Social Studies

Social Studies (X) - Health/Phys. Ed. (X) - High (X)

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? 

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?"

Can Video Games Become the Next Great Spectator Sport? | PBS Idea Channel

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As our South Korean friends can confirm, video games can most definitely be a spectator sport. But will they ever catch on in a huge way in the USA? Pro leagues already exist. To know if they'll ever reach the levels of March Madness and Superbowl Sunday, we need to take a closer look at traditional sports spectatorship to figure out the real reason we watch. It's more than just winning and losing: there are characters, rivalries, histories, and a host of other background information that coalesce into an amazing story, and we're dying to know the ending. Could eSports ever achieve this level of storytelling? Watch the episode to find out and tell us what you think!

What Do Hot Sauce Labels Say About America? | PBS Idea Channel

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Peppers are the essence of hot sauce, and hot sauce is the essence of spicy. You might be a hot sauce lover, but how much thought have you given to their labels? If you've ever taken a second to examine them, you might notice some patterns and similarities amongst them. What does this say about Americans' attitude towards hot sauces, or even towards food in general? 

What do MP3s and Magic Spells Have in Common? | PBS Idea Channel

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The MP3 seems to be everyone's favorite musical file format. But, there's something you might not know about the Mp3 - it has a lot in common with the magic spell! Both spells and music were born from a freely available folk culture but are now sold as commercial goods. There are thousands of artists and witches trying to figure out how to make a living in an age where their products can be infinitely copied. And with commercialization, the morality and legality of sharing these once open cultural products has become quite complicated. How should we, as responsible consumers, handle this new digital age? 

Does Pop Culture Need To Be "Popular"? | PBS Idea Channel

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What is "Popular Culture?" Despite what the term may lead you to think, it is not just media that is numerically popular! Tom Waits most certainly is part of popular culture, regardless of his lack of billboard hits. So what are the qualifications for "Pop Culture?" And where does the internet come into play in all this? 

What is a tweet worth? #ALSIceBucketChallenge | PBS Idea Channel

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By now, everyone online knows about the Ice Bucket Challenge. While it has been incredibly successful in terms of dollars raised, lots of the videos failed to mention donations, and many people questioned the value of the campaign. Are these videos "slacktivism," helping only superficially with a cause? What value do our social posts really have? 

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