Friday, March 28, 2008

Internet Addiction: real or virtual?

A very interesting, well articulated piece on Internet addiction in this Podcast from CBC Radio's show "Search Engine."

Host Jesse Brown talks about how Internet Addiction was initially posed as a 'joke', but then became part of the vernacular that some of us are trying to shake. There's also a really interesting interview he has with Dr. Jerald Block, who's been trying to get the DSM-V to include Internet Addiction.

However, one might see how the argument is very chicken/egg in that to get more research funding to investgate whether or not Internet Addiction really exists, the disorder needs to be officially recognized on the DSM-V. But then, how do we avoid incorrectly including something of this nature that is still so hotly contested and outright rejected by some even in the medical community?

I highly recommend anyone considering the concept of Internet addiction to take a listen. The circularity of logic in the interview quickly becomes apparent... but I leave it up to you to decide, cuz you probably already know my opinion on things. (and if you don't, take a look at some of my pubs on the right-hand side of this blog!)

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Miss Bimbo - aren't you a little curious?

On the radio this morning, I heard the creator of the game Miss Bimbo responding to the latest media frenzy/outrage/panic.

The curiosity was such that the site actually went down due to so many people attempting to access a game that has seemed to captivate those ages 9-16.

The controversy stems from some aspects of the game which people perceive as encouraging girls to get plastic surgery, use diet pills, and get a 'sugar daddy'.

On the radio, the creator was refuting some of these claims, stating that the average age of the player was actually 17.7 years old, including players who were in their twenties, to even as high as their fifties. Hmm.

When the talk show host grilled him on the negative aspects of the game as stated above, he said that those are only a few of the aspects of the game, stating that you can send your 'bimbo' to university too! He also defended the use of the word 'Bimbo' as tongue-in-cheek, saying that in the UK it was quite common to use the word humorously.

I don't know... do you think that this 'Paris Hilton' game allows users to experiment with what it would be -like- to be Paris Hilton, thereby satisfying that need in a virtual way... or do you think that such a game might encourage the 'wrong behaviour'? Isn't this the ever-present question... with games like Grand-Theft Auto, or any other violent/objectionable game? Should they receive sanctions, or is it expression?


Update April 01, 2008:: Latest on the Bimbo saga, they've done away with the Diet Pills feature to lessen some of the negative press. More here on CBC News>>

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

First gaming event to go intercontinental - Seoul

From the JoongAng Daily:

The Seoul Metropolitan Government wants to position itself as a hub of e-sports by co-hosting the 2008 Seoul International e-Stars gaming competition in July. The city of Seoul plans to launch a second fund to promote the e-sports industry, following the previous 30 billion won [$30.9 million] fund initiated for cultural events.

Read the rest of the article>>

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Critical Theory and Metaphysics: A Symposium

My supervisor Andrew Feenberg will be speaking at this event-- If you're in the area, I encourage you to check it out!

SFU, Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings, Vancouver. Room 2270
Thursday, March 27, 2008 - Friday, March 28, 2008

Hosted by the Modernity and Citizenship working group of the Institute for the Humanities at SFU.
Please note that while this event is free and open to the public, reserved seating is requested, as space is limited. Please call 778-782-5100 or e-mail to reserve. Note: if you wish to reserve a seat for just a portion of the symposium, please specify this when making your reservation. For further information about the program e-mail or

Critical Theory and Metaphysics: the focus of the symposium:
Today science and technology have never exercised more power over virtually every aspect of human and extra-human nature, including and especially their capacity to remake the very fabric of life itself in their own image. Yet, at the same time, there is an increasing shift towards seemingly irrational cultural forms, from the mass hysteria that attends the culture industry, the increasing fetishization of Eastern mysticism to the dangerous, destabilizing fundamentalist turn in the great world religions. Perhaps, as the power of science and technology becomes increasingly totalizing and therefore irrational,seemingly irrational forms harbour a subterranean rationality insofar as they re-assert the very interpretations of the "Good life" that are in the process of disappearing from within the disenchanted precincts of a techno-science? In other words, what is the relation between reason and faith? What place, if any, is there for metaphysics, not just in a Critical Theory of Society but, indeed, in its project of social transformation?

Symposium Programme
Thursday, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m.

9:15 a.m.
Welcome: Anne-Marie Feenberg-Dibon, Director, Institute for the Humanities, SFU.
Introductory remarks: Samir Gandesha, Humanities, SFU. "The Contemporaneity of Critical Theory."

Panel I

Jerry Zaslove, Humanities/West Coast Line, SFU. "Walter Benjamin's Critique of Violence -- Intertwining Myth, Revolution, Force, Nemesis."
Ian Wallace,Vancouver-based Artist. "Art as the Objectification of Consciousness"
Chair: Samir Gandesha

12:30- 1:30
Panel II

Brook Pearson, Humanities, SFU. "The Odyssey of Enlightenment: Adorno/Horkheimer and Ancient Allegory"
Shane Gunster, Communication, SFU. "Fear and the Unknown: Nature, Culture and the Limits of Reason"
Chair: Ian Angus, Humanities/Centre for Canadian Studies, SFU.
Friday 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Panel III
Andrew Feenberg. Communication, SFU. "Between Reason and Experience: Heidegger and Marcuse on Technology"
Ian Angus."The Critique of Instrumental Reason and the Aims of Philosophy"
Chair: John Abromeit (Social Sciences, University of Chicago).

