Friday, December 18, 2009

Frontline Episode on Transmedia

This episode of Frontline that came out a couple of years ago talks about a lot of the trends in advertising and the usage of information. It's not specifically about Transmedia, but it is.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Transmedia and properties for young people

As I learn more about Twilight during the release of New Moon as my wife reads them for some market research so that she can learn what all the fuss is about, I have come to a question that I find to be interesting.

Twilight is essentially the story of a nihilistic young girl who wants nothing more than to die. She has an abusive vampire boyfriend who keeps her alive and tortures her throughout the course of the story. But he does it 'all for love' so it's ok.

A lot of Twihards are over 30 and lonely. Apparently the desire to have someone make all of your decisions and treat you like shit is sexy for a much larger segment of the population than may have been apparent to most of us.

The girl I lost my virginity to left me for someone who treated her like shit, whereas I was generally pretty nice to her. She wanted me back later, and wanted me more when I was cool, diffident and kind of a jerk to her, but I'd moved on and had an older woman I was dating by that time. Though, I think I internalized a lesson, "Girls wants to be treated like shit.", and so I treated some girls like shit before I learned that it's not really the right thing to do, and more importantly that I didn't need to act like that to get women. So I hope that today my wife agrees that I am doing a much better job at treating women properly. Having a daughter has definitely opened my mind to this.

What I have discovered in reading discussions of the inherent misogyny underlying the Twilight Saga is that this is actually common for adolescent girls. This says a lot about the thirty-something women who still want this in their lives. First it says I am glad I am not with that kind of woman, second it tells me something I always kind of knew about the vampire genre, but had difficulty articulating.

Twilight has both more literary merit than people give it credit for, and less literary merit than its fans give it credit for. In a way it's a very good portrayal of the poisonous nature of a vampiric relationship. It seems to show the essential nature of the separation between the ages of a vampire and a human. Essentially, Edward is a pedophile who has kidnapped and isolated a young child who is powerless to stop him. She embraces it, but who knows how much she actually wants it? Is it vampire Glamer? I don't know, I haven't read any of it, I am going from pure commentary. I will not spend my time reading something so universally reviled as one of the worst pieces of shit ever written just to make a pedantic point. So may the Twihards forgive me.

This may explain why young girls are so enamoured of older men. It may explain why they are enamoured of abusive men. It doesn't explain why older women are so enamoured.

Which brings me at long last to my question: To what degree is it essential that your property grow with your audience?

I ask this question as I have been reading (anecdotally of course) reports of kids who loved the first movie coming back with stark derision for the second movie. Of course it grossed a ridiculous amount of money on opening night and over the weekend, but what will it's staying power be? Are there enough women with stunted sexual and emotional development to continue to propel this franchise in the coming weeks? Are the adolescent girls who were 13 before and 15 now and growing out of their Twilight phase easily replaceable by girls who are 13 now?

I would argue that for a successful franchise to properly assert itself, it should grow with its audience. This is rarely done. Right now Gossip Girl and Heroes are the two shows that come to mind immediately where the shows are growing up with their audience. But the question as it regards Twilight is: Is it essential?

Does it even matter if a franchise matures? If it does mature, what are the benefits and drawbacks? If it doesn't mature, what are the benefits and drawbacks?

I would like to think it's important, but that could just be my aesthetic sensibilities asserting themselves. It seems to me that Twilight is a good case-study, because in the coming years we'll see how well it continues to do.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Futures of Entertainment


I'm thinking about trying to do FOE4 on the cheap. Anyone in Boston have a sofa?


Saturday, August 29, 2009

New study shows the narrow concentration of financial power

Recently an article in Rolling Stone compared Goldman Sachs to a vampire draining the world. This article explicates how the world's financial power coalesces around a few key organizations.

WASHINGTON -- A recent analysis of the 2007 financial markets of 48 countries has revealed that the world's finances are in the hands of just a few mutual funds, banks, and corporations. This is the first clear picture of the global concentration of financial power, and point out the worldwide financial system's vulnerability as it stood on the brink of the current economic crisis.

A pair of physicists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich did a physics-based analysis of the world economy as it looked in early 2007. Stefano Battiston and James Glattfelder extracted the information from the tangled yarn that links 24,877 stocks and 106,141 shareholding entities in 48 countries, revealing what they called the "backbone" of each country's financial market. These backbones represented the owners of 80 percent of a country's market capital, yet consisted of remarkably few shareholders.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Avatar trailer is out

This movie is being sold as a lot of things. One of the main things I have heard about it is how it will bridge the uncanny valley. It resoundingly fails to do that. It looks like World of Warcraft.

