[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Wednesday, 2014-05-28

Facebook vs. Google+: a comparison of conversations about gaming

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 10:18

I recently posted the following question/comment to both a Facebook RPG group (7,422 members) and a Google+ RPG group (5,474 members), to see if there would be any substantial difference in the quantity and quality of the resulting conversation. This was not a “troll” post, in so far as 1) the post accurately described my opinion, and 2) I was careful not to denigrate the games or the people who wrote them (in fact, I complimented the games, and those compliments are sincere). However, I did choose this topic because I hoped that it would spark a conversation, and I did deliberately phrase my initial post in a manner intended to elicit a polarized response. So take that for what it’s worth.

So… transhumanist games. On the one hand, Eclipse Phase and Nova Praxis look like well-made games with interesting settings. The skill and the creativity of the authors are admirable. On the other hand, a core premise of these games is that people will willingly — even routinely — commit suicide in the process of having some sort of copy of themselves made. I just can’t fathom any sane person ever doing that.

Even if you could have a duplicate of yourself made, why would the real you bother killing yourself? I can’t think of anyone other than a “suicide bomber” — someone willing to die for a cause — who would be willing to undertake such a thing. It’s madness. The closest comparison I can think of is Paranoia, but as crazy as Paranoia is, it doesn’t feature people routinely dying on purpose in order to activate their next clone.

As the conversations progressed, I kept my contributions to each conversation as similar as possible, in order to keep the experiment as unbiased as possible.

The Google+ post received 10 responses (excluding mine), from 4 people. The first response began with the sentence, “This is a lack of imagination on your part.” That generally sums up the tone of the responses on Google+: adversarial, and not focused on gaming at all.

The Facebook post received 41 responses (excluding mine), from 16 people. The first response began with the sentence, “People aren’t always logical.” This generally sums up the tone of the responses on Facebook: conversational, and focused on the characters in the setting. The Facebook conversation also branched out into the themes and genres of the games I referred to in my initial post, particularly Eclipse Phase, which I was reminded was a horror game.

Draw your own conclusions.

P.S. As a result of the conversation on Facebook, my own attitude toward playing these “transhumanist” games (particularly Eclipse Phase) has definitely changed. I can see myself actually playing in them now.

Tuesday, 2012-12-11

Backing up Google documents

Filed under: Software,The Internet,Work — bblackmoor @ 12:39

I just had a panic moment when I thought that a Google document I’d spent the better part of a week writing had vanished. This is what I plan to do from now on, once a week, until I forget about it and stop doing it.

  1. In Google Docs, go down to the far left bottom menu item, and select “More V” and then “All Items”.
  2. Click the select box at the top of the screen next to “TITLE” to select all items.
  3. Click the “More V” button at the top middle of the screen, next to the eyeball (“Preview”) icon, and select “Download”.
  4. Select “Change all formats to… OpenOffice”, and click the “Download” button.
  5. Wait a couple of minutes and then download the file somewhere.

Wednesday, 2012-11-28

Pasting spaces into Google Docs

Filed under: Software,The Internet,Writing — bblackmoor @ 16:19

I just spent too much time pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to get Google Docs to paste spaces and keep them spaces, rather than turning the spaces into tabs. I couldn’t find a way to prevent it, so here is what I did.

  1. Paste my text into a text editor, such as Notepad++.
  2. In the text editor, find & replace every instance of a space ” ” with a character that does not already exist in the text, nor in the document you intend to paste that text into. In my case, I used a tilde “~”.
  3. Copy this modified text, and paste it into Google Docs.
  4. In Google Docs, find & replace every instance of the placeholder character with a space ” “.

Is it ridiculous that you need to do this to keep Google Docs from corrupting what you are pasting? Yes. Yes, it is.

Tuesday, 2011-09-06

Why the Google Profiles (or any) “Real Name” Policy is Important to Me

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 16:15
Google+ protest image

A brave soul by the name of Todd Vierling has posted a compelling opinion piece explaining why, in his words,

… those of you who think that using real names will make people more open and social are horrifyingly deluded. Your idealistic vision of “real” interaction through real names isn’t just nonsense; it’s making online socialization more dangerous for everyone by putting them at risk of real-world prejudicial action.

