Challenging Extremism in Pakistan

Beygairat Brigade, or ‘a Brigade without Honour’, are 3 young guys from Pakistan challenging the military, religious fundamentalists, and anti-American conspiracy theorists with songs like “Aalu Anday” (“Potatoes and Eggs”) that I posted below. If you watch the video, stick around to the 2 minute mark and the metaphor starts to make sense.

The song rues the fact that killers and religious extremists are hailed as heroes in Pakistan, while someone like Abdus Salam, the nation’s only Nobel Prize-winning scientist, is often ignored because he belonged to the minority Ahmadi sect. – New York Times

The song is catching fire in Pakistan where there’s a surprisingly large but often quiet liberal population. I’m inspired by how these guys are changing their society with just a video camera, a song, Youtube and a lot of courage.

The end times are near

It was only a matter of time before someone saw the recent mass deaths of cows, birds and fish as a sign of … neuro-toxic pollution? Severe weather shifts bringing unsurvivable cold or heat? The new media’s hyper-connectivity giving rise to the cognitive linking of similar but otherwise unrelated phenomena? Nope: something much more simple and obvious: the end of the world. “Are you serious? Could this be real? Are you serious? Yes!”

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Heads up: Does the Death of 200 Cows in Wisconsin Confirm Biblical Prophecy?

7 Ways Games Reward the Brain

Most web and software designers think about designing to people’s expectations — make the software easy to use: put a menu where it will be easy to find, make a button’s function clear and obvious. But really good software, the software that just seems fun to use, is designed to reward the user.

Video game developers have become so good at rewarding their users they have made their games literally addictive. For many people, this bodes ill for our species — video games are just another drug enslaving the human mind, lowering economic productivity, and diminishing the human spirit.

I disagree. Sort of. I think the first step in overcoming the addiction is admitting we are addicted and most gamers will readily fess up to their obsession. After that, we might use the understanding about what makes video games addictive to create reward systems for projects that actually benefit humanity and the planet.

Tom Chatfield does a great job explaining how video games reward our brains and how we can apply reward systems to business, environmental conservation and more.

Beware of the Lulz

A troll posts nasty or random comments in a discussion thread with the intent on creating a reaction. Apparently they believe they’re doing something useful — puncturing your self-regard or educating you on how stupid you are.

“Lulz” is how trolls keep score. A corruption of “LOL” or “laugh out loud,” “lulz” means the joy of disrupting another’s emotional equilibrium. “Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh,” said one ex-troll..

I came across this remarkable story about trolling that raises some wild questions about the health and future of our culture and the Internet.

Some more choice quotes from the New York Times story:

Fortuny spent most of the weekend in his bedroom juggling several windows on his monitor. One displayed a chat room run by Encyclopedia Dramatica, an online compendium of troll humor and troll lore. It was buzzing with news of an attack against the Epilepsy Foundation’s Web site. Trolls had flooded the site’s forums with flashing images and links to animated color fields, leading at least one photosensitive user to claim that she had a seizure.

Fortuny disagreed. In his mind, subjecting epileptic users to flashing lights was justified. “Hacks like this tell you to watch out by hitting you with a baseball bat,” he told me. “Demonstrating these kinds of exploits is usually the only way to get them fixed.”

“So the message is ‘buy a helmet,’ and the medium is a bat to the head?” I asked.

“No, it’s like a pitcher telling a batter to put on his helmet by beaning him from the mound. If you have this disease and you’re on the Internet, you need to take precautions.” A few days later, he wrote and posted a guide to safe Web surfing for epileptics.