Don't get me wrong, it's pretty, but District 9 bridges the uncanny valley, this one does not.

It's all in the eyes and the corner of the lips. Basically, in high concept computer animation such as this facial movement looks very stiff and stilted like everyone has had their eyelids stretched and injects botox into their eyebrows and lips, in otherwords, they have sacrificed expressiveness for fullness. Meaning that the stills will look great, in terms of the animation it will be lacking.

I still look forward to it as I look forward to every sci fi epic, even though the last three major sci fi epic trilogies have pretty much straight up sucked: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix. I find the overwrought environmentalist paganism to be a little sketchy, but I'm willing to watch Fern Gully meets Halo. ;)

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Voice of the Revolution

Neda Agha-Soltan was shot and killed with videos from multiple angles by the Basij in Iran. I am told that her name Neda means 'voice'. The high profile death of a beautiful woman puts a romantic face on what is seeming to be a revolution.

At this point I cannot see that things can go back to the way they were in Iran. People who don't know anything about the way Iranian politics works, which admittedly is most of us, think of Iran as being run by an invincible bloc of ruling Mullahs. I have for many years thought this not to be the case.

Books like 'Lipstick Jihad' by Azadeh Moaveni and 'Reading Lolita in Tehran' by Azar Nafisi tell the story of a soft women's revolution in Iran. You can see by Neda's makeup and her colorful headscarf and the way you can see her bangs peaking out from beneath it that this revolution has had more and more impact.

It was only a matter of time before this culture permeated the youth and a groundswell would occur. It seems like now is that time. I am very hopeful for Iran. I see Iran as a possible key to a more peaceful middle-east. Iran could be a highly successful nation. It has a very intelligent populace, with a highly skilled and educated class of people with a great diaspora flung around the world. It could easily become one of the top tier nations in this world, which is should. The great empires of the past have left levels of development that its peoples have never truly forgotten. Where there have been great and progressive empires there are smart and industrious peoples. The characters of those empires are very important to the character of the culture left behind.

In Persia there has been a great meeting point of many great cultures, and hopefully Persia can take join that nations of the world like India and China and become a stabilizing force in its region of the world. Iran has great oil reserves but poor refining technology. A more liberal Iran could see advanced technology flood into its borders so that it can get the most out of its oil fields. With that wealth they can build a more advanced technological civilization so that they need not worry about sliding backward when the oil has been sucked dry.

With the video of the death of their beautiful martyr (which I have been unable to bring myself to watch) maybe we will see something beautiful grow from the land where her blood was spilled.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Iranian Elections and their attempt to stifle viral communication

Here are examples of how seriously governments are taking the ability for the populace to communicate with one another. What is at stake is the very ability for people to communicate with each other as they see fit. I do not see the Ayatollahs winning this one. I think that this is the catalyst for real change in Iran.

Iran Moves to end Facebook Revolution

We've had a few readers send in updates on the chaotic post-election situation in Iran. Twitter is providing better coverage than CNN at the moment. There are both tech and humanitarian angles to the story, as the two samples below illustrate. First, Hugh Pickens writes with a report from The Times (UK) that"the Iranian government is mounting a campaign to disrupt independent media organizations and Web sites that air doubts about the validity of the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the nation's president. Reports from Tehran say that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were taken down after Mr Ahmadinejad claimed victory. SMS text messaging, a preferred medium of communication for young Iranians, has also been disabled. 'The blocking of access to foreign news media has been stepped up, according to Reporters Without Borders. 'The Internet is now very slow, like the mobile phone network. YouTube and Facebook are hard to access and pro-reform sites... are completely inaccessible.'"And reader momen abdullah sends in one of the more disturbing Ask Slashdots you are likely to see."People, we need your urgent help in Iran. We are under attack by the government. They stole the election. And now are arresting everybody. They also filtered every sensitive Web page. But our problem is that they also block the SMS network and are scrambling satellite TVs. Please, can you help us to set up some sort of network using our home wireless access points? Can anybody show us a link on how to install small TV/radio stations? Any suggestion for setting up a network? Please tell us what to do or we are going to die in the a nuclear war between Iran and US."Update: 06/14 18:32 GMT by KD : Jim Cowie contributes a blog post from Renesys taking a closer look at thestate of Iranian Internet transit, as seen in the aggregated global routing tables, and concluding that the story may not be as clear-cut as has been reported.
The Computer is the Enemy

9:12 AM ET -- The computer is the enemy. We reported last night on accounts of major violence at Tehran University. The AP adds some more detail this morning:

Overnight, police and hard-line militia stormed the campus at the city's biggest university, ransacking dormitories and arresting dozens of students angry over what they say was mass election fraud.

