Internet: The Decline of Movies and TV

Whatever Happened To The Internet Dream? (Part 3)

theaterlobby

In part 1, I complained how the internet has ruined culture, and in part 2 how it is ruining politics and religion.  Today I delve into an area that is a little more personal: movies and TV.

1999: The Year That Didn’t Change Movies

1999, is a year I consider the year movies peaked in my lifetime. The list of great movies that came out in 1999 is amazingly long. There was Fight Club, The Matrix, Office Space, Three Kings, Being John Malkovitch, Mumford, Galaxy Quest, Go, Run Lola Run, The Sixth Sense, Eyes Wide Shut, Dogma, The Iron Giant, Toy Story 2, South Park, edTV, Notting Hill, American Pie, Boys Don’t Cry, Cruel Intentions, The Limey, Forces of Nature, Mansfield Park, October Sky, Pushing Tin, Stir of Echoes, Entrapment, eXistenZ, The Thirteenth Floor, Magnolia, and The Blair Witch Project. Not all are great films, but they were at least creative and inventive. I haven’t even mentioned the biggest movie Star Wars The Phantom Menace, or the film that swept all the awards that year American Beauty. Entertainment Weekly even touted 1999 as the year that changed movies forever!

You can stop waiting for the future of movies. It’s already here. Someday, 1999 will be etched on a microchip as the first real year of 21st-century filmmaking. The year when all the old, boring rules about cinema started to crumble. The year when a new generation of directors—weaned on cyberspace and Cops, Pac-Man and Public Enemy—snatched the flickering torch from the aging rebels of the 1970s. The year when the whole concept of ”making a movie” got turned on its head.

Except that it didn’t. Instead it was apparently the year that studios dropped the ball and let the creative people take over, and today the studios have a new stranglehold on film making. Most movies I see today are good in concept, formulaic in delivery. The other thing that happened in 1999 is that the Internet started taking over entertainment and it forced a change on how Hollywood does everything.

It was around 1999 when movies went from making a small fraction of their over all box office on the opening weekend to eventually making more than half. It is easy to see that the internet is to blame.  It used to be a few people would go to a movie on opening weekend and then tell their friends, family, and co-workers about the movie they saw.  If the movie was good, often the second weekend would be better than the first weekend.

The internet changed the rules. Now a few people go see a movie on friday night, then post online their opinion so all their friends, family and co-workers see it by the next morning.  This helps Saturday’s box office take, instead of next weekend.  Buzz spreads shockingly fast now, and the marketing opportunities disappear after that first weekend.

This changed the priority of movie studios completely.  Throughout the decade of the 2000’s, the priority of movie studios in making movies is not whether a movie will be good or not, but whether a movie is marketable enough to generate enough buzz to get the big opening weekend.  Notice my list of films from 1999, the list has one sequel and one prequel, and one based off a TV show (there were others in 1999, but they are not worth mentioning).  The rest are fresh new titles, some of which spawned sequels of their own.  Today it is all sequels, remakes, ties to popular TV, comics, and books, all of which are much easier to market.  There are still good movies every year, but there are fewer in number than there used to be.

And TV?

Meanwhile, I believe TV has actually gotten better since the internet got big, at least from a certain perspective.  While priorities changed in the movies from “good” to “bankable”, TV has gone from “bankable” to “buzz worthy”.

The goal of TV in the internet age is to make TV that will stir a lot of discussion online.  Lots of discussion means lots of people tuning in each week.  The result are three trends in TV: 1. Every drama is a soap opera. Regardless of the type of show it is, there is always dramatic interplay between the regulars.  Think back to the ’80s: TV dramas that weren’t night time soaps, was there a lot of sleeping around?, or dramatic tension between the characters?  If there was, it was over by the end of the episode.  Today most shows have large ensemble casts, and while there are weekly plots, there are scenes between characters that make up larger arcs, over the season or even series.  2. Every sitcom pushes the limits of outrageous behavior.  The only successful comedies are “water cooler” worthy shows as the old standard, today it is blog worthy or tweetable.  Who had the most hits on Get Glue?  3. The ultimate in buzz worthy shows are of course the elimination style reality shows, which is why there are so damn many of them.  Advertisers love them, because people actually watch them live, which means networks love them.  If reality shows generated syndication deals and DVD sales, there would be nothing on TV but reality shows. Luckily, syndication and DVD sales matter, which is why they still make dramas and sitcoms.

