Friday, January 28, 2011

Define "Deeper"

Here's another episode featuring the heartwarming story of Privileged Kids and their extremely expensive Cisco Technology. This one is a bit different, in that for the first time, we actually see kids using the technology to do something at least SOMEWHAT Educational.

But focusing on the educational aspects of Cisco technology- instead of just alluding to it- would be boring, so instead we have the a kid using a joystick to maneuver a camera around at 14,000 feet below sea level while his classmates bleat "go right! Right! Now down! Go Right!" even though it's painfully clear that there's nothing on the screen they are gazing at except blackness.

Fortunately for their teacher, who at this point must be at least a little concerned that her Take the Day off and Let her Kids goof off with the Pricey Piece of Equipment in My Classroom lesson plan might be sinking faster than the camera, is bailed out by the sudden appearance of a glowing example of deep-ocean life. This creature is conveniently luminous and has kid-attracting eyes. Now the teacher has to be thinking "oh god please stay on the screen a long time, we've got 20 minutes left in this class and another long period of Nothing To See will not be tolerated by these kids!"

"What is it?" one kids asks. The marine biologist who I guess is guiding this "lesson" replies "that's, I don't know."

Reality Check time. Cisco is actually trying to sell us on the idea that if you purchase it's glamorized video conferencing equipment you will not only be able to go on "field trips to China" and engage in staring contests with people on the other side of the planet, but you may just discover new life forms? That's almost as unrealistic as a marine biologist admitting that he doesn't know what a new life form is- the correct, realistic response is "That's a Graffer Fish."

Kid: "Wow, that's cool- didn't you say your name was Mr Graffer?"

Marine Biologist: "Yes. I discovered this fish. Just now. Gotta go put it in the books, kids."

The glowing octopus thing then spins away, causing the kids to give an collective "wooooahhh," the teacher to give an appreciative smile, and for the entire class to go back to the Ever So Educational task of maneuvering the camera through the dark.

I can only figure that Cisco was getting bored with the "use our incredibly expensive technology to do really stupid things" ad campaign and decided to throw a bone to those of us who wanted to see what actual EDUCATIONAL value that technology might provide. I'm not sure that kids seeing a glowing octopus for five seconds, being told that the expert they are hooked up with doesn't know what it is, and deciding to call it "Blinky" really cuts it. I can tell you that I'm not comfortable about showing this commercial to the school board in the future and following the presentation with "so you can see why we need this in OUR science lab!"

I CAN tell you that I've had more than enough of the narrator's voice- god it drives me nuts.

Oh, and "Blinky?" That's the best you can do, kid? BLINKY?


  1. Well, clearly, the smart one named it after the three-eyed fish from that really old episode of The Simpsons which means his parents plop him down in front of the TV with anything animated blaring from it as a way of placating him so they don't have to deal with him.

    Or I'm a huge nerd in that I thought of that episode upon hearing the name "Blinky".

    I'll skip all the other nerdy things I was going to say about the fact that real marine biologists go years in their careers without ever seeing anything and the odds of a class of obnoxious kids (loved the use of the word "bleating", by the way) finding something unknown in a fifty-five minute class are pretty low.

    Why not have them see something real, yet cool and freaky, like that lanternfish that is so ugly the kids would have nightmares?

  2. You guys don't know what your ranting about. The animal in that commercial was recently discovered. It's called a Dumbo Octopus. I forget the scientific name, but look it up, you might learn something

  3. Well, at least you know what YOU are ranting about.

    Please tell us why the marine biologist aiding the kids didn't know the name of this creature?

    Or have we already used up too much of your precious Sunday afternoon, and it's time for you to drop negative comments on other blogs?

  4. Ha ha. Yes, Juan-Carlos. We demand that you explain the inner workings of this fictional teacher's brain. Aren't all teachers up on recently discovered species? Also, you must agree that allowing kids to explore frontiers and--gasp--play with technology that is not universally available is a worthless notion. Smash the computers!

  5. Haha. Yes, Juan-Carlos. We demand that you explain the inner workings of this fictional teacher's brain. Furthermore, it would be nice if you'd agree that allowing kids to explore frontiers and--gasp--play with technology that is not universally available is worthless. Smash the computers!

  6. I was too charitable to point out that no, what these kids see on this screen is NOT an actual example of marine life. At best, it's a freaking cartoon version of actual marine life. Which again undermines the message- Cisco has no faith that you'll find something really interesting on one of these deep sea field trips, so here's a fake animal to gasp at.

  7. Good point. Apologize for the double post. Had some trouble logging in.

  8. In Juan Carlos's defense, there is such a thing as a dumbo octopus. However, I know what a dumbo octopus looks like. That is not it. Its a Graffer ostopus, like you said.