Episode 0016 · January 31, 2023

The podcast about what to do next.

Kids Today!

Paul Ford: [00:00:00] Uh Rich, you know we often prepare these, we do like 40 minutes of prep. We rehearse, we write things down.

Rich Ziade: Oh, good production doesn’t come free.

Paul Ford: Yes, and today you said, I don’t wanna do any of that. You sit down and we’re gonna do the greatest podcast ever in the next 20 minutes.

Rich Ziade: I never said any of that.

Paul Ford: No.

Rich Ziade: But I’m ready to talk.

Paul Ford: Alright, let’s, let’s, what, what do you got from me today? What’s our subject? I have no idea, I don’t even know what, what’s happening?

Rich Ziade: Let me let the subject of today’s podcast reveal itself to you through a series of vignettes.

Paul Ford: Oh God.

Rich Ziade: Vignette one– my son who said he was watching a show on Disney streaming, I walk in [00:01:00] and I peer over his shoulder, he’s 10, I’m still allowed to do that. I’m gonna respect his privacy, privacy later, um, is watching, uh, soccer goal compilation videos. So within like a six minute span, there’s just spectacular goal-

Paul Ford: Goallll.

Rich Ziade: After spectacular goal.

Paul Ford: Goalll, just men-

Rich Ziade: That’s right.

Paul Ford: With screaming the word goal over and over again.

Rich Ziade: Vignette two– I sit him down because we have Game Pass, Xbox Game Pass, and I said, there’s a cool new game called High-Fi Rush about this kid who’s kind of half robot, and it’s just looks spectacular and it’s just the production qualities, beautiful. It looks like a cartoon, I was like, “let me, let me let you play this for a few minutes”. He played it, watched the intro, clicked around for about six minutes, put the controller down and left.

Paul Ford: Okay.

Rich Ziade: Vignette three– Liverpool was playing in the FA cup this past weekend.[00:02:00]

Paul Ford: The soccer team from Liverpool.

Rich Ziade: The soccer team, uh, and he sat next to me, watched about, I’m gonna say eight to 10 minutes and left. Got bored and left. Now this is the last of the vignettes.

Paul Ford: Four vignettes, okay.

Rich Ziade: Now this one blew my mind, we went to Dave and Busters yesterday, which is imagine if like the Cheetos tiger had babies with Nolan Buschnell, the founder of Atari.

Paul Ford: Okay, so not Chucky Cheese.

Rich Ziade: Not Chucky cheese, essentially it’s the modern Chucky Cheese.

Paul Ford: Okay.

Rich Ziade: I think it’s Buschnell or whatever.

Paul Ford: Well, what’s it, what’s it like?

Rich Ziade: It’s just loud, crazy, arcade.

Paul Ford: Arcade games.

Rich Ziade: Carnival like games, like shoot the ball in the basket and ski ball and stuff like that. And in the center of it, there’s a sports bar, which we didn’t go into, uh, which is essentially like wings, beer, and flat screen TVs.

Paul Ford: Oh, so it’s Chucky Cheese with $14 Manhattans made with bad alcohol.

Rich Ziade: It’s not just for [00:03:00] kids. It’s like assuming that adults want to have a couple of beers and goof around too.

Paul Ford: So just fun, anything-

Rich Ziade: Fun, fun, fun.

Paul Ford: Yeah.

Rich Ziade: I walk up to Ms. Pacman, I know how to play Ms. Pacman.

Paul Ford: Oh the game?

Rich Ziade: The game.

Paul Ford: No, there-

Rich Ziade: She wasn’t there, no appearance by Ms. Pacman.

Paul Ford: God, that would’ve been amazing.

Rich Ziade: And this blew my mind. I’m gonna tell you two little things that happened at at Dave and Busters.

Paul Ford: Okay.

Rich Ziade: It was a different version of Ms. Pacman that took up the whole wall, so it was kind of this visual spectacle thing. Whatever I’m good at Ms. PacMan.

Paul Ford: Okay.

Rich Ziade: I finished the level.

Paul Ford: Uh-huh

Rich Ziade: And the game ended.

Paul Ford: Oh.

Rich Ziade: I had to get another quarter or whatever the equivalent of NFC.

Paul Ford: Oh wait, there’s no second level?

Rich Ziade: No, and we played a dozen other games– did well, and they would just end.

