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      CommentAuthorDoc Ocassi
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010 edited
    "With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said.

    I can't see the similarity between Ithings and consoles, they are made for two distinct purposes and have about as much in common as radios and cockpits, so firstly why talk about what you don't know! Isn't he also mixing up information and entertainment. If he wants to have a go at news-entertainment go for the media magnates, that would be foolhardy.

    I don't think and of these tools have ever pushed themselves as a means of empowerment, they are consumer devices and were never meant to empower, what is the point of empowerment in modern consumer goods, it is beneficial for them to keep you weak and needy. This begs the question of emancipation from what, itself?
    (edit: well maybe Ithings have, but no-one should really buy that shit.)

    Why doesn't he have a go at consumer goods in general, it could be beneficial to the US if they stop buying these disposable electronic devices made abroad. Could this be a forbearer of a new puritanism. Time to tighten your belts America, and you will do it for your own mental health.
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010
    @Doc Ocassi:

    Well, since two of the three manufacturers of those products are American companies, upon whom whole industries subsist, I think calling it's unlikely to see anything more than a rather flourish-y chiding come down.


    Sorry, I disagree. It's the same old rut of seeing (insert technology here) as the problem and not part of the solution. Or at very least, understanding how that technology can be part of the solution.

    On a more fundamental level, President Super-Nanny chiding parents is a whole 'nother level of irritation.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010
    I can see what Obama's saying but you can't equate gaming with the information overload thing.

    It's all just about doing things in moderation, and not getting carried away. When people start believing that their blogger of choice knows all they're lost.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010
    There's a list of things that gets passed out to professors every year, to remind them of the mind-set that their freshman students have. They've never heard of the Cold War, since it was over when they were in the crib. The Simpsons has always been on television. Similarly, the Internet has probably always been a presence in their lives. I remember when my nephews were young, I showed them a record album and they had no idea what it was. "It's like a cd only different" I told them.

    Young people relate differently to technology than "older" people. I think Obama's encouraging moderation is a very good thing. Wikipedia can be wrong, you know. (I know people who teach who HATE to see Wikipedia citations used as "research." That's like learning about sex on a streetcorner. It MIGHT be correct, it might be colored by biases you don't know about, it might be a pack of lies.)
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010 edited
    On a more fundamental level, President Super-Nanny chiding parents is a whole 'nother level of irritation.
    Irresponsible, ineffective parents do, in fact, need chiding. There's obviously no one else telling these people that the reason their children are little shits is because they're not getting help with their homework and have no boundaries in their lives.

    FOR EXAMPLE: The family across the street from me very obviously is unemployed. They start drinking at 11am on weekdays, and continue to do so throughout the entire day and most of the night. This, on its own, isn't necessarily something I have a problem with. But they also have what appears to be between four and six children all of preschool through elementary school age. They're allowed to run through the alleyway (which no one drives any less than 30mph down), out into the street, and so on. It's only a matter of time until one of them gets hit by a car or someone (probably me) has to call the police for child negligence. And these are (mostly) kids that aren't even to the point of having "real" schoolwork. The entire social circle of this family--at least the part that I've seen, which is easily enough people to qualify as "entire"--allows this to continue.

    Who is telling these parents that they're endangering their kids? Who is stepping out there to say "You're doing it wrong"? (I would except they're bigger than me and I've seen physical violence erupt over there more than once.)

    The sad part is that the people this message is intended for will never hear it because of the exact thing the president is speaking against: willful ignorance and distraction from fact and/or the things that actually make a difference in the bigger picture. They're never going to hear even the base message because they don't watch the news (even with the Fox News spin, you're going to get a soundbite or two before the flapping heads start yelling about how much of a douche the guy is.) They don't read the papers, or use the internet for news purposes. No, I'd say the president was spot-on. It's just that no one that needs to hear it, will.

    And yes, the naming of specific items is for rhetorical purposes. People usually identify with specifics more than generalized concepts. Saying "Ya gotta put all this stuff that's distracting you aside and focus on things that matter" is a good concept, but without putting a name on "this stuff" most people just nod their head and go "Yup, that's a good idea" and then go right back to whatever they're doing.

    @mister hex - The Facebook research thing is an interesting point. The problem with Wikipedia is that the standards for some things are much more strict than others. There's probably much tighter control on, say, the biographical details of George Washington than on the process of rubber vulcanization. The very concept of Wikipedia--that anyone can edit it--does as much to hurt it as help it. I can understand an aversion to using it, but to vehemently disallow its use is silly. (Besides, if the Wiki is any good, you can just click on the source link and get the original source. The professors that disallow any website, though... those are the ones that have obviously lost touch with information technology. You can usually spot them by their inability to use an overhead projector.)
  1.  (8201.26)
    In the far east gaming simply doesn't carry the stigma that it still seems to have in the US, it's seen as just being part of the wider entertainment spectrum rather than some evil ghetto where only the nerds and social outcasts hang.

