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PBS Idea Channel

  1. The Time-Old Question Continues On: Is Avatar Anime?

    On a related note, does anyone else get annoyed when they see Scott Pilgrim in the manga section?

    It's literally a question that friends of mine have been asking since high school -- does Avatar: The Last Airbender, an American-made cartoon with strong Asian influences, count as an anime? My inclination is just to stop at saying "no, it's not," but of course PBS Idea Channel takes it farther than I would, because that's what they do.

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  2. Do Trolls Have Any Inherent Value In Internet Society? Maybe, But Probably Not [Video]

    How long do you think before someone comments, "TL;DW?"

    In attempting to figure out whether or not there is any value in engaging with trolls on the Internet, Mike Rugnetta of PBS Idea Channel effectively trolled himself. If you've ever complained about people being too "sensitive" on the Internet, then this one-person discussion is definitely worth a watch.

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  3. Just How Important Are Algorithms? Apparently, Very [Video]

    Let's plug in some data to calculate how we feel about that.

    Algorithms are to Internet life what common arithmetic problems are to regular life -- it doesn't occur to you how much it impacts you on a daily basis until you actually sit down and think about it. But is there a spiritual component to the way data gets analyzed? We sure hope not. The idea of algorithms gaining sentience is downright unsettling.

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  4. What Are Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, and Do They Exist?

    Those dern kids with their Snapchats and their Youtubes!

    Critics love making this distinction between digital natives -- those born after 1980 who grew up with the Internet and are supposedly fluent in its use -- and digital immigrants -- those born before 1980 and who have to manually learn how to use these technologies, but is that distinction useful or accurate? PBS Idea Channel investigates.

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  5. PBS Idea Channel Looks Inward to Answer Viewer Questions with Double Episodes

    Q: Is Idea Channel one of our favorite things? A: Yes.

    The latest episode of PBS Idea Channel is a two-part behind-the-scenes look at the show, how it's made, and how it came to be. They put the word out that they wanted to answer questions, and viewers responded in a big way. Watch host Mike Rugnetta explain some of the inner workings of one of the best shows on the Internet.

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  6. PBS Ideas Channel Asks: Doctor Who?

    Questions! Questions That Need Answering

    If the central feature of the Doctor is his unstableness... then who (or what) is "the Doctor?" Previously in PBS Ideas Channel

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  7. PBS Idea Channel Explores The Symbolic Significance of Doctor Who For Its 50th Anniversary [Video]

    What are we going to be excited about after this Saturday?

    Doctor Who is all anyone's been talking about for the past two weeks, and PBS Idea Channel is no exception. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary this weekend, Mike Rugnetta takes a look at the history of the Doctor over the years, and how he might be less of an individual character and more of a series of symbols.

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  8. Could Seeing Ender’s Game Be Considered a Political Action? [Video]

    Yes? No? We're very conflicted.

    Ender's Game has been out for about a week now, and whether or not audiences should go see it if they're opposed to Orson Scott Card's politics has been a hotly contested issue over the past few months. Mike Rugnetta and PBS Idea Channel decided to take a look at whether money should be wielded as a political "upvote."

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  9. Is Slender Man The Internet’s First Crowdsourced Folk Tale? [Video]

    No matter whether this is true or not, the correct response is definitely NOPE NOPE NOPE

    Slender Man might have been invented on a Something Awful forum in 2009, but as Mike Rugnetta of PBS Idea Channel explains, since then he's taken on a life of his own. Protip: Do not watch this new video with the lights off while you're working from home alone in your apartment early in the morning. Just... um, just don't. Trust us on this one.

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  10. What’s the Difference Between “Being” and “Controlling” Your Video Game Avatar? PBS Idea Channel Explains

    Living in Tron-world makes this whole thing a moot point.

    When playing a video game are you simply controlling an avatar, or are you being that avatar? It's a complicated distinction without a true binary, but that's not going to stop PBS Idea Channel from tackling it. When does a game's avatar cross from being controlled into simply being? Watch and learn.

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  11. Is Spam The Native Art Form Of The Internet? [Video]

    Everything happens so much!

    Like us, Mike Rugnetta was pretty bummed to find out that Horse_eBooks hasn't been a real spambot for the past two years. However, it got him and the rest of the crew at PBS Idea Channel thinking about the true nature of spam and whether it might, when done well, even be considered artistic. Huh. Well, that's an odd twist.

