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Author Archives: Ryan

Travelogue 3: Who is & What is developing with “Living Stories”?

December 09′ to Feburary 10′

Journalism has undergone a crisis in the past several years and so has the news that has followed it.  The ‘digital future of news’ is currently shaping the future of how we stay informed and connected to what’s going on in our world.  The internet with online news updates possesses the remarkable capacity to change the way we read news.  Moreover, news agencies have tried very hard to adapt to the changing climate of media within this digital era that has been underway for quite some time now.  Nevertheless, the multi-billion dollar corporation Google has once again tried to revolutionize the internet.  From December of 2009 – February 2010, it sought to experiment with the way people experienced the news online.  Since the experiment, there has been much optimism with how it could change the nature and interface of online news.

“We believe it’s just as important to experiment with how news organizations can take advantage of the web to tell stories in new ways — ways that simply aren’t possible offline.”  - Official Google Blog

So Google decided to team up with two of the most world renowned news organizations: The  News York Times and The Washington Post to see how they could develop a way in which  people could better experience reading the news online.  Like mad scientists (engineers) stuck in  some lab in Mountain View, California they created their own version of Frankenstein… they  called it “LIVING STORIES“.  It’s aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!!!  Essentially, it is  a “new format/interface for creating and consuming news online”.    Everyday the news of a particular topic or story would be covered or    reside  under one URL with a summary explaining a general overview with live updates of new material in a timeline format, which would give offer readers,  ”a different online approach to balancing the overview [of a topic/or story] with depth and context”.

On the other hand of the debate, Google has been looked at with a great deal of animosity and dislike because of how it devalues the content on the web.  Matt Asay posted one particular comment by Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson, to call into question this widespread attitude against Google:

Google devalues everything it touches. Google is great for Google, but it’s terrible for content providers, because it divides that content quantitatively rather than qualitatively. And if you are going to get people to pay for content, you have to encourage them to make qualitative decisions about that content.

Nevertheless, the question abounds to why Google would do such a seemingly benevolent thing to help out publishers and news agencies.  What is the underlying rationale or motive for helping the news agencies?  Yet, The NYTimes for example are welcoming the help from Google.  It appears as if the news agencies are following the age old adage, ‘if you can’t beat em’, join em’.  The NYTimes and The Washington Post have worked on a collaborative effort with Google so it doesn’t seem like their was any negative feelings towards each other.  It seems a big brother helping out his younger brother.  While Google has had its fair share of criticism, the NYTimes for example is trying to take its own journalistic endeavors and combine them with the ingenuity of Google.  ”It’s an experiment with a different way of telling stories,” said Martin A. Nisenholtz, senior vice president for digital operations of The New York Times Company, in a statement. “I think in it, you can see the germ of something quite interesting.”

February 10′ and Beyond

On February 17th, Google decided to open-source the code to see what people and developers can do with it.  My question and curiousity, which is basically Google’s question too, is – what are people doing with the code other than making bug fixes here and there?  In other words, How are people utilizing and improving the open-source code of Living Stories?

  • My research and journey will be to figure out what I’m able to on where the project is going since its release to the public.  I have already contacted some owners of the experiment from Google that were in charge of Living Stories and even some people at the New York Times and the Washington Post to see what they are continuing to do with the format.
  • In addition, I will try to seek out some developers who are working with it to see what they have been able to do with it.
  • Lastly, I will also attempt to contact various news agencies and inquire about whether or not they would implement such a format to their online site.

In our recent weekly readings on Travelogue 3, we saw a different viewpoint on collectivism and open source.  I wonder if this would contribute to a loss of authorship or a degradation in the quality of content.  Or would it turn into “mush” as Jaron Lanier wrote about:

Actually, Silicon Valley is remarkably good at not making collectivization mistakes when our own fortunes are at stake. If you suggested that, say, Google, Apple and Microsoft should be merged so that all their engineers would be aggregated into a giant wiki-like project—well you’d be laughed out of Silicon Valley so fast you wouldn’t have time to tweet about it. Same would happen if you suggested to one of the big venture-capital firms that all the start-ups they are funding should be merged into a single collective operation.  But this is exactly the kind of mistake that’s happening with some of the most influential projects in our culture, and ultimately in our economy.

