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Sony's PS4, in the background “Assassin's Creed IV” © Jakob Steinschaden
Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to try out a new generation game console. The PlayStation 4, a smartly designed, black box around 400 euros, is currently competing against Microsoft's somewhat clunkier and 100 euros more expensive rival, the Xbox One. And of course the PS4 is nice to play: Compared to my Xbox 360, which was a few years old, it is of course faster and quieter, has shorter loading times and offers a slightly more pleasant controller and better graphics. But what I was clearly missing: the wow factor.
Unfortunately not worlds better
I would have expected more “wow” from a console that comes on the market seven years after its predecessor. Which for me has settled the question of whether I should buy one of the new consoles in the next six months. No, I will not. The problem is not with the certainly strong hardware - even if Sony would have been able to rely on the new resolution 4K - but with the content, i.e. the games. Both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One come with a rather poor number of exclusive titles that make a purchase necessary.
The PlayStation 4 currently has a disappointing range of exclusive games from which the only “Killzone” stands out, and the Xbox One also looks bleak with regard to “System Sellers” (including Forza, Ryse). On the other hand, there are current and future hits like “Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag”, “GTA V”, “Watchdogs” or “Destiny”, all of which are or will be available on the old consoles PS3 and Xbox360 become. Sure, the versions for the next-generation consoles offer better graphics - but is it worth 400 or 500 euros?
According to Tony Key, Senior VP for Sales and Marketing at Ubisoft, the publishers are currently concentrating more on the previous models for economic reasons. The calculation is simple: Sony predicts around 5 million PS4 consoles to be sold by March 2014, but the more than 80 million PS3s that are available to households worldwide are a much larger market.
While Sony's PS4 can be classified as a solid game console without any major surprises, Microsoft is trying to position its Xbox One as a multimedia center for the living room. So you shouldn't just gamble with it, but also make video calls via Skype, loop the TV signal through the console or use it to access music and video streaming. But having to turn up the television and a game console to Skype or listen to music seems rather absurd to me in the age of smartphones and tablets. And the receivers from UPC or A1, through which the Internet / TV providers want to sell us their video-on-demand offers, can certainly not replace the Xbox One. So if you already have a game console of the last generation, you can be patient with an upgrade. Exclusive blockbusters like “Halo 5” (Xbox One) “Uncharted” (PS 4) are not expected by the trade press for six months at the earliest, and until then a lot can happen. On the one hand, Xbox One and PS4 could become cheaper or be offered in attractive bundles (e.g. with 2 controllers, several games), and on the other hand, it remains to be seen what Apple, Google and Samsung are planning to do. The iPhone manufacturer is strong in games thanks to the App Store and has been suspected for years of wanting to build a smart TV. And Samsung is also advancing further and further into the area of “home entertainment” and should not have just thought about bringing games to its Internet televisions as well.
In times when fourteen percent of all web searches concern sex, four percent of all websites have pornography as their content and one generally has the feeling of being constantly surrounded by eroticism online, Isreali Ran Gavrieli is an exception. Because he explained in a highly regarded TEDx talk why he stopped looking at porn on the Internet. In an e-mail interview, he explains what consequences his decision had for his own sex life, what needs to be changed in the sex education of young people and what good pornography looks like in his opinion.
- Ran Gavrieli studies gender studies in Israel and also works with adults and young people on sex education
- Porn videos have a huge impact on mainstream culture and our perception of gender roles, according to Gavrieli
- The website MakeLoveNotPorn.tv also wants to get a grip on the problem of depicting sex in conventional porn videos
"That worked miracles"
"I stopped looking at pornography on the internet because it was addicting on the one hand and a shift from sensuality to aggression on the other," Gavrieli told me in an email. "Porn has impacted my life in a number of ways, but mostly it has changed my masturbation habits from natural sexual arousal to a boredom-driven activity that required increasingly extreme imagery to function." Regular viewing of sex clips would have brought "anger and violence" into his sex fantasies on the one hand, and on the other hand he no longer wanted to increase the demand for "filmed prostitution" as a consumer. The effect: “That worked wonders for me. I gradually started again to have fantasies about real women and real erotic communication. "
The fact that Gavrieli took this extraordinary step also has a lot to do with his studies and work. He studied Gender Studies at Tel Aviv University and is currently working on his PhD at Israel's Bar Ilan University on the subject.
More sex lessons are called for
On the side, Gavrieli works with young people and adults in the small country in the Middle East to help them form a positive self-image in a world that, as he says, “is inundated with sexual images with negative connotations”. And something struck him during this work: “Porn is changing our perception of gender roles towards a model of subordination, one-sided joy, power and tyranny. It is a big step backwards for the advancement of women in the modern world, ”he says, referring to the roles of men and women in relevant videos - and that roles people would learn.
