internet


They are back for a family Reunion, Jim is back involving his marriage with Michelle and needs to learn how to be a father. So he gets Stifler to help out with his newborn son who will be in the fraternity house of the Beta”s in his further life! First he gets baptized in a church where he learns his family heritage from inside The Bible of East Great Falls where he learns his father was also was in virginity. Paul Finch happens to go from a virgin to a catholic where he baptized little William and Kevin learns his past involving his relationship with Vicki. Michelle is still talking about Band Camp and will be the new Macro, Kevin will get back with Vicki, Oz will become Captain of lacrosse and will be in touch with his girlfriend Heather. Things will change as their Reunion ends, Will this be the last slice of the pie.

The internet is the greatest collection of information in history. No library has ever rivaled it, and certainly, none has been faster. Look, check this out:

All I had to do was go to Google and search for “Pictures of Bears.” Do you have any idea how long it would have taken to find a picture of bear cubs doing Karate before the internet?

AWESOME.

(Note: I’m aware this post comes dangerously close to topical relevance, but I promise, it’s not long before I start talking about things in a really abstract, general way, and there’s a footnote about grammar.)

The discourse on the iPad (aside from a very cogent observation my friend Linguistics Mike about the fact that in certain parts of the country people were already pronouncing iPod as iPad) tend to consist of people who are really angry about the iPad, generally with an undercurrent of “how you could you let me get this excited?”*; people with more of aschadenfreude thing going where they just love watching Apple fail; and people defending the iPad as a matter of course.

I’m ignoring all of this though, because in every conversation I’ve seen people are discussing things on the wrong terms entirely. People complain about all the ways it fails to perform tasks one would expect from a personal computer; or doesn’t have flash like every Windows, Mac or Linux box has for years now (fewer years for Linux**); or that Apple is denying access to the file system at a meaningful level. All of this completely misses the point: The iPad isn’t a computer, it’s an appliance.

Disagree? Let’s go to the tape:

2 a : a piece of equipment for adapting a tool or machine to a special purpose : attachment b : an instrument or device designed for a particular use or function ; specifically : a household or office device (as a stove, fan, or refrigerator) operated by gas or electric current
Merriam-Webster

Computers up until now have been tools. It’s function has been fluid, and the designers and manufacturers have generally hewn to an open, easily accessed and modified method of use and interaction. It’s worth noting that with both software and hardware this has been less true of Apple than any other group. My guess is that, with the iPhone, Apple finally got the chance to make something they’ve longed for for years. A totally closed hardware, with every application filtered through them, functioning in a walled garden. There is none of the chaos of variety or permutation. An application running on one iPhone 3G is identical in it’s performance to any other, regardless of the other software the user may have installed. There is almost no meaningful access to the actual operating system, but the trade off is that if something works once, it can be reasonably assumed to work in all cases. Talk to any iPhone owner, one of their favorite things will be that things just work.

Now expand this mentality out to another type of device, one where small size can be traded for speed and screen real estate. It makes a lot of sense. The iPad doesn’t do computer things, because it’s not really a computer. It’s an internet appliance, designed to facilitate access to the content and functionality of the internet without the complication of a tool like the normal personal computer.

I can understand some of the frustration. A computer can be utilized*** to perform an incredibly wide variety of tasks in a multitude of ways. The iPhone, iPod Touch, and now iPad can be used to perform a relatively small number of tasks****, very few ways, often only one way.

The big upshot for Apple, is that it turns out the tasks they perform are the tasks most people actually give a shit about. Imagine the average mid 30’s lady on a bus ride to work. Can she check her email? Can she read some news? Can she check Facebook and Twitter? Yes? All of those things? Really easily? Wow, this doesn’t sound like she’d find an appliance like that useless at all.

*Which is hilarious, since Apple’s response to the hype was silence.
**Every computer in my house dual boots Ubuntu. I know from whence I speak.
***Utilize is not the way you write use when you want to sound fancy. It is a different word and means a different thing. Yes, the meaning is similar, and yes, the words kind of sound the same but that doesn’t mean you should default to utilize in an academic context.
****Of course, the specific tasks one can perform are always changing, after all, “There’s an app for that.”