Personally, I don’t watch reality TV, and very few sitcoms (outrageousness is not my kind of humor), but dramas suck me in all the time. I usually have between 8 to 10 going every year, and there are lots of good ones.  The TV Drama has been experiencing a “Golden Age” thanks to the internet.

I can probably pin point the first show that lived off the internet: Babylon 5.  Sure there were genre shows (X-Files) and space dramas (Star Trek) that preceded it, but the risky genius J. Michael Strazinsky actually had a planned out 5 year cycle for the show ahead of time. This made the show buzz worthy as the audience saw plots develop over many episodes, incidences in season 1 pay off in season 4.  No one in the history of TV had ever plotted out a whole series in advance before.  These days it happens all the time.  But the other history making advance that “JMS” did was to regularly get online and discuss the show with fans.  Fans appreciated it, and it increased the shows loyalty even more.

While Babylon 5 was never a huge success, it had a loyal fan base, and TV producers took notice.  Almost every “genre” show today, from Once Upon A Time to Game of Thrones follows a similar formula of long story arcs, and developing loyalty online.  Fringe probably lasted two more seasons than it should have thanks to a loyal online fan base.  Even though it means a lot more work, TV writers are loving the myriad of story telling opportunities they have.  It shows in better written TV over all.

The danger is that if TV imitates what was success too much, it gets formulaic. I believe that is already true of reality shows and sitcoms, which is why I don’t bother. It is also true of certain TV tropes like the “procedural” or the “legal drama” or the “medical drama”.  In these types of shows, I generally watch for the character interplay of the cast.  The episode plot or mystery rarely matters.  Luckily every season there are shows that do not follow these tropes, and those are the ones I usually enjoy the most.

If TV is getting better, how come the ratings keep falling?

How bad are TV ratings today?  Lets go back to 1999 again. The top scripted TV show that year was ER with an average 18.6 rating.  In 2012, the top scripted show was Modern Family with an average 5.8 rating.  Had Modern Family been released in 1999 with the same rating, it would have been ranked 82nd, and probably cancelled.

The internet provides a smorgasbord of viewing options to choose from. Families don’t sit down in front of the big screen and watch the big 4 networks anymore. Today the average viewer has 300 channels to choose from, plus Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.

And that is if they watch TV. Video games, or just web surfing in general eats a big chunk of the TV audience away as well. How long will the erosion of ratings go on before TV networks no longer consider scripted shows to be cost effective?  The death of TV will be when TV stops producing dramas and comedies all together.  I doubt that will happen very soon, but the trend is pointing that way.

TV will never disappear, just as radio still continues to exist.  However radio, especially the AM dial, exists as nothing but talk shows: news talk, sports talk, political talk, religious talk, paid advertisers talking about their products — every station, all the time.  I see all of this on TV these days, especially during the daytime hours.  Scripted TV is becoming the exception to the rule.  TV is turning into AM radio with video.

Next Part 4: Internet and Society

Internet: The Death of Politics and Religion

Whatever Happened To The Internet Dream? (Part 2)

Speaker

Something I almost never do in this blog is talk about politics and religion, and I am only going to talk about it in the most generic terms here.  My thesis for today is that the wealth of information available through the internet is having unexpected consequences on what should be the most stalwart and unchangeable institutions of society.  The consequences on politics is very different than the consequences on religion, but ultimately just as potentially fatal.

The Death of Religion

Full disclosure, I’m and Atheist, and so seeing religious institutions in decline does not bother me much. But, I have not always been. I grew up in a religious community, and why I no longer share the beliefs of the community, I still care about the people as they are pretty much lifelong friends.  I don’t stand in the way of their practices, I congratulate them on their achievements in church, I just avoid all religious discussions with them, and they with me.  So I am not really anti-religion, because I understand religious institutions can fulfill social needs of its members.

That said, religious institutions are seeing declining conversions, and participation across the board these days.  The problem is the Internet.  Religions have thousands of years of practice in controlling what information its members have access to:  Embarrassing histories are expunged, scientific evidence is denied, and secret rites are kept secret.  With the internet that has all gone away.  Potential converts to your church can find all the dirt on your church in just a few clicks.  Worse already converted members can find this info too, and they can also find support groups for ex-members ready to help them unconvert.

The Internet presents a world view where science is as full of awe and wonder as inspiring as any sermon, a world view where people are moral because it is in their nature to be and do not need threats of punishments and rewards to make them so.  This world view is not really a threat to the true believers faith, but it seriously weakens the interest of the potential and wavering members.  It is no surprise that “non-affiliated” is the fastest growing religious category in the Western world, especially among the young.

