This is Chris's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Chris's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Chris
Outsider philosopher, game designer and author
Recent Activity
Image
What are the behavioural effects of technological networks? What happens if we stop thinking about technology as shiny machines and start looking at other, subtler tools? Can we design technology to have better effects upon humans? These and other questions... Continue reading
Posted 10 hours ago at Only a Game
Hi IIYTT, Thanks for your comment - although this 15 year old piece is quite a deep dive in the archive, making me wonder how on earth you found it! :) I was really only finding my feet in 2005, my philosophy became far more sophisticated over the next decade. But the core idea of this piece isn't something I disagree with now, even though I would never write about it in these sort of terms today. I made my peace with Dawkins; I'm actually immensely grateful to him these days - he gave me a push I desperately needed, albeit away from where he was standing. :) I'm afraid I don't find your understanding of the relationship between science and religion to be very convincing. Your definition of religion seems to be expressly skewed towards the Abrahamic religions, is entirely pejorative, and also seems to completely ignore the Dharmic religions or other kinds of traditional religions. If you have any interest in understanding religious diversity, I recommend Ninian Smart's Dimensions of the Sacred, but reading your comment I doubt that you do. You ought to be aware, however, that you will have trouble making strong, valid arguments against 'religion' using a definition that is just a caricature of (I'm guessing) Christianity/Islam since you will not often be talking about the same thing with those you hope to influence. Also, the idea that science and religion are opposites is very tricky to maintain, given the way that the contemporary sciences grow out the influence of Christianity on European thought. You are free to your own beliefs about these issues, of course, but I would encourage you to follow your own admonition and think further, and perhaps also with the involvement of a more diverse set of viewpoints wherever possible. As someone who clearly has a great love of the sciences, maybe you could start with Einstein's writings on the subject (mentioned in this piece)...? The World as I See It would be the place to start. From the preface of the first edition: "Albert Einstein believes in humanity, in a peaceful world of mutual helpfulness, and in the high mission of science. This book is intended as a plea for this belief at a time which compels every one of us to overhaul his mental attitude and his ideas." That strikes me as a maxim you might be able to stand behind! Well, I guess I'm jumping to the assumption that you want to do further reading, and if you don't that's fair enough too. Find your own path. But I don't think we can have much of a conversation from where you are at the moment. I would, however, cheerfully retract any claim that all kinds of positivistic positions (such as materialistic humanism) should be understood as a religion. These days, I'd prefer to describe them as non-religions. But I would still echo Mary Midgley's warning that "the evils which have infested religion are not confined to it, but are ones that can accompany any successful human institution." Thanks for commenting, Chris.
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on The Trouble with Memes at Only a Game
1 reply
Image
The technology of citizenship was one of the most revolutionary transformations in human history. It offered, for the first time, the chance for people to participate in a political body as equals - a concept invented in ancient Greece, expanded... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Only a Game
Image
The lockdowns triggered in response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus are the most extensive attempt to manually reconfigure our cybernetic networks since World War II. In both cases, changes were justified in order to ‘save lives’ (an emotive but oft misleading... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Only a Game
Image
Have you paid your Disney tax? Chances are you have at some point, and it’s quite likely you do so every year, to an ever-increasing degree. Every time you pay to watch a Disney or Pixar movie, every time your... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2020 at Only a Game
That tickles me! :)
Toggle Commented Jul 28, 2020 on The Digital Downstairs at Only a Game
1 reply
Image
At the start of the twentieth century, there were just a few autonomous devices on our planet, and they were all mechanical rather than electronic. But two decades into the twenty first century and we are surrounded by electrically-powered robots... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2020 at Only a Game