“Mainstream culture is heavily influenced by pornography and is sometimes even constructed from it. Sex is no longer associated with romance. The unwritten laws of cool young people today dictate that they mimic porn sex without human attachment, ”said Gavrieli. Therefore, sex education in schools urgently needs to be expanded. “Sex education needs an update and has to become more relevant again. Most schools teach four to six hours a week of English, math, etc, but they only get six hours a year for one of the most important things in life - that has to change. "
What Gavrieli obviously does not want: the complete abolition of all pornography on the net. After all, there would also be a positive form of porn. “Good sex films are artistic and do not exploit anyone. The movie “Shortbus” for example was groundbreaking and brilliant because it showed us sex by showing the people and the emotional context. It's a quality film in which people still have full sexual contact. "
But Gavrieli is not the only one who wants to do something about the influence of online pornography. The British entrepreneur Cindy Gallop, for example, has created an online marketplace for authentic, honest sex videos with the website MakeLoveNotPorn.tv. Here, private individuals can upload their self-made clips and receive a share of the platform's income. But not everyone likes it, not even Gavrieli. “If MakeLoveNotPorn.tv were a website for exhibitionists who just shared their personal lives for fun, it would be worth something. But as far as I know, MLNP is encouraging people to do it for money, which they take 50 percent of that. That's pimping! "
Incidentally, MakeLoveNotPorn.tv initiator Gallop has already replied to Gavrieli:
"No, to Ran Gavrieli's comment, http://makelovenotporn.com/ is not" pimping ". Firstly, I think it's important your readers understand where MakeLoveNotPorn came from and why I started this venture. MLNP is not porn, not "amateur", but #realworldsex. I designed MLNP.tv around my belief that the business model of the future is Shared Values + Shared Action = Shared Profit (financial and social profit). We are part of the collaborative economy, in the same way as other ventures like Airbnb and Uber. I had to design MLNP.tv to be a self-sustaining business, because I knew no one would fund us - Silicon Valley welcomes innovation and disruption in every other area of our lives except this one, the one that needs it most. This is the battle I and my team fight to build this business every day. "
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, © Jakob Steinschaden
"System administrators of all countries, unite!" This is the big message that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his close confidante Jacob Appelbaum, who co-develops the anonymization service TOR and publishes explosive NSA documents from the Snowden fund together with the “Spiegel”, among the thousands of hackers on the Wanted to spread conference 30C3. Form structures, found unions, infiltrate the CIA - this is how Assange and Appelbaum want to start a new class struggle, which is called: the world's internet workers against a power elite that is not clearly defined, but behind which they are the US government, Great Britain and the NSA , etc. may suspect.
Life in Info-Apartheid
Just as the workers formed against the haves during the industrial revolution, what is needed now is a revolt of whistleblowers, hackers and technicians. The WikiLeaks founder, involuntarily strangely “connected” to Hamburg via a constantly breaking Skype line, speaks of an “information apartheid” in which important data is withheld from the public and instead locked away on the servers of the information elite. System administrators, such as the two well-known whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, have an incredible amount of power today - they should also use it and bring sensitive information from the depths of the companies and institutions they work for to light.
Snowden contact person Jacob Appelbaum, © Jakob Steinschaden
Wait a minute: class struggle? Unions ?? Unite??? The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels, from which the famous sentence “Proletarians of all countries, unite” comes, sends greetings - the reference to it seems at least unusual 165 years after its first publication. But Marx is an important point of reference for the two cypherpunks Assange and Appelbaum, who see the encryption of private data as the only protection against the power of the surveillance state.
Infiltrate the enemy
As Appelbaum explained to me in a conversation after the rather unfortunate Assange connection, Internet workers, who are now often only connected to their employers via computers and the Internet, have a fundamental problem: They are not organized, have no unions and are therefore there at a disadvantage compared to large companies. "The Occupy movement failed because the movement had no core and no structure," Assange said earlier. “We are the last free generation,” and it would be representatives of this generation who would have to infiltrate institutions like the CIA.
WikiLeaks lawyer Sarah Harrison, © Jakob Steinschaden
The fact that Assange and Appelbaum, but also investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, see themselves as underground freedom fighters against an overpowering state apparatus and forge “pro-privacy alliances” is largely a result of their own circumstances. For Appelbaum, the new star of the hacker scene, there is no such thing as a democracy, he speaks of the totalitarian surveillance states in which we live today. For the US citizen who is currently in Germany and publishes NSA information from Berlin, the Federal Republic is currently the least evil; in the US he might have been arrested by now.