While the internet is a major threat to “religion”, it is not necessarily a threat to “belief”.  In fact the internet is a source for a diversity of beliefs.  People will be worshiping deities for millenia to come no doubt, but do they need organized religion to do it?  I’m guessing, “no”.

The Death of Politics

While religious institutions struggle with their inability to keep secrets from the public, to the politicians its a long tradition of dealing with bad press via spin, denials, and  rhetoric. Therefore, the Internet’s threat to politics is very different from its threat to religion.  While religions shrivel up and blow away, political parties becomes stronger, more radicalized, and more stubborn.

What the Internet has done to politics is expose the backdoor deals, the necessary compromises needed to get things done.  It has soured the public’s view of politicians to the point where much of the public seems OK with things not getting done, until they find out how it affects their lives.

What we have today is what one author accurately describes as “Attention Deficit Democracy“, which has basically numbed us to outrage except when it comes to our special interest causes.  There in lies the thing that will kill politics: the cow towing to special interests, even when it is ultimately bad for the general public to pursue those interests.  Politics is being increasingly dominated by what I call “Meme Politics”.

Meme politics is good for fundraising:  1. Propose a radical, unconstitutional bill that threatens the lives and welfare of a minority group. 2. The internet gets a gander at your outrageous proposal, posts it all over the web like a meme.  3. Radical political extremists who feel threatened by said minority group send you lots of campaign contributions.

Meme politics is almost normal these days.  Politicians feel comfortable proposing stupid and outrageous legislation because it brings immediate fundraising results, and eventually the general public will forget about it come election time.

Why does America spend so much money on a shoddy health care system?  Special Interest groups. Why does America spend so much on military? Special interest groups. Why does America’s tax system punish the poor and help the rich? Special Interest Groups.  Why the war on drugs? Why are guns not better regulated? Why the overboard security at airports? Why do we still have pennys?  All can be faulted by the involvement of special interests with deep pockets.  Meanwhile, nothing is being done about global warming and peak oil, because there are concerted efforts by special interests to deny their existence.  Poverty is a major problem in this country, but unfortunately there are no special interest groups to advocate for them.

The internet has brought us the politics of the outrageous, where actually getting things done is counter productive.  From the politicians standpoint it is better to not do anything, and keep collecting money from those that want something done.  Because if you actually do what they want, they will stop contributing and stop voting.

Society won’t last long without good governance. Deadlocked politics is not good for anybody.  There are good substitutes to religion, there are no good substitutes to government.  Can politics reinvent itself for the information age and become a functioning democracy again?  Or are we destined to become a dictatorship?

Thanks to the internet, politics is becoming deadlocked, and religion is becoming irrelevant.  I’ll let others decide if this is a good or bad thing.

Next Part 3: The Internet affect on tv and movies.

Bored Of The Internet

Whatever Happened To The Internet Dream? (Part 1)

boredariane

As a long time internet addict, who has spent 20 years online, and 15 years working in the internet industry, I hate to say it, but it is true: I am bored of the Internet.

The thing is, I am quite certain I am not alone in this sentiment. Over the course of the 20 years I have been online, I have seen the Internet transform itself multiple times, so I am not saying it is over for the Internet, I am saying that in its current evolutionary state, the internet is boring as hell.

Not too very long ago, I used to visit up to a dozen portal sites like Digg, and Fark, and Reddit, and a bunch of others on my links page. It used to be that all of these sites would have a slew of cool and interesting things to see and read about, all of them different.  Slowly over time, something changed.  The same content started showing up on all of these filter sites more and more frequently.  It soon got to the point that there really isn’t any need to go to all of these sites, so I don’t. Digg is completely useless since it was sold, Fark is only worth reading for the occasional funny headlines readers come up with, Reddit is a haven for flame wars.  All you really need these days is one website to go to for the cool crap.

For me, I hate to admit it, but it has become Facebook.  I just “like” my favorite sources of info, and links get sent to me.  Too convenient.  Sure not everything worth seeing ends up in my feed, and there is still junk to sort through, but it is as good a filter as I can find, so I use it.

The War for Eyeballs

Still I am not getting as much cool stuff as I used to get when I surfed for it. The pre-meme cool stuff I used to find is still out there, it is just getting harder to find in the noise of pop culture gossip,  sponsored links, and pointless memes that make up the most visited websites today. Why? Because the pop culture gossip and the pointless memes sells the sponsored links.

