.:r|N:.











Games are pretty hard to define. There are numerous games out there in the world and all of them differ in a huge manner from each other. Those different types of games would include sports games, video games, board games, role playing games and so on, with each of these category having their own traits about them. People like Roger Caillois, Chris Crawford, Kevin Maroney and many more have attempted to define what a game is, but none could give a uniformed, clear definition of it. According to Wikipedia however, there are a few basic principles of something being called a game. A game should have tools, which are components required to play them. It should also have rules to determine the rights and responsibilities of each player. A games’ tools and rules will then result in its requiring of skills, strategy and chance (Game, 2007).

One of the games that is taking the world by storm is World of Warcraft (WOW). The nature of the game is such that the players have to create an avatar for themselves, making it more like a role-playing game, allowing other users to interact, get to know each other and even making business deals through WOW. Furthermore, in WOW, the question of morality always comes into play. There are instances whereby a rival guild burst into a funeral affair of another guild, killing the mourners mercilessly. Aside from forging friendship and the question of morality, WOW even have their own economy. A thriving industry could make real money through the game (Levy. S., 2007)

Friendship, morality and of course the ever important issue, money reflects very closely to our own real life. The major difference of WOW which makes it more of a game, is the competition and goals that each player have to go through. There is always a level to complete and most players would work towards that to achieve the goal of finishing the whole game. Even with features such as competition and challenge present in WOW, people are already wondering whether WOW is really a game.

If WOW is already being questioned about its “game-ness”, what about Second Life (SL) then? SL also has role-playing, the question of morality and their own economy, and to top it all, it does not have points, scores, winners or losers, levels, an end-strategy, or most of the other characteristics of games (Second Life, 2007).

With the element of game play missing from SL, it could not then be a game as a lot of things that could be done in SL reflects closely to how we are in our real life, which makes SL what it is called. It is literally a second life for its users.

Made available to the public and with a population of about 5 million users in March 2007, there are a few features, (all quoted from Wikipedia) of SL which made it more of a person’s literal second life than a game that a person simply plays.

The first feature is its residents. The residents of SL could pick and choose the avatar that they wanted and then could easily change it accordingly in order for them to represent themselves to other users, much like in real life where we can change our hair, clothes and with plastic surgery, even facial features, although not as easily done in SL.

The second feature is its transportation and communication. In SL, users communicate with each other using instant messenging and they could choose whether to say it out loud, to shout it, or to whisper it. Residents could also have gestures such as blowing a kiss or smoking. In terms of transportation, the residents would mostly travel by foot, flying or by vehicles. All of these is very much like our real life, with our huge usage of instant messenging as our main communication. The only difference with transportation is that we certainly do not fly by ourselves and teleport, unless of course we are Hiro. Even he is fictitious, probably much more so than SL.

Much like our real life, SL also has their own economy where whatever money that users make or spend there is real money. The currency that they use is Linden Dollars (L$) and L$270 is equivalent to about US$1. Aside from money, any creation that is made in SL could be copyrighted and even have the Creative Common tag attached to it.

The last feature that I find interesting is that there is even education is SL. Schools such as Harvard, New York University and Elon University have already set foot in SL and this trend is not going to go away anytime soon. With numerous students taking distance learning, SL could bridge the gap that the students and teachers go through. (Second Life, 2007) Furthermore, with education in SL gaining more popularity, there could be a huge possibility that in future, students do not have to go through the hassle of going to school. Every class would be taught in SL. Wouldn’t that be fun?

In conclusion, because of the fact that SL has no features which could associate it being a game, SL is much more of a person’s virtual life than a game. Features such as education, money and relationships, are all present in our real lives as much as it is present in second life.

References:

Games (2007). Retrieved April 8 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Games.

Levy, Steven (2007). World of Warcraft: Is It a Game?. Retrieved April 8 2007 from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14757769/site/newsweek/page/3/print/1/displaymode/1098/.

Second Life (2007). Retrieved April 8 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_life.



I heard a lot about Second Life, especially from my lecturer, Kevin Lim but I have not tried it much, save for one time when I was inspired hearing about a lady making her first million, or something along those lines in Second Life (SL). After coming across the annoying lag, my difficulty with the navigation and seemingly not much exciting places to go to, I gave up.

This week’s assignment forced me to try it again, and to find a place in SL which I like. Much to my surprise, SL grew on me and I found there were numerous interesting places to explore, and new friends to be made.

I picked the name Rin Larsson. Rin being the name that I am always called and Larsson was simply the surname that I chose from the list that they gave. This is me, at the Orientation Island, getting to know the basic stuff such as communication, search, navigation and the likes.

