Posted in something different

Pokemon Go – Augmented Reality

Pokemon Go is taking over the world. I don’t think that is in any way an exaggeration. From little boys and girls to the grown-ups who used to be boys and girls dreaming of catching pokemon, the game has captured the imagination and has taken Nintendo to heights it hasn’t seen since the first days of Mario and Zelda. And for all its glitches, bugs and server-crashing nightmares just as you’re about to take that gym you’ve had your eye on for the last hour, the game is definitely addictive. I mean, what’s three more miles if it means you hatch an awesome pokemon and get a tonne of stardust?

We’re now getting more exercise, chatting to strangers in the street and having a huge amount of fun doing it. Who’d have thought gaming could be so useful?

Well, a lot of people, it’s just never been so prevalent before. The trick with Pokemon Go is its use of augmented reality (AR) – the opportunity to see the digital world interacting the real one (unlike virtual reality which fully immerses you in a digitally created world).

What this means for game creators is that the limits for creation are disappearing. This may seem a strange concept, given the power that virtual reality gaming has in creating completely different worlds. But what it means is that developers don’t just have to think of new worlds, or redesign the world we already live in, but explore new ways of interacting with the world we have. For mobile gaming in particular, where a camera is readily available for capturing the user’s view of the world, this opening of exploration provides scope for new and extraordinary content.

At the most basic level, we have Snapchat’s filters which turns you and your friends into pieces of toast and puppies. At the highest, we could be looking at a world in which surgical operations on patients could be conducted digitally, the simulation providing a clearer map of what could happen, and preventative measures being made to save even more lives. That’s pretty cool, right? So, there are fewer limits to creation and game development as a whole. No longer are we restricted to the 8 bit of the 90s, but enter something far more sophisticated and world-changing.

In gaming terms, what is so perfect about Pokemon Go is the use of AR – for the first time, gamers can feel like they are actually catching pokemon for real. It isn’t some fantastical creation of developers (expect, of course, it is) but something that holds a digital ‘truth’ because it interacts so cleverly with the real world. No longer are you removed from the current world in order to game, but are immersed in something that feels more, well, real.

Maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of it than I should. We are probably a way off from the surgery scenario, but the possibility is still there. With Nintendo and Pokemon Go, it is a possibility that hadn’t been fully realised in the public consciousness until now.

Is the game perfect? Of course not. It’s potential.

 

Photo Credit:
Game design courtesy of Niantic and Nintendo.
Screenshot courtesy of Jennifer Vennall

 

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Posted in something different

Social Media Studies

As promised, here is the update for my anthropology studies of social media!

Week two looked at the affect visual representations were having on social media, specifically looking at the prevalence of selfies and memes. Although a lot of what we think about the use of selfies and memes seems fairly accurate, in terms of their emphasis on the self and the irreverence of things (Facebook is meme city these days), there were a few other things that proved very interesting.

By looking at the usage of social media from this anthropological perspective, it is fascinating to see how different cultures respond to it. The two field sites used in this week were a town in south Italy and a town in Trinidad. What is so interesting is that it is not simply a matter of selfies being a presentation of the self, but the reasons behind these presentations. This has carried through into week three, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

One other concept that I hadn’t considered with memes, is the distance it provides for people’s opinions, rather than each of us just coming out and directly saying something. ‘Liking’ a meme that someone has posted is an action, but it is a passive one, rather than a declaration that we ourselves put out there from our own voices.

What wasn’t covered in this analysis, but perhaps should be mentioned, is that many social media posts on platforms such as Twitter receive higher interactions if an image is attached to them. This is mainly representative of US and UK usage, but perhaps a slight addressing of the potential reasons behind this would have been useful.

I’ve just finished with Week three, and this focused on the representation of politics and gender in social media. Given the LGTBQ focus of my app project, the gender studies discussion is one that really interested me this week, although for the purposes of this study the focus of the discussion remained within the boundaries of gender norms, rather than sexuality or non-binary or transgender issues.

