Hokay, so.

2 a)

i.  Sender – the originator of the message

ii.  Receiver – the end recipient(s) of the message

iii.  Encoding – preparing the message in such a way that it can be transported

iv.  Decoding – receipt and preparation of the message for the Receiver

v.  Channel – pathway through which the Encoded message is sent to the Receiver

vi.  Noise – outside influences which can interfere with and potentially change the message

2 b)

Sender – Corporate Dude in charge of training employees

Encoder – Message is conveyed by creating a training video

Channel – Video is distributed over the internet to all stores

Decoder – Video playback program has to decompress and format the video for consumption

Receiver – Employee who watches the training

Noise – Manager, fellow employees, or the employee himself who may have negative about the product about which the training video was made, thusly coloring the perception of the training on said product

2 c)

Let’s say there is a new section of a game level that needs to be fleshed out on a particular day.  The Art Director, the Sender, has a meeting with the art leads, who are the Encoders of his message.  They discuss what the Art Director wants, then the art leads go out and give the information to the level and environment teams.  The Channel is the subsequent email in which the art lead tells his team what needs to be done.  The artists’ computers Decode the message, then the artists, the Receivers, process and receive the info.  Noise could occur if the art leads don’t convey the message exactly as the Art Director wants it, or it could occur if other programs the artist is running distracts him from the message.  Then, if the artist has questions about what he has to do, he can either ask the art lead, or go back and ask the Art Director himself for clarification.

2 d)

The Westley/MacLean model fits 2c’s example best.

1st Amendment Interviews

November 21, 2009

My interviewees for this 1st Amendment blog assignment were as follows:

1)  Mom’s friend, late 50’s, female.  She agrees with the freedoms in the amendment because it doesn’t place limits, and she agrees with the theory that the government shouldn’t place restraints on people.  She supported all of them, except excessive freedom of press because it could be abused for panic, false reporting, etc.  She did not recognize the amendment but had heard of it, and was familiar with the concepts.

2)  Co-worker, age 25, male.  He agreed with the freedom for people to do what they want.  He was all for people doing what they feel like, as long as it doesn’t harm others.  He thought there should be no limits as long as it doesn’t negatively impact others or their beliefs.  He knew it was a law (of sorts), but didn’t know which one it was.

3)  Co-worker, age 18, female.  She agrees with the amendment, and said it was a good set of morals, that everybody should respect everybody equally as it said.  She thought too much freedom of excercising religion was bad, i.e. crazy people establishing religions that could harm others.  She immediately recognized the amendment.

4)  Friend’s grandmother, 80’s.  She agreed with and supported most of the rights, but thought that it sounded like you can’t stop someone if they have a harmful, cult-like religion.  She did not recognize the amendment, but was familiar with its concepts.

5)  My mom, early 50’s.  She thought we had the rights, but that Congress should re-establish them.  She said there was no such thing as too much freedom, and she immediately recognized the amendment.

6)  Friend of my grandfather, late 70’s, female.  She agreed with all the freedoms, except excessive freedom of press when it did immoral things, like harass people or violate their rights.  She did not recognize the amendment.

I was actually surprised at how no one blindly supported the rights listed in the 1st Amendment.  Everyone I interviewed said they supported the rights, but that if any of them harmed others they shouldn’t be allowed to be excessive.  Press and religion were the two which were most frequently mentioned as being too excessive, which I found interesting because most Americans go around madly trumpeting how great those freedoms are.  I was also surprised at how four out of six people did not recognize the amendment, though they all found it familiar and had heard of the freedoms.

Patterns across age groups were subtle, since everyone had the same basic views, but they existed.  The elderly age group, while supportive, were quick to point out a particular freedom that could be abused to harm others.  The middle age group, on the other hand, thought that not enough freedom could be given to people.  Lastly, my generation was also pretty liberal, but they were more of the mindset of everyone treating each other with equal respect.

Ultimately, after interviewing these six people about their views on the first amendment rights, I learned that most people are optimistic when it comes to freedoms, but are mindful if abuse of the freedoms can harm others.  It is interesting that people think this way, but it can also cause problems concerning the rights contained in the amendment.  When millions of people all interpret the Constitution this way and think there should be certain moral limits, we get into the gray area of what is and isn’t moral, so certain decisions have to be made by courts on how to interpret the rights.  Naturally, not everyone will agree with those decisions.  As another note, since most people were vaguely aware of their 1st Amendment rights but didn’t know they came from the 1st Amendment, I can see how this unawareness could contribute to people’s rights unknowingly being stripped away from them, a little bit at a time.  Also, if people don’t know they have these rights, they may also trade them away for a bit of perceived security, such as with the “War on Terror.”  Or they could give them away anyway.  Shame, that.