Hi Annie, In all cases, I'm summarising Booker - so answering your questions requires me to make assumptions about his way of looking at things. In the case of "Gone with the Wind", I can't quite see this as a Rebirth story in Bookers terms but I can see how it works as "Voyage and Return" - even with the story all set in Georgia. Remember that the Other World (in both Campbell and Booker) can be figurative instead or as well as literal. From what I remember of "Gone with the Wind", the Other World is the American Civil War. If you think in these terms, it's easier to see why Booker would put it in this template (which is not to say that you cannot dispute that choice!). It's an interesting suggestion to say that the Mystery plot is merely a variant upon Overcoming the Monster... certainly, there is a lively subset of crime stories that are much more about Monsters than they are about Mysteries. In all cases, Mystery stories are forensic stories - they are about the facts coming together to undermine other stories being told (alibis for instance). Bel and the Dragon is an interesting case as it is such an ancient story - and I always thought it interesting that this did not get incorporated into the standard Bible... But it still has this forensic quality. Although there is a "monster" of sorts (the dragon) it is revealed as a deception. So instead of fighting and slaying a beast, there is a revelation. In other words, this is the (apocryphal) Biblical story of Scooby Doo! :) I think it is much clearer to understand why this is a different kind of story if you look at the Sherlock Holmes tales, which are making a character and a plot out of the new kind of forensic thinking emerging out of the post-Enlightenment drive for rationality. Holmes is actually an extremely fantastical figure - yet he feels grounded. Why? It's because what is fantastical about him is his total knowledge, which does not feel like magic (but perhaps should!). The Agatha Christie stories put less weight on this, although Mr Poirot is closer to Holmes than the more charming Miss Marple. These stories involve forensic problem solving. In the movies, and in TV, the desire for what the Indian cinema industry calls "masala movies" (spice blends) often adds in fights and chases... but the core plot of a crime story that fits into Booker's Mystery is solving the mystery through forensic investigations. I agree with him that this is a fundamentally different plot structure. As for Rebellion as the Dark counterpart of Overcoming the Monster... I don't think this is quite right. In the Dark versions of Overcoming the Monster, either the protagonist is the Monster (Richard III) or the Monster wins (various new Noir movies like to do this, and the original Wicker Man might qualify). Rebellion against the One is not about a Monster at all, but a omnipresent horror. For 1984, it is Soviet Russia projected into science fiction i.e. the totalitarian state. I think these quite distinct, personally, but some examples could straddle the cases. The thing about this kind of plot analysis is that we aren't going to be able to draw out the cases entirely distinct; some stories will straddle multiple cases. And that's okay, because the point of looking at plots in this way is to think about the way we construct story-systems, and therefore to be able to better use those systems for either constructing or analysing narrative. I don't use Booker's versions that much personally, although I do use Campbell's - but I found Booker's take to be well-thought out. And in viewing the core cast of many stories as a family, he has influenced my own work. Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to revisit this piece, which in many respects is one of the more popular pieces ever posted to Only a Game despite being just an infodump of my notes! :) All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Jul 25, 2020 on The Seven Basic Plots at Only a Game
1 reply
Image
What behavioural effects do videogames have upon their players? For these ten instalments of A Hundred Cyborgs, the focus was on the moral dimensions of contemporary videogames. This Gamer Cyborgs mini-serial followed on from the examination of early coin-op videogames... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2020 at Only a Game
Thanks Matt! So glad RSS isn't dead...although when I open my newsreader, it's mostly my blogs that have new content. :( Chris.
Toggle Commented Jul 17, 2020 on Fifteen Years Today! at Only a Game
1 reply
Image
We would be hard pressed to find a more diverse industrial network than that which manufactures make-up: plant oils, the crushed bodies of insects, mineral dust, ground up herring scales... the make-up cyborgs wear upon their faces a macabre concoction... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2020 at Only a Game
Hi Chris, Thanks for these notes! I'll bring them to the next meeting on the project. I don't agree that deserts are too lucrative though - that is probably based on your experiences with the Traveller. You certainly can make a good return on a desert trip if you're lucky, but attempting any destiny other than the Traveller the deserts are a nightmare. One sandstorm can utterly destroy an attempt at the Rebel or the Warlord! Think of the deserts as a lottery that you can win, but are not guaranteed to do so. In the Traveller, where caravans are small, they can work out. But as soon as you're dealing with 30, 50, or even 800 animals in your caravan, the deserts are NASTY. They scare me - and I made the game! :) Many thanks for these notes, Chris.