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In order for me to find some interesting places, I visited the website Kevin posted, and tried a few things from there, such as the International Spaceflight Museum, Virtual Hallucinations and Hollywood Complex. These places are a unique experience, but none could be called my favourite.

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At the Hollywood Complex, I tried to edit my appearance, and it is rtue you could spend hours at it. This is what my avatar looked like. I changed mostly the facial features to make it look somewhat like me, or how I imagined I looked like. Two very different things apparently. Although the way the avatar is dressed and the hair is not like me at all, I like the dissimilarity, allowing me to change it as and when I wanted to. I was highly disturbed that the skin on my face and the skin on my body was of different colours, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not change them and left it there to scout around SL further.

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I found a place which I finally could call my favourite. It is called Rose Gardens. Yes, it is basically a place where couples come to make out. That is not the reason why I like it though. The thing that attracted me to this place is its scenery, tranquility and a place just to relax myself. Aside from making out, one could sit down to enjoy the view there, meditate, slow dance and even hold a wedding.

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This is me cuddling by myself. Haha.

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In a bid to get free stuff, I went to the 300 Movie House to get the female Spartan outfit. There, I met a kind soul, ironically called Kill Mann, who showed me numerous tips so I could get a better hang of SL. He even gave me skins, hair and outfits to change my look. I found it highly amusing that with certain skins I could lose my hair, and could not find a way to get it back. That’s when I decided to change the hair too.

Voila. Normal looking skin.

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I want to be a Spartan woman, because only Spartan women give birth to real men.

Well, the least I could do was dance with him for the help that he gave me.

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In all I think that SL is a great place to explore and if you are skeptic, just try your hand at it. You might just change your mind.

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{March 31, 2007}   QotW9: Citizen Journalism

A typical day with my friends would no doubt have this sentence embedded into our conversations, “You know, I was reading so-and-so’s blog the other day and I found out that…”, followed by some juicy details or gossip. One time, after one of these said sessions occurred, I asked my friend, “Have you wondered, before blogs and friendster came into our lives, where the heck did we get all our information from?” My friend could not even come up with an answer to satisfy us both.

I am still wondering about that, but right now I realize something else. We get much more information from these blogs than merely trivial gossips. One of the more important ones is news. In Singapore, blogs like Mr Wang Says So, The Yawning Bread or Singaboodypore, just to name a few, are what a lot of Singaporeans read on a daily basis for a different perspective from the mainstream media. It has gotten so widespread to turn to blogs for news that it not a secret that media companies are feeling the pinch by the loss of readership to these blogs. There is even a term to describe this phenomena, and it is now, familiarly called, citizen journalism.

According to Wikipedia, citizen journalism also known as “participatory journalism,” is the act of citizens “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information” (Citizen Journalism, 2007). With the start of citizen journalism, news companies, corporations and politicians have a new challenge ahead of them. Instead of just the journalists dealing with news and the news being generally controlled by the people who owns that particular type of media, the public now holds a huge chunk of control. According to Gillmor (2004), these bodies have a few things to consider in this new era. Firstly, outsiders can probe into newsmakers’ businesses and affairs and can disseminate them more widely and quickly, Secondly, information no longer leaks. Instead, it rushes through barriers via instant messaging, e-mail phonecalls and in my opinion, blogs. Thirdly, Gillmor also said that what gushes forth can take a live on its own, even if its not true.

One of the problems that arises from citizen journalism is the question of honesty. It not uncommon to see bloggers making stuff up to rile the public, editing photos using the technology of Photoshop and now, it is also not a surprise to learn that people could edit video as well. There is no efficient way to stop people from spreading false stories. The only barrier that they can come across is running the risk of defaming someone and other legal complications. Readers then should be aware that when they read blogs for news, it may not be completely true. Even though that it is true that journalists could also stretch the truth sometimes, they face a much bigger risk than these bloggers.

However, it is also possible to put the best of both worlds together. OhMyNews, which is wildly successful in Korea, is a good example. The journalists from OhMyNews are citizens and most of them are housewives writing the news in the comfort of their own homes. Unlike most bloggers who have no ethical conduct to follow to, OhMyNews has a code of ethics to adhere. This include that the “citizen reporter must work in the spirit that “all citizens are reporters,” and plainly identify himself as a citizen reporter while covering stories”, that “the citizen reporter does not spread false information” and that “the citizen reporter does not use abusive, vulgar, or otherwise offensive language constituting a personal attack” (OhMyNews, 2007).

