Friday, May 22, 2009

Why I’d never use the new WoW profile tracker

Exactly what are you doing right now in the game? Have you just completed the daily fishing quest? Have you crossed the border from Grizzly Hills to Howling Fjord? Did you just kill Gothic?

Please don’t answer, because I seriously don’t want to know. This is another outburst which will probably put me in a bad light since I will appear grumpy and old fashioned. But really: I can’t understand what’s up with all of you guys who want to record every single step you take and then expect the world to keep track of it.

Big Brother Watching
I’ll start this rant from the beginning, explaining to you where I come from. You see, when I grew up in the 70s, I had a couple of fears that I shared with my generation. One was that there would be a nuclear war between the US and Soviet Union that literally would blow up Earth. That wasn’t as much a fear as a fact. We all knew the world was heading towards its end; it was just a matter of time before it would happen.

Time has shown that the gloomy prophecies from the 70s were quite wrong. I don’t deny that there are environmental issues and that poverty is a reality in big parts of the world today, but we’re not inevitably heading towards a catastrophe. As a matter of fact many things have improved over time, a fact that some people find hard to accept.

Another fear I had was that we were about to lose our individual freedom and integrity. Inspired by dystopia novels such as 1984 and Brave New World, I pictured a world where computers registered every little thing we were doing, until we couldn’t take a single step without someone else knowing it. Big Brother would be watching. And to be honest, I think this fear wasn’t quite as exaggerated and out of place as the other gloom-and-doom statements from that era.

WoW tracker
The other day the former WoW insider, nowadays wow.com, proudly announced an upgrade. They haven’t just switched to a new address and got a new, good looking layout. They’ve also launched a new feature, where you can register your character, install an addon and so let anyone follow exactly what you’re doing in the game, minute by minute, just by checking a website.

Now, I know this is all voluntary. If you don’t like the thought of it, you don’t have to do it. So in that manner it really isn’t any “Big Brother Watches You”-issue. It isn’t forced up on you.

But.

I just have to say it once for all: I don’t understand it. I don’t understand what motivates people to jump on this train, what urge they feel to be voluntarily supervised.

I guess it’s somehow connected to my lack of understanding for the charm of Twitter. As I said, I’m probably just old, conservative and a child of the 70s, but don’t you guys ever want to do things just on your own, without anyone else knowing it?

Do you seriously enjoy to have people following every step you take? I’m trying to see what motivates you. Is it like the things you experience don’t happen for real if you only record them in your mind and memory and not at a website? “I twitter, therefore I exist”. Is that the new saying?

The new way of communicating
The world has changed. We’re communicating in a way that not even a science fiction fan like me could have imagined. Most of it is for good. The thought exchange has gone into warp speed and become global.

Still sometimes I can’t help thinking that something is lost on the way: the excitement that comes with some lack of information.

When my grandfather was in his 30s he went on a botanical expedition to the remote areas of Argentina to explore and collect plants. He spent two years over there, in the middle of the second world war. Two years, without any phone calls. At the most he could send a telegram or a letter, not being sure if it would ever arrive at its destination. When they came back they wrote a book about it, and reading it I can’t help thinking that this was what I would call a truly epic adventure. After two years of silence he had really some story to share! He hadn’t spoiled it on beforehand by twittering every step he took.

Where blogging comes in
The journey of my grandfather was quite the opposite of the concept of WoW profile tracking. So what about me then? I’m really not as private as my grandfather was. Just by running this blog I make a part of my gameplay public. I display my character name and realm name and anyone who would like to see me in game or want to check what achievements I’ve done so far can easily do so. Sometimes I share stories from what I’ve been up to.

There’s a difference though to WoW profile tracking: My stories are selected. It’s the stories and the thoughts that I want to share, but there’s other stuff going on that you don’t have a clue about. You’ll never get the full picture and I think you’re probably as happy about that as I am. I seriously can’t think about anything more boring than to get an unfiltered stream of reports from the game activities of another player.

So now you know. You won’t be able to track my activities on wow.com, not even when they’ve opened for European characters. I still care about my privacy. Even in this era when everything seems to be recorded.

32 comments:

pambuk said...