The nighttime gathering of about 3,000 students at dormitories of Tehran University started with students chanting "Death to the dictator." But it quickly erupted into clashes as students threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, who fought back with tear gas and plastic bullets, a 25-year-old student who witnessed the fighting told The Associated Press. He would only give one name, Akbar, out of fears for his safety.

The students set a truck and other vehicles on fire and hurled stones and bricks at the police, he said. Hard-line militia volunteers loyal to the Revolutionary Guard stormed the dormitories, ransacking student rooms and smashing computers and furniture with axes and wooden sticks, Akbar said.

Before leaving around 4 a.m., the police took away memory cards and computer software material, Akbar said, adding that dozens of students were arrested.

He said many students suffered bruises, cuts and broken bones in the scuffling and that there was still smoldering garbage on the campus by midmorning but that the situation had calmed down.

"Many students are now leaving to go home to their families, they are scared," he said. "But others are staying. The police and militia say they will be back and arrest any students they see."

"I want to stay because they beat us and we won't retreat," he added.

Tehran University was the site of serious clashes against student-led protests in 1999 and is one of the nerve centers of the pro-reform movement.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Taliban the Neo-Taliban and why was the ISI attacked?

Here is a good article regarding the stories we tell ourselves.  Who are the villains in the story?  Who is the Taliban?  We are so used to simplifying a broad category:  Al Qaeda, that we are completely willing to accept a simplistic subset:  The Taliban.  But who are the Taliban?  This article claims that what we consider 'The Taliban', is actually the 'Neo-Taliban', headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar, one of those strange Islamic names that we think is meaningful but really isn't, just a placeholder for, "Evil Cobra (Taliban) Leader."  He's either Cobra Commander, Serpentor, or Destro, regardless of his actual identity, he's evil, we know that much, and that's all we need to know.  

What is their story?  Who are they?  And why do we care whether they attack the ISI?  Well, we support the ISI, that's the simple version right?  But we also support the Afghani government, just like we used to support the Northern Alliance.  Then again who in our government supports which faction?  Who supports the Northern Alliance?  Who supports the Taliban?  Oh wait they are the enemy, they are Al Qaeda, what huh?  I am so confused.  I can't keep straight who is one what side.  Just tell me who the OSS/CIA favors and I'll think about the 'why' later.  

The problem here is one of characterization.  Who is the Taliban?  We support the ISI, so who is the Taliban that the ISI supports?  Do we support the ISI's Taliban even though we don't support the Taliban?  What the fuck?  Who are we?  We are the Americans.  Are we liberal or conservative?  Are we progressive or Evangelical?  We are American, but who do we support?  

I hope people who have any influence have more definitive answers than I do.  I hope they can see more granularly than i can, but based on the relationship of Hollywood production to the properties I love, and my experience with them, I highly doubt it's any different.  I am close to leftist wannabe revolutionaries, and Evangelical theologians, and no one has ever given me a satisfactory answer as to how they can divine who is one which side.  They just know it 'when they see it.'

I really hope our intelligence services have a more granular response than that, but based on my experience with people who 'claim' big relationships to whatever and thus and so, I kind of doubt it.  

This is one of those places where I agree with George W. Bush about our favorite philosopher.  Jesus warned us about things of this world.  I am uncertain about some things, this being one of them, and whether or not 5:30 AM is morning or still night.  It's pretty bright right now, but it might be dark if we were in November.  

The basic reality is that war is as granular as individual piques and grudges.  I know I am an American, and I love America and I hope that some grand Egregor is guiding us toward Pax Americana, but I also hope that people are thinking this granularly as it impacts our foreign policy.  At the same time, I am afraid they are lost in minutiae, unsure of who is who, and what is what, and defaulting to broader spectrum of 'enemy' versus 'ally'.  

Richelieu, Mazarin, Machiavelli, look over us, because this is really fucking complicated. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

'Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles' cancelled.

This seems to me like a mistake.  I haven't seen the second season so I am likely part of the reason it is being cancelled, but with a movie on its way out this seems like a remarkable failure to capture a transmedia synergy.  You'd think  a third season would make sense considering they will have the hype of the movie to draw from.  

Very short sighted thinking IMV.  

This is just further evidence that indy producers of On-Demand media need to get their asses into gear.  

