Computing in virtual worlds

Barrett Brown

I am the founder of the distributed think-tank Project PM and a regular inactive to Vanity Fair and Skeptical Inquirer. My work has also appeared in The Onion, National Lampoon, New York Press, D Magazine, Skeptic, McSweeney's, American Atheist, and a couple of newspapers in the U.S. and Mexico as well as a few policy journals. I'm the author of two books and serve as a consultant to various political entities and private clients.

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18 Responses

  1. tom van dyke says:

    Barrett, you proceed from the reasonable but utterly false premise that the NYT sought out the best conservative columnist they could get. Heh heh.

    Their task was much more difficult: they needed a “name” conservative who was uninfluential and ineffective, and who would not show up their left-liberal stable of MoDo, Herbert, Rich, et al., as the mediocrities they are.

    Kristol was selected because he’s harmless. Benign bobo David Brooks has taken his place as the token conservatron right now.

    The NYT would never hire a righty with real firepower, like Sowell or Steyn, never lend their platform to someone who might have an effect. That would undermine the entire purpose of the paper!

    As for your interesting take on the new transnational culture of computer gaming, my understanding is it’s not terribly popular with females, and its male aficionados are not quite prom king types. We shall see if the phenomenon is capable of reproduction. It may have to wait until they perfect human cloning.Report

    • sam in reply to tom van dyke says:

      “Kristol was selected because he’s harmless. Benign bobo David Brooks has taken his place as the token conservatron right now.”

      What’s Douthat? Chopped liver?Report

    • Barrett Brown in reply to tom van dyke says:

      Who would you point to as a conservative (of the sort whom would be regarded as such by other conservatives, rather than the sort who blog here and would be considered ideological apostates by the GOP as a whole) with real firepower?Report

  2. tom van dyke says:

    Mark Steyn. There are many more you don’t know, and that’s because they have no platform in the mainstream media. One or two per paper or magazine, thank you, for window dressing. It’s the rule.

    And I like Douthat well enough, as does the NYT. He doesn’t upset their nice little apple cart. As you can see from his recent columns

    He’s quite the accommodationist and horse-trader. In fact, to me he represents an even-handedness that should be the rule, not the exception, at the NYT, and certainly not trotted out as the “conservative.”

    Yes, I expected this question. It’s in the script. The argument stands. No showing up the mediocrity of MoDo, Herbert and Rich, no conservatives with actual effect.Report

    • Barrett Brown in reply to tom van dyke says:

      Mark Steyn writes for The Atlantic; I suppose that means that the publication is not as fearful of the extraordinary competence and unassailable foresight that such people as Mark Steyn have show over the past decade as The New York Times is. Your idea that the decisions made by the editorial board and publishers of that publication is all in service to liberalism is a common one among people who deal in anecdotal evidence and who are unfamiliar with how such institutions actually operate; I would suggest reading a bit about the Judy Miller affair if you really want to know how such outlets really work and what factors motivate the various individuals involved. And contrary to your odd assertion, I do probably know the names and work of these poor movement conservatives of yours whose talent is such that the MSM will not let them near the population lest they sway them by way of their wholesale competence. I know quite a bit about Robert Stacy McCain, for starters.Report

      • Yes, Barrett, I read your “expose” of Stacy McCain as a white supremacist. An unfortunate affair. No, I’m not speaking of him. But there are many others with much more relevance than the blatherings of MoDo and Frank Rich.

        Kristol was in the NYT for the same reason Pat Buchanan is on MSNBC—risibility, not credibility or persuasiveness. That is admittedly my opinion, however, there is no evidence on offer to contradict it.

        Mark Steyn wrote obituaries for the Atlantic. Until 2007. Your counterargument is unsolid on this point. His prose is effortless and delightful, his clarity on politics all the more threatening to the establishment.

        I do still get the Atlantic, but even the NYT Magazine is more interesting and balanced these days. [There, I said it.] If and when Hitchens passes, Atlantic will be completely dreadful.

