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Today's XKCD (http://xkcd.com/1289/) is so perfectly accurate about so many things.

No, [technology] will not solve all the problems of the world. No, [technology] will not bring about the apocalypse. Yes, [technology] will be used for sex. Yes, [technology] will be discussed ad nauseam by the media, especially insofar as it can be tuned to accentuate preexisting fears, because that will drive clicks.
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Rugger Ducky's profile photoMatt Schofield's profile photoJiX McGoon's profile photoDeen Abiola's profile photo
59 comments
 
A friend of mine is a journalist who has been specializing in these kinds of stories for a couple years.  I roll my eyes every time.
 
It's worth mentioning that the media said these things about printed novels, back when they were a new thing.
 
Really, could any technology make humans less caring? The Borg would be an improvement on some human institutions. 
 
Yes, tools are tools. They don't matter. But if we ask the same questions for values and ideas, then we get some variation to the answers.
 
"Technology changes but humanity does not. The stakes keep getting higher while the mistakes stay the same." Taz Mopula
 
+Lionel Lauer that damned Gutenberg, screwing up the futures of all those hundreds of thousands of monks copying texts by hand.
 
It's the "we were already alienated" that gets me.
 
+Ellen McManis Sadly we aren't aliens and there isn't going to be a rescue from Witch Mountain. We better make the best of it. 
 
Confucius say most of these should end with " ... in bed"
Carl
 
Will it change the way we think? Yes. Then we will resist it.
 
+Carl Menezes , that might be the case.
The head is elliptic so thoughts may change their way.

There always was and always will be people that fear change.

But not every change must be accepted unquestioned.

For me, it's the kind of mindset.
To be open for new things without rating them first.
We can always do that at a later stage.
 
Hilarious... +Randall Munroe hits another one out of the ballpark.  I don't know how he does it time after time after time.

It's the seventh line that makes me guffaw out loud.
 
I see it also as a criticism of the sort [insert: well known person] Bret Victor levels at current technological trends. That the vast majority of developments are so base is not some fundamental aspect of technology, as an example of Point 1 shows: http://xkcd.com/903/

Also I disagree with point 4 because I would put yes for the hover text. Anything that makes it easier to acknowledge foreign countries as containing humans, to share culture cross borders, to reach people one might not otherwise and expand horizons, minutely increases the empathy quotient of the human race as a whole.

Access to television for example appears to be the strongest correlate in undeveloped areas to better treatment of women due to its ability to spread culture by such things as soap operashttp://www.geocurrents.info/population-geography/indias-plummeting-birthrate-a-television-induced-transformation
 
+Deen Abiola  [broadcast media]better treatment of women due to its ability to spread culture

As nice as that example is, media is just as effective for spreading normalising hate as it is for spreading love. Cf: Fox 'News', talk radio, etc.
 
It's not an 'example' to be countered as balanced by a favored hobby horse. Rather, it is a series of statistics that holds in large countries like India and Brazil and hopefully soon on the African Continent. The effect is much more strongly positive (emulating city and modern culture) than it is has been negative (inciting violence and ignorance, which are maintained just as readily if not more by isolation).

Anyways, I think the effect of Fox News is overblown. It's merely preaching to a rabbling choir. It's so over-the-top nonsense I can't help but think they've full on acknowledged their comical-news status. I also believe that the supposed dangers of talk radio are only noticable in cultures that have incorporated the notion of medicinal use of human body parts as completely absurd into their zeitgeist.
 
I'm not being Naive, I'm simply thinking beyond mere 'common sense'.  Also, you're reaching. Akin to dismissing the powerful good of Fission Plants because the same knowledge was used for Atom Bombs in WWII. Similarly, one cannot ignore the benefits of Story Serials due to the possibility  or existence of propaganda (which in fact becomes less effective as technology democratizes the availability of platforms). The tech can be used to more readily spread disinformation but its ability to spread positive culture has thus far overwhelmed that.

