Whacking Moles

I am convinced that some users simply fail to appreciate that they are most always dealing with other real people on the other sides of their computer screens.   Surely,  I think to myself,  folks would never be this dishonest and petty if they were not convinced that cheating somehow doesn’t count when you do it online for play money.    It was an ugly situation in the #SocialEmpire group.

A long time Empire Avenue  player who runs a charitable organization was complaining that he had created  a very high value mission offering 50,000 eaves to folks who donated $25 to his charity.   He gave away a lot of play money and only three folks made the reciprocal donation to his charity.  A member of the Empire Avenue staff popped in and mentioned that they can help in this sort of situation.   Several folks pointed out that all users who offer missions can make them contingent on being a member of a particular Empire Avenue community,  and if you have a closed community,  you can carefully control whom the mission funds go to.     The gentleman who had lost 1.5 million eaves   (who is btw a very nice guy and whom I consider a friend)  vented a bit more,  and then one of my other friends took offense.    Some days social media(tion) is not so fun  🙂

However the problem,  which the guy who lost a boat load of eaves complained about,  is a real and growing problem.   My friend Gaye Crispin told me she recently lost 100,000 eaves offering a simple re-tweet mission.     While I have been genuinely thrilled with all of the visitors missions have attracted to this blog,  I certainly share my friends’ frustrations with folks who just take the eaves and ignore the instructions.    So I was pleased when Gaye announced she is forming the Missionaries Community on Empire Avenue.   I have run several missions now,  paying extra to require that the mission be open only to this community.    The first two worked pretty well,  but the third one….I was really disappointed that so many folks took my thousand eaves and didn’t even do the simple re-tweet that was the easy alternative for my mission.

And so I have been playing whack a mole again,  blocking the folks who took my play money but didn’t bother to even send a simple re-tweet as I asked.    I suppose I will have to let Gaye know about the worst of the cheaters in her group,  which was specifically set up to save us from the legions of cheaters.   Sometimes…..social media games really suck.

Chatting With AT&T’s Christopher Baccus

I know that on Saturday night I stated I would post on Sunday about AT&T and Intel,  continuing on the theme of major corporations arriving on Empire Avenue.   Honestly,  I slept very late,  gorged on Easter ham and did not type so much as a syllable except in chatting.   This morning’s news is that Christopher Baccus,  AT&T’s social media director has joined us in the #SocialEmpire group on Facebook and is chatting with us about AT&T’s participation on Empire Avenue.   Like Scott Monty on Saturday,  Baccus  comes across and genuinely friendly and seems as excited to be participating on Empire Avenue as the members of the #SocialEmpire group.

I have to confess that I have at times been intimidated by corporate vice-presidents.   Usually they have been two or  more levels above me,  the sort of guys who have corner offices, secretaries and never socialize with (as it is always, often condescendingly called) “the team”  outside of the annual picnic or Christmas party.  People you sometimes receive e-mails from, but rarely if ever send e-mails to.  (If you understand office politics and want to continue working there.)  So it was really neat for me Saturday and this morning to hang out and chat a bit with Scott and Christopher.    Where Scott took some pains to stress that Ford is not trying to change the game,  and came across as extremely well-briefed and prepared for interacting with the citizens of Empire Avenue,  Christopher presented himself more as  “we’re (AT&T) just new here and are still figuring out how to engage and get to know all of you.”    I found it rather charming, frankly.

Clearly it remains to be seen how well big corporations will fare in the intensely person to person milieu of Empire Avenue and the associated Facebook group.   It is also not yet at all apparent how well these companies will be able to get their dividends up in sync with the very high share prices they have quickly risen to  (my 200 shares in (e)ATT have appreciated by more than 10K in less than three days).   But if Scott and Christopher are representative of the people who will be playing for these huge corporations and if they continue to hang out, chat and engage with their shareholders,  I do believe these corporations may well be able to make some friends and succeed in the social networking stock trading game.

Friends and Games–For Me the Relationships Are the Point

I have a confession today.  I am almost 47 years old, but I am still more than a bit of a little boy when it comes to games.   I tend to be a monogamist when it comes to games.   As a child I went through phases with many different board games like Monopoly and Battleship and Scrabble.   As a new computer user I got really hooked for several years on Tetris.   And then I went online for the first time and stumbled into Multi User Dimensions.  It was a sort of Dungeons and Dragons– but played with people all over the world and with none of that tiresome fixation on various-sided die and no need to continually buy additional sets to keep the game fresh.

