Archives for posts with tag: UP Manila

Atop a heap of blog-dumps now.

Sometimes, during those rare times I get to watch noontime TV, I get to see those ‘text promos’ or contests that seem to be a staple among noontime and pre-primetime shows. It’s those ‘keyword-space-name-space-answer-space-and-send-to-insert four numbers here’ type of contests, normally asking the audience a question about what just had happened in the show. Often these are of the multiple choice type, and I remembered rolling my eyes at a particular question whose correct answer was noticeably larger than the rest. And while I muttered about these questions being unbelievably easy to garner more texters, a thought came to me: ten years or so ago, these promos would’ve been done by mail. Today, the ‘dropbox’ promos still exist, but they have been largely supplanted by text promos.

I think that many of us are so fascinated with the Internet, we sometimes forget about SMS. Maybe because SMS is just that – text in limited numbers generated by pushing buttons, which can become really tedious when creating lengthy messages (no matter how much of a text ninja we become by frequency of use). On the other hand, the Internet is this endless world of awesome sights and information, accessible in just a few clicks. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the cellphone is more widespread than Internet access. Despite having Internet shops, DSL and wireless broadband providers, the Internet is still largely constricted to the middle and upper classes. Meanwhile, the cellphone has integrated itself nicely in all levels of Filipino society. It’s everywhere and moreover, it’s portable. Even the local tricycle driver has a cellphone, and even the farmer living in Isabela. This is what the sponsor companies and TV shows have realized and put to good use. These ‘multiple choice questions’ are less of a brain challenge and more of a bait and means to cash in the number of hands wielding these blessed devices.

We could see the marriage of the old and new in these text promos – the promise of the ‘instant, easy yaman’ (a dream which most Filipinos are madly in love with) which started in the dropbox contests of decades ago and the prevalence of a modern convenience, the cellphone. It is very easy to create a message according to the contest template and keep pressing the send button until the load runs out. I guess there’s something…addicting in its simplicity and ease. Additionally the carrot in this situation is the tantalizing promise that the road to riches just became easier. Moreover, it guaranteed that everyone with a cellphone is free to join these contests (save when the contests require those ‘proof of purchase’ items), broadening the number of possible texters and the amount of money that could be raked in. The key here is in making the audience feel the need to text. Advertisements are limited to text in cellphones (to assure a maximum number of  recipients) and even those are subject to controversy, since we all hate spam and it’s a grievous breach of privacy if organizations suddenly get a hold of your cell number without your knowledge. Companies can’t advertise to the massive number of cellphone holders, but they came up with a brilliant thought anyway: so why not make them go to us? We can see a bit of psychology here, in the use of the ‘easy money’ appeal. It might sound strange or even plain distasteful to some of us, but for those sick and tired of poverty, these contests are a ticket to a better life.

Anyways, I think that trends are beginning to shift again, since I’ve seen a text promo incorporating the Internet in their modus operandi. Alright, so it’s more of an ‘alternative way’ to key in your proof of purchase’s code, but it acknowledged the fact that Internet access is slowly and surely rising among their target audience. Maybe that’s the next step – widespread internet promos of noontime or primetime shows. I dunno if they’ll affect the quality of those shows (for which I have a rather…interesting opinion of), but it’s clear that there’s no stopping. We could see here that organizations will always be willing to utilize the latest, most widespread technology to reach their audience and get their profits. And they will, really.

Let’s show texting some love, come on.

Advertisements

Because despite being swamped by school work, I still love my fandoms.

Recently I just had my exam in my SPCOM 133 class, and it’s an extemporaneous speech. While my performance bombed spectacularly (protip: always have your speech guide in hand, to assure that you won’t go overtime [which is important for me, since I do tend to ramble off]), I did like my topic – it was about fanfiction and how it should be supported instead of banned.

Yeah, geeky. But there are some geeky things that are, indeed, Serious Business for many.

