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kottke.org posts about Alvin Chang

How Sci-Fi Movies Have Changed Since the 50s

In this visual essay (and video embedded above), Alvin Chang shows how science fiction movies have gotten darker and more complex since the 1950s, when many movies were set in the present with a clear existential threat that was then overcome.

But these days, it’s much more likely that protagonists also have to overcome societal forces โ€” political movements, systemic inequality, rampant capitalism. These are basically things that seem too big to fix.

It’s also far more likely that the narrative explores inner conflicts โ€” moral dilemmas, identity crises, and wrestling with our understanding of what it means to be human. We don’t just face outside threats; we also face threats within ourselves.

Ultimately, today’s sci-fi stories are far more likely to be a commentary on current social issues. These might be critiques of political ideologies, runaway capitalism, irresponsible innovation, human apathy, or eroding mental health.

(via studio d)

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Are the Kids Alright When They Grow Up?

This is a teenager is an interactive data visualization by Alvin Chang about a group of American teenagers that have been tracked in a longitudinal study since 1997 (they are around 40 years old now). The video version of the visualization is embedded above.

A year from now, in 1998, a researcher named Vincent Felitti will publish a paper that drastically changes the way we think about these kids โ€” and their childhood.

The research will show that these childhood stressors and traumas โ€” called Adverse Childhood Experiences โ€” have a lifelong effect on our health, relationships, happiness, financial security, and pretty much everything else that we value. It will kickstart decades of research that shows that our childhood experiences shape our adulthood far more than we ever thought.

This is a good companion to a recent post, End-Stage Poverty Is Killing People in Safety Net-Free America.

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