Hint hint.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Microexpressions Test: Can you spot a Lie?

The Show 'Lie to Me' is based off of the work of Dr. Paul Ekman. Here is a test to see how good you are at spotting microexpressions.

Microexpressions are the involuntary expressions that show your true feelings even when you are trying to hide them.

Our lies are as important to who we are as is the truth. Our story is actually told via the lies we use to cover things up. If our emotions were displayed honestly there would be no real story. The true feelings are the 'subtext'.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don't Tear It Down Take It Over

I am sovereign, I am the state.

I own who I am, I have the power that I have and I am responsible for the actions caused by my will. No one can take from me my identity, unless I choose to let them. No one can guide my actions unless I go along.

I can be a businessman, I can run for City Council, I can join Greenpeace, the Peace Corp, the ACLU, the KKK, The Freemasons, The Daughters of the American Revolution, Al Qaeda, The Minutemen, The Government, The Military, The CIA, The Church. I can live in New York, I can live in Wyoming, I can live in Tehran, I can live in Tokyo, I can live in the heart of the city, the sticks or the suburbs. I can kill a man, rape a woman or vice versa. I can have a child, I can raise a child, I can abort a child, I can help a child, I can teach a child.

I am not free and I never will be. Freedom is a crass fantasy that has lost all semblance of meaning. Freedom once referred to individual sovereignty. I have that, I am sovereign. No man owns me, but I am not free from my environment, I am not free from the state. I am sovereign, I am the state, and you are a shareholder in my life as I am in yours.

Money is not magical, it has not power, none at all. I have power, my will has power, my choices have power, and my perception has power. Without these money isn't even paper because no one ever bothered to print it. There is no they, only us. They is a label based on arbitrary separation created to sow the seeds of distrust. This does not mean that I do not recognize that there are people out there who have more power than I do. But here's the kicker, they alone do not necessarily have more power than I do, not unless they grow their own food or are a master of the martial arts, or have some kind of individual power that increases their sovereignty. Money does not do this. Money cannot do this. What money does is represent an avatar of power. We imbue it voluntarily with the ability to control and manipulate our actions. While it is the lifeblood of civilization, it is not a thing unto itself. It is a being of pure belief. If I stop believing in it, it will stop having power.

This is not to say that those who have money have no power over me. They have power over me only because money allows them to bind themselves collectively. Money can be used to purchase the will of others and devote it to my causes, just as I may sell my will to others and devote it to their causes. If I sell my will to another, I am active in that cause, I am complicit and I am responsible. I will be called to atone, though it is not certain that I will ever truly understand the means of my atonement. I judge and am judged, every moment of every day by every living being, based on criteria passed down through the generations from beings who have caused effects and been affected by other causes.

I am not a slave, I am sovereign. No one owns me, though I lease myself out from time to time. Sometimes I give charitably, but even in my charity, I am selfish, because I am sovereign. My means are devoted to my wants, and my wants are informed by my desires, so even the good I do, the help I do others springs from my own desire.

If I am ever disappointed it is because I had unrealistic expectations. I distorted my perception by my fantasies. This is nobodies fault but my own. I take full responsibility for this, I might as well, because I will suffer for it nonetheless whether I accept it or not.

What is God? God is the sum totality of all attendant will in existance, aware of itself existing through action. Because Consciousness exists at all, and consciousness is a collective process, God exists. Proof of God is Tautological, God proves itself. God is the result of all actions. Because consciousness exists at all, because I am aware, and because you are aware, and because by reading this we are aware as a greater entity sharing consciousness, God exists, period, the contrary opinion is not valid. We as consciousness, as awareness, as perception, as a piece of the universe are emergent properties of the universe, and therefore the universe is aware of itself, because we are aware of ourselves.

Claim what it is yours, take it, grasp it, own it, be it, and you will be no one's slave. No master may own you, unless you allow it. Another person can kill you, but they cannot make you do anything that you do not agree to participate in. You can be bound, you can be tortured and you can be killed, but you cannot be made a slave by the will of another. You have to break, you have to give in and you have to allow it for it to happen. If you would die before slavery, then you are free in the only meaningful sense of the word. You cannot escape your environment and its constraints, you cannot escape your society, you cannot escape your beliefs, so in that sense, you can never be totally free, but you can be sovereign.