OhMyNews’ popularity by the public did not go unnoticed. Realizing that the public prefers blogs and want to have their say in news contents, the Singapore Straits Times created STOMP (Straits Times Online Mobile Print) in order to get the public more involved with the news. Straits Times Editor Han Fook Kwang said, “In the new media environment, newspapers have to be more than just passive providers of news. They have to engage their readers in areas which appeal to them. We have to provide readers with new avenues to express themselves, to enable them to interact with us, and among themselves” (STOMP, 2007).

True to what Mr Han said, STOMP does provide the public with “avenues to express themselves”. There are a few categories that readers could go to for some news and interaction. The main category, Singapore Seen, is basically where the readers could send in their news via sms, mms or e-mail. Chosen news would be published on the website and other readers could comment on the said news. Aside from Singapore Seen, STOMP also has Talkback, which is a forum where readers could start a topic, discuss, give opinions or even just to “hang around” the website. STOMP also has categories such as STOMP e-bay, ST Foodies Club, ST Digital Club and the Courthouse, just to name a few. These categories are generally self-explained.

On the whole, I think that STOMP has done a good job in achieving its goals or trying to get the public involved and becoming more interactive with the media. The flexibility of using mms, sms or e-mail allows the public to send in stories on the go, enabling them to use current technologies to capture the news. Other than that, it provides a great way for the readers to interact with each other based on their interests and other miscellaneous stuff.

However, despite their successes, there are still a few things that STOMP could improve on. Aside from the fact that readers could not comment anything on the politics of Singapore (which would not be feasible based on it being Singapore), STOMP could let users send in news that they wrote on other important issues. Comparing STOMP with OnMyNews, I see a huge difference. Whereas STOMP has news sent in by the public such as “J-Pop Babes Walking Down the Street”, “Shark Attack in Sentosa: Not True”, or “Workers, Please Wear Your Safety Helmets”, OhMyNews covered stories such as “Taliban -Style Raids Launched in Islamabad”, “Indonesia Citizen Journalism on the Rise”, or “Ending the Arab-Israeli Conflict”. I believe that Singaporeans are intellectual enough to send in stories of such importance instead of trivial stories that STOMP has been publishing all these while.

Other than that, STOMP could also let the public have more control of the news that they would like to view, instead of having the editors pick and choose everything for them. This would give the public an even bigger sense of ownership and accomplishment towards their citizen journalism. Furthermore, categories such as Courthouse, ST Digital and ST Foodies Club could do with more entries by the public. It is true that they have some of these categories in the forums, but by having the public write in the above-mentioned categories, it will lend more importance to the information that they provide, and thus creating a better gift economy. I believe that with these improvements in place, STOMP could be as successful as OhMyNews.

References:

Citizen Journalism (2007). Retrieved March 31 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_journalism

Gillmore, Dan (2004). We the Media. Retrieved March 31 2007 from http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/wemedia/book/

OhMyNews International (2007). FAQ. Retrieved 31 March 2007 from http://english.ohmynews.com/reporter_room/qa_board/qaboard_list.asp?page=1&board=freeboard

STOMP (2007). About Us. Retrieved 31 March 2007 from http://www.stomp.com.sg/about/about.html



Blog title and URL: Mr Wang Says So at http://www.mrwangsaysso.blogspot.com.

Blogger’s Name or Pseudonym: Mr Wang

Blogger’s Occupation: Citizen Blogger

Blogger’s Date of Birth: 24 May 2005 at http://commentorysingapore.blogspot.com.

Technorati Rank: 26, 774 (332 links from 143 blogs).

Mr Wang is one of the more popular bloggers in Singapore, aside from Xiaxue, Mr Brown or Mr Miyagi. In terms of current affairs, he could be said to be the one that more Singaporeans turn to. In his blog, he generally gives a commentary about the current affairs that are happening in Singapore, The reason which makes Mr Wang’s blog so interesting and have a pulling factor is that he is very insightful, smart and witty. He gives good opinions on the current and social affairs of Singapore and he does not tend to sway to the pro-government side like most media in Singapore. Actually, it could be said to be all media.

Below are a few extracts of his blog posts and comments from readers.

Mutual respect and tolerance is the basic principle on which an inter-religious society like Singapore can hold itself together, in relative harmony.Recently I learned from Yawning Bread’s blog that the National Council of Churches of Singapore is seeking to criminalise lesbianism. I find this disturbing. I sense a potential threat to the freedom of religion in Singapore.

Leela said…
The government is to blame for this nonsense as well. By perpetuating institutionalised discrimination of male homosexuals in the penal code, the government is emboldening the Christian fundamentalists and telling them that it is willing to impose Christian moral views onto society. Most of the developed world as already opened up. Even South Africa has legalised gay marriage. Yet our first-world government is still criminalising private, consensual sex acts. As long as it continues to pander to the ultraconservative minority, Singapore will continue being stuck with first-world economy but a third-world society.

Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.”So remember folks, you’re not stupid just because you weren’t good at what Singapore judges you by. That applies to your Chinese Language grade too.

What has the Singapore government EVER done to “foster strong family ties” between you and your mother? You and your father? How about your spouse, your children, your siblings …? The Straits Times publishes very strange letters. But then, we have a Prime Minister who claims that if he gave money to your family, it would break down. Suddenly, you would divorce your wife, disown your parents or something like that. Ah, the mysteries of life in Singapore.

According to Wikipedia, democracy literally means rule by the people (Democracy, 2007). In the terms of government however, there are different types of democracy that could be used to describe the type of government that the country has, if it falls in the category of democracy that is.

Media democracy on the other hand, is the production and distribution model which promotes a mass media system that informs and empowers all members of society, and enhances democratic values. The term also refers to a modern social movement evident in countries all over the world which attempts to make mainstream media more accountable to the publics they serve and to create more democratic alternatives (Media Democracy, 2007).

One could comment that in Singapore, although we claim to be a democratic country, there is very little democracy in our media. Other than the fact that the media is owned by one company only, Mediacorp, which provides lack of coverage and lack of different voices and opinions to certain issues, the media in Singapore tend to be very pro-government.

I do agree completely that with the advent and rise of weblogs in today’s people, it also gives rise to the differing opinions about the local political landscape. There are numerous examples of blogs which focuses on the political arena and not all of them are as pro-government as the mainstream media. Day by day, more and more people are turning towards these blogs instead of believing completely what the mainstream media has to say. People nowadays have this perception that blogs could be said to be more credible and it reflects better on the sentiments of the general public since it is much more intimate and real. Even the government has caught on to this and it is apparent with the rising number of politicians who have their own blogs to reach out to the people.

The only reason why these blogs are allowed to flourish is because these blogs have a limited audience. The government would not tolerate any stand against the government if it was published in the mainstream newspaper. Take for example Mr Brown, who was sacked from Today newspaper due to certain comments that he made in his article. Furthermore, according to Thornton, democracy of media on the Internet would be allowed to occur if current power structures such as governments and large corporations are willing to incorporate this process into their standard practices. Given the history of such things, this seems fairly unlikely, however exciting the possibility might seem (Thornton, 2002).

In my opinion, these blogs are present because the government allows them to be that way for now. If, that particular blog has gained too much popularity and received too much attention from the masses, it is no doubt that the government would do something about it to dispel these “radical” opinions. Even if right now there is no proof that the government has done so, the fear is still very much alive that somehow we would be punished for even publishing it in the first place. The fact that the fear is there says a lot about Singapore. Increase in democracy of media in Singapore? Like what some Singaporeans love to say, “wait long long”.

References:

Democracy (2007). Retrieved March 24, 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy.

Media Democracy (2007). Retrieved March 24, 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_democracy.

Wang (2007). Retrieved March 24, 2007 from http://mrwangsaysso.blogspot.com/.

Thornton, Alinta (2002). Does Internet Create Democracy? Retrieved March 24, 2007 from http://www.zip.com.au./~athornto/thesis_2002_alinta_thornton.doc



{March 10, 2007}   QotW6: Not Telling!

Privacy. Maybe we do care about it and maybe we don’t. But somehow or rather, in this modern age, most people are guilty of having their privacy invaded. Willingly. They sign up for loyalty or membership cards, they participate in lucky draws or competition and even by simply ordering pizza, someone is invading their privacy. What is privacy actually? According to Sullivan, most Americans struggle to define privacy in a survey which consisted of 6500 people. The nearest thing that they could get was that “privacy is to be left alone” (2006). Wikipedia however, define privacy as the ability of an individual or group to keep their lives and personal affairs out of public view, or to control the flow of information about themselves (2007).

In an article by Jeffrey Rosen, he mentioned that in the past, people get to know and trust each other through hierarchies, which cues them on specific ways that they should behave, be it around their spouses, their colleagues, parents or even their bosses. Today however, intimacy and trust is obtained by “revealing details of their personal lives to prove that they have nothing to hide before a crowd whose gaze is turned increasingly on all the individuals that compose it” (2004).

Nowadays, people put up a host of information that could be considered as private in the past, on line. The increasing numbers of personal websites and weblogs (blogs), have shown that these people do not have any qualms about exposing themselves for the consumption of the public. The websites and blogs would include details such as their hobbies, ramblings about their daily lives, opinions about the politics, pictures of friends and family members and details of their weddings. Rosen said that with the proliferation of these websites and blogs, it reflects a common but treacherous error: that thoughts appropriate to reveal to friends and intimates are appropriate to reveal to the rest of the world (2004).

