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Social media experiment

February 14, 2017, 12:13:08 PM by kat
Social media is both a blessing and bane. A blessing because users are able to access multiple 'news' sources from a single location. Bane because users see just a fraction of the channels and outlets they are subscribed to being, through no fault of their own, none-the-wiser to the fact.

It doesn't matter the platform of choice, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, etc., they all do the same thing in that they actively throttle and filter feeds to reduce the amount of 'noise' users are subject to (posts service providers deem to be unwanted, spam, junk etc.), often explained as efforts to "improve the end user experience of the service".

In practice this simply means subscribers see but a fraction of the posts they subscribed to receiving (and this is notwithstanding the presumption this presents, of the service provider acting as a content filter, or content 'censor', an action that indirectly suggests users are not capable of determining what they want to see), or they're seeing older content because of the feedback loop this creates - popular posts remain popular because they're popular (constantly visible).

For content creators this creates a huge looming problem, a reality that means but a fraction of their notices are even seen; a indie game developer with a thousand followers on Twitter for example should expect 1000 page-views of a particular tweet every time one is posted - the single message goes out to, and is therefore seen by, all their subscribers.

What happens instead, with all the system wide filters in place, is a significant reduction in views and notifications to the effect that the content creator might now only achieve a 10% viewing, 100 pairs of eyeballs, leaving a colossal 90% of the audience having no idea the creator has even been posting (its own problem[1]) - an important patch to a game, a texture update, who knows, they never see the message.

The suggested solution to this is for creators to post more. But all this does is give the platform holders more content to block filter, whilst making increases to the amount of people still not seeing the content they wanted to be notified about. Its still a 10%/90% split, albeit with differing gross numbers. And this is notwithstanding the increased time and energy the creator has to spend generating content for social media rather than for project development. It's more time, effort and energy surrendered to platform holders than creator projects.

The ideal solution to this situation would be for Social media platforms to remove filters they control and instead provide users the tools they need to better manage what they want to see or not, give the individual control rather than having that material controlled, benevolently, on their behalf. Some already do this to an extent, Facebook and Twitter for example, but in doing so the feature essentially sits atop deeply entrenched service wide throttling and filtering that has the intended effect of reducing posts the user is exposed to even further.

There may be ways to bypass these filters and controls, unfortunately they're not easy to find so they can be adjusted or disabled. Even where they are available, getting the word out is neigh impossible when such messages aren't seen in the first place... because they're being filtered.

[1] a typical exchange might go something like this;
- "We are. Are you're not seeing them?".
- "Our messages might be getting blocked by [service provider]".
- "Check your settings or notifications".
- "Unfortunately there's nothing we can do".
- "U FIX IT!!!!!".
- */block.

Affected by the "Muslim Ban" - plan of action

February 11, 2017, 03:16:03 PM by kat
Seeing as the ESA, GDC, IGDA et al are too busy letting everyone know how the "Muslim Ban" is terrible, doing very little to actually help those potentially caught in the middle of the controversy. Here's a few things to look into if you are, or might be, one of the unfortunate;
The following is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or otherwise formal advice. Where appropriate, consult a qualified representative for advice, support or assistance.
  • Check if the suspension actually applies to you
     - the  following Countries are (currently) subject to the Executive Order; Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Sudan.
  • Check your employment status
     - are you a Temporary Worker, a Student, Intern, on Work Placement, a Permanent Worker, or Overseas Worker; the rules differ significantly for each 'status' type so be clear about the conditions under which you are working or providing labour (Overseas Workers, that is individuals that freelance, work-for-hire, or provide otherwise short-term or project-to-project contract based labour outside the United States with no requirements for travel, are not typically subject to Visa requirements UNLESS they intend to enter the United States).
  • Contact your employer
     - if you have not yet been contacted by your employer, their HR department or legal representatives, get in touch with them. Check your employment status with the company/business/venture, especially where H-1B's are concerned ("H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models").
  • Get informed
     - read through the appropriate section(s) of the U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services et al website to make sure you understand your duties and obligations with respect to the Visa authorising your working for a U.S. based business, i.e., "Understanding H-1B Requirements".
  • Do you need to travel to the United States
     - determine whether travel to/from the United States is a condition of employment/work; the Executive Order currently only affects travel to/from the Countries listed above, not work by itself, which is controlled by different rules and regulations (per "Check your employment status" above, 'work' as a function is not subject to the ban unless there is a requirement the provider of labour is expected to travel to the United States - providing freelance services from a Country subject to the Executive Order does not necessarily prohibit service provision based in/from those locations).
  • Contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy
    -  the U.S. Embassy services represent the United States interests in a given region and will be versed on appropriate actions available; Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Sudan.
  • Contact local Department of Employment
     - advice may also be sought from your regional 'department of employment'.