Reality is Democratic. It is decided by the synergy of the aggregate will.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Crass New Way to Shill to the Mice that Be

Jeff Gomez asked me about Transmedia storytelling. He asked:
'In the future, I would appreciate your thoughts on how transmedia storytelling either helps or hinders the driving of the points you ponder to the target audience. Is transmedia a legitimate aesthetic that allows the visionary new ways to convey narrative to today's audience, or is it simply a crass new way to shill for the Mice that Be?'
While I chose the title that I did because it just sounds great, I'm going to say that it's both.

Transmedia storytelling is storytelling that involves multiple different formats. This differs from multi-media in one significant way. Multi-media refers to the same aspect of the same story being presented in multiple medias. The movie poster, the trailer, the web site, and the guerilla marketing campaign are all examples of multi-media. Transmedia is when the story is told through multiple media but the story intersects but doesn't duplicate that being offered in another medium. Examples of this are movies like 'The Matrix' or 'The Chronicles of Riddick' that spawned cartoons, comic books and video games that were all successful products for the franchise independently of the focus medium, the film.

My answer to Mr. Gomez would be that Transmedia storytelling is the most complete way to tell a story. When I seek out current events, I watch the news, read stories, comment on message boards and blogs and listen to radio broadcasts. The same story is told in many different mediums. As it is, corporate media has been using transmedia internally for longer than anyone who is reading this has been alive. There has always been a treatment, a script, a storyboard, set pieces, actors, a media campaign with promotional materials, a soundtrack, parties, and possible other mediums I am not even thinking of, but I could go on forever if I started listening jello sculptures and sky-writing.

Not a single film, video game or any other audio-visual medium has ever been produced that did not use multiple mediums to convey the story. Now, no single person has ever experienced every single piece of media related to film, with the possible exception of a film's director, but even then some things are produced by others that do not make it in, often even published without consulting the director if it's a project made by a different department. With transmedia the story behind the story is just as important. The making of, and the commentary are now cultural standards for films and video games. These are considered part of the overall franchise, though they don't necessarily tell the story that is portrayed on screen in the final product. We spend billions on magazines that tell us the trials and tribulations of the actors and actresses that we see on screen.

To reference our dearly and recently departed friend Paul Harvey, we desperately want to know, 'The Rest of the Story'. Paul Harvey made his career out of bringing trivia about famous people to the forefront of our knowledge. His storytelling style was one where he took the focal point of the story and hid it, while telling us the story. It was not until the end that he revealed who it was that he was talking about. Every film has a focus, a protagonist, an antagonist and supporting characters who we get to know over the course of the film. We know something of the actions and motivations of the first, second, third, and sometimes fourth tier characters in a film, but what about the 107th tier characters? If it's true that there are six degrees of separation between everyone on Earth, then even the extra smoking a joint in the nightclub behind the fighters in the scene has a story, and on occasion he might even have crafted a character that he played. That might have even been noticed by the Producers in the editing process. This is part of the story, both in the film as it is produced and the background of the relationships between the auteurs from the Director to the extra.

What Transmedia does is it makes the lesser known characters stories known. Who knew that Gaeta was bisexual and that his gay lover would rescue him from his fembot aggressor? Of course you wouldn't know that if you didn't watch the Battlestar Galactica webisodes. If you didn't watch the webisodes then Gaeta's entire motivation for the final season might have seemed out of place to you. If, however you watched the webisodes everything made sense, you understood why Gaeta did what he did, and you knew who replaced him as Communications officer.

By the same token, transmedia can be used to sell you Battlestar Galactica toothpaste. Crass consumerism is of course its own cause and its own effect. We are all consumers, and unless you are some sort of ascetic living and austere lifestyle as a ferry man like our dear Siddharta, you are likely a consumer, are driven by your consumption. Though, even if Siddharta was driven by consumption, his need to woo an expensive lady drove him to a life of success and excess. It is this success and excess upon which our society is founded. It both drives the engine of commerce that creates our media, as well as many of the storylines that they enable us to envision. Without it we'd have no way to tell our stories, and no stories to tell. It is after all our worst characteristics that drive our stories. So as we watch Battlestar Galactica a TV show about how human sin has almost caused human extinction, we feed people's families by buying Battlestar Galactica toothpaste.

Our entire identities are crafted from symbols. There is very little reason to buy a CK T-Shirt for $ 30 when one could buy a cheaper T-shirt for far less. We do so in order to engage with a symbol the idea of Calvin Klein. This is one of the worst excesses, an article of clothing that merely has a logo on it being sold as some sort of status piece. It is empty, it is devoid of meaning. It is the meaning that separates something of value from something without value, and sometimes that line is spread very thin.

