Digital Media · Games/Play · Motion Graphics · Performativity · Philosophy · Science · Technology

Why Mass Effect is the Most Important Science Fiction Universe of Our Generation

Kyle Munkittrick: Mass Effect is epic. It’s the product of the best parts of Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica and more with a protagonist who could be the love-child of Picard, Skywalker, and Starbuck. It’s one of the most important pieces of science fiction narrative of our generation. Mass Effect goes so far beyond other fictional universes in ways that you may not have yet realized. It is cosmic in scope and scale.

Sci-fi nerds have long debated over which fictional universe is the best. The Star Trek vs Star Wars contest is infamous into banality, with lesser skirmishes among fans of shows and books like Battlestar Galactica, Enders Game, Xenogenesis, Farscape, Dune, Firefly, Stargate, and others fleshing out the field. Don’t mistake this piece as another pointless kerfuffle among obsessive basement dwellers. Mass Effect matters because of its ability to reflect on our society as a whole.

Science fiction is one of the best forms of social satire and critique. Want to sneak in some absolutely scandalous social more, like, say, oh, I don’t know, a black woman into a position of power in the ‘60s? Put her on a starship command deck.

Most science fiction, even the epic universes in Star Wars and Star Trek, pick only two or three issues to investigate in depth. Sure, an episode here or a character there might nod to other concepts worthy of investigation, but the scope of the series often prevents the narrative from mining the idea for what it’s worth.

Mass Effect can and does take ideas to a new plane of existence. Think of the Big Issues in your favorite series. Whether it is realistic science explaining humanoid life throughout the galaxy, or dealing with FTL travel, or the ethical ambiguity of progress, or even the very purpose of the human race in our universe, Mass Effect has got it. By virtue of three simple traits – its medium, its message, and its philosophy – Mass Effect eclipses and engulfs all of science fiction’s greatest universes. Let me show you how.

Read Full Article at PopBioethics

Human-ities · Technology

The unhappiness of technology

There’s a whole laundry list of disclaimers attached to it, but my pal (and Pulitzer winner) Matt Richtel wrote about a Stanford research report suggesting that spending considerable amounts of time on multimedia/technology can make us unhappy.

In his words:

“The answer, in the peer-reviewed study of the online habits of girls aged 8 to 12, finds that those who say they spend considerable amounts of time using multimedia describe themselves in ways that suggest they are less happy and less socially comfortable than peers who say they spend less time on screens.”

I owe my livelihood to technology and I love the raw capability it offers us as a tool, but I fear it a bit more than most people do. It’s a tool, but it’s not quite a hammer, because a hammer doesn’t seduce you into sitting around lonely in your underwear for 6 hours at a stretch clicking on youtube videos and refreshing Twitter. I fear technology because I fear that bad feeling I get after a three day XBox binge I go through every year around the holidays. I fear technology not because I think it’s evil, but because it’s too easy to start clicking and never stop, even if the stream of data starts to go from meaningful to useless after the top 5%.

I am fascinated by this study because everything I have been doing in the last year professionally and personally has been to reduce the overage of technology and noise in my life and it has increased my happiness by many fold.

Happiness is the most important metric in personal tech. If it improves lives, it is important. I’ve always suspected that sitting around on the internet was a sort of rot, but I had no proof until I read this piece on the Stanford study. I just don’t know why this research isn’t getting as much attention from reporters as new iPads, CEO changes, earnings reports, acquisitions, and other bullshit that only affects the greedy. People think I’m crazy for complaining about tech news and how stupid and boring the mass media internet has become, but I think they’re wrong. And I think most are writing about the wrong things.

Written by Brian Lam, The Wirecutter. Continue HERE