Now, I know this was a debate that had raged on for years, and both sides have presented their reasons why or why not fanfics should exist. I don’t think I need to rehash them here anymore since it’s easy to find the tracts for and against the issue with a few words in Google. For my part, I’m for the existence of fanfiction – come on, I write them myself – but if an author expresses his refusal to have fanfiction of his works, I’ll respect that. Also, I’m not in support of published fanfiction or fanfiction for profit (leave the earnings to the original creators, come on). What I don’t like is when other anti-fanfiction authors begin to rag and belittle fanfiction as though everyone who engage in it are amateur, starry-eyed and delusional teenagers (answer: definitely, definitely not).

I guess the reason why this fanfic debate has become controversial nowadays is because of the Internet.  And since it’s easy to get published online, there is a massive collection of fanfiction to be found, and no one could deny the fact that the bulk of those stories are of…well, questionable quality (read: they suck. Sturgeon’s Law at work here, people). I guess I could understand some of the reasons why published authors don’t like to have fanfiction starring their characters: imagine having those precious characters whom you have slaved upon transformed into laughable parodies of themselves, and in massive numbers too. The thing is, if these authors don’t want to see fanfics of their works online…well, they might as well hide their works and ban online communities centered around them. It has become easier for people to find likeminded fans and form communities, where fanfiction – the ‘what if’ scenarios which are maddening to write and read – could be made and exchanged. It’s nearly impossible to stop the spread of anything online. If one searches hard enough for something, that something could be found. That’s the nature of the Internet and the nature of online communities – it’s such a large, sprawling network that it’s downright suicidal to try stemming the flow.

Instead of viewing fanfics as a bane of sorts, why not view it as a chance to connect with the fandom? I think decrying fanfiction (especially in a condescending, too-good-for-you way) is a good tactic to alienate fans and would-be fans (it happened to me, actually). Get to know what they think of the world, the characters, and discover their interpretations. In return, the fandom should at least try not to become headaches for their authors, ie, respect their author’s wishes if they have said no to certain things. It sounds a bit like coddling, but today’s fandoms can be powerful, with how they can utilize today’s social media for their own purposes. They can make personas favorable or unfavorable with just a few posts in a few choice sites. There’s something scary and beautiful in there, with how a diverse number of people could unite online and use the power of technology to be heard. Something scary and beautiful and, well, to be handled carefully.

Wading through a river of blog posts. Yay. This one’s short though. Or so I thought. Yeah.

During a little romp through Encyclopedia Dramatica (look it up ONLY if you have a…well, flexible sense of humor like mine; that site is horribly offensive, but I still find it funny at times. I have a strange, wicked sense of humor, yep) I stumbled upon their list of people they deem as having the, well, “small name big ego” in the realm of the intarwebz. These are the people who have a grossly oversized view of their own importance in the eyes of the notoriously irreverent people of ED. That, or these netizens have committed a series of controversial blunders like…well, whining incessantly about something or claiming originality when their work’s glaringly obvious fake. I guess ED is part of the Internet’s strange and skewed karma system or something. Since this is a site which strives to offend as many people as they can, ED’s articles aren’t very kind to their subjects.

For all the bad-mouthing these online people received, I realized: but hey, these people are famous. Well, maybe for the wrong reasons and not the equivalent of Lady Gaga’s level of fame, but not everyone could have articles written about them by other people. Their usernames wouldn’t be known if a bunch of others hadn’t spied on these infamous events involving them. Still, while there may be other sources of information (like their own social media accounts), having an article like this – complete with screencap – still means something to the reputation of these people. I guess one can be famous and infamous at the same time.