Kicking ass and chewing bubblegum

February 10, 2017, 01:16:54 PM by kat

There's something peculiarly incongruous about the cultural critics refrain that a persons skin colour dictates how they should be seen by society and the marketplace, the implication that Hispanics, Blacks, Iranians, etc., are intentionally under-served, marginalised or discriminated against if not catered to as being "Hispanic", "Black" etc., first and 'individual' or 'person' second. That people can or should only define themselves by arbitrary characteristics over which they have little control, considering themselves 'victims' if not acknowledged by, or as, such.

It is seemingly unthinkable for an Hispanic American to play an FPS in which the 'hero' character is established as being white, the bad guy, brown/black/[colour]. That the gamer simply cannot or should not enjoy the game for the story being told. Good versus Bad. That because the hero is not immediately reflective of the player, it must mean game developers and publishers are implicitly racist, or at the very least subconsciously marginalising whole swathes of people through some inherent "white neo-colonialism" they didn't know they had as beneficiaries of inheriting an existing system. Its basically, and without the barest hint of irony; everyone except those pointing out the 'problem' are racists.


For this picture of the world to be true however, it requires the individual lack or have no agency, that marginalised groups can only act as a member of a particular ethnicity, can only see themselves, conduct their lives around being [insert 'X' arbitrary characteristic here]. Its a world view, an individualised ecosystem, that holds people hostage to, or coerces, self-identification as 'X' and only as 'X'. It confines, traps them within the group, belong or else suffer the consequences.

It says Sophia cannot not play Wolfenstein because B.J. Blazkowicz is white (Polish decent). It says she can't step outside her identity into anothers, that she can't imagine their identity to be hers for the experience - she's not playing as B.J., she is B.J., B.J. is herself - just as the inter-sectional narrative demands of "white, male, heterosexual" game developers and publishers and their catering to supposed marginalised demographics. It says Sophia cannot/should not play 'white' games simply because she likes the story, kicking ass and chewing bubblegum. She's a race-traitor if she does. This message having unopposed traction speaks volumes, of the narrative, of the people pushing it, and those supporting it, tacitly or not.

Further Reading
- "Just shoot the Aayrabs" or "why can't we play games as terrorists"
- "Muslim blood is cheap" or "why can't we play as terrorists, part II"
- The dark side of diversity: "positive discrimination" (reverse discrimination)

[#investigate + #gamergate] = the FBI dossier

January 31, 2017, 05:14:00 PM by kat

The FBI released a heavily redacted PDF dossier of its investigation into #gamergate. The conclusion in their own words;
"To date, all available investigative steps[1] failed to identity any subjects or actionable leads. San Francisco USAO [...] will not be able to prosecute any threats against victims or subject(s) ... [and that the] ... investigation be administratively closed due to lack of leads". [pp169]
Reading through the entire document its hardly surprising the investigation concluded the way it did as much of the 'evidence' amounts to little more then hearsay and conjecture at best, at worst, the product of self-aggrandizing histrionics, or of serially paranoid fantasists[2]; it's Eric Cartman jumped up on coffee using his extensive on/off repertoire of faux emotion/outrage trying to explain his way out of yet another scam before shouting "screw you guys".

The few incidents that do warrant concern literally ("liderally") have nothing to do with "#gamergate" and instead are the direct consequence of petty in-group fighting, the alleged victims jostling for notoriety among their own peers, blow-back from constant ideologically testing and antagonising each other[3].

In this context the only meaningful conclusion to draw from the report is that #gamergate, as the cohesive movement media, critics and opponents vociferously claim it to be, simply does not exist as a reality, certainly not in any way an organised group frequently and disingenuously described as engaging in "domestic terrorism"[4].

It's this negligently propagated narrative, that gamergate exists exclusively to harass, abuse and commit "online violence against women (in Tech)"[5], that has done more harm than good because it perpetuates the existence of a fictional monster, a Sasquatch fleetingly glimpsed in the woods, evidenced only through suspicious looking plaster-casts of manicured feet replete with partial impressions of toe-rings and traces of black nail-polish. As a result there is simply nothing cohesive for the FBI to investigate; a few individuals being 'stupid' does not a terrorist organisation make.

But like all things #gamergate, reality and the FBI's conclusion is being resoundingly criticised, dismissed or ignored for sake of the boogieman's continued existence[6];

"In the dark of night,
Say "gamergate" thrice,
For the boogieman to appear

- Tips for dealing with online harassment or abuse.

[1] investigatory steps mentioned in the Document included (but not specifically limited to) issuance of Grand Jury Subpoenas to Twitter, Google and Microsoft et al, other data requests to other service providers/websites, the use of the Palantir data-mining platform (not the NSA platform), moving the investigation to San Francisco, a number of dedicated agents, etc.

