Author: mpatton26

Anita Sarkeesian Is Something Else

I had the pleasure of attending Anita Sarkeesian’s talk on Friday.  Ever since we had talked about her in class and read those articles about her I’ve been following her online like when she appeared on the Colbert Report.  Anita talked mainly about her experiences with Gamergate and about the numerous threats she received.  I wish she had talked more about her work with Feminist Frequency but regardless, her talk was still amazing and I am so glad that I attended.  As she spoke I thought it was crazy how people tried to impersonate her in order to make her seem more ridiculous or to put words in her mouth.  What I thought was even more crazy however was that these hackers would break into some of her personal accounts (like flickr) and steal her personal photos to make it more believable.  In my opinion, if you have to make up things to prove your point that she is asking way too much, then your argument is pretty much invalid. 

What was going through my head the entire time was “Wow. Nothing she is saying right now seems crazy at all.  Are people really upset that she said that games like Grand Theft Auto negatively portray women? Because the game obviously does.”  I didn’t think any of her points warranted the amount of backlash she received but never the less she still receives death and even rape threats.  What is even more concerning is that for a lot of people who have sent these threats, they are still not found and haven’t received any punishment for their actions.

After, she lead into discussing what she thought needed to change in order for these online communities to be a safer place.  Anita said that states needed to increase their laws against stalking to protect user’s opinions and stop the harassment that will come with expressing those opinions.  She also said that states need to begin punishing the spread of non-consensual explicit images.  This was one of the tactics Gamergate used against Anita by photoshopping her face on to explicit images to try and defame her.  Lastly, she also spoke about how these crimes against her are also hate crimes.  They stem from her comments regarding women and they attack her based on the fact that she is a women.  She says, and I completely agree, that these are gender based hate crimes.

Anita also gave suggestions on how to fix some issues within social media atmospheres and I think they are some of the best ideas that I have ever heard.  She mentioned that as of right now it is impossible to block messages based the content.  Anita suggested that social media websites should include an option to be able to block these message using a feature that can detect back-listed words and then delete the message.  Also, she brought up the point that some members of Gamergate will just create new accounts if she blocks them and continue to harass her.  Instead, Anita suggests a feature that allows you to block anyone that does not meet certain criteria such as follower count or amount of posts. 

Over all, I was blown away by Anita.  She was amazing and I was even fortunate enough to talk with her and get a picture after her speech.  Sadly, while I was talking to her I realized that she is actually just a regular person like all of us, but she is made out to be a villain.  It’s hard to imagine what I would do if I received these threats for posting my opinion on something I truly cared about.

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Mark and the Seven Dwarfs

I grew up racing home after school with my brother so we could both hop on and play Runescape together.  Yes, I was that kid and I’m sure many others of you were as well.  While I was only seven at the time, that is all I really I know about virtual spaces online.  Then there is LambdaMoo. LambdaMoo was an entirely different experience because unlike the experience I had when I played with my brother, everything in LambdaMoo was entirely user generated.  The readings from the week talk a lot about communities online and the entire LambdaMoo game is essentially a community project, much like how we have community gardens or murals.  Every aspect of the game (or world is maybe what I should be calling it) was so detailed down to the very tiniest of things.  That is just how much time and effort the creators spent developing every unique spot of the game. 

While on my journey through LambdaMoo I spent most of my time in an underground tunnel (after I figured out how to get out the linen closet and then the house (finally)).  The description of the tunnel was pretty bare with it reading “it is dark and musty. You can go north or south” or eventually it just saying “it is too dark to see anything” so I was forced to just type commands in and eventually find my way.  What I found to be incredibly unique however was when I fell down a hole and wander into a magic room where there were scrolls and such.  In the corner of the room there was a spiral stair case taking me farther and farther until I was with dwarves.  What was so unique and interesting about this was that I just went from fumbling around in a closet to being with dwarves just by exiting a house.  I believe this shows the ability for anyone to be anything or go anywhere they want in a game like LambdaMoo.  If you always wanted to explore underground caves with dwarves, why not make it happen?