Well Mr. Lanier, it seems as if Google did just that.  It created something and released it to the public for a ‘collective action’ to implement and improve upon the original test design.  If Lanier is correct in his assertion, than Living Stories would turn out to be a mistake in the long run.  However, I don’t think that this will be the case.  I believe that it will only be a matter of time before online news slowly transforms into this type of interface.  Only time will tell.  But for now, I’ll have to find out where the public is taking this “creative monster”.  Stay tuned for more “living updates”…

Google just won’t go away! Check out “Living Stories”

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Google buddying’ up with the New York Times and the Washington Post has been quite the experiment.  I wonder if this will have a huge impact on the way people will read online news as this program aggregates and integrates news information into one thread while keeping you up-to-date on what’s developing with the story.  Now it’s open source so let the games begin ;)

Help Wanted: Travelogue 3

Here are some topics that interest me, but I need some help deciding which would be the most interesting to research and report about:

  1. NBC’s Olympic Twitter Tracker allows Twitter users to keep up with the immense overload and traffic of information that appear on Twitter about the Olympics.  NBC and Stamen Design have teamed up to provide a solution to this dilemma by creating a visual Twitter Log enabling people to sort through picturesque tweets.  This seems like it could take twitter into an amazing new direction of user navigation.  YouTube Preview Image
  2. Google’s Living Stories experiment was considered a success.  It has recently become open source, thus enlarging its availability  to news agencies across the world.  ”Complete coverage of an on-going story is gathered together and prioritized on one URL. You can now quickly navigate between news articles, opinion pieces and features without long waits for pages to load.” Or Google’s Fast Flip aimed at visually sorting various news articles according to different features such as most viewed, recommended, etc.  I would be interested in finding out about how people are reading their online news stories with the help of one of these programs.
  3. School Webcam Spying story of a student laptop being used by the school’s administration to spy on him.  The student’s parents are suing the school.  This story highlights the growing concern of privacy with computers and even the internet.  In this particular case, the school decided to hand out laptops to students.  However, there came with it a catch for using it.  What are we continuing to see with spyware and computer/internet privacy?  How does this individual case relate to and contribute to the general environment of internet security?

Open to suggestions… THANKS

Reminiscing about The Future of Online TV & Videos

How will we watch TV/Videos in the future?

These past several weeks I have ventured into the bright and luminescent world of online television and videos.

Surely names like Hulu, Youtube, Netflix, and now its newest opponent FloTV are worthy of mentioning.  I’ve done a little more researching than watching – and nevertheless, it’s been a little difficult, to say the least, as our class was deprived of using anything “Google” related as an experiment starting out this journey for Week One by our professor (Mushon).  So using YouTube was out of the question for the first week.

Therefore, I harnessed my energy and decided to research the phenomenon called “Hulu” and the environment of online media such as television and videos across alternative platforms on the computers or hand-held mobile devices…

Week Two consisted of further delving into the unfamiliar terrain of Hulu and one of its biggest, baddest competitors – YouTube (the shackles have been lifted-hooray!).  I decided to examine the online video landscape by comparing and contrasting Hulu & YouTube as two juxtaposing forces competing in a battle for the title of online media champion.  Some of the biggest proponents that fueled the debate/fight between the two contenders where as such:

Is it time to throw away that television?

  • YouTube is available internationally whereas Hulu is (as of now) restricted to the US.
  • Hulu offers a selection of high-quality videos of television videos and trailers from backing companies such as NBC, Comcast, and ABC whereas YouTube has a ‘gagillion’ lower quality videos ranging from self-produced to illegal uploads.
  • Similarly, paid advertisements are common in Hulu at the start of each video and can also be found embedded in YouTube videos.
  • They are both free.  However, Hulu is considering a premium payment plan that’s almost similar to the model used by the NYTimes online which could affect its users.  Youtube has always been free.

Right now, there’s also a lot to FURTHER consider like the NBC & Comcast merger that’s underway which would affect consumers in a negative way; streaming Hulu from your desktop through something like your BluRay Player, Boxee, or streaming Youtube through AppleTV creates an entire new way of watching TV through your computer ; YouTube’s future possibility with teaming up with CBS and Hollywood to offer longer streaming videos/movies; and even the big question of >> how does one prefer to watch TV/Videos/Movies: mobile device, phone, computer, or television???