I'm about 10 years younger than you, but I'm with you on wow.com's "upgrade". You're not old, that's for sure ;)

Zekta Chan said...

I had been thinking about it for years, it's my job anyway :) .

The thing on twitter and facebook is about social networking. In the past, we are comparove hard to stay contact with each other.

Things we had like, phone, email etc, is one-to-one relation, that's you can phone one person at a time, and they must recieve you and act.

Then come bbs, forum, which is, I post sth up, and people discuss about it. (Same on show up on the guild channel)

the Dairy-Type-Blog, the difference of blog and a BBS-type communication, is there are always a focus, which is the author's life or opinions.
(And BBS cannot support a large group of people to discuss their life, since noise will be too much to be heard...)

Then come facebook and twitter, which allow user to comment on what they are doing, and allow interested user(friends) to look into it. And also access control over who may know, who are not.
(Think of RSS and Dairy Blog, but much more user-friendly)

The beauty is that, you don't have to look around all the blogs of friends, and knows how they're doing recently (and also, not most of us write blog anyway)

Our form of communication is kept evolving, and new manner is forming too... (e.g. phoneing someone is much more urgent issue then an email/comment on blog thing)


(I can talk about this in a full contexted post :P )
But back to the point of wow.com
the problem of it is, we cannot set what to share, what do not.
while in blog/facebook/phone format, we are aware what we publish what do not.
(so You may get caught if you are a Weak-Willed ;-) )

So, yes, I won't be in the big-brother thing as well. I am with you Larisa

Dechion said...

Hrm, where to begin.

Wow.com can take their market reasearch tool... I mean addon... and place it where the sun does not shine.

If someone actually cares what I am doing online they can roll a lvl1 alt and say hello. Ask and I'll tell ya. Lord knows I have "chatting alts" on about 8 or 10 servers.

As far as the twitter thing goes, I sit in a basement office, alone, waiting for things to break so I can fix them. I am there like 6 hours a day.

I find chatting on twitter a way to keep from ending up like the guy in "Castaway" talking to a soccer ball named Wilson. It keeps me kinda social when I am actually alone.

Gevlon said...

This twitter thing is about the ILLUSION of social connections. Notice how the word "friend" devalued to a point that "some stranger whose name, sex and occupation is unknown to me, I've played once together in a video game" fit in.

These people want to give you all the tools to see them, contact them socialize with them. Except you don't want to because they are boring beyond repair.

You have interesting ideas so people come here and read your blog. They have nothing to offer, so they offer everything, hoping that something might interest someone.

Cathy said...

I find a sadness that comes with all this communication technology. A feeling of loss in some way. When I see my 15 year old daughter texting like a crazy woman with 3 people at once, it just seems so cold. I love to hear the voice of friends and family. LOLs just don't cut it..I'd rather hear a hearty laugh. Emotions can often be misinterpreted in text.

I know I'm just an old lady and I'm sure my mother felt the same about cell phones and computers. Its very difficult to draw the lines and still move forward in technology.

As for tracking my toon BAH..I would bore someone to death and when what would I write about.

spinksville said...

I'm not thrilled with this wow.com idea either. It seems so grabby -- they want to own our social network.

Well, I chat to my guildies on our bboard, and I don't care if anyone else knows what I'm doing. They can look at the armoury if they're really that bothered.

It rubs me up the wrong way and I see no benefit in it (but I do like twitter ;) ).

Grimmtooth said...

I once read somewhere that the current batch of kids have very little regard for privacy, their own especially; that this can be seen manifest on Facebook and myspace. I really don't have a horse in that race, so I'll let it lay there.

WoW.com: huh, this is the first I heard of that. M'kay.

Profile addon: I won't be putting a chip in my skull any time soon, either, or not voluntarily at any rate. But it's nice to know there are people that will.

Kromus said...

This whole topic is very hairline bordered - - because people can agree that social networking such as "Facebook" and "Myspace" is very false and cold.

It isn't.

However, what is cold is that people rely on it for there entire social networking. Instead of going to a pub, or a meal- they consider facebook'ing all day as social, but it isn't entirely.