Again, the concept of social media as a distancing tool, as well as a more open platform, seems to be emerging as a theme. On the one hand, politics at a national level is often discussed loudly and openly on social media, and yet local-level discussions remain private and rarely expressed. Given the current political climate here in the UK, I found this particularly striking, and am very aware of how social media is playing a role. Again, from my own view and not discussed within the course, it seems that despite so much of the ‘chatter’ on social media about politics, there’s little evidence from what I can see of opinions being changed because of it. I wonder what the influence of social media on political opinion is, rather than just the outward presentation of singular opinions.

As I said, the topic of gender was most interesting for me, and key here was something that I hadn’t before considered. Whereas, perhaps, we are coming to the assumption that gender norms are being eroded through the development of the feminist movement and the increase in awareness of non-binary, intersex and transgendered individuals, what is clear not only from the evidence of this course, but also from my own observations and understanding of social media usage, is that the conventionalism of gender norms is actually further established by social media.

The vivid example of this within the course was the representation of women in Turkey on social media, with the private versus the public platforms. What was found, was that women used the private platforms such as Whatsapp to break down the gender norms that had been established within their community, and spoke freely with men on a range of topics that would otherwise be avoided in an offline setting. However, when turning to more public platforms such as Facebook, women were very careful of what they were posting, emphasizing the areas they were ‘supposed’ to have interest in i.e. family life, cooking and crafts.

Whilst this may be less pronounced within a Western culture, I think it is interesting to note the rise in popularity of platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, who hold a predominantly female user base and that the highest post interactions come from gender-typical posts: food, craft and fashion.

Well, these are just some of the things that are covered, and some of my thoughts on them from this course. I’d be really interested to know what you think of what I’ve discussed here, whether you agree or disagree. And if you’d like to sign up, you still can, and you can find out more about what I’m looking into at FutureLearn.

Posted in reading, something different

Thomas Mann

From his short story ‘Tristan’:

Rushing was the very last thing his words seemed to be doing; indeed, for one whose profession and social status it was to be a writer, he was making miserably slow progress, and no one could have watched him without reaching the conclusion that a writer is a man to whom writing comes harder than to anyone else. 

From Death in Venice and Other Stories 

Published 1998 by Vintage

Posted in reading, something different

Reading Progress

I’ve managed to get four books read for the project this month, which is a pretty good start. I haven’t been too focused on getting my head down and doing some serious reading yet, so I’m pleased with four, but know I can do better!

I’ve done a video wrapping up all the books I’ve read this month, so check it out here. And of course, if you can give the video a like or subscribe to the channel it would really help me out.

20160701_110011066_iOSI’m reading Carol by Patricia Highsmith now, which I’m hoping to be finished with by the end of the week. I realised as I started it that it’s actually the first lesbian lit I’ve read, so that’s quite cool – at least, I think it is.

Posts and progress are probably going to be a bit thin on the ground over the next two weeks, as I’ll be doing some work experience, so won’t have anywhere near the time to be able to squeeze it all in. It’s all been on hold a bit recently as I catch up with some rest and other stuff, but once I get back, I should be able to climb back on board and get stuck into it all again.

I promise, promise, promise I will update with how the Anthropology in Social Media course is going. Again, I’ve been so focused on not focusing that I am a little behind.

Thanks for sticking with me!

 

 

 

From Auguries of Innocence

The Winner’s Shout, the Loser’s Curse, 

Dance before dead England’s Hearse. 

Every Night & every Morn 

Some to Misery are Born. 

Every Morn & every Night 

Some are Born to sweet Delight. 

Some ar Born to sweet Delight, 

Some are born to Endless Night. 

We are led to Believe a Lie 

When we see not Thro’ the Eye 

Which was Born in a Night to Perish in a Night 

When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light. 

God Appears & God is Light 

To those poor Souls who dwell in the Night, 

But does a Human Form Display 

To those who Dwell in Realms of day.