In aggregate, there is no correlation between availability of media and incitation of violence or any noteworthy negative behaviors (even in the exceptional case of the WW2, it was used more as a mollifier, reinforcement of a perfect storm well underway).

But there is a strong correlation between availability of media to women and better treatment of women - most especially in underdeveloped countries. 

Anyways, in addition with education in general, shattering the glass ceiling and child mortality, will do a lot to improve the world for 50% of its population. Which is a positive multiplier on the world. I can't comprehend why you would hand wave away such a simple yet powerful policy recommendation.
 
I'm not handwaving anything away.  There's a correlation, as you say.  That does not imply causation, for starters.  But more importantly the point Lionel is making is that this sort of material gets used both ways, not just one.  Otherwise we wouldn't be coming up with things like the Bechdel test.
 
Indeed, even more than direction, confounding factors hamper correlation but that seems a silly reason to ignore stronger mutual information between two sets of data vs another. 

Also, do realize that in many parts of the world women also believe they deserve to be treated as they are! Cheesy as soap operas are, whether or not it's all trite romanticism, just the possibility of women being listened to and having a voice is enough to show a powerful difference in the data.

I will reiterate my belief that anything that allows culture to spread more easily increases tolerance which itself is in the same blanket as empathy. And also, that your concerns over the Bechdel Test and Fox News only show up after human sacrifice and spousal beatings are no longer the going concern.
 
+Rugger Ducky Lucky for Gutenberg that the MPAA hadn't been invented yet in his day, or they would've had his printing press punitively taxed or outlawed.
 
And then the MPAA would have presented his concepts and ideas as their own!
 
Why not something more substantial than eye rolling? What I state is a well studied phenomenon. My argument of the on balance positive effects is well supported. It doesn't warrant such a childish dismissal. And I did not put the final examples for emotional reasons but because they are common and real in many countries yet. It is not hard for some to find a relative who has multiply partaken in such. And I find it personally painful. Very. I'm fortunate I believe to be flabbergasted that people do such things. Which is why I believe one should not dismiss such a simple yet potentially impactful technology in trying to alter the state of affairs.

I apologize for turning the thread dark, I'll leave y'all be. On this matter it appears, what part of the world affects our judgment of how things are, are too distant. 
 
You're buzzing past anything at all I'm saying so there is absolutely no point in engaging with someone who ignores my points.

So.  <rolls eyes again>
 
+Deen Abiola You keep on arguing as though we're saying that media can't help improve things for women - we aren't, we're saying that it can be, & is, just as easily used for evil purposes.
 
I would accept alienation my friend!
 
A bit hard to see how the Gutenberg Bible printing process helped teenagers have sex. Let alone many important technologies which are not communications technologies, for example paint mixers or high speed seed sorting based on digital cameras and air blasts. Teenagers weren't even invented as an interesting market segment until the 1950s. And preoccupation with whether they would have sex is a peculiarly North American concern, and seems to extend way past communication technology (e.g. cars, wearing certain kinds of clothes, going to university, etc). So perhaps we should relabel this cartoon "Simple answers to North American questions about anything".
 
+Matt Schofield except that the Gutenberg Bible probably led to less teen sex.

Because as books became affordable, more people became educated. Life spans increased considerably. Instead of getting married and having kids of their own by 15 as the default scenario, its now the frowned upon exception.

Also teens were a marketing sector via radio for two decades before you claim. 
 
+Rugger Ducky great counterpoints!

Yes, teenagers started with the automobile. So a technology which permitted teenagers to have sex started the term, and that would have placed it in 1930s. Teenage sex became the metric for all other US consumer technologies since because parents were paying for them (45 records, mobile telephones etc).

Seems there was quite a gap between the Guthenberg Bible appearing and women starting to have kids much above 16 years old. A lot of other complementary technologies were needed which made women useful independent workers whose education would be prioritized - mainly factories and the need for extra hands in WW1 and WW2.
 