Things like Facebook should be used to enhance your social life and have fun with things you can't do in real life-

but facebook is like plant fertiliser, if you don't have the plants, you can buy the best fetiliser in the world but nothings going to grow but weeds if that.

I'm 17, a big difference in age, and i don't like the idea of this addon. So dont worry about that :).

"What you up to today- oh wait- i already know. Conversation abort".

Anna Letha said...

I've no interest in the WoW.com addon. Partly because I dislike addons unless I absolutely must have it to play (i.e. I'm asked to raid). The other part is I truly don't want people to know everything about me. Why would they care anyway?

As for Twitter and Facebook, honestly I use them because I'm isolated from my family and what friends I have from high school and college. If I post something on twitter it's an inane comment or it's a link to something I find interesting. The people I follow on Twitter are mostly friends and people I admire who are writers, editors, publishers and even a few actors/directors thrown in.

Each to their own, I say. And I truly don't think you'll get any flack for your decision not to use the addon.

/salute

Klepsacovic said...

I wouldn't mind people what I'm doing, but I also don't feel the need to tell people every minute. I don't want to tell people everything, whether IRL or online. I recognize that the vast majority of my life, and all lives, is boring. That's not bad, that's just how life is.

People are changing how they view the world and how they value information with all the new inputs. In some ways it gimps them. My own example is the little radar map in Halo which shows people moving. When that thing is gone I feel blind. I'm so used to knowing what is around the corner. These days people are blind when they don't know who did what four seconds ago. I suppose it helps them with pretend social interaction: the constant flow of unimportant information gives more to text about.

Larísa said...

@Pambuk: nice to hear. Maybe it's not about age but about mindset.

@Zekta Chan: It's possible that I'm a bit too sceptic towards Facebook and Twitter, not giving it a decent chance. But this addon stuff is just too much out of control, where everything goes out unfiltered. I agree on that.


@Dechion: yeah, wouldn't that be more fun? That people actually turned up and said hi online? I left my new server address to many people when I switched servers. Very few of them ever visited. But how nice wouldn't it have been? Following me on a website on the other hand, with that kind of addon... I can't understand how they possibly could find it interesting.

@Gevlon: yeah I'm afraid you're right. There's way too much crap out there on the "social media" applications. Of course there are some jewels, some thinking people who could be interesting to follow. But to find them is like looking for a special grain of sand on a huge beach. It's an overwhelming task.

@Cathy: yeah, now I think I know pretty well what my grand parents felt about the new media coming up. I've moved up a step on the age ladder... Sigh.

@Spinksville: hm... they want to own our network? Maybe you're right... But for what reason? Is there a conspiracy somewhere that I don't understand? Or just plain profit to be make in some distant future? Probably.

@Grimmtooth: a chip in the skull! Yeah, that's exactly what this addon is. Very well put!

@Kromus: acually I think you're quite right about the fertilizer thing. The problem isn't necessarily the social media/network platform in itself, the problem is the lack of content, interesting thoughts to share.

@Anna Letha: yeah, I really don't want everyone to know everything about me either. I wonder if we're a minority though. Is there a general mindset changing?
Time will show.

Larísa said...

@Klepsacovic: sometimes I wonder if we're too occupied trying to absorb all of this useless information flying around that we actually miss what's going on around us. Life sort of. Yeah, I really think it may gimp us in some points. The adventure my grandfather had in Argentina wouldn't have been the same if he had constantly been twittering about it. The same thing happens to me sometimes if I'm occupied taking pictures from an event. I'll miss the event in itself. I'm just taking pictures.

Belghast said...

I guess for me, I am a add-on junkie. This like most things is something I will play with for a few weeks and then quickly abandon. Being the leader of a 300+ guild since release has meant for the last 5 years or so I have lived my online life very much in a vacuum anyways. Someone is always trying to track me down.

Maybe I am far too trusting. I think its a cool idea, for some grand Utopian online community that will never actually be. I am always looking for new technologies to bring us together. In truth it is also the fact that I don't really care what people know I am doing in game :) However they need to fix their crap, because I sync'd a few times last night and it duped ALL of my events each time.

Fitz said...