        If the gentle reader did peruse the Douthat columns I linked to, we see he restricts his frame of reference to nuanced disagreements with the likes of Yglasias and Ezra Klein, and sweaty hand-wringing over Simpson-Bowles and the political viability of Sarah Palin. [None.]

        Not that I think Douthat is bad, but he sticks to the conventional narrative, his dissents within only the allowable limits. Unlike Steyn, Douthat is a good boy who knows how to stick to the script.

        [As for Judy Miller, she was in the NYT news division, which we’re assured is a different sphere. An interesting story, though, and certainly her worst crime was ending up on the wrong side of the partisan divide. Sy Hersh can be wrong as often as it rains in Nova Scotia, but the rules are different for those who are on the side of the angels.]

        Cheers, Barrett. I see you have your hands full with the main thrust of your post, so no reply is expected. I simply wanted to put a few things on record.Report

  3. sam says:

    “there exists a faction represented by such people as Roger Ebert who believe that one may refer to one’s self as cultured while knowing almost nothing about the state of gaming despite the fact that of all mediums, it is gaming and only gaming that has evolved in such a way as to not only keep pace with but also to take advantage of the technologies for which our current age has rightfully been named.”

    Ah, sorry, and I don’t mean to be harsh, but that’s just fatuous. Anybody who reads this blog can list out any number of artists, writers, philosophers, and so on that by any standard one would consider “cultured” — and I’d be mightily surprised if most those listed (any, as a matter of fact) knows anything about gaming. And as for knowledge of your “heuristic”: How could that not be gained by a simple knowledge of the propositional calculus or first-order quantification theory? And I imagine there are lots of folks competent in those who know zip about gaming (including your’s truly — who’s also had the benefit of a technical training in Unix, C, etc.).Report

    • Barrett Brown in reply to sam says:

      I’m having trouble seeing how any of this contradicts my assertion. Certainly there are a number of people who are very familiar with every cultural medium other than gaming; what I’m saying is that, by virtue of ignoring that entire medium, they are not entirely cultured. The fact is that there are a great many incredible things happening in that particular medium, and these things have been coming at a much faster pace than we see in film or the novel – neither of which, of course, were given much respect upon their respective arrivals than was gaming.

      I’d suggest you read the part about heuristics again as you seem to have gotten the points mixed up a bit.Report

      • sam in reply to Barrett Brown says:

        I’m sorry again, but the example of the heuristic followed hard on the paean to gaming, and it seems a reasonable inference that you’re arguing that if somebody has a knowledge of gaming, the heuristic would be at hand for them. True enough. But I’m unpersuaded that that deploying that kind of logic is only available to gamers. You wrote:

        [Games] serve the purpose of teaching those of us who are unfamiliar with the basics of computing a bit more about a technology that remains relevant not simply because of computing’s dramatic and unpredicted rush to ubiquity, but because of the manner in which computing is in many ways the perfected version of our own imperfect thought process.

        Then the heuristic. (BTW, and this would take us far, far afield — I disagree that how a computer does something can teach us anything about our thought processes in any but a very superficial, and very misleading, way.)Report

        • Barrett Brown in reply to sam says:

          I don’t know what to tell you other than that I obviously never wrote that “deploying that that kind of logic is only available to gamers” or anything that could reasonably interpreted as that. And your replacement of “such creations as this, along with the sandbox games that make them possible” with “[games]” is not particularly wise in this or any other context, as it changes my argument from involving a certain practice within a subset of games with the much larger category of “games” for which my argument would not be true. So, again, I’m not arguing what you seem to think I’m arguing.Report

  4. sam says:

    BTW, speaking of culture and technology. What extremely beautiful actress is credited with the idea that forms the basis of modern spread spectrum communications?Report

  5. sam says:

    Hedy Lamarr. Really. See her wiki page.Report

  6. Emma says:

    Barrett, darling, the Russian dogs of war are getting restless. I am holding them at bay presently, but will require your input ere long.Report

  7. Michael Drew says:

    The significance of gaming is dismissible.Report