Last year Mike Daisey was at the center of a controversy that sparked a great deal of discussion surrounding the problem of authenticity, and the role of journalism in an art context. Our own Andrew Dickson wrote an essay exploring these conflicts. Other than an extremely awkward appearance on NPR, Daisey has remained silent regarding the controversy until now.
Tomorrow night (May 21) PICA hosts the world premier of Journalism, Mike Daisey’s new piece that directly responds to the events of last year, and the numerous problems that arise in pursuit of reporting “the truth.”
The future came crashing down on me this week at the mobile phone developer conference while I stood at a bathroom urinal.
I had just wrapped up a conversation with a man who owned a mobile phone. He had explained that one of the gadget’s greatest features is the ability to snap a photo. “It’s amazing, you just look at something, touch your phone and it just takes a picture,” he said enthusiastically.
I should preface here by saying that that I’m a nerd. I’ve been a nerd all my life, always buying the first era of a new gadget — essentially anything with a button and a battery. But this week, the moment I swung open the doors to the Moscone Center in San Francisco, home of the developer conference, I felt like a mere mortal among an entirely different class of super-connected humans.
Everywhere I looked at the conference, people were using mobile phones. Hundreds of them. Maybe more than a thousand! They were on the escalator. At the coffee stations. Press lounges. Lingering in the hallways like gangs of super nerds. They looked like real people as they nibbled on M&M’s and nuts at the snack bars. Except they weren’t; these “humans” were able to take pictures with their phones and then post them to the Internet.
The developers present who didn’t own the company’s mobile phones stared at those who did with awe. But not me. I tried to duck my head and move out of the way of these strangers’ sneaky little cameras.
Often, mobile phone owners looked strange. Many were using their pagers while using the phones — defeating a declared purpose of the new gadget, to free you from having to look at your pager. Another man continually looked at his watch to check the time, even through the phone displays a clock.
At one point as I climbed the stairs and approached the second floor, I saw a group of five people using mobile phones, all silently staring into their screens. I couldn’t tell if they were wirelessly having a conversation through their phones, or just bored by the presence of real humans in front of them.
Then I met the man who excitedly told me about his power to snap pictures with his watch. (The watch, it should be noted, is not officially supported by mobile phones, but is essentially a hack using a bluetooth connection.) He explained that he uses the watch-to-take-a-picture feature so much that a few days ago he was not using his mobile phone and was confused when he touched his watch and nothing happened. His mind had played a trick on him, he said.
I laughed nervously as he told me the story, his mobile phone in his hand, unsure if he was taking pictures or just checking his watch. I then excused myself to go to the toilet.
As I approached the line to the restroom, I took a deep sigh, thinking that I might find some respite from the hundreds of cameras attached to people’s hands at the conference.
Yet when it was finally my turn to approach the rows of white urinals, my world came screeching to a halt. There they were, a handful of people using mobile phones, now standing next to me at their own urinals, checking stock prices, playing mobile games, reading email, and possibly taking pictures, as they relieved themselves.
It is very much a psychological game, like all great games. That’s why we are discussing it so much, I think, because of this psychological potential. Granted, there are some big strategic holes to fill, but I think this could be one of the greats (up there with chess and poker and face-punching).
Want to make people run? Don’t give them a badge for running. Give them a ball and shove four sticks in the ground. They’ll run around the field chasing the ball (and each other) for ages. The experience is intrinsically challenging and amusing, and the running is a by-product. Games rely on dynamics like these and rules to generate the conditions for positive engagement.
Kill it With Fire: why Gamification sucks and Game Dynamics rule | Philip Trippenbach (via timoni)
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued guidance yesterday permitting companies to use social media sites including Facebook Inc. (FB) and Twitter Inc. to communicate company announcements.