Monthly Archives: April 2007
Just a quick rant to say that I hate when something breaks and there is no “contact us” information. Case in point – my blogger profile says it is unavailable, and that I should change my settings if I want it to be viewable. Problem is, it IS enabled (and has worked for over 400 views to date – probably all me checking to see if it works!!). When looking for help, I am pointed to forums where others complain of similar problems but offered no actual solution or explanation for the bug… so ya … I hate broken technology especially when there is no one to complain to.
A few days behind schedule, I am sitting here at my computer toiling away on writing a history of online role playing games. I am struggling alot more than I thought I would. Not because I don’t have ample notes, timelines and examples, but because I am all to aware of the social construction of history.
There was a time when history was truth to me. Factual; undisputable; it is what it is, cause history don’t lie. Like math and science, which are made up of numbers, and numbers don’t lie… History was what happened … events put down objectively on paper – ‘they’ told me so, and for a long time, I believed them.
But after too many sociology classes and many many conversations that introduced doubt on everything we “think” we know, I am all to aware that everything is constructed. Everything is contextualized and relative. History is nothing more than selective memory, from a particular point of view. Choices of what to include and what to exclude is based on relatively arbitrary decisions by the author or to be a little more objective, secondary constructed categories created outside of the author.
In the end – history should be more aptly titled “The History of America from a middle-upper class educated individual” or “The History of America from the point of view of someone who struggles to read and write” – Although both ‘histories’ could cover the same time period, and the same events, the socio-economic positions of the authors would set the histories worlds apart.
With this in my head, my constructed categories pre-determined, I am trying my best to detail an objective, uninfluenced history of times, events and artefacts that exist(ed) outside of who I am as an author.
I am oddly surprised, yet happy to say that I have been contacted by eMusic’s customer service and they/we have rectified my re-downloading woes. Seems they became aware of my blogpost and contacted me, regardless of their methods, I must say – I am pleased to get my tunes back.
A few things have been perculating in the recesses of my brain over the last few days and I figured I might as well blog them before they become larger distractions when I am actually trying to work.
iTunes, eMusic and other minuscule/majuscule words associated with online music. I must say, I am really not impressed these days. I have a fair amount of downloaded music that I purchased over the last few years and ignoring a few problems here and there (iTunes not letting me burn certain CD’s!!) I have been relatively satisfied. Two weeks ago, my usually net savvy daughter caved into a friend’s request to check out a site that she had a bad feeling about – sure enough within minutes, my laptop was filled with bugs, worms, trojans and other malicious pains in the backside. So I had to wipe my entire computer – the first time since I bought it in 2002. I THOUGHT I saved everything I had to, including my music but when I went to reload it from my memory key, the file was not there.
No problem I thought. As far as the hard copies that I actually own, altough time consuming, I can simply reload them. I figured I would be able to go to my eMusic account and re-download the tunes i bought in some sort of ‘purchase history’. Same for iTunes. Instead, when I logged into my accounts and tried to access the music I had purchased, I got a message that said something like “Purchases can only be downloaded one time. It is your responsibility to make back up copies of the music you purchase .. blah blah blah”. I have to say – I was/am furious. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to burn a CD that I received a pop up that reminded me that this music could not be copied, distributed blah blah blah… (p.s. not all songs on my laptop’s iTunes was on my ipod…)
So now I sit here, missing a good half of my library that I already paid for. I have tried hard to play by the rules for my music, but I just feel that I have no other choice but to perhaps find another way to get it back. I mean, I’ve already paid for it. I don’t want to have to pay for it twice.
Now, the rational side of my brain is arguing back that if I had bought the physical tape, record or cd and lost or ruined it, the company would not be liable to replace it free of cost – but somehow, this feels different. In a way, I feel duped. I feel that I bought into the idea that digital is better, that my computer will keep everything neatly stored away. I know that we, as users of technology, are encouraged to make backups of everything – just in case – but for some strange reason, I cannot imagine making 1,015 back ups for my hard copies if I had bought them from the store…
Not sure when it becomes official, but my thesis has been submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies for binding.
It is very strange to put it to bed… walk away … to stop tweaking, thinking, mulling it over, obsessing about it. Luckily for me, I still have my PhD proposal to finish up – so it is never REALLY over.
So, I am in my early 30′s.. for some, it is “too old” for Facebook – and some of the criticism about the social networking site is that is has become a ‘youngens’ site. Most people who I know who teach mentioned that most of their “friends” have been their students…
Today, I had my first “friend” invite from a student for a class that I TA’d. I was not quite sure how to handle this. My daughter tried to explain to me that it’s all about having as many ‘friends’ as possible. I asked her why, but she couldn’t really articulate it, instead opting for the “just to show how cool you are” cop out (she admits that it’s a cop out since she has no ‘real’ answer “it’s just the way it is mom”…).