In order for these people to stand out from the hordes of people that are also exposing themselves online, they resorted to “marketing” themselves and even creating something akin to taglines so that it would be short, yet distinctive and memorable. Taking an example from Rosen, a writer who claims to be ‘enthusiastic, energetic, and professional’ promises ‘enthusiasm that will make your day’ (2004).

Miller said that people nowadays are consuming their media in “bite-sized pieces for high speed munching” (2007), such as watching youtube, surf blogs, go online for the news and etc. In my opinion, not only are people consuming their media in bite-sized pieces, they are also establishing relationships and trust based on bite-sized pieces. We decide to get to know a person and decide to trust him or her because of these “taglines” that they have to “market” themselves instead of using the traditional means.

My Case Study:

After reading these articles, I realized that I am not exempted from letting my privacy be invaded. I order pizzas, I always enter lucky draws, I sign up for various Internet services and yes, I do have a few membership cards here and there. I do realize that all these perceived benefits are just for companies to get to my personal information, but yet, I have not done much to stop it or cut it down because I somehow thought that it fine, everyone else is doing it too and well, I thought those benefits are sometimes worth it.

On top of all those I blog too. It was true what Rosen said, “thoughts appropriate to reveal to friends and intimates are appropriate to reveal to the rest of the world (2004). While it is true that I do not advertise my blog address and only gave the link to my friends, I did not mind that complete strangers could stumble into my blog. They could easily Google my name or other things which I have written about and visit my blog. It is on the net after all. Because of the fact that it is on the net, I decided to close my blog some time back as I do not see the point. I cannot even write freely about anything or anybody I want because they could easily stumble upon it. Maybe soon enough, I could start again and blog on things that I have an interest on, taking an example from Mr Kevin who mostly blogs about the Internet, technologies and gadgets (i.e Mac).

In conclusion, people nowadays are exposing themselves more and more to the public in order for them to gain trust from strangers. Although it is already a norm and it is a quick and easy way to meet other people and make friends, everybody must have a certain limit of the information that they give online and keep a certain amount of it to themselves. If we are so generous with our information, it would be so much easier for all these scammers to get at our information and use it to their advantages.

References:

Miller, Nancy (2007). Minifesto for a New Age. Retrieved March 10, 2007 from http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.03/snackminifesto.html

Rosen, Jeffrey (2004). The Naked Crowd. Retrieved March 10, 2007 from http://www.spiked-online.com/Printable/0000000CA5FF.htm

Sullivan, Bob (2006). Privacy Lost: Does Anybody Care?. Retrieved March 10, 2007 from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15221095/print/1/displaymode/1098/

Wikipedia (2007). Privacy. Retrieved March 10, 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy



{February 22, 2007}   QotW5: Online Identity

The youtube video that is put up on our class blog left me feeling confused. Why do they talk as if they cannot see who the person really is? Is this some sort of role playing? After a while I finally got it. The video is to show how an IRC chatroom would look like in the physical sense. Although it seems really weird to do it physically, the kind of things that happened in the video is really common in a chatroom environment, where people establish their identity be it true or false to their real self.

What is online identity? According to Wikipedia, an online identity is a social identity that network users establish in online communities such as Internet forums, MUDs, instant messaging and massively multiplayer online games. Although some people prefer to use their real names online, most users prefer to identify themselves by the means of pseudonyms, which reveal varying amounts of personally identifiable information. As other users interact with an established online identity, it acquires a reputation, which enables them to decide whether the identity is worthy of trust (Online Identity, 2007).

Behind the screen of the monitor, it is much easier and much more tempting to deceive others about who we are. There are many different types of deceptions in an online world and according to Donath (1996), there are a few ways to detect these fraudulent identity. The most basic one would be to check the person’s account name, which is usually the e-mail address. Second, the way in which the person talks, or knowing the “voice” of the person, could be an indicator to who the person is. Lastly, the signature that the person use could also be an indicator.

However, Donath (1996) said that these identity cues are not always reliable. The account names can be faked, identity claims can be false and social cues can be deliberately misleading. In a Usenet group, one of the identity deceptions that can be found are trolls. A troll is a person who deliberately gives a flaming remark and enjoys the ensuing argument after that. The second deception is category deception, where people would lie about their age, gender or their physical description. Thirdly, a costly deception would be impersonation. If the person can pass off as another, he or she could create havoc on the person’s reputation online or offline.