Fear of USA and Great Britain
WikiLeaks lawyer Sarah Harrison is also afraid to return to her home country Great Britain and for the time being feels safe in Berlin. She received a standing ovation on 30C3 for helping Edward Snowden escape from Hong Kong to Russia and was with him until recently. Assange, in turn, has been stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since August 2012 and is monitored by the police there for 11,000 euros a day. Snowden is temporarily staying in Russia, while Greenwald does not dare to leave Brazil for fear of the USA and Great Britain. "There is a war against whistleblowers going on," says Annie Machon, a former employee of the British domestic intelligence service MI5, who had to experience firsthand the surveillance by the state after she left the organization.
Ex-MI5 employee Annie Machon, © Jakob Steinschaden
How far the whistleblowers, cypherpunks and hackers can drive their class struggle is initially completely unclear. It is no surprise that such ideas are applauded at an event like the 30C3 - here Assange and Co. preach to those who have already converted. It will be difficult for them to make their social theory, which they are currently putting together, clear to the outside world as well, without being branded as radical weirdos. And so the cypherpunk class struggle just seems unworldly for the time being, because if Assange preaches the networking of Internet workers and not even the Skype video call works without technical problems, then victory over the data elite still seems a long way off.
Trevor Paglen at the 30C3 in Hamburg © Jakob Steinschaden
The New Yorker Trevor Paglen has been on the trail of the US secret services for years and has made it the aim of his artistic work to give the viewer a glimpse into the hidden world of the secret services. His approach: a surveillance apparatus as large as that of the USA must have a footprint in the real world, operate infrastructure, employ people. And so he came across secret CIA prisons, spy satellites in the night sky and the weird humor of secret military units.
“I want us to be able to see the historical moment in which we live through my art,” says Trevor Paglen at the hacker conference 30C3 in Hamburg. The fact that he focuses on the basic topic of “secret services” in his art naturally fits like a fist in the year of the NSA revelations. While Edward Snowden, as an ex-employee, turns the espionage work of the USA inside out, artist Paglen goes the opposite way and tries to look inside the secret spheres from outside. "Secret planes, they need secret tankers, they need secret airports, which in turn need their own secret personnel, and so on and so forth," says Paglen. "In the material world, secrecy consists of infrastructure and institutions and is therefore visible."
The places of the supervisors
In principle, Paglen works like an investigative journalist. He was able to locate a CIA prison in Afghanistan in this way and then take photos on site: He was put on the lists of airlines that are permitted to land on US military bases worldwide and was thus able to track the flights of the “torture taxis” (Reconstruct CIA transports of prisoners for interrogation in facilities around the world, e.g. Guantanamo).While researching which people work for these airlines with names like “Sportsflight Airlines”, he came across “ghosts” - invented identities that never belonged to a human. Using telephone bills from these airlines, Paglen was able to trace the relationships between the companies and identify real people who work for them. When tracking down these people in their places of residence, Paglen finally noticed: "Evil looks quite common."
National Radio Quiet Zone © Trevor Paglen
Paglen's research also leads him to secret military bases, for example in Nevada, where one can observe which latest drones are being tested for the war. With the help of telescopes, which are actually aimed at the night sky, Paglen zooms for kilometers into the “restricted areas” of the secret services and creates photographs of places that one should never actually see - for example the “National Radio Quiet Zone” deep down in the forests of West Virginia, which was set up as the eavesdropping station for the Echelon worldwide surveillance system. In a conversation at 30C3, Paglen, who had been dealing with the NSA for years, was also seriously surprised by the discoveries by Snowden. "The amount of metadata they are collecting about us is incredible."
Spy satellites in the night sky
Paglen has also tracked down the spy satellites of the US secret services. “They are up there and you can see them,” he says. With the help of software from a friend of his Russian programmer, he can determine whether one of the satellites can be seen in the night sky. Then he grabs his camera and makes the paths that the actually secret celestial bodies move visible in his photographs. The artist christened this project “The Other Night Sky”, in which he captured the spy satellites in eerily beautiful images - the satellite “KEYHOLE 12-3 / IMPROVED CRYSTAL”, for example Earth looks and can recognize faces ”. Or PAN (short for “Palladium At Night”), which was built by Lockheed Martin, often hangs over the Indian Ocean and with the help of its data capacities possibly controls the drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also for other purposes over East Africa could be used.