+Matt Schofield Thread drift is an actual thing. I don't see anyone in this thread claiming that the Gutenberg Bible was subject to the particular kinds of anguished media hand-wringing described in the cartoon, or that it helped teenagers have sex. Ditto for most of the other technologies you list.
 
"Gutenberg Bible" is not the technology - "Gutenberg Printing Press" is the technology.

Hmm... thinks: tech="high-speed combine harvester blades"
... I've been googling and googling and have yet to find the "teens use tech for sex" websites.
Surprising really - perhaps there is a porn market here?
 
+Lionel Lauer so, you think teenagers were around when people said that printed novels were dangerous? We're trying to push that concept back to cerca 1825, right?

The reason I cited 1950s for teenagers was that my mum and dad told me that they missed out on ever being teenagers in Britain. Up until the 1960s, teenagers weren't a "thing" in the UK. All children grew up in Britain with movies and advertising featuring pipe smoking chaps and ladies wearing headscarves.  Brief Encounter (final scene) Kids had no disposable income, so nobody bothered to advertise to them. While +Rugger Ducky is quite right to push the origin of the term back to wealthier US and 20 years earlier, when cars became commonplace, it certainly wasn't common in early Victorian England when those "dangerous" printed novels were being printed.
 
+Matt Schofield Uh. The actual word "teenagers" is, as you say, a relatively recent thing, but I'm pretty sure that human beings prior to that didn't magically skip the ages of 13 - 19, & I'm equally sure that much older people were pearl-clutching about their hooliganism &/or wantonness to much the same degree as they do today.
 
+Lionel Lauer I'm pretty sure people DID skip the years 5 to roughly 16 without being considered anything other than defective small adults. Parents didn't clutch their pearls, they beat unruly kids or had them tied up (certainly happened to Queen Victoria's own kids). The concept that "teenage" had any rights at all is a product of the wealthy US of the 1920-30s, when cars could be bought for them by indulgent wealthy parents. Teenage as a term was only first used in 1941 http://www.ushistory.org/us/46c.asp
 
+Lionel Lauer fine, but I didn't say kids had rights. They just didn't exist, up till the point they became a financial liability or asset. Young kids (6) were going up chimneys or gleaning in the fields, if they were poor. They were simply mute among the middle and upper class "seen and not heard", until girls turned 16 and needed to "come out" in society. But girls "came out" as miniature adults. Boys were shipped off to the Navy, Army or apprenticed to a trade, and those who made their way could afford to marry much later, in their 30s.

This weekend we went to a 15th birthday party. Here in Latin America they preserve the "coming out" ball tradition - a party with at least 100 sitting down, about 300 peers coming to the dance afterwards. Serious financial outlay, but it establishes the girl as part of an important family, just as the ritual of the paseo (parents walking round and round very late at night with their kids) establishes the social credibility of those children later on in the marriage stakes. Many developing countries are the same.

Being a teenager is a US concept, linked to access to a car, hand-me-down iPhones and other status symbols of US consumption. Only the elites in the developing world live that. And like wealthy Americans, they agonize about whether the toys they are buying for their teenagers will corrupt them and cause them to sink back into the working classes. Having sex and winding up marrying early and not establishing a professional career is one way to do that, although I guess drug abuse could do the trick. So every new consumer toy since the automobile is assessed against that criteria, and tedious high-brow articles get written in the quality press about the awful risks of iPads or 45 records.
 
+Matt Schofield I'm not sure how to put this politely, but you seem to be struggling to understand what I thought were very straightforward comments of mine (& Rugger's too, come to think of it).
Again; my point is that whether not young people from the age of puberty to the age of majority have a specific group name, older adults have always bitched & moaned about them from time immemorial, stereotypically in the form of "When I was X years old, we didn't do [whatever behaviour it is that I'm disgruntled about, despite doing equivalent things myself when I was their age]". In my opinion, this is universal across the human race over time, & was so before America was even discovered by Europeans, & certainly so before the car was invented.
 