(from Why the Google Profiles (or any) “Real Name” Policy is Important to Me , duh.org)

It’s worth reading. I suggest that you do.

More fun and educational links are at Google strikes out again on social networking.

Wednesday, 2011-08-31

Good-bye, Google+

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 09:17
Google+ fails

If you have been paying attention, you know that I planned to delete my Google+ account today unless they reconsidered their so-called “real name” policy, which endangers and disenfranchises users. The day has come. They had plenty of time to eliminate this policy. Time is up. I use my so-called “real name”, but I will not use a service with such contempt for the safety and privacy of its users. I urge you to avoid Google+.

Google doesn’t care whether linking your real name — what some people call your “wallet name” because it’s on all the plastic in your wallet — to your online comments might get you sacked from your job, outed as the only gay in the socially conservative village or your door kicked in by the police.

It really, really doesn’t care. [...]

Google chair Eric Schmidt said it himself during an interview in Edinburgh with Andy Carvin from US National Public Radio.

(from Google+ is a goddam Trojan horse, Crikey)

It’s a real shame, because aside from that policy, I think Google+ is awesome. Ah, well.

This and other fun Google+ related links at Google strikes out again on social networking.

P.S. I am also removing the “+1″ links from my blog. Screw you, Google.

Saturday, 2011-08-27

Google embraces evil, says it’s sorry for waiting so long

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 11:14
The Perfect Order is coming...

“Mr. Schmidt, how do you justify putting people’s lives in danger and discriminating against people who need to, or simply wish to, preserve some privacy online?”

“The Perfect Order is coming, and you will either be among the elite, or you will be among the common people whose lives are numbered and traded like so many Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Google will not be a Yu-Gi-Oh card! As for the rabble you mention… eh. Their cards have no value, anyway. We can make more money without them than with them.”

I’m at the Edinburgh Intl TV Festival and just got to ask a question to Google CEO Eric Schmidt regarding real names on G+. I asked him how Google justifies the policy given that real identities could put people at risk?

He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information.

Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It’s obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn’t use G+. Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government’s own policies, which implies there’s no point of even trying to have a service that allows pseudonyms.

He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.

(from Andy Carvin, on Google+)

It looks like I am on track to delete my Google+ account at the end of the month. Bonnie Nadri sums up my feelings about this whole thing:

Nice going, Google; in a scant month you’ve turned me from one of your biggest and most vociferously ardent fans into someone who would rather be app-less and out the money I spent in your Android Market than ever as much as think about doing business with you again[...]

(from Google: Thanks… for nothing.)

I am not quite to that point yet, but it’s coming.

“Identity” is not a scalar quantity. Google is attempting to force it to be so. The attempt is doomed, because it’s impossible, but in the meantime, Google is impairing the quality of its service and eroding the good will the company has accrued in the past decade.

Tuesday, 2011-08-16

Google CEO Eric Schmidt wants to see your papers

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 10:26
The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity...

Well, I have found out why the Google+ name fiasco hasn’t been resolved yet: because it’s been imposed at the behest of the Google CEO, Eric Schmidt. Herr Schmidt (oh yes, I went there) believes that everyone should be tracked online, all the time. So much for “don’t be evil”.

Remember April 2009, when Google refused to require YouTube users to register their government-sanctioned names at the demand of South Korea, because Google said (correctly) that it was an unacceptable a priori restriction on freedom of expression? I do. A pity that Google seems to have forgotten it.

