Danah Boyd, a PhD candidate at the University of California – Berkeley, has written a soon-to-be-published academic paper examining the trend of affluent, future-focused teens aggregating on Facebook, while social outcasts and the non-college bound stick with MySpace. There’s an interesting argument, among many, that claims that class divisions in the U.S. are based more on social networks (in the non digital sense), geography, and other factors, rather than income levels. Perhaps Cory Doctorow’s second novel, Eastern Standard Tribe, with the central conceit of people organizing themselves into classes/groups based on their time zone, was more realistic than I thought when I first read it.
If for no other reason, read the article for the terms “hegemonic teens” (“good” kids playing in the system, focusing on education) and “subaltern teens” (everyone else, but especially the fringe), which conjures an image of teenagers self-dividing into Eloi and Morlock. MySpace will definitely be the social network of choice for Morlocks.
I was been bitten once by the World of Warcraft bug myself, but in my case, it was luckily not addictive. Though I’ve never known anyone personally who admitted to buying gold or items from farmers, this New York Times article on the gold farming operations in China claims there is a $1.8 billion trade in virtual items. To become a part of this market, one needs little start-up capital or resources, but a tremendous amount of man hours for it to be profitable, so China’s surplus of labor makes gold farm a good fit. The article is a good overview of the history of virtual item sales, particularly as it relates to current popular games, but it’s look at the human side of China’s gold farming operations is a refreshing and new examination of the issue.
There’s been a lot of futurism in the news this week, particularly focusing on cities. First, Forbes.com has an interesting piece on Ghost Cities of 2100. Most of the cities they predict will be abandoned appear to be for reasons related to global climate change. Regarding future cities and advertising, could we be witnessing it right now as Sao Paulo’s outdoor advertising ban takes effect?
Scientific American is also running a related piece this week, but this it goes a step further than Forbes and describes a future with no humans at all. Things are looking a little bleak in the popular vision of the future.
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, a preeminent print magazine for genre short fiction, has launched an experiment in posting free fiction online via their website. Previously, F&SF has published short fiction nominated for awards, for voting consideration, but this marks the first time that they have published content from the magazine that has not been nominated. First up is Chris Willrich’s story “The Thief With Two Deaths.” According to John Joseph Adams, assistant editor, this is an experiment with online publishing, and if you think it is a good idea, or you have suggestions, you should let editor Gordon Van Gelder know about it.
Researchers at Rice University in Houston, Texas are developing a system for transmitting data via the bones of the human body. Currently, they are focusing on medical applications, such as using bones to transmit orders to an implant inside the body to release drugs. Previously, efforts to develop a “Personal Area Network (PAN)” have focused on using the skin as a medium, and in fact, Microsoft has a patent on technology for transferring data and power using the human body.