+Lionel Lauer no worries, I feel fine with my struggles with aligning with your comments ;-) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_tempora_o_mores! may be a constant refrain of all generations contemplating the wickedness and profligacy of the next. But that doesn't mean that people agonized about whether teenagers would have sex as the result of specific consumer purchase. They simply beat, tied up and generally incarcerated kids to the point where they were useful assets. The idea of teenagers as a separate age group taking their own decisions is a US invention from the 1920s
 
+Lionel Lauer delightful references about novels being incompatible with "piety and virtue". Still can't see anything about teenagers ;-) And no attempt at a causal connection with having sex - simply suggestions that they will find it difficult to converse with their elders and betters and may resort to assassination as a pass-time.
 
+Matt Schofield It would be unlikely to find the use of the word 'teenager' in such works, given that - as you pointed out yourself - the term hadn't been invented yet. Nonetheless, 'young people' is obviously a description of roughly the same age range. And if you think that passages like the following aren't alluding to the possibility of a teenage girl becoming interested in illicit sex, you've had a very sheltered education:
The young lady is similarly affected. She fancies herself the beautiful heroine of the story, rich, accomplished, and, romantically, wretched. She, too, begins to look about for the model lover who lays his hand upon his heart, lifts his tearful face toward heaven, and says pretty things. She feels disdain for the plain young men of her acquaintance, and perhaps fixes her eyes upon some flashy stranger, whose unknown antecedents give her a chance to invest him with all the impossible perfections her romantic fancy is able to invent.
(From: http://www.merrycoz.org/books/CRANE.HTM )
 
+Lionel Lauer again, delightful references, thank you. Such a young lady would need to be 16 upwards to be entertaining suitors, while she might very well be married off by 20 or considered doomed to a restricted life as an old maid. About half the age range of modern  "teens" (13-19). Let alone the 30% of modern modern tweens (5-11) year olds wearing sexualized clothing http://www.livescience.com/14249-girls-clothing-sexualized.html O tempora, o mores! ;-)
 
+Matt Schofield Uh. 16 is precisely in the middle of 'teenage'. Why on earth do you imagine that not using the actual word 'teenage' somehow invalidates the concept itself? You might as well argue that the concept of 'puberty' didn't exist until that particular word was coined for it.
 
+Lionel Lauer OK, let's suppose that Victorian parents agonized about the romantic inclinations of their 13 year olds, rather than simply whipping them and setting them to read more factual or religious books. The connection with sexual intercourse and access to a car is far stronger than the theoretical possibility of a young woman losing her virtue with a flashy stranger.

But maybe you are right in a developing world context. The Taliban certainly seem to think that shooting little girls for learning to read is a good way to keep their family honour intact. Books are dangerous things.
 
Ok, here's the thing:

Teenagers were always having sex. However, until the mid-late 30s or so, teenagers were just more hands on the farm, or in the shop, or whatever. They had no rights. If they wanted rights they got married, because they actually had more that way. A teenager could go to West Point as young as 13 years old. 

Teenagers as idle layabouts with free time and time to think about sex is a fairly new phenomena, evolutionarily speaking. Teenagers as a general rule weren't required to go to school until recently. Benjamin Franklin, one of my personal heroes and IMHO the greatest American ever, left school at 12 to work in his father's candle shop. Then he was apprenticed at 13 to his brother in a printing shop. He never had a free lazy American teen years period, and in fact, ran to Philadelphia at 17 after possibly impregnating a young Boston lady. 

And let's face the facts, the Gutenberg printing press is the key invention to every form of communication we have now. Moveable type was a game changer in human history. For the reasons I've already mentioned. 

So no, technology does not make teenagers have sex. They were already doing that. 
 
+Rugger Ducky Indeed. And just for the record, teenagers are having, always have had, & always will have sex, regardless of any efforts by their parents, etc, make to prevent it from happening.
 
