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Are There Rules For Spoilers? | PBS Idea Channel

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Spoilers can be infuriating because they can ruin the suspense in a piece of media. But some people like them, actually preferring to have the endings divulged. What camp are you in? Why aren't there better guidelines regarding spoilers? We caught up with some of our favorite Youtubers at Vidcon and got their two cents. Watch the episode and tell us what you think!

Can Dungeons & Dragons Make You A Confident & Successful Person? | PBS Idea Channel

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There are some deeply ingrained stereotypes about Dungeons & Dragons, and those stereotypes usually begin and end with people called D&D fans nerds. But, the reality of the D&D universe is much more complex. Rather than being an escape from reality, D&D is actually a way to enhance some important real life skills. It's a chance to learn problem solving, visualization, interaction, organization, people management, and so on. Plus, there are some very famous non-nerds who have declared an affinity for D&D, so perhaps it is best to stop criticizing and join in if you want to be a successful at the game of life! Watch the episode and tell us what you think!

How To Create Responsible Social Criticism | PBS Idea Channel

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The recent matter of Sam Pepper's "social experiment" videos has inspired a lot of discussion and debate. Here at Idea Channel, we thought we'd take this opportunity to talk not specifically about Sam Pepper, but about media in general and its ability to comment on serious social issues. If Sam Pepper's video successfully critiqued assault, then why all the uproar? If media can be potentially hurtful, then how can we best comment on social issues? 

Net Neutrality: Is the Internet a Public Utility? | PBS Idea Channel

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Is the internet a public utility? No. Should it be? That's an interesting question. The internet, as we've said many a time, is a glorious series of tubes, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) sell us access to those tubes. But the FCC is considering a new two tiered system, in which some companies could pay ISPs for faster delivery. This topic (aka net neutrality) has made us think about the important role the internet plays in our lives. Is internet access so important that it should be classified as a public utility or common carrier, like water & electricity, or public buses and subways? 

Is Facebook Changing Our Identity? | PBS Idea Channel

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With 955,000,000 worldwide users, it seems like just about everyone makes use of the social media giant Facebook to connect with friends, share photos, and update everyone they've ever met since grade school about their dinner plans. But, what you may not realize is that Facebook's new timeline layout is enhancing the ability to construct our self identity by super-charging our memory. Philosophers have been arguing about the link between identity and memory since John Locke first proposed the idea in the 17th Century, but human memory has always been deeply flawed and limited. Now with Facebook's incredibly easy interface and ability to remember anything and everyone we want, people have a whole new way to understand their past and thus understand themselves. 

When Do Memes Stop Being Funny? | PBS Idea Channel

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"Old meme is old." But why is this such a bad thing? Once the height of internetiness, the sight of a LOLCat is now unforgivable. Memes become passe very quickly: after just months or even weeks of a new meme, we tire of the once hugely popular joke. Why does this happen, and so rapidly? Is it a reflection of the sheer volume of visual information we absorb from the internet? Or, does it say something about this specific visual culture? 

What Does Too Many Cooks Say About the Meaning of Life? | PBS Idea Channel

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Adult Swim's Too Many Cooks is awesome, bizarre, and like so many other things on the internet, absurd. The video is perfectly suited for internet obsession, because the internet loves meaningless and irrational content. So, how does this meaningless video connect to Sisyphus, Albert Camus, and Alex from Target? 

Will Minecraft and Makerbot Usher in the Post-Scarcity Economy? | PBS Idea Channel

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From the Jetsons to Cory Doctorow, science fiction writers of all stripes have imagined a world where any object could be instantly created. Modern economics on the other hand, is built on the principle of competition for scarce resources. And while it may not seem like a video game and printer could alter this economic reality, we beg to differ. Minecraft's creative mode is the perfect vehicle for understanding a Post-Scarcity world: a place where resources are permanently available and constantly regenerated. It shows that with unlimited resources, people end up creating amazing digital structures! Of course, a world of infinitely available resources seems pretty fantastical until you consider the Makerbot and the future of 3D printing. The Makerbot is an at home device that allow you to print real, three dimensional objects, meaning a Minecraftian future where you can print anything you want at anytime might not be that far away. Watch the episode, and tell us what you think!

Can Bullet Hell Games Be Meditative? | PBS Idea Channel

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Bullet Hell games are crazy. Their onslaught of lasers and bullets (also known as "dakka") seems overwhelming or even impossible to the uninitiated. Is playing these games an elaborate and stressful mastery of patterns and strategy? Or could it instead be a form of meditation? Maybe the way to find your way through the dakka is to fall into a mental autopilot in the face of complexity, finding harmony within the haze. Is this wild overstimulation a form of modern meditation? Watch the episode and tell us what you think!

How Powerful Are Algorithms? | PBS Idea Channel

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If you've ever used Google, Netflix, Facebook, or Amazon, then you've come into contact with algorithms. In fact, it's guaranteed that your life has been impacted by algorithms, even in ways you're unaware of. The importance of algorithms in today's world cannot be overstated, and their role has been the focus of much discussion- especially in how they're shaping our lives, for better or for worse. But, how far does the algorithmic rabbit hole go? Could their influence even have spiritual correlations? 

Are Your New Year's Resolutions Bound to Fail? | PBS Idea Channel

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New Year's Resolutions are incredibly hard to keep. Watch this special episode to find out why, and tell us what you think!

LITERALLY OUR MOST AMAZING EPISODE EVER!!! | PBS Idea Channel

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"This is literally the best episode of Idea Channel EVER." Is it? Or are we just continuing the cultural trend of hyperbole? (side note: the episode is pretty gosh darn enjoyable) It's like EVERY SINGLE THING people describe is AWESOME and AMAZING and THE BEST. We're all seemingly competing to have the ultimate meaningful experiences, so how are we supposed to articulate genuine sentiment? I mean it's THE WORST I cannot even. Literally, I can't even find words to accurately describe the limits to our vocabulary and our ability to express true enthusiasm. So where does our vernacular develop from here? 

When Will We Worry About the Well-Being of Robots? | PBS Idea Channel

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Do you worry about your vacuum? Not in the way you're concerned about breaking a valuable object - but in an emotional, empathetic concern for its being? If so, then you're primed for our discussion about the wellbeing of robots! We can personify objects, assigning them human qualities, but will technology get to a point where it deserves these moral concerns? Can you imagine a day when you will empathize with your computer or care whether it lives or dies? 

Coffee, Mesmerism, and Morning Routines | PBS Idea Channel

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This episode is about glorious morning coffee. Or, more specifically, about our time-tested morning routines. Everybody has their morning routine that they rely on and cling to dearly. The simple acts of brewing coffee, showering, and whatever else you do makes that first act of climbing out of bed easier. The comfort and familiarity of those repeated actions give us a sense of ownership, and cause us to self identify with these simple set of actions. So what is it about these routines that make them so important to us? Watch the episode to find out, and tell us what you think!

Did Someone Say Philosophical? | PBS Idea Channel

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In this short episode, Mike responds to Michael from VSauce's philosophical question: Are the bacteria and skin cells that live on your body "You?"

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