Who Am I, Anyway? Better yet, who are you? Let’s get to know each other better: Reintroductions.

Creating a “Matter-verse” for Asean fandom communities with guest-host D.A. Attamimi

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A study on fandoms in Asean, plus Japan, delves into what matters for a fandom, with the resulting concept of “Matter-verse” being a manifestation of the core learnings, says HILL Asean’s Devi Attamimi.

Finding a welcoming fandom community is a good opportunity for brands. People in Asean see brands as a potential ally in supporting their fandom (51.6%), with the majority even willing to pay more for brands that are supporting their fandom (88.2%).

However, collaborating with fandom communities that brands can align with may not be that simple. Often, brands see communities merely as a medium to promote their brand. When all they see is numbers and what is trending right now, they are missing out on the full power of fandom.

From 2021-2022, HILL (Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living) Asean conducted a study on fandoms in Asean countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines) plus Japan. Combining qualitative and quantitative studies, HILL Asean sums up that fandom is about the alignment of things that matter.

Brand should not simply “tap in” but must be “in tune” with the fandom. Knowing what matters for a fandom is the first step. Secondly, fandom welcomes growth, helping members do things that matter to them and are key to fulfilling their deepest motivations when joining fandom, thus making their existence matter. HILL Asean coined the term “Matter-verse” as a manifestation of these core learnings.

Matter-verse wraps up what a fandom is and what it needs to be – a universe where fans can fulfil their hopes of being, feeling and doing all the things that matter.

Brands can thrive as part of this Matter-verse or perhaps even build their own brand Matter-verse by applying these principles from the perspective of understanding fandom better.

Principle 1: Fandoms are profoundly human

Some brands have their own global fandom status and many marketers spend most of their time cultivating brands to achieve such a level. Yet, only a few can truly attain it.

This study confirms that no fandoms can grow without strong human desires. Fandoms simply channel out what’s already there, inside those who share mutual feelings and want to be aligned with them. Similarly, this is how brands work as well, as a reflection of human emotions and aspirations.

Principle 2: More than being a fan

Fandom easily associates with hobbies as an antidote to mundane life but fandom is not just about being a fan of something – there’s also a sense of camaraderie evoked from mutually shared feelings.

Dominant Asean cultural traits such as “socially driven” are influencing the Asean fandoms’ characteristics. Many in Asean join fandoms to have a “sense of belonging” (49.1%), which is significantly larger in comparison with Japan (14%). People in Asean use fandom to have real connections rather than to be disconnected from reality. One even said that in fandom, he found family, showing how much familial feeling is ingrained culturally.

Principle 3: Personal growth and transformation platform

Three things that sum up fandom benefits are:

  • A source of excitement and positivity
  • Empowerment to gain self-improvement and new knowledge
  • Giving a sense of belonging

For 87.1%, “Fandom changed their life for the better”. But is filling a void of connection enough as a life-changing experience? Most likely, no, because having connections also means new opportunities and joining fandom enables them to learn new things (52.8%) which improve their lives.

Fandom needs to provide space for interaction and activities between members. Regardless of platform (clubs, forums, fan pages, chat groups, etc), managing this space means roles to be filled by members. Those roles help them discover their hidden potential. One person said she learned so much from managing a fanbase that it actually helps her in her career.

Principle 4: Understanding fandom structure

A fandom community is often organised with layers of roles that are not necessarily hierarchical. Members can have multiple roles, eg not just consuming but also creating and earning from it. It’s also inclusive to people from outside the fandom as long as they support the activities inside.

It’s important for brands to understand their role before entering fandom. While they would welcome any handouts, a brand that actually fulfils what matters to them will have a special place and secure loyalty.

In general, there are several different roles:

  • First, “community leaders”, setting rules and fan activities.
  • Second, “organisers” that can be internal or external, most likely a platform or event where the activities of fandom are taking place.
  • Next there are “creators” that contribute content or currency exchanged inside the fandom among “collectors”. Similar to organisers, they can be from inside or outside the community.
  • Lastly, “guardians”, safeguarding rules and refuting negativity inside their fandom or from outside.

The quality of a fandom community correlates with two ideals that determine how thriving a fandom community is: equality (a place without judgment) and creativity (a place to foster productivity).

So the more flexible and accommodating, the better the community is. It’s like having their own utopian ecosystem surrounded by things that matter to them.

Brands that are willing to go deep in supporting this Matter-verse will enjoy the full power of fandom.

Blog author
Guest post by Devi Attamimi, HILL Asean, first published on warc.com

Multiverse Role-Playing Games as an Educational Discipline

The article discusses the effects of using RPGs in order to submerge yourself in the multiverse and learn through risks and overcome trials. In my …

Multiverse Role-Playing Games as an Educational Discipline

Critical Thinking: What is it to be a Critical Thinker?

