A Real First-Class News Experience

From [Business Class: Freemium for News?][1]:

[1]: http://www.informationarchitects.jp/en/business-class-news/ “Information Architects – Business Class: Freemium for News?”

> I had a perspective changing talk on the subject of pay walls with the chief executive of a big publishing company…. He asked me what I think about pay walls. I told him what I always say: The main currency of news sites is attention and not dollars and that I believe that it is his job, as a publisher, to turn that attention into money to keep the attention machine running. He nodded and made the following, astonishing statement:

> > I can’t see pay walls working out either. But we need to do something before we lose all of our current subscribers. Sure. It’s a tough business environment, but… But the flight industry is a tough environment too, and they found ways. So tell me: Why do people fly Business Class? In the end, an airplane brings me to the same place regardless of whether I fly Economy or Business Class and the massive price-increase I pay doesn’t compare the difference in value.

> > People pay for Business Class because they don’t want to be tortured in Economy. They get faster lanes at the terror check. They get an extra glass of champagne. The stewards are more attentive. They get off the plane more quickly. They get the feeling of a higher social status.

> He asked whether I knew of a way to apply this logic to online news. What would a Business Class news site look like?

Good stuff here. Since moving to Ellensburg, I’ve been frustrated with my lack of online access to local news. The one local paper is the [Ellensburg Daily Record][2], which only posts a (very) limited number of stories on its website. If you want access to the full paper without subscribing to the dead-tree edition, they offer [$5/month access to the full edition][3]. However, from what I can tell, it’s presented in a specialized, locked-down format similar to a fancy .pdf file, through the [Active Paper Daily][4] service.

[2]: http://dailyrecordnews.com/ “Ellensburg Daily Record”
[3]: http://dailyrecordnews.com/splash_subscribe/ “Daily Record: Subscribe”
[4]: http://www.olivesoftware.com/products/activepaperdaily.asp “Olive Software: Active Paper Daily”

Now, I’m not a die-hard “information wants to be free” crusader, and I really don’t have a problem with paying a reasonable fee for media that I’m interested in. However, I do want to be able to _use_ the information that I pay for, and a specialized browser system like Active Paper, which presents an “exact replica of [the] print edition”, which forces me to “browse through the pages just as if [I] had the newspaper in [my] hands”, is _not_ something I’m willing to pay for. Give me text on a webpage, RSS feeds for my newsreader…information I can _use_, not something that locks it away.

If the Daily Record (along with many other news sites) were to move to the “Business Class” idea as proposed in the linked article, I’d find a subscription fee for access to a better-presented, ad-free (or ad-light) version of the site entirely reasonable. Let them slap as many ads as they want on the free version of the site, break their stories into as many pages as they want to increase click counts and ad impressions for the free readers, but give me the ability to subscribe to a premium version without all the crap. _That’s_ a model for news sites I’d love to see gain traction.

The P-I is dead. Long live the P-I!

The writing’s been on the wall for some time now, but it’s just been made official: tomorrow’s print run of the Seattle P-I will be its last. I’m going to want to pick up a copy somewhere.

For me, first notification of the official announcement came [via @moniguzman on Twitter][1]: “Publisher Roger Oglesby just announced in the P-I newsroom: Tomorrow will be our last print edition, but seattlepi.com will live on.”

[1]: http://twitter.com/moniguzman/statuses/1337260415 “Twitter: @moniguzman: Publisher Roger Oglesby…”

A “breaking news” banner went up on the P-I’s website about the same time, but now there’s an [official story][2].

[2]: http://www.seattlepi.com/business/403793_piclosure17.html “Seattle PI: Seattle P-I to publish last edition Tuesday”

> The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will roll off the presses for the last time Tuesday, ending a 146-year run.
>
> The Hearst Corp. announced Monday that it would stop publishing the newspaper, Seattle’s oldest business, and cease delivery to more than 117,600 weekday readers.
>
> The company, however, said it will maintain seattlepi.com, making it the nation’s largest daily newspaper to shift to an entirely digital news product.
>
> “Tonight we’ll be putting the paper to bed for the last time,” Editor and Publisher Roger Oglesby told a silent newsroom Monday morning. “But the bloodline will live on.”
>
> In a news release, Hearst CEO Frank Bennack Jr. said, “Our goal now is to turn seattlepi.com into the leading news and information portal in the region.”

