Online education is doomed

Nicholas Carr, my favorite writer on technology, has just written a deep article on post-secondary education’s blossoming movement to go digital, free, and ultra-convenient through the Internet — and how the magic of the classroom may be lost in the process.

Personally, I consider the school system to be the greatest evil in our civilization, while I believe the Internet to be one of our greatest goods.  The idea of remodeling school to take advantage of the wonders of the web couldn’t be more exciting to me — if it wasn’t for the inevitability of its failure on every meaningful level.  Carr focuses on the restrictive nature of programming code and the Internet, which are incapable of simulating the organic, “ineffable” spirit of the classroom, where professors often guide students towards unexpected conclusions and discussions are free to take any number of detours along the path to enlightenment.  My own skepticism has nothing to do with the supposed magic of the classroom, and everything to do with the fundamental nature of the “education system” itself.

You see, when it comes to technological pitfalls, nobody is sharper than Carr, but when it comes to education, the man to listen to is John Taylor Gatto.  What he has discovered — through decades of award-winning teaching in some of the worst neighborhoods in America — is that the “education system” is actually just a “school system”.

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X-COM: Enemy Unknown Impressions

[Update: RockPaperShotgun has come to the defense of the game and addressed some of the bad impressions left by the demo.]

X-COM: Enemy Unknown is my most anticipated game this year, not because I think it will be even a fraction as innovative or important as the original (for that you’d need to enlist the original creator, Julian Gollop,) but because it has the potential to scratch some of the itches I’ve been having ever since I discovered the 1994 PC game last year.  Also, it has the potential to spawn a new love for powerful tactics game rooted in high-level strategic control.  I downloaded the demo off of Steam, finished it in a few minutes because it’s very short, and here’s why it makes me deeply uncomfortable.

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Why I love “Intrusion 2”

(Click the image to read the full article, or click here)

Chances are you’ve never heard of Intrusion 2, despite the fact that it is secretly a gaming demigod.  Created by Aleksey Abramenko (and only Aleksey Abramenko!) it somehow manages to be breathtakingly beautiful, perfectly playable, and gratuitously gratifying, while never sinking into pretentiousness.  In a world of $20 million development budgets and brand identity raping, we look to “indie” games for the unique, unfettered visions of true artists who are free to do whatever they want.  But the sad truth is, the indie scene is so desperate to “go viral” that they’ve sold their souls too, resorting to imitation and pandering in the hopes pleasing the Almighty Aggregate.  Even great games seem infected by that bland cultural and self awareness that the Internet has forced artists to account for.

Intrusion 2 somehow stands apart from all of that, and it is masterful.

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Why I Hate “The Last of Us” (Now With More Hate!)


[NOTE: Full review is on its way. This was a reaction to the initial E3 trailer and hype.]


[Added a second part.]

You’ve probably heard of The Last of Us by now, which means you’ve probably shrugged and said yeah, cool I guess.  It’s the gory post-apocalyptic PS3 exclusive developed by Naughty Dog, makers of the Uncharted series.  It’s already won a bunch of awards, including “Best of Show”, “Best Original Game”, “Best Console Game”, and “Best Action/Adventure Game” at this year’s E3.  There’s no doubt that it will be a highly polished, carefully crafted, and feature unparalleled voice acting and CINEMATIC CINEMATIC CINEMATIC.

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Part IV (MGS2: A Complete Breakdown)


The VR Theory

In order to encourage, challenge and even trick players into thinking about the deeper meaning of his games, Kojima designed the whole plot to collapse on itself.  Would players still miss the point?  (Of course they would.)

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Part III (MGS2: A Complete Breakdown)


{NOTE: Clips are best watched in Full Screen mode.}

Part three is a careful study of Metal Gear’s creator, Hideo Kojima.  More specifically, it’s a study of his motivations for betraying player expectations with Metal Gear Solid 2.  As confusing as it may seem, there is a logical explanation for it all.  (Here’s Part 1 and Part 2)

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