How and why of critical thinking?

Know the Facts: A WPA (Works Progress Administration, part of the New Deal) poster, imploring the public to develop critical thinking skills. Circa late 1930-early 1940s.

We often urge others to think critically. What does that really mean? How can we think critically?

This essay presents a general account of what it is to be a critical thinker and outlines both traditional and more recent approaches to critical thinking.Know the Facts: A WPA (Works Progress Administration, part of the New Deal) poster, imploring the public to develop critical thinking skills. Circa late 1930-early 1940s.

1. What is Critical Thinking?

Speaking generally, critical thinking consists of reasoning and inquiring in careful ways, so as to form and update one’s beliefs based on good reasons.[1] A critical thinker is someone who typically reasons and inquires in these ways, having mastered relevant skills and developed the disposition to apply them.[2]

2. Traditional Components: Logic and Fallacies

Traditional views of critical thinking focus on deductive arguments. Arguments are sets of reasons given for a conclusion. Deductive arguments are arguments where the reasons given are supposed to be logically conclusive, that is, to guarantee the conclusion. E.g., the following is a deductive argument:

  1. Socrates is a man.
  2. All men are mortal.
  3. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

Arriving at new beliefs through deductive arguments is a way of forming beliefs based on good reasons. Accordingly, critical thinking traditionally focusses on these skills:[3]

  • distinguishing arguments (instances where you are offered reasons for a conclusion) from mere assertions, rhetorical questions, and attempts at manipulation through irrelevant considerations;
  • identifying conclusions of arguments (what the person offering the argument wants to persuade you to believe), and the reasons or premises for that conclusion;
  • reconstructing streamlined, complete statements of arguments in standard form (as a numbered list of premises with the conclusion at the end), or using diagrams;[4]
  • assessing the logical structure of deductive arguments: answering ‘Is there any way for the premises to be true while the conclusion is false?’
  • understanding arguments’ claims: e.g., defining unclear terms;
  • determining whether premises are true or likely;
  • imagining, proposing, and charitably responding to objections, i.e, reasons given to doubt or deny arguments’ logic, premise(s), or conclusion.[5]

To develop these skills, traditional critical thinking courses typically include propositional logic and the study of common good argument forms.[6]

They also often teach how to identify fallacies—faulty patterns of reasoning that deceptively appear to be good arguments.[7] These include: 

  • affirming the consequent (“If Kat had won the prize, she would have had an A; Kat had an A; therefore, Kat won the prize”);
  • the ad hominem fallacy—where people attack the person making an argument instead of considering their argument; 
  • begging the question—offering reasons for a conclusion that assume the conclusion, and many others.[8]

3. Additional Formal Tools: Evidence and Statistics

We often form beliefs based on observations that, unlike deductive arguments, do not provide conclusive reasons for a belief: e.g., you might conclude that your sibling is angry at you from their facial expressions or come to believe you have a cold because you have a runny nose. Here, these observations or evidence might support the belief formed but do not guarantee the truth of your belief.

Critical thinkers know how to adjust their beliefs appropriately in light of their evidence.[9]So critical thinking requires developing abilities to:

  • assess evidence without being unduly swayed by what one already believes;
  • recognize when a claim counts as evidence for (or against) a conclusion;
  • identify when evidence is strong (or weak);
  • determine the extent to which people’s views should change, given their evidence.

To develop these abilities, drawing on knowledge of probability can be helpful: e.g., basic probability offers a recipe for determining when an observation counts as evidence for a belief: when that observation is more likely if the belief is true than if it is not. It also teaches us that updating your beliefs when you get new evidence requires taking into account both (a) how confident you were on that belief beforehand and (b) how strongly the evidence supports that (new) belief.[10]

For these reasons, recent approaches to critical thinking often include instruction in probability.[11] And, because we often get evidence in the form of statistics, often presented through diagrams and graphs, such approaches tend to highlight the importance of basic statistical concepts,[12] and the ability to interpret diagrams and graphs.[13]

4. Applied Skills as Part of Being a Critical Thinker

Being a critical thinker requires more than having technical tools (such as the tools of logic or probability) stored away. It requires consistently applying them in the real world.

In recent discussions of what it is to be a critical thinker, there has been increased emphasis on navigating our informational environments in savvy ways. This requires avoiding false, misleading, manipulative, or distracting claims online, as well as making sure that one gathers information from a wide variety of reliable sources.[14] It also requires calibrating one’s trust well: one should remain open to hearing those who disagree and not let prejudice and implicit bias affect whom one trusts.[15],[16]

Applying the tools of critical thinking throughout one’s life requires overcoming cognitive biases:[17] e.g.: 

  • not always accepting answers that come to mind first; 
  • resisting confirmation bias (the tendency to gather and interpret evidence in ways that confirm our beliefs),[18] and;
  • avoiding motivated reasoning (the tendency to reason in ways that help us believe what we wish were true, and not what is true).[19]

More generally, becoming a critical thinker requires shifting from a defensive mindset to a truth-seeking one and developing intellectual virtues such as intellectual humility and open-minded curiosity.[20],[21] Without those, the tools of critical thinking may end up being deployed to entrench false or unreasonable beliefs.