KEYHOLE 12-3 / IMPROVED CRYSTAL © Trevor Paglen
How absurd the world of secret espionage and military operations can be was what Paglen noticed at the latest when he saw the badges that the US officers of the espionage departments had sewn onto their uniform. At first glance, they show bizarre symbols such as dragons with wings in the colors of the US flag that hold the world in claws, aliens or wizards that shoot lightning. But Paglen decodes the symbolism and thus gains further insights into the ways of thinking and goals of the secret services. Lightning, for example, would stand for electronic warfare, green doors for places that cannot be entered, six stars for “Area 51”. And Paglen can trace the strange humor of the surveillance apparatus with the help of the badges. So he discovered the Latin phrase “Gustatus Similis Pullus” under the emblem of an alien head, which translates as “tastes like chicken”. And if the abbreviation “NOYFB” can be read on one of the patches, it means nothing else than “Non Of Your Fucking Business” in spy speech.
US military badge © Trevor Paglen
“The NSA and the Five Eyes (USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand, note) want to abolish privacy around the world. ”For Glenn Greenwald there are no“ ifs ”and“ buts ”, the US and its worldwide surveillance programs have only one goal: absolute power. As the main speaker at the 30th Chaos Communications Congress, or 30C3 for short, which is currently taking place in Hamburg, the investigative journalist spoke up in a rage. NSA, US government, the media in Great Britain and the USA - for the writer who published the stories about Prism, Tempora and Co., these are the great enemies of freedom.
- Glenn Greenwald is the lead author of the surveillance program publications and is the closest confidante of whistleblower Edward Snowden.
- Greenwald wants to achieve maximum freedom for future publications with a new medium funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar called First Look Media.
- Greenwald sees himself not only as a journalist, but now also as a member of a “pro-privacy alliance” and approaches the ideas of the Cypherpunks.
The Snowden confidante has no hopes that the governments will cut back the surveillance programs. "The US will not voluntarily restrict surveillance”, He expects only symbolic gestures and lies. No matter what rumors and concessions may be heard, "the US government wants to put Snowden behind bars for life.“Anyone who listens to Greenwald is not only listening to a journalist, but also to an activist. That he still "many more stories“Wanted to publish about the monitors, became a much-applauded declaration of war.
From revealer to hunted
Because like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whistleblower Chelsea Manning or Snowden, Greenwald himself has become the hunted. He couldn't get the thousands of viewers of his 30C3 speech live on site, but only via Skype video from Rio de Janeiro to a standing ovation - because his lawyers are now advising him not to leave his home country Brazil, because he would otherwise be at the border crossings of authorities could be intercepted.
The screen shook, the sound broke: Thousands of kilometers away, Greenwald was talking on the computer in a rage and railed against NSA and Great Britain as well as against other countries such as Brazil, France and Germany. “The amazing thing is that there are so many states that have the power to do something, but still just watch,” he said, referring to the reluctance of these countries to even consider asylum for Snowden. Even if the NSA invaded their own privacy, leading politicians would do nothing, said Greenwald, referring to Chancellor Merkel.
Act instead of just watching
Because he apparently no longer just wants to watch, but instead wants to fight for privacy, Greenwald already sees himself as part of an ever-growing pro-privacy alliance. “There is a rapidly growing network of people who put their energy, resources and time into this,” he said. He praised Snowden (“he shows how an individual can change the world for the better”) and WikiLeaks' Julian Assange (“a pioneer”), who sentenced Chelsea Manning to 35 years in prison (“a role model for Snowden with her sacrifice”) ) as well as his own great role model Daniel Ellsberg, who published the secret Pentagon papers, his journalistic partner Laura Poitras. This brought Snowden into contact with Greenwald, "without her none of this would have happened".
It is also Poitras with whom Greenwald wants to launch his own medium, First Look Media. The financier is eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and the plan is for the non-profit journalistic work to be cross-financed by a technology division. It is not yet known which technology is to be sold.
The ideas of the cypherpunks
Greenwald seems to have lost the trust that mass surveillance, which has got out of control, can be regained under pressure from politics or the public. "The greatest hope lies in privacy technologies," said Greenwald and appealed to the hackers of the 30C3 to please put their skills in the service of privacy and not the services of the walker. First Look Media would use the strongest encryption technologies available for communication. They are not perfect today, but they are serious hurdles for NSA surveillance.
"I've only learned the importance of encryption in the last six months," said Greenwald, who six months ago had no idea about cryptography. He found e-mail encryption via PGP “annoying and too difficult”, and Snowden laughed at him for using Truecrypt. "I'm not a hacker."
Radical transparency with compromises
But working with Snowden would have changed him for the rest of his life. And so it is not surprising that Greenwald's argumentation increasingly resembles that of the Cypherpunks, including Julian Assange and TOR developer Jacob Appelbaum: The individual no longer has any privacy, while the state itself is a secret, and this disproportion must be turned around. Until then, Cypherpunks see encryption of private communications as the only way to protect themselves from the power of the state.