So what’s up? I guess it’s simply about the Internet being the Fame Machine of our times: well, a Fame Machine of both the ‘loved’ and ‘cursed’ kind. Many of us dream of fame, and the path of being atop a pedestal has become easier to us with the coming of the blessed Internet. It has become easier to become a superstar, and while not everyone online could become your fan, you could probably garner a band of followers with enough diligence. And of course, for every fandom, there’s a hatedom, and the hatedom can use the internet against you too. The reasons why people would have vitriolic online articles against them vary, and I guess that’s the danger: for every runaway success there appears to be a hundred different ways to snuff out that success. It’s just like in real life: one statement taken out of context can birth a lawsuit or a scandal. It’s even harder to control online though, with all that unregulated vastness, increasingly easier ways to get oneself heard and the speed of information exchange. The public – real life and online – is very fickle, frequently changing tastes and sides. One little quip done yesterday would be ignored, but the same quip done today could probably launch a raging flame war. Certain issues die down; some live to become memes and inside jokes. The rep you get online could save you or smear your name forever, which only proves how the Internet has integrated itself into our society.

For me though…I desire a quiet life. To quote a classmate, I’m a simple girl with a simple dream.

Yeah, I can almost see you guys rolling your eyes.

At this rate, people will be sick of my deluge of posts. Hoorah. XD
Recently I attended this seminar about the Internet and its relation to marketing. And while I looked like I was too busy pounding on my rival clans in my Final Fantasy Tactics A2 game, I did listen to the speakers. Or at the very least, I tried to. Sometimes being an OrCom student has made you so critical, after noticing something was off (pronunciation, voice modulation, choice of words, spelling, yadda yadda) you would be tempted stop paying attention altogether. Not a good thing all the time. I guess this was one of those episodes.
Anyways, the second speaker was a kind of ‘online celebrity’ whose topic was about promoting oneself online. Erm, I think it was her topic – that was what I understood. There was something simply off about this woman in the real world, and I cannot find whatever made her appealing for her online followers. I did realize that many speakers often end up promoting their organizations (subtly or blatantly, depending on skill), but since she was promoting herself and with the manner how she did it failed to make a favorable impression to me. For the duration of her talk about the Internet and the qualities to become famous online, the only thing that stuck to my mind was her admission that she was self-centered. The only thing I could say is that she should remain in the vast, anonymous halls of the Internet, because apparently, some people are more appealing online.
Which leads me to this: Online success in PR does not equate to real world success. One could be an online celebrity and in real life a social pariah. It might sound appealing and fun online, but in reality it might not be the case. There’s a reason why ‘online’ and ‘reality’ are almost antonyms.
High-res photos, hit counts and a thousand ‘likes’ are nice, but unless we could see that online message of yours translated into action, it doesn’t do anything other than to publicize (unless, of course, that’s the whole end goal). Maybe that’s the main point of an online campaign, but the success of the whole project should never be solely based on online results. I think there’s a lot of organizations which rely too much on Facebook and websites and leave their PR campaigns at that. It’s easy to stir the hype, but hype isn’t synonymous to action. Moreover, here in the Philippines internet access is still pretty limited, therefore the Internet audience is restricted to those who could afford the connection. It’s very easy to appreciate a cool idea or product and show that appreciation online – but how about it real life? Will you buy that product or follow that celebrity’s concerts? Will they attend that event? Sure, online PR is there to make your organization look good in the eyes of the stakeholders, but no matter how magnificent your organization or product is online, if you fail to recreate the same in real life, it fails like an OTL. In other words, substantiate the online display. The real life effects are more important than the thousands of YouTube views and Twitter followers.

…wait, it smells good?

(And also, I’m really, reeeaally going to be brief here. Erm, I’ll try, anyway.)

Alright, I admit. That title is weird. Anyway, during my OJT days, my job was on the media monitoring side of things – which translated to being the assistant who took care of the news and magazine clippings plus the blogposts. It’s harder than it sounds, trust me. Anyways, it did provide me with greater appreciation for the printed word, which is part of the Old Media. I get to be newspapers and magazines all the time and trust me, I mourned over the fact that I can’t read them all.

