๐ŸŽง Are We Measuring Our Lives in All the Wrong Ways? (The Ezra Klein Show)

Listened Are We Measuring Our Lives in All the Wrong Ways? by โ€˜The Ezra Klein Showโ€™ from nytimes.com()

The philosopher C. Thi Nguyen believes that to understand modern life, we need to understand how games work.

In an interview with Ezra Klein, C. Thi Nguyen discusses how Twitter gamifies communication. He explains the way in which games tell you what to care about and how they are usually about something beautiful or interesting.

In contrast, platforms like Twitter use gamification to funnel our values without giving us space to step back. This manipulation occurs through the use of points. Although this quantification is useful for ‘seeing like a state’, it does not account for choice and nuance. For example, Fitbit can capture your steps, but not your life.

The conversation ends with a discussion of conspiracy theories and what Nguyen describes as ‘game mindfulness’. He basically summarises this as a suspicious of pleasure.

I actually think thereโ€™s a tiny hint in how pleasurable games are. And this is going to make me sound kind of awful, but the way I navigate the world right now is Iโ€™ve developed a fair amount of defensive suspicion about certain kinds of pleasure. A marker of design game-like systems is that theyโ€™re very pleasurable to operate in.

The idea of social media as a game is something Tom Chatfield has also touched upon in regards to play in the digital age.

So in the broad sense you could almost go as far as saying things like Twitter or Facebook are a kind of very clever game because people have a profile which they care about, and they are constantly in the business of trying to make numbers go up, trying to get more followers, trying to get more likes, trying to get more tweets or re-tweets. They are comparing themselves to other people. Again, in Twitter there’s a sort of global scoring system where you can see where you are ranked. And there are these very playful dynamics as well whereby you are free to do anything you like within the rules of the game, within the magic circle there on screen. You can switch on, you can switch off, you can like, you can unlike, you can really indulge whimsy. So that’s one thing.

It is interesting to think about other platforms like micro.blog and what ‘points’ actually count. Also, the way in which such games can be subverted for other means, as is discussed by Ian Guest in his research on Twitter and education.

แ”ฅ “Austin Kleon” in Winning time – Austin Kleon ()

3 responses on “๐ŸŽง Are We Measuring Our Lives in All the Wrong Ways? (The Ezra Klein Show)”


  • Aaron Davis
  • Aaron Davis
  • Aaron Davis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.