    Who told you that?

    Like back home, a lot of people have a gaming system or two. Mostly as a toy for children, but there's no shame is owning a Wii. Hardcore gamers are seen as otaku dweebs here as much as they are back home. I guess that's the downside of using your toys as a personal identifier.
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010
    @William George:

    I don't think there's any need to be crass, nor do I think anyone here has claimed that these "toys" are a personal identifier.

    I have a hard time reading your posts when you very quickly start whipping around insults and generalizations.
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010
    MG - You've been here less than a month, so I'm going to chalk it up to being new, but to make the critique you did against William George while simultaneously offering the post I responded to isn't what I'd call a good start.

    Furthermore, his point is still valid. Any time somebody identifies himself with something, and then that something gets attacked, that somebody is going to feel attacked as well. Insert "toys" with "music" or "film" or "comics" and watch people flip out when the thing they care about gets attacked.

    Honestly, so far the only critique I have is that throwing video game systems into the mix seems to have been a bad move from a writing perspective. People are getting all up in arms about the video game thing, and--rather ironically--getting distracted away from the actual message.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010

    Any time somebody identifies himself with something, and then that something gets attacked, that somebody is going to feel attacked as well. Insert "toys" with "music" or "film" or "comics" and watch people flip out when the thing they care about gets attacked.

    Friend of mine has a black shirt on it that simply says "Your favorite band sucks" and you wouldn't (or maybe you would) believe the number of people who have justified why X group are actually musical geniuses that don't suck.

    People are getting all up in arms about the video game thing, and--rather ironically--getting distracted away from the actual message.

    Indeed. Too many people are going off about how the President supposedly slandered the good name of entertainment electronics and ignoring the fact he was calling on people to have more than simply distractions in their lives.
  2.  (8201.30)
    I don't think there's any need to be crass

    Trust me, if I were whipping around insults and being crass, you'd be wiping the soot from your flamed-off eyebrows right now.
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010 edited

    I meant no offense. If anything, I felt a bit baited by some of William's posts. I'm not trying to start any sort of row, fighting on the internet about the internet is double-plus stupid. My apologies for any offense.
  3.  (8201.32)
    Look man, let me be clear:

    I'm not insulting you. Obama is not insulting you. You took opinions about amazing technology being wasted on seeing how well Kratos can slaughter people that you didn't like and acted as if they were personal insults.

    Step back from the subject and think about it.
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2010
    @William George:

    To be clear, I don't take what Obama said or what you wrote as personal insults. I think he was being, and has been, overly general on the subject. Something I think doesn't suit him honestly.

    I didn't see a way to reply to your posts without getting snarky or going tit for tat. That's not something that works here and not worth our time. If that's not how you meant it, I'm sorry for my mistake.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010
    I do think it's a little weird that if you choose to identify yourself with a band or a comic most people are fine with that, but if you're a gamer you're somehow a lesser person.

    I guess we bring it on ourselves to a certain extent, heh.
    • CommentAuthorsteve.B
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010
    Sounded like a pretty level headed comment to me. He wasn't even attacking video games, he was talking about the information age in general and just saying "be careful, because not all of this information is reliable." The only reason this is even news is because the traditional media always jumps at any opportunity to slam the new media. So naturally any audio of the president knocking the internet will be a top story. They love this shit.
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010 edited
    but if you're a gamer you're somehow a lesser person

    This is probably one of those things someone who doesn't game much just doesn't see - but I don't see the stigma. The number of people who game on a semi-regular basis seems to be approaching 100% of the population. I don't know anyone who looks askance at anyone for playing games. I do know people who don't get the notion of actually identifying oneself as a gamer, but that's not usually a "look down on them" thing as much as it is a "don't get it" thing. That's common for any outsiders to any self-defined subculture, though. I was big on D&D back in the day, and very few people I knew understood that. I wouldn't interpret their bafflement at why anyone would enjoy that activity as a judgement.

    If you think comics don't engender the same kinds of reactions that games do, you probably aren't as closely invested in comics. Comics are BY FAR much less culturally cool than games. Even still, comics aren't seen as the juvenile waste of time that they once were, though many people would be far less embarrassed to be seen in public playing Rock Band than reading Spiderman, for example.

    Identifying with bands isn't in the same category as music has always been for the cool kids.

