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He filled in the contact form on 42 Entertainment 's Web site and clicked Send. Slender and s o ft-spoken, with curly dark hair and a salt-a n d-pepper beard that gives him a vaguely Talmudic appearance, he ' s not big on hardcore indus t rial rock. His experience is more in game design and social inter-action, two fields he views as intimately con j oined.

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In , Weisman wa s creative director of Microsoft's enter t ainment division, which was developing the Xbox and a number of videogames — including one based on AI — to support its launch. He left Microsoft and in decided to do ARGs full-time, launching 42 Entertainment as a boutique m a rketing firm. Th e company's first game, ilovebees, had peop l e answering pa y phones around the world in the weeks leading up to the release of Halo 2.

One player even braved a Florida hurricane to take a call in a Burger King parking lot. Similar games have been used to launch scores of products in the years since. GMD Studios, a Florida outfit, staged a fake auto theft to begin a game for Audi that drew more than , players. More recently, someone — not 42 — has been planting enigmatic clues on Web sites and fake MySpace profiles to promote a film Abrams is producing that so far is best known by the c odename Cl o verfield. What's all this about a Japa n ese drink called Slusho?

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And what doe s it have to do with the s u dden appearance of a Godzilla-like m onster in N e w York Harbor? Abrams fans have been falling all over themselves to figure it out.

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Walter Thompson ad agency. That's because the games offer marketers a solution to a growing problem: how to reach people who are so media-satura t ed they block all attempts to get t h rough. That's why he opted for a "subdural" approach: Instead of shouting the message, hide it. The ARG for AI began with an ob s cure credit for a "sentient machine therapis t " in both the trailer and a prerelease prom o tional poste r. That led to a maze of bizarre Web sites about robot rights and a phone number that, when called, played a message from a woman whose husband had just died in a suspicious boating accident.

Within 24 hours, thousands of people were trying to figure out what had happened. Weisman had long been working toward that moment. During the development of that first A R G, Weisman argued that no puzzle wo u ld be too hard, n o clue too obscure, because with so many people collaborating online, the players would have access to every conceivable skill se t. Where he erred was in not following t h at idea to its logical conclusion.

Not only can they solve anythin g , they can solve anything instantly. But a s the players burned through those and clamored for more, the name took on a different meaning. He had created a mon s ter. Weisman and S p ielberg viewed the Beast as an ext e nsion of AI. But the bill to fund it c ame out of the film's marketing budget, and t he ARG certainly created buzz for the movie.

Meanwhile, the Inte r net was transf o rming marketin g. Western commerce had been built on a clea r proposition: I give you money, you give me something else of v a lue. But like a rug merchant who offers pros p ective buyers tea before discussing h is wares , the Internet was beginning to engage and entertain customers — whether with free singles on iTunes or an ARG that could run for months — before asking them to part with their money.

That was the most fun — not knowing what would come next.

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Di c k or the Bible, how it compa r ed with Children of Men or V for Vendetta , and why the Year Zero Web s i tes kept referring to something c alled the Presence, which appeared to be a giant hand reaching down from the s k y. The band's European tour dates becam e the object of obsessive atten t ion.

Fans in E u rope were so eager to find new flash drives that they ra n for the toilets the moment the concert venue d oor s opened. On February 18, at the Sala Razzmatazz in Ba r celona, someone scored. The drive contain e d an MP3 file of a new Nine Inch Nails s ong that trailed off into the sound of crickets. But when the cricket s o unds were run through a spectrograph, they yie l ded a series of blips that gradually resol v ed into a phone number in Clev e land, Ohio. People who d ialed this number and some 1. A visit to uswiretap. The clues on the flash d rives were typical of what makes a good ARG work.

They were hard to spot and even harder to decipher, but because the narrative was being pieced together online, you didn't have to be a propellerhead to follow it. But there are always a few, and if y o u make a world that's compelling e n ough, there'll be a lot to do even if you're not int e rested in the really arcane stuff.

Most fans didn't realize their progress was being monitored nonstop. Unlike less interactive forms of entertainment, ARGs require a close collaboration between the puppet masters — the unseen figures who create the story — and the audience. It creates a unique dynamic. After every gig, Reznor rushed back to his hotel so he could watch the action on fan forums and in chat rooms unfold on his laptop.