I realize there are people (Tara) who are really bored by this topic. There are others (Ian [not me, this guy I know]) who find it really interesting. So if you find it boring, skip to the last paragraph for something else entirely.

KillAllTheWhiteMan is a blog. You don’t call it a blog out of some misguided sense of superiority. You hate blogs.

Starting at the end, no, I don’t hate blogs. Anecdotal evidence support this would include the fact that I read some websites which self identify as blogs, but I honestly think that’s kind of irrelevant. Deep down, the issue is I have no idea what the word means anymore.

Merriam Webster defines a blog as “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer ; also : the contents of such a site.” Of course, this differs rather strongly from the original meaning, of weblog. A weblog is (was?) a site consisting entirely of links, quotes and commentary. There are still artifacts of this behavior, like Tumblr, a site designed for creating a blog in the classic sense. Of course, this original meaning didn’t last long. It was only March of 2000 when Adam Mathes created Webloglog, a site designed specifically to blog (in the classic links and commentary sense) other blogs. The site is actually interesting, if only as a record of the move (very early in its history) of blogs away from a focus on the sharing of outside content, and toward the sharing of one’s own personal life.

It was probably 2003 before I noticed another shift. Someone referred to a long, rambling (but well written) personal post on a forum I frequented as a “blog”. I was thrown at the time, but the usage has become fairly standard. MySpace, rather that listing a number of posts in a person’s blog, lists the number of blogs. Of course, we still had classic blogs, and personal journal blogs, so at this point, it would appear that one can create a blog that links to blogs full of blogs.

Then corporate blogs show up. As far as I can tell to this day, these are news pages written in a more casual style. They aren’t personal journals, they rarely contain links or commentary, they’re just business updates in jeans and a witty t-shirt. The only things that link them to blogs at this point are the format, and a casual authorial voice.

It’s gotten to the point where my friend Brandon often finds his site, insert credit, referred to as a blog, and as far as I can tell, it’s solely because the front page is a collection of recent posts, listed in reverse chronological order, with older posts moving to the archives. So is blog just a formating style now?

I guess the issue I draw with that is that none of the other meanings is entirely gone. If someone says they have a blog, it is generally assumed that the content will be casual and mostly personal. There is also, let’s be honest, a general assumption of low quality. I don’t know if anyone believes all blogs are poorly written self absorbed bullshit, but I know a lot of people who take the stance of guilty until proved innocent.

I suppose that this makes me a bad person to determine whether or not KillAllTheWhiteMan is a blog. I’m keenly aware of the fact that I don’t really know what a blog IS. Still, I get the sense that this isn’t one. I don’t link to things, ever. I’ve always wanted KillAllTheWhiteMan to work as a stand alone effort, and that’s part of my effort. I don’t talk about the current events of my life. Mark Twain’s autobiography has some great things to say about the importance of distance when it comes to figuring out which parts of your life are actually interesting. I copy edit. It’s my goal to actually produce things that are worth reading, rather than just a therapeutic dump.

I want to be clear that I don’t hate any of these things. I actually really appreciate when friends maintain a blog that allows me insight into parts of their lives and minds I might not otherwise have access, but it’s not what I’m interested in doing personally. Any sense of antipathy toward blogs probably runs parallel to my feelings toward MySpace. I feel that there’s a ghettoization of personal expression on the internet. It’s cut off and not taken seriously, and this really worries me. The idea that an extremely functional format can be blanket categorized and defined as “just blogs” really bothers me.

Plus, the aesthetics of the word blog are horrifying. It’s just ugly.

BONUS UNRELATED PARAGRAPH
Another good way to make a normal argument into a really horrible argument is to accuse the other person of having some sort of mood or personality disorder, like Asperger’s or Borderline Personality Disorder. Then, when they get mad at you go “see, this is your BPD.” Devalue everything they say, and try to switch to where you’re comforting them. Offer to get them help. You will probably not be friends anymore, but if that’s the goal, GO FOR IT!

There’s a feeling, and to my knowledge it doesn’t have a name, that people seem to share. Sometimes, you’re told something, and you can just tell, without being able to fully explain why, that what’s being said is bullshit. I call this feeling cole*.