What is worse than all these deceptions is probably identity theft. According to Schneier (2005), identity theft is an oxymoron. Identity is not a possession that can be acquired or lost; it is not a thing at all. Someone’s identity is the one thing about a person that cannot be stolen. The real crime here is fraud; more specifically, impersonation leading to fraud. This crime involves two issues. The first is the privacy of personal data. As more information about us is collected, correlated, and sold, it becomes easier for criminals to get their hands on the data they need to commit fraud. The second is the ease in which a criminal can use personal data to commit fraud.

A few things can be done to hinder indentity theft. According to Evers (2005), experts recommend that consumers protect their personal information such as Social Security number, credit cards and their mother’s maiden name. Being careful with postal mail and shredding sensitive documents also helps.

As with millions other users, I do have an online identity too. My favourite would be the nickname r|N. It is part of my name, but could also be considered a pseudonym because it is not my full name. Furthermore, the way it is typed is part of the nickname itself. I would use this nickname in every online community that I go to, be it MSN, IRC or forums, but the nickname started with me being in IRC. I do not think that my nickname has much of a reputation, because I am not the type to go to forums to give advices and such. However, I think that what little reputation I have is gained from the IRC channels that I loved to go, such as #melayu, #seni, #9590 etc. and interacting with the people there, so others basically know me as someone who are linked or associated with these groups and channels. Furthermore, I like to think that in an online community, what they know about me is what I choose to tell them. For all they know, I could be a 15 year old guy or a 16 year old girl.

An example would be where I lied about my background, age and almost everything else except for my gender to this guy, who happened to be in the same school as me for almost two years. Of course I slipped up because nobody could keep a lie for that long and the lie was exposed. Fortunately, he found it amusing and we remained close friends. Now, no longer using IRC, and with most of these channels being empty, I bring forward that nickname and the friends I gained from those channels and use it daily on MSN or other online communities.

In IRC, it is very easy to steal someone’s identity. The job is done by simply using their nickname. This is mostly the case of impersonation but sometimes the impersonator can be caught by the different “voice” that he or she used compared to the original user of the nickname. For me, I used to authenticate my nick on the IRC. Even if he or she is not caught by anyone else, at least they would be irritated by the constant popping of words, prompting him or her to enter the password.

In conclusion, the Internet is a wonderful medium for communication and to create an identity online. However, it is also an equally wonderful medium for fraud to decept people online and steal others’ identity. Therefore, we must be careful in protecting our private information to inhibit these activities.

References:

Donath, Judith S. (1996). “Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community”. Retrieved February 23, 2007 from

http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/Judith/Identity/IdentityDeception.html

Evers, Joris (2007). “Identity Theft Risk Greatest in Major Cities:. Retrieved February 23, 2007 from

http://tech.msn.com/security/article.aspx?cp-documentid=3064883&GT1=9132

Schneier, Bruce (2005). “Mitigating Identity Theft”. Retrieved February 23, 2007 from

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2005/04/mitigating_iden.html

Wikipedia (2007). “Online Identity”. Retrieved February 23, 2007 from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_identity



{February 10, 2007}   QotW4: Gift Economy

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Today, we live in a fast-paced, money-driven, urban society. There is no such thing as something free. It is expected that we have to pay for every little thing, be it products or services. It is then highly peculiar that we would voluntarily participate in what is called a gift economy, an economy by which help or information is offered without expecting any direct, immediate quid-pro-quo (Kollock, 1999). The gift economy is a stark difference from planned economy or a commodity-based economy. In a planned economy, goods and services are distributed by explicit command and control rather than informal custom. In commodity-based economies, an explicit quid-pro-quo is established before the transaction takes place. (Wikipedia, 2007).

 

Contrary to what I believed, the gift economy did not start only from the Internet age. Actually, the gift economy has already started as early as the stone age. Forms of the gift economy would include things such as sharing of food in the hunter-gatherer society, offerings for the deity, a family in which a generation pays for education for the next and a “favour network” within a company (Wikipedia, 2007). Another form of a free economy in the Internet world worth mentioning is the free software community. This is when a software can be used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed with little or no restriction beyond the requirement that the source code must be made available (Wikipedia, 2007).

 

The kind of information that we can get online is amazing in the sense that if we seek it elsewhere such as on the phone, those information would not be free. People would charge a hefty amount for information such as technical details of a computer programme or legal advice, which we could easily get at online forums (Kollock, 1999). The main question is, why do people give all these information for free?

 

According to Kollock (1999), there are a few reasons why people would want to be involved in a gift economy. One of the reason is anticipated reciprocity. Cialdini (2001) illustrated in his book, Influence, with numerous examples that reciprocity is an extremely hard rule to ignore. He said that the rule for reciprocity was so strong that it simply overwhelmed the influence of a factor – liking for the requester – that would normally affect the decision to comply. Even though in the internet world it is extremely hard to near impossible for a person to be reciprocated by the same person who gained from a particular information, that reciprocity will occur within the group as a whole in a system of generalized exchange (Kollock, 1999).

