Get a "Nicktropolis" Life

What is being touted as a kind of “Second Life for kids”, Nickelodeon’s “Nicktropolis” is a place where:

Children will be able to create their own personalized 3D rooms on the site, which launches on Tuesday, and move through Nicktropolis by taking on a self-designed 3D avatar similar to those on popular virtual world Second Life, choosing from an array of hairstyles, skin tones and clothing styles.

The site will feature gaming, online video, popular Nickelodeon brands and other elements to help children interact with each other or Nickelodeon characters in
real time.

You can read more about the marketing ploy masked as social software for kids here and here.

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8-bit Screening

Another interesting upcoming event well worth the time and $8 (for IGDA members, $10 for non-members) cover, is the screening of the documentary 8Bit at the “Society for Arts and Technology on February 17th. The evening also includes dj’s and cocktails For more detailed information check out the SAT’s website.

Excerpted from the advert 8Bit is:

A visually and sonically dynamic mix of rockumentary, art expose, and critical exploration, 8 Bit is the definitive documentary about video games and their intersection with the art world and culture at large.

By weaving together arcane histories of digital subterfuge, candid interviews with cutting-edge artists and theorists, wild videogame concerts, and highlights from the best digital artwork being made today, 8 BIT: A Documentary about Art and Videogames exposes the cultural ramifications of video games and proposes that Generation X’s coming to grips with its digital heritage signals the beginning of a new social and artistic reality.

Winter Wonderland

On my walk home from the University yesterday, I walked past this ice building in front of a local eatery, restaurant garcon. As temperatures dip well below zero (minus 19 celcius this morning – “feels like” minue 27 with the wind chill factor) I know that winter is here full on.

Seeing this ice entrance to the restaurant reminded me how much I love my four seasons, and would never trade the cold months of winter for a never ending summer.

(sorry, its not very clear, its a phonecam pic)

Relax, Its in the Stars

It has been many years since I have taken a horoscope seriously or have been moved by one, but this week’s, found in the local weekly free newspaper the Mirror, I read this:

To Create a pearl, an oyster needs an aggravating parasite inside its shell. It builds layers of calcium carbonate around the invader, gradually fabricating the treasure. How long does it take from the initial provocation to the finished product? Five years for a pearl of average size, and as many as 10 years for a big one. I hope that puts into perspective the tenacious work you’re doing on your own master project, Libra. It may seem sometimes as if you’ve been striving to transform your irritant for an eternity, but you’re actually right on schedule.

For anyone who knows me, I am at the end of writing my Master’s thesis – and this horoscope seems quite eerily apropos.

MySpace & Parental Responsibility

Over the last year or so, I have been hearing stories of parents sueing MySpace for not protecting their children adequately from predators, the latest one coming from four families from different parts of the United States. When I read articles like this one, I have a tendency to get quite irate. Like so many other issues in our ‘civilized’ world, when bad things happen, we need someone to blame.

Interestingly, Law & Order did a show on a crime that occured that was linked to a “BFriendz” social networking site. I was impressed with how they doled out responsibility on the show – citing that the company did have to be more legally responsible; especially when complaints are filed, but when the parents were crying that they couldnt have done anything, good ‘ole McCoy stated that indeed, they could have, seeing as their daughter’s internet activity happened in their home, on their computer. That as parents, they have a responsibility to know what their children are doing on the very public World Wide Web. Again, to be fair to the differences of the actual cases and the television show, the daughter in the show was not the victim.

I don’t want to be someone who said that the victims involved in the crimes detailed in this article were asking for what happened to them, no one deserves to be harmed. But what I don’t understand, is why the onus lies on the company and not the parents for these bad things. I don’t want to be mean-spirited towards those involved but as a mother two web using daughters, I understand that it is my responsibility to make sure that I know what my children are up to when on the internet. For partly this reason, our ‘family’ computer is in our living room, in plain view of our everyday activities.

There is no parental control on the internet – believing (sadly perhaps) in a panoptic type of surveillance. My children know that I may not ask what they are doing on every click, but I reserve the right to read over their shoulder at my discretion. Sure, they don’t like it – but they understand that its better than the alternative. It allows them to make decisions on their own, and we talk regularly about what is acceptable behavior online and what is not. I check their favorites, and google my children’s name from time to time as well – they know this and usually behave accordingly.

To be fair, it has not always been a perfect rose colored journey, I have caught my daughter pretending to be a year or two older than she actually is. And in those cases, we have talked about the consequences of doing so. As well as the golden rule of not sharing our personal information such as last names, addresses, the city we live in or the school they go to. I have been told, by friends, that it is different because I study social issues in technology, am technologically advanced, am open minded, have a close relationship with my children. Shouldn’t this be the norm and not the exception??

The question that I have is, if this were to happen in a coffee shop – where a teenage girl met a man who she befriended (because you cannot be ‘friends’ or meet people on MySpace without having some communication with them – especially if the user is underage). If they were to meet in a coffee shop – a public, social place where networking happens, and something bad happened to the girl as a result would the owner of the coffee shop be liable? As an extreme example, they have already dismissed gun manufacturors as responsible if one of their guns were used in a crime – is this any different?

Do the parents feel that they had any part in what happened? Did the predators hack their computers and find out where they lived? I don’t know – to me, there are just so many other questions and places to point the finger – maybe we just have to point more than one finger … I don’t know, but when I read things like this, it makes me sad.

/rant off

Thesis Writing

The time has come for me to buckle down and put all my words from mouth to paper. A project that I have been working on for what feels like forever, my Master’s thesis has become the largest and most complex jigsaw puzzle I have ever had to put together.

For years, all of my work was designed to speak to this moment, but what is the most difficult is that although the topics were related, I realize that it was impossible to know exactly what form my thesis would take until I started writing it. So the 40 page literature review that I did a while back is only good now for the experience of writing a lengthy review of a body of literature. All the books that I have read, the articles that I perused, require new introspection to fit the final structure of ideas that came about only because I had written all those papers around the same topic.

On that note, I am on page 50 of 100-ish, so much more writing and editing to do – must…not…get…distracted…/google!