Addons inherently suck up some bandwidth and slow your gaming experience. For those of us without top of the line computers, we have to be careful adding auctioneer and questhelper let alone more useless drivel.

Furthermore, I find that enough people in my guild actively read the "where are they" status indicator in the social pane. So sometimes I get whispers saying "why are you in STV?" when I'm off fishing for enjoyment. That's more than enough big brother for me, so I'm not about to let strangers game-stalk my characters.

And as for Twitter and Facebook, those are definitely not replacements for real interaction, be it on a phone or in person. I'm in my mid-twenties and have zero desire to ever jump on Twitter or Myspace, but I do stay active enough on facebook and linked in for professional and personal networking reasons.

Bristal said...

I'm also a child of the 70's. I also think needing to know everything about anyone is a bit...not so much "wierd" as "overwhelming". My BRAIN doesn't have enough bandwidth to process all that information. And I have a pretty decent (albeit 45 year old) brain. Facebook & Twitter? meh. and my cell phone is strictly OUTgoing (which irks my wife).

I agree with Gevlon that the "social" aspect of MMO's is artificial and akin to business networking. I've always used the work "friend" judiciously.

I recently rerolled an alt and am enjoying no guild chat and no whispers about what I'm doing or can I help with something and the obligatory "grats" avalanche for accidental achievements. The population is low, the quests are low-tech, and after a 3 week break I may just be an ex-raider.

And I've been convinced with all the hubbub to try Free Realms. I'm hoping that I can convince my "wife of the 60's" to give it a try, too.

Jederus said...

Amen Larisa. Well said. Couldn't agree more. Wish they would just stick to news and not try to be yet another stupid "social network".

HP said...

Yay, I;m not alone!! I don't even share my character's name or server though. I already blog anonymously but I get troll comments. Imagine if I were out in the public about my character!?

Anyway, love your blog. You always manage to put into words thoughts that always float in my head but you do it in a much more coherent and cohesive fashion =)

Syrana said...

I don't have a Wow.com profile (and really not sure if I will or not), but I do have Twitter and Facebook.

A couple points for further discussion though!

"But really: I can�t understand what�s up with all of you guys who want to record every single step you take and then expect the world to keep track of it."It's not necessarily about -expecting- others to keep track, but offering the choice if they so choose. Easier for 10 people to take a gander than me to tell 10 people the same stories over and over again 10 times.

Also, it's not necessarily telling everything you do every single minute. From what I read (of course, that might be different than actual operation) is that you can make notes while playing and upload those notes and screenshots to your wow.com profile. Also, you can select which activities are kept track of for you on the feed.

And, like Facebook, you can set it up so only people you select can see all that in the privacy settings.

But, do I really need "yet another social networking website?" Honestly, I do not. I don't need several. People I want to be networked with should, ideally, already be hooked up thru similar places.

/shrug

Daniel J. Pritchett said...

I'm 28 and I dig social networks plenty. My favorite is Friendfeed but I use the major ones as well.

The good of a service like Wow.com profiles will be in ambient awareness. People who are interested in WoW and/or your gaming fun time can follow along at home and vicariously enjoy your progress. Hopefully the more interesting achievements will be conversation starters and you won't even have to actively brag about them to start the conversation.

The unfiltered stream of info can be troublesome but you can always look to other people and services to shape the low for you.

Check out my FF profile to see how this community filtering and observation can look: http://Friendfeed.com/dpritchett

I get the nervousness about others tracking your innocuous online moves but I think that has to do with the relative acceptability of gaming amongst age groups. My peers - and especially yours - might look askance at WoW time but the average teen or college student needn't worry.

Carra said...

Those fears of the seventies are still alive. Just check the US. Visiting it now required your finger prints. A city like London has over 10.000 camera's used by the police to monitor everyone. Your government can ask a record of all you did on the internet can be asked from your isp. Privacy is going down for an increased state protection. Big brother is watching you more and more.

And it does look like we are heading to an environmental catastrophe. With the global warming the sea level will rise. This will cause big problems, especially for countries like the Netherlands that are already below sea level. The ironic thing about it is that for rich countries the temperature rise will cause benefits for agriculture. While for the poor ones like Africa it'll cause disasters.