Okay, so what’s this really about? Recently I got to read this online page about how ‘New Media’ and ‘Old Media’ are at odds with each other. They’re basically taking potshots at each another. Well, I haven’t seen bloggers and print journalists go on a verbal mudslinging, but I guess there is truly a tension in there, about how ‘the new is replacing the old’ and some other. And actually, it’s not limited to the ‘Internet VS the Old Media’ – this has been going on for a long time. Apparently every time a new form of media appears, it’s followed by a horde of pessimists discouraging people from using it because…well, they can be pretty creative with their reasons (ie “It can harm your mind!”). It’s only when people have adjusted and made it part of their lives do these doubts fade.

For me though, I patronize both types of Media, even though I can be considered as part of the Net Gen. Actually, for my daily news I prefer to read newspapers, magazines and watch the evening news – if I want something more specific, that’s the time to take the search online. I think they complement each other more than being deterimental. New Media can supplement what had been printed or aired and vice versa. Respected newspapers and news shows can publish/air their news from an objective point of view, and the netizens could provide their subjective take on the issue. I think they can both paint a bigger, more complete picture, and for me, that’s great.

Still in the blog-dump. Man, how many have I missed, really?

For our starting startling statement for today: I don’t like internet ads.

Okay, not so shocking there, I know. Not that special. At one point or another, we have hated internet ads the same way we don’t like stupid TV commercials, in-the-way billboards and other advertisements that just don’t know how to respect your field of vision. For one thing, they’re known to destroy blog layouts. One ad was related to the computer virus I’ve somehow acquired at one time and proceeded to destroy some of my programs. There are pop-up ads (they still exist, apparently) which are simply and horribly annoying with their cockroach-worth insistence to be noticed. Then there are ads which trick gullible people into clicking them. Finally, they simply assault your eyesight with their clashing colors and atrocious blinking. What’s to love about these?

So here are some of the things I dislike about today’s internet ads:

1. ‘You won $XXXXXXX! Click to get your prize!’ – Really now. This one’s so old, those using them should be graduating to something better. Sure, real world advertising does dabble in ‘black magic’ (read: half-truths), but that type of ad is simply atrocious. I guess there are those who continue to fall for these, but whoever created and stuck to these ads until now should change their modus operandi, since people won’t be dopes forever. And they’re just plain deceiving, it’s unfair.

2. Flash-heavy ads – I really, really hate these kinds of ads, if only because they tend to work my CPU to death (my computer’s an old one). They also slow down the page download, and when people grow impatient, they simply stop browsing the page altogether. Bad.

3. ‘Sexy’ ads – Sex sells, alright. And the world is still a long way away from eradicating sexism. But come on – ads which utilize the female body to attract attention is offensive. I remember those ‘x-ray vision’ ads for the cellphone which shows a phone capable of ‘seeing through’ a woman’s clothing to see her underwear and that ‘soccer’ mini-game ad where you flick little soccer balls through a woman’s cleavage. I don’t even know what those ads are really about, but upon seeing them I simply ceased to care. I get that their target audience are males, but they’re just plain tasteless.

That’s a very short list there, and I know it should be longer, but these are the things I gather from the top of my head. Seriously now, I think Internet ads are trying so hard to impress and stand out from the multitude of content to be found, it’s simply painful. Internet ads had become so banal in all of its gaudy glory we have become desensitized and treat them as another piece of the webpage. Advertising should be focused on the message, but it’s often buried underneath all the sparkles and and deceit and flashy graphics. There are some ads that I don’t mind being there – such as the Google ad which generates a list of sites related to the current page you’re on – since they’re pretty easy on the eyes. Moreover, they’re straight to the point – these banner ads are all about the site so deliver it to the audience without the frills. Unfortunately, most of the ads I’ve seen aren’t like the Google ads – even if they’re only a bunch of moving, loud graphics, these internet ads still ‘push’ their way to your field of vision and you couldn’t even remove them. I don’t mind web ads being on the page, it’s just that they can be distracting and irritating.

