Monday, January 30, 2006

Do D&Ders fear girls?

Here is a video on Google called "Fear of Girls," a comedic documentary on two 1337 Dungeons and Dragons players. Worth a looksee:

A little over the top to be sure.... but is in the spirit of Constructing Amusement. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Speed increased by 100%

An update on my gaming that I just had to share...
After saving much gold, I am now the proud owner of a Great Brown Kodo, also referred to as an EPIC MOUNT in World of Warcraft. Yay!
As soon as I got it, I ported back to Ogrimmar and did the traditional parking myself on top of my Kodo in front of the bank to "show off my ride." lol. Carrot on a stick and mithril spurs have got nuttin on this. Druid got game.
My alt is a Warlock... and I can't wait to get her up to snuff and get a FLAMING PURPLE EPIC MOUNT. But alas, maintaining a level 60 in an uber guild while doing grad school is quite the challenge... so my ambition is curbed by limited slices my time pie will allow for. (grin)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Walter Murch visits SFU

...and talks to my professors in Communication.

Editor, sound designer, director and author Walter Murch will be in Vancouver February 15-17 for a series of events. Murch invented the term 'sound design' to describe his ground-breaking work on American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973). A classmate of Lucas at USC and an early collaborator with Francis Coppola, Murch quickly became the most respected sound editor in Hollywood, developing a revolutionary multi-track recording style that is now used everywhere. He is also highly regarded as a picture editor. Along with his work on Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Trilogy, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cold Mountain, Apocalypse Redux, and most recently Jarhead, Murch has worked on innovative low-budget films like Crumb and The Apostle, and reconstructed Orson Welles' 1958 film Touch of Evil to conform more closely to Welles's own revolutionary ideas on sound.

Murch is an articulate and thoughtful writer on many subjects and has a special interest in perception. He has written an influential book on editing, In the Blink of an Eye, and collaborated with Michael Ondaatje on The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film.

ROUND TABLE ON FILM AND PERCEPTION: Murch speaks with SFU Professors Andrew Feenberg, Laura Marks and Martin Laba. Wednesday 15 February 4 - 6 pm. SFU Harbour Centre. Free, but reservations required.

THE CONVERSATION (Francis Coppola, 1974) Thursday 16 February 7:30 p.m. Murch will present and discuss this film, on which he was supervising editor and sound editor. The Conversation is highly praised not only as a character study of a secretive surveillance expert (played by Gene Hackman) but also for the remarkable complexity of a story told through its sound design. Vancouver International Film Centre, 1181 Seymour. $15/$10 Praxis members and students. Tickets can be bought at the door, or on-line at

MASTER CLASS for Editors & Sound Designers. Admission by application. The morning session is limited to 40 participants; the afternoon session will require knowledge of Final Cut Pro and is restricted to 25. Friday 17 February 9:30 -12:30 and 1:30-4:30. To apply, send a letter and resume to Praxis by Tuesday 31 Jan. Morning session: $50/Full Day $165 (lunch included in full day session)

For information and reservations for the Round Table and Master Class, please contact Praxis at (604)268-7880 or

Sponsored by Praxis Centre for Screenwriters, the Humanities Institute, ACT, the School of Communication and the 40th Anniversary Fund at Simon Fraser University; IATSE Local 89; and Telefilm Canada.

Dancing on the go

I love games like Dance Dance Revolution (where you jump on arrows to musical directions on a screen... gamers would have no weight problems if they all did that) and its calmer controller cousin Bust-a-Groove. I went through a stage...
Now, you can DDR on the go... with these finger panels. When you have a boogie that can't be denied, here's your answer.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Warcraft - a hobby done with others

An article today in the BBC tells us that Warcraft is now a big hit in Europe, with over 1 million players.

This brings the number of worldwide players to an unprecedented 5.5+ million players. Wow indeed.

Talk about 'sticky' social activities and 'meaningful' encounters.

Monday, January 16, 2006

In Bangladesh - Free evenings and weekends encourage 'corruption'

Interesting article out of Bangladesh on parents lobbying the local phone companies to stop providing free evenings for mobile phone usage, claiming they encouraged the youth to engage in corrupt activities like speaking vulgarly between boyfriends and girlfriends.

See the story here.

It seems the youth have been using this technology service to circumvent the rather conservative protocols of their parents who tend to discourage dating. This type of emancipatory new media usage can be found in similar capacities in places all over the world (Malaysia, Japan, my own research in Korea...etc), where privacy for youth is at a premium and the generation gap is wider.

Another nuance, I liked one particular quote from the story to do with telecommunications, because it gets at the issues surrounding regulatory issues to do with all types of media, including what I've been looking at in online games:

"Such an order is shocking and surprising," said university student Kaushik Ahmed, in Dhaka. "Parents should be able to build up their children properly and inject values in them before turning to telecom regulators to shape their lives."