1 reply
Thanks for returning to continue the discussion, Chris. Regarding whether deplatforming is 'new', you're equating older forms of censorship with deplatforming. I can see why you would do that, but the fact that speech has been regulated and controlled in the past doesn't make it equivalent to deplatforming. For instance, the Royal Societies were permitted to publish their papers under royal license, but that permission could be withdrawn if the crown objected. That's social control of speech, but it's not deplatforming except by an extremely tenuous backprojection of the concept. Your position is 'regulation of speech is as old as society'. I agree! My position is 'networks of people empowered by contemporary technology to rapidly (and with low effort) block free speech as a mob is a new phenomena'. I don't think we disagree here, we're just taking different perspectives on the history of censorship in this specific context. 'Sameness' is a difficult beast to mount, and an even harder one to remain atop! "I don't think there's any political or ethical issue that you or anyone else can fairly say 'there are no more viewpoints for me to look at'" Ha, a wise remark to be sure! Perhaps I should have said 'I have run out of avenues to uncover new viewpoints, and the last three years or so I have only managed to uncover the same viewpoints again, and again, to the point that I have lost faith that I have anything more to learn by reading on this topic, even though I stubbornly refuse to stop searching.' Your accusation was, effectively, I hadn't looked at various people's viewpoints that intersect with the issue of deplatforming. That's not the case, although I might have disproportionately looked at the viewpoints in the trans vs lesbian feminists non-debate over other motivations to deplatform. I continue to read... I am not finding anything new any more. If you think you have something I may have missed, I always welcome new avenues of investigation. And I certainly concede that something new could crop up at any time... that much is always the case! Regarding the 'slippery slope', the final sentence is for dramatic effect more than it is a part of my argument, per se. It's a thought experiment, to be sure, and I can see how you would read it as a slippery slope taken in isolation. But I assure you is not my argument, and merely a concluding remark framed as a thought experiment. As for your additional complaints... "...perhaps the biggest one being that depriving someone of a public platform is not the same as 'silencing them'." Why not? At the least, it is silencing them metaphorically, which is the only way anyone is silenced (even killing someone is only metaphorically silencing them). I take it your point is that they are only silenced in one context? If so, then you agree, it is (metaphorically) silencing them. Alternatively, your point might be that preventing public speech isn't silencing, per se, since they maintain other avenues to speak. That would merely be to refuse to recognise the metaphor. I don't think this metaphor is out of line, personally, but if you do I'll accept that criticism, but I doubt I'll change the way I speak about this. "I'd also argue that taking action to 'take down' someone spreading vile speech is in fact often considered virtuous by many..." Only by extending 'virtuous' by metaphor to different ethical systems that do not as such recognise virtue at all. Alasdair MacIntyre's arguments in After Virtue apply very much to this objection I'm making to you here... Virtues require a tradition, a practice to give them meaning. People don't "take action to block vile speech" because they are virtuous, they do so because they judge the speech vile ergo 'wrong' and view the 'right' thing to do to fight against it. Virtue doesn't enter into this at all, except via analogy whereby those who 'do the right thing' are 'virtuous' i.e. both right and doing the right thing. On this point, though, I am kind of asking you to follow me into the argument of the book, The Virtuous Cyborg, that these #100Cyborg pieces are a companion for. If you are interested in the details of my argument, I encourage you to try the book. But if you're not, the question of what constitutes virtue doesn't really have any role in our discussion because we'll not be talking about the same thing when we talk about 'virtue'. I can certainly concede that the term 'virtuous' is deployed casually in ways that would contradict my argument if they had any validity. But I don't recognise any validity here except that of the thesaurus, so this objection can't ever quite go through to me on its own. I hope that makes sense... More specifically, the fact that people in such a situation would deny that means-end justification applies here relies upon redefining deplatforming so that the supposedly good ends are entailed in its deployment - I've seen this argument from others in response to this. But to make that assessment here risks a denial of the relationship between ends and means that would be logically incoherent. Either the attempt is to say 'it's only [legitimate, authentic etc.] deplatforming if its preventing harm', and therefore deplatforming that we disagree with is not deplatforming at all. I'd call that nonsense, personally, as it entails judging means solely by their ends, which is precisely the accusation that it supposedly defends against! Alternatively, the