I’ve long said and accepted that ‘anything goes’ online, but with people becoming more aware of the Internet’s shady and cliched shenanigans, the challenge for the advertisers is to stand out without resorting to the hackneyed tactics. Being straightforward and refreshing will truly make them stand out (well, just like in real life, ne?).

Blog-dumps galore, commence!
Nice keyboard (from mxmcreation.com)

Where can I buy this one?

Anyways, with the vastness of the Internet, there’s bound to be something new to be discovered every time you start the browser. It might be a new meme, a new viral video hitting Facebook or a TV or book series you’ve never heard of. Chances are, if your interest is really, really piqued, you’ll start a mini-research of sorts. You know, getting to know this new discovery of yours. It often happens to me – some of my recent interests came from stumbling upon a recommendation or mention.
What I noticed is that (at least, when it comes to me) when I wanted to learn something more about a certain topic, my first stop is not Wikipedia. No, it’s not even Google. It’s TV Tropes.
Shameless plugging of my favorite site aside, I find TV Tropes to be a more ‘interesting’ site. By ‘interesting’, I mean ‘fun’.  It’s even in the site’s homepage – they are, after all, “buttloads more informal” than Wikipedia. Sure, Wikipedia might have more organized information, but TV Tropes have something which is really up there in my ‘plus points’ list: it’s very, very witty.  Or more exactly, it’s so informal that users can get away with the occasional profanity or two, all mixed with wiki magic and user wit. Since it’s a wiki-type, users are free to add content, although there are editors to make sure that most content follows grammar to make them understandable.
Then I realized this – there’s no universal law validating this, but a good chunk of the Internet’s made up of the informal. By ‘informal’, I mean the conversational, funny, witty, curt, straight-to-the-forward, memetic, multilingual, leet, grammatically disrespectful and/or profanity-ridden. It’s not, “Jin is mostly frigid to other people unless they’re Ragna”, it’s “He’s a jackass to everyone and a yandere to Ragna”. When chatting, it’s rarely “Sure, I’ll send this document via email. Is 8:30PM okay with you?” but “sure””i’ll send the doc XD””830?”. When it comes to peer reviews, it’s not surprising to find “i really, really like your fic! <33 will be faving this. pls update soon!” and “this book is nice” instead of paragraphs upon paragraphs of constructive criticism.
Sure, there’s still lots of material with proper grammar and formatting out there, even ones that sound like your undergraduate thesis, but that’s the language of formality – it seems that the human language online is full of smileys, intercultural content, shortcuts, lax grammar and formatting, alternating caps and numbers. And I think it’s not even ‘age-related’ a.k.a. ‘only the young ones type that way’: I’ve seen middle-aged people express themselves in small caps and shortcuts. The only reason I can think is because ‘it’s the Internet’. In the place where truly ‘anything goes’, even rules of grammar seem to have a loose hold.
Leet Speak (from fbtags.info)

Wonder of wonders

Reading “can i haz cheezburgers LOL” has a distinctive ‘Internet’ vibe to it – you wouldn’t really see it in real life unless you’re consciously citing it. As the Internet has also made it easier for people to find their subcultures online, it’s common to see a smorgasbord of terms and jargon. In the era of fast-paced communication with limited space for content (why hello there, Twitter), people are squeezing in as much thought as possible before hitting the character limit. What’s more, this is also the era of information overload – one’s attention is rarely pegged on the same sentence longer than, say, ten seconds, before moving on to the next tidbit. Lastly, this is also the era of the multi-tasker – between chatting with your groupmates, checking Facebook, updating Twitter, reading emails and watching videos, you can’t have the liberty of typing a paragraph for a response. In the online realm, where anything comes and goes at the speed of kilobytes per second, it’s a deluge of text and images all vying for your attention and begging to be retained in your memory. Keep it short, sweet, exciting and straight(to the)forward – this appears to be the creed of the online crowd.
The form might get choppy, run-on, too short, ‘geeky’ and look more like a barcode or Wingdings,  but it’s the thought and matter that counts – although the message might need some deciphering (unless, of course, it’s written in Cyrillic or Nihongo, and that’s another story). Simply put, the online crowd likes hearing messages that’s not going to bore them to death. If it’s a block of text like this without the cheeky, hey-what-was-that-again part – namely, it’s a boring block of text – then it’s not going to work. It doesn’t mean that we should be adopting leetspeak – it’s just that even text has to be ‘interesting’ now (and no, it’s not about font types, alternating caps or new word-number combinations). Wit has always captivated an audience, but in the online world, one has to be extra witty and curt about it. It’s becoming increasingly easier to get lost in online information content, with new things being added everyday and the tabs feature now so common among web browsers. Of course, not everyone is going to like a statement like “a boatload of weeaboos”, and “we guarantee you its awesomeness” will raise more than a few eyebrows in a clean-cut corporate site. Like I’ve said before, the “Internet likes the witty, informal and short” observation isn’t universal.
Besides, this is the Internet, right? Anything goes, and whatever it is, we would want it to be entertaining at the very least.