I suppose every generation has its fears. These days it's not so much about nuclear power as it is about environmental issues. Who knows what it'll be in another fourty years.

Justin said...

The big difference between something like 1984 and Twitter/Facebook/WoW.com is focus.

In 1984, Big Brother is watching you for his interests, yours be damned. That sucks for obvious reasons.

In "social" networks, you're the one looking for attention by telling everyone what you're doing or thinking all the time. You must feel that what you have to say is so important that it requires everyone who knows you to see it relatively quickly. It's utterly the opposite of Big Brother. The only thing is, I'm not sure it's any better in the end, because rather than saying something bad about a totalitarian government, it says something bad about us.

Full disclosure: I have a Twitter account, a Facebook account, and a WoW.com account. I use the Twitter account occasionally to chat about hockey while games are on the TV and never post anything about my life there; I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends I haven't seen in years, and to occasionally play their stupid games, and almost never post anything about myself on there; and I use WoW.com's account so I don't have to log in all the time to post comments. I never installed the addon.

Matchu said...

I'm posting purely to say I stumbled on your blog somehow and one line caught my eye:
"Spend a silly night at the Ironforge bridge in company with our realm clown Cacknoob. Maybe he was right all the time? Maybe that’s the way the game should be played. I don’t know until I’ve tried it."

EU Stormrage! Power to us! :)

Larísa said...

@Belghast: I guess I need a wire into my brain to fully understand the charm of it. I'm a lost generation... :)
But seriously, looking at the comments at wow.com it doesn't seem to work well at all. MAybe it will in the future. Now this addon seems to be bugged. And it reports EVERY zone crossing you do! Looking at the intro site where you can see all the crap it uploads makes me shiver. http://profile.wow.com/


@Fitz: I never thought about that aspect, but considering what Auctioneer does to me when I use it... I'd never install that addon, even if I was crazy enough to want everyone to know all my movements.

@Bristal: hm... you're on to something there! Have the brains of the children of the 80s and 90s mutated somehow? Sometimes I can't help believing that's the case...

@Jederus: thanks!

@HP: thanks! And I don't think leaving out your character name is that dangerous, at least if you're not one of the top-top-top bloggers. Since I started blogging I've only had a few whispers from readers, and the ones I've had have been very nice and friendly, much appreciated by me. As a matter of fact I wish more of the European PPI visitors dropped by to say hi. I wouldn't mind at all. They're such a friendly bunch.

@Syrana: well, how many networks can you tend to? And will the quality in the relations and your storytelling really be the same if you just shout out the same thing to everyone? If you're going to say something publicly to a big audience, isn't it worth to put in a little bit more job and effort into it like you do an a real blog? Those scattered notes... I fail to see the use of it for anyone. Not for the writer, not for the reader.

@Daniel J Pritchett: The truth is that we're probably just a bit diffrent. I'm not capable of following so many scattered thoughs and statements at the same time. I prefer quality to quantity, I want things to be deeper and more processed. Not just a stream that I'll drown in. But as I said, I'm probably sadly oldfashioned. A curious question... blogs that write in depth... do they bore you? Can you bother to read a long post or will your thoughts and attention immediately wonder away to the next short twitter statement?

@Carra: Big Brother is watching and the frightening thing is that people don't seem to care anymore. About the global catastrophy: well, they warned 15 years ago that the Maldives would be gone by now due to the climate change. They aren't. I don't deny there are problems, but there are some people who actually benefit from the warnings too. Sometimes it's really really hard to get a clear picture of how exactly how bad things are.

@Justin: You're right about the different focus. But the effect is the same! As Grimmtoth said: it is rather strange that people want chips planted in their heads.

@Matchuh: Cheers! I've mentioned him a couple of times and we chat sometimes in the game. He's really a nice fellow and I can't understand why some people demonize him the way they do.

candy said...

If I wanted to be stalked I would be publishing my email addy and IM info and address and door code on my guild forums. But no thanks. Also, in a world full of ePeen, do you really want someone whose comment you disagree with start picking apart your achievements? Thanks but no thanks.

Thander said...

Age might have something to do with it, but there's plenty of youngsters that aren't interested in it including myself (age 24).

