Nowadays, people have submitted ever bigger portions of their lives to "gaming machines" that make things at least superficially easier and simpler, but whose internal rules they don't necessarily understand at all. A substantial portion of today's social interaction in developed countries, for example, takes place in on-line social networking services. Under their hoods, these services calculate things like message visibility -- that is, which messages and whose messages are supposed to be more important for a given user. For most people, however, it seems to be completely OK that a computer owned by a big, distant corporation makes such decisions for them using a secret set of rules. They just care about the fun.
Video games, in many ways, surpasses traditional passive media in the potential of mental manipulation. A well-known example is the so-called Tetris effect caused by a prolonged playing of a pattern-matching game. The game of Tetris "programs" its player to constantly analyze the on-screen wall of blocks and mentally fit different types of tetrominos in it. When a player stops playing after several hours, the "program" may remain active, causing the player to continue mentally fitting tetrominos on outdoor landscapes or whatever they see in their environment. Other kinds of games may have other kinds of effects. I have personally also experienced an "adventure game effect" that caused me to unwillingly think about real-world things and locations from the point of view of "progressing in the script". Therefore, I don't think it is a very far-fetched idea that spending a lot of time on an interactive website gives our brains a permission to adapt to the "game mechanics" and unnoticeably alter the way how we look at the world.
The most prominent game-mechanical element in Facebook is "Like", which affects nearly everything on the site. It is a simple and easily processable signal whose use is particularly encouraged. In its internal game, Facebook scores users according to how active "likers" they are, and gives more visibility to the messages of those users that score higher. Moderate users of Facebook, who use their whole brain to consider what to "Like" or not or what to share and not, gain less points and less visibility. This is how Facebook rewards the "virtuous" users and punishes the "sinful" ones.
The Cringely 2010 (Not in Silicon Valley) Startup Tour
10:43 pm EST, Feb 8, 2010
Starting next month I will be accepting from readers nominations for interesting startup companies in six general categories — biotech, energy, entertainment, information technology, materials, and transportation. Over the course of about six weeks we will examine and discuss as a community these nominated companies of which I am hoping there will be hundreds, primarily not from Silicon Valley or any other tech hotbeds. I’ll have some assistance in this process from the Kauffman Foundation.
Together we’ll whittle the number down to 24 then come June I will set off with my family in our RV to visit all 24. We’ll camp in the parking lot or in the driveway of the CEO and spend a couple days at each startup, learning about the company, the people, their technology and their market. I’ll take with me a small camera crew and we’ll produce what will begin with a summer of blogging and end with a 13-part TV reality series
This year we are proud to present on Saturday, December 5th at The End the sixth installment of the Buzz & Click showcase of local live performance of electronic and experimental music (no DJ sets). The format of the show is 10 half-hour blocks of time starting at 9p and running until 2a in the morning with very tight (5 minute) turnaround between sets, so it’s nearly solid five hours of the best unusual music Nashville has to offer. This year’s lineup:
Synapse Trap 9-9:25 (Former Spun counter guy Tim Buchanan & friends mashing things up) 84001 9:30-9:55 (ambient duo Timothy Carey and Jimmy Thorn) Styches 10-10:25 (Kyle Hammet and Kelli Shay from LYLAS on violins and other things) Oliver Dodd 10:30-10:55 (deeply minimal electronics) Jensen Sportag 11-11:25 (electro-pop duo Austin Wilkinson & Benji Craig) Logickal 11:30-11:55 (solo laptop wizardry from co-founder Jeremy Dickens) Bluff Duo 12-12:25 (prepared guitar and woodwinds from Brady Sharp and Dave Maddox) DAAS 12:30-12:55 (Matt Pusti’s non-Makeup & Vanity Set IDM project) Leslie Keffer 1-1:25 (opening act for Sonic Youth @ City Hall in 2008 brings her own noise) Forrest Bride 1:30-until (supergroup of experimental musicians fronted by Ben & Amy Marcantel)
Tickets are $7 at the door (no advance sales, sorry.)
We will have brand new T-shirts and posters from this show and some from previous years for sale at the event. They're being done by Grand Palace so you know they will be amazing.
The End: 2219 Elliston Pl Nashville, TN 37203-5205 (615) 321-4457
The gross injustice in our nation today is that over the last twenty years we have increasingly forced borrowers who take out bad loans to not only go bankrupt but be unable to discharge their debt, so long as they are individuals. The corporate bankrupt, however, maintain their "corporate veil" and thus can file Chapter 11 - or 7 - with impunity.
This is the root of the problems in our economy. It is the root cause of the credit bubble. It is the root cause of the housing bubble and the ridiculously-pumped pulled-forward demand curve that is now inexorably collapsing, despite the protests of The Fed, Treasury and The Administration.
We will not return to a balanced economy capable of organic growth so long as this imbalance exists.
Recent analysis has shown that the FHA's "AUS TOTAL" decision-making program (computer-based underwriting) has been intentionally calibrated to produce unsustainable loans. Indeed, as I have documented FHA will provide an "approve" return on DTIs (when one includes the FHA "fudge factors") as high as 49% of gross income. This is clearly an unaffordable loan and is reflected in the current FHA delinquency and foreclosure rate which stands, at this point at more than one in five loans.
The true ugliness here is that these stats are far worse than they first appear. Why? Because more than half of the FHA total loan portfolio has been originated in the last two years.
Consider what this default ratio means given the portfolio composition, as there are only two possibilities - either the FHA is intentionally making loans that are defaulting quickly, within the first 24 months, or the older FHA loans are defaulting at an astronomical rate.
FHA is less-than-forthcoming when it comes to testimony before Congress on this point, and apparently, Congress has buried its head in the sand as well. Indeed, we have Congresspeople making statements that making dangerously-unsustainable loans is a "policy" intended to head off housing price declines.
But does and will it?
Does giving someone a loan that will foreclose in a year or two actually head off housing declines? Or does it simply bankrupt more Americans and defer the inevitable house price decline by a short period of time - a year or two at most, perhaps as little as a few months?
News that the FDIC fund is negative ~$8 billion does not reassure me that everything's okay. Seen those yields on 3 and 6 month treasuries lately? Effectively zero with speculation of heading into negative territory by year's end.