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  ‘Webnation’ Kicks Off With ‘Second Life’ Smarm  
Posted 2007-03-29 by Tony Walsh
I'll be making a local and podcast TV appearance tonight on the debut episode of a CityNews/CP24 show called Webnation, where host Amber MacArthur and I chat briefly about the "seedy" side of Second Life. The show airs at 11:35pm Eastern Time on CP24, and as soon as I find out the URL, I'll post the podcast link--in the mean time, I invite you to scrutinize my gaunt, bald head in front of a green screen. I think I may end up posting a supplement to the 5-minute segment here, in order to expand on or clarify a few of the things Amber asked me about about on-air.
  Recent Snippets of Sexism, Racism, Homophobia in Gaming  
Posted 2007-02-22 by Tony Walsh
A handful of stories related to society and gaming have caught my eye this week, punctuated by an event which occurred in a Storytelling in Games class I taught yesterday. I was showing the students some cutscenes from the recently-released Xbox 360 title Crackdown--one scene described a scantily-clad female villain as "hot" and "dirty." The males in the class chuckled uncomfortably while the sole female student in the class was understandably nonplussed. I pointed out that none of the male characters I'd seen in the game were described in the context of their sexuality. I felt embarrassed not only personally, but for the mainstream games industry, which seems to be slower to evolve socially than society has evolved in its capacity to thoughtfully criticize games--consider this a theme when reviewing the following recent excerpts:

Richard O. Jones, "Psychologists agree that if your race is always the thief or killer, then after a while you start to think that's how you should be, or you think that's how your people are... the games that are being designed unconsciously include the biases, opinions and reflections of their creators. And obviously, whites see Blacks and Latinos as criminals and gradually that's how our children see themselves and behave according."

tiny dancer,, commenting on Jones' article (quoted above): "It wasn't a questionable article because Jones is wrong, it's questionable because he used only one example (when there are dozens). The recent Crackdown prison-reality-check themed commercials have had me thinking about this issue, because they seem very strongly biased in favor of promoting racial stereotypes."

Continue reading: Recent Snippets of Sexism, Racism, Homophobia in Gaming
  Does Violent Media Cause Violence, Or Doesn’t It?  
Posted 2007-01-17 by Tony Walsh
A coalition of Canadian parents and educators from the public and Catholic school systems issued a press release today entitled "Media Violence - Not a Pretty Picture," wherein it is suggested that kids and teens are influenced negatively by "violent music videos, video games, music lyrics, the Internet, and television programs..." Now, I happen to believe that some kids and teens are negatively influenced by some forms of violent media under certain conditions. I believe that in some cases, it's possible that exposure to violent media can cause violence. This being said, I'm thoroughly confused by this unnamed coalition's stance on the issue.

According to the coalition, the Internet itself is a destructive influence. That pretty much blows the group's credibility in my view, but unfortunately for you, I'm not done analyzing the press release yet. The group also identifies "music lyrics" as a destructive influence. I'd love to know why "poetry" in general wasn't listed. I suppose as soon as you put poetry to music it becomes a deadly weapon.

Continue reading: Does Violent Media Cause Violence, Or Doesn’t It?
  See Me Live on CP24 ‘Homepage’ Tonight  
Posted 2007-01-17 by Tony Walsh
See Me Live on CP24 ‘Homepage’ Tonight
Tony Walsh looks like he ate a fresh lemon.
Yesterday I appeared briefly as a commentator on the CityNews segment World Wide Web to chat about the virtual world Second Life and the use of that environment to screen the independent feature film Four Eyed Monsters. Earlier this month, I wrote about the film's Second Life debut in a blog post entitled "Down in Front."