    I do get that games have been a popular public scapegoat for a long time, but I think you kind of have to take a look at the way the field has changed - everyone games. Just about everyone from every age group. The idea that games are delivered on electronic devices is no longer an especially noteworthy differentiator. Everyone with a smartphone has some kind of game on it. People play social games on their phones and on Facebook - people of all ages and all professions. Families have wii consoles and karaoke machines in their homes, in addition to the more teen-aggressive xbox/playstations. Grandmothers have Nintendo DSes. The lines between electronic games and boardgames and traditional puzzles like crosswords and sudoku have completely disappeared. Gaming just isn't a ghetto anymore. It's a core, integrated feature of culture.

    The only thing that is odd about gamers anymore is the desire to identify as a gamer, rather than as a person who just sometimes plays games. It's kind of like declaring yourself a cineaste, instead of just seeing a bunch of movies. I totally get what there is to be gained in the self-identification, the interesting and creative culture that grows around the shared identity, but most people just see movies or play games, and don't get the culture. They don't look down on it, they just don't get it. Eventually you learn how to code switch depending on the company, and it's all cool. ("Don't talk about orcs around girls" I can recall advising a friend in Junior High School.)


    I guess what I'm saying is, don't look for offense - it most often isn't intended.
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010

    I think it goes beyond simply identifying yourself as a gamer. I don't personally, but I work with kids and video games are a huge part of that. Social games like DDR, Guitar Hero, Singstar as well as MMOs and Wii games are part and parcel of the youth outreach that's part of my job. I see the positive impact it has on drawing kids out and creating friendships. Game nights and events we've done have drawn kids from all over our community.

    The sensitivity to me is not acknowledging just how much games HAVE permeated the culture and how gaming (and the tech platforms they come on) can be huge boons.

    Anecdotal evidence here. I brought a Wii fit to a community center in one of the most blighted areas of Chicago (Austin) and we set up an recurring game night for kids and their parents. First night we had 10 people. Second, we had 50. We ended up bringing in a second console and tv in subsequent visits. Parents and grandparents came up to me and my fellow volunteers, some of them near tears, thanking us. They said how their kids were in a safe place, having fun and being social. Something that, in that area, was rare as rubies in the street. I felt like a heel since having a game console in my home was something I never even thought of as a luxury, but for those kids it was a gigantic benefit.

    I think I'd just like to hear more positive talk on this topic in general. Perhaps my patience for platitudes is a little thin.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010
    Gaming can be fun.

    It can also fuck you up badly, if you don't remember you need to stop to bathe or eat or get some fresh air every now and then.
  4.  (8201.39)
    Far more interesting to me than worrying about whether Obama is a gam3z h4t0r is how the speech ties into his interest in "cognitive infiltration" of conspiracy/dissident websites:
    In a 2008 academic paper, President Barack Obama's appointee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs advocated "cognitive infiltration" of groups that advocate "conspiracy theories" like the ones surrounding 9/11.

    Cass Sunstein, a Harvard law professor, co-wrote an academic article entitled "Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures," in which he argued that the government should stealthily infiltrate groups that pose alternative theories on historical events via "chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine" those groups.

    As head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Sunstein is in charge of "overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs," according to the White House Web site.

    Sunstein's article, published in the Journal of Political Philosphy in 2008 and recently uncovered by blogger Marc Estrin, states that "our primary claim is that conspiracy theories typically stem not from irrationality or mental illness of any kind but from a 'crippled epistemology,' in the form of a sharply limited number of (relevant) informational sources."

    By "crippled epistemology" Sunstein means that people who believe in conspiracy theories have a limited number of sources of information that they trust. Therefore, Sunstein argued in the article, it would not work to simply refute the conspiracy theories in public -- the very sources that conspiracy theorists believe would have to be infiltrated.

    When a leader tells you how to define truth - worry.
    • CommentAuthorkperkins
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010
    If all you got out of that speech was that video games suck/are the devil, then the blinders need to come off. He picked those 4 devices because they are all literally entertainment devices. That's what they have in common. Did you buy an iPod (or Zune, or whatever) to listen to TED talks? No you bought it to put a few thousand songs on it to listen to--that's what 99.9% of people do. That iPad. There are some great apps to do ___, "ah, f-- it, let's download a shitload of comics". And no one buys an Xbox or Playstation to get educated. And I've heard, and seen the "communication" going on on Xbox live. It's called trash talking most places. All of these devices feed you shit, if you let them, as most people do.
    The speech is a warning: and who better to warn than the people who are growing up with devices that are feeding them entertainment. He's trying to inspire them to become something other than passive consumers of entertainment, and news as entertainment. Also, while I disagree with many of Obama's policies, and agree with the comment about the "nanny state", I see no problem with the POTUS using his status to try to inspire young people to become makers instead of consumers, because Squid knows we need more makers.