claim would be 'deplatforming is not inherently injust' - which is a stronger, but still unconvincing argument for anyone who values free speech. Either way, I concede that I will not convince such a person. Which brings me to your final argument (well, the final one I'm going to pick out of the above, at least!): "But, if by your own admission it is written in such a way that you yourself don't think it will convince those who disagree with you, then... isn't that a problem? Shouldn't a good-faith argument be made in the hope, if not expectation, that it will persuade?" I do hope the argument is persuasive, and I certainly think it's an argument in good faith. Your assumption is that the people I am trying to persuade are those actively engaging in deplatforming, presumably because those opposed to it don't need persuading? But that's not my specific goal here; I am only seeking to persuade those who are engaging with #100Cyborgs that deplatforming cannot be cybervirtuous (i.e. it cannot encourage any kind of virtue). I argue this in good faith. Of course, I know that the piece will also be ready by people who are not engaging with #100Cyborgs. In such a case, I don't see how I could hope to be persuasive, but either way, it is not my purpose in writing this piece to have that effect. For that, I would probably wade in on a specific issue, as I have done in other pieces. I hope that clarifies. Right, I've written enough for one day! Many thanks for continuing the discussion, and I hope that these remarks clarify where I am coming from. All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Jul 15, 2020 on Deplatforming at Only a Game
1 reply
Thanks Michael! Although I doubt I have another 15 years of life left in me at this point... I'll be happy to be proved wrong about this, though! :) I too greatly miss the old days of blogging, as I'm sure is apparent. But I cannot give up blogging, it is the only thing keeping me sane most weeks. And what is there to replace it...? Nothing. There are new media forms that supplant it, but nothing comes close to doing what blogs could do. I find it quite distressing. Stay wonderful! Chris.
Toggle Commented Jul 15, 2020 on Fifteen Years Today! at Only a Game
1 reply
Hi Chris, Some good challenges here! I'll try to address your points one by one. "Any post against it which ignores (as you do) the lived reality of the people targeted by transphobes, serial harassers, sexual predators and such is ivory-tower theorycrafting and will be rightly rejected by the people who actually suffer the most from the people being deplatformed. Any post for it which ignores the reality that the mob is inevitably insufficiently selective in who it punishes and how much it punishes them, and the corrosive long-term effects of the revolution devouring its children, is likewise ignoring reality." I dare say this remark is largely correct. This #100Cyborgs project has a specific method and a specific process to it, and key to that is that (1) I am looking at the virtue effects of technology (very broadly construed) and (2) I am working in 500 words. I could not hope to address the salient points you raise here within this latter restriction! Sorry. However, I think your first point is stronger than your second point, in terms of effectively challenging deplatforming. One issue with your opening remarks, though... the examples you give seem to be regarding the illegal use of social media to harass, and the withdrawal of that service in response to that harassment. This is not deplatforming as I understand it, and certainly not what is defined in this piece. "Opposing deplatforming without offering an alternative to deal with the very real harm done by public and private figures using the internet/media is simply not useful or persuasive." However, I'm not discussing deplatforming on social media at all in this piece. I'm discussing deplatforming from venues. Perhaps that is not sufficiently clear. However, the argument I make here strikes me as relevant to both - subject to your "ivory-tower theorycrafting" objection, of course! :) "Aside from that, you offer no particular reasons to distinguish the current state of deplatforming from the past (even though it has always been a common thing, in every society)" Completely disagree here. Censorship certainly has a long history, though. If you're sat on a deep dive history of "deplatforming before deplatforming" do share. But I am often resistant to attempts to backproject contemporary concepts into history. Deplatforming as defined here is not, as far as I can ascertain, a longstanding practice - I'm open to new evidence, though. "The internet is overrun with hot takes on this issue that amount to preaching to the choir. I'm part of your choir, and I still am not buying this. That is a problem, and IMO you should go back to basics and try to examine the situation from viewpoints that are different from your own, as well as examining your own assumptions that led you to the unconvincing slippery slope argument you offered." Sorry, but I doubt there are any more viewpoints for me to look at. I've been following this issue for five years now, and I've had ringside seats to the fight between Trans activists and Lesbian Feminists (and their related allies), which I've found hugely distressing - more so than my British trans friends, apparently. I've read everything I can find written in support of