I don't mind the whole profile system. I probably won't be using it. What bothers me is they didn't address some of the main complaints people had with the old site.

Mainly, the comments system sucks. Not being able to edit comments or delete ones you made by mistake makes them always feel really cluttered.

I think it would be better if they just made a forum backend that can handle the comments. You click on the comments link and it takes you to the equivalent forum post where people can discuss it for hours with all the good forum features available.

Azryu said...

I'm going to have to disagree with a ton of you at large xD

Your not really tracking what you, yourself, your human self, is doing. To someone who comes to your site, and if they could see your raiding Ulduar tonight, they can drop a line and say grats!

Even perhaps a grats if it reports a boss kill, or something. I'm not going to lie to say that mine wouldn't report 60% of the time I'm afking in Ironforge, but if a reader saw that we just downed let's say Sarth 3D, and I blogged about hopefully getting him a few days ago, it can bring some interesting results.

Someone said that this generation has a lack of desire for privacy, and I can agree with you. I compare my parents and their peer's personalities and how, for a lack of a better word "uptight/conserved", they are to how I am.

Some people get the chills by giving your real life name to someone on the internet. Some get the hebee-jeebee's by giving out an email.

Hell, if you asked for my name I'll tell you it's Tomas. I'll tell you I live in this so-and-so area of Iowa, and that my email is PewPEWpewPEWpeW@gmail.com (dramatization).

It's certainly interesting. I think I may look into downloading it. It's more or less fascinating then anything else.

Azryu said...

One last comment,
I think I inherited some of the
"privacy concerns" of my mother.

Here is our mentality:
"If you really want to know what I'm going, I don't give a (beep)"

Just don't ask for my credit card number :) Unless you promise to buy me something...

Syrana said...

"@Syrana: well, how many networks can you tend to? And will the quality in the relations and your storytelling really be the same if you just shout out the same thing to everyone? If you're going to say something publicly to a big audience, isn't it worth to put in a little bit more job and effort into it like you do an a real blog? Those scattered notes... I fail to see the use of it for anyone. Not for the writer, not for the reader."As I said in my previous comment, I don't need or want very many social networks. 2 is quite enough for me.

I'm not disagreeing with you about the quality of the short updates on wow.com. I was just offering another way to look at it. Personally, I'd rather blog about it on my blog, or chat about it in game. However, I don't talk about all of my achievements in my blog posts, so I do have an achievement widget that shows the 5 most recent if someone is interested to know.

The ability to enter notes through their addon, I can see the point of that... for "remember this" for a later post. As it is, without their addon, I have a note pad at my desk (or have MS Word or Notebook open) so I can mark something down I may want to expand upon in a blog post.

Now, people that don't have blogs or aren't sure how to (or if they should) start a blog might benefit from this new profile system... maybe they will desire to grow beyond what is offered there.

But, I already have a blog and a way for readers to see some achievement info (or to look up my armory if they really want) at my own site, so I don't feel the need to create a profile at WoW.com.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this wow.com feature isn't for those in the game that find some measure of their self-worth in the achievement of their WoW character. It's similar to the child saying, "Mom, Dad, look what I can do!" Ackowledgement of the achievement bolsters the self esteem - a basic human need. I'm not rendering a judgment, just exploring a possibility for why one would choose to participate.

Hatch said...

This feature of wowinsider is definitely not for us. I'm of the same mindset that I don't see any value in keeping everyone in the world abreast of everything I'm doing minute by minute.

Some other people like it; that's fine. Wowinsider's trying to get on the social networking train that's all the rage right now. I just personally have zero interest in it right now, and it sounds like you don't either. It just takes a different type of person, I guess. There are a lot of things other people like that I just don't get.

Shopshopshop said...

I'm with you, but more so on the I don't want to know front than the privacy front. I don't really care if people know what my WoW character is up to, it's likely the same as almost every other level 80 - doing dailies, raiding and pvp. It's simply not interesting to know the details of what everyone's character is doing, I'd rather read a blog post about the person behind the character's thoughts.

Birdfall said...

Thought this might interest you:
http://www.eablevins.net/wordpress/2009/06/23/computer-security/