While it is subject to debate as to whether or not these parents' injected values would hold in their children, there is an inconsistency. When regulators are able to shape people's lives, it can be a move towards looking after the welfare of users, but also regarded as 'interference' in one's civil liberties. Where do you draw the line between paternalistic policies, censorship, and user incentives?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Video games and law - serious stuff

Dimitri Williams of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign posts case materials from ESA vs. Blagojevich, in which he served as an expert witness on issues like whether or not games cause violence and aggression. You can find his compilation (which he uses for teaching a mock trial in his classes) here.

His brief commentary on his experience (a social scientist being questioned in an adversarial manner) at TerraNova is also interesting. See "May it please the court" here.

I think it's great that he was consulted in this case and that his input was valuable. I see it as a plus for any social scientist to be prepared to give this kind of expert testimony.

Friday, January 06, 2006

New media and culture symposium at UBC

Inaugural Session for the New Media and Culture Research Network

Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, "Body, Codes, and Power"
N. Katherine Hayles, "The Future of Literature"
Reception to follow

2:00pm - 4:30 pm
13 January 2006
Cecil Green Park House (Directions:
University of British Columbia

About the speakers:

Arthur Kroker, Canada Research Chair in Technology, Culture and Theory at the University of Victoria, is the author of numerous books on technology and postmodernism as well as Director of The University of Victoria's Pacific Centre for Technology and Culture. Marilouise Kroker is Senior Research Scholar at the University of Victoria as well as co-editor of a trilogy of books on feminism and technology. Together, the Krokers edit the electronic journal, Ctheory and co-curate CTheory Multimedia.
N. Katherine Hayles is Professor of English at UCLA and a major figure in the study of literature and science in the 20th and 21st centuries. She is the author of How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (1999), which won the Rene Wellek Prize for the best book in literary theory for 1998-1999. Other publications include Chaos Bound: Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science and The Cosmic Web: Literary Strategies and Scientific Field Models in the Twentieth Century.

About the New Media and Culture Network

The New Media and Culture Network emerged in the course of a three-part workshop series organized by Mary Bryson, Teresa Dobson, and John Willinsky (University of British Columbia): "Technology, culture, aesthetics: Hypermedia and the changing nature of knowledge." The intent of this workshop series was to bring together key scholars and graduate students from the social sciences and humanities with a primary research focus on the impact of the digital age on the production, dissemination, and reception of knowledge.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fun reading

Some of my holiday reading included the book by Robin Wolaner: "Naked in the Boardroom: A CEO bares her secrets so you can transform your career." You can find it here.

I love how fast this book went. The memoir-style writing is very candid, as she recounts successes, failures, and lessons learned in and out of the business context that have typically been unique to women in business. While it is true that she broke ground as a woman in business in a different time (one that did not have as many liberties for women as now) I'd be delusional to think that some traditional preconceptions and obstacles that existed then don't exist now and that I shouldn't keep them in mind for how I navigate the professional jungles of industry and academia. This is especially important because I'm not just dealing with different corporate cultures, but those around the world that definitely have differing levels of liberties for professional females.

It was an interesting peek into how executives of large corporations think, and resolve their business with personal thoughts and tough life circumstances--something this past year left me wanting to figure out more. I found a some of her recommendations quite applicable for present and future professional life as well. A recommended read for anyone.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Faculty job posting: SFU Communication

The School of Communication at Simon Fraser University invites applications for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor in the area of media, culture and technology. The successful candidate will have research and teaching interests and experience in two or more of the following areas: media history, new media, research design; popular culture; mobilities and the global city; democratic communication, and social movements.

Candidates should have a Ph.D. in communication, or a cognate field, with demonstrated skill in undergraduate teaching. Candidates will be expected to mentor, supervise and teach graduate students, and to participate in the governance and affairs of the School.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

Simon Fraser University is committed to employment equity and welcomes applications from all qualified women and men, including visible minorities, aboriginal people, persons with disabilities, gay men and lesbians. All appointments are subject to budgetary authorization. Under the authority of the University Act, personal information that is required by the University for academic appointment competitions will be collected. For further details go to this page.

Applications should include a CV, a statement of research and teaching interests, and a sample of published work (or a work prepared for publication). Letters from three referees should be sent directly to the School.
Applications must be received by Tuesday February 28, 2006, addressed to:

Dr. Martin Laba, Director
School of Communication
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6

Yet another parallel: coffee bars and PC bangs

Bryant Simon, a professor of history at Temple University, has noticed this about Starbucks: Moms predominate in late morning, teens take over after 3 p.m., and strangers who are not moms or teens must never engage one another. One of his tipsters, a twelve-year-old girl, calls it Flirtbucks. "She doesn't drink coffee -- she's afraid it'll stunt her growth -- but boys try to impress her by drinking coffee drinks," says Simon, who is currently researching his book on Starbucks. (New Yorker)

From the Starbucks gossip blog here.

The girl Professor Simon talked to is not interested in the substance, but the social benefits associated with going to the coffee bar. This sounds very familiar to my research on why youth congregate in Internet cafes in Asia. A very classic case of "Third Place" (concept found in "The Great Good Place" by Ray Oldenburg) for both cases.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year 2006 to all!

And so it begins...
Another year, and many more interesting times to live.