deplatforming, and a great deal of what's been written against it. If there's a gap in my reading here, I don't know what it might be. You might be mistaking the brevity of the piece for ignorance. I do accept your criticism, above, though, that because this piece subtracts the emotional baggage it cannot 'go through' to supporters of deplatformers. I don't think I thought this piece could do this, though. I'm not sure what can. Furthermore, this isn't a hot take. I wrote this one long before the furore over the "Cancel culture" letter broke - it was coincidence this piece landed when it did (my #100Cyborgs pieces are written weeks to months ahead of running). And as I say, I've been following the issues for five years now (since Germaine Greer was deplatformed). But I dare say you are correct that the internet is full of hot takes. This one, however, is being served cold. :) Finally, I'm disappointed that you think this reads as a slippery slope argument. It's not intended to be. I try to avoid these. What I view as the key point here is the deployment of good ends to excuse unjust means. Alas, this argument does not appear to have 'landed'... perhaps the 'hot takes' are part of the problem, perhaps arguing from allegedly shared principles is simply hopeless at this point. As for Silk, you have two options for bringing up issues, the devblog: https://onlyagame.typepad.com/silk/ Or the ihobo Games Discord server: https://discord.gg/AQh8PrE Regarding the Switch version (which was ported by Huey Games), we know there are fatal save game bugs but we have been unable to get a reproduction report for any of these bugs which has made them impossible to address. Although it is probably small consolation, I can offer you a free Steam key as compensation, as the Steam version does not have these problems. Many thanks for commenting - engagement is always appreciated, even when its negative. Chris.
Toggle Commented Jul 15, 2020 on Deplatforming at Only a Game
1 reply
Image
We tend to think about legal vs illegal drugs - forgetting, it seems, the harms caused by (legal) medication, alcohol, or tobacco, and the good that unexpectedly comes from (illegal) intoxicants. One sensible constraint applies to all drugs, medicinal or... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2020 at Only a Game
This is an additional complication to be sure! I cannot, in fact, use an Android device as the interface is utterly confusing to me as I am completely inculcated to the demands of iOS. But for me, the biggest problem is not so much that there are these multiple sets of interface practices but that these interface practices are in constant flux, removing the possibility of developing our excellences with respect to them. This is another situation where "Il meglio è l'inimico del bene". Many thanks for commenting, Babette! Chris.
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2020 on GoogleApple at Only a Game
1 reply
Image
A basic pillar of contemporary social justice campaigning is deplatforming, which entails collectively piling complaints, economic pressure, or threats of non-violent reprisal against a venue that is hosting a speaker whom an interest group opposes. It’s effective, because venues depend... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2020 at Only a Game
Image
A GoogleApple cyborg is a cybernetic organism consisting of a human coupled with either an Android smartphone or an iPhone. The human feels like it is the most significant part of this network, which is odd considering that GoogleApple adds... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2020 at Only a Game
Earlier this week, I waded in on an interesting discussion that broke out on Twitter about the use of the terms 'game mechanics' and 'game systems', definitely worth a read if you're into discussions around game terminology or have an... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2020 at Only a Game
Cheers! Thanks for reading!
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2020 on Fifteen Years Today! at Only a Game
1 reply
Image
Hard to believe it was fifteen years ago this day that I first began typing my extraneous thoughts into blog posts. It's been quite a journey! In the time since I began, I've published a great many philosophy books that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2020 at Only a Game
Image
Dear Pablo, You asked earlier this week how game designers define 'game mechanic' and how you differentiate it from 'game system'. And this is an interesting question, for a number of different reasons, not least of which is historical. 'Game... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2020 at ihobo
Image
We tend to think about legal vs illegal drugs - forgetting, it seems, the harms caused by (legal) medication, alcohol, or tobacco, and the good that unexpectedly comes from (illegal) intoxicants. One sensible constraint applies to all drugs, medicinal or... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2020 at Only a Game
Hi Michael, Always great to hear from another Ghost Master fan! If you want to stay abreast with any news about the long and slow road to Haunters, Inc, do consider joining the ihobo games Discord server: https://discord.gg/AQh8PrE ...and/or sign up for the Newsletter over at ihobo.com: https://blog.ihobo.com Happy hauntings! Chris.
Toggle Commented Jun 27, 2020 on Post Mortem: Ghost Master (Part One) at Only a Game
1 reply