Intellectual property, something one has created and is owned by them, is quite a hot-button issue, now isn’t it?  And rightly so – without legal protection for works we have made, anyone could take that work, claim it as their own, alter it, sell it, take the credit, and give us precisely nothing back for our creation.  Which would be bad.  This is particularly important for companies and individuals who make their income off of their creations, so, naturally, there are laws in place for protection of said people.  But what constitutes Intellectual Property, and how far can someone go with someone else’s IP before they break the law?  This was one major question involved with the Metallica vs. Napster case in 2000, a landmark case which helped set a precedent for similar file-sharing cases in the years to come.

The whole shindig began in 2000, when thrash-metal mega giant Metallica discovered a demo of one of their new songs, “I Disappear,” playing before its release date on the radio.  This, of course, came as a surprise to them.  How did it get out?  The band decided to see what was up, and they traced the leak back to a website called Napster, a Peer-to-Peer file sharing network.  There, they not only discovered “I Disappear” floating around the intarwebs, but their entire catalog was also freely available.  What would any good American do when they found their stuff being misused?  He would sue, which was exactly what Metallica did.

The band, led by drummer Lars Ulrich, sued the pants off of Napster.  They claimed Napster was guilty of copyright infringement, unlawful use of digital audio interface device, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.  They also implicated three universities in the lawsuit, who promptly banned the site from their schools.  After the initial suit, Metallica also hired a private firm to track Napster usage over a weekend, and with the results they demanded that Napster ban over 300,000 users.  Napster complied, but by this time other artists such as Dr. Dre joined in, forcing Napster to ban another 241,000 users.  As the bands had talks with the service, Napster collapsed under the pressure and filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.  It would later be bought by Best Buy and re-emerge as a paid music download service.

Whew.  I’d say Napster got harpooned to the wall pretty handily there.  With the result in this case, Metallica paved the way for others to prosecute file-sharing networks, helping the RIAA to enforce their position against those services and create ridiculous anti-download punishments for those who disobeyed.

I personally agree with the verdict, but think that the consequences down the road were overzealous.  So, Metallica shut down a popular file-sharing network.  I agree with this because it was indeed a gross violation of Metallica’s IP rights, but, on the other hand, it did put a damper on some potential buyers of Metallica’s albums.  Some of those people were sharing simply to sample the music, and potentially could have gone out and bought it if they liked what they heard.  People like this, who didn’t see anything wrong with file sharing, cried out against the decision as iron fisted.  Yet, in reality, I think they were a minority and, while I do sympathize with those who had good intentions, by and large the Napster users were doing something illegal, and got called out on it.  So the site went through a much-needed reorganization.  A victory for IP champions.

Yet, later, I have seen things which caused my eyeballs to almost drop out of their sockets in disbelief.  One prominent example is when the RIAA sued a single mom, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, for $2 million in damages for downloading songs.  And they won the right to sue her for that amount of money – $80,0o0 per song!  That is just insane.  Madness.  But it’s something which may well not have come around if it hadn’t been for the Metallica/Napster precedent set nine years earlier, so not everything that came out of that case was rosy.  Come on, RIAA, I understand your feelings, but $80,000 per song?  I can only laugh inwardly at that.

But the fun doesn’t stop there, in that industry.  My field, the video gaming industry, has had its fair share of issues.  One instance was when Microsoft included vibration functions in its XBox system’s controllers, but thought that the technology was so ubiquitous that it didn’t bother to find out if any patents were involved.  Turns out, a small company did indeed own the patents for the tech and they successfully sued Microsoft.  Pays to do some research.

