Friday, October 21, 2011
In my second entry on Superbetter, I discussed my confusion about the usefulness of a couple of aspects of the game - achievements and resilience score. After using the game for a few weeks, I wanted to post a short update about my feelings on the utility of these two aspects of the game.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Moammar Gadhafi is dead, and there are pictures to prove it. Gruesome video and photographs of the Libyan dictator’s body being dragged through the streets have emerged and spread like wildfire online and on cable news.
As you’ll recall, in the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden there was heated conversation in this country and elsewhere about whether the photographs of his body should be made public. This show covered that topic on May 6th with Paul Waldman of The American Prospect and Phillip Gourevitch of The New Yorker. Full audio is above, it's worth another listen, and here's the transcript.
Waldman supported the release of the Bin Laden photograph:
While Gourevitch opposed it:
To be clear, the circumstances around the Gadhafi death and photos are quite different. We don't know if Gadhafi was captured before he was killed (some of the videos floating around suggest he was). The White House is not controlling the distribution of these pictures. And this is, ultimately, Libya's moment, not ours. That said, the contrast gives us a chance to reflect on how we felt about the bin Laden photographs. Have you changed your opinion about whether these types of photographs should reach the light of day?
We've reached out to Waldman and Gourevitch for follow-up comments, but for now feel free to start posting your reactions.
UPDATE: Paul Waldman writes us:
This is a very different situation from the Bin Laden question. First, in that instance there were very few pictures of Bin Laden, and so an image of his end would be all the more important. Second, any photograph the U.S. government released would have been carefully composed to represent the American victory over him. In Gadhafi's case, the images are from cell phones -- they're much more spontaneous, chaotic, and violent. They don't display the considered decisions of a government, but the actions of a mob (no matter how justified). If the new Libyan government has difficulty making an orderly transition to a new system, these images could come to have symbolic meaning, representing something not about Gadhafi but about what replaced him, the chaos and violence of the transition. I suspect that in the end, that will determine how much persistence these images have. The more successful and stable the Libyan government is, the less important these violent images will be over the long term.
[[Warning: after the jump we've included a video that shows Gadhafi's bloody body.]]
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I'm now entering my third week using Superbetter, a game desgined to help people who have been injured or are trying to reach health goals, to deal with an traumatic injury I sustained in a bike accident. If you missed the previous articles and the story on the show about it, click here for our archive of Superbetter stories.
Since my last post, I've dispensed with all the setup and explanation, and I've recruited several of our listeners as allies in the game. Thanks to my allies, I'm starting to see the great potential of using this game to aid in my recovery.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I've now spent roughly a week using Superbetter after a traumatic injury I sustained in May, and I'm coming to understand the game mechanic a little better. In my last post I detailed the seven missions that I needed to complete in order to set up my "secret headquarters." In this entry, I'll share some details about how I've been using the game, as well as some information about my secret lab, and about the achievement and resilience scores.
Thursday, October 06, 2011
On the Media is currently looking for interns for our winter internship period, which runs from December through February. If you're interested, and you are a student or recent graduate, please follow the instructions below to apply!
Thursday, October 06, 2011
For the past almost 28 years, I have been calling "1984" the best commercial ever made. Not that this is a controversial position; Ridley Scott's Super Bowl tour de force is often so cited, because it so dramatically defined the new Macintosh computer and the entire Apple brand. The IBM PC was hardware for the masses of conformists and brainwashed drones; the new Mac was a tool of liberation for the heroically independent thinker. The message, in essence: Pick a side -- you can be under the thrall of some hectoring, bellicose Big Brother, or you can join the partisan struggle with that chick in the track shorts and t-shirt.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
In May, I was severely injured in a bicycle accident. I heard about a game that was being designed by Jane McGonigal called Superbetter, which is specifically designed to create "gameful" incentives to help people recuperate physically and emotionally from injury. Brooke interviewed both me and Jane on our most recent episode and I pledged to try using Superbetter for six weeks, blogging about the process and how it potentially helps my convalescence.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
This web audio extra features an interview between Bob and Dr. Susan Linn, the director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. Last May, the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood began a letter-writing campaign that quickly culminated in the publisher Scholastic halting distribution of a set of academic materials called "The United States of Energy." The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood contends the materials exclusively highlighted the positives of coal as an energy source and provided no information about the environmental negatives. Scholastic has pledged to vet new corporate partners with a new review board and to strengthen the editorial review of subsequent sponsored supplemental materials.
Here's the (prompt) statement Scholastic released.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
On our most recent episode, we spoke to Marcia Hofmann, senior attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, about an ages old law called The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The act, passed in 1986, was originally meant to prosecute criminal computer hacking, but in recent years it has expanded to cover everything from wiping information from your work hard drive to violating the terms of service agreements for sites like MySpace. Advocates have called for serious reforms for the law, and at least in the case of terms of service violations, it appears the Senate is listening.
Friday, September 23, 2011
There's an air of alchemy and mystery that surrounds the world of hacking, because it's perceived as being so technical. That's part of what makes hacking seem so illicit to non-hackers. But some of the most well known hackers have obtained information using an incredibly low-tech method. That method is called "social engineering."
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Earlier this year, Bob interviewed Emmanuel Goldstein (the pen name of hacker Eric Corley), the editor of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly. Bob spoke to Goldstein about organizations like Lulzsec and Anonymous, specifically about their habit of leaking the personal information they obtain by hacking big corporations. Both of these groups are adherents to the "antisec movement," believe that the computer security industry is the emperor that wears no clothes, which they demonstrate time and time again by showing system vulnerabilities. Corley says that the antisec movement is just making us aware of very serious security issues that affect our personal data. Have a listen.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Think you're 31337? Ever produce a hamster, or are you only producing crock? Do you have any idea what I'm talking about? If the answer's yes, then you're probably familiar with the dictionary of hacker slang called The Jargon File.
All week we've been obliquely referencing what author Steven Levy calls "the hacker ethic" - the notion that information wants to be free, and the more information sharing, the better. This concept covers not only programs and ideas, it covers lingo. Enter the Rosetta Stone of the hacker world: The Jargon File.