‘Video Games Are Like Smoking and Lung Cancer’ and Other Urban Legends in the Violent Video Game Debate

By Christopher J. Ferguson 
Texas A&M International University

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an urban legend is “An often lurid story or anecdote that is based on hearsay and often reported as true” (Merriam-Webster, 2010). Most typically the term is applied to stories of vanishing hitchhikers, hook-bearing murderers and such; they are tales of uncertain origin, told as if true, and tend to carry a moral message for society (Croft, 2006). In conducting research on video game violence and watching the debates among politicians, pressure groups and scholars in this realm, I have observed the repetition of several claims or stories by all three groups. Stories which are often (although not always as we’ll see) of uncertain origin, are told as if true (but in each case are demonstrably false) and contain a moral message designed to encourage others to act on an issue the storyteller views as pressing. Continue reading

Two Tin Cans and a String: Teaching Liberal Arts Online

By Elizabeth Drake-Boyt

#1 Tool box Basics

Remember that old-time kids’ “telephone” entertainment of stretching a string taut between two tin cans? Magically, voices sounded as if they were right next to each other despite the fact that the speakers were not visible to one another. There were a few limitations. For example, it was important to take turns; one person spoke while the other listened in a cumulative sequence of conversation or it didn’t work. And sooner or later, someone forgot to keep the string tight so the flow of conversation was interrupted. It was very simple; a tool that got the job done. Two tin cans and a string served the basic arrangement of all public discourse; listening and speaking in turn to build a cumulative exchange of information, shape ideas, formulate plans, or manage negotiations. Continue reading

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Overlays and the Optimal User Experience

By Michael Geraci

The concept of flow as a human condition is attributed to Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi [1] whose book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990) is considered the primary text in this field of research. At one time or another, most of us have experienced flow – a state of such focused concentration and absorption that our minds are virtually free of our bodies and we lose track of all worldly concerns such as time, hunger, and physical comfort. Athletes, artists, writers, and even software programmers often refer to such experiences when they are fully engaged in their craft and operating at the peak of their abilities. Continue reading

The End of Sound Slavery

By Jake Fischer

The Internet has had a huge effect on music, completely changing its typical patterns and paths of circulation. It has given much more power to the artist, and taken power away from record labels. Artists speak their true voice on recordings they make themselves (“mixtapes”) over which the record labels have no say, and the Internet allows them to spread these to anyone in the world who has access to a computer. Social networking websites, such as Myspace, have given artists the ability to promote themselves without having to pay for CDs and radio play. Listeners are able to download albums faster than they could have listened to them, making digital sales more and more popular. This has led to artists selling their own music online, and finding more ways to challenge major labels. In short, the integration of the Internet into the music business has taken controlling power away from record company executives, and given it to the artists who make the music.

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Jason Ohler’s Digital Community: Digital Citizen

Review by Richard Tinsen and Mike Charles

Digital Community: Digital Citizen takes the reader down a three-part path to digital citizenry. First is a description of how digital citizenship fits within the evolution of citizenship and community; second is a discussion of learning to see technology and its impact on our society, and third is a practical discussion of how to create a good digital community through good citizenry. The 12 chapters are easy to read, well organized, and include a rare combination of “big picture” perspectives and practical classroom applications.

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Peaceful Evolution in China and the World Wide Web. Part IV: The Internet as the Bulwark of Chinese Democracy?

By Jeffrey Barlow

Table of Contents:

Introduction

This is the fourth and concluding editorial in a series, “Peaceful Evolution in China and the World Wide Web”. [1] To summarize the arguments thus far:

  1. I have argued that a system with stable political factions functions very much like a system with two or more political parties, usually thought to be a critical element of a democratic political system, though not the only one.
  2. In the Chinese system, consistent factions have been visible over recent years. At present, there are two important ones. First is the Tuanpai, a group associated with past leadership in the Chinese Youth League, the most dominant of Chinese mass organizations.
  3. The second recognizable faction is the Princeling’s faction. This is less well organized than the Tuanpai. It is formed not of those who have come up via a common political path, such as leadership in the Youth League, but of those who have descended from politically powerful or wealthy families.
  4. In the Chinese political system, both contemporary and historical, the most useful weapon wielded by factions was to charge that an opponent had violated core agreements on values, usually through personal corruption.

In this fourth and concluding article, we examine the probable successors to the two most important posts in China, the Presidency, now held by Hu Jintao, and the Premiership, now held by Wen JIaobao. We argue here that important changes are occurring in China, and that due in large part to the Internet as a conduit for Chinese popular voices, democratic interests will be much strengthened in this new era. Continue reading