+Lionel Lauer +Rugger Ducky guess the whole Protestant piety and abstention didn't really work out for the Mayflower colonists, then ;-) But what is new is that US wealthy parents are bribing their teenagers with all sorts of kit (cars, phones, games, etc), and trying to figure out which are least harmful to them.

Our kids don't have TV. Certainly cuts down on the whining about the latest consumerist junk.
 
We have a TV, but our toddler isn't really allowed to watch it. And the teenager we raised is now 22 and off living with his gf. Having a lot of sex, most likely. 

Consumerism as an addiction isn't good, if that's the point you're trying to make +Matt Schofield. But don't assume all Americans are stupid, lazy parents and teens just trying to bribe each other to behave. 

You know how stereotypes are. Most of us really aren't like that. 
 
+Rugger Ducky I'm stupid and lazy lots of the time, which is also part of the reason why we decided to get rid of the TV. I don't think American parents are bad, but consumerism US-style has poor outcomes, so we want our kids to avoid it. Glad to hear one of your kids got to adulthood. We've not managed that yet - ours are 1 thru 11 years old ;-)
 
Most Americans don't like the consumerism problems any more than other countries do. We're just the ones blamed for it. But go to certain parts of Europe, and you'll find that in contrast, we really don't spoil our kids that much. 
 
+Rugger Ducky Agreed, there are spoilt kids all over the world. I'm not blaming American parents, but it is certainly true that US corporations are uniquely manipulative and their global influence is behind a lot of the troubles of spoilt kids elsewhere. I'm glad to be living in rural Argentina, with other concerns.
 
l8ikes intellectual intercourse list 
 
+Cindy Brown +Lionel Lauer What I'm saying is like any technology, media can be used for good and ill. But in our reality, based on what has been studied, it has effected more positive than negative. And media is not just news but comic books, soap operas, saturday morning cartoons, twitter, youtube, reddit, tumblr, etc.

And it's not just how it helps women's rights which in turn aids population growth but also how it helps create a global shared culture. The younger generation of exposed parts of Africa are overwhelmingly more opposed to many of their occult practices. The younger generation of Arab countries are far more likely to stand up for women (see recent youtube). And the younger generation of Southeast Asia are less likely in general to see certain races as lesser. They know more about the world. Global shared culture breaking down boundaries.

I am not disagreeing with you in that media (read as: means of culture sharing) can be used for ill only that it has not in the majority. And I don't see how your qualms differ from that of a run of the mill luddite's.

Me: Technology not only can but has improved tolerance for hundreds of millions mainly because of how it aids in the propagation of culture. Link to analysis of data. Yous: but Fox News, Bechdel Test, Propoganda. Me: That's people. Such a powerful lever can be turned to great ill but in aggregate has helped more and has the potential to aid the final billion. If you were in a position to advise someone able to influence such change would you ignore it because Fox News?! The on balance effect is what is important.

FWIW, the reason I could no longer continue last session is I felt that what I was saying was reasonable. You called me naive without having any idea what I've been through or why I care about what policy and how it can be used to improve the developing world (I've either lost or nearly so family members in this fight, for me this is not just armchair analysis). I get the impression (could be wrong) that Cindy thinks I don't care about the Bechdel Test. I do, but priorities (btw only counterexamples I know: Regenesis, Person of Interest).

Yours disagreement works only in theory but ignores the data which is not inline. Arguing instead from intuition and anecdote. Your only proper counter example was WWII propaganda but that is so complex and intermixed with so many covariates, interactions and possible confounders that one cannot possibly extricate the magnitude of its effect in catalyzing such actions (although my prior would weight heavily on small - based on what weight is placed in analyses of how such an atrocity could have occurred). The media thing seems to be more of a background passive effect. Better metaphored with osmosis than catalyst. I feel maybe if I were someone else, someone more 'in' with your community the response would have been different (this sentence is an easy target, if response expect focus here ;).
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