I’m sad to see the P-I go — of the two local papers, I always liked the feel of the P-I better than the Seattle Times. It’s a little hard for me to quantify just why (though I’m sure those who follow the media more closely than I would be able to make some educated guesses), they just more often seemed to be my paper of choice.

Best wishes to all at the P-I who are being affected by this, and best of luck to the P-I’s online-only incarnation.

Link Journalism

Something that’s been fascinating me over the past few weeks during all the weather weirdness has been how incredibly valuable [Twitter][1] has been in keeping track of everything that’s happening. The [#seatst][2] (Seattle Twitter! Storm! Team!) and [#pdxtst][3] (Portland Twitter! Storm! Team!) tags were the single best sources for moment-by-moment information during the snowstorms, [#waflood][4] is still running strong for tracking flood info, and last night I was reading about an [#earthquake][4.1] in California just minutes after it happened. I’ve been enjoying Twitter for day-to-day trivialities and quick bursts of drivel that wouldn’t be worth making a full formal post for, but it’s Twitter’s growing usefulness as a crowdsourced quick-response news channel is mindblowing.

[1]: http://twitter.com/ “Twitter”
[2]: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23seatst “Twitter search: #seatst”
[3]: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23pdxtst “Twitter search: #pdxtst”
[4]: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23waflood “Twitter search: #waflood”
[4.1]: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23earthquake “Twitter search: #earthquake”

Of course, I’m _far_ from the only person noticing this trend, and there’s a neat article at [Publishing 2.0][5] (which I found via a [#waflood][4] tagged tweet from [Evan Calkins][6] this morning) looking into [the creation, evolution, and use of the #waflood tag][7] over the past few days.

[5]: http://publishing2.com/ “Publishing 2.0: The (r)Evolution of Media”
[6]: http://twitter.com/evancalkins/statuses/1107075874 “@evancalkins: Nice little article…”
[7]: http://publishing2.com/2009/01/09/networked-link-journalism-a-revolution-quietly-begins-in-washington-state/ “Publishing 2.0: Networked link journalism: A revolution quietly begins in Washington state”

> The discussion about journalism’s future so often focuses on Big Changes — Kill the print edition! Flips for everyone! Reinvent business models NOW! — that it’s easy to forget how simple innovation can be.
>
> Sometimes all you need is a few Tweets, a bunch of links, and some like-minded pioneers.
>
> That’s how a quiet revolution began in Washington state Wednesday. Four journalists spontaneously launched one of the first experiments in collaborative (or networked) link journalism to cover a major local story.
>
> But it gets better. Those four journalists weren’t in the same newsroom. In fact, they all work for different media companies. And here’s the best part: Some of them have never even met in person.

It’s a great look at how the collaboration allowed the journalists and their respective news organizations to stay on top of the stories, and put together stories and information pages that were far more comprehensive than if they’d each stuck to their own individual “old media style” resources.

> The Washington link projects should serve as models for the entire news industry. They show that collaborative linking draws readers, is easy, and costs nothing more than time (and not even much of that).
>
> Seth said the December snowstorm link roundup was on the homepage for three or four days — but it was **the site’s most-trafficked story for the entire month**.
>
> […]
>
> This is the power of collaborative news networks. By forming a network, newsrooms can discover not just a greater volume of news, but a greater volume of **relevant, high-quality news** than one person, one newsroom, or one wire service could alone.
>
> Compare the Washington group’s [great waflood link roundup][q1] to a Google News [search for “Washington flood”][q2] — I know which one I’d rather have as a resource if I lived in that area.

[q1]: http://www.publish2.com/topics/waflood/ “Publish2: Newswire: waflood”
[q2]: http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=&q=washington+flood&btnG=Search+News “Google News: washington flood”

Neat stuff. Even though I’m “just” a consumer, not a journalist in any sense, and not involved with or affiliated with any of these organizations, I’m fascinated by the effects of the evolving connections that technology is making possible between the media and the public, and within and among the various media organizations themselves.

