Presented without comment #21

Your Customer won’t take a bullet for you‘ by Kathy Sierra

“Customer Loyalty” is a figment. Business “Loyalty Programs” are nothing more than rewards-based marketing. And by rewards (aka “incentives”), I mean bribes. That we so easily refer to a customer with a bagel punch card or virtual badge as more “loyal” is an example of just how far we’ve allowed corporations to abuse the language around human relationships.

I’m willing to comment, favorite, star, plus, and potentially even share your content, but if I do it purely for the points/status/rewards, that is not loyalty. In fact, when you “incent” me to “engage” with your site, deep in my heart I understand now that I have sold out. By giving me bribes/incentives, no matter how much you call them “rewards”, you have communicated to some part of me that if I had to be incented to buy/act/engage/whatever, it must have lacked value on its own.

The key to understanding (and ultimately benefitting from) true “customer loyalty” is to recognize and respect that customers–as people– are deeply loyal to themselves and those they love, but not to products and brands. They are loyal to their own values and the (relatively few) people and causes they truly believe in. What looks and feels like loyalty to a product, brand, company, etc. is driven by what that product, service, brand says about who we are and what we value.

The Power of Blogs in Forming New International Fields of Study‘ by Nigel Thrift at WorldWise.

…this chapter in intellectual history shows how a new variant of communication can have formative effects, and in fascinating ways. As a result of it and similar episodes in other fields, I am now quite sure that archiving the Internet is a worthwhile activity for intellectual historians of the future because, when the problem is reasonably well-specified, blogs can show communities worrying away at the issues in all but real time.

Tape Delay‘ by Zach Hiwiller at Zach

Damn do I feel bad for “Past Zack”. His tweets really do feel like they are coming from a different person. The Twitshift application is a lot different than just reading your old blog or diary. Since it happens in realtime alongside the tweets of real people, it really does feel like you are watching an external real person. Except you have this burden because you know how his story will go before he does. I want to message him and tell him to hang in there, that everything gets better really soon. But I can’t and it breaks my heart.

Presented without comment #20

Better Than Renting Out A Windowless Room: The Blessed Distraction Of Technology‘ by Colson Whitehead at Publishers Weekly.

Now, I open Twitter and see that I am not alone. I am part of a vast and wretched assembly of freaks who are not fit for decent work and thus must write, or wither. I am fortified by their failures, and I hope they take succor from mine. Some of those out there are established, some are just starting out. I don’t give a whit about your accomplishments—all I care about is your facility for describing the fine grain of your work-related suffering, in less than 140 characters, preferably 100, so I have room to add a footnote.

Media Philosophy of Permanent Beta‘ by Glen Fuller at Event Mechanics.

We shouldn’t teach journalism students how to use a CMS, but how a CMS is used in different ways. They should be familiar with a range of content management systems and how these different systems afford different ways of representing and producing news, engaging with the audience and so on. Why? They will eventually use a CMS that hasn’t been invented yet, so they need to develop skills for developing best practice to incorporate the ‘new’. Or, better, they will assist the media enterprise where they work (or, better, own (or, even better, have created)) in creating a CMS that feaures the specific production and publishing affordances that enables them to make the news as useful as possible for the audience represented by the area of interest they are servicing.

Brutal Simplifiers‘ part 2 of a talk by Richard Sennett on Google Wave, linear-narrative thinking, etc, etc. at  Haus der Kulturen der Welt, in March 2011.

Rather than being difficult to use, Google wave was too primitive in use…

Presented without comment #19

Marriane Bertrand quoted in ‘Rightist Extremism: My Right To Say Abhorrent Things‘ at The Economist.

Perhaps the most devastating problem with subjective [survey] questions, however, is the possibility that attitudes may not “exist” in a coherent form. A first indication of such problems is that measured attitudes are quite unstable over time. For example, in two surveys spaced a few months apart, the same subjects were asked about their views on government spending. Amazingly, 55% of the subjects reported different answers. Such low correlations at high frequencies are quite representative.

Part of the problem comes from respondents’ reluctance to admit lack of an attitude. Simply because the surveyor is asking the question, respondents believe that they should have an opinion about it. For example, researchers have shown that large minorities would respond to questions about obscure or even fictitious issues, such as providing opinions on countries that don’t exist.

Why did Rachel Webster have to die?‘ by Martin Aggett at F.O.R.C.E.