So, what is Facebook for? For who? I thought it was a way to keep in touch with people that weren’t on my messenger. Or for people that I can’t quite muster up an entire email – but still want to know what they have been up to. I admit, I have enjoyed getting messages from old friends from high school, but once the “oh my god – its been so long” has worn off – why am I on Facebook? And what do I do with an invitation from someone who I only know throw a class list?
I defended my MA thesis today – it went extremely well – dynamic interaction between committee members and there was a nice – supportive audience. I only have a few minor revisions, which will be done in a few days. I cannot believe that it is over – the last 4 years (Ugrad + Grad) have been working towards this moment. … /big heavy sigh of relief.
As so many people go on and on about how the internet breaks down geographical boundaries, it seems that companies are looking at building walls. Beyond the ‘need’ for legislature governing gambling laws (I still cannot win an online contest in the US because I live in Quebec!), I wonder why companies such as MSN and Yahoo are pushing the geographical definitions of self onto their users.
Case in point (that annoyed me). I live in Canada but like to read the headlines from both Yahoo.ca and Yahoo.com. When I went to Yahoo.com recently, I got a pop up message saying something along the lines of “We noticed that you are Canadian user, please go to Yahoo.ca…. blah blah blah – click here to go to Yahoo! Canada or click here to ignore and continue”. I was irritated at this pop up as it delayed my three minutes of browsing, but also because I felt like I was not welcome at the US site since I was not “from” there. I know that this was more than likely not their intention – is probably meant to help those who do not know better, and if they want to shop in CAD funds, or read CAD headlines – but still – I felt that my boundariless internet had fences being built.
Second case in point – we recently upgraded our children’s computer, and so IM had to be reinstalled. My daughter was miffed when she tried to download MSN and got a pop up telling her that her IP was a canadian one and she was promptly redirected to MSN Canada. Although she doesn’t know what the difference is (neither do I) in terms of messenging services, she felt annoyed that she was shipped off by geographical affiliation.
As I have been pondering my to-do list, a new opportunity has come my way. I have been invited to write a short chapter on the history of online games for an upcoming anthology titled “Video Game History: From Bouncing Blocks to a Global Industry” edited by Mark J.P. Wolf. I am happy to share the pages with Dominic and other friends from the Ludicine research project headed by Dr. Bernard Perron as well as many other fine authors that I have read in the past.
I never thought I would make a facebook profile. I am not quite sure what compelled me today – surely some email or other.. but I did. I was surprised how fast it all came together – I have a bunch of friends already, a relatively full profile and carry on a few conversations via ‘messages’ and ‘the wall’. I am scared that I will become addicted to it – as I am with checking my blog (for the never posted comments) and my email (grateful that I belong to several mailing lists!).
What I did find interesting, is how you create your profile – how it asks what you are looking for (in a ‘i’m available’ kinda way). It struck me as odd that my choices were limited to LavaLife type categories – even the “friendship” tag seemed loaded with inuendo. Where is the “to create a visual mapping of my social friendships” tab? If the site is academic in its nature (so i remember at its inception), why are all the profile categories so typical (interests, hobbies, books, shows, music, movies etc..). I don’t know – I am not sure what I was hoping for. I always feel weird sharing what I watch on television – as I watch SOME reality television, but have a distinct line of ‘too much’ and ‘lame’ even within the reality television spectrum. But when I read my “friend’s” profiles, reality television is often ridiculed – so do I lie, and make fun of it too or do I admit my guilty pleasure of reality television along with tubs of Haagen Daaz and beer + hockey? Like this blog, it is always a struggle between what to share, and what to keep to myself – except here, I don’t have a concrete reader list, so I can pretend no one reads. Enough of that derailed train of thought.
It is strange to see who my friends are in the way they are layed out and categorized by institution, affiliation and relationship. And how ‘friend’ is defined in the context of the site. Most are classmates, acquaintances and people I aspire to get to know better.
Contextualized identity … those who are not on facebook are not included – so the picture of who i am in terms of my network is skewed…at least to the outside world. Is this a meaningful space for me? Or just a mapping? Can I develop relationships here with colleagues that I may not have in other forums (email, mailing lists, the conference ‘circuit’ as my partner calls it). It offers more information about me than I may have shared with some people, while not enough I would have shared with others.
I don’t know how long I will maintain my FaceBook space .. the representation of me that talks for me while I am away… It is strange to watch everyone else’s business. I can see all the activity of my friends too – who they become friends with and what they’ve added or removed from their profiles. For this reason, my daughter is still contemplating whether or not to add me to her friend list. I know that she has my friend’s son on her list too … I could see his activity with her… The web that this all weaves may be too sticky.