link dump

Link Dumpage for 2009-01-28

Notable links enjoyed today:

  • You can finally buy a subscription online. Done. "For nearly forty years, Word Ways has explored the many facets of logology (an old word resurrected by the late Dmitri Borgmann to describe recreational linguistics). Dmitri wrote the classic book on this topic -- Language on Vacation (Scribner's, 1965), now out of print -- and was the first Word Ways editor in 1968. Word Ways is published in an 80-page format four times a year (February, May, August, November)."
  • I've long held this philosophy. "You’re five years old. Don’t presume too much to know what’s important and what isn’t. Photocopy journal articles, photograph archives; create bibliographies, buy books; make notes on every article or book you read, even if it’s just one line saying “Never read this again”; collect newspaper clippings and email them to yourself; collect quotes; save your ideas for future papers, future projects, future conferences, even if they seem wildly implausible now. Hoarding must become instinctual, it must be an uncontrollable, primal urge."
  • Delicious tags: art mirrors audience
    This is great! "Audience ... is an installation consisting of around 64 head-size mirror objects. Each object moves its head in a particular way to give it different characteristics of human behaviour. Some chat amongst themselves, some shy away and others confidently move to grab your attention."
  • Delicious tags: kindle amazon ebook ebooks
    If the second generation natively supports PDF, I'll consider it.


Link Dumpage: Marion High School (Wisconsin)

You're right: this didn't come any sooner than any of the others.

  • A Comprehensive ARG Report from the PMs: "However despite the great critical success of MeiGeist the producers [of the ARG] have been left without anything to show financially for what was in effect a twelve-month project with global impact. Having said that, there is a postscript - the increased reputation gained from the game’s success has drawn in valuable commercial work for the producers."
  • 10 Books That Began Your Journey Down the Rabbit-hole: "Maybe they were the books that sparked your search for the truth about JFK or some other world event, about yourself or about that whole elusive thing called Reality. Perhaps these are the ten books that got you questioning all the received truths fed to you in school, by the media and by the well-meaning and equally deluded folks around you. Or maybe these are the ten books that brought you to that jaw-drop moment." Some of these now reside on my reading list.
  • The 8 Most Needlessly Detailed Wikipedia Entries: "Unlike the wordy, full-of-itself recap of 7th Heaven, this series manages to sum itself up in a mere 6,787 words, and, it should be noted, seven of those words are "ass," and three of them are "hooker." Can you guess how many times 7th Heaven mentions ass? Not nearly as many times as it does "church," we can tell you that." This, and the other entries, are pretty hilarious.
  • Adventures in participatory, interactive, rock'n'roll storytelling.: Great writeup. "Let's talk about this sort of meta-, user-generated-content for a second. In a very real sense, it is a significant and valuable part of the experience. If you joined the Perplex City experience a year in, the only way to conveniently catch up was to consult the player-created resources. Baudrillard once said "the territory no longer precedes the map." Well, in this case, it's more accurate to say "that the map is a big part of the territory itself." If you can encourage your readers to make this sort of content, they aren't just doing something "about" the fiction, they're adding to the experience of the fiction - whether you like it or not."
  • Who Owns Hues?: "Until recently, the importance of color as a brand identity wasn’t a big legal issue and the courts were lenient. It was an open question whether trademark law protected distinctive colors that had become strongly associated with a particular product or manufacturer. Today a color war is exploding and the use of color is generating unprecedented lawsuits ... Here are four examples of true "color" trademark infringement lawsuits."


Link Dumpage: Arjan Swinkels

Oh, it has been so long since I've spewed some dumpages.

  • Five Prescriptions for Viral Games: "Virality ... must be incorporated into a game while the rules are being designed and the technical architecture is being established. It is about making games that players feel invested in, that they want to share with friends--games they’ll go out of their way to show to others. When designing a game, developers should begin asking themselves not only "how will this make the game more fun?" but also "how will this encourage players to share the game with others?"
  • The Forgotten Delicious: "The essence of the criticism boils down to two main issues: First, some (including myself) believe that these applications are not only pretty for the sake of pretty, but they also sacrifice functionality in the pursuit of form. Second, and an issue that has become more evident in recent months, the developers of many of these Delicious apps seem to follow a fairly consistent pattern of huge amounts of pre-release hype, 1.0 release with lots of fanfare (and sales), followed by not a whole lot else."
  • Banner Blindness: Old and New Findings: "Users rarely look at display advertisements on websites. Of the four design elements that do attract a few ad fixations, one is unethical and reduces the value of advertising networks." Of particular note because it came out in August 2007; I'm 9 months behind!
  • The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web: "In order to allay some of the myths surrounding typography on the web, I have structured this website to step through Bringhurst's working principles [from The Elements of Typographic Style], explaining how to accomplish each using techniques available in HTML and CSS. The future is considered with coverage of CSS3, and practicality is ever present with workarounds, alternatives and compromises for less able browsers."
  • ARG Stats: "The following list provides information about the uptake, impact and awards garnered from ‘alternate reality games’ (ARGs). I have gathered this information from published sources, preferencing of course information provided by the producers of the projects. Rather than list ‘top ARGs’, I’ve included whatever ARG I was able to find data on. I list them alphabetically because any grading of ARGs will be according to a set of criteria that is highly subjective. It is not a definitive list, but hopes to provoke one."