Another potential contributer to Rachael’s fate might have been the controversy surrounding the video game blogger community not realizing she was fictional.  I don’t think it was ever Rachael’s intention to hide her true fictional nature.  It’s just not something us fictionals are comfortable talking about until we get to know you better.  If you’re Catholic or a Democrat or not a natural blonde you’re not compelled to blurt out those details at the beginning of every conversation or put a note at the bottom of every email you send.  The same can be said for those of us who are very much alive, but not “living” in the strictest sense of the word.  In Rachael’s case, if her creators were upset enough to kill her over the initial problems with the video game blogger community they would have taken her out much sooner.

Mute’s 100% cut by ACE – a personal consideration of Mute’s defunding‘ by Pauline van Mourik Broekman at MetaMute.Org.

We regard the process of being placed in competition with other arts organisations as poisonous and distracting: while we will privately question the sizeable uplifts granted to large, established organisations (which, in the greater scheme of things, need further funding about as urgently as Paris Hilton needs another handbag), in the end we recognise it as a familiar part of the divide-and-rule principle that has long marked the operations of support agencies like ACE, where a chronic reliance on the parent body for the basic apparatus of organisational reproduction nurtures fear among the ‘dependents’ – slowly but surely stripping them of all sense they can do anything for themselves, let alone together… The spectacle of slavish gratitude for the spoils of public funds, in which even organisations cut or killed felt compelled to reiterate the basic tenets of ACE’s funding paradigm (excellence, innovation, global leadership and creativity), were truly depressing in this regard – not one voice standing out for offering a different vision or lexicon of practice.


Presented without comment #18

Occasional dispatches from the Republic of Anhedonia: Part 1‘ – Colson Whitehead on the World Series of Poker, at Grantland.

I have a good poker face because I am half-dead inside. My particular combo of slack features, negligible affect, and soulless gaze had helped my game ever since I started playing 20 years ago, when I was ignorant of pot odds and M-Theory and three-betting, and it gave me a boost as I collected my trove of lore, game by game, hand by hand. It had not helped me human relationships-wise over the years, but surely I am not alone here — anyone whose peculiar mix of genetic material and formative experiences had resulted in a near-expressionless mask could relate. Nature giveth, taketh, etc. You make the best of the hand you’re dealt.

Occasional dispatches from the Republic of Anhedonia: Part 2‘ – Colson Whitehead on the World Series of Poker, at Grantland.

There it was again. For years and years, people had informed me I had a good poker face, when I told them I was going to play at a friend’s on Friday night, or ran into them on the subway while carrying my suitcase of monogrammed chips, which was a gift from a college buddy after I was a groomsman in his wedding: “I bet you have a good poker face.” They don’t know a set of trips from a royal flush, but they know this fact. What they’re really saying is, you are a soulless monster whose fright mask is incapable of capturing normal human expressions. You are a throwback to a Neanderthal state of uncomplicated emotions, or a harbinger of our cold, passionless future, but either way, I don’t know what’s going on in your head.

Perhaps I am projecting.

If your website is full of Assholes, It’s your fault‘ by Anil Dash at

How many times have you seen a website say “We’re not responsible for the content of our comments.”? I know that when you webmasters put that up on your sites, you’re trying to address your legal obligation. Well, let me tell you about your moral obligation: Hell yes, you are responsible. You absolutely are. When people are saying ruinously cruel things about each other, and you’re the person who made it possible, it’s 100 percent your fault. If you aren’t willing to be a grown-up about that, then that’s okay, but you’re not ready to have a web business. Businesses that run cruise ships have to buy life preservers. Companies that sell alcohol have to keep it away from kids. And people who make communities on the web have to moderate them.

Presented without comment #17

Journalism: The Videogame Redux, Part 7‘ by Leigh Alexander at Insert Credit.

I wonder if other fields labor under the same constant self-reflexive laments as do video games press. It’s always seemed a little absurd to me, sometimes feeling as if there were more people willing to question my fitness and that of my colleagues to do our work – again, we write about video games — than would apply that scrutiny to their local government representatives or their physicians.

Electronic Empire Expo: The First World Problem of E3‘ by Kris Ligman at Dire Critic.

E3 is a first world problem. Yet it reflects some of the most far-reaching global issues our high tech society is able to inflict on the rest of the Earth. For all the self-gratifying expense of E3, the light and sound shows, the slick expensive hardware developed against a backdrop of Foxconn factory fires, the booth babes are just a tiny symptom of this whole exploitative scene. The fact that expo organizers have gone back to this carnival format after their abortive attempt a few years back to downsize and sober up the event signals all we need to know about industry priorities…

Call of Dupe-y‘ by Chris Plante, at The Daily.

Here’s how Activision plans to not only shut down, but take it over: A complaint like this pertains to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ domain-name dispute resolution policy. To win control of the URL, Activision must prove three things: The domain name is confusingly similar to a trademark they possess; the registrant has no rights or interest in the domain name; and the registrant’s intended use of the domain is one of “bad faith.”