Sources:  http://news.cnet.com/Metallica-fingers-335,435-Napster-users/2100-1023_3-239956.html

http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article6534542.ece

http://austin.bizjournals.com/austin/stories/2006/02/13/focus2.html

My topic was that of Al Gore, and why he says he invented the internet.  So, why does he say that?  Because it’s true, or, at least, mostly true.  While he wasn’t the programmer guy who actually made the first code or anything like that, he was the key political figure who created legislation that made the internet come to be.  This was called the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, or the “Gore Bill,” because it was Mr. Gore who created and introduced it.  When the bill passed on December 9, 1991, it led to the creation of the National Information Infrastructure, which Gore called the “Information Superhighway.”  Among other things, it also led to the creation of the first web browser, Mosaic.  Gore decided to make the bill in the first place because he heard a report from Leonard Kleinrock of UCLA in 1988, who was a key creator of ARPANET, a predecessor of the internet.  Thus, Gore heard of this concept, realized its potential, and passed legislation which led to a widespread adoption of the technology.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_gore (I know, WikiPedia, but I also used it to find the below sources)

http://www.computerhistory.org/internet_history/internet_history_90s.shtml

http://www.nal.usda.gov/pgdic/Probe/v1n1_2/info.html

New Media Blawgings

October 23, 2009

The podcast about new media and the reading about The Medium and the Message both made good points.  Probably some of the most interesting moments of the podcast were when they talked about how new media is affecting our culture, which got me to thinking.  At first I was of the opinion that new media, while innovative, annoys me because people become obsessed with it, detaching themselves from nature, themselves, and each other.  I was thinking about Twitter and Facebook in particular.  People, especially them youngin’s, text each other dozens of times a day.  They don’t even talk anymore.  What does this do to our social nature? But then, as I heard these wizened professors discuss how they like and use these services, I had to stop and listen.  One of them talked about how we’re adaptable, and that new media is just another element to absorb into our psyche, but it ultimately won’t change us.  We didn’t exactly devolve into anti-social weirdos with the advent of the telephone, which could have been viewed as impersonal by some when it became popular.  “People don’t even talk face to face anymore,” they probably said.  But it’s integrated in to our society now and we are pretty much the same.  So it will be with these new media services, they say in the podcast.  I can’t help but have to agree there.  I still don’t like it, but it’s not as bad as I thought.  I got similar ideas out of the reading – that we’re obsessed with conveying messages, so despite these new ways of doing that we’re still going to do the same thing humans have always done and we won’t necessarily be any worse for it.  Just a new way of doing things.  That’s progress, I guess.

So, how do these things affect the gaming industry?  Good question.  Perhaps people can follow a gaming company’s Twitter blog and get the latest updates on a game’s secrets, thus building hype for a game.  Perhaps people can use Facebook or Twitter to network about a new game and spread word of mouth.  From this perspective, as someone who wants to make games for a living, this is a very good thing.  Still doesn’t mean I have to like Twitter. :p

As for how the field of video game development relates to traditional media, I’d say television has had the biggest effect, along with Print Media (i.e. gaming trade magazines like EGM).  Television, being the primary vehicle for advertisement and the receiving of information, affects most every gamer there is.  We see ads for the latest games and game systems.  We see gaming channels like G4 report on gaming events.  We even sometimes see the regular news make a mention of a new gaming fad or event.  Thus, besides the internet (which is new media), TV makes the biggest impact on how gamers and game developers alike receive their information about what’s going on in the world of gaming.  Print Media does as well, but, along with their newspaper brethren, are rapidly giving way to the Internet for a means of getting information.

New Media, on the other hand, is essentially tied into the bloodline of the gaming industry, both for gamers and game makers.  In particular, above all else, I mean the internet.  It is the single most common, quick, efficient way to get information about gaming, whether it be from gaming sites like IGN or from online news articles.  It’s instantaneous and updated for everyone to see at once.  And for gaming developers, even aspiring ones like me, it is an indispensable tool for keeping up with the latest development techniques or ideas.  Say, for example, you want to do something called “Ambient Occlusion” in Maya, a 3D program, but forgot what settings to use.  Google an Ambient Occlusion tutorial or post to a forum of fellow game developers.  Or say you are looking for a new look for your characters in a game, so you go to ZBrush Central and look at all the amazing pieces they have on display for inspiration.  And let’s not forget about personal portfolio sites, the link to which you can send to a potential employer to check out your work.  Without the internet, the highly interconnected gaming field would be very isolated and getting ideas would be much more cumbersome.  It was that way before the internet came around, but now it is much more streamlined.

Columbia Pictures’ new movie, 2012, is connected to many forms of mass communication, both ancient and new.  The most obvious of these is the movie itself, a disaster movie shrouded in a popular myth, yet others are directly related as well, such as the Mayan Calendar itself, television, radio, newspapers, internet blogs, and print media.  Many of these media outlets either promote the movie directly or promote it indirectly by generating buzz around the controversy.

