Friday, August 26, 2005

Urgent *haha*

Technology is amazing! :)
Have a nice weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Week 7 Seminar: Machinima: From Game Platforms to Animation Studio

Hi everyone! This week we are looking at Machinima, a new and evolving form of filmmaking.

Machinima (Muh-sheen-eh-mah) artists take the raw materials provided within interactive games and manipulate them in new ways, creating a unique combination of game play, animation, and real world cinematic techniques. By filming within live game space, machinima side-steps the time consuming rendering of each keyframe which occurrs in traditional animation, and costs drastically less than real world filmmaking.

By using game characters as actors, manipulating their behaviours and reccording voiceovers, machinima artists can give their 3D worlds a depth and humanity beyond the usual shoot-em-up mentality of interactive gaming. A quick introduction to the concept of machinima can be found at's FAQ page:

The readings this week are:

The Xbox Auteurs -

Machinima & the Filmmaker's Virtual Immersion -

The Machinima Standard - (This reading is a tad long... but hang on, because it's quite specific and I hope it will give a bit of an insight into the technical challenges involved in creating machinima.)

One Word for you Hollywood: Machinima - (Nice and short...:)

Some questions to consider:
  • Is this the beginning of the end for the traditional film industry? Or is machinima a fad which will fade after prolonged exposure? (Like reality TV, or Lycra bodysuits)
  • What relationship might we predict between game developers, machinima artists and the film industry in the future? Will they be partners or competitors?
  • If you were a machinima artist, what would you like to explore in terms of genre, different games and concepts? Would you go for hard hitting political drama or light entertainment? Why?
  • How might machinima operate on a deeper level, as self reflexive tool to explore human interactions and community within the game space?

For a great example of a very new machinima series begun just last month, go to: They have taken the talk show format and put it in real time game space with hilarious results! (Makes you wonder where the future of Jerry Springer may be!)

Downloading a few clips from could also be fun... although be warned downloading time can be veeeery slow at busy times.

Friday, August 19, 2005

In respect to wiki

If anyone is colourblind, or has finds it hard to read my last post in purple/pink, please inform me and I shall adjust it.

Also, I am aware there are a lot of links, so if anyone has problems with them, or finding the information, please contact me and I will be glad to help.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Week 6 Seminar: Wikis - The Wikipedia, Collective Intelligence and Communal Authorship

This week, we are looking at the wonderful world of Wiki! What, I hear you ask is a Wiki?

“A wiki is a web application that allows users to add content, as on an Internet forum, but also allows anyone to edit the content.”

And, I hear you ask, where did you find that definition? The answer to that question would be from Wikipedia, the world famous online encycolpedia, which has over 600,000 entries so far, not to mention its many translations. Wikipedia is perhaps one of the most famous examples of the use of ‘wiki’s’ and has amassed a collection of knowledge through the collaborative work of, basically, anybody on the web. Wikipedia stands in wonderful testament of the “Free Culture” movement, which you may recall from previous readings including Lessig. Its success has been documented by a number of media articles, however some still raise issues of concern over the ‘freely edited’ entries and their accuracry (due to pranks or internet graffiti). Nevertheless, even Microsoft is interested in adding the Wiki editing ability to its famous encylopedia ‘Encarta’.

Below is a list of readings, none of which are excessively long, but all offer some insights into the wonderful world of ‘wiki’ and its implications for free culture.

[X] Thomas Goetz, Wired, “Open Source Everywhere”, Issue 11.11, November 2003 (Print view)

[X] Daniel.H.Pink, Wired, “The Book Stops Here”, Issue 13.03, March 2005 (Please be aware there are four pages to navigate through)

[X] Olga Kharif, Business Week Online, “Wikimania and The Free Culture Movement”, August 2005

These articles should give you some good background knowledge on Wikipedia and Open Source. Some things you might like to consider while reading are:

1) What are the potentials of open source platforms such as Wikipedia? How does it compare to more traditional works such as Britannica?

2) How does Wikipedia and Open Source fit into the notion of ‘Fee Culture’ and how may we consider Open Source in relation to such things as Copyright Law?

3) How serious are the potential concerns over accuracy and misuse of Wikipedia and other Open Source software? What steps do you think could be taken to overcome these issues?

In relation to this third question you might like to take a quick look at the following article which I was originally going to include:

[X] “Webs Wikipedia to Tighten Editorial Rules”- Yahoo News –Courtesy of Reuters, August 2005.

