IN THIS ISSUE:
iToon on Phising
iPod, Therefore iAm
iToon on Escalating Crossroads
THE NEW WORLD
iToon on ID Theft
The Dids and Didnts
iToon on Google Stock
Have No Fear the internet is Here
Don't forget to check out the
CYBERBARF BARF BAG podcast.
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
Someday, iPods will be implanted into newborns at birth so the next generation will not miss out on their parents' personal music revolution.
I listen to music while on the run;
I like a trustworthy 20GB storage device;
I don't have time to watch network television shows while on the road;
I like the concept of a music playing cell phone;
I want to control all aspects of my personal entertainment decisions;
I want to create and share my own music with the world on my own terms;
I have something to say, and I want my voice heard unfiltered by traditional media editors;
I am a techno gadget freak;
NEW T-SHIRT AT THE CYBERBARF STORE!
THE NEW WORLD A CYBERBARF CYBERSPACE ODD-ESY
The global on-line gaming experience has quietly exploded into a a bandwidth python of multi-hour, multi-kingdom game spheres. Whether it is the team combat arena, or the total simulated fantasy genre, more and more men and women are using their free time to escape to a virtual world.
Entertainment is an acceptable means of escape from the boring, trivial, and work septic tank dumps of the daily grind of a repetitive job. Instead of $9.50 movie for two hours of escape, one can sit at home in front of the computer screen and create their own movie storylines.
It seemed harmless until word hit the mainstream press that an individual paid six figures to acquire a unique hunting-resort property in a fantasy world. The purchaser explained that he spent more than $100,000 US to acquire a piece of a property which in the game could generate visitors who in turn pay him for rights to hunt or stay or shop (in game currency) which then could be converted into millions in real currency.
But . . . it's not real.
The blur between reality and gaming can be a serious issue. If you use your movie money, disposal entertainment dollars, for member fees to play on-line that is like plugging quarters into a pin ball machine --- user fees. But to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars to acquire virtual material goods? Are these the same people with no net worth buying studio apartments in the city for $300,000? At least you get a real world property deed at closing.
What if the game sponsor quits? What if the virtual world crashes? Caveat emptor?
Now children's board games were designed to expose them to analytical skills: math, risk, objective strategy, goals, and application of rules. There was a carry-over to the formula education in school. It was a diversion from the strict textbook and lined paper approach to learning.
Education has been stressed by modern civilizations as the means to succeed in Life. (Remember the game of LIFE?) Before education, society was self-reliant, agricultural based, subsistence living. Once groups banded for permanent settlements, excess time led to the development of crafts and skills which were used to better the village's lot in life. When people began acquiring permanency, stability in food resources, and material goods, trade between groups began as another means of bettering the village's lot in life. With interaction, there was jealousy; and new classes developed: the haves and the have-nots. Those with power skills, warriors, conquerors invaded and took the unskilled's means and property. an artisan class developed to chronicle the exploits of powerful; the symbolic words mixed with pagan religion to explain the differences between the powerful, the weak, and the forces of nature. Once territories were established, the kings needed to tax their domain in order to keep their armies well stocked; scribes had to be educated in business of collecting and documenting these tribute collections. In relative terms, a scribe's life of scratching ink on parchment in a drafty castle was better than a serf's back-breaking unskilled labor in the rutty fields. Society's many levels of interdependence had one goal: to sustain the people. If one did not contribute physically to the sustenance, they were cast out to die. Or the dark forces of famine or disease would wipe out those segments who failed in their responsibilities. There had to have some concept of hope, or change, or the humanity would have stalled, curled up in a ball, to be eaten by wolves. The next generation always took the opportunity for a better life if the chance made it to their imagination. The migration from the hard life of the rural fields to the industrial jobs in the city continues to today. It was not the promise of an easier life, but of a different life.
Can the on-line world replace the Real World? There are people making a living on eBay buying and selling goods (like a virtual attic-garage clearance sale). But those persons have a foot in the real 3-D world; they ship goods to real addresses and get paid in real currency. The virtual shopkeep is just the distribution channel for an owner's current inventory.
There is a growing number of gamers, obsessed with their virtual fantasy worlds, who have become addicted to the lure of the UnReal World. And with any addiction, the need for MORE can cloud judgment. There will always be those in the wings that will profit off of those clouded judgments. From patent snake oil salesmen, chain letter writers, to pyramid Ponzi schemes, there will be scammers preying on the weak. The concept of buying and selling virtual property WITH REAL MONEY instead of keeping the Game within the Game is a troubling trend. Just like the underground economy affects all of us in the real taxpayer world, a cyberground economy would also affect us by diverting resources to a segment of society that does not really exist in the same time, space and plane.
