Levels and experience

I was struck recently when listening to music over at The Sixty One how if you add levels and experience (reputation in this case) to anything it instantly makes it infinitely more addictive. I think there is something about the of gaining and moving up levels, a sign that you are doing well, that at some deep level reinforces the action and compels us to do it more. I think that anything that incorporates levels of achievement has an amazing power to manipulate the actions of the people that interact with it, even if that ‘level’ means absolutely nothing.

#Awaresg and the power of twitter

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The night before last I was sitting down at my computer browsing the Internet and tweetdeck and my stream was filled up with posts from @patlaw about #awaresg. If you haven’t heard about it, a Christian fundamentalist group hijacked a women’s rights group in Singapore called ‘AWARE‘ by flooding the AGM with new members and purged the organisation of it’s old members. The night I was reading @patlaw’s tweets she was  at a meeting where a couple of thousand people had turned up to pass a vote of no confidence and get rid of the new executive who weren’t acting in AWARE’s best interests. It was fascinating reading her tweets and witnessing in New Zealand what was happening in Singapore instantaneously. It almost felt like I was in the room with all those people. Then I discovered Twitterfall, a service like live search except that you don’t have to refresh the page. You just simply enter in a search term and the tweets come rolling in. I was able to read what everyone on twitter was saying about AWARE by entering in a search term for #awaresg. People were hungry, worried about their cars being ticketed, angry that the new exec had spent $90,000 in the few days they had been in power, and most of all people were fed up with waiting for the votes of no confidence to be counted.

#awaresg at that time was a trending topic, so there were a lot people twittering about it, and it struck me that Twitter is an amazing and revolutionary tool for communicating in real time about events unfolding. The very fact that I was able to read all these tweets as they were written, and almost felt like I was in the room myself was an amazing thing. Those people in room taking the time to Twitter were sharing the event with people around the world instantly. This was citizen journalism, ordinary people sharing their experiences of an event in a way so much more relevant and powerful than if it had arrived at my computer through the traditional channels of media.  I’m not saying Twitter is a replacement for traditional media, a well researched piece of journalism is invaluable, but rather a complementary tool which can offer more up to date information and from the perspective of people that are in the midst of it all. Eventually the vote of no confidence passed and hundreds of tweets erupted in an exclamation of victory. I went to bed, amazed and excited that I could feel so connected with an event so far away.

Photo by gniliep

Post-Apocalyptic fun!

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As part of my continuing campaign to educate myself film wise I’ve been trying to see as many oldish movies as I can recently. I’ve realised that I’m quite partial to the odd post-apocalyptic/world in state of turmoil movies now and then. There is something about imagining a world gone horribly wrong that appeals to me. Last year in my English class we studied dystopias and I really enjoyed reading 1984 and The Handmaids Tale. Some of my favourite movies are V for Vendetta and Children of Men which both fit into the post-apocalyptic/dystopia category. I watched 28 Days Later last night and Cloverfield a few days ago. I liked both of them. Even though I’m an incredibly bad judge of goodness I’m going to give you the run down!

28 Days Later was a tad weird, like at one point he set infected on all those (admittedly evil) military men, and stuck his thumbs into some guys eyes (ewwww). Selena witnesses all of this and is then motivated to KISS his blood covered face. If I had just witnessed such brutality I don’t think I would be in the kissing mood. I thought it was an interesting idea that people were infected with ‘rage’ — not an abstract concept but a virus or disease. A cooler idea than the run of the mill zombie disease cliche. The movie was pretty similar to I am Legend, the same ‘We’ve got to get back to safe place before dark!’ set up and meeting up with some people then trying to get to a safe haven ages away. I thought in the end it didn’t really have very much depth, the whole movie felt a little rushed. Perhaps that was intentional? To the protagonist it must have all happened rather quickly.I would probably give it a 4/5?

Although Cloverfield was incredibly cheesy — I’ve got to go back into the danger-zone and get my lost love! — and gimmicky I enjoyed it. The camcorder film style was a bit ridiculous at times but I thought it was an interesting way of telling the story. Some bits to me seemed quite reminiscent of 9/11, like when they were on the street and a building collapsed the whole street was enveloped in a cloud of dust.  I wonder if that was intentional? My friend who works at a movie theatre was telling me how the movie made a lot of people throw up, which is understandable I think. I can see how the combination of shaky camera work, exploding people, and gross aliens might induce people to vomit everywhere. 3/5?

