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by Rob Horning

6 Apr 2009

James Kwak of the Baseline Scenario, an economics blog, draws a natural conclusion about Facebook:

Incidentally, I don’t understand the Facebook model. They seem to be trying to get people to use and enjoy the Internet within the tight confines of Facebook. This reminds me of the old days of CompuServe and AOL. Ordinarily when I work I have about 10-12 tabs open on my browser, and at most one of them is Facebook. There is so much stuff on the Internet, why would you limit yourself to the stuff your friends posted? Besides, I find their user interface non-intuitive, and with each iteration they make it less powerful - and I used to work at a software company.

The portal strategy, the idea that you choose to access an internet within the internet, has never made much sense to me either, mainly because I don’t trust tech companies to filter my online experience so obviously. (Yet I am content to use Google, which filters what I see in the name of searching.) At first the portal is convenient, but then the companies who control it eventually betray users trust, and they realize that nothing is stopping them from stepping around the gated community but their own laziness. Eventually, it would seem to make a lot more sense for us to simply have our own websites (eg, the nonexistent robhorning.com) so that the information we generate won’t be exploited by a corporation for ends we don’t agree with or aren’t aware of. Having used Facebook for a few months now, I still don’t see what value it adds as a company. Instead, its meddling seems to make the idea of connecting with friends online more joyless and fraught with ulterior motives—servicing other people’s nostalgia or chasing our own temptations to self-aggrandizement while our behavior gets leveraged for the inevitable advertising push to come once our data is properly analyzed and the links we’ve formed decoded into demographic data for marketers.

by Lara Killian

6 Apr 2009

Believe it or not, every year for almost the last decade, a global celebration of eating your words has been taking place right around April Fool’s Day.

The International Edible Book Festival has been happening annually since 2000, the brainchild of Judith A. Hoffberg and Béatrice Coron. The organizers don’t care where you celebrate or how you choose to eat your words, but they do ask that participants take photographic evidence and submit it to the website for the benefit of posterity.

by PopMatters Staff

6 Apr 2009

French band Phoenix releases their latest album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix on May 26th. That’s still a good way off, yet they are already hitting the U.S. promotional rounds, stopping by Saturday Night Live this weekend to play “Lisztomania”, the lead-off song from the upcoming record. You can also download track two, “1901”.

Phoenix
“1901” [MP3]
     

by Sean Murphy

6 Apr 2009

Most people knew Jethro Tull had been around forever, but more than three centuries??

Oh. You mean the actual British dude, Mr. Tull, whom the progressive band was named after? (Wait, so that isn’t the singer’s name?) Quite an arbitrary choice, though certainly more cerebral than many of its era (Strawberry Alarm Clock, anyone?); and considering one of the early choices was Candy Coloured Rain, I think we can all appreciate that less acid-addled minds prevailed.

So who was this Jethro Tull and why is he important, aside from being on the cover of this album? Well, do the words seed drill mean anything to you?

by Mike Schiller

6 Apr 2009

Yes, it’s been out for a while on other platforms, and yes, it’s a sequel, but I have to admit that the one thing I am most looking forward to this week is Puzzle Quest: Galactrix‘s bow on the Xbox Live Arcade.

The first Puzzle Quest is one of the games I spent the most time admiring over the last year, for the ways in which it bucks traditional RPG and puzzle game design principles, combining them to create an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable experience.  What looks interesting about Galactrix is that it’s changed the game that its puzzling is modeled after; where Challenge of the Warlords was all about putting Bejeweled in a big, fancy frame, Galactrix is more like Xbox Live Arcade’s own Hexic.

This is a scary thought.

While Hexic is certainly an excellent game, it’s a very difficult one as well, the sort of puzzle game that will chase away outsiders due to the high learning curve it presents when one pursues mastery of it.  The question is whether having to think so hard about the puzzles during battles will take away from the enjoyment of the overall game.  The question is also whether developer Vicious Cycle has addressed the long load times that have reportedly plagued the DS(!) version of the game.  Regardless, giving it a spin is high on the priority list this week.

Elsewhere, Capcom is doing something different this week with its own downloadable offering, a little something called Flock.  You’re a little spaceship flying around a beautifully-rendered isometric world trying to herd animals into a big spaceship.  It sounds easy, but the obstacles that have shown up in even the short little trailers for the game look absolutely infuriating…which is perfect for this sort of “puzzle-action” (read: it’s sort of like Lemmings) game.

Ninja Blade, for the Xbox 360

Ninja Blade, for the Xbox 360

The big consoles have The Godfather II showing up alongside Riddick, the nintendo consoles have a possible sleeper in the form of Professor Heinz Wolff’s Gravity, and the PC is finally getting its version of Xbox Live Arcade discussion piece Braid.  The oft-delayed Ninja Blade is finally seeing release on the Xbox 360 as well.  For such a slow week, there’s a lot to look at - what will you be playing?

The full release list and a trailer for Puzzle Quest: Galactrix are after the break.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Emerging from My Hiatus from Big Budget Games

// Moving Pixels

"I'd gotten burned out on scope and maybe on spectacle in video games, but I think it's time to return to bigger worlds to conquer.

READ the article