Greenwald says that the information that one has from Snowden is filtered beforehand (no information that gives other states the opportunity to improve their surveillance, no information about communications from individuals, no endangering lives), but he also notes : “I believe in radical transparency. The last thing we would do is sit on a story and not share it with the world. Everything will be published. "
Note: Greenwald's speech then sparked a debate in Germany about journalism and its tasks. Key question: Can a journalist also be an activist with an agenda at the same time? In this Storify there is the Twitter debate for reading:
There were 400 participants in the important founding year 1984, 8000 there are 29 years later: The 30th Chaos Communication Congress, 30C3 for short, attracted more people interested in technology - from hobbyists to hackers to network politicians - as never before in Hamburg annual event of the Chaos Computer Club. The subject hanging over the event like the sword of Damocles is, of course, the NSA surveillance exposed by Edward Snowden. But there are also other things on the 30C3 that are worth working on.
1. Process the NSA scandal
Last year, for the 29C3, the big warning against NSA surveillance was issued, a year later it is a fact. The organizers are “speechless” because of the Snowden facts, which underline the CCC's longstanding warnings - which is why there is no motto for the 30C3 this year. Nevertheless, the following applies: The hacker community wants to deal with the NSA scandal and find a way out of the misery. That's why it's about technical issues such as improved cryptography as a protective shield against secret service espionage, tools to ensure anonymity on the Internet, and strategies against the supervisors. No, there is no way around the NSA on the 30C3.
2. Listen to the greats of the scene
At the 30C3, after the Snowden revelations, the big question is: How to deal with the nightmare that has come true? Visitors can get inspiration for this from the invited speakers, above all keynote speaker Glenn Greenwald, who worked closely with Snowden for the British Guardian to publish the documents. Scene star Jacob Appelbaum, who worked at WikiLeaks, works on the anonymization software TOR and is one of Snowden's contacts, speaks on various topics from NSA to anonymization, and also the video connection to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is still stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy in London is a crowd puller. Jan Philipp Albrecht, a green member of the EU parliament, also provides information on the status quo of the faltering EU data protection reform, and artist Trevor Paglen shows how he monitors the monitors.
3. Help organize an indoor festival
At CCC events, only a maximum of half is about what is shown and talked on the stages. Quite a lot happens in the corridors of the Hamburg Congress Center, the venue for the Hacker Festival since 2012. Hobbyists and computer freaks rent large tables in different, wildly baptized areas (e.g. “Noisy Square”, “Starship Factory”, “Anarchist Village”), where for four days what the device has to offer is programmed and soldered. There are also various network meetings where like-minded people - “I want to do something with social networks” - can come together. In this respect, the 30C3 is similar to a rock festival - you go there not only because of the bands on stage, but also because of the fun on the camping site.
4. Handicrafts and tinkering
Without them, a chaos computer club meeting would not be a chaos computer club meeting: the hobbyists and tinkerers. From the self-made quad-copter to remote-controlled Club-Mate boxes to brightly colored plastic tub walls and other LED installations, you can marvel at a wide variety of handicrafts on the 30C3. The latest favorite toy of the geeks and nerds is the "Silk Road 2.0": This pneumatic tube system, built by the artist group Telekommunisten from plastic pipes and industrial vacuum cleaners, is described with a wink as a worthy successor to the Internet and can take capsules two kilometers through the Hamburg Congress Center send - the vacuum cleaners suck or blow the projectiles, which can weigh up to a kilo and which were manufactured in the proper style in the 3D printer, through the whole building.
5. Drink Club Mate
Unlike many other congresses, the 30C3 doesn't really get going until the evening. The main speakers will speak in the evening and the program including “Hacker Jeopardy”, “Googlequiz” or the CCC's annual review will last long after midnight. If you want to see as many of the 130 lectures as possible and also get a little bit of the hustle and bustle around you, you need a lot of caffeine. The hackers prefer to consume this lively substance in the form of mate beverages, which are not for nothing called “Hacker-Brause”. Last year, on 29C3, around 11,000 Club-Mate bottles were consumed, and that should be topped again this year.
Yes, of course there is also hacking at a hacker congress. On stage, the theory goes through how mobile networks, the data glasses Google Glass or ATMs are cracked, at the long tables of the hacking groups who have come to try their hand at practice. In certain areas of the 30C3 - typically dark rooms where young men in black hoodies sit in groups hunched over their even blacker notebooks - photography is strictly prohibited. Only experts can guess what exactly flickers across the dark screens in green and white characters. It is fairly certain that one or the other attack on websites is likely to run over the 100 GBit line to which the 30C3 is attached. Visitors who log into the in-house WLAN network are also warned: the organizers annually publish a “How to Survive” list, which also goes into detail about securing the computers that you have brought with you.
