The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 3E
few years ago, Face-
book and Wikipedia
joined Google to form
the triumvirate of Internet sites
as verbs. Google is certainly the
father - it's enjoyed this status
the longest. Its creative output
is massive and exponentially
like fungus. If
(odds are bet- DREW
ter than a coin SARGUS
flip), though, KiEIN
at least it'll
make most everything awfully
With the most comprehensive
search engine on the Internet as
a base, Gmail and iGoogle form
the site's next tiers. The two pro-
grams make up your personal-
ized corner of the Web. iGoogle
brings you simple packages of
news, calendars, to-do lists,
unofficial "Calvin and Hobbes"
comics and the top five movies
at the box office. Of course, your
Gmail inbox is on iGoogle as
well. But Gmail itself turns the
Google experience from a mute
(in a manner of speaking), con-
templative experience to a more
Gmail givesyou Google Docu-
ments, which allows any num-
ber of people to collectively
share a word document and edit
its content, and Gchat, a pared-
down version of AIM - chat-
ting while checking e-mail just
makes sense. Google Reader is a
remarkably simple (albeit some-
times clunky) basin of RSS feeds.
Google Blogger is by far the easi-
est and most respectable avenue
to set up your own blog of kitten
Yes, the Internet spans gener-
ations. This is all equally acces-
sible to the college student, the
professional and the grandma.
Google is here to serve you. But
Google is becoming larger than
what can be contained in a six-
letter nonsensical word (though
the Google search "define:
Google" notes the word was first
used in a 1927 Little Rascals film
"Dog Heaven" to refer to the act
of drinking water).
Google the search engine is
one thing (more on that later).
To be overly simple, a couple
of algorithms keep track of the
bulk of what happens on the
Internet. Now we have Google
Maps and Street View, Google
Earth and Sky. In terms of my
new favorite bar in D.C., I now
know the constellation Perseus
is directly over it tonight, that
the previous restaurant's sign
still sits above the back door and
that nearby is the setting for the
photograph "1958: But Sir, the
Dragon," which depicts a boy
stepping onto the street during
a parade. A policeman looms
in mock consternation as the
boy gleefully points his finger
up at a dragon float passing by
out of the frame. It's beautifully
Hallmark. And it's so obscure a
photograph that Google Image
Search can't find it (Google
Earth told me it was snapped
by Bill Beal of the Washington
Via Google Earth you can
learn everything there is to
know about your (or anyone's)
services, bars, the obvious. But
you can also find out the color
of your cross-town friend's
new car. It's mildly frightening.
When I think of its potential
applications, I'm reminded of a
true story a friend's father once
told me about a certain' egre-
Work for the Daily's online
giously misdirected air strike
in a certain country. Apparently
the boys at the top neglected to
consider that the city's street-
address configuration might be
different than their own. Some
time later, an unrelated meeting
was held with various military
and civilian higher-ups, one of
whom was the president of a cer-
tain mail delivery service. The
bombing came up, and the CEO
remarked that his company had
the exact information for every
city in the world, down to the last
cul-de-sac. If only, if only.
No, this didn't involve Google.
But it's an example of how
today's largest corporations are
outpacing governments in map-
ping the world, physically and
electronically, in a relentless,
self-perpetuating census. We
know little about it.
With Google Earth it'd be
easy to say that since the pub-
lic has access to a platform this
powerful, we should fear it as
somethingthat could potentially
be used to spy on us. ,
Google is not spying on us. At
least, not through Google Earth.
Google-watch.org, one of the
many conspiracy sites dedicated
to Google, has a fascinating sec-
we could all
learn to live
with and love.
tion on Valerie Plame Wilson
and phone numbers. After the
notorious leak of the CIA agent's
name, asearchyielded her phone
number - a search that, in turn,
dug up her Washington, D.C.,
address. Ironically, it's not too
far from my bar and that photo
site. Maybe I even saw her there
one time. I could probably find
out the color of her car.
It all comes back to the sancta
santorum, the search engine.
Everything stems from this
one massive logbook of human
movement. Our own govern-
ment is monitoring what people
are reading on planes and what
they say on the phone. Google
could convincingly estimate why
that person bought that book
and where he buys coffee when
he sits down to read it. I wrote a
few weeks ago that our country's
intelligence agencies have devel-
oped Intellipedia and A-Space (A
is for analyst). Slowly but surely
they catch on, and sooner or later
something. I'm not conjuring
Big Brother or starting to store
canned food, butI have to admit:
the thought of Google Govern-
ment makes me queasy.
