His basic idea is that for our world to reach any kind of consensus on what is right or wrong for the group and for the individuals, we have to be ready to take many decisions which do not "feel" right at first, which do not make sense to our instincts, and which in the camera metaphor, are decisions made in manual mode instead of automatic.
Really interesting video. A bit long, but worth the brain-salad :)
It is also important for new theories to make bold and unexpected predictions that can be corroborated experimentally and that can't be explained successfully by the old model.
The way a scientific theory improves reminds me of what programmers have to do often to their algorithms: they develop a new and more efficient code which replaces the previous one without removing functionality. Similarly, science constantly tries to improve itself without affecting the "good bits" which made the previous model useful.
In a way, it's all about reverse-engineering the cosmos :)
Paraphrasing tvtropes: Freefall is set on a planet "Jane" which is on the early stages of terraforming. The comic deals with the adventures of wanna-be-criminal squid alien Sam; his adorably-naive robot friend Helix; and the extremely talented, yet too-nice-for-her-own-health spaceship engineer Florence, an experimental wolf hybrid who lives on the legal limbo between being someone else's "property" and being her own master.
The story stars when Sam and Helix manage to
Freefall's main attributes are its witty and geeky sense of humor, the constant angry mobs which Sam continuously manages to run away from, and its skilled use of good sci-fi ideas, concepts and philosophies that you would normally expect in novels without funny drawings.
As one reader put it, you recognize you're in the presence of a good webcomic when you find yourself neglecting food or sleep just to be able to click "next" one last time. I have to agree completely with that. Freefall is astounding in so many levels. Its precision-artillery humour made me laugh out loud constantly, its lovable characters are addictive to listen to, and its fascinating sci-fi debates are so well-thought that I could only wonder why this webcomic isn't even more popular among hardcore geeks. The emotional graph while reading Freefall resembles reading Bill Watterson while thinking about Isaac Asimov or C. Clarke ideas, all while watching Pirates of the Caribbean every now and then. I found it amazing how the story blurs wrong vs right in the most fun way possible. Sam's character in particular is one of the most engaging and fun thief-heroes I've read so far.
The strip is of course, not perfect. The drawings may be too simple for some Watterson purists, the story moves slowly for those with short attention spans, and sometimes you wonder if 'utter assholes' have been already extinguished in Freefall's universe given how rare they are. Even clearly-defined "bad guys" in the comic are really hard to hate or antagonize with, which is perhaps the whole point in a comic which deals with the way moral compasses can spin and loose track in complex circumstances. It may also be a bit hard at first to get comfortable with Florence's wolf nature, yet it doesn't takes long before this too becomes a giant plot-point on its own.
Also, like all age-old webcomics, reading Freefall from start to finish (or more like, "....to present") can be both a challenging or extremely rewarding experience depending on how much free time you have . The strip really plays a slow game on you, planting small ideas or details early on that eventually become important in the future. I read it in two days and by now I cannot really imagine what it would have been like if I had read it in a slower rate. By the time I reached its most recent strip, I had the warm sensation of feeling slightly enlightened . I think that like all good sci-fi, the comic makes you get comfortable on a strange world and then starts throwing hard questions on you which you may have answered differently if you hadn't gotten attached to its characters already.
In conclusion. Highly recommendable, I cannot believe more people don't know about it, and it may take a while to read it whole (but like a good tv series or a novel, it's on the length where the real experience resides)
comic page: freefall.purrsia.com (I obviously recommend reading it from the start, but as most long-webcomics, be aware of possible time dilations once you start)
The article is really good, it starts by asking if online-powered civics is even a thing, a question which is not as easy to answer as you may expect at first glance. Even recent examples of twitter-toppled governments are still cause of high controversy among scholars. Were social media what really tipped the masses over the edge? Or where the protests inevitable from an economical/social perspective? Would it have been the same without the Internet? Its fascinating how social media's impact in political life is so new and unheard of in human history that new research and theories are constantly being written. Not every day do we see an entire new branch of social sciences being built from scratch.
The following parts of the article talk about the ways the Internet has already changed modern civics, both in the good and the bad. It lists in a rather exhaustive way all the new channels (and obstacles!) that the Internet keeps throwing around to increase individual participation in civics. I have the feeling we'll soon need a whole new family of words to describe political activity. No institution seems safe nor bullet-proof to the influence by the growing online swarm.
One of the things I found most interesting in this segment, is how governments were originally designed without taking into consideration the mass participation by common people. The original idea for a representative republics or democracies was for society to empower and rally around a small elite of people in the form of political party or representatives. However, as mass media flourished, things like referendums, polls or statistics-based policy were flat-out invented to absorb the increasing social pressure for regular people to have a say in important decisions.
In this context, social media and participatory civics are just the most recent symptom that the political structure is growing old and antiquated in today's connected world. Citizens demand more and more localized forms of empowerment. Giving them the steering wheel on just generalities is no longer logical given how the tools to steer the details are already here (or on their way!)