I spent hours and hours every day  using Telnet to connect  to quark.gmi.edu: 4150.    Honestly,  I had never been real big on Dungeons and Dragons;  some folks took it  so seriously that it was hard for a casual player not to exhaust their enthusiasm, long before the perpetual arguments about what a particular roll Really meant in terms of game play or just how the words in the book should be interpreted could get fully underway, let alone resolved.   In my real life experience,  D & D people were dull because they rarely wanted to talk about anything else.   The wonderful thing about Timewarp was that it was a place I could constantly chat with an ever-expanding roster of good friends that I talked to every day, and whose real lives I was a part of, as they were a part of mine.    Online friends, and particularly people I met on Timewarp changed my life, perhaps as much or more as any other experience.

My friend Mangus, it eventually developed worked in Tech Support at Microsoft.   When I pissed and moaned about my job one day, he said to me “Why don’t you move out here, Outofit.   I could help you get a job with a tech company.”    I had long decided that Boston was not the right place for me.    And when I kept on talking to him, and he seemed to honestly believe that I could get a much better job in Seattle,  I quit my crappy job and my crappy apartment, leased a new Toyota for three hundred bucks and set off down the yellow brick road to Oz.   In Chicago I stayed with one online friend (on Christmas Eve– she took me to her sister’s dinner and they made me feel like family, even though I had never before met them face to face).   I detoured to San Rafael, California to visit and stay with a friend who had fled Boston not too long before me and had a great job with a Marin software company.    After a breathtakingly beautiful and deeply emotional, almost spiritual seven day journey I docked in Tacoma, Washington  and spent three month’s camping out on my incredibly generous and wonderful friend Loofa’s couch.     All of these people were just “folks I played games with”.  But they all gave me food,  a place to stay and a real chance to change my life so much for the better,  that I know I will never, ever be able to re-pay them– except of course to the extent that I too extend love and kindness to people around me who are in need at the moment they pass through my life.

Today Spiggi  told me that “friends and games are unrelated.”    This post is to reply, in friendship and without rancor that that is the most asinine thing I have ever heard.

Why Am I So Pissed-Off?

The problem is,  I really don’t understand _why_ I’m so pissed off.   I’ve known the guy for less than a week.  And while I was surprised and a bit stunned by his abrupt departure from the group he created,  honestly it didn’t really ruin my day.    And I can’t really say I was surprised either, by the fact that a couple of days later he showed up again.

It seems to me reasonable to have been annoyed that he showed up again without a word of explanation.   He simply re-joined the FB group and created a new profile on Empire Avenue.    What really made me angry though is that most of the participants in this group immediately fell all over themselves to welcome him back with open arms.    Not one person requested an explanation.

To be fair, explanations do appear to be forthcoming.   And when he finally broke his silence, he did begin with an apology.    And yet,  two picas to the right of  ‘I apologize’,  he breaks forth immediately into talking about his problems with Facebook  (and again,  to be fair,  I can appreciate them) and then goes on to talk about ‘giving everyone a chance to buy in’  before he connects his ‘major networks’ to the new EA account.   And everyone is slapping him on the back and saying how great it is to see him again.   And I sit here typing this little account of the story and honestly don’t know why I am So angry about all this.    Ron downloaded a cartoon once– it’s late at night and the wife in her nightclothes is urging her husband to come to bed.   He waves her off and continues typing away at his computer, calling out to her over his shoulder “I can’t stop now, somebody is wrong on the Internet!”  

Honestly,  I don’t know who if anyone is “wrong” in this instance.    Nothing seems to be black and white, cut and dried in this instance.    A friend shared with me that what bothers Her is that he’s opening up all this drama.   I can handle drama, though, so I don’t think that is it for me.   For now,  I continue trying to figure out my feelings about all of this.   And I keep biting my tongue so as not to say much of anything until I can come to understand why I’m so pissed off.

Watching For A Resurrection?

Full Disclosure:  This post has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with Christianity,  share prices, lunar cycles, the sun, the heavens, etc.

I had planned today to blog about my reluctance to Amplify my remarks;  my hesitancy to create my own press.li  newspaper and other various means of giving myself 10 blogs on EA without actually going to the trouble of setting up and maintaining oodles of blogs.   But after playing around with Amplify a bit,  I’m not at all sure what is going on there or what the value and consequences are,   so I put that post on hold to continue a bit along the lines of yesterday’s post,  wherein I wrote about death, even though No One Has Died!

My thoughts today turn instead  to the idea of  “resurrection”, not because it is getting on towards Easter (although it is) but because the man who disappeared from the group so abruptly on Friday evening appeared, albeit briefly and insubstantially on Sunday.    Weekends are traditionally a slow time online,  although activity often picks up starting Sunday afternoon or evening.   It was Not a slow weekend for my share price– which as of this writing has soared to 51.34e.   I keep hearing from folks how jarring it is the first time your share price declines.   I know of course they are right and feel quite lucky to still be on an upward trajectory after about 10 days on the site.   Empire Avenue continues to hold my strong interest.  And with hashtags like #EAvKinK and #UterusHighFive,   #SocialEmpire  group on FaceBook continues to be, most definitely,  not your run of the mill FaceBook group.   It was a little slow on Saturday,  but the handful of us who were there had a grand old time,  talking about any and everything.   And of course,  the number of participants did pick up Sunday afternoon and evening.  