Because I completely feel the need – and the pressure – to update, so there you go, blog-dumps!

I’m not much of a forum goer. Oh, I’ve tried a couple of forums before, but somehow, I simply drop out of existence after a few months, tops. I admit that forums are a nice online place to hang out though. Just think of it – several people all over the world, from different cultures and ways of life, converging in one place to discuss. It doesn’t even have to be about the forum’s ‘main topic’. Sure, there’ll be people talking about the latest Bleach episode, but in the other corners of the forum there would be threads about music, video games, food, politics – practically anything under the sun. It might not be instantaneous like YM, but the conversations are there to stay and you could always check out what had been said an hour or three days ago.

Flame War

You have no heart otherwise

Of course, where people converge – especially in large numbers – conflict arises.

Bring out the popcorn and the marshmallows, ladies and gentlemen. We’ll be talking about flame wars.

Firstly though, what’s ‘flaming’? Wikipedia defines it as the “hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users”. Also, it could happen in a discussion board, Internet Relay Chat, email, game servers and video sharing websites (I’m focused on forums though). A flame war then happens when one or more users jump into the fray, either fueling the arguments or trying to diffuse the situation. An entry in the Urban Dictionary says it best though: “Like paintball, but with flamethrowers”.

Some flame wars start innocently enough. It could be that the starting topic wasn’t even controversial – it’s only when users ‘hijack’ the thread by posting insulting, polarizing or unrelated to the original post that a flame war sparks to life. These users – called flamers (more precise and subtle) or trolls (less subtle, more insulting) – could also be deliberately setting up  a flame war with a topic sure to cause rifts large enough to drive a backhoe through.

Flame war

Because everyone could be anyone online.

I admit though, flame wars can be extremely amusing to follow. First, there could be a mundane topic, even phrased decently. Or it could be deliberate ‘flame bait’, a post which could be insulting or very polarizing. Then sooner or later a couple of forum posters would rather throw insults at each other than intelligently discuss the topic. With enough vitriol and childishness it will evolve into a magnificently messed-up verbal battle, with each participant vying for the best ad hominem. If you have the same sense of humor as I do, you will find these wars very entertaining indeed.

Here are some of the topics which may incite a flame war in the vast wilderness of the Internet:

  • The Console Wars. There’s even a PC gaming vs Console gaming.
  • Ninja vs Pirate. In the realm of anime, it translates to Naruto vs One Piece.
  • Windows vs Mac OS
  • Facebook vs Friendster (or any social networking site, for that matter)
  • Twilight (the book series)
  • Pluto’s status as a planet
  • Politics and Religion

For additional amusement, try looking at these sites.