An example of something that gave me, and gives most people a sense of cole are those ads, usually at the beginning of a DVD you’ve already bought, telling you not to download movies. The argument (set to obnoxious jump cuts and pounding music) is that since you wouldn’t steal a purse, a TV or a DVD, you shouldn’t download movies because it is a form of theft, and therefore exactly the same thing. Except, as that feeling of cole in your gut tells you, no, it’s not.

But why isn’t it? What makes it different, and why does that influence so many people who would not steal a purse to feel that the theft of a film via downloading is not wrong? Here we get to our subject, the ethics of theft. Fortunately, the words we need to describe this already exist. First up is dispossession.

Dispossession is the denial of a person or persons’ access to or use of a thing, service or location. When you steal a purse, you have dispossessed the owner of that purse. They are no longer able to use that purse, or any of the objects inside of it. Stealing a DVD from a store dispossesses the owner or owners of the store of the DVD and the subsequent income from retail. They have now lost money since they purchased the DVD originally with the understanding that it would be sold.

For most of history nearly all theft has been dispossession in one way or another. It is only with the introduction of photographic, photostatic and digital copies that theft without dispossession has become common. In these cases the essential nature of theft is changed, and with it, our ethical understanding of the seriousness of the offense has been massively altered. Essentially, the primary reason theft offended people was that it deprived the rightful owner. In cases where that is no longer true, people now tend to see this dispossessionless theft as a victimless or nearly victimless crime. A lack of victim means the degree of offense is dramatically lessened.

It doesn’t vanish though, and that brings us to the other axis upon which ethical judgments of theft are considered: valuation. Where dispossession is an essentially binary consideration (either someone has been dispossessed or they have not), valuation introduces a great deal more granularity, and also serves to explain why the downloading of a film is, while certainly not on par with stealing a TV, still essentially unethical.

Valuation is a complex term, but for our purposes it means the assessing of value or worth, and the method of the assessment we are concerned with is implicative, meaning not a formal assessment, but an attempt to determine one’s assessment of value based on their actions.

Going back to our purse example, assuming a thief has snatched a purse, stolen the money or other valuable goods and then thrown the purse away, their valuation of the purse itself is roughly $0. It was worth taking for its contents, but beyond that is essentially trash, and since it might eventually serve as evidence of their crime, could even be said to take on a negative value.

Now we apply this to theft via download. Essentially, the person who downloads a movie without purchasing is saying “I value this at about a gig of hard drive space, and a little time tracking it down.” Unfortunately for the people planning to make money from sales, it’s very difficult to buy groceries with a gig or so of some other guy’s hard drive space.

Alternately, it is possible for a theft to increase the value of that which has been stolen. There is the classic example of stealing a loaf of bread to feed your starving family. Now we’ve taken a loaf of bread, value: $2, and turned it into food to keep your family alive, value: multiple human lives. In this case the ethics of theft, which we compute almost instantly and automatically, tell us that this has become an ethically sound act. We have increased the valuation of the stolen item so much that it is agreed to have been worthwhile. See also: E.T. Stealing a bunch of stuff to call for a ride home.

With that established, copy theft enters a grey area very quickly. What about a TV show that is off the air and not available by legitimate means? The value of the product, per the copyright holders is almost impossible to determine, which means the theft of the object can almost be construed as an increase in perceived value. Then there’s broadcast television, where if a viewer is not a Nielsen Family, the value of their viewership, whether watching the original broadcast or a downloaded copy is essentially 0, so is there actually a devaluation taking place during the latter?

Largely, this grey area exists because our ethical systems have not had time to catch up with the new scenarios of action offered to us by advancements in technology. Additionally, the questions of value (how much a thing is worth to each person, and who exactly is receiving what) continue to evolve in complexity**. It will be interesting to watch our culture adapt to answer these questions in the coming years.

*Named for James Cole, my sixth grade teacher and the person responsible for giving me this feeling more often than anyone I’ve ever met. Honestly, I’d like to thank him for instilling such a complete distrust of authority at such a young age.
**A popular bit of rationalization, one which I myself am not above using, is that while my actual valuation of a product is quite high, my willingness to support the structures that have been built to profit from that product is rather low. Do I want to support a musical artist whose work I enjoy? Absolutely. Do I want to do so when more than 97% of that support is siphoned off before reaching the artist? Not always. Should distribution channels receive recompense for the work and cost required for disseminating art? Yes. Should they be allowed to bloat up like the record and film industries have? Of course not. The line is then, wavering, and often poorly marked.

