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Michael Powell

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So, there was this problem where I could never remember which MMOs were made by Gazillion, and which were made by Trion Worlds.

I guess that's no longer a problem!
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So, the ArenaNet firings are a difficult case, and it's interesting to note that people whose opinions and politics I respect are coming down in wildly different places on this. But through all of the disagreement, there's one fascinating point of disagreement that's being argued a lot, but I think in the heat of the moment isn't being examined deeply enough. That point is:

What exactly is Twitter?

There seem to be two very different schools of thought on the nature of Twitter, and the rules of etiquette that fall out of that.

Is it like Facebook, or Reddit?

On Facebook (and G+, and LJ if you want to go oldskool, and many other similarly-structured social networks), your wall is a sort of semi-private space. When you make a post, you're friends can pop in to say whatever they think is important, or useful, or just amusing, because these are people you know and trust and have invited in. But it's your wall and you set the rules. There is a power dynamic within the scope of your wall. You're the moderator of your own small, private forum. Even if your posts are technically public and accessible to anybody, the clear etiquette is that you don't jump into a post from someone who isn't your friend, especially to disagree (because that often starts an argument). It feels super intrusive to do so. It's like jumping into a conversation two strangers are having while sitting in a restaurant. It may be in a public space, technically, but it's still none of your business.

In contrast, on Reddit (or Internet forums in general), your posts are being placed in public forums for open consumption. The whole POINT is to invite public commentary, and such commentary is expected and welcome, even when it's in disagreement. The only real etiquette is the etiquette which applies to literally all human interaction ever: Be polite and respectful.

Twitter rests on this weird line between these two paradigms, and I think a substantial subset of the toxicity that happens there is a clash between them.

On one hand, you're making posts which go into your own feed, and you subscribe not to topics, but to specific people, whose posts you find interesting, very similar to Facebook.

On the other hand, all posts are searchable, are globally indexed by hashtag (which is in many ways analogous to Forum topics), and the follow model is asymmetrical, i.e. I can choose to follow you without your consent or you following me back, which means your followers are just whoever finds you interesting, NOT the people you invited in. Which makes it very similar to a public forum like Reddit.

Tying this back into the ArenaNet firings, the initial Twitter interaction that spawned this is a clear example of such a clash, and you can see it played out in brutal righteous indignation, on both sides, in the arguments that follow in the comments on it. And I've watched the same argument happen between friends discussing this in other forums.

From the point of view of the Facebook interpretation, the streamer was super rude. Despite all his careful phrasing and the respect he gave to her piece, he was a stranger coming onto her wall and telling her she was wrong. This is a clearly super intrusive, and her smackdown was thus well deserved.

From the point of view of the Reddit interpretation, Price was super rude. She made a public post that invited comment. Somebody came on and made a very respectful comment that mentioned, twice, how great her talk was, but suggested a slightly alternate viewpoint on things, clearly hoping to spawn a productive discussion. He got back a super short and dismissive reply.

The frustrating part about this is that I think even as people are vigorously arguing about whether he was rude, or she was rude, it's staying at a very surface level. "Well, obviously he came onto HER wall and told her how to do her job. That's super rude!" "No, she made a public post inviting public comment! He was in the right to be there. She didn't have to respond, but her dismissal was super rude." "No, she was technically in public, but that doesn't mean it was a public discussion!" "Really, do you know what `public forum` even means?" And so on ...

But nobody stops and asks the deeper question: Is Twitter a public forum?

As long as people disagree on this point, it'll spawn constant toxic argument. And as long as nobody acknowledges this IS the point of disagreement, it'll just keep getting worse.

Caveat 1: I am NOT saying that all the toxicity on Twitter is a result of this. Not by a long shot. There are tons of people on Twitter who are just horrible regardless of which interpretation you have, and Twitter harassment campaigns are one of the most wretched inventions of the past decade and have very little to do with this disagreement.