Black hilarity aside, I think flame wars are a sign of computer-mediated communication’s shortcomings (at least, when it’s not deliberately incited in the name of shits and giggles). Since forum users come from all sorts of backgrounds, there’s no social context to base their words. How do we know if they’re already being sarcastic, or it’s just the way they express themselves and mean no harm?  Also, as every forum user is shielded by the anonymity provided by the Internet, he or she feels free to say anything without fearing social retribution. Sure, the boards could kick the flamer out, but it’s easy to get another account and return to the warpath. Then there’s the problem of non-verbal communication being nonexistent in the online setting. We can only judge these people through their words.

Flame war

Make sure you're fireproof

While I do admit that a flame war could be entertaining, it is also disruptive. Forums get swamped by negative posts and a negative rep. And yes, while sticks and stones can break bones and words don’t, flame posts could still affect the person behind the computer. While forums do have rules against flamers and trolls, maturity is still the way to go. Firstly, forum users should think of the statements to post. Secondly, don’t feed the flames and the trolls. They’re hungry for attention and want nothing more but your irritation. You don’t get paid for having high blood pressure, so why bother posting an equally childish reply?

Anyways, marshmallows still taste good without being roasted.

Source:

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flaming_(Internet)#.22Flame_wars.22)

Okay, so I had been out for the count for…an unspecified amount of days. Okay, weeks. Yes, bad. But hey, I had been busy. Swear! Honest!

Anyways, one of the things that kept me busy was online job application (see? I can chuck off procrastination at times). See, I’ve always wanted to try out some of those ‘part-time jobs’ other people have been mentioning. Since I’m one of those Internet junkies, I decided to get a job that requires online presence – at least, if my mom complains I’ve been melting my eyeballs in front of the monitor for four hours, I will have a very, very good reason (ie, “I’m being productive, Ma!”). Of course, like a true member of the Net Gen, I can also try multitasking! One tab for the job, five others for Facebook, TV Tropes, Wikipedia and some other site that suits my fancy. Win-win situation. Yep!

It’s still too early to celebrate and dream of things to buy though, since I’ve yet to finish the application process for the two companies I’ve applied to. Nevertheless, I’ve already noticed several things that required the attention and appearance of the OrCom hat.

The first company I braved was an online tutoring service. It needs English speakers who have the time and patience to tutor Japanese clients. I’ve been hearing of this job from my classmates ever since last semester and I decided to give it a try. After all, the application process is online – I only needed to fill up a form page and hit the ‘Send’ button. Then I have to wait for the email confirmation and then the real life phone call for a brief interview. If I passed that, then there’s the mock lesson to look forward to, and after that some more requirements to pass before I finally hit the official roster. Of course, the whole process cannot be accomplished in one day, but it looked pretty streamlined to me.

It sounded really easy – after all, I’ve been filling up online forms ever since, what, high school. The waiting part was fine, too. As I browsed the company web site (while filling up the app form – tabs are among the most awesome of web browser features), I hit the first novelty.

Skype.

Skype was merciful to my bandwidth and the installation wasn’t difficult either. It was simply…new. Yes, yes, I know, I’m a Net Gen, I should’ve learned about Skype the moment it started appearing in fifty thousand hits on Google. But I never had a reason to use Skype. I was content with YM and email correspondence. This whole ‘voice over the Internet’ thing sounded too similar to the telephone, and I thought, what’s the difference between the written and spoken word over the Internet? Besides, my reading skills seem to be better than my listening ones. But since Skype was a requirement, I knew I had to learn how to use the program. Thankfully the Welcome Screen proved to be helpful enough for the basics, and the interface wasn’t a headache. It seems all nice and dandy, and it worked well during the mock lesson. By well, no glitch or weird happenings whatsoever that could be attributed to faulty programming or interface that suddenly made my eyes cross. Moreover, I can use the chat box while talking at the same time. If I want to make sure I got understood, I could always type a keyword or the whole sentence.

The second company, which is in need of writers, also featured an online application of sorts – namely, the form filling thing – but it was less ‘rigid’ than the first company’s. Other than the staple ‘name, location, email’ blahs, there were questions like ‘describe yourself’. After blabbing on and on in their forms, I hit the send button. Not an hour later (or maybe not even fifteen minutes later), I’ve been alerted via email to the next step in the application process. I almost rolled my eyes – I’m willing to bet that they didn’t even read everything I’ve put in that form. The wonders of automatic reply, eh?