Paul Ford: Really, you just pay the quarter for the experience and there’s no continuity?

Rich Ziade: It is the experience, so I’m like, wait a minute, are we here just for the experience? Is there no skill building? I’m not saying that Ms. [00:04:00] PacMan playing is a skill.

But is it, are we playing just for the experience? Are we here just to have little tiny bite sized experiences? And then my son says, “you gotta check this out”, he takes me to this ride, it’s not even ride. It’s an arcade, a two-seater arcade where you’re kind of almost laying back, it’s reclined.

Paul Ford: Okay.

Rich Ziade: It’s called Typhoon.

Paul Ford: Okay.

Rich Ziade: And it has the num- six buttons, numbered one to six. And he is like get the card, let’s buy a ride on this thing.

Paul Ford: Typhoon.

Rich Ziade: Typhoon, I’m like, “okay, where’s the controls?”, it is nothing more than you watching a visual sort of track, and there’s different ones, there’s fighter planes, there’s train, and he’s, my kid is hanging onto the handles of the chair, it’s rumbling every so often as the visuals sync up, it’s just 3D graphics. And he’s doing nothing.

Paul Ford: Uh-huh. [00:05:00]

Rich Ziade: And there’s nothing to do.

Paul Ford: Uh-huh.

Rich Ziade: It was just an experience. So there like it went from, “okay, you don’t care about my skill with Ms. PacMan”.

Paul Ford: Uh-huh.

Rich Ziade: To who needs skills? We just need your eyeballs and maybe your ears to just make you see this thing. I thought at some point, like as part of the experience, someone was gonna shoot a corn dog into my kid’s mouth. And just be done with it.

Paul Ford: So you’re telling me that kids today don’t have the difficult challenges that you had when you were forced to play multiple levels of Ms. PacMan.

Rich Ziade: I fear the grumpy old men tone of this podcast so far, but here’s what I’m saying, and I actually say this, not because he didn’t have fun, cause he had fun. And he likes watching YouTube. What I’m saying is this, there are uh, little, little e-stickers on all the music that has curse words in it.

Paul Ford: Sure. [00:06:00]

Rich Ziade: And then on there are TV shows that are rated as PG-13 or MA for mature audiences or whatever it may be. There are things we do to police the content that our kids consume, and I would argue that the single biggest risk isn’t the substance of the content, but how little work it demands of anyone anymore, especially for kids. My kid doesn’t wanna play a game that is asking him to figure some things out. He wants to go immediately and get a dopamine hit within 20 seconds. Welcome to the Ziade and Ford Podcast. I have a 10 and an eight year old, my name is Rich Ziade.

Paul Ford: My name is Paul Ford, I have a 11 year old and an 11 year old, I have twins.

Rich Ziade: Congratulations!

Paul Ford: Whew, Alright. Let me, let me, um- [00:07:00]

Paul Ford: You know, I’ve been thinking about what you’ve been saying because you’ve sure, definitely been saying a lot of it. And, uh, it’s all nonsense and you need to just calm down.

Rich Ziade: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

Paul Ford: I’ll tell you what, here’s why, because when you were a kid and you listened to the radio, did an old man ever show up and say, “how can you just listen to the radio? You never built one with a crystal like I did in 1922 to tune into the World War I updates”, World War One, was over by then, but nonetheless.

Rich Ziade: They said this about TV with me, I watching dumb cartoons.

Paul Ford: Uh-huh.

Rich Ziade: I know where you’re going, I’m ready for you Paul.

Paul Ford: Did you take apart the TV with a screwdriver? No, cause you’re not dead, that’s always what would happen when you’d touch that little suction cup and shoot across the room [chuckles].

Rich Ziade: [laughter].

Paul Ford: Um, okay, yes, I get it. I get that you watched your son have a series of relatively lean back experiences and that we are in the worst timeline for just incredibly stupid things. Just like [00:08:00] “the cat farts on the hat”, you know, and everybody’s like, “ah, that video game’s amazing”. Here’s what I’ve noticed, my son and I had, I’ve had similar experiences with my son and he likes to watch YouTube videos of people playing video games, which is at some level in my brain, just the dumbest thing.

Rich Ziade: Like he’s just shedding IQ points, watching that nonsense.

Paul Ford: Not gonna lie, I hate it a lot. Watching a guy who has a voice like this, talk about Mario’s Haunted Surgery Clinic.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, yeah.

