Flight Papers

feminism and creativity, art, madness, and play

Archive for the ‘tech’ Category


Monday, March 31st, 2008

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Damn the Facebook app list is depressing.

A few bumper sticker / button / anarchy patch programs, which are kindof meh, but at least cute. A whooole bunch of games where the whole point is to bite / claw / jab / zombify / whatever as many of your friends as possible, so they can get to play the game, too! Which involves… biting, clawing, jabbing, or zombifying as many of their friends as possible. Which has no effect other than to make the userbase grow to omg and make the “developers” a whole bunch of ad money.

Also, there are ten billion quizzes. With a similar parasitic, advertising-driven model.

It’s to Facebook’s credit that they’ve managed to keep this explosion of stupid crap from making browsing Facebook a completely intolerable experience. But seriously. Scrabulous and Chess and, obviously, my favorite Meaningless Black Square, are amongst the best apps on there. And they’re just straight-up ports of tabletop games.

It’s not exactly I expect some great revelation from Facebook apps. I expect that many of them will be things that you could do outside of Facebook, but it’s a bit easier to do on Facebook. Scrabble and other long turn-based games are one nice example; forums would be another. It’s nice to have these apps all in one space, where they’re easy to share with your friends without all the hassle of getting a new account somewhere. They aren’t mindblowing, but they’re still pretty cool.

That being said, having easy access to a relatively complete social graph is fairly novel, and I think there’s quite a bit of unexplored space there. I think the most promising developments are more creative and community oriented. Facebook’s groups are a start, but we may want more or less formalized versions, with more or fewer modes of expression available. I know there are probably some apps exploring this, but they’re so fundamentally buried that it’s depressing. I don’t know if there’s actually any there there, and I don’t know exactly where this line of development leads, but I think it’s at least interesting.

More interesting, at any rate, than finding out which Harry Potter slash pairing ARE YOU?!.


The new fireside.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

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In fact, while conventional wisdom says that users would love to watch downloaded video content on the television set, Macrovision found that only 10 percent of those surveyed said that they have any desire to do so.’ —ars

Funny story.

A couple of days ago, some friends and I were lying in bed talking about Obama’s speech on race relations, and it came up that only one of us had actually seen it. So, seeing as we had two laptops in the bed with us, we opened up YouTube and watched it.

Now, YouTube isn’t particularly good for this. For one thing, its design is pretty distracting, and it doesn’t have a “hit the lights” button. For another, videos are cut to ten minutes, so the speech was broken into four parts. And it doesn’t have a playlist feature, so we couldn’t just queue them all up.

None of this mattered.

Silently clicking through the clips felt like this lovely confluence of then and yet-to-come. We were lying under blankets, gathered around a glowing laptop listening to a fireside chat on YouTube.

The tenor of the speech built the mood, but the way we obtained, watched, and interacted with it was much more established than that. This is how we channel surf; this is how we interact with media. When we’re watching music videos (say) we’ll be passing the keyboard or laptop around, pulling up different artists and concerts or whatever. The social protocol for this sort of thing is well-established: we are all watching, and we are all in control, and there is zero room for a TV set in that equation.

Point of interest: there were two laptops within three feet of us that night. There are no TVs in her house.

And sure, sometimes we’ll download movies or shows that we plan on watching, turn the lights down, and project them on the wall. But those instances are much rarer, and the setup time required means that there isn’t any significant issue with just plugging a laptop or computer into the TV and futzing with it for a few minutes. And as often as not, we’ll just turn a convenient monitor around, or bring a laptop onto the bed, and watch stuff that way.