Youtube KO's Hulu in 4th Round.  Will there be a rematch?

I’ve tried to say current with all the amazing sights I’ve seen along the way and even the newer attractions/considerations like FloTV and the iPad.  Yet, these are things that have steered my journey off course and have lead me to peer down the horizon of digital media in new directions.

So I would like to close with some food for thought about two things that could have, or better said, already have had vital impacts on this terrain of digital media (TV, videos, and movies).  Let’s consider them for a moment>>

FloTV really exploded on the scene utilizing the Superbowl as its stage to announce that it has arrived and that its going to make a splash in the online fight for television.  I mean, talk about a revolution, it’s not like portable television devices are something new but FloTV has really made a statement… or has it?    According to Wired,

But it’s a difficult sell. U.S. consumers so far have failed to jump on the mobile TV idea, even though it’s been around for years. Just about 1 percent of mobile users in the U.S. watch mobile TV.”

You can either buy the handheld device and/or subscribe through Verizon or AT&T to watch it through supported phones.  It’s been compared to as the “Kindle for Television”.  Taken from Wired, “We are not trying to make a choice for the consumer, we are trying to give them choices,” says Alice Kim, senior vice president of strategy & corporate development for FloTV. What this means, is that you can take watching television with you anywhere, anytime.  For more information, check out this link with product information and videos.  What’s interesting is that this seems to further personalize and customize the culture of community and social watching of the television into your own independent function, I mean, unless you want to sit there and share your $250 TV and paid subscription with a “freeloading friend”… But hey, that’s up to you and whoever’s paying the bill :)

Lastly, I will briefly mention the recent development of Apple’  iPad.  Right now, the iPad’s biggest criticism is that it doesn’t support Adobe’s Flash support.  This is pertinent because sites like Hulu and a large majority of internet video runs off of Flash.  It would be ideal if Hulu would run on something like the iPad.  More so, Hulu is in the process of developing an alternative version of HTML5 supported videos to circumvent the already Flash supported videos.  The combination of the iPad and Hulu could help Hulu to continue to flourish in the online video environment.

Online media and especially “how” people watch television and videos continue to change .  I believe that online media is becoming more personalized and customized to meet the individual needs and desires of the consumer.  What also fuels this environment is the economical choice and circumvention to view these media for free or for a price.  Things such as Tivo or DVR (Digital Video Recording) seem like a waste of cash when one can merely access these shows online anytime or anywhere with something like Hulu or Youtube.  As of now, sites like Hulu* and Youtube are free, whereas FloTV and Netflix require a paid subscription.  Furthermore, this choice of free viewing does not take into account the illegal ways to bypass copyright by downloading and viewing videos through a Bittorrent or other ways.  This calls into question the entire paradigm and the power of the Internet – its empowering public sphere that helps the individual to negotiate the hegemonic struggle against the corporations, their politics, their economics, and their stifling copyright laws that they wield in order to control the markets of production and consumption.  This dilemma calls into question the very nature of online media:

QUESTIONS:

-Are you willing to look for alternative measures and means to watching and consuming media e.g. , Hulu, AppleTV, Bittorrent, FloTV, etc?  How would you characterize the way in which you watch movies or TV?  Who do you think will dominate the battle for the online media market and how would you predict yourself adapting to the new ways of viewing media in the future?

How do you prefer to watch TV/Videos???

wHU’s winning or LU’sing in the Online Battle for TV & Movies???

In one corner we have the undisputed champion of online videos – YOUTUBE , weighing in at a stunning 12.2 billion – Videos viewed per month in the US (Nov. 2009) being backed by its famous trainer Google.  (crowd cheers)

In the other corner we have the fierce competitor – HULU weighing in at 924 million – Videos viewed per month in the US (November 2009) and also bearing the mark of its renowned trainers NBC, ABC, FOX, and Disney. (crowd cheers)

Don’t go anywhere, Don’t (x) out of your browser, Don’t change the channel >> Stay tuned for more…

In the meantime, enjoy being told what to buy, what to wear, and how to act by our paid advertisements and commercials that pay us so you cheap people can enjoy online television and videos for free.  But first, let’s have a moment to run down the list of characteristics that will influence the outcome of this fight:

- Right now NBC Universal and Comcast Corps. are working out a merger between the two companies.  Consequently, the foreseen outcome would be more negative for Hulu than positive.  Essentially, it could reduce access for viewers and competitors and even raise prices for consumers.  What’s possibly more disturbing is how they’re going about it.  I thought Harris was up to know good, but it seems that the Comcast CEO Brian Roberts’ nose is growing at a much faster rate than Harris’.  Apparently he was lying by omission to the Senator Al Franken as Comcast and NBC continue to discuss their merger with the FCC regulations and Congress.  So, how can we trust these companies with the future of media?