So the simple answer to you Jeff, is that Transmedia when crafted because there is more story to tell, has an useful purpose, but when it is merely there to craft a new article for consumption to fulfill the unholy Madison Avenue OCD completionist urge, it is merely a crass new way to shill to the mice that be.

Rush Limbaugh is wrecking the Right

John Derbyshire is a thoughtful conservative intellectual, the kind of voice that the country is benefitted greatly by. While Liberals might feel shouted down by Rush Limbaugh, it is actually a rational conservatism that is the least known today.

Limbaugh has recently made some notable Republicans kiss the ring after trying to distance themselves from him. In Michael Steele's case, he just over-reached and Rush called him on it, and in this case Rush was indeed right, but Rush being right all the time doesn't help the Republican party. I doubt the leader of the RNC will last very much longer.

Here is a great article from John Derbyshire about the problems with the GOP. My personal political leanings are generally pretty conservative, but the Rushpublican party does not represent my views at all. If the Republican party has put up a credible alternative to Obama I might not have voted for him. In the end I am pragmatic and my views can be summed up by this quote by Alexander Pope:

'Of forms of government let fools protest/Whatever is best administered is best'

I highly recommend the article by John Derbyshire, it represents everything the Republican party needs to be for the good of our Republic, but it also represents everything the GOP is not.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Espionage, Tournaments and Assassinations Eve Online politics

I play the MMO Eve Online. It is in my opinion the most fascinating of them all. I originally avoided it when I first heard of it because I knew I would get sucked in, and I have.

What originally drew me to Eve Online was the Guiding Hand Social Club Heist possibly the most famous MMO event in history. Surely to be eclipsed by the events of the last week. This last week has shown that Eve Online has its own culture, its own civilizations. For several years there has been a war between two major alliances. Band of Brothers (BoB) and Goonswarm. Goonswarm came to the game from the Something Awful Forums. BoB's goal in the game was to dominate it, and for a while it seemed like they were going to. They controlled vast amounts of space, but were an overextended empire, something that the Goons exploited. Goonswarm's agenda was to 'break' Eve. BoB eventually consolidated it's control over two very resource rich regions, Delve and Querious. Querious is behind Delve, and one must go through Delve to get there.

Now recently there was a heist, where Goonswarm was able to turn a BoB director over to their side. The defector was able to give the keys to La Mittani of Goonswarm, who in a flash of inspiration realized he could dissolve BoB, the most famous alliance in the game. So three hours later he did it. Here is the full story of how he did it. After dissolving the alliance Goons immediately snagged the copyright.

So in the world of Eve Online they brought low the greatest alliance by stealing it's copyright. The reason it worked is because of the Eve Sovereignty system. The Sovereignty system is tied into the alliance framework, and is based on the alliance's force projection. If you have more than three more Player Owned Stations (POS) than your nearest competitor, you own the system. This means you can rename it, you get benefits like the ability to build your own Jump Gates so you can jump from system to system. Being able to control a large territory gives you the ability to build massive industrial capacity, as well as giving you unfettered access to ore. A lot of the ore you can get in these systems is rare and very valuable. So controlling your own space has real tangible in-game benefits.

So when BoB's sovereignty went down, so did their jump gates, some of their factories and a lot of their protective systems. They were smart though, they had a backup alliance ready to reclaim the sovereignty and so they got back to sovereignty one in many systems quickly. However, this opened the floodgates and other alliances made a push into Delve. In the first couple of days hundreds of ships were destroyed, it might be thousands by the time I write this. Keep in mind that in Eve Online all the ships that fly in a fleet are flown by players, you cannot control an NPC fleet under you as a fleet commander, the closest you can get to that are drone ships and carriers with fighters that are as powerful as the midrange ships by themselves.

So as of this week the entire balance of power in Eve has shifted.

In other news in the game, the Sixth Eve Alliance Tournament was underway. Alliances field competitive fleets over the course of about a week or so. In one of the tournaments Issler Dainze of The Honda Accord alliance was assassinated by his own teammate, who held a grudge from another alliance. They went on to win anyway.

To understand all of this you have to understand that all of the player owned ships are built by players from ore mined by players, using manufacturing processes refined by players, in an economy driven by the players. The logistics required to control a region like Delve are pretty mind-boggling. There are so many things that go into it that I couldn't possibly explain it in this blog post.

