Sharing doesn’t have to be a popularity contest

High school was largely about popularity for me. I wasn’t popular, I was something like infamous. Most students didn’t like me, although nearly everyone knew of me. Faculty, for the most part, had a love-hate relationship with me, and it was mutual. I habitually called teachers by their first names, while also pointing out how moronic most students were. Basically, I had enough presence to be known, but lacked any social grace that would make me popular.

Not much has changed.

I think that is why I hold such contempt for “sharing” buttons. Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Reddit. They all have these widgets that can be embedded on pages, and allow people to quickly broadcast to a particular social network that they pushed a button there.

That isn’t to say that it’s not useful, I am sure many people find great value is crowd-sourcing the curation of their reading lists. But that isn’t the point of these widgets. They are badges, a status symbol to demonstrate how valuable something is. It is as useful as being popular is high school.

The only shared items I read are from StatusNet. I am sure a widget or bookmark could be created that would allow the network to be flooded by links, but as it is, most are considerate acts of sharing. People observe something, and want others to be informed by it. Due to the federated nature, we don’t have anything that can count the popularity is a centralized way. It is incredibly meaningful.

This affects my work, because inevitably clients will ask for “social media” to be added to their site. Buzz terms aside, this behavior ends up propagating the idea that we want stats instead of meaning. It makes sense, one can’t report on meaning, or explain to stakeholders how important a piece of content is. We defer to currency of analytics: unique visits, bounce rates, shared items, etc.

We’ve been building tools that make it easier to build superficial relationships, and human nature dictates that we justify why we would value something like that. We tell high school aged humans to focus on their studies, that there is more to life than the microcosm that is school grounds/activities. Consider this a warning in the same vein: you are not your analytics, and there is more to life than how many times your post was shared.

Don’t be popular. Be meaningful.

Moving on

So, the journey of being harassed, and communicating with the server owner at Evocraft has come to an end. Now what?

Well, first of all, the server now has the rules listed when one joins, and require a player to accept them to gain access to certain features of the server. The screen shot shows the interface:

I think that is a step in the right direction, and I like to think I had something to do with it. It is reaffirming to me that the way to enact positive change is by speaking up and discussing an issue.

Redstone is a gateway circuitry

The other thing that I am happy to share is feen.ca. Unfortunately, my timing isn’t great, since according to the information page on Reddit (edit: and an updated post), “the power supply committed suicide. everything’s down until I get another PSU now :(“.

Anyhow, Malmater and I have been playing there for about a week or so, and we are having a blast. It isn’t PvP or survival like the other server, but it still allows for a great amount of expression. I’ve met some cool people, and we actually spent time showing off our creations to each other. It is a completely different experience, of course. ^_^

I found it because I told Judy that I was looking for a civil server, and I might as well look for one that is explicitly LGBT-friendly. She pointed me to that info page and I was able to contact the server owner and get playing.

I would wear a dress

Aside from that, over the weekend the news hit about the LAN party that is prohibiting women from attending, based on their idea that women are treated poorly by the other participants (or some such nonsense; read Lesley’s post, it is an excellent breakdown).

Of course there is frustration, and even heartbreak, upon hearing this, but I see it as a Bat-signal. We have an opportunity to discuss this now, and we as gamers shouldn’t pass up this chance. I am sure there will be emotions running hot, and a lot more frustration, but this is important. And if you are curious about what some other people are saying on the subject, may I point you to the gaming article on Geek Feminism Wiki?

And remember, the first move of the conventional person will be an attempt to invalidate and shutdown the conversation. Don’t lose your voice! Be bold! And if you need, contact me; there are places I know of where your voice will ring loud and clear. ^_^