Tonight, I'll be making a live appearance on the CP24 show HomePage to follow up on yesterday's segment, barring any last-minute complications. I'm not sure at what exact time during the hour-long show I'll be hijacking the airwaves, but it runs between 5pm-6pm Eastern, and is repeated at 11:35pm tonight, and again at 1:05am tomorrow. Channel 24, I believe.
  Catch Me On CityTV Tonight [Updated]  
Posted 2007-01-16 by Tony Walsh
I'll be making a brief appearance on Toronto-based CityNews International tonight, chatting with tech reporter Amber MacArthur about Second Life. The piece should air tonight between 8:00-8:30 (Eastern) and again between 10:30-11:00 during a segment called "World Wide Web." For those who can't watch the live broadcast, the segment will also apparently be archived online by 9pm tonight and a longer (lightly-edited) interview will be posted on one of their videoblogs (this one, I think).

My last TV appearance earlier this month also involved Second Life. Must be something in the air.
  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’
  TVO Gets ‘Second Life’  
Posted 2007-01-05 by Tony Walsh
TVO Gets ‘Second Life’
The Agenda host Steve Paikin, avatarized.
I joined guests Jesse Hirsh (tech analyst), Alexandra Shimo (reporter), and Anthony D. Williams (co-author, Wikinomics) on TV Ontario's The Agenda yesterday to discuss the ins and outs of Second Life. Virtual worlds are not typical subject matter for the program, which is firmly entrenched in the real world, albeit with a strong interest in technology.

I think the show was a success, but I'm so close to the subject-matter it's hard to gauge how TVO's mature audience might have enjoyed it. The guests, each of whom was far more knowledgeable about Second Life than I'd expected, were personable and articulate. Host Steve Paikin asked some excellent questions and seemed genuinely engaged in the topic. Among the points I personally discussed, I was happy to have explained what "2.3 residents" actually means (signups as opposed to active users). Overall, I think the panel was balanced, realistic (as opposed to hype-tastic) and informative.

Continue reading: TVO Gets ‘Second Life’
  ‘Second Life’ Explored on TVO Tonight  
Posted 2007-01-04 by Tony Walsh
TVO, a public TV broadcaster based in Ontario, Canada, takes a look at Second Life tonight. I'll be joining host Steve Paikin, host of The Agenda, along with to-be-determined other guests to discuss the business, technology and social aspects of the virtual world. The show airs at 8pm Eastern Time. Producer Mike Miner posted a preamble to the show on his blog. Although his description of Second Life could just as easily be applied to a text-based chatroom, I assure you he's aware of the key differences between the 3D virtual world and instant messaging. Miner asked me to prepare an avatar for the host of the show, and I'm pretty sure we'll be getting some in-world footage.

If you aren't able to tune in locally, a video of the show is posted within a few days of airtime. I'll link it when it becomes available.
  Toronto TV Station Needs Female ‘Second Life’ Residents  
Posted 2007-01-03 by Tony Walsh
Just a quick note that a Toronto TV broadcaster is looking for presentable, articulate female Second Life residents to appear in-studio on a segment tomorrow (Thursday, January 4, 2007). The segment will discuss the ins and outs of Second Life and its relationship to the real world. I'll be a guest, as will someone from Linden Lab (most likely). We need a woman to round out the potentially male-heavy lineup. Please let me know if you're interested and available Thursday evening (I believe around 7-9pm): tony at secretlair dot com. Thanks!
  ‘Second Life’ Through a Hype-Cycle Lens  
Posted 2007-01-01 by Tony Walsh
Kevin Dugan of the Strategic Public Relations blog considers Second Life's position on Gartner's Hype Cycle, finding that the virtual world is sliding down the slope of "Inflated Expectations" towards the dreaded "Trough of Disillusionment." Linda Zimmer of the Business Communicators of Second Life blog mulls the matter over, ultimately agreeing with Dugan. Both viewpoints--each from a relative newcomer to Second Life--are worth reading, and mark what I consider to be reactions to the second Hype Cycle for the virtual world platform. I've been a "resident" of Second Life since 2004 and feel I've seen a complete first-round cycle run its course while a second wave runs its course.

Continue reading: ‘Second Life’ Through a Hype-Cycle Lens
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