And its response from the founder, Jimmy Wales, who remarks on the complete inaccuracy of the claims here on Lessig’s Blog:

[X] “Media Madness”, Lawrence Lessig’s Blog, August 6th 2005 Post

Furthermore, in specific relation to Wikipedia itself, you may want to take a look at the following:

[X] Wikipedia itself (Please take note of the different languages available, and Wiki’s sister projects at the bottom of the frontpage).

[X] An example article on Weblogs and how they are defined…..please take a look at the Talk/Discussion Tabs on the page, and see how the individual authors have debated over the definiton. Also look at such things as the History of each article and notice how Wikipedia keeps track of all the changes that are made.

[X] Lessig’s Wiki! Yes that’s right, Lessig has his Wiki edition of CODE AND OTHER LAWS OF CYBERSPACE, which can be edited and updated, obviously with some overseeing by Lessig himself.

[X] You may also like to consider Wikipedia’s potential for reporting on current events such as the “London Bombings”.

Feel free to have a look around Wikipedia and maybe pick out any article that interests you and bring it in for possible discussion. I suggest some funny articles to look at as a starting point on Wikis “Unusual Articles Page”.

And finally, why not have a look at the recent scandal Tama posted about on “Ponderance: "Wikipedia gets Punk'd".

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Critical Evaluation Exercise

Critically evaluate one blog or podcast in terms of its position, contribution and relation to participatory culture and digital communication.

WORD LIMIT: 1500 Words.
VALUE: 20% of your overall mark for the course.
DUE IN PRINT: Before 5pm, Thursday 15th September, to be submitted with a cover sheet to the English, Communication & Cultural Studies Office.
DUE ONLINE: Before 9am, Friday 16th September, to be posted to the course blog.

(NB: You must submit in both formats for your Critical Evaluation to be marked).

Below are a list of suggested blogs and podcasts you can choose to evaluate. You may choose your own blog or podcast to evaluate if discussed with and cleared by Tama Leaver before Wednesday, 7th September.

Possible Blogs:
[X] Lessig Blog (Lawrence Lessig & Occasional Visitor's Blog):
[X] New Media Musings (JD Lasica's Blog):
[X] Creative Commons Blog:
[X] Dan Gillmor's Blog:
[X] Darknet Blog:
[X] Smart Mobs (Howard Rheingold et al's Blog):

Possible Podcasts:
[X] The Daily Source Code (Adam Curry's Podcast):
[X] The Gillmor Gang:
[X] The Signal (Serenity Fan Community Podcast):
[X] The Gadget Show (Richard Giles' Podcast):

A Few Hints'n'Tips:
[X] For the larger blogs and podcasts you are not expected to read everything in the blog or listen to all the podcasts. Rather, listen to or read enough to get a good sense of the tone, position and politics of the blog or podcast. Why is it being made? Who's writing/recording it? What is their aim? How does this relate to participatory culture? How is this instance of digital communication both similar to and different to previous media (especially print media or radio)?
[X] Normal citation and plagiarism rules apply. You must cite all sources clearly, not just give URLs. (If citing blogs, be sure to use the specific links to each blog post; the overall link to the blog is not sufficient.) If you are in any way unclear about citation or plagiarism, please see Tama before you submit your assignment!
[X] Remember, this is a scholarly evaluation at Honours Level. Secondary material to support your argument is absolutely necessary.
[X] When posting your Critical Evaluation Exercise to the course blog, please convert footnotes and URLs to live hyperlinks (eg don't just have the text, but rather use the link tool in Blogger to make sure it's a clickable link such as


