Saturday, September 16, 2023

Tomorrow in Crabs

 “History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme,” as they say. 

I’ve noticed that the current fragmentation of the internet looks like the internet migrations of the early 2000s. MySpace blew up — first in the sense of getting popular, and then in the sense of complete catastrophe — which left a lot of internet users adrift.

People vowed that they would never to put all their trust in a single internet platform, and it sparked the creation of a ton of blogs. Today, people are coping with the loss of Twitter by swearing never to put their trust in a single internet platform and creating their own newsletters. 

It’s like natural selection creating 5 different evolutionary paths that all ended in crab shapes.  

But mostly I wanted to bring up crabs to note that they had a starring role in the July issue of Trends in Parasitology, a scientific journal that explores “Parasite effects on host’s trophic and isotopic niches.” The article talks about studying the different ways that parasites alter the behavior of their hosts (see also: The Last of Us). 

The article caught my attention because of this sentence: “Wild-caught organisms should not be considered single organisms, but rather entire ecosystems, hosting a variety of microbes and parasites, which can be found in virtually every tissue.”

I swear that links back to video games — I remember reading about a PC game from the 90’s where the player guides the development of a civilization that is being built in the fossilized remains of a dragon. I just can’t remember the name of it.

(The title of this post is a reference to Today in Tabs, which I’ve been using to keep up with online developments now that, you know…) 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Questioning my reactions

 A bush in the shape of a question mark

I came of age in the internet forums of the early 2000’s, and it was a time when posters were expected to follow a forum rules — whether those rules were written or otherwise. Ignorance was no excuse, and anybody who failed to demonstrate a mastery of “obvious” common knowledge was assaulted with lurk moar memes, encouraging them to study community etiquette before posting again. 

It… wasn’t the healthiest environment for advancing collective knowledge and shared understanding?

The norms of online discourse shifted over time, especially after Twitter became a major platform. I wouldn’t use words like “welcoming” or “inclusive” to describe the average Twitter user, but it became acceptable to go around posting while ignorant on main. 

Then Dick Clark died, and ignorance had a bit of a moment. It took things to the other extreme. 

There has to be a middle ground between communities where people are pressured to hide what they don’t know and ones where people make a big show of patting themselves on the back for not knowing anything. 

Asking questions is good! It’s how a person learns, but it can also encourage inquiry and discovery among larger groups of people. Two examples come from the Interactive Fiction Community Forum:
In the current internet environment, the ability to ask questions has become much more important. News is secured behind paywalls, search results are poisoned by paid ads, and platforms like Discord make it almost impossible to find interactions from just a few months ago.

I need to reconsider how I respond to ignorance. (And to be clear, I mean honest lack-of-knowledge ignorance — I remain comfortable with my reflexive desire to spurn poorly disguised bigotry, intolerance, and hatred.)

If I’m going to “be the change I want to see” on the internet, supporting and encouraging people who want to develop new knowledge, then I’ll have to put aside the survival instincts that I developed in my early internet days. 

Sunday, August 6, 2023

I bet there’s a German word for it.

Tipa has a post up about taming the games backlog, and it’s entirely too relatable. Meanwhile, Ocho’s goals for August reminded me that I still have to get back to Fallout: New Vegas (although I’m reluctant to return after some ugly misadventures at Camp McCarran).

What I’d really like to do is resolve some unfinished business from more than a decade ago: I finally dragged my Nintendo Wii out of storage to complete some games that have been stuck in my memory for a very long time. 

What do you call it when you forget a game’s controls, meaning that you can’t pick up where you left off, but you remember too much of its plot to start over? That’s what happened with me and The Last Story.

I was barely managing the combat sequences before I took an extended absence, and now I think I'll need some time to get back into practice. Sometimes it helps to start a game over and work back through the early tutorial battles, but I don't have the patience for all the story sequences.  

Yes, I remember the island’s terrible secret. No, I don’t want to endure the extended heel turn that was heavily foreshadowed. The Last Story is interesting overall, but its storytelling can be a bit over the top. 

I’m sure that the tutorial details can be accessed through in-game menus, and I could always (pause for dramatic effect) read the manual — with enough study time, it would be possible to resume moving forward. But I don’t play games to conduct intensive research.

So I’m just kind of… staring at it? I have always wanted to see how its ends, and people say nice things about the game, which means that it’s probably worth finishing. After that, I’ll see if I can get back into Xenogears and Farewell Ruins of the Moon.