- Given your typical daily
output, past relationship with
the press and the Web patterns
for B-side readership, you have
a one-in-113 chance of e-mailing
Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
.......... ................._ . .. ,. -_ .PHOTOS COURT ESY OF 2K GA MES
By MICHAEL PASSMAN mentally approach a game. attack when appropriate and attempt to find
Daily TV/New Media Editor This is one video game that requires no crap- health when they're taking a beating.
py Hollywood interpretation. "BioShock" is the
Roughly six hours into 2K Games's "Bio-
Shock," the game transforms from a legiti-
mately impressive video game to a valid piece
of art. As the only game not
titled "Zelda" whose storyline
I thought more than a sec- BioshoCk
ond about, "BioShock" uses Xbox 360
the first-person shooter as a 2K Games
medium to tell its story - in
contrast to basically every-
thing before it, which mangled narratives to
legitimize the existence of games.
Upon crash landing into the underwa-
ter world of Rapture, your character's saga
begins as he's guided via radio by Atlas, one of
the seemingly few remaining life forms who
doesn't want to exterminate you. Atlas needs
you to help him rescue his family from Rapture,
whose creator, Andrew Ryan, doesn't want
them to leave.
Ryan's world was devised as an underwa-
ter utopia free of conventional laws and eth-
ics, where genetic modification runs rampant.
Shortly into the game, your character goes
through his first of many transformations,
acquiring the ability to shoot electricity from
his hand. These "plasmids," as they are termed
in the game, are acquirable superpowers. In
order to progress through Rapture, you'll have
to creatively use a variety of plasmids in con-
junction with conventional weapons.
And while the excellent combat mechanics
and environments offer a much-needed regen-
eration of the first-person shooter, the genius of
the game is the way it plays off gamers' presup-
positions of how videogame narratives work.
The story unravels in an almost "Catch-22"-like
way that will force gainers to rethink the merit
of their journey and forever alter the way they
HEADS UP! E
Kimbery Chou reminisces
about GeoCities and gURL.
com. She used to have a M
Web page there.
Don'I look tor it.
Pro-life vs. pro-choice: To acquire plasmids
and genetic upgrades in "BioShock," you'll have
to find ADAM, which is a genetic currency of
sorts. The only way to get ADAM is to take it
from little, possessed girls who look like they
could've been understudies on "The Shining."
The problem is, in order to get a hold of one of
the girls, you'll have to go through their body-
guards, the Big Daddies, who kind of resemble
the Incredible Hulk in an old-school diving suit.
If you're able to dispatch these guys, which isn't
easy, you'll have to decide whether to harvest
or rescue them. Rescuing nets you less ADAM
per girl, but you'll receive bonuses later in the
game, along with the mental clarity that comes
from not being a child killer. The game's ending
will vary depending on what you decide to do
with the girls.
And EVE: The other half of "BioShock"'s cre-
ation currency is EVE, which acts as injectable
ammunition for plasmids. EVE, alongwith con-
ventional ammunition and extra health, can be
bought from vending machines with cash accu-
mulated from robbed corpses and containers.
These goods are overly pricey, and at no point
will you feel comfortable with your bankroll.
"Please don't shoot bees at me": While I
was playing the game an observant onlooker
remarked, "Wow, they actually run away when
you shoot them." Novel, isn't it? Although your
foes are pretty much limited to a few different
types of zombie-like characters, they're actu-
ally intelligent and averse to you trying to set
them on fire. Even on the medium-difficulty
setting, enemies will flee when threatened,
It's a series of tubes: The one blemish on
an otherwise stunning experience is the man-
ner in which machines are hacked in the game.
In order to get cheaper prices from vending
machines or turn evil robots into good robots,
you can hack them. Hacking involves rearrang-
ing pieces of pipe to get liquid to flow from one
place to another. It's an uninspired mini-game,
more of a nuisance than anything else.
Mutilated corpses have never looked this
good: 'BioShock" looks incredible. Be it the
textures of walls or the lighting on weapons,
everything appears true to life. Most impres-
sive, the game all but eliminates cut scenes by
having almost every plot point occur around
you while you remain in control of your char-
acter. The near-elimination of cut scenes pro-
vides for a more engrossing experience that
could only be possible with the game's stellar
Shooting your roommates is not permitted:
OK hardcore "Halo" fans, brace yourselves:
There is no multiplayer mode in "Biolhock."
None. And you know what? It was a great move.
Every shooter since N64's "GoldenEye 007"
has included a multiplayer mode of some sort,
and maybe three of them have been any good.
Instead of tacking on a multiplayer mode, 2K
devoted all its resources to pulling off a pol-
ished single-player experience, and it did.
Is it worth a 96 on Metacritic?: Yes. "Bio-
Shock" is the highest rated next-gen videogame
on any system, and amazingly its 96 is valid.
"Halo 3" might be the most-anticipated game
this year, but "BioShock" will probably go down
as the best.
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