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Comment We can already start building this now... (Score 4, Interesting) 380

This is basically a model of public intellectualism, and popular education. It has three components: 1. Creating a culture of learning which is not dependent on structure, but which is interwoven into life's fabric. 2. Pushing access to information to everyone, with no prejudices about who it will benefit best or who should be prioritized. 3. Encouraging a culture of healthy debate, humility, and a collective struggle for answers, instead of an individual struggle for superiority.

We're already seeing this on some level: Wikipedia, Kahn Academy, Amateur Astronomy, Open Courseware, etc. But I think it's not enough to just keep doing what we're doing, I would advocate that we need to go further. There is no reason that, for instance, a university doing research, no matter how obscure, should not be pressured to put their work online in an accessible fashion. Videos of conferences and presentations, notes, theses, etc. Beyond that, we need to actively break down prejudices about who benefits from this information. We cannot claim to know how people will use information, and determining the importance of their access based on condition, geography, poverty, gender, etc. should not be tolerated. Someone who does studies alternative energies should not dismiss the notion that a teenager living in Nigeria might not want to pour over everything they know, either in order to use that knowledge to create a DIY solar or wind generator, or to create something they hadn't even considered. We cannot keep an international presentation on evolutionary biology within a circle of privileged academics, just because we hold to the myth that if you aren't in a university, you aren't interested in being an intellectual.

And once we have that, or maybe concurrently, we need public spaces, free of charge and open to anyone, that people get together to talk about what they've learned, and to learn more. Like a library where talking is encouraged, or a pub without beer.

This is something I feel very strongly about, that the delineation between the academic and the non-academic, the intellectual and the non-intellectual, must be broken down and done away with. Here, then, is an RSA animate which talks about the structure of the current education system, and touches on the stratification within it.


Comment Because filters have always worked before. (Score 1) 184

Whew! There is *no* way kids will find a way around this. Problem: SOLVED! /s

I've said it before, but you can't always solve social problems with technological solutions, and here's a perfect example of that. Teenagers need to be informed about the permanence of the internet, the value of trust, and what the consequences of actions are. Beyond that, society needs to be more forgiving when kids screw up (which they can't help but do) and not brand them for life because of early mishaps.

Those are social solutions, setting up technological barriers without addressing the social problems and solutions, you're just making kids better at finding workarounds.

Comment Re:My impression of the Final Fantasy series (Score 1) 401

As I said earlier, I replay games constantly. I have a PS3 I use almost exclusively for PS1 games, and I put my emulators through 10x as much use as my Wii. Final Fantasy 6 stands the test of time, it is an extraordinary game, and that's why even generations who didn't grow up on it, discover it, and list it on their top ten list. Even Final Fantasy 7 is infinitely more profound the second time through than anything that came after it (even just the basic plot concept of being an eco-terrorist group, with sympathetic goals combined with abhorrent methods), so I'm not just looking at the past through rose-colored glasses.

Just recently, I played the demo of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. I really wanted to like, I was all ready to go to amazon.com and buy a copy, but the demo was so lackluster, and was missing so much that made Castlevania great, that instead I just paid $10 for Castlevania:Symphony of the Night, which was totally worth it, and is 100% as fun as I remember it.

I've replayed games like "A boy and his blob" or "Dragon Warrior", and recognized how things can be more fun when you're a kid, but some games really are classics for a reason.

Comment My impression of the Final Fantasy series (Score 5, Insightful) 401

What happened to Final Fantasy? I grew up with it, the original Final Fantasy was my first RPG, and then Final Fantasy 2, and then, what I believe to be the greatest RPG of all time, Final Fantasy 3/6 came out. Final Fantasy VII was great, and breathtaking, but since then, it's been downhill. Nine was a quick breath of fresh air, but VIII is the only Final Fantasy I've never played past the first hour. Ten was super linear (geez, *another* cutscene?), and X-2 was a joke (please stop making intrepid adventurers act like tween girls, it's insulting to everyone except tween girls). XII seemed to be on the right track, but that's because they used an established world and mythos from the Tactics series, and the biggest problem was it's abrupt ending and auto-gameplay, but at least there were some compelling characters and power struggles, although it fell short in that area. And then XIII I haven't played yet, because I took one look at the map, and lost all interest (hint, it's a straight line), and nothing I read said that the story made up for that lack of exploration.

It seems to me that the problem, more than anything, is the failure to dream up a really compelling setting, characters, and plot, and then let the player loose in it. Earlier games had those, but it seems that lately all that they're interested in is new systems of combat and leveling up. There are no villains like Kefka, no tragedies like Rosa's attempted suicide, no big reveals like Cloud's backstory, no tortured protagonists like Cecil.