- In December, Hulu broke the billion video views mark.  This is significant because it has continued to become more successful since its inception in 2007. However, at this very moment, Hulu is also considering a premium payment plan to charge for watching certain shows or movies.  This could affect its viewers in some way or another.  Consider this though, Netflix has always charged for their videos and the NYTimes has begun to charge for its online paper which was free.  Will Hulu’s fans still love it if they decide to start charging a fee to watch? Watch this clip to hear Hulu’s CEO discuss possibility.

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- Hulu is also developed a desktop version with the help of another third party application called Boxee to allow a person to stream the video from their computer to their television.

- Times are changing and so is the way in which we watch television and movies.  Cable companies are going to have to start thinking of ways to keep their customers happy.  Not only that, but they need to reevaluate the current state of online media with such trends like Hulu and Youtube.  Marguerite Reardon in her article entitled, “Could Cable lose its grip on TV Business?” exclaims:

Experts warn that if cable operators aren’t careful, the subscriber slide could continue.  The biggest problem the cable companies face is that their customers don’t like them.   And if given enough incentive, they are willing to switch providers or cancel their TV subscriptions altogether.

- YouTube is looking into teaming up with Hollywood to offer full content streaming videos. This could be devastating to Hulu in addition to the Comcast merger and the premium pricing.  We’ll see.  Here are some noticeable differences:

  1. Hulu’s videos are better quality than YouTube.
  2. Until now, Hulu has had full-length content.
  3. YouTube allows users to post videos of themselves or practically anything
  4. YouTube has the largest audience for video related content

SO HU DO YOU THINK WILL COME OUT ON TOP – HULU OR YOUTUBE?

WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER TO USE TO WATCH VIDEOS OR TELEVISION?

Is Hulu An Evil Plot to Destroy the World?

Is Hulu out to destroy the world… or just cable networks, hollywood, and other online media as we know it?

(muhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha)

Watch the upcoming Superbowl advertisement and you will understand everything to which I speak of:

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Online videos have begun to revolutionize the way in which we watch television and other videos.  Without-a-doubt, Hulu is a huge contributor to this phenomenon.What distinguishes Hulu from other online streaming video sites?  How does it support itself financially if it is free (at this moment)? Will the Comcast/NBC merger affect it?  What has contributed to its growing success?  What is Hulu doing to change the way in which we watch TV or movies and what impact does this have for regular cable networks?   These are some starting points I hope to engage to find out if Hulu is an evil plot enacted by its owners really trying to take over the digital media world as we know it… TO BE CONTINUED

What do you think of the video? Was it funny, witty, genius, or stupid????

Standing at the Crossroads of New Media

Free Online/Offline Television, Movies, and Music Concerts with Hulu TV:

Hulu has changed the face of television and movies by offering streaming videos from a variety of major cable networks as well as flash videos for free.  It has recently released a beta-version which enables users to watch hulu on their desktop without being online.  Moreover, according to PC magazine in Dec. 2009, Hulu recently began to establish partnerships with record labels to host music videos and concert performances on the site, including EMI in November 2009.  Not only with mobile phones and perhaps even the recently released Ipad, but Hulu  is also looking to expand outside of the US and into the UK and Ireland in 2010.  Essentially, the certain cable networks and even Hollywood (DVD sales) are being threatened by this new form of new media.

  • I would like to investigate the impact it would continue to have on the television, movie, and music industries in greater detail.
  • Is this similar to the dilemma within the news industry competition between old and traditional journalism i.e. blogging vs. reporting?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of using Hulu vs. the televsion, dvds, etc?
  • Is Hulu a more integrated approach to viewing many different forms of media on a computer or Ipad?