Photo: Timm Suess License: CC-by-sa

Popularity

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I’ve recently become swamped by social networking – I’m drowning in a torrent of status updates and news to read. I use Bebo, Facebook, Twitter and now Virb (2.0 has just been launched!). Keeping up with the endless stream of things popping up in my RSS reader and on TweetDeck and checking social sites is becoming too much. I think I’m going to have to cull a few feeds from Google Reader.

I ask myself: why do I maintain all these social networking sites? And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because I have a -somewhat closeted- desire to become popular. I think social networking sites (ie Facebook) have facilitated and stimulated an already present desire in people (me included) to have a lot of friends, be very social and to generally flaunt their popularity. By maintaining all these social networking profiles I think I am attempting to become as popular as I can. But when you think about it properly, the number of friendships doesn’t matter at all, it’s the quality that is important. Internet popularity runs on a quantitative model which is deeply flawed. The most intriguing thing though is why I feel a desire to become more popular, to improve my social status. It certainly doesn’t reflect well on me.

I think my motives for writing a blog are the same as frequenting social networking sites. Writing for a blog that next to no one reads, I can’t help but entertain the fantasy that one day I will wake up and overnight the entire internet will have come to recognize that this is worth reading. A scenario that is perhaps a tad unrealistic, but if I didn’t think more people might read this blog at some point in the future, why would I still blogging? To entertain the handful of people who do read my incoherent ramblings?  I also can’t help but feel that my situation is shared by countless numbers of bloggers around the world who want nothing more than for a few people to hear what they have to say. With the advent of easy accessible blogging websites, creating a website can take only a few minutes and as a result the internet is veritably flooded with people voicing their opinions regardless of whether anyone is listening. And I think at the end of the day most people blog because they want to become famous. They want to make it big.

Also, the image for this post is from Nexus friend grapher – a tool that creates a picture out of your network of friends on Facebook.  It’s fascinating to see how my different groups of friends and family relate to each other.

New Year’s Resolutions

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A graphical representation of the music I listen to

I know I’m a little slow posting this up, more than a month has passed since new years (this year is going by outrageously fast) , but these indistinct thoughts have been floating around in my head for quite some time. My new year’s  resolution this year: I’m going to ignore what other people think of my taste in music. I’m still going to listen to peoples suggestions as to what I might like, but I’m not going to take head of unconstructive criticism of my taste.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much other peoples opinions have shaped what I listen to. How I feel the instinctive need for my taste to be “different”, to not listen to pop and only listen to bands that come from off the beaten track. Every so often I guiltily indulge in popular music, and can’t help but feel a little dirty afterward. I cringe when I scroll through my music library on the computer and see a band I love classified as “pop”. So from now on I’m going to try and listen to whatever music sounds good to me, and try not to take heed of preconceptions I have about what is cool. I’m also going to go out of my way not to judge other people for listening to music that they like either.

I tried to think why I feel such a need for my taste to be different, and I think it is because I want to be leader rather than a follower, to feel like I was the person who decided that a band was worth listening to.  I want to be the person who finds the diamond in the rough and not be guided by the ever changing  fashion of the moment.

Just a little side note: I found this really cool website which makes graphical representations of the music you listen to (using data from last.fm). Also this mainstream-o-meter (which wasn’t working when I tried) which measures how mainstream your taste in music is – which of course I won’t be taking any notice of this year ^_^.

Technology

When television became accessible to normal families my grandparents would have been in middle age, and my parents would have been about ten. I’ve never know anything else. In the space of just a few years technology has rapidly saturated our lives, but the ability of different age groups to use it is markedly different.

One thing I have been thinking about recently is whether I will become like my parents when using new technology in the future.  My parents (in their late 50s) use computers and cell phones etc pretty well, but they don’t have the same instinctive knowledge of how to do things. They often need to consult manuals to operate things whereas I don’t, and when they get stuck I often know what to do. I’m sure I’m not alone in this – it’s probably this same situation in families across the developed world, which isn’t to say there aren’t any exceptions. I guess it’s the difference between growing up with television, computers, and cell phones and having to adopt them later in life. For the young people of today the operation of anything electronic comes naturally because it’s all we’ve ever known.

But what I’ve been thinking about is – will I be the same? Or will the skills that I have aquired in my early years help me to grapple with the new things that the future has to offer? I’m just hoping that I can remain tech-savie for the rest of my life. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.