Monday, February 28, 2005

The Title is Set

Well, the title for my book has been chosen. The title will be "Chicken's in the Headlights." I still prefer my original choice, but what is a first-time author to do?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Fudder Heads

A nice article that responds to a previous article that blasted wikipedia.

The crux of the article, written by Aaron Krowne, is that many are seeking to spread Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about open-source software. "The goal of FUD is to make money when the free software competition cannot be defeated fairly in the marketplace."

It's a good read.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Game Theory in Games?

So I just got my March copy of Wired Magazine and promptly sat down to pour over the glossy pages of goodness. I was flipping through the Play section when I came across a new videogame; Battlefield 2. What caught my eye was the new element of game play. There are two modes; a first-person shooter mode, and a 'commander' mode.

The first person shooter mode is now famous and has spawned many wonderful games. From Doom to Counter-Strike, it's a popular genre. But Battlefield 2 is adding a second element. Players can either play on the front lines in FPS mode, or take a back seat in the commander mode. The commander mode will allow players to direct a squad of up to 32 players (not AI, real live boys and girls) on the battlefield. They can drop ammo to a player who is almost out, call in air support, or direct traffic.

The thing I find most interesting is that it presents a classis game theory situation. I could even draw up a nice little matrix. Players will have the opportunity to either cooperate (go where the general says to go), or defect (go where you want to go if you think the general sees ‘cannon fodder’ written on your forehead) I have been in games of CS where one team is completely whooped by a team that plays together. They work as one.

But that is the exception to the rule. MOST of the time in CS, people are just running around shooting each other. Sometimes players try to direct, (“Storm the front!”), but for the most part this attempt at leadership is ignored. Players choose to defect from the squad, and just do their own thing, usually to the detriment of the team.

So will Battlefield 2's command view encourage people to work together as a team? Will the command view allow the 'general' to punish or reward those that defect or cooperate?

Maybe I need to do a little 'research' and purchase a copy when it comes out in March.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Chicken Update...

I went down to American Fork (pronounced Fark) yesterday and met with some very nice folks at Covenant Communications. I have been working with several individuals there, all who were very nice on the phone and through e-mail, and were even nicer in person. It looks like the book is still on track for June, and as the well known hymn goes, 'all is well'.

With the possible exception of the title. It looks like Chicken's Don't Have Armpits isn't even going to be a choice that the title committee will look at. It's a bit discouraging, but I completely understand. If my name alone drove people to rush out and buy books, then the title is probably not important. That is why a Steven King book could be called 87 steps to kicking your neighbor's dog, and it would still sell. Mainly because the titles are so small on his books you really can't even read them.

So Covenant needs to find a book that will 'do well'. I still think that anybody walking into a bookstore, and sees a book called, "Chicken's Don't Have Armpit's', is going to say to themselves, "What the...." And at least wander over and pick it up.

Anyway, this blog will forever more be known as Chicken's Don't Have Armpits, in spite of the name change. And as more publishing events take place, I will let you know how it goes. Right now I'm trying to find a photo to send for their back cover. I don't really much care to get my picture taken, but there you have it. The said a picture of my car, or CD collection wouldn't cut it. There is a Matthew Buckley here, maybe they would accept that. You know, you have to ask yourself, what exactly are they teaching at that school? Maybe they are graduates of this program?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Community Rationality

I've been reading a book called "The Survival Game" by David Barash. It's a discussion on game theory and I've found it to be quite interesting, particularly the bit on the concept of "live and let live" during WWI. Basically it is the idea that the soldiers on both sides were miserable enough with the cold and trenches (for an excellent documentary on the subject, you can check out the fourth season of Black Adder). Add other people shooting at each you and the whole event became something you would just as soon pass up. So the soldiers began to use the strategy of tit-for-tat. In other words, if you let me live, I'll let you live. I won't shoot at you, but if you shoot three times at me, I'm going to return as many bullets.

This concept became well known to both sides, much to the chagrin of the officers, who were supposed to be running a war, and were quite put out that their soldiers weren't cooperating. At times one side or the other would stand up out of the trenches and apologize for artillery attacks that they had no control over. During several Christmases, both sides were so comfortable with each other that several impromptu games of soccer were played.

Anyway, the other interesting part that has got me thinking is the concept of community rationality. The idea is basically that we all are rational, self-interested creatures, and act accordingly. But sometimes we act not in what is most rational for ourselves, but rather what is most rational for the community we belong to. I don't know whether I quite buy the fact that these rationalities are separate; it might possibly be that the latter is simply a different manifestation of the former, but still, I find the concept interesting.

Maybe this community rationality can help explain why people will act in ways that aren't directly tied to their own self-interest. They are a part of a community, and feel that by acting in such a way, the community will benefit, and maybe eventually it will even come back to help them. I recently heard about "Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness", in which people will volunteer to go out and take pictures of cemeteries, or look up information for other people, free of charge. Individually you have a hard time explaining this action, but when you look at the entire community, it starts to make more sense. I think GeoCaching is the same way. Without some kind of community rationality, the whole thing falls apart.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Communities and such...

Can’t sleep.

I’ve been thinking a bit about communities lately. When I went to high school, you could say that I belonged to a community. There were about 200 in my graduating class, and we all shared similar experiences. We were the same age, lived in the same country, the same state, and the same city. We had the same teachers, ate the same lunches, read the same textbooks, and to a large extent, occupied pretty much the same space at pretty much the same time. In a very real sense, this is what made us a community; shared experiences.

But when you think about it, outside of sharing the same space and time, we were all very different. Our interests and experiences were dramatically different, and led many to naturally end up in ‘cliques’. There were athletes, thespians, band members, cowboys. In spite of sharing much, we all had dramatically different passions.

With an online community, it seems to me that the situation is reversed. Take for instance Slashdot. Physically the users of Slashdot do not share the same space. Participants log in from all over the globe. And where my high school buddies all went to class at the same time (give or take 10 minutes, some of them were habitually tardy), slashdotters are logging in all hours of the day and night. But while we slashdotters don’t share space or time, what we do share is interests. Those that come to Slashdot come because it is clear this is where to find the ‘news that matters’. There isn’t a better place to get it. Our shared interests and passions bring us together, and we become a community despite the fact that so much else in our lives is different.

Community and social interaction is a vital part of learning. Does the classroom (shared time and space) tie us together any better than shared passions? Is one better than the other?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


So what if you throw a blog and nobody comes? As can be seen in the last month, I've had a record number of visitors to the site. A whopping 0. The proverbial goose egg. It can't be my lack of wit, or the lack of fascinatingly interesting posts. I've plenty of both. ;]. What affect does this have on the average blogger? The simple answer is, "I don't know." I know the affect it has on me. When I get a 'thought', my first inclination is to post it to The Grey Labyrinth, rather than here. I get more of a response.

I bring this up, not to wallow in self pity (it is much more enjoyable to wallow in say, custard or shaving cream). Rather because I'm going to study this phenomenon for a class I'm attending at Utah State University. I intend to look at blogs, and determine if people are more willing to maintain their blog if people are posting comments.

Anyway, if anybody replies with a comment to this post, I just may post the results. ;)