March 15, 2012

ArenaNet’s new community building initiative

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 13:56

(Cross-posted from GuildMag:

Martin Kerstein has a post at the ArenaNet blog, discussing their community building plans for Guild Wars 2. The information he emphasizes in the post is:

Let me point out the two biggest changes in the ways we interact with our communities between the original Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 right up front: we will have official forums, and we will not have a traditional fansite program.

The large and growing fan community — including GuildMag and our friends at other Guild Wars 2 fan sites, blogs, and forums and in the social media world — have become too diverse for ArenaNet to support in the same way they did for Guild Wars: we’re “victims” of our own enthusiasm. Instead, ArenaNet will be introducing their own official forums.

As the community round-up writer here at GuildMag let me give a hearty endorsement for that. When I started doing a weekly newsletter of what was new in the Guild Wars 2 world a couple of years ago, I could easily do it in about 10-15 minutes, visiting the usual sites and checking for new material. Now, I gather posts from the official site, from traditional gaming sites, from fan blogs, from forums, from Twitter, from RSS feeds, from our community email, and I still get tips from guild and alliance members to articles I didn’t find using my usual tools. We are a very talkative, inquisitive, and eager horde! And I’m just linking to this stuff … I can’t imagine how the ArenaNet community managers find time to sleep with all that activity to stay on top of and respond to it all.

To achieve our goal, we also need our fans in all the different communities to be proactive. By working together, with you bringing amazing and great community projects to our attention and us highlighting them for the broader community, we will be able to build something great and lasting that will benefit each and every one of you. To help facilitate this, we will give you tools like our wiki and specialized forums that allow our passionate players to freely collaborate and share assets and ideas.

Being proactive doesn’t seem to be a problem for Guild Wars 2 fans! But our community is now so widespread and fragmented that nobody can realistically keep track of everything (believe me, I try).

And now the challenge ArenaNet is hoping to take on with their new approach:

Our ultimate goal is to create an environment that is respectful, welcoming, inclusive and friendly. We want to create a global community where people will feel at home, and an environment that will foster both creativity and collaboration.

The main goal is to be inclusive, not exclusive, to encourage collaboration between communities, and to generate an atmosphere that is helpful, friendly, and above all, respectful. There is an unfortunate tendency in some online communities to encourage behavior that is detrimental to the fun of a lot of players by allowing a rather toxic and unwelcoming atmosphere. We want to set a new standard and make the Guild Wars 2 community a mature, friendly, helpful and inclusive one that is recognized throughout the industry as being so.

While I fully support their goal, it is going to be a major task for them to discourage the griefers and trolls that are far too common in the gaming world. I hope they can achieve this without resorting to heavy handed tactics.

Santorum vows to eliminate online porn

Filed under: Liberty, Media, Politics, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:26

As if he wasn’t already socially conservative enough, Rick Santorum is now promising a moral crusade to clean up the internet:

Internet pornography could conceivably become a thing of the past if Rick Santorum is elected president.

The unapologetic social conservative, currently in second place behind Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination, has promised to crack down on the distribution of pornography if elected.

Santorum says in a statement posted to his website, “The Obama Administration has turned a blind eye to those who wish to preserve our culture from the scourge of pornography and has refused to enforce obscenity laws.”

If elected, he promises to “vigorously” enforce laws that “prohibit distribution of hardcore (obscene) pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops and through the mail or by common carrier.”

The Omnibus Crime bill is really about only one thing: harsher punishments

Filed under: Cancon, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:23

If anyone thought that the Conservative government had a libertarian streak, the Omnibus Crime bill should be enough to disabuse them of the notion:

The Conservative government’s omnibus crime bill passed the Commons on Monday night. No matter the problem, the solution this unimaginative legislation provides is the same: longer sentences.

[. . .]

An important one that seems to have escaped the government’s thinking is whether, absent any other constructive reforms, it is a good thing to increase the powers of the police and prosecutors, and the effect it will have on the administration of justice. The government prefers to talk about criminals, as if everyone picked up by the police is guilty. Never discussed is the impact increased sentences will have on the accused but not convicted, namely, those presumed innocent.

In the daily operation of the criminal justice system, more severe penalties enhance the power the police and prosecutors have over the accused, or those merely suspected. The Americans have gone to such an extreme that the presumption of innocence is becoming only a notion; so severe are the penalties that police and prosecutors are able to bully even the innocent into pleading guilty. The trial in American criminal justice has been usurped by the plea bargain, in which the prosecutors hold most of the cards.

Canada is not there (yet), but it has happened here. In Ontario, the Goudge inquiry into parents falsely convicted of killing their own children established the pattern. Parents were threatened by prosecutors with such severe consequences that they pleaded guilty to crimes they did not commit, in the meagre hope of salvaging something of their lives.

[. . .]

There really isn’t very much “omni” in the omnibus crime bill. It’s about one thing — harsher punishments. It does nothing to alleviate the disgusting pre-trial (pre-trial!) conditions of remand that prevail in too many jails. It does nothing to mitigate the crisis in legal aid. It does nothing to lessen the likelihood of wrongful convictions. As Chief McFee notes, it does nothing for prevention.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will guard the guards themselves? Who watches the watchmen? That’s the ancient maxim. The crime bill shows that those guarding the guards are not on duty.

Abusing the homeless … by giving them money to perform tasks

Filed under: Media, Politics, Technology, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:13

Chris Selley skewers the bien-pensant journalists who got so upset that some homeless people were given an opportunity to earn money:

Now, you might think homeless people, development directors at homeless shelters and anti-homelessness activists would know a thing or two about what homeless people need and want, and you would be correct. You might therefore think this was a good-news story, and you would be wrong. BBH took heavy fire from keyboard warriors who think the program was just ghastly.

Here in Canada, Maclean’s technology correspondent Jesse Brown, perhaps testing out a new hyperbole app, led the pack. He called it a “disgusting marketing ploy,” an “epic milestone in the history of bad taste,” “grotesque” and “degrading — literally.” Yes, literally.

“Yes, [the employee] keeps the money. No, that doesn’t make it okay,” he sniffed, presumably enjoying easy access to many multiples of $50 as he typed.

[. . .]

There ought to be an official term for this phenomenon, wherein well-meaning, bien-pensant carer/sharers freak out on behalf of a group of (homeless, poor, oppressed, disaster-afflicted) people, only to be told by those people to shut their goddamn pie holes. We saw it after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, when people criticized Royal Caribbean cruise lines for continuing to sail to its private beaches in the country, where it employs locals and, for a time, donated the proceeds of its visits to relief efforts. Such bad taste!

Rome Reborn 2.2: A Tour of Imperial Rome in 320CE

Filed under: Europe, History — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 00:07

Rome Reborn 2.2: A Tour of Ancient Rome in 320 CE from Bernard Frischer on Vimeo.

This video presents a fly-through of the latest version of Rome Reborn (2.2). The new version incorporates some new content (including the Pantheon) and for the first time includes animations.

Rome Reborn is an international initiative to create a 3D digital model of the ancient city as it might have appeared in A.D. 320. For more about the project, please see: www.romereborn.virginia.edu.

For more information, contact the project director, Prof. Bernard Frischer at: bernard.d.frischer@gmail.com; cell +1-310-266-0183

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