The dispute is in Activision’s favor. If the panel rules on the side of the publisher, the registrant must surrender — without the option to appeal. The registrant’s return to court would spell a pricey lawsuit and a scrimmage with Activision’s squad of lawyers.

Presented without comment #16

On the floor laughing: traders are having a new kind of fun‘ by James Somers at The Atlantic.

The more I watch, the more I think I understand the peculiar grip this place has on him — and, for that matter, the peculiar grip it seems to have on me. From the minute I walked in here I’ve been sort of dazzled. I’ve felt almost exactly like I did when I was first invited as a nine or ten year-old into the cockpit of a commercial airliner. There is just something undeniably cool and complicated and a little bit spectacular about both places, each in its own way the frenetic nexus of an intricate machine. It looks fun, basically — in the one case because you get to fly a plane, and in the other because people take you seriously and pay you lots of money and yet what you do all day is qualitatively equivalent to playing a video game.

The world needs a new Marx, but it keeps creating Malcolm Gladwells‘ by John Harris at The Guardian.

Every week, in fact, brings another lecture or book about the political uses of neuroscience, or what Twitter is doing to human consciousness – everything, it seems, apart from what’s actually most important. The world arguably needs a new Marx, but it keeps creating Malcolm Gladwells, pirouhetting around their flipcharts and ignoring the real problems.

Soylent Media‘ by Lawson Fletcher at Sounds of Ruin.

@jeanburgess @ABillionSuns [Social Media] should all have the same tagline: ‘Made Out of People’. #soylentgreen

Which is devastating insofar as it manages to crystallise a whole (now consolidated) research paradigm that at least since Tzinia Terranova in 2000 has identified the factory-like conditions of new media cultures, which suck the free labour – energies, identities, bank accounts and data – out of the prosuming masses in order to turn massive profits in false democratic spaces of ‘interaction’, or as it might be rendered now, ‘conversation’.

Presented without comment #15

Fear and Loading in Game Journalism‘ by Christian McCrea at The Escapist (circa 2007).

Chuck Klosterman’s notorious piece for Esquire wants to know where gaming’s Lester Bangs is hiding, and many people have cited the piece for its assertion that most game writing is stuck describing technology. In response, some other manifestos and declarations bemoan the New Games Journalists for not describing technology enough. However, it is right at the end of Klosterman’s piece that he hits the nail on the head: “If nobody ever thinks about these games in a manner that’s human and metaphorical and contextual, they’ll all become strictly commodities, and then they’ll all become boring. They’ll only be games. … This generation’s single most meaningful artistic idiom will be – ultimately – meaningless.”

When game writing is at its best, it puts play before the game. Gaming doesn’t need a Lester Bangs. It doesn’t need a Hunter S. Thompson. It needs anybody who has the inclination to make simple, human connections between technology and human truth.

A planet without Square-Enix‘ by Tim Rogers at Kotaku.

In case you’re looking to me for an explanation of what happened, here it is: a man had a brand new video game in his hands, still shrink-wrapped and in a double-taped plastic bag, and he already didn’t care about it anymore. He was already thinking about something else — about The Next Big Thing, which was more or less The Thing That Hooked Him All Those Years Ago, Only Shinier. This is the type of human being corporations like Square-Enix are manufacturing.

digital authorship, computers and writing at #cwcon‘ by Alex Reid at Alex Reid dot net

What you could see really happening at C&W was an explosion of Twitter. Twitter was certainly a presence last year, but this year it seemed like there were multiple people tweeting nearly every panel. People chimed in from a distance. Conversations cross-polinated across panels. What we can see with Twitter at C&W is the possibility for highly productive, real-time digital collaboration. Of course the final product won’t be on Twitter, but Twitter can provide a kind of rhetorical lubricant.

Meanwhile if 10 of us write a book together, maybe it sells 5-10,000 copies rather than each us writing one that sells a couple hundred. Not as an essay collection of course, because those don’t sell, but as a collective author, some kind of institute or think tank perhaps. I’m not sure. What I am sure of though is that we need a new model of scholarly work and dissemination.

It thinks- Some Reflections on Blogging‘ by Levi Bryant at Larval Subjects.

The mediums we use are not mere props or tools that we deploy for ends that we already possessed or intended on our own, but rather change us. For this reason, it is better to say it thinks rather than I think. This can be dimly glimpsed in the case of blogging or of comment sections on blogs. It is not that I share my thoughts, and then that others share their thoughts. To be sure, something like that is, of course, going on. But there is also a much more diffuse, distributed mind at work on a blog and across blogs. The others that speak and participate are a part of the thinking. The mind is not so much something in each of these speakers, but rather is that assemblage of participants.