Panel IV

Samir Gandesha, "Solidarity with Metaphysics at the Time of its Downfall"
John Abromeit, "Metaphysics before and after Auschwitz: The Transformations of a Key Concept in the Critical Theory of Horkheimer and Adorno"
Stefano Giacchetti, John Cabot University, Rome. "Beyond Domination: Adorno and Political Praxis"

Chair: Andrew Feenberg
4:00 - 5:30: Concluding discussion: the eclipse of universalism and the future of cultural criticism.
Moderator: Ian Angus

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Games, Learning, and Society 4.0 CFP

This year's call for papers to the Games, Learning, and Society conference in Madison, Wisconsin is out:

The fourth annual Games, Learning & Society (GLS) Conference will be held July 10-11, 2008 in Madison, Wisconsin. Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education and the Academic ADL Co-Lab, the GLS Conference fosters substantive discussion and collaboration among academics, designers, and educators interested in how game technologies – commercial games and others – can enhance learning, culture, and education. Speakers, discussion groups, and interactive workshops will focus on game design, game culture, and games’ potential for learning.

For three years the GLS Conference has been the space for academics, industry leaders, educators, and policy makers to meet and to engage, not just in industry building, but in serious discussion about the current state of the field: where we ought to be headed, and what impact games can and ought to have on culture and society. We are planning the biggest and best year ever for this very important gathering, and we hope you will join us.

This two-day conference will be held at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Monona Terrace Convention Center, overlooking downtown Madison’s beautiful Lake Monona. Conference highlights include: a special session of hands-on workshops designed by and for videogame researchers and designers; a two-day lounge featuring Chat 'n' Frag sessions with key scholars and designers; fireside chats with industry leaders and special guests; a game room; webcasts of selected conference sessions; and our signature Thursday night dinner party.

We invite creative and interactive proposals for presentations, discussions, symposia, workshops, debates, respondents, and exhibits on topics and issues related to conference themes. To continue providing a high-quality program, all submissions will go through peer review and be evaluated with respect to quality, originality, clarity, and relevance to conference themes. Based on positive feedback from last year's conference, we especially encourage interactive session formats such as workshops, debates, and hands-on events for the GLS lounge.

Complete submission guidelines are listed inside the submissions site at Submission format includes: Title; Abstract (500 words or less); Author name(s), picture(s), and short bio(s); and lastly, whether you would like your presentation to be considered for an interactive (workshop, chat ‘n’ frag, poster) or more expository (symposium, plenary) session. Submissions are due online by March 31, 2008.

Thank you for your time; we look forward to seeing you in July!


Sean Michael Dargan
GLS Conference Coordinator

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Korean evangelicals in Afghanistan

Friend Ju Hui Judy Han is giving a talk this month at UC Berkeley about her work on Korean evangelicals and the politics of secularity.

You might know her from her fabulous graphic representation of key dissertation ideas in the form of humorous comics that I absolutely adore. Maybe everyone doing a dissertation should attempt to distill the ideas in the form of a comic... I'm thinking about it...

**please post widely**

Please join us for the following important critical perspective:

Ju Hui Judy Han (Geography, UC Berkeley)
"Missions Without Missionaries?: Politics of Secularity in the Case of Korean Evangelicals in Afghanistan"

Thursday, March 13, 2008
4 p.m.
Barbara Christian Room, 554 Barrows Hall

A group of twenty-three South Korean evangelicals made worldwide headlines in 2007 when they were taken hostage by the Taliban for nearly six weeks in Afghanistan. While critics pointed to the hostage situation as indicative of misguided missionary zeal and recklessness, mission advocates continued to claim that the hostages should be described as “church volunteers” or “humanitarian aid workers.” The insistence on avoiding the term “evangelical missionaries” certainly reflects the precarious nature of proselytizing illegally and the obvious need for secrecy in clandestine operations. But claims of secularity also arise out of mission strategies that espouse voluntarism and humanitarianism over conspicuous evangelism and conversion—an important feature of the new evangelical internationalism. Drawing from field research of “Islam missions” and “frontier missions,” this talk discusses how Korean/American missionaries reconcile notions of secularity and religiosity in the global capitalist-evangelical assemblage.

Ju Hui Judy Han is a PhD candidate in geography with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation concerns the politics of evangelism and subject-formation, and how contemporary Korean/American missions both support and subvert existing racial, gender, and geopolitical hierarchies associated with colonial missions and US hegemony.

Open to the public. Sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Center for Korean Studies, and the Asian Cultural Studies Working Group. For further information, contact Christine Hong (

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