Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Age of the Centaur

For better or worse we are entering a time of human/machine symbiosis known as the Age of the Centaur. This term comes from the chess world which has always seen the computer as a challenge to human dominance of the chess board. In various tests, chess champions acknowledged that computers have grown so sophisticated that they regularly beat Grand Masters. The surprise they found is that when chess masters team up with computers they win the most games. Hence the Age of the Centaur. We have to view the current interaction of our students with their smartphones as the intense preoccupation of a Centaur learning how to use a new tool that will become part of them. Something may be lost in this transformation, but something else may be gained.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Jon Stewart — the enabler of Donald Trump by Steve Almond

Steve Almond of The Boston Globe Misuses Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" to Slam Jon Stewart

The Boston Globe, May 16, 2016

Steve Almond , the author of this Boston Globe column, misses two keys points, the first is related to his reference to Neil Postman, the second is about how the media enabled Trump's rise. Almond neglects to discuss the basis of Postman's discussion of politics as entertainment, that is, that as a presentational medium, television is biased toward the non-discursive and favors image over substance. Jon Stewart is not a cause of this bias, he is a result of it, and at best a critical reaction to the information vacuum left by the traditional news media being totally subsumed by the presentational prejudices of television.

Second, Stewart didn't enable Trump's current political dominance, the traditional media did by giving him billions in free coverage and by failing to adequately fact-check his assertions. Stewart's nightly broadcast served as a model for both media criticism and contrarian political analysis and could in fact be seen as the TV medium's attempt to remediate its most onerous effects. Stewart wasn't a Trump enabler, and if he failed to change the political landscape, it wasn't due to a failure of his vision or a lack of trying.