Paul Ford: Where you know up Mario took the brain out of Bowser over and over and over again, and then they get on a cart and they talk about the cart and it’s just hours and hours. And it does drive me slightly bananas. I’ll tell you what else, I found a book at a little free library, It was called, uh, you know, Code Games in Python.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: And he was really into it, and he wasn’t into it in the way that I’m into things.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: He read it, he wanted to understand the anatomy of things. We had a couple conversations about it.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: Now here’s the [00:09:00] thing, a 10, an 11 year old, they are not listeners. They don’t want you to explain how the world works, their entire focus in life is to tell you how the world works.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: They articulate and express, they don’t actually like process in the way that you’re expecting.

Rich Ziade: Mmm, mmm.

Paul Ford: So he’s just like unlimited sensation, great.

Rich Ziade: Mmm.

Paul Ford: Now I look, is it weird? Yes, I used to ride my bike to the library to use the Macintosh, you know, like that was, and I was 11 and I had essentially, I owned my own life and I could kind of, and what I would do is spend four to six hours with one floppy disc.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hm, okay.

Paul Ford: Those constraints were good for my creativity and I used them to my own success quite a bit.

Rich Ziade: Mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: Kids do need constraint systems, they do need structure to work inside of. You just sound like to me, like somebody who had a completely constraint free day.

Rich Ziade: Yes, um, uh, and, and, uh, I, let me counter your counter-argument, even though it wasn’t really an argument, you’re making an observation.[00:10:00] One of the great joys is, applying a skill you learned and just the mastery, the joy of the mastery over it.

Paul Ford: Sure.

Rich Ziade: Even if it’s a baby step, even if it’s the first time I ran a piece of basic code, sure felt it didn’t, it wasn’t like, wow, look at computers work, I felt good, I felt good. such that, that, that feeling of, of control and mastery made me want to keep going and learn more, right.

Paul Ford: Okay, but listen, all I’m saying here is that the passive experience that is pure pleasure and excitement, I think it depends on the person, but I think that that is the fundamental gateway for a lot of people. Once you have that experience, a portion of humanity goes. “How’d they do that?” And then they try to figure it out from there, they work backwards from it. An awful lot of people, including a lot of the parents, just wanna lie there and hit five buttons.

Rich Ziade: Right.

Paul Ford: And [00:11:00] you know what? They might have had a really long week and they’re really just like, “I just need my Dave and Buster’s time”. You are a bizarre artifact in the human population because when you see things, I have the same tendency, you see things, you say, “how’s that work? Let’s take it apart. Let’s figure it out”.

Rich Ziade: Yes, yes.

Paul Ford: Okay, that is not what most of humanity is like, and I, I, I’ll tell you why I learned that, I learned that because I was an early web person and I would build my own content management systems, and I said, this is wonderful. I, you can build tools for publishing and thinking and communicating online, you can make your own, and then blogging tools came in with one text box that you filled in.

Rich Ziade: Took care of the rest.

Paul Ford: And what I had missed, I didn’t just miss that people wouldn’t want to build their own things and learn technologies or learn new tools. I missed that, most people don’t even want to blog. That’s too much work, okay?

Rich Ziade: Even when you gave him the text box.

Paul Ford: Let’s, let’s bring this back to the history of technology in a, in a more fundamental way. There are always people, there are people like, um, [00:12:00] Ted Nelson, who’s one of the sort of creators of hypertext as we understand it in the world, or Alan Kay, who is at Xerox Park. And, and what they will tell you over and over is like, we haven’t begun to figure out what we can do with the computer, we don’t know yet.

Rich Ziade: Mmm.

Paul Ford: And they’re very useful human beings because they remind you to strive, but most people want a piece of fish on Friday.

Rich Ziade: [laughter].

Paul Ford: Okay, so you’re, you’re setting up this whole dynamic where you’re like, I went to Dave and Buster’s and they didn’t gimme an educational experience. Well you didn’t go to the library.

Rich Ziade: I wanted the next maze in Pacman, I didn’t want an educational experience just to clarify-

Paul Ford: Go to school-

Rich Ziade: I put my quarter in, I achieved the goal of eating all the dots.

Paul Ford: Yeah, less than a mile away is the Brooklyn Public Library, but you didn’t choose to go there?