In a lot of ways, it's as if they've substituted "cool" for "good". They want a cool story, a cool main character, a cool setting, not good ones, not well developed ones. The potential for storytelling in videogames, from a technological standpoint, it's all there. There's nothing really holding anyone back, but instead, we get flashy graphics and a new battle system, instead of characters we care about. When I was 14 years old, watching Rosa throw herself off a cliff, or Terra almost decide against saving the world, or even the NPC orphan teenage couple obliquely considering an abortion because Kefka had turned the world into a wasteland, that was good storytelling, and I expected it to only get better as technology improved, and it really didn't, at least not for the Final Fantasy series.

It's a shame, and maybe this is harsh, but I consider the Final Fantasy series to be like M. Night Shyamalan movies. Sure, "Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable" were epic, and "Signs" was pretty decent, but at some point you have to give up on things and count yourself as no longer a fan, but a harsh critic.

Comment Take it a step further... (Score 5, Interesting) 591

Combine this with social networking to allow/deny access to your files and I think you've got a game changer. Files which require no server, and which are unknown/unavailable to anyone who doesn't need to know about them. I could share my mp3 collection or movie collection with only my friends list, which would be much more along the lines of fair use (like tape trading).

Comment Legend Of The Red Dragon (Score 1) 186

I ran a BBS in the Chicago area in the 90's called "Throwing Copper", and Legend Of The Red Dragon was my addiction. Sometimes I think I set up that BBS just so I could play it without dialing in. This brings me back, The Whammy Bar, Disallusioned Society, and a bunch that are on the tip of my tongue.

Someone should make a gritty reboot of LORD. I'd play it.

Comment Re:I am not a vegetarian, but we need to reduce (Score 1) 551

I've never had a problem with meat being murder. That's basically by design, and it's something I have no moral issue with. My moral issue is with how the animal lives, and the nature of it's slaughter. If the animal is basically tortured it's whole life, that's immoral. If it lives a relatively serene and uncomplicated life, and is quickly killed, I don't have an issue with that.

Of course, it's all moot, because at some point, we'll have vat grown meat, and we won't have to raise any full animals to begin with anymore.

Comment Re:I am not a vegetarian, but we need to reduce (Score 1) 551

I can't believe I'm responding to such a poorly constructed troll, but by "high quality", I'm talking about the way it's produced, not the part of the animal. There's plenty of things you can do with the rest of the animal (tripe, soups, stews, etc), and still have the source be high quality instead of factory farmed. I'm not talking about eating fillet mignon every night.

As for your dream cuisine, here you go, buddy:


Comment I am not a vegetarian, but we need to reduce (Score 5, Interesting) 551

I am not a vegetarian, but we need to reduce our meat consumption. I'll never be a vegetarian, I'm too fond of my Sicilian-American culinary traditions, but two things need to happen: First, we need to reduce the amount of meat we consume, and we need to consume better meat when we do. This diet that America has of eating a big bucket of meat and cheese from Denny's is just ridiculous, and it's killing us on multiple fronts.

I try to follow a basic plan: Vegan (or Vegetarian) before 6pm. I try and make sure the meat I do eat for dinner is high quality. I pay a little extra for it, but the savings throughout the day balance out. There are other types of diets that would be great for reducing meat consumption without any of us thinking we're suddenly living off of soy and wheat germ. Eating smaller portions of meat, but still using it for flavoring, for instance. Even just getting the idea in our heads that we shouldn't eat meat for every single meal.

Factory farming has got to go, it's horrible on so many fronts. I'm not a foodie, and I don't have vegan super powers, and I recognize that people are on a budget, and can't shop for organic at whole foods (hell, I can't afford to, and I have a decent job). But we have to figure some kind of practical way forward, because we can't keep packing animals in to dark crates, standing in their own filth and pumping them full of drugs and then call that dinner.

Comment Without open alternatives, this will continue... (Score 2, Interesting) 119

I haven't checked recently, but what's the status of voip over jabber? We've seeing a lot of collusion and conglomeration between monolithic "walled garden" services, and I think we'll see more of it. The open source community has alternatives, but I'm starting to think we're going to have to step up our game to fight the momentum that the closed systems have.

I think it's positive that Diaspora was able to raise $200k through crowd-sourcing, and I don't agree with people who say it was a waste of money, if only because it showed it was possible. But the reality is that $200k is pennies in comparison to the funds that Facebook, Skype, and others have. And I think it's fair to say that for every talented, idealistic open source programmer willing to work on the side to open the up communication channels, whether it's the web or voip or anything else, there's dozens of talented developers willing to take large salaries to work on proprietary, walled software.

We seem to have solved a lot of the questions that open source brought up when it was first popularized by Linux (management, how to make a profit, etc), but we still have some big questions to ask in terms of how to fund these projects while maintaining independence, and how to compete with well-funded corporations that have an invested interest in keeping things proprietary and walled off. Not just on features, but on user interface and experience, stability, scalability, and other software design concerns.

I don't know if I have any answers, but I'd sure love to hear suggestions. Call it the next big challenge for open source, but we increasingly need to be able to make user-facing software that appeals to the least savvy of users, we need to make it open and flexible, and we need to make it compete with the cycle of new features that come out of proprietary software with massive bank accounts.

Appleseed - Open Source, Distributed Social Networking

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