This shows a new evolution in human storytelling, levels of human creation and understanding that go beyond anything we've had in our past, it's the creation of a whole other world, to which many people dedicate themselves for better or worse. It is a world where a McDonald's Manager can rule an empire. The skills required to pull these things off are the same skills that an executive of a real world corporation needs. Some of the talent will be dedicated entirely to the game and we will never see some of the world's tactical and logistical geniuses devote their skills toward building in the real world, but inevitably some of them will.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Omega Point, Singularity, Transhumanism and God

Five Attributes of the Omega Point

Teilhard de Chardin's The Phenomenon of Man states that the Omega Point must possess the following five attributes. It is:

* Already existing.
Only thus can the rise of the universe towards higher stages of consciousness be explained.

* Personal – an intellectual being and not an abstract idea.
The complexification of matter has not only led to higher forms of consciousness, but accordingly to more personalization, of which human beings are the highest attained form in the universe. They are completely individualized, free centers of operation. It is in this way that man is said to be made in the image of God, who is the highest form of personality. Teilhard expressly stated that in the Omega Point, when the universe becomes One, human persons will not be suppressed, but super-personalized. Personality will be infinitely enriched. This is because the Omega Point unites creation, and the more it unites, the more the universe complexifies and rises in consciousness. Thus, as God creates the universe evolves towards higher forms of complexity, consciousness, and finally with humans, personality, because God, who is drawing the universe towards Him, is a person.

* Transcendent.
The Omega Point cannot be the result of the universe's final complexification of itself on consciousness. Instead, the Omega Point must exist even before the universe's evolution, because the Omega Point is responsible for the rise of the universe towards more complexity, consciousness and personality. Which essentially means that the Omega Point is outside the framework in which the universe rises, because it is by the attraction of the Omega Point that the universe evolves towards Him.

* Autonomous – that is, free from the limitations of space (nonlocality) and time (atemporality).
Five Attributes of the Omega Point

Teilhard de Chardin's The Phenomenon of Man states that the Omega Point must possess the following five attributes. It is:

* Already existing.
Only thus can the rise of the universe towards higher stages of consciousness be explained.

* Personal – an intellectual being and not an abstract idea.
The complexification of matter has not only led to higher forms of consciousness, but accordingly to more personalization, of which human beings are the highest attained form in the universe. They are completely individualized, free centers of operation. It is in this way that man is said to be made in the image of God, who is the highest form of personality. Teilhard expressly stated that in the Omega Point, when the universe becomes One, human persons will not be suppressed, but super-personalized. Personality will be infinitely enriched. This is because the Omega Point unites creation, and the more it unites, the more the universe complexifies and rises in consciousness. Thus, as God creates the universe evolves towards higher forms of complexity, consciousness, and finally with humans, personality, because God, who is drawing the universe towards Him, is a person.

* Transcendent.
The Omega Point cannot be the result of the universe's final complexification of itself on consciousness. Instead, the Omega Point must exist even before the universe's evolution, because the Omega Point is responsible for the rise of the universe towards more complexity, consciousness and personality. Which essentially means that the Omega Point is outside the framework in which the universe rises, because it is by the attraction of the Omega Point that the universe evolves towards Him.

* Autonomous – that is, free from the limitations of space (nonlocality) and time (atemporality).

Garcia and increasing creativity

Main article: Total creativity

In 1971, John David Garcia expanded on Teilhard's Omega Point idea. In particular, he stressed that even more than the increase of intelligence, the constant increase of ethics is essential for humankind to reach the Omega Point. He applied the term creativity to the combination of intelligence and ethics and announced that increasing creativity is the correct and proper goal of human life. He specifically rejected increasing happiness as a proper ultimate goal: when faced with a choice between increasing creativity and increasing happiness, a person ought to choose creativity, he wrote.

Tipler's cosmological Omega Point

Main article: Omega Point (Tipler)

The Omega Point is Frank Tipler's term for what he maintains is the ultimate fate of the universe required by the laws of physics. Tipler has summarized his theory as follows:

* The universe has finite spatial size and the topology of a three-sphere;
* There are no event horizons, implying the future c-boundary is a point, called the Omega Point;
* Sentient life must eventually engulf the entire universe and control it;
* The amount of information processed between now and the Omega Point is infinite;
* The amount of information stored in the universe asymptotically goes to infinity as the Omega Point is approached.[1]

According to Tipler's Omega Point Theory, as the universe comes to an end in a specific kind of Big Crunch, the computational capacity of the universe will be accelerating exponentially faster than time runs out. In principle, a simulation run on this universal computer can thus continue forever in its own terms, even though the universal computer is embedded in a universe that will last only a finite time. The Omega Point Theory requires that the universe eventually contract, and that there be intelligent civilizations in existence at the appropriate time to exploit the computational capacity of such an environment.