The joke of making money online has been to follow this business model:
Make something cool
Give it away for free to get traffic
????
Profit!
The funny thing is, Google, Twitter, You Tube, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkdin, and a few others have actually followed this model to make billions.  After years of giving away their services for free, often at huge expenses, they managed to find ways to make money once they became famous.

The most important thing is to get that internet traffic, and it is much easier to get that traffic by catering to the masses rather than catering to special interests.  This is why the Internet, which once upon a time was a haven for special interest groups, has become a haven for mass media instead.

I know what you are thinking, it is still a haven for special interest groups.  I know because I am in a couple, but some how a large percentage of the discussion in these special interest groups end up being about mass media topics.

Think about it! Advertisers are finding it just as easy to get their message out online as on traditional media. They lose some control over the message, but still the message gets out. Money talks.

The Paradox of Choice

My thesis is this: The Internet, once dreamed as the ultimate rebellion against mass media and the control of knowledge, has somehow become mass media’s biggest promoter.  I believe it is a consequence of the Paradox of Choice, which I first mentioned in my first Happiness post.

Pretty much any info we want can be found online.  It gives us lots and lots of choices.  Psychological studies conclude that the availability of choices do not make us happier, instead they lead to feeling of loneliness and depression.  It is basic human nature to ignore the choices and find what we are comfortable with, or find a distraction from loneliness and depression we feel from all the choices we make online.

That explains all the cats.  Kinda sad to have this vast source of info, that I hardly use. I should take classes on ItunesU, or download and read classic literature from the Google Library, or read up on random topics on Wikipedia or TED. Somehow cat videos keep getting in the way.

20 years ago, Bruce Springsteen sung about “57 Channels and Nothing On”. Then it became 570 satellite channels and nothing to tivo, then 5700 DVDs and nothing to rent. Today its 57,000,000 videos and nothing to stream.

This is the first in a series on this paradox. Next up, how the Internet is destroying politics and religion.

The INTERNETZ is NOT destroying society

Telling the world that the internet is not destroying society is probably not going to get me a ton of hits, because who wants to read an article that is stating the obvious? So I thought I’d draw attention by misspelling internet.  If I really wanted to get hits, I’d lead with some bald face lie like “‘The Demise of Guys’: How video games and porn are ruining a generation” whose main thesis is that young men growing up with video games and easy access to porn is distracting them from normal social activities, or “We expect more from technology and less from each other” whose main thesis is that the growth of texting and social media is making us too social, and we are losing our ability to be alone.  I love it when sensationalist headlines contradict each other.

Then there are the rash of Facebook doom and gloom articles: Facebook is destroying Google, Facebook is destroying Twitter, Facebook is destroying Virtual Worlds.  How long before we see an article claiming that Facebook is a threat to the human race itself? It came out yesterday, actually.

Games and Porn destroying society?

So where to start?  Lets start with the new book The Demise of Guys:

The premise of the book is that a generation of boys addicted to video games and online porn is leading to the decline of the male half of the population. The CNN article cites a lot of anecdotal info without much actual scientific citations.

There is a lot of stuff to talk about here and it is worthy of a discussion.

The book seems to focus on video game and porn addiction in boys, and blames the usual suspects: parents. Then it apparently tries to discuss the problems this is causing to society, and DAMMIT WE SHOULD DO SOMETHING!

Lets be realistic here. Yes, virtually all boys, young men, and even older men are playing video games these days, they are also watching porn. A slightly lesser percentage of girls, young women and even older women are also playing video games and watching porn. This is no doubt having an affect on society, but lets put that to the side for now.

Now what percentage of the people playing video games and/or watching porn are actually addicted to it? Research shows the percentage is actually pretty small, like 3% tops and probably closer to 1%. This is of course varies depending on what you would call an addict, but I’d say the usual definition involves engage in an activity to such an extent that it threatens our health. I’d say that is a very small percentage. Because it is a small percentage, the affect of video game/porn addiction is likely negligible, and therefore it cannot be ruining a generation of guys.

So lets stop beating around the bush and get to the heart of the issue:

Is the prevalence of video games affecting our society, our culture, our relationships, and changing the psychology of young growing minds? Absolutely!

Is the easy availability of porn affecting our society, our culture, our relationships, and changing the psychology of young growing minds? Absolutely!

