public displays of play

[Abstract:] As research on virtual worlds gains increasing attention in educational, commercial, and military domains, a consideration of how player populations are ‘reassembled’ through social scientific data is a timely matter for communication scholars. This paper describes a large-scale study of virtual worlds in which participants were recruited at public gaming events, as opposed to through online means, and explores the dynamic relationships between players and contexts of play that this approach makes visible. Challenging conventional approaches to quantitatively driven virtual worlds research, which categorizes players based on their involvement in an online game at a particular point in time, this account demonstrates how players’ networked gaming activities are contingent on who they are playing with, where, and when.

TAYLOR, NICOLAS, JENNIFER JENSON, SUZANNE DE CASTELL, AND BARRY DILOUYA. 2014. Public displays of play: Studying online games in physical settings. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Early view. Available online.
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what’s the profession?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #59
 
A sign
A gentleman in striped pants, black jacket, white shirt, and black leather gloves investigates a sign laid out on a forest floor. The sign is composed of twigs and stones—but the question is: what is the profession of the person who laid out the sign?
    Simply leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the 'Leave a reply' at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it's the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I've approved a comment, your next ones won't be held, but published immediately by the system.]

UPDATE and solution (18 December 2013):
Apologies for this update coming so late, especially as Alhambra posted the right answer—Congratulations!—already on 23 October 2013: The original profession of the man who laid out the sign was: sailor. That way the victory in the 59th installment of zeph’s pop culture quiz was snatched away from Alexander Rabitsch who already was close when he wrote in the comments: ‘Mr. Jonas Oldrace is a master-builder.’ That way he clearly signalled that he had deduced that the screencap was taken from the TV-series episode ‘The Norwood Builder’ (Grieve 1985) based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s short story The Adventure of the Norwood Builder (1903). So, the gentleman sporting striped pants in the picture is Sherlock Holmes, impersonated by actor Jeremy Brett—the definitive moving-image Holmes! The question was a bit tricky, I confess, because the sailor turned tramp does not at all appear in Doyle’s story, but was added for the television dramatization.

DOYLE, Sir ARTHUR CONAN. 1903. The Adventure of the Norwood Builder. Collier’s Weekly September 1903, Strand Magazine October 1903.
GRIEVE, KEN. 1985. The Norwood Builder [TV series episode]. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, ep. 10. Manchester: Granada Television.
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watterson on comics

[Jake Rossen:] Where do you think the comic strip fits in today’s culture?
[Bill Watterson:] Personally, I like paper and ink better than glowing pixels, but to each his own. Obviously the role of comics is changing very fast. On the one hand, I don’t think comics have ever been more widely accepted or taken as seriously as they are now. On the other hand, the mass media is disintegrating, and audiences are atomizing. I suspect comics will have less widespread cultural impact and make a lot less money. I’m old enough to find all this unsettling, but the world moves on. All the new media will inevitably change the look, function, and maybe even the purpose of comics, but comics are vibrant and versatile, so I think they’ll continue to find relevance one way or another. But they definitely won’t be the same as what I grew up with.

[Jake Rossen:] I’m assuming you’ve gotten wind of people animating your strip for YouTube? Did you ever mimic cartoonists you admired before finding your own style?
[Bill Watterson:] Every artist learns through imitation, but I rather doubt the aim of these things is artistic development. I assume they’re either homages or satiric riffs, and are not intended to be taken too seriously as works in their own right. Otherwise I should be talking to a copyright lawyer.

[Jake Rossen:] Is it possible some new form of sequential art is waiting to be discovered? Could the four-panel template die out as newspapers dwindle?
[Bill Watterson:] Form follows function, as the architects say. With words and pictures, you can do just about anything.

ROSSEN, JAKE AND BILL WATTERSON. 2013. Mental Floss exclusive: Our interview with Bill Watterson! Mental Floss 17 October 2013. Electronic Document. Available online.
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artificial paradise inc

Artificial Paradise, Inc is an experimental film anticipating a future where a major corporation has developed an unique software, based on organic virtual reality, which holds all the lost memories of humankind. A user connects to this database of the forgotten…what is he searching for?

FRENAY, JEAN-PAUL. 2009. Artificial Paradise, Inc. [short film]. Brussels: Condor, Jean-Paul Frenay.
via entry at posthuman blues
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queen of cyberpunk

That juxtaposition of technology and humanity is a key theme of the cyberpunk movement [...] (Brown 2011)
When Synners [Cadigan 1991] was published, the World Wide Web didn’t exist; few people had access to computers for leisure use; virtual reality hadn’t made it out of the labs. Yet Cadigan wrote, with typical assurance, of a noisy, noirish, dystopian future, of characters overwhelmed by sheer noise (physical and mental), of a plethora of information conveyed in media old and new, of the breakdown of the body/technology boundary. The world of Synners feels (un)comfortably familiar from the vantage point of the present day. (Brown 2011)

BROWN, TANYA. 2011. Pat Cadigan: A retrospective. Strange Horizons 29 August 2011. Electronic Document. Available online.
CADIGAN, PAT. 1991. Synners. New York City: Bantam Spectra.
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african seed control

Seed and the control of seed lies at the heart of agriculture.
    In Africa around 80% of seed comes from local and community saved seed resources. This seed is adapted to local conditions. It forms an integral part of community food security and agricultural integrity. This entire traditional system is now under threat.
    A broad front of commercial interests, aided and abetted by the World Bank, the American Seed Association and government agencies, along with front groups, academics and so-called philanthropists, are endeavouring to alienate this crucial resource. [...]
    What is at play here is a direct conflict between peasant farmers networks and the neo-colonial attempt to subvert African agriculture by restrictive, first world regulation. The Southern African model is being repeated in East and West Africa, through similar comprador networks.
    What will happen should UPOV [Union internationale pour la protection des obtentions végétales] be broadly adopted? As soon as indigenous seed becomes contaminated by patent protected seed varieties, all rights to share and trade that seed will be lost, forever.
    The irony of this is profound, as the very germplasm, which Monsanto and Pioneer rely on is the result of thousands of years of peasant breeding that remains categorically unrecognised. What is good for the goose is clearly not good for the gander. The end result will only see one winner, which will certainly not be indigenous African farmers. (Ashton 2013)

ASHTON, GLENN. 2013. Africa: Is Africa about to lose the right to her seed? AllAfrica 23 April 2013. Available online.
via entry at techdirt
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beauty of science

We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity. (Marie Curie, Lecture at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 14 May 1921)

via wikiquote
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transformation of reality

David Graeber

I well remember going to conferences in 2006 and 2007 where trendy social theorists presented papers arguing that these new forms of securitization, linked to new information technologies, heralded a looming transformation in the very nature of time, possibility—reality itself. I remember thinking: “Suckers!” And so they were. (Graeber 2011: 15)

Ich erinnere mich an Vorträge aus den Jahren 2006 und 2007, in denen Gesellschaftstheoretiker auf der Höhe ihrer Zeit darlegten, dass diese neuen Formen der Verbriefung in Verbindung mit den neuen Informationstechnologien eine bevorstehende Transformation der Natur von Zeit und Möglichkeit—ja der Realität ankündigten. Ich weiß noch, dass ich dachte: “Blödmänner!” Und das waren sie wirklich. (Graeber 2012 [2011]: 21-22)

GRAEBER, DAVID ROLFE. 2011. Debt: The first 5,000 years. New York: Melville House.
GRAEBER, DAVID ROLFE. 2012 [2011]. Schulden: Die ersten 5.000 Jahre. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.
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