[2] on several occasions the Complainants appear to ignore Agents advice not to publicly discuss the incidents, even on occasion to the detriment of the safety of others. On different occasions same Complainants appear to be withholding critical information that might identity certain individuals, or assist their timeline discovery.

[3] gamergate is an effective smokescreen for its supposed victims to perpetrate their own particularly egregious activities.

[4] using  Google Search, "gamergate domestic terrorism" currently returns c.29,000 hits (UK based search).

[5] using Google Search, "online violence against women in tech" currently returns c.5,000,000 hits (UK based search).

[6] the FBI report being "an injustice" is entirely relative as being a 'victim' of #gamergate turns out to be hugely lucrative

Game development, Trump & the "Muslim Ban"

January 30, 2017, 08:01:24 PM by kat

TL:DR; the Executive Order invokes legislation that already exists in various forms. It's not the media manufactured "Muslim Ban" but a temporary suspension and moratorium on United States travel from Countries ear-marked ostensibly, but not exclusively, by the previous Obama Administration, its Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security (and Intelligence Services).

[long post warning]

Although the EXECUTIVE ORDER: PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES is fairly long(ish), its meat and potatoes boil down to the following;
Sect (c) "... pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act], 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry ... "

The statement makes clear reference to "U.S.Code Title 8, 1182 - Inadmissible aliens", an act last amended Mar. 7 2013 via the "Violence against Women Re-authorisation Act". And "U.S. Code, Title 8, 1187 - Visa waiver program for certain visitors", last amended in 2015 via the "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016" - whilst the actual amendments made on these occasions cover other aspects of the Bills, the opportunities to amend, rescind and/or append components critical to immigration or non-immigration control were not taken[1].

In other words, the groundwork for the current Executive Order was laid by previous Administrations, the Obama Administration being the last[2], during which time the respective Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary of State, as part of their general duties and obligation to the "Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015" and other legislation to ensure the security of the United States and her borders, authored/updated/amended a "designated countries" list that included Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Sudan, a list that may or may not also be supplemental/supplemented by information used to establish the Foreign Terrorist Organisations list, defining specific terrorist organisations of concern, and/or the U.S. Department of States "Country Policies and Embargoes" list, detailing Nations with which the United States has varying permissive or restrictive trade agreements.

To reiterate, the basis of the current travel "ban" is previous Administrations legislate policy. A matter of fact, and of the public record available to anyone for reference; the new Executive Order simply references and invokes past precedent.

But none of these data-points (facts?) seem to matter, and rather than double-check, partisan press and opposition have taken the opportunity to double-down on a narrative of fear[3] that the Executive Order is a "Muslim Ban". As a result everyone else is following suit, including prominent game industry trade and lobbying bodies, organisations developers, individuals to studios alike, trust to have their best interests in mind, whom now seem to be more interested in virtue signalling solidarity with, and politicking of, the noisy baying and vociferous mob that's taking a stand based upon fabricated outrage; obfuscations at best, mendacious lies at worst. And for column inches?. At what point are 'news' networks no longer serving the interests of their viewers, helping them make properly informed decisions, the outcomes from which do have tangible and potentially lasting effect, and instead fomenting ill-informed reactionary discontent.

With respect to the games industry groups, instead of falling in lock-step with the outrage, they should be making non-political statements, reaching out to those caught out by the Executive Order, assisting and advising, working publicly to reassure members and the broader industry base that they are beavering away on a solution, perhaps something as simple as a checklist individuals can use to see if they actually need to be concerned. Contact numbers, encouraging individuals in particular to get in touch with their local Consulate or Embassy for advice and so on - foreign work/employment and the H-1B Visa program are a complicated issue as it is without fear mongering and ginning people into senseless panic. There's a reason shouting fire in a crowded theatre has never been a good idea... unless panic can be monestised.

[1] caveat: legislative 'riders' or 'bill stuffing' make it difficult to track down legislative hierarchy's (what came first and where) because updates or amendments to Bills can be written into other completely unrelated Bills, a tactic often used to coerce compliance - by placing immigration amendments in an equal rights for women act for example, politicians would be reluctant to object to a section for fear of being called anti-woman - the objection is seen as anti-bill not anti-section.

[2] other Presidents on immigration "SOTU Bill Clinton talking about immigration in the 1995", "George W. Bush Comprehensive Immigration Reform 2007".

[3] where were the protests, the outrage when the "countries of concern" list was drawn up during the Obama Administration, although not exclusive to that Administration. Or the objections to the 100 mile 'border restriction zone' and 'internal check-points'.
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