A perfect sea urchin

The Cyberculture Corner

Welcome to where I air my wrong headed views on cyberculture and the internet. I always have a lot to say and no one tells me to shut up. To return to the regular blog page, just click here.

Now What?

How is that for a cliche of a title. Don't answer. It's a rhetorical question, but I got in. I had to provide a prfile picture for this fine operation, but Flickr can be a wonderful place when you search it through Creative Commons. The admins were also reasonable enough to allow a nonCelebrity photo. I've done my first Plot Page. Yes html ([dohtml] actually) is a big part of role play life. Fortunately, I code and don't have to hunt for templates. I can also adjust my environment to my fifty year old eyes. And this morning, it looks like somebody is plotting with me!

Of course, I've managed to have my first major vision-conflict. It's not over the images or graphics. I've done my best to come around more than half way on that. It is more, the nature that everyone on a real-life role play has to start out with relationships. Zephyr, by contrast, is bereft. She is a relocating divorcee. That means no previous relationships with any existing characters. This is utterly plausible, but the fact that a life time includes a number of "clean breaks" and "fresh starts" is an idea that may not completely exist due to Facebook and before that cheap long distance with cell phones and of course email. As you erode distance, previous lives follow you. This has only been so for the last fifteen to twenty years, but if you are twenty years old, the older way of doing things is outside living memory.

I've also noticed that Zephyr is the only BTB employee player character. That is an unintended vision conflict. The role play also lacks solid, working class types. That bus drivers, security guards, janitors, and waitresses often have the best stories goes without saying. Technology Trainers don't do so badly either...I hope. OK, let's see what response my plot has. I hope no one is telling me to rewrite it. Holds breath...goes and looks...

It looks like a plotting offer from the least likely character to have anything to do with poor Zephyr, well not the least likely, just across the generational divide, about the age of many of her students. This might be fun.

Eileen H. Kramer -- June 14, 2012

Let me in Out of the Rain!

I am looking for trouble, sort of. I am looking for catharsis. I want to become someone else for a few minutes to an hour every day. I want a role play but I'll probably end up writing fiction. Right now I've submitted a character to this fine operation. It's been about thirty-six hours so who knows. I could get accepted. I doubt I'll be rejected. I'll probably just be left to twist in the wind.

I used to write on how to keep out or remove discordant elements. In civilized circles, and the folks who run this role play are probably civilized (I like to presume people are civilized), the best way to get rid of someone is ignore them. They either take the hint and get bored and move on.

This is also a dormant role play trying to come back to life. I may be the last thing on the list for reasons that are hardly personal. And, no I don't want to be rejected. I'm a pretty burned role player.

The plot at F.T.W.W.W. could be fantastic. I'm attracted to its potential. A company town is just perfect for my needs. It has adult players. I want to write in a voice or from a point of view that is close to my own.

The role play has its limitations. When a company "takes over" a town, they do not have to resort to paramiliatries and violence. They may have a few security goons. They may sue people in court. They usually run someone for office or buy someone with campaign contributions. They get sweetheart tax deals. They invest heavily in the local schools and do public philanthropy. In more sinister versions of this scenario, they own or rent a lot of the housing and care for their employees in their off hours. They can threaten to fire employees so there is your coercion, no jack boots required. The more they become a part of their employees' lives, the worse threats of firing will be. If you are a union organizer or an entrepreneur or a competitor or someone who can't get hired at very big corporation, you hate them, and with good reason. If you get paid by them, these folks gave you the best job you ever had. That's how it works and it makes a great plot device just as it runs in real life, with all the modern commentary loaded in for fun.

Then we have the old devil of social mobility and multiple roles. On most role plays it just doesn't happen. For some reason the role play owners, who are one generation younger than I am, can't conceive of an absolutely clean break, when for middle class and upper middle class youth, this was the norm. People left home, went off to college, moved to the big city and started absolutely, new lives. Distance eroded relationships before Facebook and cheap long distance calling and texting. It just did. It didn't matter that your social security number was in the computer and everyone could access your records. Most people didn't get in the kind of trouble (think speeding tickets) where that mattered in their social lives.

Also, there used to be an American dream. It's got big question marks around it, but what it meant was that the dweeb in high school or the kid from the wrong side of the tracks, went to college, made money, moved up a class and did so without guilt and with joy. It also meant that fortunes made in one generation could be lost or squandered in the next, or made and remade in one lifetime. Both these things happened frequently, and they've happened in my family. I don't have to tell you that all of this is missing on F.T.W.W.W.

Now my older person's perspective, age discrimination, difference of vision etc... is probably not going to be a problem on F.T.W.W.W. If it is a problem, I will find myself ignored which as I said above is the easiest way to get rid of me, even without a formal activity purge, but chances are it's not going to amount to a hill of beans. What usually causes me trouble on any role play board that accepts me and that I fall in love with is that the board dies before I want to stop writing. I usually take the story somewhere else, get soured on role play, and find msyelf on the fiction reservation. Right now I'm looking forward to having my own version of F.T.W.W.W. with upward and downward mobility and a company that acts like good old American robber barrons in the 21st Century, either after I twist in the wind for a while or after I'm accepted and the original runs its course. I want to go through all this drama for some reason, but right now I just want and need to write.

Eileen H. Kramer

You Are What You Pin

And it's so easy. It's a time sink. It's Pinterest. Gather, select, and sort images. Follow others whose pins you like and they follow you. Of course it is good to gather your own pins and make a contributions.

Though the images have captions, Pinterest, is essentially a nonverbal world. Visiting Pin Boards is like taking a look in some one else's mind. What do they collect? Recipes, fashion, stuff to buy, animals, plants, slogans? How do they arrange it? There are several common patterns.

The most common is a bunch of board names that are very pinner-centric: "Things I Love", "Products I Live," "Places I want to Go," "Vacation Hotspots," etc... This is not the only scheme.

Colors form one very popular scheme, especially among female pinners (I have yet to see a male try it, sorry.), and then there is taxonomy. This is great for animals and plants. About a third to a quarter of those I follow (closer to a third) use some sort of taxonomic scheme. I use one myself. The only thing unusual about my scheme besides its heavy emphasis on insects and cats is that when boards get very crowded, I split them. This takes time, but it buys space and prevents crowded boards.

All this may be academic because Pinterest is glitchy this afternoon. How did that happen? Pinterst has growing pains. I notice nothing new in my feed, and that just can't be. All this leads to the question: "What would I do if Pinterest whent down?" I'd feel bad. I'd also regreat the "wasted time."

I will not lie. Pinterest competed with this blog this spring, especially the Second Life portion of it. It is easier to pin a dozen photos of Iyoba doing her stuff than it is to make a twelve shot, coherent, photo show, but Pinterest has been a good place to hole up because one of the oldest and most cherished parts of my online world is going to die. I know, site fighting, has been dying forever, but it is taking forever to die. I haven't wanted to blog about it because in a way it is too personal, too painful, and the end is going to be ugly. When the same three sentences happen to you day in and day out, it is not particularly bloggable. Take my word for it.

I'll write more about Pinterest when it perks up or announces a downage. I don't feel much like talking about it when it is not its busy self. More to come, and I mean it.

Eileen H. Kramer -- June 1, 2012