It’s hard to believe now, but there was a brief moment in history when the idea of “educational television” was a godsend for a world being sullied by the two-headed demon temptress of MTV and Skinemax. Yes, back in the early years of cable, there were entire channels devoted to educating the masses: Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel (TLC), et cetera. Unfortunately, something terrible has happened in the last few years and the idea of using TV to make people smarter has been flushed down the toilet. Here’s why:
#4. "Educational" Is a Bad Word
Considering that it’s typically called “educational programming,” you’d assume that the first thing TV executives would look for in an educational show is whether or not it teaches something. That’s what one Emmy-nominated children’s show host thought after launching a hugely popular program that taught American Sign Language to children. People loved and awarded her first show — why not launch a whole other show that taught kids stuff?
Here’s why: Because her new concept was considered “too educational for television.” At least that’s what Disney and PBS said. The problem, according to creator Rachel Coleman, is that she’s trying to package too much information — in fact, a whole year’s worth of preschool — into a series. Never mind that Sesame Street kind of had the same mandate and delivered with enormous success, or that people actually like it when kids learn crap while watching the idiot box. PBS focused on a whole Jim Henson Company series about dinosaur facts instead, which is still neat in its own right. But still — how the hell can a kid’s show be “too educational”? Hell, we might as well pack in all the extra nuggets of knowledge we can before the kids settle in to a solid seven decades of watching COPS.
#3. Educational Channels Just Lie to Us Now
When a channel devoted to education airs a documentary, people tend to assume — thanks to the very definition of the word “documentary” — that the filmmakers didn’t just make shit up. (Fun fact: They’re called “documentaries” because they document reality!) Otherwise, we’d call them “Actor Show Fakery Cavalcade” or some shit.
So obviously viewers got more than a little pissed off to see Discovery kicking off Shark Week with a “documentary” about finding evidence that megalodons still exist, only to end with a three-second disclaimer telling everyone it was complete hogwash. For our very few readers who weren’t in on the controversy, the megalodon was a gigantic prehistoric shark that’s been dead for millions of years. The Discovery Channel, on the other hand, knew said fact when airing this crockumentary.
Unfortunately, 79 percent of viewers assumed this was a real documentary. But the worst part is that the idea of faking educational documentaries isn’t anything new. It happened just last year when Animal Planet ran another fake show about the existence of mermaids. And like the megalodon, people assumed they weren’t just blowing smoke out of their reverse food holes.
The confusion forced the fucking National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to issue a statement saying mermaids weren’t real, because they were actually getting calls from people scared of mermaids. Try not to think about that for too long.
#2. The Ratings for Crap Is Too High Not to Air Crap
Of the aforementioned fake shark and mermaid documentaries, can you guess how well they did? Did you just guess “a dump truck full of ratings”? Good job, because that’s how well they did! The megalodon show got 4.8 million viewers — better than any show ever on Shark Week. So while the scientific community might accuse them of dumbing down the educational discourse of America, wadded-up $100 bills make extremely good earplugs.
And that’s the sad bottom line here, as Animal Planet’s mermaid sequel also topped out as being the most successful show EVER on that station, making it mysteriously more popular than the Puppy Bowl and no doubt setting up yet another sequel down the line. Brace yourself for Appalachian Satyrs: Fact or Even More Fact and Mermaids 2: Fuck Science.
Heck, when Nik Wallenda walked the Grand Canyon on a tightrope, Discovery got 13 million viewers all waiting to watch him die (he didn’t). Because that’s what America wants — after all, these are the same idiots who think mermaids exist for some reason.
#1. All This Dreadful Stupidity Is Because of One Company
You might notice at this point that this trend seems to transcend the various stations. Fake documentaries and reality shows pretty much haunt all of the educational programming out there. Heck, the Discovery and History channels alone are promoting such gems as Airplane Repo, Amish Mafia, Naked Castaway, Auction Kings, Pawn Stars, and Swamp People. And as much as we might like to, let’s not forget what’s happening over at the “Learning” Channel.
Hint: It Isn’t Learning
So what’s the deal with that? Why are so many educational stations taking the low road? The answer is simple: They’re all owned by the same people. Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, the Science Channel, and the Military Channel — these are all under the same company called Discovery Networks, a group that back in 2007 began a station-wide “rebranding” under a brand new CEO moved over from NBC. One year after that, we got Toddlers & Tiaras.
But it’s not all that bad. Thanks to Discovery Networks’ move out of education, PBS — the OG of learning — has seen a much needed spike in ratings from people who are still able to learn without the aid of CGI sharks or adorable and irrelevant animals. Of course, the fact that Downton Abbey is the highest-rated show they’ve ever had means that the best thing PBS has going for it is fictional dramas. So, shit.
And this, ladies and gentlemen….is why Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, is being aired on the Fox Network. Think of it as an educational adrenaline shot to the media jugular vein of America.
Mother. Fucking. TRUTH.
Amsterdam based artist and collage maker extraordinaire Handiedan meticulously intertwines the lush and sexy pin-up vibe with insanely detailed cut and paste processes and modern artistic style. Read on to know more about the artist and her works - http://bit.ly/17EEKHk
That’s just too damn beautiful.