7. Pick locks
Regularly represented at the Chaos Communication Congresses: the SSDeV, better known as the sports fans of locking technology. The association practices the art of lock opening as a hobby and wants the hacking community to participate. Interested parties can learn the secrets of locking technology at the SSDeV stand and try to get a door open in the dry - for example with a lockpick or a credit card. Of course, the whole thing is not intended to encourage theft, rather one pursues “exclusively charitable goals by maintaining and promoting amateur sport and popular education for the benefit of the general public”. You can also use the knowledge you have acquired if you want to lock yourself out and save yourself the locksmith service.
8. Have a crypto party
For parties in the traditional sense there is enough opportunity at the 30C3 - for example with electro DJ sound and cocktails mixed with mate, but there are also a little more serious parties - crypto parties. At the meetings, specialists teach interested parties how they can encrypt themselves on the Internet or their computers and thus protect them from unauthorized access. For advanced users there are also workshops in which you can learn to set up new nodes for the anonymization network TOR.
When looking for new sources of income, the internet company Google has struck gold: In the long term, robotics is to be expanded into an important business area alongside internet advertising. Former Android boss Andy Rubin himself was entrusted with the futuristic task. The takeover of the robot company Boston Mechanics shows that the self-driving Google cars are just a foretaste of what Google is developing in its secret laboratories.
New mainstay next to advertising
Google is an Internet company that makes billions of dollars in revenue each quarter, right? Yes, everyone can probably agree on that. Most recently it was more than $ 12.5 billion in the third fiscal quarter of 2013, that is 84 percent of total sales. However, the “cost per click”, the money that Google receives on average per ad clicked, has fallen by eight percent and gives a negative outlook on future advertising revenues. Accordingly, it is interesting to see how Google is throwing more and more products onto the market that do not make money with advertising. Motorola smartphones, payment services such as “Play Music All Access” or “Drive”, paid apps for Android phones, Internet connections via “Google Fiber” - the Internet company is trying to open up new sources of income in addition to the still lucrative advertising. Diversification is what the pros call it.
At the so-called “earnings call” for the third quarter of 2013 in mid-October, Google CEO Larry Page made a remarkable statement in this regard: “My struggle in general is to get people to spend money on long-term R&D. At most companies, 99 percent of R&D is incremental. I view my job as the opposite, to get people to spend on long-term R&D. People have a perception that’s material, but that’s not been my experience. Even the investments we've announced, like Calico (the new health initiative), while they're significant dollar amounts, they're not significant for Google.” Loosely translated: Google is expected to invest much more money in the development of new products than the previous two billion dollars per quarter. But what things could the company from Mountain View build that will open up new markets in the future?
Robotics as the next big moonshot
Since last Friday there has been a pretty straightforward answer to this question: robots. Then it became known that Google bought Boston Dynamics (by the way a supplier to the DARPA agency of the US Department of Defense) and increased its collection to a total of 8 acquired robot companies in 2013. “BigDog”, “Cheetah” or “WildCat” are the names of the creations from Boston Dynamics, which are modeled after animals, are quite scary and somehow remind of dystopian robot invasion science fiction. “BigDog” can trudge through snow and carry 150 kilos, “Cheetah” runs faster than Usain Bolt at 45.5 km / h, and the humanoid robot “Petman” is supposed to test chemical protective suits - but see for yourself:
The man who is supposed to build Google's robot army is the 50-year-old former Apple employee Andy Rubin - the developer who made the Android operating system great, which is now installed on more than a billion devices worldwide. It is still uncertain today which products the new robot department at Google, headed by Rubin, will produce - now there are years of intensive development ahead. But if you combine the Boston Dynamics robots with the products of the other acquired companies - including Schaft, Industrial Perception, Redwood Robotics, Bot & Dolly, Meka Robotics, Holomni - the picture is conclusive. Google is not about toys, but about working machines, robots that can work in factories, on construction sites or in agriculture.
New possibilities, new questions
Techcrunch writer John Biggs sees other uses: “Google is a data company and needs far more data than humans alone can gather. Robots, then will be the driver for a number of impressive feats in the next few decades including space exploration, improved mapping techniques, and massive changes in the manufacturing workspace ”, he writes. The GoogleBots could work side by side with humans, represent or even replace us, and Google itself could learn even more about the world from the data collected by robots than it does today via its search engine and Android smartphones.
Well, it will be many years before “BigDog” drives herds of sheep across the pastures and “Cheetah” chases through our streets as a brisk parcel delivery service. But other companies are also penetrating the area. Amazon as well as the iPhone manufacturer and Apple partner Foxconn want robots to work in their warehouses or factories instead of humans, and Facebook will set up a laboratory for artificial intelligence, which is needed to inspire machines. The further robotics evolves, the more pressing questions about its impact on society will be. Who will buy, own and operate the robots? How many jobs will these intelligent machines cost? And: Are the tech creatures programmed in accordance with Asimov's robotics laws in such a way that they cannot harm people and thus cannot be used in war?