Presented without comment #14

Where The Hell Am I? Some Remarks on the History of SR and OOO‘ by Levi Bryant at LarvalSubjects.

I think, even where it doesn’t know it, OOO and SR are responding to these ontological transformations where we’re no longer quite sure where we are, what we are, and what’s calling the shots. On the one hand, there’s the looming ecological catastrophe hovering over our collective heads that has the effect of diminishing attention to the signifier, ideology, meaning, and representation and of drawing attention to cane toads, weather events, bees, farming techniques, lawn, energy production, etc. On the other hand, there are all these new strange technologies that we are increasingly melded with in ways that aren’t entirely within our control. These things call forth, beg, plead for a non-correlationist ontology that overcomes the narcissism of humans wishing to treat all of being as externalized spirit. This, I think, is part of why OOO/SR came into being


Any particular atemporal trend will end up named, stamped into a commodity, and sold, until stretched into a thin veneer of shiny, zombified goo. But that’s okay, because we already have a friend that we met in a comment thread, that can get us that real shit. The Real Shit, because it is the stuff we want and nothing else, and because we’re getting it from the source that we know and trust. That is the network, and that is atemporality. All real shit. No authenticity.

Social Media is Ruining Everything‘ by Leigh Alexander at Thought Catalog.

All people are defined by the approval, response and input of others in their society, but thanks to social media, individuals can beg to be defined by the digital screams of strangers, of nobodies. They do; they want to. Developing an ‘internet presence’ is part of teenage self-actualization and independence-assertion now. It’s fucked.

Presented without comment #13

Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education‘ by William Deresiewicz at The

What we have in academia, in other words, is a microcosm of the American economy as a whole: a self-enriching aristocracy, a swelling and increasingly immiserated proletariat, and a shrinking middle class. The same devil’s bargain stabilizes the system: the middle, or at least the upper middle, the tenured professoriate, is allowed to retain its prerogatives—its comfortable compensation packages, its workplace autonomy and its job security—in return for acquiescing to the exploitation of the bottom by the top, and indirectly, the betrayal of the future of the entire enterprise.

Amateur vs Indie‘ by Andrew Doull at Game Set Watch, circa 2008.

The gaming press is conflating two trends in game development into a single category that they label the Independent Game. The first is commercial oriented, casual, independently produced games by people attempting to make a living from writing and designing games without committing to a publisher. These I’m happy to call Indie Games, and they operate much in the same way that the independent labels in the music industry, or independent studios in Hollywood.

The second is subversive, modded, copycat, patched together from pre-built parts, non-commercial or anti-commercial. Amateur game development is done by people who are scratching an itch, who can’t not write computer games, who want to see their ideas in pixel form ahead of trying to generate a return.

On Object Orientation: An Antapologia for Brian Moriarty‘ by Abe Stein at MIT’s GAMBIT lab.

Designers have grown attached to the perception that they are creators of artifacts. In truth the act of game design is more like composing a musical score or choreographing a dance; the “object” of the creation is not fully realized until it is engaged through performance.

Presented without comment #12

How the Internet Gets Inside Us‘ by Adam Gopnik at The New Yorker.

…if you stretch out the time scale enough, and are sufficiently casual about causes, you can give the printing press credit for anything you like. But all the media of modern consciousness—from the printing press to radio and the movies—were used just as readily by authoritarian reactionaries, and then by modern totalitarians, to reduce liberty and enforce conformity as they ever were by libertarians to expand it. As Andrew Pettegree shows in his fine new study, “The Book in the Renaissance,” the mainstay of the printing revolution in seventeenth-century Europe was not dissident pamphlets but royal edicts, printed by the thousand: almost all the new media of that day were working, in essence, for

Corporate Rule of Cyberspace‘ by Slavoj Žižek at

…whether it be Apple or Microsoft, global access is increasingly grounded in the virtually monopolistic privatization of the cloud which provides this access. The more an individual user is given access to universal public space, the more that space is privatized.

…Partisans of openness like to criticize China for its attempt to control internet access — but are we not all becoming involved in something comparable, insofar as our “cloud” functions in a way not dissimilar to the Chinese state?

Fool Me Once‘ by Agent Orange at

If there is any organization on the planet with a real understanding of the value of the e-book market it is Amazon and the fact that they are honing in fast on publishers’ territory is the clearest possible indicator there could possibly be of the viability and potential buoyancy of the publishing business.

The conglomerates dog in the manger approach to the issue of e-books is doing them no favours. The day is fast approaching when a truly major international author will realize they are going to be greatly better rewarded by being published by Amazon because they will offer them a sensible share of the revenues they generate.