Archive for May, 2009

From the UK;s Daily Telegraph newpaper’s Matthew Moore:

“Great works of literature are being shortened into 140-character “tweets”, in the latest diversion to grow out of the popular Twitter website. Classics by Charles Dickens, JD Sallinger and Jane Austen are among the novels to have been boiled down to a sentence by bookish readers of the micro-blogging site.

“Whilst the haiku-like brevity of the synopses will appeal to modern readers more accustomed to skimming their emails than working through 600-word tome, literary purists may be put off by the internet slang.

“Samuel Beckett’s bleak play Waiting for Godot is reduced to: “Vladimir and Estragon stand next to tree and wait for Godot. Their status is not updated.”

“The fuss surrounding the publication of DH Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960 is summed up with the web acronym for websites that are not suitable for work: ‘Upper-class woman gets it on with gamekeeper.’

“Tim Collins, a writer who has collected some of his own potted summaries in a new book, said that while the compositions are intended to be tongue-in-cheek the platform opens up new possibilities for art and education.

“‘It’s very easy to knock Twitter as something you use to tell the world what you ordered in Starbucks this morning, but it’s more than that,’ he said.

“‘What it is really good for is live-blogging events as they take place, and that can work for historical events too. Over Easter a church in the US re-created the death and Resurrection of Christ through tweets.'”

Illiterates around the world will now no longer have to endure even the shortened “Cliff Notes” version of classics but can now get all they need from 140 characters or less. is it only a matter of time before books actually get written this way?

I cry to think that my favorite book, Zorba the Greek, may end up as “Dionysian Cretan meets Apollonian Greek and open a mine on an island. Woman is killed, mine fails, Zorba dies. Man learns life lesson.”


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In 1997, the computer gaming company 3D Realms announced its new, upcoming game, Duke Nukem Forever. Based on the popular first-person-shooter format, the game promised to be a fun-filled, action-packed extravaganza of dark humor and bloody mayhem.

Sadly, the bloody mayhem came in the form of a bloodless winding up of the company earlier this month (May). In an official statement, the company said;

“Despite rumors and statements to the contrary, 3D Realms (3DR) has not closed and is not closing. 3DR retains ownership of the Duke Nukem franchise. Due to lack of funding, however, we are saddened to confirm that we let the Duke Nukem Forever (DNF) development team go on May 6th, while we regroup as a company. While 3DR is a much smaller studio now, we will continue to operate as a company and continue to license and co-create games based upon the Duke Nukem franchise.”

However, with no programmers and no funding, it looks like the Duke is down and out.

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In a press release on May 15th, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon called for better protection of children in cyberspace.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

“As they surf through cyberspace seeking information and entertainment and building social networks, they are also among the most vulnerable to exploitation. Without safeguards, their precious lives are at grave risk in the vicious world of cybercriminals and pedophiles that prey on easy targets.”

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child both recognizes the right to access to information but also accords protection against all forms of inducement to engage in unlawful activities, the Secretary-General said, calling for these provisions to be applied rigorously.

“The virtual world has exciting possibilities for nurturing children and helping them grow into creative, productive adults,” said Ban Ki-moon.

“But we must mind the pitfalls that could scar them for life,” Mr. Ban said, calling on policy-makers and industry leaders to take action to ensure the safety of all in the rapidly-evolving virtual world.

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Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS) Internships, announced by Secretary Clinton at the 2009 New York University commencement speech, are part of a growing effort by the State Department to harness technology and a commitment to global service among young people to facilitate new forms of diplomatic engagement. The VSFS Internships will be developed over the next year and will seek to harness the energy of a rising generation of citizen diplomats.

Working from college and university campuses in the United States, American students will partner with our embassies abroad to conduct digital diplomacy that reflects the realities of our networked world.

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European researchers have built a computerized play platform for elderly people. Field testing shows that the system keeps elderly players mentally sharp, stimulates socialisation, and can alert caregivers to developing problems.

The key “generic” objective of ElderGames project is to develop IST-based games using advanced visualisation and interaction interfaces with high preventive, therapeutic value that will allow elderly people to enjoy new ways of leisure and entertainment while improving cognitive, functional and social skills. The main goals will also facilitate to:

1. Promote the e-inclusion of elderly people by means of play activity,

2. Contribute to an overall improvement of the abilities impacting Quality of Life through play, with particular emphasis on cognitive skills.

3. Support communication between elderly citizens and their families across Europe by means of play proposals which will allow them to share their experiences by means of an alternative-augmentative communication system capable of overcoming linguistic barriers and,

4. Provide experts specializing in elderly care and supervision with an innovative play application to be used in their daily professional work able to monitor variables related to quality of life, specially cognitive skills.

Therefore, ElderGames will also be the first play platform able to allow an early detection of cognitive disease or social unease, and so, implement the advisable response to them. Thus, since ElderGames has been conceived as a tool for early diagnosis, no elderly participants suffering severe cognitive impairment will take part in the project.

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The WWF – that’s World Wildlife Federation and not the World Wrestling Federation – has opened up a new campaign aimed at getting China’s young people to be more aware of the fate of wild animals.

“We developed the world’s first mobile application where a virtual bear interacts with real environment, in real time. Through your mobile, you can control wildlife’s fate virtually and for real. Virtually, point your phone anywhere and see the bear bump into walls, trip down stairs, get run over by moving cars, and become defenseless against humans.”

You can download the application at the WWF’s China Biodiversity Program web page.

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Rather than rely on its internet presence as the world’s largest search engine to promote its new browser, Google is turning to TV promotion. The official Google blog for May 8th 2009 has the following:

“So today, we’re pleased to announce that we’re using Google TV Ads to run our Chrome ad on various television networks starting this weekend. We’re excited to see how this test goes and what impact television might have on creating more awareness of Google Chrome.”

“Under the hood, we were able to build the foundation of a browser that runs today’s complex web applications much better . By keeping each tab in an isolated “sandbox”, we were able to prevent one tab from crashing another and provide improved protection from rogue sites. We improved speed and responsiveness across the board. We also built V8, a more powerful JavaScript engine, to power the next generation of web applications that aren’t even possible in today’s browsers.”

Try it for yourself by downloading from Google’s Chrome page.

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