Monday, September 28, 2009

En Garde!

I've written before about the proliferation of government domain names not tied to particular federal agencies and the silliness of long URLs like and and Now the federal government has brought its citizens OnGuardOnline to advise them about computer security and its associated consumer protection issues. In addition to a series of online videos about phishing, the site also offers a suite of online games.

There is Follywood Squares, an easy tic-tac-toe game about online medical claims, which stars characters like "Larry Logo," "Pamela Pils," and "Ms. Naturals" who offer their speech balloons to canned music and a laugh track while directing players to sites run by government agencies and nonprofites. Invest Quest chooses a board game/game of life display to encourage a similar level of skepticism about online economic opportunities.

However, compared to the ACLU's Facebook quiz about Facebook applications that gets at the heart of issues about trust and marketing, FriendFinder shows its inferiority by displaying a predictable game about simple cybersafety that emphasizes denying contacts and protecting privacy at the most obvious level. And correct answers to only five true-false questions allow you to win Invasion of the Wireless Hackers, so it isn't much of a game.

There is more true-false testing in ID Theft FaceOff in which correct answers about preventing identity theft can restore the facial features to your character's visage.

When playing the games, I couldn't help but notice that the phrase "Stop - Think - Click" on the site was trademarked and wonder why government websites continue to feature content that makes intellectual property claims rather than material that is clearly in the public domain.

Thanks to Ian Bogost for the link!

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Blogger Jardinero1 said...

The comparison to the ACLU is apt. It highlights the difference in value provided by participants who must prove their value to the public or go hungry for funding with those who don't. The ACLU depends on voluntary contributions for survival. Unlike the government, the ACLU cannot use the threat of violence or imprisonment to make you pay. If those contributers don't feel served(however each contributer defines served) then they can refuse to give.

Government websites are under no obligation to provide any value to the public, or even serve the public. They are specifically exempt from any civil or criminal liability for their failure to do so. Their funding is guaranteed by the taxing power of the state.

11:19 AM  

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