Rich Ziade: I made that joke yesterday, I was like, he’s like, “where are we going?” I was like, first we’re gonna go to church, then the library. And he was just like, “what? This isn’t a guy’s day”.

Paul Ford: [laughter] Look, I mean, let me give you another example, sports, okay? Let’s go to a Nets game, what do you do during a Nets game? You eat a fried [00:13:00] chicken sandwich and then you drink beer that costs $48. And then you watch incredible athletes with talent.

Rich Ziade: I’m okay with enjoying a spectacle, I’m okay with that.

Paul Ford: Uh-huh.

Rich Ziade: Seeing a movie, what am I gonna do? Am I gonna participate or on, on the basketball court or in the movie theater? It’s not going to happen. I do think, I do think that, uh, those spaces to explore within constraints, even if it’s utter boredom, even if it leads to like utter bor- my kid, if he is not taking in stimuli within five minutes, can’t believe the world is crumbling around him. It’s bad, I’m sorry, It is bad.

Paul Ford: I think this is a normal part of being a father, right? Everybody talks about this, “your kids need to be bored”. They just gotta be free, they also have to be free. You gotta be free to be bored. You gotta be able to walk around and like look at the wall and get in a little trouble.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, yeah.

Paul Ford: And you gotta make some cho- boredom involves some choices. You have to make your own [00:14:00] choices.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: Okay, so you got six hours– now look, when my 11 year olds come to me in the morning on Sunday and say, “I’m bored”.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: I become a shrieking monster person, I’m not a pleasant human being because I’m so frustrated.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, I’m not here to entertain you every moment of the day.

Paul Ford: Oh, every parent has been through this in a robotic, annoying way, and the children don’t care, they look at you after you make some great point about the entire nature of society and constraint systems and creativity, and they go, ah-huh, I’m bored.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, they’re still bored. Yeah, totally. I have-

Paul Ford: But here’s– how do you unlock that? Okay, can you put them in a room with five options? Like what?

Rich Ziade: I think this has to do with supply and demand and the value we put on things when there’s too much of them. Nothing-

Paul Ford: Well, when we were, this is the biggest difference in our childhoods, and people would’ve, our, our parents would’ve said this about us. The amount of stuff that my children are [00:15:00] downstream from, like they have, because people give us books and there’s little free library scattered around and books are just like, they might have a thousand books between them.

Rich Ziade: Endless.

Paul Ford: Endless.

Rich Ziade: Endless, endless, and the wall of options on Netflix or the Wall of Options in, you know, GamePass where you can pick which game you play.

Paul Ford: And they still fight over which TV show to watch.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, exactly, so I do think that’s unfortunate. I’m not sure what’s gonna be on, I mean, they will have a podcast in 40 years and talk about how unfortunate it is that content gets pumped in directly through a ca- an RJ 45 cable that’s in your neck.

Paul Ford: Oh down- it’s down your throat.

Rich Ziade: It’s down your throat.

Paul Ford: Yeah.

Rich Ziade: So, you know, I get the cycle part of it, um, but it is, it is a little disheartening.

Paul Ford: Well, let me throw-

Rich Ziade: Not everything is con- a basketball game is consumption, not everything-

Paul Ford: Let me throw it back to you, let me throw it back to you. Relax, relax. And then, [00:16:00] what are you gonna do that, where it involves constraints and Ed- like my daughter’s gotten really, I, I think part of it, they grow into my, my daughter’s gotten into drawing, my son is playing video games and doing sports.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, I, no, I think you’re right. And, and what I’ve found are some, some loopholes. Uh, you know, you’re gonna be shocked at these, these sort of counterexamples that I think have worked. First off, board games, board games are strange. Um, they’re social-

Paul Ford: Do you like board games?

Rich Ziade: I’m not a huge fan, but they’re-

Paul Ford: I, I hate them and-

Rich Ziade: They’re wonderful social settings.

Paul Ford: My children love them and I’m just, I, this is where I’m a failure as a father.

Rich Ziade: They wanna play with them because they want to hang out with you and actually interact with you.

Paul Ford: And I look them in the eye and I say, “I don’t really like board games”, and then I go upstairs to my computer. I’m, I’m the worst father in history.

Rich Ziade: Well this is Ziade Advisors now, don’t take Paul’s advice on any of this. You’re not the worst father, there are other ways for you to hang with your kids. Board games work. Here’s another one, and this is gonna be controversial

Paul Ford: Cause it was, it was boring.