“We have a bias in favor of people’s right to free expression in everything we do. We are driven by a belief that more information generally means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual. We believe that it is important for free expression that people have the right to remain anonymous if they choose.” — Rachel Whetstone, Google Vice President of Global Communications & Public Affairs, April 2009

Ah, the good old days…

Monday, 2011-08-15

Google+ protest image

Filed under: Art,Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 12:47
Google+ protest image

This is a quick and dirty attempt at an avatar to use in protest of the Google+ “government names only” policy. The image to the right links to the full-size image. The image below is the avatar-sized image. I wanted to put the word “PRIVACY” in there somewhere, but it’d be too small to read in the avatar version. Feel free to share, critique, whatever.

Google+ protest image

Friday, 2011-08-12

Google+ punts on Kafkaesque name policy

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 16:28
Google+ fails

The farce that is the Google “government name only” policy continues.

On the one hand, Google continues to maintain its sad devotion to this unenforceable policy, which will serve only to doom Google+ as yet another of their failed experiments in social media (if it hasn’t done so already).

Thursday night, Google’s Saurabh Sharma announced the first significant change in the enforcement policy: a four-day grace period between notice of a violation and suspension, during which users can change their profiles to align them with the policy.

(from Google+ Punts on Kafkaesque Name Policy, Wired)

Could this possible be the beginning of a realization that the “government names only” policy is, aside from any social or privacy concerns, absurdly impractical (which has been my primary objection to this foolish policy all along)?

The biggest problem with Google’s identity policy has always been that’s it’s essentially unenforceable. You can’t police millions of users with algorithms looking for nonstandard characters in names or reviewing user-flagged profiles with enough sensitivity to handle edge cases without devoting an absurd number of employee hours to review every violation.

[...]

This farce has to end eventually.

(from Google+ Punts on Kafkaesque Name Policy, Wired)

We can but hope.

Meanwhile, in South Korea, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security is set to report to ruling party lawmakers about comprehensive measures to protect personal information online, including abolishing the “real-name” registration system they implemented in 2007. That would be the same system that Google refused to implement in 2009, citing it (quite correctly) as an affront to freedom of expression.

Google yesterday decided it would suspend the ability for its Korean users to upload any videos, or post any kind of commentary whatsoever alongside videos. The changes were announced last Thursday on the YouTube Korea blog.

Also that day, the company’s VP for global communications, Rachel Whetstone, posted a lengthy explanation

[...]

“We have a bias in favor of people’s right to free expression in everything we do. We are driven by a belief that more information generally means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual. We believe that it is important for free expression that people have the right to remain anonymous if they choose.”

[...]

“We concluded in the end that it is impossible to provide benefits to internet users while observing this country’s law because the law does not fall in line with Google’s principles.”

(from Google refuses South Korean government’s real-name system, The Hankyoreh)

Meanwhile, I will continue to add links to my original blog post on this topic, Google strikes out again on social networking.

Tuesday, 2011-08-09

Google strikes out again on social networking

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 19:34
Google+ fails

Google keeps trying to get it right when it comes to social networking. Buzz. Wave. Now Google+. And they came so close, so very close this time.

And then whizzed it right down their legs. I haven’t deleted my Google+ account yet, but I won’t be posting anything there any more (other than to press for correction of the “government names only” policy), and I won’t be encouraging my friends and family to use Google+.

This is distressing, and inexplicable. How can Google have gone so utterly, utterly wrong with this. Google appears to be committed to this anti-social, anti-privacy, anti-user policy. I had been inviting friends and family to Google+ and encouraging them to migrate there from Facebook. I won’t be doing that anymore. However, I’m not going back to Facebook. So now what? Just go back to posting exclusively here on my blog, and to hell with these “social networks”? Maybe.

So disappointed, Google. So very disappointed.

Update (2011-08-31): I gave Google plenty of time, but enough is enough.

Update (2011-10-20): Vic Gundotra (not his real name) says that support for pseudonyms on Google+ is coming “in the future”. “In the future”? Why “in the future”? It’s a bad policy. It’s always been a bad policy. It can be changed with a MEMO. So why hasn’t it already been changed?

Update (2012-01-23): Six months later, and Google is still blisteringly clueless.

And now, some fun references (more recent ones are at the top; more interesting ones are bold):

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