There is a new time waster for smartphones: The game “Candy Crush Saga” from the British manufacturer King.com, in which you have to sort colorful candy by color, has managed 500 million downloads and generates more than 900,000 dollars a day for its makers - and that although it is actually free. Clever game mechanisms ensure that Candy Crush is quickly addictive and lures users out of their pockets.
Uff. Wait 16 hours and 34 minutes. Only then can I move up to the next level and play the next game of “Candy Crush” on my smartphone. Should I be patient or should I jump 89 cents so that I can immediately sort yellow, blue or red candies into rows of three, four or five in order to blast away jelly and collect points? Hundreds of thousands of players around the world apparently answer this question with “Yes!”. Manufacturer King.com the game title has been downloaded more than 500 million times to date, and a small percentage of players are willing to spend money on the “Free 2 Play” app. The New York game analysis service Think Gaming estimates the revenue of “Candy Crush Saga” per day at more than $ 900,000 - with a daily player base of more than 6.5 million people and daily more than 63,000 new installations.
"Free 2 Play" as a money machine
So a real money machine. King.com is rumored to be planning to go public on Wall Street and will raise $ 5 billion, the Wall Street Journal recently reported. Why Candy Crush became the flagship game of the company (with offices in London, Hamburg, Stockholm, Malmö, Barcelona, Malta, Bucharest and San Francisco) and in a short time to other smartphone hits like “Angry Birds” from Rovio Finland caught up is already the subject of wild speculation. At first glance, the game is a copy of the 2000 PopCap classic, Bejeweled, which requires sorting colored diamonds. But King.com may have done it To perfect the “Free 2 Play” principle and to make the premium functions of the game so popular that the players spend more money in total than if they had paid two or three euros for the download once.
89 cents for the immediate ascent to the next level or three color bombs, 1.79 euros for three special sweets, 3.59 euros for “mighty coconut confectionery”? Users spend small amounts via in-app purchase, and some suddenly have a big bill to shell out - for example Gizmodo author Ashley Weinberg, who spent $ 236 on “Candy Crush Saga”, a lot more money than the most expensive PlayStation -4 game costs. Other games like “Plants versus Zombies 2” also work on the principle: You can theoretically get to your destination for free, but if you want to unlock all levels and have all the plants, you have to pay more than 50 euros there.
Tricky game mechanics
But why is “Candy Crush Saga” so addicting? Gamification expert Yu-Kai Chou has the answers; According to him, King.com works with a whole range of game mechanisms that bind users to the game. One of them is called “Beginners' Luck”: The first levels are so simple that the player gets the feeling that they are particularly good at sorting sweets. Then the so-called “Free Lunch” would be added: The first special sweets, for which you later have to pay 1.79 to 3.59 euros, are. In addition, “Candy Crush Saga” would repeatedly reward the progress of the gamer with audiovisual tricks - the Pavlovian dog sends his regards - and through the strong integration of Facebook manage to instigate the competition with other players. And then of course there is the impatience that “Candy Crush Saga” arouses by making the player wait for the next level or to regain life - and some impatient people buy themselves free from the waiting time.
The fact that King.com works with these and other mechanisms has already brought criticism to the company. Users suspect the creators of manipulating the game. If the software registers, for example, that a player is willing to spend money, the levels should suddenly become harder and with it the need to buy the power-ups. The “beginner's luck” is also controlled - unlike, for example, roulette, which is based purely on chance, the program can determine which candies the player gets on the screen. In an interview, Tommy Palm, self-proclaimed “Game Guru” at King.com, already commented on the allegations and said that there is no “evil scheme” with “Candy Crush Saga”. But that the company, which wants to go public soon, is pursuing clear monetization strategies and does not just want to offer a fun game, must also be clear.
Much has been said in the past few weeks about anonymity on the Internet. Are trolls a threat to the discussion culture? Do real identities create a more civilized tone? Should internet services continue to allow pseudonyms? There is no clear answer to these questions, and online media such as the Huffington Post or DerStandard.at deal with them very differently. But those who don't have their say in the whole discussion are the trolls themselves. I recently got two fake account operators (in the text as A.K. and R.H. named, camouflaged with masks in the photos above and below, note.) who use their fake Facebook profiles to troll. In the interview they explain their motives, how easy it is to create fake profiles and what they think of the real name policy of some websites.
Why do you have fake accounts on Facebook, what is your drive?