dwarfs

Architecture Big Data Tour

On saturday morning I took the walking tour around the loop and learned about data, how it was collected and how the information is used.  Some examples of how the government and other people are using this data was rather interesting, but others, not so much.  For instance, the depart of sanitation compiled all of the complaints about rodents on a day and noticed that they travel in packs.  Using this information they are able to predict movement of rodents and keep complaints to a minimum because they are able to deal with the issue.  On the other hand some of the information was less than impressive to say the least.  The city of Chicago looks through tweets trying to find hints of negative experiences at dining places to see if they should send a health inspector or to convince the tweeter to file a report.  While it is cool and interesting, I feel like putting out a message is why Twitter was created and that this is nothing huge. 

One thing that was mentioned that vastly reminded me of this utopian society is the facial recognition software that is now used through out the loop. This shared network of databases that map out the key features of our faces and then pick them out in a crowd of people. It’s not only just one camera either, it’s multiple ones at once working together to determine who a person is.  Back in June the first person was arrested using this facial recognition software in the loop, so it is relatively new, but is apparently very affective. 

Overall the tour was interesting but some of the things that were shared weren’t all that relative to big data in my opinion.  To be honest, I am not entirely sure why it was done through the architectural foundation, as it didn’t have a lot to do with architecture, but I did learn so much and had a good time.

I Do Not Care About Your Bagel

I had a Twitter account once. I deleted it after I failed to use it more than about three times.  To me, twitter was always this strange anomaly that I could not quite get my head around. Who cared if Karen wanted to go to Taco Bell? I am not that concerned that Kevin just hate a bagel.  When ever I went on Twitter it seemed that people only updated the world on what they ate in the past five minutes, which was… annoying.  Perhaps I was just younger and my peers that I followed didn’t have anything truly meaningful or influential to say at the time but upon looking at it further for this assignment it was crazy to see how much my perceptions changed.

I followed some very interesting accounts on Twitter, ones that I did not even know existed.  I learned that some bands that I listen to have new albums coming soon (always a very good thing to realize) and I actually thought about keeping a Twitter account.  Using Twitter, I was able to look at Tweet from the New York Times talking about my favorite band’s new album coming out (on my birthday so I think they did it for me) and then was able to connect back to the band and those people who follow me.

I think the readings for the weeks accurately displayed my hesitation towards Twitter in the very beginning. This difference of “thick” and “thin” Tweets is exactly what I was witnessing, and to be honest getting annoyed with.  The original Tweets had no substance. They were flat, bland, boring and really only pertained to one person, the author of the Tweet.  In contrast, when I Tweeted (not trying to toot my own horn) I was able to include layers of information.  The reader could see that The New York Times published and album review and could then go to The New York Time’s Twitter account.  Then they could see that the album was by the band alt-J and could then click on their account and visit their page.  The Tweet gave information that could appeal to a large amount of people and could be followed up in two different sources.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

Being almost twenty years old, I like to think that I was born right as the internet was in its genesis of widespread consumer usage.  Therefore, my earliest memory of using the internet (and probably the computer for that matter) came when I was the tender age of five and my mother let me go on amazon.com to purchase Pokemon Blue Version with a gift card my aunt got me.  Keep in mind that, being only five years old, I was not entirely sure what was happening and was possibly more excited about being able to battle my brother’s Pokemon (you know that I won). Still, the ability to have a new game sent to me after a few mouse clicks and key strokes was pretty impressive, even for a kid who could barely tie his own shoes.

This brings up the question of, “why”?  “Why was using this aspect of new media so impressive?”  One characteristic of new media is that it is ubiquitous.  I was able to sit in my mother’s lap in the comfort of our own home and receive the information and means of getting materialistic items without having to put shoes on.  If you think about it, back before the beginning of the millennium, it was probably more of a hassle for my mom to take her rambunctious pack of kids rather than me just pointing to what I wanted on a computer screen.

New media also has the characteristic of being pulled.  There were no giant flashing ads saying,  “buy this here!” or “you definitely want this! It will improve your life!” No, instead the product I wanted was put on the web and I found it, or pulled it, to get what I was looking for.  I sought after the information, rather than having someone send it to me. 

by Mark Patton