5. Conclusion

Critical thinking is about reasoning and inquiring so as to form and update one’s beliefs based on good reasons. Because critical thinking skills are valuable in a world that emphasizes the ability to navigate information, becoming a critical thinker is practically useful to us as individuals. 

It is also of crucial social and political value: e.g., a well-functioning democracy requires citizens who think critically about the world.[22] And critical thinking has liberatory potential: it provides us with tools to criticize oppressive social structures and envisage a more just, fair society.[23]

From Ulysses to Knausgaard: Time to Read That 500+ Page Novel

They’re long term investments to be sure but among the most enriching choices we’ll ever make. From my years-long commitment to Knausgaard’s monumental sextet “My Struggle” to the 2013 saga Americanah by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Or how about regaining time with Proust? Or risking a go with Infinite Jest? Why not stir up belly-churning emotions alongside the enchanting Morgan La Fay in The Mists of Avalon?

I encountered a list published by the NYT Public Library and what do you know, I’ve read none. Wonder why…

How about you? Any gems missing from this list? The western gaze is glaringly obvious here. So I’d love your thoughts on some worldlit that we can introduce to this doddery.

Give me Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji, or the Dream of the Red Chamber.

In this time of “social distancing” and respite, we turn the situation upside down, or is it right-side up? or right-side down? and embrace the solitude, grab that bull, those enameled prosaic horns and strike a path into the deep forests of epic literature.

20 Knock-Your-Socks-Off Novels Over 500 Pages

From the brilliance that is the New York Public Library:

  • The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
    A pianist accrues clues to his past in this enigmatic literary thriller.
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    “Frankly, my dear,” you should give a damn about this sprawling Civil War classic.
  • Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
    The author of Jesus’ Son takes on Vietnam-era CIA.
  • Them by Joyce Carol Oates
    The National Book Award-winning third novel of Oates’ Wonderland Quartet covers three decades of slumming in Detroit.
  • The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
    A couple conspires to seduce a sick American girl for her riches.
  • Ada, Or, Ardor, A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov
    The title says it all: word play and linguistic filigree of the highest order.
  • Mortals by Norman Rush
    No one does Botswana — or a sentence — like Norman Rush.
  • Native Son by Richard Wright
    Bigger (Thomas) is better in Wright’s seminal novel Native Son.
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
    Want to know what a Schwarzgerät is? Then read the book.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    A beautiful woman, a train, a trainwreck. You know how this one ends.
  • The Making of Americans by Gertrude Stein
    In Stein’s hands, the glue that holds together a family drama is writing about writing.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    There are a lot of fruitless endeavors in the war that is Okies v. Dust Bowl.
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    An erudite group of budding intellectuals has something to hide, and it may just be a dead body.
  • The Shape of Things to Come by H.G. Wells
    Wells imagines life from 1933 to 2106. 
  • Letting Go by Philip Roth
    Any bibliophile will appreciate a book in which a major plot point involves a letter being left in a copy of The Portrait of a Lady.
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
    An extraordinary book about marrying a dud.
  • Underworld by Don DeLillo
    A DeLillo sentence is taut, energetic, and intelligent, so think about what happens when DeLillo’s sentences reach the length of a novel.
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
    This epic of whale proportions is perhaps the best American novel about the madness of dreams.
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Bro out intellectually with this novel of ideas.
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
    Entertainment looms a frightening shadow even over footnotes in DFW’s neo-classic tome.
  • https://www.nypl.org/blog/2014/05/12/20-knock-your-socks-novels-over-500-pages

GAMES: AGENCY AS ART: A Reader’s Guide

Objectionable

Now officially out: my first book, Games: Agency as Art. Thanks to Oxford University for making this all happen!

The book says that games are a distinctive art form — one very different from the traditional arts. Game designers don’t just create an environment, or characters, or a story. They tell you who to be in the game. They set your basic abilities: whether you will run and jump, or move around your pieces geometrically, or bid and raise. And, most importantly, they tell you what your goals will be. By specifying the points and victory conditions, the designer sets the players’ core motivations in the game. The designer shapes our practical struggle by manipulating our practical interests and abilities, and the challenges we will face. Game designers work in the medium of agency itself. Games are the art of agency.

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Game designers aren’t just telling stories. Game designers…

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