While this article doesn't specifies exactly what kind of civics will govern next century nor which one will be more preferable, I really liked its overall prediction that participatory civics are here to stay. People are slowly showing that they not only want to have a more direct route to change things; they are expecting it as part of a common-sense shift which is making harder and harder for governments, companies or institutions to argue against individual's direct participation in their decisions.
It is evident that all this will come with a large list of associated costs, drawbacks, and new "dramas" which had been unheard of until now. I really liked about the article that it tries to be neutral about this topic, admitting that there's no social-panacea in sight and that we're most likely changing one old and broken system for a shiny-new but inefficient one. As always, only time will tell.
One thing is for sure. While it may be debatable what level of impact did social media has in our current political landscape. In the near future, such debate will simply fade away.
-- James Madison, Federalist Paper #10
The author explains that as all-encompassing sources of knowledge like Google or Wikipedia have made it easier than ever to quickly learn any topic in hand; it has become harder and harder for actual experts in the field to expect that their opinions will have a higher priority in public discussions. The trend has gotten so far, that it has even become a social stigma to mention one's credentials or experience, making it exhausting for experts to start any discussion without an obligatory introduction about why their views are relevant.
What I find interesting about the article is that Nichols doesn't wants us to return to the "good old days" of academia-elitism, strict editorials, technocratism or similar phenomenon where experts would take the decisions without any input by the general population. Instead, he is basically presenting the problem in all its complications, taking both sides into account, and throwing the question in the air for us to think how can society balance the need for experts with good, reasoned, and informed opinions; with the need for a participative audience.
Thought-provoking read :) This century does seems to be starting with a lot of changes in social paradigms. We can only imagine how things will turn out.
Obviously, we all have different pain thresholds for how much our suspension of disbelief can stand. And one can only wonder if such childish tropes will ever get corrected given enough time.
Well, it turns out this phenomenon in film-making is basically unavoidable and perpetual. I recently read on the great website of Atomic Rockets (www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/) the insider's view of Todd Boyce who works for the special effects company of Ninja Magic (http://www.ninjamagic.com/). He wrote a great explanation about why Hollywood is so keen in throwing reality off the window without a second glance. I copied his text down below, but you can find the original thread in here: http://goo.gl/zTMIuN
I now give the microphone to Boyce:
The facts of life about media Sci-fi. To boil down all the possible reasons, it is because of one or more of the following:
0) It's a business
This is a business venture - you put money in with the expectation that more money will come out. The general audience is historically happier watching space ships woosh by shooting glowing bolts of energy than they are watching a slowly rotating spaceship lazily drift across the screen. If you're putting tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, you go for the shooty-wooshy space ships every time, pure and simple.
1) TPTB (The powers that be) don't care.
If whats on the screen looks good, and the storytelling is sufficient, then scientific accuracy rarely if ever matters. If they don't care that cars don't blow up when shot with bullets, why should they care about the theoretical effects of FTL travel.
2) There isn't time to dissect and fix scientific inaccuracies.
Once production on a movie is started, it is an unstoppable steamroller with a tight deadline. If the script says a spaceship wooshes by, the people working on the film don't have time to work out what kind of propulsion it uses - they just make the engine glow, push it across the screen in an interesting way and move on to the next shot.
3) The decisions are made in too many places, and it isn't even thought about except by people who aren't in positions to make judgment calls.
A jet fighter shoots missiles at a big space ship hovering above a city. The director tells the visual effects supervisor to make it happen. The visual effects supervisor tells the digital effects supervisor to make a space ship and to make a jet fighter woosh by and shoot some missiles at the space ship while he goes off and directs the on-set pyro effects.
The digital effects supervisor tells the modeling supervisor to have his team make a space ship and jet fighter and tells the FX supervisor to have his team make some missiles shoot, engine effects, vapor trails, smoke trails and whatnot.
The modelers build a jet fighter and give it harpoon missiles. The modeling supervisor says it looks good. The digital effects supervisor says it looks good. The modelers are done with their job and get put on another production.
The FX supervisor hands the model to the FX team who look at the fighter and say "um...that's not really the right kind of missile to do an air-to-air attack..." "Sorry, the modeler is off the show and these have been approved. Can't change it now" is the response. So the FX team launches harpoon missiles at the space ship.
The final shot is shown to the director/visual effects supervisor and it looks cool, but don't pick up on the fact that the wrong missile is being used. It's approved and put into the film.
(You're probably sensing that this is a true story and know what movie I was working on at the time.)
4) The script-reader's gauntlet
Writers use descriptive language to express action in their script. They don't often get into technical details because each page of a script is supposed to represent roughly one minute of screen time. A writer who spends his time describing the intricacies of a space ships propulsion system is a writer who finds his scripts in the script-reader's trash can.
People who write heavily technical novels are almost always terrible script-writers as they have difficulty working within the confines and limitations of that medium. The scripts that pass through the script-reader's gauntlet will likely be of the less technical variety.