The focal point of this entire media storm is the Mayan Calendar itself.  An astronomical wonder, considering the difference in technology between their culture and our modern one (perhaps they weren’t as “primitive” as we are led to believe).  It is divided into units called baktun, the current of which will happen to end on December 21, 2012.  This end was a significant event for the ancient Maya, though they not once said it was a disaster of any sort; however, they did say it would mark a changing point for humanity.  This is a crux of modern discussions.  Modern scientists have begun to study the actual astronomical events which precipitate this change, the most significant of which is the alignment of the sun and the galactic center.  So the Mayans knew their stuff.

And now, with our age of mass communication, the whole world can partake in this frenzy and put in their two cents.  Supposedly, the world might end on that day.  People don’t know what to believe, or they panic, or they become skeptical, or they make movies to capitalize on others’ fears.  Television and internet are huge in this regard.  With the movie generating such buzz, television talk shows are suddenly discussing whether the world will end or not, and people are posting videos to YouTube telling everyone that they think it’s all a big hoax.  Morning radio DJ’s are talking about it, too.  It’s everywhere, and it’ll only snowball as the dreaded date gets closer.  Posters spring up advertising an aircraft carrier smashing the White House.  A random guy might pop up on the street corner downtown and preach to the world that they’re all going to die and that the Lord saved him.  People’s obsession with this sort of subject will perpetuate the situation until, at last, December 21, 2012, comes and goes.  And that’s what I think it’ll do.

While I do give much credit to the ancient Maya and their fantastic astronomical achievements, and to their prophecy that something will change, I think that by and large the whole thing is a big distraction, a diversion to keep people from discovering a higher level of consciousness.  Thus, this movie is but a pawn in that sequence.  There is enough information out there that the general population knows something’s up, but how they perceive it and feel about it affects what happens.  Control people’s perceptions and you control them.  So, a certain group of unnamed people who know about what’s going on will want to stir the general pot.  They engineer the release of a movie like this.  They whip up hysteria.  Oh my God, what’s going to happen?  A section of the population will completely buy in to the belief that humanity will change for the better.  Another section will become even more religiously fanatic than they already are and proclaim that the world is going to end.  Most of the people out there will say, “That’s a load of B.S.”  And when the date comes and goes with no real effect, just like Y2K did, everyone will move on and shut their minds off to the whole thing.  “Oh, it was a hoax after all.”  “See?  I told you.  Now hand me the remote.”  And they will have been effectively controlled all the more.  Get people to believe that actual significant energetic events like this are all a crock and say goodbye to any higher form of thought.

And then the Mayan 2012 phenomenon will go down in history as just another one of those hokey beliefs that is clearly “not” scientific.  The Mayan people, who already are annoyed at the misconceptions this media buzz is creating, will have to shrug and move on, also believing that their own calendar is just another oddly accurate scientific tool with no other meanings.  This, to me, is sad but inevitable.  And this so-called “cinematic event” will only help to fuel people in their misguided views.  Shame.  The action might be good, though.  Let’s all go and see it, and be enlightened.

Sources:  http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2007-03-27-maya-2012_n.htm

http://www.history.com/content/armageddon

http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/

http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/2012/

A Tail of Two Dogs

October 5, 2009

Han padded into the downstairs family room, searching for his sister, Mitsu.  As usual, she lay in the center of the room, flat on her back, as their human, Duncan, typed away on his computer in front of her.  Han’s miniature dachshund body did not have far to go as he plopped down next to his sister and yawned.

“Hey.  ‘Sup?”

“Not much.  I licked Duncan’s foot earlier until he started laughing and shooed me away, but otherwise nothing.”

“Oh.”  Han looked around.  Duncan was sitting in his big black chair and moving his fingers over some clickity-thing.  The little dog tilted his head.  “Hmm.  What do you think he’s doing up there?”

Mitsu looked at their human without turning her neck.  Her eyes were comically showing a lot of white as they stretched to see.  “Dunno,” she replied.  “Probably has something to do with communicating with other humans.”

Han was puzzled.  “Why do you say that?”

Mitsu looked back at her brother.  “That’s what humans are always doing.  Mass communicating.”

Han again was at a loss for words.  “What’s that?” he asked.