 

Another factor is reputation. High quality information, impressive technical details in one’s answers, a willingness to help others, and elegant writing can all work to increase one’s prestige in the community. These people who are after reputation would start to contribute more significatnly, so that the contributions could be noticed by the community as a whole and recognition would be attached to those contributions (Kollock, 1999).

 

 

Online forums could also be regarded as a gift economy due to the information and advices exchanged through the participants. I have to admit that although I do have my interests in certain areas, I never ventured to joining an online forum, so I have limited experience in the sense of sharing information with others on a shared interest. One of the few experience I do have of a gift economy would be in terms of seeking technical help for my personal computer. Instead of calling the help lines or professional help, I prefer to google my problems and will be bound to find some websites detailing on how I can fix certain problems by myself. I would call that kind of website a gift ecomony because those people offered technical help without expecting any immediate help in return. They are knowledgeable people who simply answered problems or questions posted by others for free and does no expect immediate quid-pro-quo.

 

Another example of a gift community is a website that my fishing avid friend loves to go, www.fishingnewsroom.com. This is also a gift economy because the members of this forum would share information such as which is the best bait for the type of fish, which is the best places to go if the members wanted to catch stingray or catfish, and simply numerous questions, help, advices and information about general fishing, lure fishing, pond fishing and so on. Again, these people offered their help and share their experiences without expecting any immediate quid-pro-quo from others. The other members in this forum then would offer their help as a reciprocation for the forum as a whole.

 

In conclusion, the gift economy is an economy where people offer something without expecting any immediate quid-pro-quo. These gifts economies does not only happen in the Internet world but it goes back all the way to the stone age. There are a few reasons that people participate in this economy and some of them are anticipated reciprocation and reputation in the community that they are involved in.

 

References:

Cialdini, Robert B. (2001). “Influence: Science and Practise”. Allyn and Bacon: United States of America.

 

Kollock, Peter (1999). “The Economies of Online Cooperation: Gifts and Public Goods in Cyberspace”. Retrieved February 10, 2007 from

http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/kollock/papers/economies.htm

 

Wikipedia (2007). “Free Software”. Retrieved February 10, 2007 from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software

 

Wikipedia (2007). “Gift Economy”. Retrieved February 10, 2007 from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gift_economy

 



{February 3, 2007}   QotW3:Copyright Issues

The issue of copyright has always been an important one. It is important enough that the founding fathers of America thought that it should be in their Constitution. They claimed, that by introducing the copyright into the law, it would benefit both the public and the creators. Since the creators earn money from their creations, they would be motivated to produce more, which ultimately, benefits the public (Ovalle, 2005).

What is copyright then? According to the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, copyright is a form of property. It can be transferred, either as an entire bundle, or as a distinct, individual right within the copyright bundle. Copyright protects works such as novels, computer programmes, plays, sheet music and paintings. The author has the right to reproduce, publish, perform, communicate and adapt his work. For a work to be protected by copyright, it has to be original and expressed in a tangible form. Ideas alone are not protected.

 

Before the advent of the Internet and peer-to-peer programmes, the thought of stealing a copyright work would include adorning black clothes with ski masks, shoplifting or even stealing at gunpoint. However, nowadays, people from all walks of lives are stealing copyright. The most popular one is music. It is easy to download music, movies, pictures and softwares from these p2p prorammes. With thousands to millions of people logging in, others are bound to find the files that they wanted. The best thing of all was that, all of these come for free. Who would not want to download? Furthermore, with gadgets such as ipod coming into the market, it gives users all the more reason to download music.

 

File sharing comes into the attention of the people from the music industry when they realised that their sales have been declining, and they are quick to point their fingers at downloaders. According to Strumpf, between 2000 and 2003, the number of compact discs shipped in the United States have declined by 20 percent. As a way to protect their work and gain their rightful compensation, the music industries sued those who download music. Strumpf also said that the industry asked the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of file sharing services as it negatively affects the music industry. Congress is also findings ways to counter the threat of downloading. Other than the United States, Singapore is also doing the same thing to its downloaders. Those who get caught by the authorities could be jailed up to five years and faced S$100,000 in fines (Hou, 2006).

 

There are a few reasons why people download. The first is that legal music is too expensive. It costs about $20 to buy a CD and not all songs in the CD are wanted. Most people would only like about half of the songs in each CD. Besides that, $20 is the cost of only one CD. What about songs from other artists too? That could amount up to a lot of money. It is true that a person can still download online legally. The cost is about $1 per song. However, some of the users do not own a credit card to be able to pay for the downloaded songs (Hou, 2006). Furthermore, contrary to what the music industry believed, their declining sales was not caused by downloaders. According to Strumpf, the previous statement is made probable because album sales have increased in the most recent past while the number of downloaders has remained.