Online music site to deliver new promotional music to DJs:

Serato’s online record pool called  ”whitelabel.net” has been a revolutionary outlet for quicker communication between record labels and DJs.  It has allowed DJs to circumvent the process of getting the promotional records through mail by allowing them, with the help of Rane’s ‘Serato Scratch Live’ technology, to download the songs to use with their Serato Itch, Video, or Scratch Live programs.  In turn, this allows the DJ to have faster access to new music and also be more efficient as a DJ :

Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music company, have commenced promotional music delivery to DJs using Whitelabel.net.  The Serato Whitelabel Delivery Network has successfully delivered 3 million tracks to over 40,000 DJs worldwide during over the past year. Working with UMG marks the first collaboration of its kind between a major recording company and a service specifically designed for DJs.  Using their Whitelabel.net service, we can reach the DJ directly and quickly with new music. Whitelabel.net is more efficient than sending vinyl records and more secure than delivering conventional audio files over the internet.

  • I would like to investigate further how this has impacted the DJ environment and more specifically the access to promotional music for anyone who has purchased this equipment?
  • How has not only whitelabel, but Rane’s technology of Serato influenced the DJ market since the birth of this new phenomenon?
  • Will DJing become relegated to DJing from computers, MIDI devices, and simply pushing buttons in the future?
  • Has this affected the overall experience with the club or party environment?

Cyber-spying China:

China has been garnering constant attention concerning its internet spying.  Privacy and even national security are vital matters regarding China utilizing the internet and even possibly Google to access top-secret/classified information.  Moreover, according to abcnews.net, “Google says at least 20 other large companies including finance, internet, media, technology, and chemical businesses were similarly attacked [by China].”  Additionally, there was even suspicion that US oil industries were hit by ‘cyberattacks‘ from China.  As China continues to strengthen its status as a world power contending with the US, this fear of ‘cyberwar’ could foreseeably mark a new era of digital spying and even a digital ‘Cold War’ of the 21st Century.

  • I would like to continue to investigate the significance and the scope of this type of dilemma with matters of privacy and international security.
  • How has the US responded to this threatening situation of international security and even national privacy?
  • What would happen if Google were to pull out of China?
  • What would this mean for US-China relations diplomatically apart from the economics?

Please help me to decide which one would be the most interesting to pursue.  Thank you.

Fear vs. Love

In The Trap by Adam Curtis, I noticed how people were acting out of - fear.

Things didn’t feel right.  There existed this eerie sense of ‘something wasn’t right’.  Check out –  The Roots – Don’t Feel Right.   Robert Nash suffered from schizophrenia which lead to his game theory equilibrium that ultimately served as a model for fighting the Cold War.  The US and the Soviet Union did not communicate with each other.  Thus, it engendered a large scale and extremely dangerous prisoner’s dilemma with nuclear arms race .  Paranoia and hysteria from the spread of communism set in.  People felt trapped.  People were scared. Isolation of each side bred this large scale stratagem.  How childish can we get?!?!  Come on, pick up the red phone and talk to the other side already.  Instead, the two countries just sat in their opposing corners plotting, spying, walking around a little, scheming, flexing their muscles to threaten the other side, and ultimately causing the other to fear nuclear annihilation.  Nevertheless, competition between countries at times can get very ugly.

Then R.D. Laing, James Buchanan, Margaret Thatcher, Isaiah Berlin, and others utilizing these theories of humans acting out of selfishness and strategizing in their best interest somehow impacts politics, economics, psychiatry, anthropology, etc. affirming this bleak and dismal perspective that we are ‘trapped‘.  Interestingly enough, when the game theory was tested on RAND’s secretaries, they did not betray each other as was expected.  Instead, the secretaries disproved the theory that humans act out of selfishness and fear of being betrayed by another all the time.  Now why couldn’t the US and the Soviet Union do the same thing???  Did the fact that the secretaries were women have anything to do with the results?  Was it a gender issue?  Take a look at Dilbert as he understands the dilemma that he faces…

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Since the Cold War was marked with fear, paranoia, hysteria, isolation, entrapment, etc.  I thought to myself, “What if the US didn’t act out of fear or selfishness?”  Why does the US need to always feel the need to win and assert itself as the dominant power?  Why does the US feel that democracy is better than communism?  Is it because we fear the control of the state?  Hmmmmmmm…. Interesting >  Obviously, the montage-littered and propaganda-like documentary  demonstrated how the US and even Britain pushed democracy and the ideals of freedom throughout the world to combat their fear of communism from overtaking the world.  However, even democracy and liberty came with a price tag.  This inherent theme throughout the video of fear and entrapment from the loss of freedom lead me to investigate the two polar opposites of fear and love.