Rich Ziade: Baseball.[00:17:00]

Paul Ford: Oh boy.

Rich Ziade: My son loves baseball, and you are like, “how are you like this person that has like nitrous oxide just fuel you to bounce off balls?”.

Paul Ford: Does he have collector brain? Does he like, sort of, did he play Pokemon?

Rich Ziade: He never played it, he liked collecting the cards.

Paul Ford: Okay, so my son has gotten into football and he’s starting to like, cause and his buddy does too. And they, they, they, they know all the names of like all the players, I don’t.

Rich Ziade: Fine, but, a baseball game by a lot of different empirical measurements is very boring, It’s slow.

Paul Ford: Even people who love baseball know it’s boring.

Rich Ziade: It’s boring. But-

Paul Ford: One of the number one things you can do if you’re really into baseball is collect statistics.

Rich Ziade: Oh yeah. Some people live for that stuff.

Paul Ford: Like the only thing more boring than baseball is probably bass fishing.

Rich Ziade: As a sport?

Paul Ford: As a spectator, like measuring the length of the fish?

Rich Ziade: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s boring stuff. I, I, I think [00:18:00] he loves, again, I think he loves the social setting that it’s in, which is like, I have not spo- I can watch a whole baseball game. It’ll be like, as much as we’ll talk together about anything.

Paul Ford: Well, the thing about little boys in particular, I read an article about this, you can make eye contact with your daughter. Don’t look at your son, they, they do better when they are parallel and they’re sit.

Rich Ziade: Interesting.

Paul Ford: So you’re watching the game and they’ll chat with you.

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: But they don’t actually want, if you sit across the table and you’re like, tell me about blah, blah, blah. They’re like, nah.

Rich Ziade: Yep. Um, Ziade and Ford fairly decent parents advisors.

Paul Ford: [chuckles] By the way, that’s not just me making up some random gender stuff. That was a New York Times article about how to deal with little boys, cause they’re weird.

Rich Ziade: Yes, they’re a little weird. Um, sometimes we talk about business, sometimes we talk about tech, sometimes we talk about being parents.

Paul Ford: I think what I want to say to you though, to to [00:19:00] counter advise as we’re closing this out is that when that happens, don’t get upset. It’s just normal. Everybody wants to eat ice cream and lay on the floor.

Rich Ziade: And that is the advice of the- that’s the tip of the day.

Paul Ford: Yeah, that’s what they want to do. And so it’s like, okay, but not always. Then we get up off the floor and we’re like, “Hey, where are we going?”.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: That’s when you gotta be there.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: Don’t try to change the fact that he wants to lie down and look at the thing.

Rich Ziade: That’s good advice, that’s good advice.

Paul Ford: Yeah, because you can’t win. I, trust me, I’ve had the same tantrums.

Rich Ziade: Look, but full disclosure, I blocked YouTube. I can’t, I couldn’t, I, he can’t use YouTube.

Paul Ford: My house is like the White House situation room. It’s on lockdown. You can’t, you can’t access-

Rich Ziade: No, it’s too much. I can’t, as a, as a responsible parent, I can’t see him with like, drool hanging out of the corner of his mouth as he watches people trip on their couches, or stump their toes on their couches on videos.

Paul Ford: My daughter cannot use the iPad that she, the old iPad, that’s for drawing on, uh, without holding it up [00:20:00] directly to my face.

Rich Ziade: Alright, right, right, right. You are the face ID.

Paul Ford: I am the face ID, my son we have like nine levels of, of lockdown all in one password. There’s like 31 password.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, yeah. Totally, so that’s there, but, but point taken. You’re listening to Ziade and Ford Podcast, you can check us out @ZiadeFord.com. That’s Z I A D E F O R D.

Paul Ford: Dot com and hello@ziadeford.com is a good email to send-

Rich Ziade: Give us topics, we’ll, we’ll talk ’em through on the, on the show.

Paul Ford: Yeah, we gotta do mailbag show. We’ve been getting lots of feedback.

Rich Ziade: Yes.

Paul Ford: Alright.

Rich Ziade: Thanks all for listening.

Rich Ziade: Have a lovely day.

Paul Ford: I’ll see you soon. [00:21:00] [00:22:00]

More Ziade+Ford Advisors
RSSApple PodcastSpotify