A.K.: I am fascinated by the concept that you can create real-looking people with just a few clicks. A couple of photos of some kind of fast food, plus a couple of profound sayings from the studbook category “my motto is…”, and you're already alive! Originally I wanted to make my account publicly available and send it around the world that way. Unfortunately, that didn't work that well, and now I have to take care of him on my own. The practical side of the fake account is obvious: everyone has some kind of spam email address, a fake account is the same only on a different level. It's nice to know that no personal information is sent when you log in to the umpteenth portal via Facebook login or take part in any competitions.
R.H.: Primarily for personal amusement. I post this kind of rubbish at times, and some people still like it. That amuses me a lot. In second place, also for the amusement of friends who know about my second account - even if some of them hate it profoundly. Sometimes I also use my fake account to stalk others. After all, he has almost 500 more friends than me and enough mutual friends with pretty much everyone. A fake account is of course also a welcome means of logging in to competitions and simply trying out Facebook apps or the like.
How do you run the accounts, what do you post there?
A.K.: My account primarily makes simple-minded comments on various social events. He orients himself to comments in public forums of various newspaper portals and adapts them for his purposes. But he has never really understood anything, the old Web 2.0 idiot. It gives him childlike pleasure to post warm birthday wishes or other congratulations to his stranger friends on the wall. He can't do much, but he is a master of the virtual pat-on-the-shoulder - and that's what the social network is for, as everyone knows.
R.H.: With my fake account I mostly share posts from people. These are often very intimate postings like “My grandma just died” or simply “Help, my dog hurt his foot while playing”. I also love to post sayings like “Live every day like it was your last” or “A relationship only works if both are willing to fight for it”. You get a few likes for that. If Facebook suggests a friendship, I often feel compelled to send this request. If the request is accepted after approx. 15 seconds, I will be happy to post on their wall whether and how we know each other. This often results in nice, short conversations.
Where do you steal the photos for your profiles?
A.K.: Whenever my account feels like it, he likes to infiltrate press images of all kinds. From the brittle politician portrait to the opening of the Michael Jackson memorial in Mistelbach, everything is there.
R.H.: For the most part, I just share photos from other users. Otherwise, I enter “cute cat” on Google and take the first one. Always the ugliest. Stealing is not the thing on my fake account - I don't want to litigate it, I like it too much.
What was the nastiest joke you guys made?
A.K.: To hijack Poser photos of your friends (or friends-to-be) and decorate them with your own likeness. This often causes displeasure and irritation - but that's what the original Poser photo does too, so it's probably legitimate. It gets really nasty when the account meets people in the real world because it is very difficult for him to appear. But he would never do anything like that, as far as I know.
R.H.: My fake account was created at the same time as the nastiest joke we ever allowed ourselves. As a result, a friendship and trust was lost - I don't want to go into it now. Otherwise my second account is very peaceful and thinks everything is really good, fun and loving! With many callsigns and ones on the back !!! 1
How in good faith are social media users? Do they see through your fake game or do they think they are dealing with a real person?
A.K.: Very good faith! That is one of the reasons why it is fun to actively operate such an account. The person is really often taken for full, although it is obvious that something is wrong.
R.H.: There are such and such. Some may know, but they still accept my friend request because I am a woman, have set a kitten as a profile picture and they can then invite me to their page or to events. Most of them have no idea what's going on - I add my mustard everywhere, not so many fake accounts do that.You have to take care of your friends a bit, talk them through problems and praise their actions and statements!
Is it hard to maintain a fake identity? Facebook, Google or Twitter also want to have phone numbers, addresses, check for real human behavior, check lists of friends.
A.K.: If you let things grow naturally and don't act too conspicuously (sending 100 friend requests to complete strangers), it's not a problem. And real human behavior can be simulated very well with cat photos and badly quoted toilet roll sayings. The border to satire can no longer be clearly identified in many profiles - often not entirely voluntarily.
R.H.: I have to honestly say that I've had my fake account for ages. At that time there were not yet such strict registration procedures. Twitter and Foursquare weren't a problem either. And as I said - you have to display human behavior every now and then, then you have no problems at all. It is best not to post any adult items either, then you will not be reported and can spy on everyone in peace and let yourself be sprinkled with first-class nonsense. In my real circle of friends, it has already happened to people that Facebook accused them of fake accounts, even though they gave their real data. That could never happen to me.
What do you think of the real name trend that Facebook and Huffington Post are driving? Will that result in a more civilized internet?
A.K.: Especially in connection with the sometimes very rough manners (the more anonymous the more violent) in various forums, I can understand the need for real names. It has already been shown that under your real name you appear much more civilized and responsible. And if the data were then resold to advertising customers, then I might even have the chance to be addressed by my real name in the next direct email!
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