And now for the REAL debate question: Is this a bad thing?

Considering that every society where video games have become popular has seen a reduction in violent crime; Considering that every society in which internet porn is widespread has seen a reduction in sex crimes; Considering that video games have been designed to make players happy, and that positive psychologists have shown that artificially generated happiness is just as good as genuine happiness. I’d say, the answer is no.

But, but, but, video game playing has been demonstrated to reduce the ability to learn in traditional school settings. Then maybe it is about time to dump the traditional school definition of learning. Learning by playing games, works extremely well.

But, widespread porn is changing young people’s ability to have “healthy” relationships that lead to marriage and family and more children. Time to dump the old fashioned definitions of “healthy” relationships then. Kids today are smarter about sex and relationships than any previous generation. A lot more of them are choosing not to get married, and not have kids, and the ones that are are doing it later in life, and choosing smaller families. Young people are going to have relationships, because that is what young people do, but they have a lot more freedom today. There is no bad here.

Video games and the internet is changing society, that is a given. Some change will be good, and inevitably some change will be bad. But the only real threats are to those that do not want society to change. To hell with them!

(Note, the above was originally posted by me at SL Universe forums where it got over 250 responses do far.)

Texting and social media destroying society?

The second sensationalist headline comes from Professor Sherry Turkle who is someone who is very thorough with her research. Again, she is pushing a book: Alone Together

As I was watching her TED talk on the topic of texting and social media’s affect on society I was making some live notes:

“The illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship” … And this is bad because?

“We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control” … You say it like its a bad thing.

“Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved” … Actually no, I’m fine with alone. It is other people that need stuff that feels like a problem that needs to be solved.

“Constant connection is changing the way people think of themselves” … Yep that’s the way it has always been. I bet there was someone like her when the telephone was invented, and when the radio was invented, and when the TV was invented. The world is changing, and I am cool with it.

And then she ends the talk, talking about learning to be alone with ourselves. Hmm, as someone who rarely texts, never bring a cellphone anywhere, only talks to people at work because that is what I am paid to do, and does not even have a twitter account, I guess she wasn’t talking to me.

Ultimately this is the same issue with video games and porn above. Getting addicted can be very bad, but what percentage really are addicted?  Probably an even smaller percentage.  But let’s ask the second question: Is texting and social media a bad thing?

Oddly this is a far more complicated issue than video games and porn issues. Social media has sparked revolutions and organized protests that have succeeded in changing the world, so it can’t be all bad.

On the other hand, I remember being able to go to the break room at lunch and actually talked to my fellow co-workers.  Now everyone goes to the break room and jumps on their cell phone.  It is too noisy for a conversation, so I go outside to the smoking area.  Not because I smoke (I don’t), but people actually talk to each other out there.

So yes, social media is changing society.  Some change will be good, and inevitably some change will be bad.

Facebook destroying society?

Once again the author of the sensationalist article is selling a book: Digital Vertigo.

Once again, the author is saying change is bad.  I’ll say change is not all bad, etc.  No need to belabor the points for a third time.

The internet first went online in 1969.  The first author to predict that “information overload” would radically change our society was in 1970.  Toffler was right, society did change, and overall those changes have been positive.

SOPA will be the Death of the Internet

I have spent the last 15 years employed in the internet industry.  Not with one particular company, but with multiple companies, supporting pretty much every aspect of the web.  I did modem support, wireless support, search engine support, DNS support, domain name support, web server configuration, and I have run half a dozen websites, including forum administration, design practices, and kept 3 separate blogs on average 5 years each.  I have played every type of online game from the MMORPG to the ARG.  I think I know enough about the internet to be considered an expert.  So when I speak against the massive amounts of propaganda in favor of the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA), and say “SOPA will kill the Internet”, I know what I am talking about.

If you don’t know what SOPA is, start at Wikipedia, then check out the writing of Declan McCullough at C-Net.

If SOPA passes without a massive major rewrite, the collapse of the internet will start with the literal or pragmatical shutdown of some of the most popular websites like Wikipedia, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.  I say pragmatical shutdown, because some of these popular sites will likely continue, but as gimped shadows of their former selves.  You Tube for example will likely only accept content from proven and advertising promoted sources.  No more video blogs, no more you tube stars, no more viral videos, You Tube will primarily become corporate content tube.

