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Thursday, January 22, 2009

VR and OCD 

Joshua Fairfield (I'd never heard of him either) over at TerraNova (an interesting blog about video games and philosophy) recently wrote a superb piece about privacy in online worlds. I'll resist the temptation to quote the whole thing:
We have all agreed to permit game gods to surveil our every word and action, and to hand the information over to law enforcement and the intelligence community. The Stored Communications Act makes it pretty clear that clicking "I Agree" to a virtual world EULA [End User Licensing Agreement] means "I voluntarily suspend my Fourth Amendment rights pretty much permanently." [...]

Contracts that overreach that far are unconscionable. But unconscionability isn't much of a defense under the Fourth Amendment. You consented; there was no duress. The government can access the information.

But there is a further problem with the argument as a whole. Imagine if signing away your constitutional rights were a prerequisite of engaging in any commercial activity. We could refuse to sell people food unless they signed contracts like this. We could certainly make agreeing to wiretapping a prerequisite to getting telephone service. We could require your "consent" to the installation of cameras in your house as a precondition of getting a building permit, or as part of the sales contract of a house.
It's true that we've come to accept EULAs as just one more step along the way of installing stuff or playing things. I know I don't read them very carefully. On the other hand, I gave up online privacy the moment I became a teacher, so it's kind of a moot point for me.

The Constant Opening of New Packages

I've been having yucky coughing fits for the past few months. I thought it might be lactose intolerance, so I took LactAid for a while, but it didn't really help. Then my doctor gave me nasal steroids, but that didn't do much. Then I took Prilosec, because he thought it might be acid reflux. The Prilosec didn't help, so he's put me on a prescription AR drug. The nice part is that they had a whole bunch of free samples, so they gave me a month's supply.

Unfortunately, the sample bottles only have five pills. So I got this big ol' box of boxes, each containing a miniscule amount of medication. (TPCQ: "All the string is in three-inch lengths.") So every two days I have to bust open a new box of pills, remove the foil, and extract the weird plastic stay-fresh dealie. I feel like I've got severe OCD because I'm forever unwrapping new bottles of pills.

The coughing has died down, however. That's nice. Alas, I appear to be unable at this point to enjoy milk in my coffee. This is a shame, as I really prefer it over non-creamed morning jolt. However, a friend of Diane's recently reminded me of the glorious technological innovation known as Non-Dairy Creamer. So I got a bottle of that and now I'm all happy again in the morning.

In Your Face

I've finally given Facebook an actual whirl. People I went to high school with are crawling out of the woodwork. Ditto New College folks. It's cool to meet up with people, and I'm kinda getting the hang of all the notifications and stuff. A bit like Twitter on drugs.

So if you're there but haven't written on my wall, friend me!


Star Wars explained by someone who's never seen it. (A bunch of folks have been spreading this around, so I apologize if it's old fish for some of you.) Long live Hans Solo.

Today I'm listening to: Chopin!