 

Through all the measures taken to prevent downloading, it it safe to admit that downloading could never be eradicated from the Internet culture. There are a few ways that we could do to make both parties happy with this downloading situation. Firsly, we need to prove to the industy companies that downloading has minimum, if not zero impact on the music industy, so there is no reason to go hard on the downloaders. Furthermore, downloading helps people be more exposed to the different types of music and there are chat rooms in the p2p programmes, which allows them to discuss music. Secondly, a factor already in place, but which needs to be improved, is the distortion of songs. Some songs that people download are not as good in quality as the original ones. This would prevent people to download songs and selling it off, but it is a good measure for those who wanted to sample these songs first before buying the better quality ones. Thirdly, after a few months of the songs being released, the music industries could let people download these songs. A few months would give ample time for people to buy the CDs or for the album sales to reach their peaks.

 

In conclusion, since downloading has become rampant, the music industries blamed the downloaders for their declining music sales. Measures that could be taken would be to prove that downloading is innocent, improve the distortion of songs in the p2p programmes and simply let people download music for free after the song has been realeased for a few months.

 

 

References:

 

Hou, Chua Hian (12 October. 2006). The Straits Times. “Raids Worry Online Music Fans”. Retrieved February 3, 2007 from

http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=55120

 

Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (2004). “Copyright: Introduction”. Retrieved February 3, 2007 from

http://www.ipos.gov.sg/main/index.html

 

Ovalle, Carlos (2005). “Why Copyright?”. Retrieved February 3, 2007 from

http://sentra.ischool.utexas.edu/~i312co/2.php

 

Strumpf, Koleman (June, 2005). “The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales – An Empirical Analysis”. Retrieved February 3, 2007 from

http://www.unc.edu/~cigar/papers/FileSharing_June2005_final.pdf

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{January 18, 2007}   QotW1:Moi

That is a hairdo that you will probably see once in your lifetime. haha. Unless I decided to go for rebonding that is. My curls are defnitely natural, so you can stop asking where and when I permed it.

In case you don’t already know, my name is Nashrin. You are welcome to call me Rin.
I stay all the way in Pasir Ris.
I am the third child in the family.
I have three other sisters, two brothers-in-law, one niece and one more soon.
When I have the money, I’ll be usually scented in Gucci Envy Me or Givenchy So Irresistable.

I am impatient, hot-tempered, blunt and a procrastinator.
However, I like to believe that I am easy to talk to despite the above-mentioned points, loyal and will readily laugh at all your jokes no matter how lame it is. I would be most likely be laughing because it is so lame but that’s besides the point.

I like to read. My version of heaven would be a library of never-ending (good) books. Yes, I’m geeky, I know. I like to read from different genres, such as biographies, military, horror, romance, fantasy and chick lits. :)

Other than reading, I do enjoy to eat, although I am painfully fussy in what I eat. The list of what I DO eat and what I don’t would be about a hundred time shorter in my estimation. Some of the things I do not eat are most vegetables, most seafood, mee rebus, sushi, food that I deem looks too weird and rice. Yes. I don’t eat rice. Noodles, bread and potatoes are carbohydrates. THAT is the answer to the question most people pose to me on where I get my carbohydrates.
However, I love Western Food. All those steak, pasta and fish and chips would make me happy. It is widely known in my household that you could bribe me with good food in order to get me to do something. Heh.

I do like movies. A LOT. If it were possible, I want to watch every single movie that is rated 3 stars and above. But sadly, I just don’t have the time and money for it.

I guess I am not like most girls in terms of shopping. I would only buy stuff when I feel that I need it. But of course, who can resist sales right? haha. However, I prefer to spend my money more on movies, food, cabs and just to go out. The problem with spending things on intagible things is that I would always wonder, “Where did all my money go to?”

Other than those interests, I like to hang out a lot with my friends. Favourite places would be Coffee Bean at Tampines Mall or Paragon, near my house area and Pasir Ris Pond. I concluded that since my boyfriend loves fishing so much, just being anywhere near where people fish would make him happy. By the way, today, he insisted that I try a hand at fighting a fish. Surprise, surprise, I managed to catch one, although it is quite a small one. Just right for a beginner I guess.

I don’t think I have any special abilities. Certainly not singing, playing musical instruments or being VERY good with computers or the net, for that matter. I see that I am mostly just an average at everything.

Anyway, you can view my profile at www.friendster.com/nashrin.



et cetera
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