William Blake

Posted in something different

New and Slightly Different Things

Something a bit different for this post: some news and some poetry.

This week I’m taking a bit of a break from working full-time on this project and other things. It may be that some of the more intense work, such as the coding, is on hold for a while; we shall see how I feel. There is no video this week, as it stands, but I may be able to do two next week if I’m up to it. So, I won’t be completely idle, and there are some things that I’d like to share here now.

News from the book publishing industry in The Bookseller is that publishing giant Hachette has recently acquired an app-based game design company: Neonplay. You can read the article here. The conversation has turned a lot to the digitisation of literature, at least for me, and how the publishing industry can embrace this new, apparently required, means to open books to readers. For me, given this project I am undertaking, the idea that such a publisher as Hachette is buying an app company for the potential of not only developing new games but integrating app gaming and books is a promising one. At its most basic level, it opens out the potential for my career prospects, whilst in its perhaps most exciting terms I could have companies interested in my project and wanting to take it on. Of course, I have to pull it off first! But the idea that there may be a serious future for what I’m doing makes me feel a lot better than I have been. Being on the cusp of something this important is definitely motivation.

The book reading is continuing; I’m currently on The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin and the audiobook of Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. I think I’m very fortunate so far in finding books that are thoroughly enjoyable. Once I get back in the full saddle, there will be the corresponding video reviews on YouTube. You can check out my previous videos, if you haven’t already. Also, I’ve been posting some project-related stuff on Instagram, if you want to take a look at that – I’m wondering about setting up a separate account for the project. What do you guys think?

As for the social media anthropology course I’m taking, I’ll update you on Friday about how that’s going.

One thing that was a really nice change of pace this week, and has brought some loveliness into my life was the chance to see our Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, along with Welsh National Poet Gillian Clarke and Scottish Makar Jackie Kay. After the abuse of studying poetry at GCSE level (it felt like abuse at the time), I haven’t been one for poetrybook at all. However, after a year of dabbling in writing it myself, and being introduced to the beautiful words of Sylvia Plath and Allen Ginsberg, the opportunity to see the current greats of poetry seemed something worthwhile. And it really was. With the beautiful and comedic musical interludes and introductions of John Sampson, the both entertaining and heart-breaking poems of Bath poet R V Bailey and the exquisite variety of poetry from Imtiaz Dharker, it really was a great evening. I was literally laughing and crying throughout, and moved with a strange understanding that only seems to come from the best poetry. I hope that in the future I can continue to go to events like these and be captured by the spirit of it all. If you live in the UK and want to see, the Shore to Shore tour continues until the 2nd July, and you can find out more information on the Pan MacMillan site.

As I said, I will be posting again on Friday, so look out for that.

 

Posted in something different

Orlando Tragedy

I shouldn’t be posting this today. This shouldn’t be happening. But here we are.

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what has happened in Orlando.

In this month of Pride, of celebration for the strength and unity of the LGBTQ+ community, a man took it upon himself to enter Pulse and open fire. So far, the information we have says that fifty people have died and another fifty-three are injured. There are families and friends who still don’t know what has happened to their loved ones.

It is shocking and devastating. It breaks my heart. Worst of all, it serves as a painful reminder that the world has come so far and yet has so far to go. The LGBTQ+ community continues to suffer at the hands of those who are too blinded by their prejudices to see the truth in all things – we are one. We are people.

Love is love. It is a phrase we hear so often now in connection with the community. But I’d like to take this chance to say that the concept is not purely one for the LGBTQ+ community: it’s for everyone.

This kind of attack is an attempt to punish and to frighten. What we must do, as a collective of all humanity, is to stay strong and stay together and say we are not afraid. In the face of animosity, it is the courage to stand up and say that we will not take this anymore that removes the power from hate.

One man has caused untold devastation. And there are more like him out there. And this violence not only impacts the LGBTQ+ community but many others as well.

And we are stronger than them all.