Mitsu rolled over to face him.  “Mass communication.  Humans are weird.  It’s a process of communicating ideas or messages to a group of other humans, using visual techniques like waving those pretty flags around or a broadcast through those glowing boxes called Tee-Vee’s.  Or, it could be through aural techniques like horn blowing or when one of the humans gets up and speaks to a bunch of other ones.”

Han lay his head down, pondering such strange words as “broadcast” and “aural.”  “I think I get it,” he mumbled.  “But how do they get those messages out?  I could never bark as far as they seem to go.”

Mitsu licked her nose before continuing.  “It’s called mass media.  They’re channels through which messages are sent to groups of humans.  It could be music or a Tee-Vee news human talking on one of those networks.  You know that one song that Duncan loves so much?  I think it’s his favorite one.”

“The Cinema Show.  Yeah, by that band Genesis.  He loves that one.  And, and,”  Han replied, working himself up with this flash of insight, “that thing on the clickity-box!  The Onion News Network!”

“Mmm-hmm.  He always laughs at those guys.”

The two dogs lay still for a moment, the intense brain activity having exhausted them for the time being.  Han broke the silence.  “How did you know all that stuff?  That’s human stuff.”

Mitsu rolled on to her stomach and sniffed the carpet, then proceeded to lick it.  “I dunno,” she said between licks, “I just pick it up since I always follow Duncan around.”

“Hey!  Mitsu, stop licking the carpet,” came a booming voice from above.  The miniature dachshunds snapped to attention.  Duncan had paused his clicking and was looking down at the little dog.  She reluctantly stopped and flopped on to her side.  As he turned back to what he was doing, Han commented,

“Man, I love humans but you’re right, they’re weird.  They can communicate with each other over such long distances through all those different channels, but they can’t understand why we have to do what we do.”

“Yeah.  Oh well,”  his sister replied, closing her eyes for a nap.  Han sighed and got up, going off to sniff for crumbs in the kitchen.

Hello, all.  I am part of Team Awful Dudes.  For our sticky notes, we organized them into two cagetories:

1)  Method of Mass Communication

video games, radio, seminar, sides of buses, posters, banner ads, internet, shirts, graffiti, books, opera, snail mail, speech/public speaking, color, music, email, photography, twitter, semaphore, print, Morse code, Instant Messaging, writing, theatre/plays, smoke signals, TV/boob tube, propaganda, Facebook/MySpace, language, marketing/advertising, code lights, slide shows, hand gestures, traffic signs, online conference, telegraph, cave paintings, cuneiform, sky writing, electromagnetic broadcast, hieroglyphics, Pony Express, horns/whistles, facial expressions, drums,

2)  Tool of Mass Communication/Device

bluetooth, head on a stick, Jack-In-the-Box commercials, freshmaker commercials (mentos), iPhone apps, Jumbo-tron, spotlights, blimps, satellites, walkie-talkie, MP3 players, computers, PowerPoint, webcam, Samurai fans, flares, blow horns, cell phones, Viewmaster, landline phones, sandwich board, Town Criers, camera, flags, projectors, wedding band

And now, for something completely different.  Here are my FIVE (three, sir!) THREE examples.  I mean, five.  It’s actually five.

  1. Head On a Stick.  This is an ancient method of communicating en mass with your opponent’s army, and quite a message that is.  It is a non-verbal way of saying, “Mess with us and you’ll end up like this guy.”  Ouchies, not to mention gruesome.  http://pics.uglychristmaslights.com/2004/pike.jpg
  2. Samurai fans.  In ancient Japan, certain samurai were trained in the art of fan signals – an effective, silent method of communicating the plan to your fellow samurai.  Kind of like using flags in battle, but more awesomer.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_war_fan
  3. Drums.  Used by many cultures, such as the samurai (again) or even them cannibal types, drums can signal many things, such as “We’re marching to battle,” “We’re coming after you to eat you,” or “Man this bonfire is kickin’.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drum_%28communication%29
  4. Cuneiform.  Developed by the ancient Sumerians, cuneiform was one of the first writing methods.  In it, Sumerian symbols were chiseled directly onto large stone tablets, many of which have been found by modern archaeologists and used to study their ancient culture.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuneiformhttp://ant3145-mesopotamia.wikispaces.com/file/view/cuneiform.jpg
  5. Propaganda.  One of my least favorite methods of mass communication, propaganda is used heavily by governments to promote their opiates for the masses and control people, stirring them up to blindly follow the patriotic banner.  Bleargh.  Not for me.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda