Sunday, October 07, 2007

Three Ordinary Articles

There were three separate and seemingly unrelated stories in today’s Denver Post that I found interesting, although I’m still not sure why.

First up, We are our friends: Our friends are us:
The dizzying pace of the digital revolution often leaves us yearning for simplicity, but it's probably safe to say there are two kinds of people in this world: those who have disappeared into the time-sucking maelstrom of social networking websites, and loners.

That might have sounded like an overstatement a few years ago, when MySpace and Facebook were just beginning to wobble toward cultural relevance, but the reality in 2007 is much different.

Social networking sites are our new watercoolers, photo albums and bulletin boards. By mimicking, then deconstructing, the tangled web of relationships in the real world, they have proved themselves useful in ways scarcely imagined a half-decade ago.

And they're not just for dating or gossip. A surprising amount and diversity of people - representing nearly every age and interest - use the sites, and accidental entrepreneurs are taking the MySpace model in bold new directions.

That site's success practically begs for it. News Corp.-owned MySpace, which boasts more than 200 million worldwide users, will reap about $1 billion in ad revenue this year.
Next, Virtual worlds can help users recover from health woes:

Brown, Salvatierra and Dawley are just a few examples of an increasing number of sick, disabled and troubled people who say virtual worlds are helping them fight their diseases, live with their disabilities and sometimes even begin to recover. Researchers say they are only starting to appreciate the impact of this phenomenon.

"We're at a major technical and social transition with this technology. It has very recently started to become a very big deal, and we haven't by any means digested what the implications are," said William Sims Bainbridge of the National Science Foundation.

In addition to helping individual patients, virtual worlds are being used for other health-related purposes: Medical schools are using them to train doctors. Health departments are using them to test first responders. Researchers are using them to gain insights into how epidemics spread.

Finally, Churches’ “Halo” gets tarnished:
First the percussive sounds of sniper fire, then the thrill of the kill.

Then the gospel of peace.

Across the country, hundreds of ministers and pastors desperate to reach young congregants have drawn concern and criticism through their use of an unusual recruiting tool: the immersive and violent video game "Halo."
Now, none of these articles were particularly outstanding or created any epiphanies for me, but it was the “ordinariness” of them that struck me. Two articles in the “News” section, one in the “Arts & Entertainment” section – three articles on topics that are apparently mainstream and therefore worthy of writing (and reading) about, and not particularly unusual because they were just like any other story in the paper.

What does it all mean? I’m tempted to say “shift happens,” but I really don’t know. I’m not sure it means anything at all, but it just struck me as unusual because of the very fact that apparently it’s not unusual. Perhaps that does mean some shifts are occurring . . .

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