Game on! Quantified motivation & value capture: things we don't notice in online social life

There’s a lot more going on in the hellspace we know as social media than we necessarily notice. But it takes a philosopher to figure some of it out. This episode features the thoughts of Thi Nguyen, a philosophy academic at Utah Valley University.

An essay by Thi went viral in early 2018 - ‘Escape The Echo Chamber’ - published in Aeon. I recommend reading this before listening to the podcast, to best appreciate the jumping off point for this discussion.

Photo by  Ken Treloar  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash

Thi Nguyen, an assistant professor of philosophy at Utah Valley University, went viral in early 2018 with an essay comparing some aspects of online hyper-partisan group dynamics to those of cults. Much of Thi’s scholarly work focuses on the philosophy of gaming and this discussion reveals many similarities between the reasoning frameworks introduced by operating in different online and offline environments.

This conversation represents a broadening of the issues covered in The Disinformation Age. Rather than just more examples of fake narratives, the podcast is now also an exploration of ideas around the concept of improving ‘digital citizenship’.

Show notes: sources for further investigation, mentioned in the conversation.

Thi’s website is

Thi’s essay published in Aeon ‘Escape The Filter Bubble

The scholarly version of that essay can be found here, in PDF format.

More about the book 'Echo Chamber - Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment

Amazon listing for the book ‘The Filter Bubble - What The Internet Is Hiding From You’, by Eli Pariser.

Porter’s ‘Trust In Numbers’.

The research paper that spawned lurid headlines about Republicans having better sex than Democrats: Happy Partisans and Extreme Political Views: The Impact of National versus Local Representation on Well-being.

Twitter and Tear Gas’ by Zeynep Tufekci.

Zeynep Tufekci’s paper on the attention economy: “Not This One”: Social Movements, the Attention Economy, and Microcelebrity Networked Activism.

Zeynep Tuekci’s Ted Talk on the impact of ad-click driven content is on YouTube here.

Follow Thi Nguyen on Twitter - @add_hawk