Caveat 2: This post is NOT actually about the ArenaNet firings directly, and it is not intended to downplay the CLEAR toxicity of the harassment campaign which followed that exchange. This is intended to discuss a separate, related argument which was merely highlighted by the ArenaNet firings.

The Rules: And since G+ clearly falls in the Facebook category of social interaction, I make the rules on my posts, and the rule is thus: If you want to discuss whether the firings were justified, or the harassment campaign, do it elsewhere. There are PLENTY of posts for that purpose. This is for discussing the interpretation of Twitter. But, I welcome vigorous discussion and even disagreement on that topic.
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Just found out I can download user-made tracks into Beat Saber. Went and got a few songs I like that were fairly popular (indicating they weren't terrible beat maps), and loaded into the VR.


I bombed out of every one of those songs. I'm now covered in sweat and hopelessly consuming all of the fluids in the building. I clearly need more practice before trying the nonsense these sadists are making.
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This is really hopeful!

There was a point in this wicked where they mention that while they could theoretically use this to just sequester carbon, this wouldn't provide them with a product to sell... What occurs to me is that a solid legislative solution would be to just say that 10% of the CO2 removed from the atmosphere needs to be buried. The other 90% can then be converted to fuel and sold. (This ratio could be adjusted based on the state if the climate, but it can't be too high or it won't be profitable to make fuel this way.)
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If I were properly rich, I'd buy this just to host an extravagant wild west LARP.
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Random thought of the day:

You know who else could call themselves "pro-life"? Death Eaters.
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Holy Fuck is Beat Saber fun and satisfying! Probably the best VR experience I've had to date. It gets me moving and my adrenaline pumping in a way none of those combat games have managed.

And it just came out in Early Access on Steam today. It already has 453 reviews and 99% positive. So I'm clearly not alone in my opinion. This may be the best reception of any VR game on Steam to date.

Also a hell of a workout. After two songs on normal mode (which is super mild compared to this video) I went to get a drink, and found my arms could barely lift the bottle. Like 20 minutes later, my arms still feel next to useless. I'm going to be sore tomorrow!

And now, I can just be frustrated, because I REALLY want to dive back in! There are so many more songs to try, and I want to try the harder difficulties, but my arms are clearly not up to it. I'll need to pace myself with this one. :-(
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Typical work conversation on Slack.
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On Fear of Rejection

So, I just asked out a friend that I've been attracted to for a while. She said no, she wasn't interested in that. And it was no big deal, and we're still friends... But it got me thinking about the fear of rejection, and I want to get down some thoughts.

I realized I was really nervous about asking, but not because I was afraid of rejection. That fear comes from the sense of the scarcity of love, which I don't have in my life. I already have two partners, and while I would welcome more, I'm in no way desperate.

No, what I was afraid of was her judgments about my part in our friendship that could come just from broaching the question. Because we live in a fucked up culture full of toxic expectations around sex and relationships, it would be perfectly reasonable for her to wonder if I had only ever been friends with her because I wanted to have sex. (Hell, it would be perfectly reasonable for her to wonder that BEFORE I asked her, but asking just reinforces it.)

So, I've replaced one irrational fear with what I believe is a much more rational one. The upside is this fear is much easier to deal with. The no is no longer intrinsically terrifying, and that makes it easier to ask... I just need to make sure that if I get a no, I follow it up with an explicit clarification that I'm still just as interested in friendship as I ever was. (If the answer is yes, that's a moot point.)
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So, I got an invite a couple days ago to something called MeWe. It appears to be a new social network that pretty closely replicate the functionality of Facebook or Google+, but with associated, fairly specific ethics pledges.

Which sounds a lot like Ello, but unlike Ello, it actually appears to fully functional and well designed. So I'm giving it a try.

If you're here and reading this, then you're almost certainly among those who have been fed up with Facebook for a while. But sadly, G+, as much as I've stubbornly refused to give up on it, is kinda dead by comparison. We all know it's true. So perhaps MeWe can fill that gap?
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