After the big name sites are effectively killed, the more underground sites like 4chan and something awful forums will be targeted by complaints.  Pretty much all private forums will be targeted, leaving only “official” forums as the only place for people to gather, and they will be heavily monitored for possible copyright infringing content. Second Life, IMVU and other virtual worlds that allow for user created content, will likely be forced to shutdown too.

What will the internet be like after SOPA?  Imagine a library filled with nothing but fliers, catalogues, and calling cards.  That will be the internet in a nutshell.  If content holders go crazy with copyright complaints, the only websites left will be sites belonging to companies with teams of lawyers, or advertising sites, or personal or organizational sites made by people who know how to build non-copyright infringing sites, none of which will have comment sections.  In other words, it will be boring.

There will be efforts to get around SOPA restrictions.  People in the know (like me) will change our DNS server pointers to foreign DNS hosts, and use foreign proxy servers.  Web sites will move to foreign web hosts, all in an effort to get around the “Great American Firewall“.  If the DOJ decides to start blocking these loopholes, it would break the internet completely, the IP protocol system would break down, and the reliability of the internet would be seriously harmed.

People not in the know, would simply lose interest in the internet, and will stop using it.  Internet providers, would lose billions in subscriptions, hardware builders would lose billions in sales.  One of the most recession proof industries, would go into a recession, at the cost of millions of jobs, including mine.  If that happens, I’ll surely pack my bags and get the hell out of the US, looking for a country that does not insist on up to five years in jail just for posting a video backed by a song you like.

What is the intent of this industry killing draconian monstrosity?  All they want to do is shut down American access to thepiratebay.org, and whatever sites try to impersonate it.  If that was all this bill did, I’d support it myself.  So why not just pass a law outlawing access to specifically that site and sites like it that ignore DMCA copyright complaints?  The DMCA take down process is a proven winner of a program for handling copyright complaints, and has led to the innovative internet we have today.  Why mess with perfection?

The problem is that the DMCA process is too much work for content owners like RIAA and the MPAA. They would rather force the job onto the websites themselves, or have the Department of Justice do it at taxpayer expense. That is the real issue with this bill, and that is why the internet community is so uniformly against it.  It is strange these days for a bill to get both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition at the same time, but SOPA is generating that kind of divide.

The latest is that the pro SOPA people have made amendments to the bill in hopes of narrowing the scope, but the same critics are coming out saying the “improvements” are so vaguely worded that they basically do the same damage when broadly interpreted.

I’m watching SOPA as if my livelihood depended on it, because it does.

UPDATE:  Latest word is that the House has scrubbed a vote on SOPA, killing it for now.  Meanwhile, the Senate version known as PIPA is still alive and kicking.  On Jan 18, I’m joining a very large list of websites who are shutting down for 12 hours to protest in hopes of killing PIPA too.

Other Virtual Women

More random notes from around the metaverse…

The Vanity  Google

Ever heard the term “vanity google”?  It’s basically where you google your own name and any online monikers you may use, and it is actually a good idea to do every now and then, especially if you are being cyber bullied.  I tried googling myself (arianeb) and of course I get a lot of links to my website, as well as blogs dedicated to my dating game, and a growing number of walkthroughs.

It is not surprising to find out that I am not the only Ariane B on the planet.  I already knew about Ariane Blanc, a German Ariane B who owns the “Ariane” sim in Second Life. (If you are in the market for virtual furniture, check out her store), but there is also a French Canadian Ariane B.  I run arianeb.com, and I am arianeb on tumblr and wordpress (which you knew from reading this blog), but arianeb on twitter is a Montreal based singer/songwriter.   I’ve listened to some of the stuff she posted online and its pretty good.  I also found out there is a Facebook ArianeB page, which is about me, but I am not the one who created it. Whoever did, needs to update it, and as for the rest of you, I could always use a few more “likes”. 🙂

Other Dating Sims

But the really cool thing I found while googling myself is that there are a growing number of dating sims similar to my own.  Ugo.com recently did a list of Virtual Girlfriends You Can Date of which I am number 5.  Its an entertaining list covering many kinds of virtual dating with virtual girls. Stay away from #4 (3D Girlz) I got a malware warning when I went there.   Another list that had me as an entry is a list of dating sims at playforceone.com (link NSFW due to ads), a list of 36 other dating sim games available online.  A couple I have tried before were not that good, but that still leaves 34 I have not tried.