1.Your written work should be submitted to the ECCS Office with a cover-sheet attached. Please do NOT submit written work directly to your tutor. (If you do, there may be no official record that the work was ever submitted.)
2. In order to satisfy course requirements, students must submit work by the due date. Unless an extension of the due date has been granted, late assignments will incur a penalty of 2 marks per working day. (Extension requests should be made in writing to your tutor, and will normally require a medical certificate.) A grade of 'NM' will be recorded if no assignment is submitted. No work will be accepted after the end of the examination period (without a formal deferral from the Academic Student Advisor).
3. It is essential to KEEP A COPY of your work. In the case of loss of an assignment, notes or an earlier draft cannot be accepted as substitutes.
4. Please do NOT write on both sides of the paper.
5. Whether your work is typed or hand-written, it should be DOUBLE-SPACED. (For handwritten work, this means that you write on every second line.)
6. Please leave a WIDE MARGIN in case the marker needs to offer comments and annotations.
7. PLAGIARISM Please be aware that the work you submit must be your own work with no unacknowledged debt to some other writer or source. To pass off written work as your own, whether you have copied it from someone else or from somewhere else (be it a published writer, another person, a TV program, a library anthology, or whatever) is to deprive yourself of the real benefits of this course and to be guilty of plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious offence! University policy is that plagiarism, the unacknowledged quotation of material from other people's work, is a ground for failure. Any work that contains ideas or phrases taken from other works without acknowledgement - PLAGIARISM - will be failed, given the grade of 0 and your name placed on the Faculty's Plagiarism Register. This includes direct quotations, when a section of one text is transposed into another without any changes, and indirect paraphrasing, when the main ideas and arguments of someone else's work are used. If you take notes from other sources (critical articles, background works, etc) you must quote carefully and accurately, and acknowledge the quotation. Even if you paraphrase, you must still acknowledge that you are paraphrasing. This is very important!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

'No silicon heaven? But where do all the calculators go?'

Hey there, here is my review of the citizen journalism seminar. Sorry if it appears in a strange place in the/(on the?) blog, I always start writing it at work on wednesday afternoon and don't finish it til later!

Once again the power of bloggers and other netusers was brought home to me (see, I am learning!) in Tama's tale of the American politician. 'Big media' reported the racist comment the politician made but bloggers took it and made it an issue that demanded more than the casual attention it was originally given. By generating the kind of heated online discussion that it did, the issue was thrust back into the 'big media' spotlight. It was a cycle where 'big media' broke the news and commented on its' racism but it was bloggers who increased the event's significance. This shift in emphasis meant that the politician's actions were re-examined, brought to the attention of a wider audience and he was held accountable for his actions.

The other thing that struck me about today's seminar was the way the information produced by citizen journalists and professionals could be used by historians (sorry, it was one of my majors!) as a well preserved and massive set of primary and secondary resources documenting the contrasting experiences of different events. Although this seems ridiculously obvious, it just really struck me that citizen journalism, with its' often unabashed subjectivity and emphasis on personal experience, really seemed to mirror the primary resources that social historians use, such as letters or diaries. Professional journalism in contrast, also functions as being a product of the context within which it was produced and having the same prejudices, values etc. but it is more bound up with the struggle for objectivity and ethical reporting. I guess what I'm trying to say in this meandering little tangent is that we can view 'big media' (with appropriate suspicion) as being like the source of information that attempts to act as a factual touchstone for a wide audience or at least a point of access for finding the dominant (but by no means the only or most appropriate) interpretation of a world event etc. Prof. journalism attempts to provide a framework through which to understand something, while online citizen journalism seems to express those understandings, sometimes challenging or dismissing the big media framework. This is a ridiculously meandering thing, i probably could have said all of that in one sentence and I'm sorry you had to read all that drivel.

I thought today's discussion was a really interesting/scary/hopeful reflection on what happens to our contributions once we put them out there into blogs, live journals or web pages etc. As the web appears to be this great, infinite realm it's scary to imagine that any scrap of information that we dare to throw out there could come back to haunt or discredit us.

Also, the title of this blog entry is a quote from one of my favourite TV shows. It is a British sci-fi comedy. If anyone can tell me the name of the show I'll give them a chocolate frog. I thought it (okay, okay rather tenuously) tied in with our discussion about where all the shreds of ourselves go once we put them out into/(onto?) the web....

The ebay song

Hi everyone,

just a little present from me to you... check this out

Not sure what the copywrite army thinks of this... but I reckon it's great.

Week 5 Seminar: The Politics of Play


The ever increasing popularity of gaming has become a mainstream market and a driving force in the entertainment industry. In this week's seminar, we are looking at the political messages that are embedded in today’s games; and what implications and influences do they bring onto the gamers. Of course such issues are not new; in fact existed since the dawn of gaming. However with the dramatic improvement in technology resulting in improved realisms and storylines, such political messages become even more transparent and evident.

The readings required for this seminar are as below:

[X] McClellan Jim, 'videogames with a political message' , Hydrapoetics, 13, 5, 2004 [If this page doesn't display properly in Firefox, Mozilla or Safari, try using Internet Explorer.)