Tipler identifies the final singularity of this asymptotically infinite information capacity with God. According to Tipler and David Deutsch, an implication of this theory is that this ultimate cosmic computer will be able to resurrect (via emulation) everyone who has ever lived, by simulating all possible quantum brain states within the master simulation. This will manifest itself as a simulated reality. From the perspective of its simulated inhabitants, the Omega Point is an infinite-duration afterlife, which could take any imaginable form due to its virtual nature.

Tipler's Omega Point Theory is predicated on an eventual Big Crunch, a scenario believed unlikely by some because of certain recent astronomical observations implying that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.[2] Tipler has recently amended his theory to accommodate an accelerating universe due to a positive cosmological constant. He proposes baryon annihilation (via the inverse of electroweak baryogenesis using electroweak quantum tunneling) as a means of propelling interstellar spacecraft. Tipler maintains that if all baryons in the universe were to be annihilated by this process, then this would force the Higgs field toward its absolute vacuum state, cancelling the positive cosmological constant, stopping the acceleration, and forcing the universe to collapse into the Omega Point.[3]

Tipler argues that his Omega Point theory is fully consistent with what God said to Moses in Exodus 3:14, whose Hebrew original Tipler translates into English as: "I shall be what I shall be." Tipler (2007) argues that his theory is consistent with orthodox Christianity.


Technological singularity

Some transhumanists argue that the accelerating technological progress inherent in the Law of Accelerating Returns will, in the relatively near future, lead to what Vernor Vinge called a technological singularity or "prediction wall." This singularity is a state in which humans will be semi-aware components of a computerised social structure of such complexity that no one person or group of persons will be able to understand more than a tiny fraction of the whole. These transhumanists believe we will soon enter a time in which we must eventually make the transition to a "runaway positive feedback loop"[citation needed] in high-level autonomous machine computation. A result will be that our technological and computational tools eventually completely surpass human capacities.[1] While some transhumanist writings refer to this moment as the Omega Point, paying homage to Teilhard's prior use of the term, Teilhard did not describe his Omega Point as attainable by technological means. Other transhumanists, in particular Ray Kurzweil, refer to the technological singularity as simply "The Singularity."

This is an aspect of cosmology that I find interesting as I am constantly confronted by this notion in literature that passes in front of me. The synthesis of de Chardin and Tipler eliminates the necessity of a luddite Christianity. It also points to a providential idea that true decline is actually impossible as time moves linearly toward the eschatonian singularity. The greater man has control over his environment the greater our computational capacity. The idea that at some point (already past in my view) it will be impossible for a single human or group of humans to perceive the greater sweep of humanity seems to be the heart of the modern malaise. We seem to be at a point where we have trouble reconciling ourselves with the shock to the ego that is the end of 'great men'. As humanity becomes more complex the ability of single humans to dominate space diminishes as the capacity of the species to do so increases, though it need not obliterate individuality as individuality is necessary for the progression of creativity. If Creativity is a higher goal than happiness however, it makes no promises to mitigate suffering along the way. I suspect however that there is an optimum threshold between happiness and suffering where creativity thrives the best. Too happy and we are complacent, and too much suffering and we are incapable of bettering our situation as our entire being is devoted to achieving homeostasis rather than toward making creative progress. IE, a cancerous coma victim isn't creating as much as a healthy adult who is driven by dissatisfaction. On the other hand happiness can be a measure of attainment of optimal creative drive. The better aligned toward the Omega Point, the happier we will become.

This also says to me that Eschaton if such a finite end point truly exists, is still billions of years away. It also speaks to the notion that I touch on infrequently of conflicting religions being reconciled as different revelations given appropriately to the different cultures in which they emerged. The hindrance often comes from the egoes involved, the necessity of human cultural groups to express the competitive drive by being the keepers of the dominant revelation. For instance Mohammed saying his was the final revelation, and the Catholic church claiming to be the direct representative of God on Earth. Obviously such ego restrictions placed on revelation serve an asabiyah function for the in-group/out-group dynamic, it creates a cohesive culture that is hermetically sealed as an incubator for the particular idea that is being nurtured by that culture.

Abrahamic ideas of eschaton seem to support this, Buddhist attainment is the personal seeking of that end point, the Gita with its destruction of false perceptions of self in favor of unity with Krsna-hood and the Zoroastrian conflict where Uhura Mazd defeats Ahriman while Mithras brings the revelation of the process to mankind.