My Disappointment for the Day: News, Steve Jobs, and Plato

Yesterday started out nicely enough. On deck yesterday in my course on Christianity and Media: Plato’s discussions of the arts in The Republic (books 2, 3 and 10) and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The grandfather of criticism and the great articulation of freedom of expression. The goal of the class was to start exploring different approaches to interpretation of art and media. What does media do and how do we know that it has succeeded? Does good art portray reality accurately, express the emotions of the artist, or teach lessons? Is the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech and press an unlimited right, or are there times when the right may be legitimately curtailed? My students were great, offering some profound insights and unpacking the complexity of the question.

Steve Jobs and the News

All of that was floating around in my mind as I returned to my office to read the tech news. Of note was a Reuters report about the “civil lawsuit brought by five tech workers against Apple Inc, Google Inc, Intel Corp and others, alleging an illegal conspiracy to eliminate competition for each other’s employees and drive down wages.” The companies seem to have agreed not to poach each other’s employees, which seems to be a common practice, but also seems to be illegal. I say “seems” because I’m not a lawyer and am not really able to say for sure. Morally questionable, in any case. But that’s just context, not the point.

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For Amusement Only? Growing up with Technology

Over the Christmas holiday, my son and I were talking about video game arcades. I spent so much time in them during junior high. That and at the roller rink, where I first played Pong, Missile Command, and Space Invaders. Good times, mostly with my brother. My son hasn’t been to one and really wants to go.

Last week Laura June at the Verge published a great piece on the rise and fall of the video arcade. It is a long and richly detailed piece that is worth every minute you’ll spend with it. It is full of excellent social history, but these bits really struck me:

Like shopping malls and roller skating rinks, they were safe, isolated areas where kids and teenagers could hang out, and, with a reasonable amount of money, spend hours without their parents. Bill Disney, a pinball enthusiast and owner of The Pinball Gallery in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, says of his younger years that “most parents, they basically didn’t know what their kids were doing any time of the day. They were on their bikes, out the whole day,” and “they didn’t care where they were.” This laid-back attitude varied by family, as well as by geography, but the relative autonomy of older children in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and early 1980s, was much greater than it would be moving into the ‘90s. Films of the early ‘80s such as E.T. and The Wizard show typical, American kids, left to their own devices, playing video games and capturing aliens with their friends while their parents are at work…

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Tech Press Flubs the Ed-tech Story (Again): Minnesota and Coursera Edition

This past week saw some fireworks over changes in the language of the Coursera license agreement. Seems that they were contacted by the state of Minnesota about registration of degree-granting institutions and decided to change their terms of service. Ok.

Here’s my paraphrase of the story that the tech press told: Minnesota won’t let its citizens take online classes. Obviously, Minnesota is a fascist state that wants to control every aspect of people’s lives, including how and when they think. How dare a state stifle innovation!? This sort of stuff was the core of quite a few stories that felt, to me, reactionary, off the cuff, melodramatic, and snarky. Ars Technica seems to have been the first organization to research the situation. The title of their story says it all: No, Minnesota did not kick Coursera out of the state. (Check out the transcript of the letter to Coursera from George R. Roedler, Jr., Manager of Institutional Registration & Licensing in the churnalisticly titled story “Is Minnesota cracking down on MOOCs?” )

So, what gives?

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A Modest Proposal for Fanboys

Omar Gallaga at CNN dreams the impossible dream for Apple vs. Samsung: A Peace Treaty.

WHEREAS, the respective Parties, the Apple Fanboys also known as “Apple Fanbois,” “Fanb0yz,” “iPhoners” or simply “The Mac Faithful,” among many other names and the Samsung Fanboys also known as “Apple H4terz,” “Galaxians” or “Androiders” seek a lasting peace, both online and off, and…

WHEREAS, online forums, queues for new products and technology blogs have become polluted with smack talk, useless feature comparisons and Photoshopped ads meant to deride and belittle each others device preference, and… Apple vs. Samsung: Tale of two countries The Number: Samsung the new Apple?

WHEREAS both sets of Parties recognize that a competitive market is both critical and necessary for continued technological innovation to benefit all, especially early adopters…NOW, THEREFORE, the Parties agree to abide by the agreements herein, enumerated in the terms of the articles set forth below:…

Pretty humorous—which is really the only way to react to the absurd behavior out there.

via Shawn King at The Loop.

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