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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Do we play Farmville because we're polite?

Do we play Farmville because we're polite?: "

Mental Floss clues us into an interesting article on MediaCommons about why we play Farmville — basically, because we've been trained to not be able to ignore social obligations.

The secret to Farmville's popularity is neither gameplay nor aesthetics. Farmville is popular because in entangles users in a web of social obligations. When users log into Facebook, they are reminded that their neighbors have sent them gifts, posted bonuses on their walls, and helped with each others' farms. In turn, they are obligated to return the courtesies. As the French sociologist Marcel Mauss tells us, gifts are never free: they bind the giver and receiver in a loop of reciprocity. It is rude to refuse a gift, and ruder still to not return the kindness.[11] We play Farmville, then, because we are trying to be good to one another. We play Farmville because we are polite, cultivated people.

I don't play Farmville, but I do keep my Facebook page pretty app-free because I fear getting entangled in such obligations.

Cultivated Play: Farmville


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Steam offers deep-discount game sale

Steam offers deep-discount game sale: "steamsaleindieplain.jpg

PC (and now Mac!) digital download service Steam has kicked off a site-wide sale offering big discounts on everything from AAA to indie, including bundles like the 'Northern Lights' pack (above) -- which includes Crayon Physics, the aforementioned Saira and the excellent UK indie Plain Sight -- and the Best of the Underground pack.

Also of note, all the games from Darwinia creators Introversion are bundled for $5, and even recent releases like BioShock 2 and Borderlands are around half off (and available in their own 2K bundle).

The Steam store site has the full listing of discounted items, which remain on sale until July 4.



[Haven't tried this, but it seems cool. -egg]

f.lux: "

f.lux is a free piece of software that slowly shifts the color temperature of your computer monitor throughout the day in order to adapt it to the natural rhythm of light. I first downloaded it after reading about Seth Robert's self-experimentation involving sleep. As Roberts points out, research indicates that certain color temperatures stimulate wakefulness and affect circadian rhythms. This is why people with Seasonal Affective Disorder use blue light devices that supposedly mimic the blue sky of summer. By using f.lux to shift the temperature of a computer monitor away from blue light and towards red after natural light has faded the idea is that it will diminish the unintended wakefulness caused by the screen and allow for a more restful sleep.

While I am not as careful a self-experimenter as Seth Roberts, I have noticed that when I use f.lux not only do I get sleepier sooner but that I also awake earlier. By simply disabling the program for an hour (an option that is built into the software) I also notice an immediate sense of renewed wakefulness. The shift in color temperature is significant and immediately noticeable when I use my computer at night, but not in a way that negatively impacts the quality of the image on screen (and when it does, or if I need to edit photos, I simply disable it).

The program is available for Mac OS X and Windows XP/Vista/7. A similar program called Redshift is available for Linux users.

-- Oliver Hulland



Available from f.lux

Produced by stereopsis


The iPad, a month on

As usual, Charlie Stross pretty much nails it.

"In a nutshell: the iPhone swallowed the iPod, the satnav, the phone, and the pocket camera. The iPad swallows the PMP, the ebook reader, and the netbook."
"As for the big picture: this thing is roughly where the Macintosh was in late 1984. Which is to say, a lot of people don't get it, and think it's a toy — and in truth, there's a lot of stuff it doesn't do properly yet. But it's an astonishingly promising toy. And what it promises is an entirely new way of getting stuff done. I think it's going to be Macintosh 2.0. And today, even if you're reading this in Internet Explorer on a desktop PC, your PC is a Macintosh clone: because the mouse-and-window based Macintosh user interface won."