Seattle PI Getting Sued

This [isn’t much of a surprise][1]:

[1]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/389249_cranesuit25.html?source=rss “Seattle PI: Operator of crane involved in fatal accident sues the P-I”

> An operator involved in a deadly Bellevue crane collapse has sued the Seattle P-I, saying the paper defamed him by printing details of his criminal history.
>
> Warren Yeakey, the 36-year- old operator who was injured in the November 2006 collapse, filed the defamation suit in Pierce County Superior Court earlier this month. In court documents, Yeakey says the paper wrongly intimated that his arrests and convictions somehow contributed to the collapse.
>
> “He felt like he was vilified falsely,” said Matt Renda, a Tacoma attorney representing Yeakey. The story, Renda added, “created an incorrect or false implication that operator error … was a contributing factor to the downing of the crane and the death of (Matthew) Ammond,” a Microsoft Corp. patent lawyer who was killed in the collapse.

I knew at the time of the collapse that the reporting of the accident [was not the PI’s finest hour][2].

[2]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2007/02/12/wanted-one-apology-from-the-seattle-pi/ “eclecticism: Wanted: One Apology from the Seattle PI”

> …when a crane collapsed in Bellevue last November, I was disgusted by the PI’s response: an immediate [front-page article][3] digging up and detailing five-year-old accounts of the past drug use of the poor guy operating the crane that day. As if this guy’s day wasn’t bad enough — he goes to work, climbs to the top of a tower crane, and then _rides the thing down_ as it collapses into nearby apartment buildings — he then has to endure the ingominy and public humiliation of having his past transgressions dug up, splashed across the front page of the newspaper, and implicitly blamed as the cause of the accident. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t had a drug conviction in five years, nor that his employer required drug tests that he had reliably passed, nor that there was no indication of drug use at the time of the accident. What mattered was that he was guilty! Guilty, guilty, guilty!

[3]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/292891_crane18.html “Seattle PI: Operator in crane wreck has history of drug abuse”

I wonder if the PI would be getting sued if they’d printed some form of apology or retraction at the time?

This is Journalism?

I’ll freely admit that, while geeky, I’m not one who will stand in line for hours for an item I can get faster and easier if I wait a few days. I’m less concerned with “firsties” than with my own convenience.

That said — I _love_ the fact that the customer in this video actually calls the reporter on his idiotic “reporting.” I wish more people would do this — perhaps we’d actually get a bit more news in the news, instead of mindless fluff.

Probably not. But perhaps.

Wanted: One Apology from the Seattle PI

Generally speaking, I tend to like the [Seattle PI][1] better than the [Seattle Times][2]. However, when a crane collapsed in Bellevue last November, I was disgusted by the PI’s response: an immediate [front-page article][3] digging up and detailing five-year-old accounts of the past drug use of the poor guy operating the crane that day. As if this guy’s day wasn’t bad enough — he goes to work, climbs to the top of a tower crane, and then _rides the thing down_ as it collapses into nearby apartment buildings — he then has to endure the ingominy and public humiliation of having his past transgressions dug up, splashed across the front page of the newspaper, and implicitly blamed as the cause of the accident. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t had a drug conviction in five years, nor that his employer required drug tests that he had reliably passed, nor that there was no indication of drug use at the time of the accident. What mattered was that he was [guilty][4]! [Guilty, guilty, guilty][5]!

[1]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/ “Seattle PI”
[2]: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ “Seattle Times”
[3]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/292891_crane18.html “Seattle PI: Operator in crane wreck has history of drug abuse”
[4]: http://www.amazon.com/Guilty-Doonesbury-book/dp/0030125111/sr=1-2/qid=1171324449/ref=sr_1_2/103-8161346-4433455?ie=UTF8&s=books “Amazon: Doonesbury: Guilty, guilty, guilty!”
[5]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doonesbury#Milestones “Wikipedia: Doonesbury: Milestones (see bullet point number two…)”

This morning, the PI reported on the [official determination of the cause of the crane’s collapse][6]:

[6]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/303206_crane10.html?source=rss “Seattle PI: Crane base blamed in collapse”

> A poorly designed foundation was the primary cause of the tower crane collapse in Bellevue, a deadly construction accident that spurred state lawmakers Friday to introduce crane-safety bills that would rank among the toughest in the nation.
>
> A three-month investigation into the crash by the Department of Labor and Industries has found that the crane’s steel foundation failed, and that the 210-foot-high structure would not have toppled if it had been bolted into concrete like most other tower cranes, sources close to the investigation told the Seattle P-I.