Did they find it? The mother said they could go in the backyard, but she followed them, always staying about yards behind them. When Hart went to visit Sylvia, he filmed the exchange. They are both parents and are still living in that New England town. Jenny gets some of her girlish self back when she talks about how she and the boys pile up rocks in the backyard to build a ski jump or use sticks to make a fort. Among this new set of kids, the free range is fairly limited. For example, he said he has to be honest about the things that have improved in the new version of childhood.

In the old days, when children were left on their own, child power hierarchies formed fairly quickly, and some children always remained on the bottom, or were excluded entirely. Also, fathers were largely absent; now children are much closer to their dads—closer to both their parents than kids were back then. O ne common concern of parents these days is that children grow up too fast. They crossed the road, went to the store; eventually some of them got small neighborhood jobs.

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  • But these days, middle-class children, at least, skip these milestones. They spend a lot of time in the company of adults, so they can talk and think like them, but they never build up the confidence to be truly independent and self-reliant. Lately parents have come to think along the class lines defined by the University of Pennsylvania sociologist Annette Lareau.

    Many people interpret her findings as proof that middle-class parenting styles, in their totality, are superior. But this may be an overly simplistic and self-serving conclusion; perhaps each form of child-rearing has something to recommend it to the other. She also talks about the same issue Lady Allen talked about all those years ago—encouraging children to take risks so they build their confidence.

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    But the more nebulous benefits of a freer child culture are harder to explain in a grant application, even though experiments bear them out. The teachers feared chaos, but in fact what they got was less naughtiness and bullying—because the kids were too busy and engaged to want to cause trouble, the principal said. In the past decade, the percentage of college-age kids taking psychiatric medication has spiked, according to a study by the American College Counseling Association.

    The data show that children have become:. In the U. Meanwhile, the Welsh government has explicitly adopted a strategy to encourage active independent play, rather than book learning, among young children, paving the way for a handful of adventure playgrounds like the Land and other play initiatives. Whether Americans will pick up on the British vibe is hard to say, although some hopeful signs are appearing.

    And in Washington, D. Located at a private school called Beauvoir, it has a zip line and climbing structures that kids of all ages perceive as treacherous. He said the board was concerned about safety but also wanted an exciting playground; the safety guidelines are, after all these years, still just guidelines.

    But the real cultural shift has to come from parents.

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    There is a big difference between avoiding major hazards and making every decision with the primary goal of optimizing child safety or enrichment, or happiness. We can no more create the perfect environment for our children than we can create perfect children.

    To believe otherwise is a delusion, and a harmful one; remind yourself of that every time the panic rises. Even by my relatively laissez-faire parenting standards, the situation seemed dicey. The light was fading, the slope was very steep, and Christian, the kid who was doing the pushing, was only 7. Also, the creek was frigid, and I had no change of clothes for Gideon.

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    I inched close enough to hear the exchange. Christian had already taught Gideon how to climb up to the highest slide and manage the rope swing. Down he went, and landed in the creek. In my experience, Gideon is very finicky about water. I started scheming how to get him new clothes. Ask Christian to get his father?

    Or, failing that, persuade Gideon to sit a while with the big boys by the fire? Milton Abel II reflects on the event that led to his decision to leave the upper echelon of the restaurant world. An impeachment of President Donald Trump is both deserved and dangerous. The danger is getting lost in the rush of events.

    The process will almost certainly end with Trump acquitted, and acquitted in a reelection year. Meanwhile, impeachment is likely to do Trump less and less political harm the longer it lasts. As the Trump presidency daily proves, people can get used to anything. This latest Trump scandal led to an impeachment inquiry because it happened so fast —the shock was still fresh. Then they blurred into the avalanche of Trump awfulness. Trump is protected by the sheer number of his high crimes and misdemeanors.

    He will certainly commit more, and then these latest risk being buried. The whistle-blower scandal that has prompted the fourth presidential impeachment process in American history has put a spectacle from earlier this decade back on display: the jaw-smacking feast of scavengers who circled around Ukraine as Viktor Yanukovych, a Moscow-linked kleptocrat, was driven from power.