These words are a link to another page. This page is about the aesthetics of the counter-culture, and the failure there-of.

If you are not interested in that, we will also be discussing The Reflex by Duran Duran, the best band ever to get their name from Barbarella*. Here are the lyrics. They are insane.

You gone too far this time
But Im dancing on the valentine
I tell you somebodys fooling around –
With my chances on the dangerline
Ill cross that bridge when I find it
Another day to make my stand, oh..
High time is no time for deciding
If I should find a helping hand, oh..

So why dont you use it
Try not to bruse it
Buy time dont lose it

(chorus)

The reflex is an only child, hes waiting in the park
The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark
And watching over lucky clover isnt that bizarre
Every little thing the reflex does leaves you answered with a
Question mark

Im on a ride and I want to get off
But they wont slow down the roundabout
I sold the renoir and the tv set
Dont want to be around when this gets out

(chorus) (chorus)

The reflex is an only child, hes waiting by the park
The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark
And watching over lucky clover isnt that bizarre
Every little thing the reflex does is an answer with a
Question mark

(chorus) (chorus)

The reflex is an only child, hes waiting by the park
The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark
And watching over lucky clover isnt that bizarre
Every little thing the reflex does leaves me answered with a
Question mark

Oh, the reflex what a game hes hiding all the cards
The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark
And watching over lucky clover isnt that bizarre
Every little thing the reflex does leaves you answered with a
Question mark

What the fuck is that song about?

 
 
 
 
*Fuck You Matmos!

This post will be Geek centric, and so, for our excluded members, I offer the following alternative post:

Sometimes when my friends are having problems, I will say:

DO NOT WORRY! EVERYTHING WILL BE OK!

but secretly what I mean is:

DUDE, THIS IS NOT EVEN A PROBLEM. YOU NEED TO STOP BEING SUCH A BABY.

I feel a little bad about it, but then I remember that I almost died and stuff, and it feels reasonable again.

Now for the Geek part:

I am, as anyone who cares about the subject would expect, anti DRM. Mostly. I sum up my argument thusly:

the noble newspaper stand

Now, some of you might be saying “That’s a picture of a newspaper stand.” And you’d be wrong. It’s actually a picture of a giant balloon shaped like a newspaper stand. However, the point is valid, and I’ll explain.

Newspapers cost very little. A quarter most days, a buck fifty on Sundays. One of the primary distribution vectors is the newspaper stand. The barrier to access is very low (drop in the coins) and the potential for redistribution or theft is very high (hand off the paper, steal more copies). Yet no newspaper ever went broke from losses suffered due to the lax rights management of newspaper stands. This is because they make buying SO EASY that many people buy, offsetting any people who may choose to steal.

I feel that in general, this is the direction that digitally distributed media should move. The payment process has to be about as easy as getting some coins from your pocket and dropping them in the slot, and delivery equally simple. Now, currently, this isn’t usually the case. Apple’s iTunes is about as smooth as this gets, but it fucks up on the other end.

Use.

I was given an MP3 player by my office. It’s not an iPod though. In fact, its firmware is explicitly designed for use with Real Networks’ Rhapsody software. This is a lot like a newspaper stand selling papers you can only read with special glasses. If I’ve bought rights for a media, I should have the use determined on my end. Burn to a CD, add to my MP3 player, stream through my home stereo, or (and here’s a big sticking point) send to a friend.

There are a bunch of ways to deal with the passing on of media, but none of them are very customer friendly, and I can’t help but feel that a business focused on getting people to pay them will be more successful that a business focused on stopping people from stealing. And what are they stealing?

Remember, people will use the “But digital is so easy to copy and reproduce!” as an argument for why it has to be harder to steal. That’s retarded. That means that your losses to theft are almost nothing, because there was so much less overhead. Thieves are thieves. They’re going to keep stealing. You need to make it so easy and convenient to buy that you make money from the honest people. And what do newspaper stands teach us? Most people, faced with a cheap, easy way to buy something, will take it.

