Ego Check: Michael Bruce, Editor, Philosopher and Writer of Angst! Blog

Michael Bruce

When I became interested in the strange new world of non-ownership and how it relates to tabletop roleplaying games, I spent some time researching what others have written or said about the topic. In my online travels, I came across a blog entry written by Michael Bruce who is an editor and previously taught philosophy and mathematics at University of Washington. I reached out and he was willing to talk about his column – and his background investigating the changing currents that influence the lives of young people including technology.

While Michael is not involved in the roleplaying game industry, I benefited from his perspective and hope you find the exchanges below thought provoking. And what better day than Black Friday to discuss to changing culture of ownership in our society!

Thank you for agreeing to communicate on the subject of ownership. When I first started to research a column on the subject, I discovered an article you wrote for Psychology Today last summer titled Netflix My Life: A Culture of Non-ownership. I immediately connected to the themes you discussed within the article. But before we dive into that specific topic, could you introduce yourself and let the readers know about your work?

I received my master’s degree in philosophy from San Diego State University where I concentrated on the history of philosophy, particularly on rationality and the philosophy of science. I have taught philosophy and mathematics at the Robinson Center for Young Scholars at the University of Washington, Seattle and publish in academic journals, books, and online.

Continue reading “Ego Check: Michael Bruce, Editor, Philosopher and Writer of Angst! Blog”

The Future of Non-Ownership Is Now

Between the time I graduated high school in 1994 and completed graduate school in 2005, the concept of ownership drastically transformed into something else. Now in 2012, I not only cling to fond stories of obsolete technologies from my youth, but also a seemingly ancient sense of what it means to truly own something. It reminds me of the first lines in the film version of The Fellowship of The Ring:

The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.

When my generation has aged and expired, it seems the concept of ownership will come to pass. No one will recall a time when an individual sought out real-world products, purchased them and physically took those products home to display them on shelves, desks and other storage centers. Media cabinets full of books, music albums and movies have already been replaced by such things and services as Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Netflix and Hulu.

“For it shows things that were, and things that are, things that yet may be. But which it is that he sees, even the wisest cannot always tell. Do you wish to look?”

Over three years ago, the current Editor-in-Chief of The Scholarly Kitchen wrote about the Kindle and the freedom of not owning books:

Consider how many encyclopedias you’ve purchased in the past 20 years. Will you ever buy one again? Of course not. Wikipedia and Google have combined to make ownership of an encyclopedia irrelevant. The same thing is happening to atlases (Google Maps and GPS), and will soon start happening to cookbooks (Epicurious, anyone?) . . .

Ownership isn’t a panacea, especially in an age of information abundance. Will I be concerned if the Kindle dies and books I’ve read on it become inaccessible on that platform? Not really. If I want to read them again, there will be plenty of alternative ways in the future. And my bookshelves long ago stopped being my collection of known facts and resources . . .

Two of my favorite old Sherlock Holmes collections are on my Kindle — for free. A copy of “Moby Dick” typeset especially for the Kindle also held sway for a while. From classics to current bestsellers, I can wirelessly get books for free and for less.

And I don’t have to own them.

It is a common theme offered in support of the new concept of ownership – whether it be books, albums, movies or even video games. People are perfectly agreeable to not owning a product and are willing to enjoy the product for free or for less cost at their convenience. And how the new process of non-ownership will play out with tabletop roleplaying games is both unknown . . . and completely predictable.

Continue reading “The Future of Non-Ownership Is Now”

You’ve Been Terminated

During the past five weeks , I have moved out of a house, sold said house, closed down at one job, driven 1,200 miles and started a new job. And that’s the condensed version! One of the more challenging aspects of leaving my former hometown was saying goodbye to cherished friends and acquaintances. Since learning that I would be moving across the country, I have been terminating relationships left and right.

“And maybe it’ll be enough if you know that in the few hours we had together we loved a lifetime’s worth.” ~Sarah Connor

Termination is the somewhat unfortunate psychological term for the final phase of treatment with a client. For example, when a counselor is preparing to end therapy with a client he or she might say, “I’m about to terminate with Mrs. Jones” or “Mr. Jones and I only have three more sessions before termination.” Applied to my situation, I terminated with approximately 100 clients during the past two to three months. Ending a relationship with a client is a crucial portion of therapy, and it presents unique challenges.

I certainly gained a great deal of practice in termination. I have been a terminating machine!

As I prepared to leave town, I also had to terminate an ongoing Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition campaign, which had been running for over two years. I relied on many of the principles underlying appropriate clinical termination in a therapeutic relationship. Below, I describe how the process of termination can be best utilized to ensure a gaming group can end on the best possible terms.

Continue reading “You’ve Been Terminated”