Thursday, 31 January 2013

#Me: Instagram Narcissism And The Scourge Of The Selfie


Those of us who use Instagram everyday like to think of it in glowing terms. Not only is it a rapidly-growing social media success story, but it's a place where we can go to see gorgeous, often creatively composed imagery. Our friends are there, documenting their world for us and reliably tapping the Like button every time we share our own photos. It's awesome.
That is, until you take a step back and look around
As it turns out, Instagram is a breeding ground for many people's most narcissistic tendencies. It's a reality that comes into sharp focus as soon as you step outside of your circle of friends and look at what everybody else is posting. Turns out that as a group, Instagrammers are a pretty self-absorbed bunch.
Sure, you might say, we knew this. Mirror-shot, pouty-faced self portraits of teenagers find their way to the "Popular" (now called "Explore") tab as often as sunsets, celebs and food pics. But Instagram narcissism is more than a stereotype. There's actually data to back it up.

90 Million Selfies... And Counting

Consider this: The third most frequently used hashtag on Instagram is #me. Under it, you'll find more than 90 million self-portraits taken primarily by younger users, very few of them with any irony, or even much creativity.
Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with publishing self portraits. After all, your appearance is very significant part of the life you're documenting using social services like Instagram. Taken tastefully and periodically, the "selfie" can add personality and context to oyur never-ending streams of lattes, power lines, cats and skylines. And sure, just like in the real world, everyone likes the ego boost we get from the compliments.
Scrolling through the #me photos, you see images of varying quality, all displaying faces of different people. In a way, it's kind of fascinating to peruse. Here are all these people, broadcasting their own image to the world. In one photo, you'll see an American kid with his collar popped and earbuds in, probably shirking some school-related responsibility. In the next, there's a Saudi Arabian man dressed in a traditional gutra headdress, snapping a self-portrait in the mirror. Some people have new haircuts. Some have new babies. One guy has several large nuggets of marijuana.
Some of these images feel a little too intimate. As you scroll through, you start to get the feeling that you're peeking through a window of a world you're not quite supposed to have access to. But mobile and social technology have given us millions of little windows into the worlds of others, so we keep scrolling.
The stream exposes nothing explicit, but it's peppered with what feels like far too many young, teenage girls laying in bed. Or 15-year-old boys standing shirtless in front of a mirror. Some of these kids are showing skin. Just about all of them - male and female alike - are seeking some kind of approval from their peers and the larger community, which thanks to the Internet, is now effectively infinite.

The Rise Of The Narcissistic Social Media Star

Some are getting the approval they're seeking in a big way. Michael Saba is a 15-year-old from Boca Raton, Florida, whose Instagram photos often find their way to the app's Explore tab among teen pop stars, professional athletes and professional photographers. But despite his 45,000 followers and hordes of teenage fans, Saba is not a celebrity. He is, as his Instagram profile says, "just a kid who takes pictures."
Saba's photo stream is comprised entirely of self-portraits, each one garnering between three and five thousand likes and hundreds of comments, mostly from adoring teenage girls who fawn over Saba with almost Bieber-esque intensity - and shower him in heart-shaped Emojis. The pictures are not particularly interesting or varied. It's just him, in similar-looking outfits, day after day. Sometimes in the mirror, sometimes making well-rehearsed "cute" faces directly into his phone's camera. Quite often, Saba poses with two other friends, also heartthrobs. Every photo is a massive hit. Meanwhile, he follows only one other user.
In our weird new world, it's not uncommon for young people to achieve this new type of psuedo-fame, fueled solely by social media. And we're not just talking the type of notoriety you can get from a viral YouTube video, which tends to require at least a sliver of talent, humor or skill. Instead, these kids are amassing huge followings just for being attractive. It's like a high school popularity contest on digital steroids, but this homeroom has more than 45,000 kids in it.

Instagram And Self Image: Is The Impact Good Or Bad? 

Is this necessarily a bad thing? One has to wonder what this kind of existence must do to the ego of a 15-year-old kid. Or the weird new social dynamics it could produce at school. But some psychologists think that the self-image boosts offered by social networks like Instagram could be a good thing.
It used to be that most of the photographs of other people we encountered were carefully crafted images of the flawless-looking individuals portrayed in popular media and advertising. Psychologists have long had concerns about the distorted effect that's had on normal-looking people's self images. Instagram and mobile photography more generally may be changing that.
"I like to think that Instagram offers a quiet resistance to the barrage of perfect images that we face each day," writes Sarah J. Gervais in Psychology Today. "Rather than being bombarded with those creations… we can look through our Instagram feed and see images of real people – with beautiful diversity."
Of course, as Gervais acknowledges, there hasn't yet been much research into what sort of impact Instagram in particular is having on self image or anything else. Indeed, when I reached out to Microsoft's Danah Boyd and several other academics who study social media and its affect on society, I wasn't able to turn up much.
The psychological impact of technology more generally has been a popular topic for a few years now. Narcissistic personality disorder has been on the rise for 20 years, according to a paper coauthored by Dr. Larry Rosen, who also wrote a book called iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold On Us.

