Data’s place in understanding our world and ourselves

We humans are predisposed to find patterns in the world around us. Our comprehension of the world we live in is fundamentally our understanding of how things interact with each other. Our minds observe repeating patterns in the world, from which the idea of cause and effect is born. This is the conclusion that our minds form when observing events that always occur one after the other. It’s this facet of our minds which enables us to form our judgements, predict outcomes and inform our interactions in the world accordingly. Continue reading

Flappy Bird and flutters of fame

At 7:04pm on the 8th of February, Dong Nguyen announced that he was to remove his creation, the most popular game of the year, Flappy Bird, from the App Store. Twenty-two hours later, it was gone. No more consensual misery would be inflicted on the casual gamers of the world; no more $50,000 a day; no more media furore.

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Are YouTubers influencers too?

Last month, it was leaked that Microsoft is embarking on an influencer programme, whereby YouTubers  affiliated with the prolific YouTube gaming network Machinima, would be paid an extra $3 per 1000 views (on top of what they make from their ad revenues) to positively promote the Xbox One. Any videos made as a part of the programme were instructed to use the tag ‘XB1M13’.

Details of the leak were quickly spread around the Internet and outrage quickly ensued. The thing is that ‘influencer programmes’ aren’t anything that out of the ordinary – prolific YouTubers are regularly paid by video game companies to endorse their products: nothing different from typical sponsorship deals in sports, for example. But what made this different is that a line was crossed.

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The media, gun crime and gun games

A recent report revealed that in just the first six weeks of 2014, there have been 13 recorded school shootings in the US. What’s more, there have been 44 shootings in total since the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December 2012, where 28 lost their lives.That averages out at just over three school shootings per month in that 14 month timeframe. The number and scale of these attacks is so shocking that it’s hard to ignore. Now that the topic is back in the public spotlight, it’s as good a time as any to ask: why is it that these attacks are so frequent, and why is it that these tragedies happen? Who is responsible for these crimes, and what can be done to prevent them?

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