This program was recorded at the 12th Annual Wonderfest, the San Francisco Bay Area Festival of Science.
Wonderfest's broad goals are best described by its mission statement: Through public discourse about provocative scientific questions, Wonderfest aspires to stimulate curiosity, promote careful reasoning, challenge unexamined beliefs, and encourage life-long learning.
Wonderfest achieves these ends by presenting series of scientific events to the general public. At most of these events, pairs of articulate and accomplished researchers discuss and debate compelling questions at the edge of scientific understanding.
Jane McGonigal, PhD is a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games — or, games that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems. She believes game designers are on a humanitarian mission — and her #1 goal in life is to see a game developer win a Nobel Peace Prize. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (Penguin Press, 2011) — and is the inventor and co-founder of SuperBetter, a game that has helped nearly half a million players tackle real-life health challenges such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and traumatic brain injury.
Philip Zimbardo is internationally recognized as a leading "voice and face of contemporary psychology" through his widely seen PBS-TV series, "Discovering Psychology," his media appearances, best-selling trade books on shyness, and his classic research, The Stanford Prison Experiment.
Zimbardo has been a Stanford University professor since 1968 (now an Emeritus Professor), having taught previously at Yale, NYU, and Columbia University. He continues teaching graduate students at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, and at the Naval Post Graduate School (Monterey). He has been given numerous awards and honors as an educator, researcher, writer, and service to the profession. Recently, he was awarded the Havel Foundation Prize for his lifetime of research on the human condition. Among his more than 300 professional publications and 50 books is the oldest current textbook in psychology, Psychology and Life, now in its 18th Edition, and Core Concepts in Psychology in its 5th Edition.
His current research interests continue in the domain of social psychology, with a broad emphasis on everything interesting to study from shyness to time perspective, madness, cults, vandalism, political psychology, torture, terrorism, and evil. Noted for his personal and professional efforts to actually "give psychology away to the public," Zimbardo has also been a social-political activist, challenging the Government's wars in Vietnam and Iraq, as well as the American Correctional System.
Zimbardo has served as elected President of the Western Psychological Association (twice), President of the American Psychological Association, the Chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) representing 63 scientific, math and technical associations (with 1.5 million members), and now is Chair of the Western Psychological Foundation.
He heads a philanthropic foundation in his name to promote education in his ancestral Sicilian towns. Zimbardo adds to his retirement list activities: serving as the new executive director of a center on terrorism, the Center for Interdisciplinary Policy, Education, and Research on Terrorism (CIPERT).
He is also the author of The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (Random House, 2007).
Computer-delivered electronic system that allows the user to control, combine, and manipulate different types of media, such as text, sound, video, computer graphics, and animation. The most common multimedia machine consists of a personal computer with a sound card, modem, digital speaker unit, and CD-ROM. Interactive multimedia systems under commercial development include cable television services with computer interfaces that enable viewers to interact with TV programs; high-speed interactive audiovisual communications systems, including video game consoles, that rely on digital data from fibre-optic lines or digitized wireless transmission; and virtual reality systems that create small-scale artificial sensory environments.
I so agree with this stuff, and think there is a clever way to engineer a completely new approach to primary education that's based around creating a genuinely meaningful and productive role for children in local civics via a web site. I think the complexity and sophistication of our culture and technologies are inadvertently disenfranchising us in numerous ways. I believe this approach is well suited to the Heroic Imagination Project because local governments worldwide face very similar problems. Open source software, designed to address the IT requirements of small local governments in ways that make it more transparent and easier for the public to participate in, is likely to be widely deployed simply to save money.
In this way we might establish a mechanism that can be used to develop many new civic technologies--akin to iPhone apps--that collectively could make our political capital itself more tangible to us. I have been designing one such "civic app" myself in anticipation of a platform on which to deploy it. I would be happy to see someone with more brains and resources beat me to it. In my approach, a virtual currency--the holler--flows as monthly income to every member of the community which they can spend on the site to support or oppose the issues facing their community, or they can secretly delegate it to be spent the same way someone, or several others, spend theirs. Or, for a small cost, (like 10 cents per voter) they can buy an "evangelists" account. Everyone on the site is not just anonymous--there isn't even a way to tell who wrote what--from the users' point of view. There is an official ontology based around the data itself--a semantic web mechanism--that makes the data machine readable. The discussion forums are pinned to the data and issues themselves--as if there are no people. This metaphor is that the community itself is the body, and the people in it are merely neurons it its mind, trying to organize themselves into an efficient and effective sensibility for it. My strategy is all about creating roles for children in maintaining that ontology, and a map of their local economy. I think the best way to reward users is by having the software itself notice that they have mastered some skill and grant them access to more challenging roles and a higher rank.
I think the challenge facing educators today is to give children the reward of feeling both empowered and valuable at whatever pace the students are comfortable with. The more aware we can make them of their potential, of the details of how our economy functions, of opportunities to contribute and be paid for it, and the feedback of experiencing the empowerment of knowledge--the less it will cost to educate them, the faster it will happen, and the more predisposed they'll end up to find fulfilling mutualistic lifestyles.