I, along with [more than a few][7] [other people][8], feel quite strongly that the PI owes the crane operator an apology. Easy as it may have been to do, their public vilification of the crane operator — based on nothing more than sensationalistic items in his past, not through any verifiable current information — was a slimy, sleazy way to grab eyeballs and sell papers at the expense of his reputation. Trial and conviction should be handled in the courts, not in the headlines.

[7]: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/soundoff/comment.asp?articleID=303206 “Seattle PI: Comments on ‘Crane base blamed in collapse'”
[8]: http://seattle.metblogs.com/archives/2007/02/crane_collapse_1.phtml “Metroblogging Seattle: crane collapse: crane base turns into scape goat”

Worker loses job over photograph

Sounds kind of familiar in these parts, doesn’t it? This time, it’s a bit more serious than a few computers, though.

Last Sunday, the Seattle Times ran this picture, taken by a civillian cargo worker based out of Kuwait:

Coffins on the way to the US

Today, the lead story in the Times was detailing how the woman who took the photograph has now [lost her job because of the photo][1].

[1]: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001909527_coffin22m.html “Woman loses her job over coffins photo”

> A military contractor has fired Tami Silicio, a Kuwait-based cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins of fallen U.S. soldiers was published in Sunday’s edition of The Seattle Times.
>
> Silicio was let go yesterday for violating U.S. government and company regulations, said William Silva, president of Maytag Aircraft, the contractor that employed Silicio at Kuwait International Airport.
>
> “I feel like I was hit in the chest with a steel bar and got my wind knocked out. I have to admit I liked my job, and I liked what I did,” Silicio said.
>
> Her photograph, taken earlier this month, shows more than 20 flag-draped coffins in a cargo plane about to depart from Kuwait. Since 1991, the Pentagon has banned the media from taking pictures of caskets being returned to the United States.

The Times has a good series of articles on the controversy surrounding the publication of the photograph, including an [editorial from Sunday explaining their decision to run the photo][2] after it was submitted to the paper by a friend of the photographer.

[2]: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001906354_fancher18.html “Powerful photograph offered chance to tell an important story”

> The caller said she had a picture a friend had sent to her. “Somebody should see it,” she said.
>
> Barry Fitzsimmons, a veteran photojournalist, has handled many of those calls and knows most of the pictures are never published. The Seattle Times photo editor also knows, “one in a thousand is a gem,” so he agreed to give this one a look.
>
> When the photo arrived, “I just said wow,” Fitzsimmons recalls. “The picture was something we don’t have access to as the media,” and yet it seemed undeniably newsworthy.
>
> […]
>
> Readers likely will have differing reactions to the photo, depending on their views of the war.
>
> “It’s a photo that evokes an emotional response and one that people are sure to see through their own filters, political or otherwise,” said Espinoza, who is responsible for the Sunday front page.
>
> Some readers will object to the image because the press has been largely denied access to take photos of coffins returning from war since the 1991 Gulf War.
>
> Some will see the picture as an anti-war statement because the image is reminiscent of photos from the Vietnam era, when the press wasn’t denied such access. But that isn’t Silicio’s or The Times’ motivation.
>
> “We’re not making a statement about the course of the war,” Fitzsimmons said. “Readers will make their own sense of the picture, their own judgment.”

One of the most interesting things to me was a poll attached to a list of [reader reactions][3], where the Times asked whether visitors to the website supported or opposed the military’s ban on such photographs. Survey on the photo banAs of just after midnight on Friday morning, with 684 responses, the poll shows an overwhelming 86% of respondents choosing “I disagree with the ban; the public has a right to see what’s going on.”

[3]: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001909936_webreaders22.html “What readers are saying”

Admittedly, Seattle tends to lean more liberal than many other places, but I was still somewhat surprised to see that the results were that heavily weighted in that direction.

