(Collective) FarmVille

26 Oct

  I practically live in FarmVille.  I don’t have to play the game.

I do admire, though, FarmVille’s implicit, visual promise to unite the peoples of the world in one happy, cooperative, agrarian society.

An old friend, one who shares my interest in Russia, recently acquired a combine.  Here it is, against the backdrop of a bright new day. 

This image got me thinking about the inefficiency of the small, single-face(book) farm.  Couldn’t we combine our faces, and farm more efficiently in Collective FarmVille? 

We need a new game called KolhozVille, to adopt the pre-existing Russian term:

Jenny needs your help rounding up the Kulaks in KolhozVille.

Jenny distilled some pure grain alcohol she wants to share with you in KolhozVille.

Help Jenny bribe the Kommissar  in KolhozVille.

This is a joke for a very narrow audience, my FB friend reminds me.  We remember the culture of the kolhoz; nobody else does.

He might have added that brutal, forced collectivization is not a laughing matter.  That’s a fair criticism of this idle, insider humor.

Hold on, though.  The gag is not entirely idle.

You only thought you were a Norwegian bachelor farmer in FarmVille.

Turns out you were toiling away in KolhozVille all along, another victim of Facebook collectivization, now called aggregation.  Collectivization of information. 

Last week, the Wall Street Journal revealed that facebook applications (including FarmVille) have been sharing your name, and possibly your friends’ names, with advertising and internet tracking companies. 

There has been a stukach (informer) on the farm all along. 

Facebook says that the reported loss of privacy is overblown.  Any release of information was inadvertent.  There will be full compliance with privacy policies in the future. 

Welcome to KolhozVille.

Don’t turn around, uh-oh!


25 Responses to “(Collective) FarmVille”

  1. Paul Costopoulos October 26, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    In this day and age privacy is a delusion. We are tracked and identified in myriad ways: our debit and credit cards transactions, our blog entries and phone calls wireless or not, our Emails and so on and so forth.
    Let’s not kid ourselves about the only private things left are our thoughts if we do not put them on a blog, of course.
    As for kolhozes we have heard of them and very few of us, I guess, wished to create any, although, on a voluntary basis, we do have cooperative farming,gardening and housing but that is something else.

    • jenny October 26, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

      Paul, our information is tracked and identified, and who knows to what end. And you are right, it’s not just on FarmVille. That’s just a convenient example for me because we’re just as clueless about how and by whom we are being watched as the Soviet kolhozniks were. And it is as true with us (as it was with them) that possibly nobody is paying any attention at all.

      Cooperative gardening? I’m positive on it!

  2. Philippe October 26, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    FarmVille sounds socialistic, foreign, and therefore unAmerican.

    I’m troubled.

    • jenny October 26, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

      Do not be troubled, Philippe. In socialistic, foreign, unAmerican FarmVille, everyone is equal.

      You surely anticipate that some are more equal than others. True enough, but in our version of the game, the most equal of all will be those who are familiar with Paul Robeson. 🙂

  3. Thomas Stazyk October 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    Bezukhov is horrified! He always thought that Farmville was a vehicle for auto-Kulakization, to coin a phrase.

    • jenny October 26, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

      Autokulakization, or to russify: avtokulakizatsiya! They actually needed that term to describe the “New Russians” in the 1990s!!!

      I’m going to look for it in “Dal” right now.

      • david osman October 28, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

        Welcome to Ohio.
        The weekend of October 23rd was “Parents Weekend” at Kenyon College. And so my wife and I began our journey to Columbus to visit our daughter.
        We fetched a cab near our house on 1st Avenue and sat quietly in the cabin as a young Pakistani driver chatted away on his cell phone.
        I interrupted the silence for a short while, commenting on the firing of Juan Williams from NPR. Sue agreed that it was not nice and the conversation died down as we approached American Airlines at LaGuardia Airport.
        We checked in at the automated kiosk and then got into another line to check our luggage
        A nice lady at the counter directed us to a huge x ray machine where a polite young man was pushing pieces of luggage through it.
        We went to gate C where we showed our boarding passes and IDs to a middle-aged female agent with a distinct Indian accent.
        Then we reached the third line where a bored yet attentive young Caucasian man standing third line where a bored yet attentive young Caucasian man stood behind a podium with a Home Land Security seal on it. He checked our passes and IDs again.
        I put my boarding pass in the pocket of my jacket as we approached the final security check point.
        I took off my jacket and put it in a plastic tray. I took my shoes off and my hat off and put them in another tray.
        I took off my wrist watch, my rings and my bracelets and put them in a special smaller plastic tray designed especially for jewelry. I removed my computer from the computer bag and put it in a separate tray as instructed. I decided not to take off my cross. “I would let them scan me with a hand held scan as it was done in the past” I thought.
        As my belongings were rotated into the mouth of the x-ray machine I proceeded to a full body scan right behind my wife.
        Another polite young man with a slight Polish accent asked me again for my boarding pass. I reached out to my pants pocket and realized I do not have it on me. I called to my wife to see if she had it. She did not.
        I panicked completely forgetting that I placed my pass in the pocket of my jacket. The Polite young man with the slight Polish accent directed me to a plastic booth where a visibly upset older white gentleman

        Already was stationed. “I have an artificial limb” he muttered under his breath. I felt helpless and anxious. Meanwhile Sue went thought my belongings and found my boarding pass.

