Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Modeling Reality with Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds seem to be what is going to be new "it" thing when it develops to a completely immersing level. Right now it is all looking at a bright screen at 3 in the morning, clicking frantically at whatever the heck is going on. Maybe a little exaggerated but not THAT far from the truth. One that can be talked about is the game World of Warcraft (WoW for short). When you boil it down it may just be a game but the level of dedication some people put into it definitely makes it qualify as a virtual world. Let me say ahead right now that my opinion towards WoW is heavily biased, I hate that game with a burning passion of a thousand suns. People spend hours upon hours playing the game, all they do is repetitious boring stuff. Spending hours mining for in game currency, hours traveling from one destination to another for a job. Spending hours training your character to be stronger. It never ends. Its life but in a different context. Sure there is social interaction in the game, but if that is what you are looking for, then you should really try going out a bit. There is another Virtual World that is more true to that aspect. That would be Second Life. Some people consider it a game but really it has gone too far to be that. One can do anything there that can be done in real life and then some. It gives you access to do virtually anything you want in the comfort of your computer. You want massive gardens? You got massive gardens. You want to fly? Done. Want to open your own store? You can start planning today. Or as IBM has shown, you can train for your real life job in the virtual world. There is only one MASSIVE problem with the whole virtual world scene. Its not real. What I mean by that is that your brain is fully aware that it is not real. It is lights projected from a screen. At the end of the day, you were just staring at a monitor the entire day. One may feel emotional and psychological things when interacting with the virtual world but nothing physical at all. This is the next big leap the virtual world has to make. Where the only reason you know that it is a virtual world is because you consciously know you got into the machine or plugged in. Other than your prior knowledge of entering, your brain has no CLUE that it is not the real world. If you fly, you feel the wind as you zoom across a field. If you go for a swim, you feel the coldness of the water and that refreshing feeling when you do it on a hot summer day. That you feel another persons hand if you were to touch it. That virtual world is the world i would not mind exploring. I hope that the virtual world becomes like the matrix, only with more ability to manipulate and less dying.

Social Networking

Social networking technologies have a wide array of uses. There most obvious use is that of an interpersonal nature. Its a great way to keep in contact with many people quickly and efficiently. The person doesnt have to be immediately available and they can respond when they have the time. It can be used to organize events and to quickly deliver information to people. The corporate world has also thought of ways to use social networking. As seen in the CNET article "AT&T Uses Twitter During a Service Outage" When service was unexpectedly cut from certain parts of California, At&t decided that the best way to keep all of their customers updated on the situation was to use their corporate twitter account and post all of the info in the situation. But that of course is just one corporate use. Not only can it be used to keep the people updated when a problem arises, corporations have developed ways of using social networking to make money. All the games on Facebook are a perfect example. All of these games are indeed free to play but not only do they tend to have advertising, all of these games have way of a player using real world money to purchase things for the game. Things such as exclusive items and other such advantages. The only problem I see with this is that I feel that soon enough I am going to be asked to spend my money no matter where i go online. Sites that were once dedicated to keeping in touch with those a bit too far to reach are becoming ways for the media to brainwash you and kindly ask for your money. Maybe not directly but of course, the name is pushed enough and next thing you know they are taking all your money. Corporate always finds a way to put its greedy hands in anything new and innovative that comes out, because really that is their job. The only thing I could think is using these services for good, but that is already being done. What I see is that as the younger generations take charge, they will bring more of this new media into light and incorporate it into every aspect of anything done. So we would see fund raisers being organized in a much larger scale, rallies and protests could reach potentially millions of people in minutes. I see it quite possible for revolutions to be launched from the click of a button. Sounds ludicrous now but I would not underestimate the power of Social Networking and at the very least it is plausible

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blogs vs. Wikis

Blogs and wikis have similarities and many differences. They are both created by users. They both can be viewed by anyone who is interested. They do have plenty of differences though. A blog is created by one user and that person puts in there whatever it is they want. Then other people can read it and post their comments on whatever was posted. A wiki is less personal. A wiki is less opinion and there is nowhere to comment. Wikipedia can be edited by anyone but it is a bit more controlled. As the CNN article "Wikipedia: No longer the Wild West?" stated, Wikipedia has decided to get volunteer editors who would double check select articles on people who are still alive to verify the accuracy of the information. Blogs do have their uses for collaboration. If one person has a blog about a specific topic, another person could have a blog about something similar and they could get together, through their blogs, and do things together. An example that comes to mind is in the collaboration of music writing. People can fuse their creativity together. In trying to think of a use for wikis, this has probably been done but maybe if a group has a research project that needs to be done everyone could collaborate and build the project on the wiki. Everyone can see what has been done and they could plan accordingly for what is needed. If anyone notices a mistake they themselves can fix it. Blogs and wikis may have their uses but they are equally important.