Video with 11 notes
Here’s a little story: the Atari VCS, a video game console released in 1977, was designed primarily for games like Tank and Pong. Naturally, as developers learn more about a system’s inner workings, they learn to push it more.
Then there’s the demoscene, which knows nothing but to push a system to its brink in the name of art.
This demo for the Atari VCS, Liquid Candy, does exactly that. It uses every single clock cycle, all 128 bytes of RAM, and performs insane feats with the TIA chip that I had never thought possible before. This is art.
This Must Be the Place (8-bit Nintendo Version)
Original track by Talking Heads
Remix by apmeehan
My life is complete! One of my favorite bands on one of my favorite 8-bit platforms… JOY!!
The following excerpts are from the book Creative Confidence, coming out this week from Tom Kelley (author of The Art of Innovation) and IDEO founder David Kelley (who also led the creation of Stanford’s d.school).
Daydreaming gets a bad rap. Watch a classroom scene in nearly any Hollywood movie, and you’re likely to see a kid getting busted for daydreaming in class — gazing out the window or staring off into space when the teacher calls on him.
It’s a case of art imitating life because our minds do tend to wander. But a wandering mind can be a good thing.
Researcher Jonathan Schooler of the University of California, Santa Barbara believes that our brains are often working on “task-unrelated” ideas and solutions when we daydream. That could explain studies showing that prolific mind wanderers score higher on tests of creativity. And new research on the default network of the brain similarly found that our minds make unlikely connections between ideas, memories, and experiences when we are at rest and not focused on a specific task or project.
Daydreaming has problem-solving power. Sometimes it helps to stop focusing so intently on an issue, and aim for what IDEO founder David Kelley’s mentor Bob McKim used to call “relaxed attention.” In that mental state, the problem or challenge occupies space in your brain, but not on the front burner.
Relaxed attention lies between meditation, where you completely clear your mind, and the laser-like focus you apply when tackling a tough math or engineering problem. Our brains can make cognitive leaps when we are not completely obsessed with a challenge, which is why good ideas sometimes come to us while we are in the shower, or taking a walk or a long drive. (David Kelley often places a whiteboard marker in his shower, so he can write a passing idea on the glass wall before it slips away.)
So if you find yourself stuck on a problem, take 20 minutes or so off the grid; let your mind disengage temporarily. You may find a solution arriving like a flash or stroke of insight. In fact, when you are stuck on a problem, here are a couple of ways to defocus your mind and to get into relaxed attention.
Try taking a walk, away from traffic or intrusions. Poets, writers, scientists, and thinking people of all sorts throughout history have found inspiration while walking.
Philosopher-poet Friedrich Nietzsche said “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Perhaps it is because of the increased blood flow from the exercise, or the emotional distance gained by walking away from a semi-urgent issue that has been occupying your mind all day. A “thought walk” can take place any time of day or night.
Another opportunity to tap the power of relaxed attention occurs each morning — and you don’t even have to get out of bed. When you are awakened from a deep sleep, such as when your alarm goes off, you may find yourself in a half-conscious state between waking and dreaming, which is a perfect moment for relaxed attention. (We’ve used this half-dreaming state to come up with any number of new solutions and fresh ideas.)
Re-purpose that snooze button on your alarm. Start thinking of it as a “muse button,” so that you leverage those first precious moments of the day.
Try it a few times: when your alarm goes off, just press the “muse button,” and for the next five minutes, let your brain wander in a state of relaxed attention, working in an unfocused way on some challenge or problem that you have been wrestling with. With a little practice, you’ll be able to discover some fresh insights before your day even begins.
Read it all over at Wired. It’s brilliant and inspiring.
Sometimes, treasures just pop out of nowhere. In this case, they’re found within cameras just waiting to be unearthed and shared through love for analogue.
In 2011, photographer and co-owner of A Nerd’s World Chris Hughes stumbled upon a 1914 French Richard Verascope camera from an old fellow looking to clear his camera collection for his retirement. Chris was in a surprise, the camera came with two slides of film in its leather case and would soon start an obsession for him.
This. This is pretty good advice.
I tell this to my students when they get down, except I tell them they’ll be great at music. They all love Adventure Time, so they can relate.
Jake is absolutely right! You’ll suck at something at first, but keep doing constantly, and you’ll start getting good at it!
One of the reasons I love Adventure Time so much.
Lester picked up a screwdriver. “You see this? It’s a tool. You can pick it up and you can unscrew stuff or screw stuff in. You can use the handle for a hammer. You can use the blade to open paint cans. You can throw it away, loan it out, or paint it purple and frame it.” He thumped the printer. “This [Disney in a Box] thing is a tool, too, but it’s not your tool. It belongs to someone else — Disney. It isn’t interested in listening to you or obeying you. It doesn’t want to give you more control over your life.”
“If you don’t control your life, you’re miserable. Think of the people who don’t get to run their own lives: prisoners, reform-school kids, mental patients. There’s something inherently awful about living like that. Autonomy makes us happy.
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