One other dating sim appeared on both sites called Keely, a dating sim very similar to mine, in that it is written in HTML with a branching storyline, and uses a lot of Poser graphics based on Victoria 3.  I assume that the character is based on British model Keely Hazell.  I have not played too much with Keely, but it has a much more involved storyline, taking place over many days, like the Japanese dating sims do.  Also, you don’t have to arrow around the picture to find the choices, they are usually at the bottom of the page to choose from.  The thing I’m most jealous of is that Keely already has a sequel, and I still have a lot of work to go on my sequel.

The Virtual Popstar

And since we are on the topic of virtual women online, a recent story from Japan gave me a good chuckle.  Virtual pop stars are hot right now in Japan, the most famous one is Hatsune Miku, a manga styled character who’s singing voice is created artificially using a vocalizer, and does concerts using rear projection technology.

But there is a pop band in Japan called AKB48, and they are very popular (the top 10 chart for 2010 in Japan consisted of songs from only two bands AKB48 and Arashi).  It is a band consisting of a choir of cute young teenage Japanese girls, with new young girls being added as older ones leave.

One of the new girls this year was Aimi Eguchi, a 16 year old according to her bio.  She appeared on magazine covers and videos before it was revealed, she does not exist.  Aimi Eguchi was a composite of 6 other members of AKB48, to the shock of many. It was a silly publicity stunt, and the fun only lasted a few days before the secret was revealed, but the idea that fake can pass as real has generated a bit of buzz.

Reminds me of that under appreciated film S1m0ne from 2002.

Is The Sims Online returning too?

I have mentioned a few times that I got my start on the metaverse via The Sims Online, a 2.5 dimension virtual world first released in 2003.  I only lasted 6 months before moving on to There.  Well it looks like a new incarnation of TSO will soon be returning, this time called The Sims Social, and it will be a Facebook App.

All attempts to attach a 3D Virtual World to Facebook have resulted in failure due to incompatibility of purposes.  If any can succeed it would be The Sims, so it will be interesting to see how this goes.

The Internet "Golden Age" is Closing

One of the first posts on this blog was about the future of the internet, and the likely decline of the “Golden Age of the Internet” to quote John Dvorak. My older post was about government and lawsuits causing a decline in online freedoms.  The freedom of the Internet seems to be on the decline once again, but this time the driving force to change is economic.

Some notes from around the Internet:

1.) This past week Rupert Murdock has stated that the internet is over. Advertising revenues are down and the business model for online news cannot be sustained without going to a subscription model.

I think the guy is off his rocker, and his plans to charge to access newspaper sites is quite dumb. Subscriptions for news online work for specialized newspapers like the Wall Street Journal or Variety because these papers are the paper of record for specific industries.  General news sites are a dime a dozen, and the only way a general newspaper could make money on a subscription plan is if every paper did so.

2.) You Tube is changing its business model, in light of half a billion dollar losses expected this year.   Check out this video, or at least the first couple of minutes. The guy starts blathering at around the 3 minute mark. To me, the video has an opposite effect on me than he intended.

When you are losing money as bad as You Tube is, you have to reorganize and go back to what works. Hosting users videos for free is a major component of the site, but it is also the least profitable. Hosting video from commercial distributors and advertisers that are good enough to get advertiser support is profitable, and that is exactly where You Tube is going to go.

I’ll even go as far as to predict that You Tube will  start charging a fee to host user videos. This will no doubt reduce the number of videos out there, but the overall quality will improve.

3.) Two of the largest and fastest growing websites, Twitter and Facebook, are both operating in the red as well.

Facebook is probably close to profitability right now. The last reliable numbers I saw were in 2007 when the site was spending twice what they were bringing in. Since then the employment has doubled, and I assume the expenses have as well, but also since then the user base has quadrupled, and hopefully the revenue has too. If so, they are close to being in the black now.

Twitter is a popular tool in need of a way to make money soon before they run out. There is minimum advertising there, and selling ads for tweets is likely to be a hard sell, especially since most tweets are sent and recieved via feeds that dont pass advertising messages.  Rumors have been flying that Twitter is ripe for take over. Who knows what will happen there.

We are not approaching the end of the internet (sorry Rupert), but we are at the end of the “Golden Age” of the internet.

The age of getting a site up and running with VC money and waiting 5 years for profitability are over.  The new model forward is going to be “Make Money quickly or Die”

As sad as I am to see a lot of the FREE benefits we have been enjoying online start to disappear, a leaner and meaner internet may prove to be a good thing in the long run.