December 20, 2005

PoP: The Two Thrones

Penny Arcade created a comic for Ubisoft's new Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones game, which is the third installment of this iteration of the franchise originally created by Jordon Mechner.

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December 15, 2005

Amazon Recommends?

An email recommendation from Amazon:

Dear Customer, We've noticed that customers who have purchased Caring for Your Baby and Young Child, Revised Edition : Birth to Age 5 by Richard Trubo also purchased books by Nancy Wiseman. For this reason, you might like to know that Nancy Wiseman's Could It Be Autism? : A Parent's Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps will be released on January 10, 2006. You can pre-order your copy at a savings of 32% by following the link below.

Isn't it a touch odd that my purchase of a very generalized book on child development and medical care (several months ago) would generate a recommendation sent to my email account for a book asking, could your child have this specific and frightening medical condition? Buy now, at a savings of 32%, to make sure!

It makes me wonder how certain kinds of recommendations are generated, especially those that show up in your inbox. I can handle the "pull" technology of Amazon's website recommendations just fine. I like seeing what others buy and consider when I'm looking at a particular item on the website. I tend to ignore the recommendations tab when I visit. But by using the "push" email advertisement, I would think Amazon would want to hit the mark more often than not, simply because of its invasive nature. They're stopping by my door now, and if they do, I want to see something useful rather than just a shot in the dark possibility that has no small measure of fear in the title (Could something be wrong with YOUR child?).

It makes me wonder how much of the recommendation is Amazon's, and how much of it is the publishers. Does Amazon ever get paid for this kind of "recommendation"? As in, Publisher A saying "here's some $$$, Amazon, please send this book out, with a generous discount from us, to all people who order books from other authors in our portfolio with similar themes." Whereas I used to feel like I received the kind of recommendations I would expect in the corner bookstore, I now feel like the target in "targeted marketing." There's a subtle but important difference there.

Maybe I'm just grumpy about all the spam that I've been getting, in my email accounts (especially school accounts, and usually through university- and department-run listservs) and in my blogs. I don't need sites that I use often to start sending me titles that sound too much like the friendly spambots in my comment queue that act nice enough as they try to pass a number of explicit links through the system - "Hey buddy! Great site and topic! Maybe you'd like to enhance your pleasure???"

Indeed I would. Give me better recommendations.

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December 14, 2005

Brought to Life

Agrippa (A Book of the Dead) is brought to life in The Agrippa Files, an online preservation site dedicated to this 1992 collaborative work. Matt K has the full press release.

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Great Advice

So You Want a Ph.D. in Digital Humanities, Digital Studies, New Media, Electronic Literature . . .

I occasionally get asked where one should go for a Ph.D. in one of the above fields. I thought I'd offer up a general response to that question here.

Matthew Kirschenbaum offers up some solid advice for humanities students who are considering pursuing a PhD.

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Morality in Games and Gameplay

An interesting conversation about games, characters, and morality over at TN: Terra Nova: The Grey Area. A reverse trackback of sorts - my comments are in the thread, and I want to remember to return to it.

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Tea Parties and Pumpkins

Tea with Puppy
Originally uploaded by Jason R.
Lots of new pictures of the family at Flickr, including Evie's "princess-ballerina tea party" (where she wore at least 3 different outfits... at once) and our pumpkin-pickin' excursion with the Eubaileybanks in October.
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December 9, 2005

Maybe they'll explain the title?

Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby, authors of Smartbomb:
The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution
, are holding a Live chat at today at 1pm (starting in a few minutes). An archive of the chat will be available at the above link.

They also blog here.

UPDATE: They did explain the title.

Bethesda, Md.: Why did you name your book Smartbomb?

Heather Chaplin: Smartbomb came from Aaron. He grew up in Orange County playing Defender, first of all. Then, he was interested in how the term came into the culture initially through a videogame, and THEN with the first Iraq war.

It seemed like a title that resonated with the very subject matter of the book - that this is essentially a smartbomb being dropped on our society. The medium fosters "smarts" and is being created by super smart people, they're being carefully guided to exlode over our heads by companies like Microsoft and Sony, and the connections between the industry and military run deep. So...thus you have Smartbomb as our title!


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Falling A Little Behind...

It snowed twice this week.

I haven't even finished raking the leaves.

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