[X] Kennedy.W Helen, 'Lara Croft: Feminist Icon or Cyberbimbo?', Game Studies, vol.2, issue.2, December 2002

[X] 'Chasing The Dream',, 4, 8, 2005

[X] Castronova Edward, 'On Virtual Economies', Game Studies, vol.3, issue.2, December 2003

Here are examples of some flash political games that you might like to try out ;)

As you do the readings, it will be helpful to consider some of these questions (that we can discuss about in the seminar)

[X] How different and the extents of the impacts of gaming on political messages compared to other forms such as radio and television?

[X] Are games built on the foundation of the real world (such as gender, economy) or rather 'the other way around'? If so, why?

[X] What are the potentials (be it good or bad) of gaming in propagating political messages in the near future?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Week 4 Seminar: Citizen Journalism

This week's texts (in the broadest sense of the word) are:

[X] Dan Gilmor, 'Introduction', 'From Tom Paine to Blogs and Beyond', 'The Read-Write Web', 'The Empires Strike Back' and 'Making Our Own News' from We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People. Sebastopol: O'Reilly Media, 2004, pp. ix-xviii, 1-43 & 209-246.

[X] From my blog Ponderance, 'The Mediascape & The London Bombings' (try and read most of the articles linked to in the post, but don't worry too much about looking at the Wikipedia and WikiNews since we'll return to those in a couple of weeks).

[X] John Hockenberry, 'The Blogs of War', Wired, 13, 8, August 2005.

[X] Watch the 8 minute Flash presentation EPIC 2014 which traces participatory media history from the past all the way to a possible 2014.

This week we're looking more closely at the growing phenomenon of citizen journalism, which basically is built on the idea that blogs, wikis and other tools of the digital age allows anyone to participate in the creation of media and, more specifically, journalism. Of course, the claim that anyone with a blog can become a citizen journalist is fraught with trouble since journalists are bound by years of training and codes of ethics while a non-professional reporter would have none of these restrictions. Nevertheless, the cynicism about the accuracy and balance of 'big media' has led to a lot of disillusionment with the mainstream newsmedia, and opened the door for citizen journalism as an important facet of participatory culture. Dan Gilmor actually comes from a professional journalistic background, but is one of the loudest and clearest proponents of citizen journalism, and his book which you're reading sections from is one of the clearest manifestos for this new style of participatory media. While there have been a number of flashpoints where the impact of citizen journalism has been evident, the recent London Bombings illustrated the impact of everyday citizens reporting their news when everyone from personal blogs to the BBC was carrying news and video footage from Londoners who shot pictures with mobile phones and blogged their experiences within minutes of the explosions. The post from my blog lists some of the more interesting reporting (and reactions to it) surrounding the London explosions, so please read as many of the linked articles as possible (they're all pretty short!). John Hockenberry's article looks at the way bloggers in the Iraq military are changing the way the media reporting occurs from within the military. Finally, the flash presentation EPIC 2014 traces a line from current trends in participatory media looking to the future and some of the problems that may occur if citizen media is accepted without a lot of thought being put into its place in our mediascape.

A few questions to start thinking about as you're reading:
[1] What impact has citizen journalism had thus far? Does that influence look likely to expand or decrease in the future?
[2] What reasons have led to the rise of citizen journalism (yes, the increase in technological ease is one, but look for others, too)?
[3] How worried should we be about journalistic style reporting coming from non-professionals? Are there ethical worries or issues about accuracy and accountability? How reliable to you find citizen journalism?

It's someones Birthday!

Admittedly, this is unrelated to any official academic use of this blog, but in the aim of trying to create a SENSE OF VIRTUAL COMMUNITY on here, lets all wish


A Happy Birthday! :)

PS and yes, my official educational post will be up soon.
Cheers All

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Some interesting things in terms of copyright...

Tama, I couldn't help but notice two posts on your blog that have direct relation to the topics we shall be discussing tomorrow in our seminar about copyright, creativity, fair use etc.

Your RIAA vs Machinima post and your post on File Sharer's buying more music online highlight some of the important points Lessig made throughout his articles and lectures.
Especially the distinction he makes between the different types of 'so called pirates' and questioning the real damage done to the recording industry, the figure he quoted was something to do with 5% that couldn't even be directly contributed to file sharing.

The RIAA vs Machinima definately highlights the notion of the difference between protecting the artists copyright and intellectual property, and simply destroying people's right to fair use!

Anyway, maybe we could bring these two posts up as possible recent events for discussion over some of the material we have read?