I couldn’t help noticing during that somewhat more active time,  a member of the group added the departed back in.   Once in,  that user posted a thread  Watch This Space,  and then said nothing else at all.    Who knows,  at this point it still _could_  (conceivably at least) be some kind of publicity stunt in connection with the planned introduction of a FaceBook app to compliment the game and the group.   Although it seems unlikely.   The departed’s name came up very rarely,  and the powers that be tried to say very little– a combination of vague and re-assuring that is tough for even the most talented PR-type to pull off well.   Then comes Monday morning and a couple of those business types march in all decked out in sysop garb and try to say Reassuring Things.   This alarms me.    As I recall the Bible,  resurrections take three days.    I’m willing to wait until Wednesday to see how this one turns out.   But in the meantime friends,  Please.   Hold the sysop stuff.

Wednesday in the Empire

OR  Egg On My Face

Wednesday was a great day,  although a couple of times I ended up with egg all over my face.   I spent hours hanging out in the #SocialEmpire group on Facebook.   So many bright and interesting people to get to know.   @ryanjz is the leader of the pack.  He reminds me of a manager I worked for at Sprynet– a brilliant mile a minute kind of guy who every now and then disagrees with me and challenges me a bit.  Ryan calls me on stuff sometimes and that’s  good thing.   Every writer needs an editor who can see right through their bullshit.
In the afternoon I got to meet and spend some time chatting with Honor MacDonald (e)HMD.  A bit later I got to meet and chat with @starry_girl  and got to spend some time getting to know Fee Cooper (e)BOOTCOOT,    And belive me,  Fee is a hoot.    And what was so nice is that all of the participants are good at conversation and are also good sports.   At one point Paul Bowyer threw out some pretty provocative comments and there was a real and lively debate between actual liberals and actual conservatives.    I have previously written about my fear that people who disagree with each almost never associate with each other any more.   They get their hard core news from Red State or Daily Kos,  they watch Keith and Rachel or go for Glenn and the Fox crew.   They sometimes shoot flames at each other over the heads or other participants who sometimes try in vain to actually discuss the issues,  only to get ignored and drowned out in vitriol and rhetoric.   It was an amazing discussion and while there was sharp disagreement, there was never any hostility or rancor.  And as so often seems to be the case when human beings talk calmly with each other,   there were actually a few areas of agreement between the two sides.   Honestly it was  the highlight of my day. 
My otherwise great day was marred only by two incidences in which I was compelled to post with egg all over My face.    A bunch of us were just hanging out, shooting the breeze and I made an observation– that while creating content on blogs is the primary value of the Empire Avenue game  (the activity which rewards the Most points), it sure doesn’t seem to drive a lot of traffic to blogs.   Being the arrogant SOB I can be when I get real relaxed and start phoning it in,  I naturally expected an amen chorus.   But I distinctly noticed a slight chilling in the room when 2 two people rather stiffly told me that they had indeed visited this site.   I didn’t exactly get reprimanded,  but it was kind of like the entire room was glaring at me– (“are you really whining about your traffic as we try to discuss much more important things”).     Ooops.   I had to sit down and stfu for awhile.
I also really enjoyed meeting and chatting privately with Holly Jahangiri— who it turns out is a wonderfully gifted poet, with a wicked sense of humor.    You must go read her poem  How Can a Writer Not READ?  Holly is a fantastic writer and a wonderful down-to-earth lady  (Holly is definitely a lady) who is one of the nicest and most charming me people I’ve ever met.    After you’ve read her poem,  do buy a few shares in (e)HGJ.   You’ll shoot yourself for missing out on the opportunity to invest in Holly at 60 when she is on the bestseller lists  and celebrating her membership in the 300 club.
And finally,  my second egg all over My face moment–  I got as little bit confused about all of these really great women I met today and tweeted about Holly’s poems  with @starry_girl credited as the author.  Mea Culpa.   My straight men friends might look askance at my excuse that I just met so many lovely ladies today. But it’s honestly the truth.   And the admonishment about not whining about traffic is well taken.    I long ago learned that the most  sure-fire way to draw in a whole bunch of people and get most of them to comment, is to write a post that talks first person about a whole bunch of people and then link to every last one of ’em.  Which brings me to.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my little memoir today.   And I hope that you are enjoying your time on The Ave as much as I have been enjoying mine.   Happy Thursday everybody!