So this is the personal background-philosophy of the current on-line gamer experience. So there was no personal stake in the jumping into this cyber-swimming pool. Then Rocky, our tech guru, emails me about something he has stumbled across in the net world. This time he tried to bait the lure with a personal diss like dumping an entire beef shank into shark waters. He says he has formed three new NATIONS, an on-line game, and he wants me to take over one and report on its progress each month in cyberbarf.
NationStates is based upon a novel called Jennifer Government. Never heard of it.
The novel was written by Max Barry. Never head of him. Never heard of Nation States, either.
You see, Rocky likes to see if he can pull the trigger and watch me over-explode on something. Like, man, you need to get a web site - - - which immediately led to three web sites. Like I have time to do some daily web game at work.
But he continued to prod, using my name as a country - - which led me to say two can play at that duel. So I created a Nation State with HIS name merged with one of his least favorite ex-president sleazy public figures of all time. Thus, the return volley to his cyber-taunting was the creation of the Sultanate of Clintonia-Rogstaden.
I did not even read the premise, the rules or how this on-line game works. I just created a new nation by making a half dozen settings on a sign-in screen and the game generator spit out a new nation geo-political biography. I don't think he was too happy with the choice of this new world. It probably got worse because the evil gene kicked in; working off the premise that I should use this on-line game as a cyberbarf feature, I decided to expand on the Cliff Note version of this nation state, to fill in the character blanks. (If you are going to do something, you might well go overboard.)
It was easy to flush out the character of the Sultan. The game generates policy or political issues that the nation leader must either make a decision or dismiss it without any action. As part of the program, random names, titles and character quotes are generated in forms of text story summaries. The Sultan of Clintonia-Rogstaden would combine my graphics for Rocky and Bill Clinton. It was an easy morph. Now that I had the ruddy face of the new leader, how would I play this game?
Within hours of Clintonia-Rogstaden being formed, there were message board (telegrams) from other players saying welcome, and soliciting my nation to join another region or recommend them for the UN. Apparently, part of the game is to answer issue questions, grow internal points, then get elected to the UN or get recommendations from other nations, which then bolsters your regional and world rankings. One person telegram to say Hi! Nice Motto! (I Feel Your Pain and I Profit From It.) Okay, so some people out in cyberspace are playing this game, looking for alliances, attempting to climb the world rankings. But, that would take some real work and real time to learn the game, find the rules, read the rules, figure out what strategies are in the game, whether they work, how things get done, what sort of one-to-one interaction can be generated, can there be wars, conquest, trade?? Or is this just political academia gone amok?
I did not have to address those questions because I decided not to play the Game. Well, not play the game as I quickly perceived it. There is an initial hint of creativity as players name their countries, and make up mottos. The idea was to be more creative, to an absurd extreme. As other players telegram about joining up with them, moving to a new region, or joining their message boards, to gather votes for world issues, ect., I decided to take the game out of the game (like an out-of-body experience). For example, in response to the standard inquiry, I wrote back:
Our Sultan is busy preparing a palace luau after a day watching our national sport, Killer Croquet, which combines British cricket with full contact croquet. So he cannot answer any communication at this time. Once the bloated food enzymes and alcohol blurs away, we will determine whether he wants to deal with any politics.
They will probably not understand what the heck is going on. That statement has nothing to do with game play. That's the point. I will use the random game generator and interaction with the gamers as a creative engine to make cynical, satirical backstories for this fictional island nation. In other words, I will take their virtual world reality and substitute my nation's own. The cyberworld will help create a new literary world called Clintonia-Rogstaden. For example, when I wrote within minutes of founding the nation about the symbolism of the Clintonia-Rogstaden flag (Flag Symbolism: RED, Fertile Island Women; YELLOW, Sunwarmth Happiness; GREEN, Lush Tropical Forests; R, for the Royal Family Lineage, the Rogstadens) I did not realize that the first part would actually come true in epic proportions!
So in this issue of cyberbarf, and in future issues, you will have a running update of the status of this virtual country; you can peek at the real game pages, or get the backstories outside the game's program. For example, check out the images of the national currency. There will be inside jokes, satire, humor and pulse of a real bizarre country. And if you see a grumbling guy with a rosetta nose wandering around the Western United States in a Hawaiian shirt, be nice to him; it may be Rocky, our tech guru after reading another one of his character's monster's exploits that he helped create by accident.
THE NATION OF CLINTONIA-ROGSTADEN IS CONTINUALLY UPDATED DURING THE MONTH. CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES ON YOUR FAVORITE PAGES.
The Dids and Didnts
What was accomplished in 2005? What was not accomplished in 2005?
Contributed to six web sites, and administered a seventh site.
Created my first personal podcasts at cyberbarf.com.
Mastered Garageband to produce 9 CDs in 10 months.
Did receive 100,000th unique visitor to sites.
Did not finish post-production on several iMovie-DVD projects. (I have more projects in post-production than Disney-Pixar).
Did not produce any flash or animation for web content.
Did not fix the personal home computer operating system meltdown to pre-melt down conditions.