        As she held it in her hands I was let go from that plastic booth by a uniformed business like white man with an Irish accent. He directed me to an open area next to the x-ray machine and informed me that I have to undergo a full body search. He asked me to lift my hands and spread my legs ever so slightly. He put plastic gloves on and methodically began handling me informing me where he would be touching me, inquiring at the same time if I felt comfortable. “Would he stop” I thought “if I would protest”.
        I was standing facing the plastic booth watching it being filled by a variety of men and women. I was standing there- an American citizen in full view of others. Now I felt rage. The man searching me told me to lift my shirt as his hands reached under it. He asked me if I have sensitive spots on my body and informed me that he is touching me with the backs of his hands.
        Suddenly I felt his hands reaching into my underwear as he methodically was handling it.
        After it was over I felt empty and tired. I felt raped….
        One idiot tried to ignite a plane with a shoe bomb. Now millions upon millions take their shoes off.
        Another idiot tried to blow up the plane using his underwear as a bomb. Now millions upon millions will have their underwear checked.
        Liberty lost its head at American airports. A man with empty eyes and hands dressed in rubber gloves reminded me that the promise of protection issued by the government is also a threat to anyone who does not fit in to a queue.
        It is not enough to agree to take your shoes off and to place your computer in a plastic tray. It is not about your protection anymore. It is about their right to determine if you are a threat. And when you are herded in line step to the left or to the right becomes a violation of national security.
        It was said that if government fears people there is liberty and if the people fear government there is tyranny.
        I wonder –are we there now?

      • jenny October 29, 2010 at 7:35 am #


        Ugh. I’m so sorry. I hope the rest of the trip went well and that your daughter is happy there.

        I am on my way to Moscow very shortly to see my daughter. I’ll hope for a better experience on both sides of the Atlantic.

        I’m curious to hear your thoughts about Juan Williams. You might be surprised by my feelings about it.

  4. Hieronymo October 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    Farmville could “send down” all of the bourgeoisie office workers to toil without reward on a patch of virtual soil. Oh wait, it already did that.

    • jenny October 29, 2010 at 7:31 am #

      Mr. BeeKeeper,

      I read your comment and wistfully thought that I prefer your world of whimsical crowns and mythical beasts.

      I’m afraid that the Shakespeare quote that most readily comes to mind now is an obvious one:

      Lord what fools these mortals be.

  5. Thomas Stazyk October 28, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

    In response to David Osman, I once read that the KGB used to arrest people by coming up to them and saying, “Comrade, do you have a moment?”

    Anyway, how was Kenyon? I almost went there for undergraduate studies and my nephew did go there.

  6. dafna October 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    wow, now that i get the joke… i wonder if farmville can tell if i am a dog?

  7. Mr. Crotchety October 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Only kinda related:


    I don’t know where else to share this.

    • Thomas Stazyk October 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

      I like it and I see the connection! Funny I was reading some Ferlighetti a week or so ago–this sort of reminds me of that.

    • jenny October 31, 2010 at 7:32 am #

      Mr. C: I love it. And your timing is exquisite.

      You surely know that you have a standing invitation (by which I mean I implore you on bended knee) to share all poems, the related, the kinda related and the utterly un.

      @Tom: I pulled up the first Ferlinghetti poem with a title that appeals (“Wild Dreams of a New Beginning”) and found these lines about a Pacific tidal wave that sweeps over the country:

      Chicago’s Loop becomes a rollercoaster
      Skyscrapers filled like water glasses
      Great Lakes mixed with Buddhist brine

  8. dafna October 30, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

    yes and also kinda related… my father likes to say “i’d rather bear the shame than bear the pain”, of course he is referring to nodzy, nidzy, flotzy and flitzy… i won’t translate but you might get the drift ( especially if you are downwind).

    • jenny October 31, 2010 at 7:35 am #

      Dafna, my father says: “All great ideas stink.”

  9. Cyberquill October 31, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Gosh, how I loathe Farmville and all its pesky brethren. I don’t even know what it is, but I hate it. Half the time I spend perusing my Facebook News Feed I’m busy hiding and deleting dopey applications. The moment I zap (“hide”) one so it won’t appear in my News Feed ever again, five new ones pop up. Astrology stuff, “What movie star are you?”, “What vegetable are you?”, etc. It never ends. Facebook applications are no different in kind from the Biblical plagues, and their burgeoning presence tells me that Armageddon is nigh.

    • jenny October 31, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

      So, what movie star are you, CQ? You surely don’t need an application to answer that question.

      • Cyberquill October 31, 2010 at 7:59 pm #

        I’m a turnip. That’s all I know.

  10. Cheri November 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    When I ended my Facebook experience and said good-bye to all of my “friends”, I felt much better about my privacy, but I now fear that all of my blogging has disrupted other avenues of privacy.

    Now, the latest cameras are equipped with data-gathering devices that can let snoops know when and where photos are taken.

    One of these days, I will probably do to my blog what I did to Facebook and “sign off.” But, I will say “Good bye” first.

    • jenny November 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm #


      There is no loss of privacy because nobody is paying attention.

      Still, I, too, am planning my Houdini-like escape from WordPress. Look for me next as a Youtube celebrity: the artist formerly known as sweat and sprezzatura


      on chat roulette.


    • Cyberquill November 3, 2010 at 1:09 am #

      More photos from White Sands National Monument in the fall

      @Cheri: So let me get this straight—you take pictures, post them on your blog, and then you worry that snoops using fancy data-gathering device may be able to sleuth out the very information which your headline already provides?

      And even if you post pix without supplying time and location, what exactly are you worried about? Stalkers?

      That would have to be a person with a serious grudge against—or crush on—you who would take such pains to figure out where your pictures were taken for the purpose of finding out where you live. Who might that be? One of your students miffed about having gotten a bad grade?

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