toronto weekly NOW for failing to find a local connection in its story "Activist Gaming Takes Hold," that ran in last week's edition. It's great that NOW writer David Silverberg covered serious games such as Disaffected!, Darfur Is Dying, The Organizing Game and the McDonald's Videogame, but where's Pax Warrior? NOW is a local weekly, so why not cover Toronto-based game developer 23 YYZee? The studio's serious game Pax Warrior explores peacekeeping in Rwanda and incorporates social studies and history curricula for classroom use. The game was licensed for free to over 200,000 Canadian high school students--that's a generation of potential "activist gamers." NOW clearly dropped the ball on this one.

As an occasional source for the mainstream media, it frustrates me when domestic media outlets go for international talking heads instead of local experts. Earlier this year, Canada's Exclaim! magazine ran a weak piece on Alternate Reality Gaming without one Canadian connection (despite some very obvious choices). I was approached by a producer a month ago about a Canadian TV documentary on MMOs, but he wasn't looking for my participation, only my list of international contacts. Admittedly, I'm crying sour grapes here, but I could have added to the NOW piece on "activist gaming," having written a semi-satirical call to arms for Sims Online players (featured in Canada's Shift Magazine), having once been "disaffected" as a Kinko's midnight shift worker in downtown Toronto, and currently teaching at "The City College" in a Game Design program geared towards serious games. The CBC (Canada's national public broadcaster) has covered Second Life a few times, but doesn't have a great track record for involving Canadian subject-matter experts--here's a recent example (I could have told them it was a non-news item, pointing to earlier precedents).

Continue reading: Ignoring Local Gamers
  When Wiimotes Break Free  
Posted 2006-11-21 by Tony Walsh
Early this year, I predicted the Nintendo Wii's wireless motion-sensitive controllers would facilitate personal injury, and while reports haven't exactly been flooding in, it's only a matter of time. The "Wiimote" controller wrist-straps seem to be flawed--in two cases, at least, the controller has been inadvertently flung across the room. One such incident, according to the goons at SomethingAwful, resulted in the wounding of a 60" rear-projection TV. Another incident, reported by IGN via ad-supported video, followed the same pattern: wrist-strap breakage sends Wiimote flying, which results in property damage. Were these rogue Wiimotes badly-manufactured, or are we looking at a design flaw here? My hunch is that there's going to be a product recall in the future. It's bad enough people are waving their hands around wildly while standing withing striking distance of each other--add faulty straps to the mix and someone's going to lose an eye one of these days.
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... Hope it helps someone... Dino...
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