Social Studies

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Is Piracy Helping Game of Thrones? | PBS Idea Channel

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If you're like us, you love watching Game of Thrones, but you may not have cable. In this case, how are we watching this amazing show on HBO, which is stuck behind a pay wall? A huge number of viewers are downloading the show illegally. But, despite being the most pirated show of 2012, the Game of Thrones DVDs are top sellers, breaking HBO's own sales records! Could it be that piracy is actually helping the show? 

How Does Steven Universe Expand Our Ideas of Family? | PBS Idea Channel

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We love Steven Universe, but what makes it so great? Is it more than just a story of mismatched characters trying to save the world? Could Steven Universe really be about family and how it's impossible to define it universally? What else, or who else, can we call family? Are fandoms family? Can things be family? 

How Is Technology Changing TV Narrative? | PBS Idea Channel

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Watching our favorite TV shows is one of the most fundamental ways we entertain ourselves. For most of TV history, these stories were simple and episodic: you could watch one episode when it aired, and it was a self-contained story. However, now that we have the ability to find the whole back- catalogue of a show online, is it changing the way TV show are created? Not only can people catch up without waiting for a DVD release, but entire seasons are also released and consumed in a single weekend. How might that be changing the types of stories we're being told?

Is YouTube Making Us Smarter? | PBS Idea Channel

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Did you know there's a place where you can learn just about anything you'd like? It's true! It's called YouTube! Sure, YouTube has hundreds of thousands of hours of deliciously time-wasting content, but it's much more than just a black hole of pet videos and funny clips. If you know where to go, YouTube has some of the best educational content on the planet! Although watching Kahn Academy all day might be a bit dry, the creativity of YouTube creators has allowed "education" to be transformed in a variety of amazing and engaging ways. YouTube probably won't replace schools anytime soon, but it's a pretty awesome alternative. 

Environmental Justice: Opposing a Toxic Waste Landfill

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In this video segment, adapted from Earthkeeping: Toxic Racism, learn about the beginning of the environmental justice movement. Meet various experts and leaders who describe the issues of environmental racism and justice, and learn about the watershed event—the controversy over the location of a toxic landfill in Warren County, North Carolina—that brought the issues to national attention in the early 1980s. See footage of the residents protesting the transport of PCB-contaminated soil to their community, and hear about how the incident triggered further investigations into the relationship between communities of color and toxins.

Will Allen, Urban Farmer | MacArthur Fellows Program

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In this interview, 2008 MacArthur Fellow Will Allen explains why future generations of farmers will be found in our ever-expanding cities. Allen is an urban farmer who is transforming the cultivation and delivery of healthy foods to underserved, urban populations. Growing Power, which Allen co-founded and directs, offers internships and workshops that engage youth in producing healthy foods for their communities. The organization also provides intensive, hands-on training to those who are interested in establishing similar farming initiatives. This resource is part of the MacArthur Fellows Program Collection.

Are You A Hipster? | PBS Idea Channel

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Hipsters aren't the most likeable people, right? They seem so smug and arrogant, with their ray bans, scarves, and ironic t-shirts. Even those who clearly are hipsters still recoil at the label. Embracing irony over earnestness, the key to hipsters is not just what they enjoy, but how they enjoy it. Borrowing from other subcultures, hipsters reappropriate these fashion elements as their own. But don't we all do that? Our own fashion came from somewhere and certainly has been refined. Do we all have a little bit of hipster blood in us? Watch the episode and tell us what you think!

The Experience of Being Trolled | PBS Idea Channel

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In a very special episode, Mike rethinks his approach to hosting. Most of you have heard the phrase "Don't Feed the Trolls," but do trolls actually serve a purpose? Found in every place people converse online, their combative rhetoric can be annoying, even harmful. Can a valid argument be made for the value of trolls? 

Why Are You Ignoring My iMessages?? | PBS Idea Channel

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Why are you ignoring my messages? Are read receipts amazing or infuriating? When you check iMessage on your iPhone, iWatch, iMac, or iPad and see a little note that says your friend saw your message, but they aren't responding, don't you wonder why they're ignoring your texts? 

Why Makeup Isn't Superficial | PBS Idea Channel

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When someone puts on makeup, there is no easy way to know why they've done it or why they made the decisions they did about their makeup. Answers to those questions might not even be clear to the makeup-wearers themselves! After a very long history of putting stuff on our bodies to accentuate our features, cosmetics - both the products and the idea of them - have taken on a good amount of baggage. So, its tough to know... Is it for the person wearing it? Is it for the people who are going to see the person wearing it? Is it for one by way of the other? This episode of Idea Channel approaches some of these questions, inspired by beauty and makeup tutorials found on YouTube and the tradition of person-to-person sharing of makeup knowledge. 

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? 

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? 

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