Fear vs. love.

Do they sit at opposite ends of the spectrum taunting each other like two little kids at the playground or are they innate feelings and/or emotions deeply imbedded in us in which we act out of – either selfishly or unselfishly?

What is fear?  What is love?

>>  First I’d like to start off with a debate found in the movie Donny Darko (2001), where Donny (Jake Gyllenhall) is sitting in health class arguing that you can’t dilute the whole gamut of human emotions into acting out of love or fear. Or can we?  See for yourself:

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Why do we fear being controlled?  Why do we fear given up our freedom?  Why do we fear losing our free-will to choose?

In the case of the Cold War, the US feared annihilation from nuclear bombs.  The US feared communism and its entrapment. So, to combat this fear, the US tried to assert its ideologies of democracy and freedom at all cost.  The fear of losing the war motivated the US to succeed and be the best.  Thus, the Soviet Union and communism fell and the US and democracy succeeded.  But what triumphed?  And at what cost?  Why did we feel the need to push our Western democracy and idealogy of freedom on Iraq in 2003?  Was the US acting out of love for protecting its freedoms and ideals and/or was it also acting out of fear from losing that to others???

Here is Chazz Palminteri acting out a monologue from his play and adapted screenplay A Bronx Tale (1993). This brings us to another tangent of fear vs. love in the sense of Niccoló Machiavelli’s The Prince.

It is precisely this moralistic view of authority that Machiavelli criticizes at length in his best-known treatise, The Prince… Thus, in direct opposition to a moralistic theory of politics, Machiavelli says that the only real concern of the political ruler is the acquisition and maintenance of power For Machiavelli, power characteristically defines political activity, and hence it is necessary for any successful ruler to know how power is to be used. Only by means of the proper application of power, Machiavelli believes, can individuals be brought to obey and will the ruler be able to maintain the state in safety and security.  - Excerpt taken from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

So how do we reconcile love and fear?  Is it an issue of power then?  Why are we at the political level of the state or even at the smallest level of human relationships so concerned with power and authority?  I definitely believe that the Cold War and any war for that matter is obviously rooted in the struggle for power, authority, dominance, selfishness, and pride.  And yet, fear and betrayl became the driving force behind the “Cold” War.  It was cold, lonely, and scary.

And yet oddly enough, I feel that fear can also produce respect and reverence, but it can also produce ineffectiveness and pressure to perform.  This was evident in The Trap when Britain adopted a plan to measure everything out and create targets, quotas, and requirements that people had to meet.  What this ultimately resulted in was people ‘gaming the system’ to look good.  Fear can be a dangerous thing because it can cause us to act in a way that is selfish and dangerous.  I think that a balance of both fear and love is ultimately the best > For example, I will use the relationship between a father and son to illustrate my point.

The son should respect his father and fear him.  The fear should keep the son acting in a morally pleasing way.  The son should fear the consequences if he acts in a way that displeases the father.  On the other hand, the son should love his father because the father protects the son, teaches the son, gives to the son, and overall loves the son.  In this way love and fear are working hand-in-hand.  Too much of fear or love is no good.  For example, too much fear can hinder and stifle one from growing.  On the contrary, too much love can also be harmful.  A parent doesn’t always give their child everything that he or she wants all the time.  Sometimes, the parent acts by using discretion and forgoes giving the child what they want because its not beneficial to them.  In other words, love can limit the freedom of a person to act in a certain way for his or her own good. Besides, fear can also hinder one’s freedom to act in a certain way for his or her own good.  Either way, love or fear has the power to limit the person’s liberty to choose or act.  In the end, acting in love and in an unselfish way would be the best option in my opinion.   However, when you choose to love you will ultimately enable the possibility to restrict your freedom and forgo your power.

So I will leave you with the Machiavellian question >  Is is better to be feared or loved?