5) People in film making have education in film making, they don't usually have PhD's in physics/astrophysics. And people who have PhD's in physics/astrophysics don't usually know how to make a good film.
It's not that they aren't smart enough, it's that their focus of expertise is in other areas. That's why they hire consultants if they're trying to do something with any degree of accuracy, but even then, accuracy is desirable only if it doesn't interfere with the storytelling. Often, things are set in motion that can't be changed after the fact anyway and you just have to shrug your shoulders and say "That's the way it has to be" if you learn too late of some scientific ramification.
6) The power of ego
You know how people fall all over themselves when a famous actor is nearby? Its worse when companies deal with well known directors. Just yesterday we were kicked out of the screening room during our dailies because Michael Bay was parking and MIGHT be needing it. With that sort of hysteria going on, are you going to be the one that walks up to him and say "this is totally unrealistic and you need to change it" knowing that saying so will mean the end of your employment?
What the director says goes, and few people have the will or the power to contradict him. Film making isn't usually done by committee, it is done by imperial decree and if the decree is that cars blow up when shot with bullets, then that is the way it is.
I'm sure there's a few others I've missed but, speaking of unrealism in Hollywood movies, I need to get back to work on a sequence involving bits of LA breaking off and sliding into the ocean because the Earth's magnetic field has collapsed.
I'm not kidding.
It is sad to learn that movies will never aim for grounded, well-thought hard sci-fi.
But it is good to know that we are now warned about it :)
Why can't aliens speak English? Couldn't they learn the language and, if necessary, build the appropriate prostheses to speak it if not biologically capable?
I admit that humans and a creature with a radically different brain structure and psychology might not have all that much to talk about. But still...
Also: The general audience is historically happier watching space ships woosh by shooting glowing bolts of energy than they are watching a slowly rotating spaceship lazily drift across the screen. Not me. Give me 2001: A Space Odyssey or Gravity anytime.
Also: Despite my snark, this is a very good and eye-opening essay.
It is really easy to dismiss internet girl's complains over haters. The Internet is after all, still thought as an ethereal, nonexistent arena where everything said is never truly meant. This may be true for most cases of trolling, but it is nonetheless an argument which is doomed to fail in the long run. As the Internet turns more and more into a home, personal heaven, public space, or simply a workplace for people; continuous harassment, no matter how hollow, is still harassment. And for people to preach that victims should ignore it is still failing to address the issue.
This article made me remember about a text I read something like 10 years ago, which said that the Internet (at the time) was similar to the idealized vision of the american wild west: Lawless, full of opportunity, adventure, and unlimited potential; yet utterly horrible for the regular people who wanted to live unremarkable lives in it. People who were all carving for civility, security, and a remnant of governance.
It is fascinating, and slightly depressing, that a decade later, the internet is still quite wild westy. It is amazing for the proportional few who like to live on the blurriness of social rules, covered in anonymity. Yet it is awful for everyone else who is not trying to discover gold in the California rivers and canyons, and who want to get by without constant shoot-outs, bank robberies, and noon duels.
I'll leave you with one of many great paragraphs from the article. I think it sums up pretty nicely just what kind of lie are we living right now:
"Opponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 characterized its workplace protections as unconstitutional and bad for business. Before workplace sexual harassment was reframed as discriminatory under Title VII, it was written off as harmless flirting. When Title IX was first proposed to address gender discrimination in education, a Senate discussion on the issue ended in laughter when one senator cracked a co-ed football joke. Until domestic violence became a national policy priority, abuse was dismissed as a lovers’ quarrel. Today’s harmless jokes and undue burdens are tomorrow’s civil rights agenda".
"So the victim faces a psychological dilemma: How should she understand her own fear? Should she, as many advise, dismiss an online threat as a silly game, and not bother to inform the cops that someone may want to—ha, ha—rape and kill her? Or should she dutifully report every threat to police, who may well dismiss her concerns?"
So if your child/nephew/stray kid ever asks you why he/she didn't saw Santa coming, tell them that Santa is going faster than a bullet (which flies at "only" 300-500 m/s!) and thus you can miss his flyby if you blink on the wrong moment! No wonder we never see him.
Who said that fooling kids into the Santa mythology was getting harder in this time and age? We just need to argue using physics and math now ;)
I really like how challenging the series is in therms of presenting such an "unconventional" character. I must admit, it took me a while to get it. But basically after episode 2 I was already a fan of Ingrid :D . The last episode they have so far, number 8th, gives the series a little twist and makes me want to see what comes next.
Hopefully this will be enjoyable for people who like to sail along the long tail of video productions, as Chris Anderson would probably say it. This is an evidently non-mainstream series which wouldn't be able to exist in regular media, and thus thrives in the long tail of the Internet.
We kinda need a new adjective for these little jewels. Long tailers? Perhaps? The Internet South?
Episode II was the one which really made things click for me: http://vimeo.com/58334876
Long Tail? what the hell I'm talking about? Good question. Here's the explanation of this economic/market therm coined by Chris Anderson:
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