I’ll freely admit that I’m one of that 86%, too. One of the things that has bothered me about this war, and that bothered me about the previous Iraq war, was how utterly impersonal it seems much of the time. While the casualties lists keep growing ([706 dead, 2374 wounded and not returned to duty][4] — and there’s a large question of just how many soldiers suffered injuries that would have killed them in earlier wars, and now, while alive, are severely disabled), we here at home see little beyond a few statistics in each day’s headlines that all too soon are buried in the onslaught of [reality show wrapups][5], [celebrity scandals][6], and other pablum that passes as news these days. Statistics will only really get noticed by the people that are looking for them — it’s photos such as Silico’s that will really affect the most people, whether they choose to view it as an indictment of an injust, unnecessary war, or as a comforting reminder that the dead are not forgotten and are treated with respect on their journey back home — or both.

[4]: http://lunaville.org/warcasualties/Summary.aspx “Iraq Coalition Casualties”
[5]: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/artsentertainment/2001909135_reality22.html “How to get your fix post-‘Apprentice'”
[6]: http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/04/22/jackson.case/ “Warrant pending for Jackson”

That said, I’m not as sure as I used to be that I’d necessarily call for completely unrestricted media access to all areas of a conflict. A quote from Louisiana State University professor David Perlmutter in an article looking at the [arguments for and against releasing such photographs][7] really struck me: “The Normandy invasion was a success, but how would we have felt at the time if we had seen the pictures of all these dead American soldiers on the beaches?”

[7]: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001909526_coffinside22m.html “Images of war dead a sensitive subject”

Casualties are, of course, one of the many very sad side effects of a military conflict. Speaking generally, and not just about the current war in Iraq, I don’t believe that we should be shielded from that fact through media blackouts instituted by a government afraid of letting the public see anything outside the accepted party line of America the Saviour — the costs of war should be as publicly accepted and known as the possible benefits in order for people to decide where they stand for themselves. Those costs, though, should not be the only things reported (unless that is all there is to report) — the unquestioning presentation of only one side of any story is little more than propaganda.

The current war has, until recently, seemed to be presented to the American public as just that kind of unquestioning propaganda, unfortunately. That seems to be changing as the casualties mount, and while it’s a sad thing that it took this long for the media to start to attempt to break free of the “everything’s fine” face the Bush administration seems to want to present, at least it’s starting to happen.

Kudos to the Times for presenting the photo, for doing their best to present it without an overt editorial slant, and for exploring the controversy around its publication. Best of luck, also, to Tami Silicio and her husband (who was also dismissed from his job, a decision that I don’t understand, and isn’t explained in the articles) as they return home and face the prospects of finding work again.

(On a side note, I suppose it was inevitable: [my situation was brought up][8] in the [Daily Kos discussion thread][9] about this.)

[8]: http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2004/4/22/112418/632/132#132 “On the job photos”
[9]: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/4/22/112418/632 “Tami Silicio and her husband fired”

911survivor: Game? Art?

A couple days ago, I linked to something called [911survivor][1] (the site is down as of this writing) in my ‘Destinations’ sidebar. The site was about an Unreal game modification that replaced the standard sci-fi battle arenas with the World Trade Center towers during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At the time, it looked to me like a surprisingly disturbing attempt to capitalize on the tragedy of the day, and I commented on the link as being tasteless.

[1]: http://www.kinematic.org/911.html “911survivor”

This morning, [Kirsten][2] [left a comment][3] letting me know that while at Siggraph, she had met one of the creators of the 911survivor mod.

[2]: http://www.geekmuffin.com/ “geek*muffin”

[3]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2003/07/28/hostages/#comment-1983 “Hey babycakes…”

> something to think about – the game is not a ‘game’ but an art mod (game modification). there are no points, there is no way to win, etc. the point of the game (art piece) for them was to explore the real experience of the victims in the WTC and to combat the commercialization of the event by big media. players also must realize the real experience and the real horror of that day (which has been glossed over by an administration and media that capitalizes on the event).

I [mentioned][4] that perhaps they should have made more of an indication of their intent on their website, as it wasn’t clear at all to me upon first viewing it what the point actually was.

[4]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2003/07/28/hostages/#comment-1984 “Interesting…”

Later, Kirsten was able to come back with a little more information, and she also [said this][5]:

[5]: http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2003/07/28/hostages/#comment-1986 “I will try to…”

> if this is art…then truly the artist doesn’t have to offer you their interpretation on the subject. modern art never does. it simply presents itself, and then lets you decide. you therefore become a part of it through interaction and the decision process.

