Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Archive for December 5th, 2006

Star Wars = Apocalypse Now?

Posted by metaphorical on 5 December 2006

Star Wars fans, is this generally known?

I’m reading The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, by Michael Ondaatje.

Ondaatje is the novelist who wrote The English Patient, as well as Anil’s Ghost, Running in the Family, etc. Murch is a film and sound editor who went to film school with George Lucas at USC, in the 1960s. (Francis Coppola was across town at UCLA.)

Murch talks about his film and/or sound editing on such pictures as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse Redux, American Graffiti, THX 1138, and The English Patient, through which he and Ondaatje met. The “John” in the passage below refers to John Milius, who wrote the original Apocalypse Now screenplay.

Originally George Lucas was going to direct [Apocalypse Now], so it was a project that George and John developed for Zoetrope. That was back in 1969. Then when Warner Bros. cancelled the financing for Zoetrope, the project was abandoned for a while. After the success of American Graffiti in 1973, George wanted to revive it, but it was still too hot a topic, the war was still on, and nobody wanted to finance something like that. So George considered his options: What did he really want to say in Apocalypse Now? The message boiled down to the ability of a small group of people to defeat a gigantic power simply by the force of their convictions. And he decided, All right, if it’s politically too hot as a contemporary subject, I’ll put the essence of the story in outer space and make it happen in a galaxy long ago and far away. The rebel group were the North Vietnamese, and the Empire was the United States. And if you have the force, no matter how small you are, you can defeat the overwhelmingly big power. Star Wars is George’s transubstantiated version of Apocalypse Now.

The Conversations, p.70

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God, grant Google virtue

Posted by metaphorical on 5 December 2006

The other day I mentioned paidpostingtools.com, and the seemingly growing market for people willing to “post to forums, blog, place comments on blogs and write custom articles” for small sums of money.

In that context, it’s worth pointing out some other growing areas of content fraud.

C|Net has a good story on the rigging of ratings on aggregation sites like Digg and del.icio.us

The big Digg rig

So-called social-media sites, which let users decide what’s newsworthy, are dealing with scammers trying to game their systems.

“Now, dubious Internet marketers are planting stories, paying people to promote items, and otherwise trying to manipulate rankings on Digg and other so-called social-media sites like Reddit and Delicious to drum up more links to their Web sites and thus more business, experts say.”

And then there’s the problem of click fraud. Wired worried about it back in January, and now BusinessWeek has an article about the Augustinian box Google is in, needing to combat it, yet reluctant to take certain steps, such as working with law enforcement. (Augustine famously prayed, “God, grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”)

The Vanishing Click-Fraud Case

“Hundreds of thousands of advertisers that market on Google’s search engine also let Google distribute their ads to other Web sites. When an ad is clicked on a partner site, both Google and the Web site operator split the revenue and the advertiser is charged. If such a click is bogus, and gets through the search company’s filters, Google still profits, at least in the short run—leaving some in the industry suspicious of its efforts to combat fraud.”

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