Some research suggests a correlation between social media and narcissism, but the condition's increase long predates the rise of smartphones, says Jean Twenge, a researcher at San Diego State University who studies issues related to social media.
"It's probably both that higher narcissism causes people to use social media in narcissistic ways, and that some social media causes higher narcissism," says Twenge. "But it's definitely a two-way street."

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

2013: Full Speed Ahead for Adobe Gaming!


As we move into 2013, we’re excited to make investments that support the incredible, ongoing momentum in social and mobile gaming that Adobe has championed for more than a year. Flash technologies underpinned the success of many game developers from Fresh Planet to Zynga, both in the browser and on mobile, and you can see how Adobe Gaming technologies deliver the reach needed to improve game monetization in the graphic below.
In December, the Adobe Gaming team launched the first ever, packaged Adobe Game Developer Tools via the Creative Cloud. Within 2 weeks of their availability, we had over 20,000 downloads of the tools and more than 12,000 views of the Adobe Scout video! Today, we’re making it even easier for game developers by removing a key barrier to delivering games targeting Flash Player – from this point forward, the XC APIs are no longer classified as a Premium Feature for Flash Player, which means developers can use them royalty-free without a separate license from Adobe. Developers and publishers that have published content using the XC APIs do not need to make any changes to their content to reflect this change in status for the XC APIs, and we expect this adjustment to make it even easier for developers to use Flash and AIR as their cross-device game development workflow of choice. To find out more, check out the updated FAQ here.
In addition, we’re also announcing added funding for the Away Foundation, a non-profit Community Interest Company based in the UK, focusing on building and maintaining free and open source software resources for online and mobile games and applications. This funding will support the development and release of Away3D 4.1 and an exciting new open source project for Away Builder. Away Builder 1.0 is the first open source tool project for the foundation, and will provide a visual tool for designers that exposes and edits custom Away3D settings and object properties on 3D assets without the need for coding. And just last week, we updated the Gaming SDK, which includes the latest Away3D, Starling and Feathers frameworks as well as updates for the latest runtime releases. Working with Away has already produced several exciting advances for game developers using Adobe technologies and will continue to forward the delivery of rich games targeting mobile and the browser for years to come. Starforce Delta is a great example of a beautiful 3D RPG built with Away3D and now available on the web in open beta and coming soon as a mobile app. And if a touch of the 19th century is more your thing, check out Jane Austen Regency Dressup, as well as other games using the Away3D framework on the Away3D showcase.


We also wanted to highlight a handful of great games that really reflect the breadth of creativity using Adobe Gaming technologies and show off the skills and passion of the developers who made them. Four games using Adobe Gaming technologies were recently announced as Independent Game Festival (IGF) finalists! Incredipede, a beautifully illustrated browser-based game; Dys4ia, an autobiographical game about undergoing hormone replacement therapy as a trans woman; Intrusion 2, a sci-fi action platform game; and Super Hexagon, a fast-paced reflex game where you’ve gotta be great to survive 20 seconds.
And just in case you didn’t get your fill of zombies in 2012, check out GREE’s Zombie Jombie in the iOS App Store. GREE used PhoneGap Build – another Adobe Gaming technology – for this wildly addictive RPG card game that will surely have you selling for brains. It’s shaping up to be a wide open year ahead for Adobe Gaming, and we’re looking forward to conquering new worlds with you!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Adeus Beatriz. Até à vista!

Koningin Beatrix bijna 33 jaar staatshoofd van Nederland
Foto: ANP

A Beatriz despediu-se. 

Depois de ter reinado a Holanda durante 32 anos e nove meses a rainha decidiu reformar-se.
Apenas a sua mãe, a rainha Wilhemina e Willem III ocuparam o trono holandês por mais tempo.
A sua mãe reinou por 50 anos e Willem III por 41 anos.

Hoje, às 19 horas a rainha Beatriz supreendeu a maioria dos holandeses com a sua aparição na NOS (canal televisivo), declarando a sua retirada do trono Holandês.
O seu discurso foi curto e simpático.

O trágico acidente do Príncipe Frísio no ano passado está ainda bem presente na consciência dos holandeses. Assim, a rainha agradeceu-lhes a soliedariedade e a confiança.
Encerrou as suas declarações por voltar a agradecer a oportunidade que os holandeses lhe deram de ser a sua rainha. Lindo!

Willem-Alexander, seu filho primogénito sucederá ao trono.
No dia 30 do mês de Abril, ou melhor, no Dia da Rainha, o Guilherme-Alexandre irá aquecer o trono com uma coroa na cabeça. Passará a chamar-se rei Willem IV... ou Alexander I