Anyways, what struck me about this company is that they have an official forum which they called their ‘Cyber Office’. They do have a physical, real-life office for the higher-ups, but for their pool of writers, everything can be accomplished simply by logging in their forum and doing the work online. No walls, no tables, no inter-cubicle talk – just the Internet, in all of its vastness. Want to know the rules? There’s a thread for that. Where to claim and post tasks? Go to the appropriate thread. Want to talk to your fellow writers about everything and anything? There’s an online niche for that. All the human contact one can experience in a real life office could be approximated online.

It sure is nifty, though. I don’t need to leave the house and I could do the tasks without anyone physically breathing down my neck. However, while the Internet connects me to the other person, it also serves as a barrier at the same time. We relate differently to people online. I could eat whenever I want while typing the tasks, or I could mask my irritation with a pleasant voice while talking through Skype.  There’s a lack of the ‘human touch’ in these relationships. At least in Skype, you can hear the voice behind the handle (not that it’s much, really), but with the forum-slash-cyber office, everyone is simply a name and whatever persona they conjured up. We’re slowly getting to that ‘infinite workspace’ thing, but I think that the idea of an ‘office’ as a space with cubicles, desks and real post-its is going to stick.

Okay, I think I need to explain that one. You see, in ye olde games of yore, when voice-overs were an impossibility due to technical restraints, video game characters talk with text boxes. So yes, my brain’s in video game mode today.

Tetris

Once upon a time, this game kept people up all night

Anyways, I was surfing the web as usual – checking Facebook, commenting on blogs, reading stuff in TV Tropes, the usual beat – when I remembered to check the homepage of a game which I really, really liked. Funny thing is, it was only then I realized that it was a WordPress page, just like this blog.

So, what am I getting at? The game was quite a wonder, really. See, there’s this group of people, who are most probably not even neighbors, creating a game and distributing it online – and for free too. Sure, it’s not Final Fantasy-level of technical superiority – it’s made from the application RPG XP (if I’m not mistaken, that is), which means it’s all sprites – but as anyone who has dabbled with programming, it’s hard work. Then there’s the gameplay, the music, the artwork, the promotion – you’ll need a whole team for this, and you’ll need to be in touch with each other lest the project falls into development limbo. Years ago, it meant that everyone must be in the same place, in the same building. Nowadays, you can do it with one person in Manila and the other in Armenia. It might take weeks, months, years even – but that project, that game could be finished despite the amazing geographical distances between its developers. You could thank the Internet for that.

The Mirror Lied

Such a simple-looking game...that messed up with my head

When we talk of games and the Internet, it’s certain that ‘piracy’ would come to mind at one point or another. However, the games that could be downloaded from the Net aren’t always the illegal rips. Like the game with the WordPress page I mentioned above, the Internet could be used to circulate and promote these free indie games. Maybe the authors of these games simply want to build up their credentials and experience, or they want to bring a story to life in any medium within their means, but the thing is, the Internet helped them create and finish that game.

Indeed, the Internet has integrated itself nicely to the video game industry. Several games have come up with elaborate viral marketing campaigns, such as Halo’s ilovebees and Bioshock 2’s Something in the Sea (which are sadly over). In something that’s vaguely ironic (especially with the sense that Internet promotes piracy) and controversial, Ubisoft required the PC version of their hit game Assassin’s Creed II to have an internet connection in order to combat piracy. Unfortunately for them, the smart ones of the Internet has cracked through their defenses. And of course, who could ever forget MMORPGs? Ragnarok Online is still close to my heart. Also, the Internet becomes the place where the fans of said games gather to discuss, as well as the way for them to reach the developers.

There's Something in the Sea...

When the online goes live

Let’s see what hits the Internet next…