BUT WAIT! There’s one BIG exception here, which is something I think content providers should get behind full force: subscription services. I still expect a certain amount of freedom in how I use my file while I have access to it, but it’s pretty reasonable to make sure it only plays on devices that will stop playing it when it expires, and to limit my ability to share. The secret to success here is that the charge is monthly, and likely automatic, and the ease is almost total. So while I can grumble about not being allowed to burn a CD, I’m currently streaming the theme from Ghostbusters, and well aware that while I’d never PAY for it, I’m glad to pay for ACCESS to it.

Not too long ago, I met Jerry “Tycho” Holkins from Penny Arcade at a benefit show we both happened to go to. I had meant just to say hello and say that I enjoyed his work, but he was very friendly and open, so we wound up talking for a few minutes. It was really weird.

Not that he was weird, I was weird, because although I knew a great many facts about this man, I wasn’t at all familiar with him. It’s strange to talk to someone you’ve never met, but when he mentions going home to take care of his kid, you remember reading about the birth. It’s all very unbalanced. I knew what he did for a living, what his wife’s name was, what his favorite types of games were, about his upbringing, even several of his favorite bands. He knew that I had on an awesome shirt (I assure you, the shirt is super awesome, and if I could market it I would sell many of them), that I was a fan of his work, and that I appreciated one or more of the following: music, books, charities that help children read and write. One could call the knowledgebase lopsided.

Then we have this past weekend. I went down to Reno and saw some step-aunts/uncles/cousins. Despite the fact that I really like all these people I hadn’t been able to see any of them in a little over six years. In the case of the cousins, this meant age jumps from 10, 8, 4 and pink, wrinkled and immobile to 16, 14, 10 and 6. In this case we had people who I was familiar with — they felt like family — yet knew almost nothing about. All in all, it was a lot more comfortable, and I didn’t even need an awesome t-shirt to break the ice.

(Seriously though, everyone loves the shirt.)

Man, I love videogames. Here is a post about them.

Ninja 5-0
HOLY CRAP. Ok, it’s a GBA game, and the name is retarded, but if you ever loved a Super Nintendo, you need this game. It’s kind of a cross between Bionic Commando and Ninja Gaiden. It’s about a ninja who is also a cop, and who saves hostages by murdering everyone else. Also something about evil ninja masks? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter because the story is totally unimportant. What’s imporant is swinging in with a grappling hook, dropping from the sky on some dude, and killing him with your sword before you touch the ground.

Wii
I decided to stay up and be there live for the Japanese press conference for the Wii. It was AWESOME. Someday, years from now, videogame news will be professional enough that we will know the details ahead of time. Like, when the event starts, for example. No one seemed to know. Then there was the “live” feed of the conference that turned out to be from another press event in June. After that we suddenly started getting reports that the show was starting. Several sites were posting roughly the same information, when we all realized it was everyone copying the posts of some guy who was watching the same video we had already realized was old. Everyone quickly covered their tracks. Hours later, when everything had died down while people waited for the real conference, a link to a New York Times story posted by the Seattle PI showed up. It had all the major launch details. And not the Japanese launch, but the American launch that wasn’t supposed to be announced until the next day. It was incredibly anti-climactic, totally disorganized, and online reporting is going to quickly make nights like that a thing of the past. Which is a good thing overall, but I’m glad I got to experience it.

Okami
Proof that a strong, cohesive design process is more important than all the technical bells and whistles in the world. This game is nicer to look at than any game so far for Xbox 360 or PS3.

Tonight, after hanging out with friends, Tara and I were both craving milk shakes. Speed was important because it was late. We headed for Jack in the Box, where I was going to get a 99 cent burger, curly fries and a chocolate shake. Unfortunately, we hadn’t noticed it was 2 AM, just after last call, and every drive through was packed with drunk people.
 

I went home and had a corn dog, and a hostess apple pie. While not really an appropriate replacement, it felt thematically similar.

This is what KillAllTheWhiteMan would be like as an every day blog. You need to realize, the delay in content here is for your benefit, not mine. I could do an entry every day just ruminating on my meals. Instead, you get high quality content like A Polaroid I Found IN Don’t Drop the Baby.

Next Page »