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  12. Can You Really Enjoy Breaking Bad?

    It is growth, decay, then sadness.

    A we all know, up until about two weeks ago Breaking Bad had been ripping the hearts out of us on a constant basis and stomping all over them, and we loved every second. Or did we really? In the latest episode of PBS IDea Channel, Mike Rugnetta suggests that our enjoyment doesn't necessarily come from the show, but from the relief we feel when it's over.

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  13. How does Welcome To Night Vale Confront Us With The Unknown?

    Good night, listeners. Good night.

    Part News from Lake Wobegon, part Lovecraftian horror, Welcome To Night Vale has been getting a lot of attention lately -- it's now the most popular podcast on iTunes, even moreso than This American Life. Why are we so fascinated with this quiet radio drama? Mike Rugnetta and PBS Idea Channel have some thoughts.

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  14. Are the Titans in Attack On Titan Really All That Evil? [Video]

    They sure are creepy. Ick.

    Full disclosure: none of us have seen the new anime Attack on Titan yet. We know, We're sorry. We've all heard really good stuff about it, if that makes it any better. Mike Rugnetta of PBS: Idea Channel has seen it, however, and he has a lot of real interesting... well, ideas! That's kind of his thing, and he sure is great at it.

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  15. Do We Over-Aggrandize Nikola Tesla? PBS Idea Channel Explains the Two Nikolas Tesla

    We all know Tesla was great, but we might be overdoing it a little bit.

    Nikola Tesla was a brilliant innovator, and the world owes him a lot, but he's far from the superhero many people make him out to be. In the latest episode of PBS Idea Channel host Mike Rugnetta looks at the idea of the real Tesla vs. the myth of Tesla, which is also real. It's complicated.

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  16. As We Always Suspected, The Internet Is Made of Cats [Video]

    It's cat all the way down.

    Say what you want about cats, but they pretty much run the Internet. Actually, according to the latest video by PBS Idea Channel, they might even... be the internet. No, seriously, It takes an in-depth explanation of toxoplasmosis, metonymy and the transitive property of congruence, but Mike Rugnetta gets there somehow.

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  17. The Many Ways Jurassic Park is a Commentary on Capitalism [Video]

    They spared no expense!

    One of the greatest films of the past two decades (yeah, two. We are all getting older, let's move on), Jurassic Park has been analyzed through every critical lens there is, most notably Marxist. For the folks at PBS Idea Channel, it's not just the film's text that's involved in capitalist discourse... it's the existence of the film itself. Trippy.

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  18. On Intentionally Using Glitches in Art and the Nature of Beauty [Video]

    Sure, Michelangelo's David is great -- but what about Missingno's David?

    Most people don't think the weird pixelated mess you get from a faulty SNES game can be art -- but then again, most people don't think an upside-down urinal is art either, and that didn't stop Duchamp. If you're interested in the artistic capabilities of "grain on fuzz on noise on grain," as Mike Rugnetta puts it, then you need to check out the latest PBS Idea Channel video.

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  19. Bow to Your Sensei: BMO of Adventure Time Might Be a Modern Feminist Icon [Video]

    I am incapable of emotion, but you are making me happy!

    It's no secret that Mike Rugnetta and the crew of PBS Idea Channel love them some Adventure Time. After all, it's a ridiculously amazing show -- partially due to its totally mathematical aesthetic and cool cast of characters, but also for the way that it calmly handles such mature themes as death, self-esteem, and the dismantling of the gender binary. Yeah, you read that last part right: In the latest episode, Mike argues that because BMO identifies as both male and female at different points in the show, our favorite sentient computer is helping to introduce some really cool aspects of third wave feminism into the mainstream. You go, little guy. Girl. Whatever you'd like.

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  20. The Discovery of Climate Change Might Be Our Greatest Scientific Discovery [Video]


    Oh boy, PBS Idea Channel's getting into the climate change game. Say what you want about whether it exists, though (and I'm sure you all will); according to Mike Rugnetta, the fact that we've been able to gather so much data about different weather patterns across the globe for a century, standardize all that data, and turn those random numbers into useful and understandable information? That is pretty dang impressive. Seriously, have you ever watched the Weather Channel and thought about how much actual work goes into being able to record and analyze all that stuff? Watch the video already, because Mike explains this all better than I can.

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