While searching around for more information on this piece of work, as their site seems to have gone down, I found [this post at Fridgemagnet][6]. In one paragraph, they managed to both grok the concept of the piece long before I did, but also touch on the very reason why I made the initial assumption that I did:

[6]: http://www.fridgemagnet.org.uk/archives/002288.shtml “911survivor; who needs artists when you’ve got the net?”

> The level of customization allowed by Doom, then Quake, Half Life, Unreal etc, makes for an interesting artistic medium. We’ve had all sorts of ideologically-driven mods and FPSes already – see the America’s Army game (now available for Macs it seems) and that race-hate Quake mod where you get to kill Jews and blacks. It doesn’t appear that this is a propaganda piece, but it is going to be designed to deliver a message of some sort, whatever the designers want to say about 9-11. Assuming it’s not just publicity trash.

This started me wondering about two things in connection to this. Firstly, the role of the media used for a piece of work; and secondly, when introducing a new type of media, what responsibility the artist might have when the public finds that work.

I think that part of the issue I had where 911survivor is concerned is simply that the medium used here — the game interface — is one that hasn’t been used before (that I have heard of, at least) as an artistic medium. When presented with a gaming environment, my first thoughts are that the subject matter is intended to be just that: a game, some form of entertainment. Hence, when I was browsing the 911survivor site, seeing their concept art of panicked businessmen and women and a schematic of the floors affected by the impact of the airplane, and looking at the screenshots of walls of flame and bodies falling to the ground, I didn’t make the assumption that “this can’t be a game, therefore it must be some sort of interactive art project.” Instead, it appeared to simply be a game — a game with a truly disgusting choice of subject matter.

Given that, then, should it have been more obvious what the intent of the work was? Kirsten says that the artist “doesn’t have to offer you their interpretation on the subject.” Certainly true enough, but the majority of the time when seeing art, even when it’s art we haven’t seen before, we do know that it is art. We may not understand it or like it, we may wish that there was more interpretation provided for us, we may not understand the artists intent — we may not even agree that it should be called art. But whatever our reaction, we know that the artist intended their creation to be some form of art. With 911survivor, I had no such reference to work with.

While I’ve been working on this post, Kirsten was able to update her site with [more details on what she heard][7] during the workshop where this project was discussed.

[7]: http://www.geekmuffin.com/archives/002114.html “geek*muffin: toys, thinking, and geekdom”

> The game was made by a group of students for a class (if memory serves) who had not been present at the fall of the towers in NYC, but felt that the media had been capitalizing on the situation and thus glossing over the horrific reality of the event). The game was never supposed to be publicized, it was simply a way for the students to understand the event and to ‘be a part of it’ as it were. The speaker mentioned that so often memorials of wars and tragedies gloss over and distort the truth of the situation, that the horror and the sorrow that was truly there is covered up as much as possible, and instead an idealistic presentation of the situation is given as a sort of ‘reaffirmation’ of life. However, this prevents future generations from understanding the pain/sorrow/horror of the original event. This game actually presents a significant attempt at building a new art form (in my humble opinion) by creating a truly interactive medium in which people feel trapped, upset, frustrated, frightened, disgusted, etc. by a piece of art that is truly interactive….

That bit of information alone does a lot to explain the nature of the project to me, and I have to say, I agree with a lot of the motivations mentioned here. The media (and the government) has not only glossed over the horrors of that day in the intervening months, but has gone on to capitalize on it in ways far more disturbing and far-reaching than I originally took this game to be attempting. Over the past two years, the fall of the WTC has gone from being presented as the tragedy that it was to being the justification for our incursions into foreign governments halfway around the world. 9-11 has become a motivation for revenge for far too many people (and to make it worse, that revenge hasn’t even been directed at the right targets, thanks to the propaganda techniques of our current administration).

I guess it was the combination of the medium of the game engine; the lack of a clear disclaimer that they were using the game engine because it was the best technology for their purpose, not because they were actually attempting to create a ‘9-11 game'; a website that seemed to support my initial assumption that it was a game; and the horrific imagery based on real events and real deaths that disturbed me. Knowing more about it now, I can understand and respect the aims of the creators. However, given the combination of a new medium not traditionally used for anything other than entertainment purposes, and the subject matter of the work, a little more caution and straightforward stating of ideals on the website may have been very much in order.