We Need To Gamify Common Sense?

From the “wow . . . just, wow” files:

An Ohio woman has confiscated the Xbox of her 15-year-old son who was hospitalized for dehydration after spending at least four days in his bedroom playing the Modern Warfare 3 video game, WCMH TV reports.

Jesse Rawlins tells the NBC affiliate in Columbus that her son, Tyler Rigsby, emerged from his bedroom Tuesday morning after a marathon round of game-playing, and collapsed three times. She says he became very pale and his lips turned blue.

Via Douglas Stanglin at USA Today.

I am both a gamer and parent. I get that when you are gaming, you can lose perspective on time. I also get that it can be a challenge to get your kids to back away from the console, especially as they get older.

But “hard choices” doesn’t seem to capture what happened here. And it certainly transcends the “parent’s responsibility” vs. “individual choices” debate. Central to parenthood–or friendship for that matter–is knowing what is going on in someone else’s life. Cental to a dignified life–much less the developed life–is caring for one’s own basic needs (to the extent that one is able to do so). This fails on both accounts.

Perhaps there are good reasons to explain what happened, but I can’t imagine what they would be.

Man, I hope Snopes figures out this is an urban legend.

Sounds and Selfhood

It is perhaps an understatement to say that music is important to a lot of people. Some of the best times of my life were spent playing, and some of the best conversations I have with students are about bands that they love. Like other art forms, music provides a way for artists to express themselves and listeners to experience another world, the world of the artist.  But it has an immediacy and power that can make even the most formal music feel intimate—and make a live rock show into a raw emotional experience for performer and audience alike.  It’s no wonder that some of the longest running battles in the digital world are about downloading music.

Even outside the live experience, music shapes our emotional lives. In their 1981 book The Meaning of Things, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Eugene Rochberg-Halton talked about the way in which recorded music is used modulate our emotions.  Sometimes, we do it to ourselves, as when we put on upbeat music before we go out in the evening.  Other times, other people try to get us in the mood, for instance in restaurants and shopping malls. But, for the most part, I think of these as innocuous—if at times tacky—uses.


Storytelling, #nbcfail, and the upstanding guy Jeff Jarvis

My wife and I just watched NBC’s evening coverage of the US Women’s gymnastic team winning the team gold medal and Michael Phelps win his 19th Olympic medal.  Lots of commercials, but compelling tv.  I’ve been enjoying watching the evening coverage so far. Yes, even though it wasn’t live.

That’s why, aside from the issues with the coverage of the opening ceremonies, I’ve had a hard time getting on board with the #nbcfail movement. Jeff Jarvis articulated what he saw as the root of the problem for NBC in a post on Sunday.

The problem for NBC as for other media is that it is trying to preserve old business models in a new reality.…The bottom-line lesson for all media is that business models built on imprisonment, on making us do what you want us to do because you give us no choice, is no strategy for the future. And there’s only so long you can hold off the future.

The problem is that people are tuning into NBC’s coverage.  Lots of them.  Indeed, record numbers of them.  Maybe there’s a future in good, old-fashioned tv channels after all. Perhaps the rumours of its death have been greatly exaggerated.


Netflix, Closed-Captioning, and the Difficulty of Means

A couple of weeks ago, Chris Morran at The Consumerist reported on an unexpected, but reasonable, legal decision against Netflix.

Netflix recently asked a court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the National Association for the Deaf that alleges the company violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by not including closed-captioning on many of its streaming videos. But earlier this week, the judge in the case ruled against Netflix, allowing the suit to move forward.

Since the early 1990s, televisions have been required to be able to display closed captions in programming.  It wasn’t until the mid 2000s that programs were required to carry the captioning. Clearly, allowing the suit to proceed makes sense. Netflix argued (in Thomas’ terms) “that the ADA doesn’t apply to Internet-only businesses or to services that people use at home rather than in public places.” The judge called that “irrational.”

The tricky bit here, as June Thomas at Slate summarizes well, is the technical side of things.


Eyeglasses as Indispensible Mobile Technology

How do you define “technology”?  Often, our definitions are bound up with the notion of change.  Technologies change our lives.  That’s true, but it can lead us to focus a bit too closely on the “our” part of life.  What makes mobile phones tech, while we rarely think about wired phones as technology? Probably that wired phones haven’t changed in a long time.

Having returned from my various trips, I picked up a new pair of glasses this week.  Actually, they were a second try at a new pair. We seem to be having a hard time finding the right prescription.  It’s happened to me before, and when happens, it reminds me of how important even the most basic technologies can be.  Without glasses, I can only see things in focus if they are about six inches in front of my face.  Everything else is horribly blurry. Its the kind of thing that would really limit my ability to accomplish a lot of even basic tasks were I to be without them for very long.


“Leave a Beautiful Hologram” Alone

I’ve been away for a few days at a conference, so haven’t written muhc. This bit by Nicholas Carr at Rough Type (Live fast, die young and leave a beautiful hologram) disturbed me enough to get me back to the keyboard. Sounds like the estate of quite a few deceased entertainers are arranging to have their loved ones appear in front of new crowds using digital hologram technology.


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