Link Dumpage: Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper

No, I've made absolutely no dent in my list of things to read.

  • The Expert Mind: "He thus put in a nutshell what a century of psychological research has subsequently established: much of the chess master's advantage over the novice derives from the first few seconds of thought. This rapid, knowledge-guided perception, sometimes called apperception, can be seen in experts in other fields as well. Just as a master can recall all the moves in a game he has played, so can an accomplished musician often reconstruct the score to a sonata heard just once. And just as the chess master often finds the best move in a flash, an expert physician can sometimes make an accurate diagnosis within moments of laying eyes on a patient. But how do the experts in these various subjects acquire their extraordinary skills?"
  • The Hive: "Can thousands of Wikipedians be wrong? How an attempt to build an online encyclopedia touched off history’s biggest experiment in collaborative knowledge ... The power of the community to decide, of course, asks us to reexamine what we mean when we say that something is "true." ... The community decides that two plus two equals four the same way it decides what an apple is: by consensus. Yes, that means that if the community changes its mind and decides that two plus two equals five, then two plus two does equal five."
  • Jeopardy! Archive Glossary: Includes a number of strategems, wagering and otherwise, named after the players that originated them, such as "Forrest Bounce: 1. n. a clue-selection strategy, employed during the Jeopardy! Round or the Double Jeopardy! Round, in which the next clue is selected from a randomly-chosen category different from the category of the last clue, potentially giving an advantage to the player with control of the board by confusing his or her opponents."
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: "I think of what we do as 'massively multiplayer participatory storytelling,'" She tells me how the Mind Candy [Perplex City] team tries to infiltrate their players' lives and blur the lines between reality and fantasy. ... On a lighter note, Perplex City is the reason 127 people formed a spontaneous conga line in Trafalgar Square, all in the name of puzzle-solving glory ... We moved on, then, discussing other ways they'd really like to completely immerse their players. Her favorite idea? Kidnapping. She really wants to kidnap one of you. "I really do! And I don't think I'm the only one! In a perfect world, we'd be able to infiltrate your whole world."
  • The Biology of B-Movie Monsters: "Much of the movie is taken up with the Lilliputian team struggling to climb up onto pieces of furniture and then back down again. For the latter, they need not have invested so much time and effort in securing pieces of string to use as ropes: they could simply have jumped ... Indeed, sufficiently small animals cannot be hurt in a fall from any height: A monkey is too big, a squirrel is on the edge, but a mouse is completely safe ... These facts were known to our ancestors, who used this aspect of scaling to gruesome effect--a common strategy during medieval sieges was to take a carcass of a horse, let it ripen for a few days in the sun, and then catapult it over the walls of the besieged town. On impact, the carcass would indeed splash, spreading contagion throughout the city."


Link Dumpage: Juan Caballero y Ocio

No! I did not collect this a few days ago and hope to trick you with "regular" updates!

  • Outlandish theories: Kings of the (hollow) world: "Symmes's story is told well in "Banvard's Folly" by writer Paul Collins, who has reconstructed the stories of a series of madmen. Some were geniuses in their way, scientists who staked their entire careers on false hypotheses. He discusses the lives of men such as respected French physicist René Blondlot, who discovered N-rays in the early 20th century. N- rays didn't exist, but they threw the scientific community of the day into turmoil."
  • Experiencing déjà vu?: "Experiments suggest that déjà vu can be triggered independently, without a real memory to prompt it ... Recognising a familiar object or scene is believed to unleash two processes in the brain ... Exploring this two-step theory, a team at the University of Leeds in northern England showed volunteers 24 common words, then hypnotised them ... Ten of the volunteers said they felt an odd sensation when they saw new words in red, and five others said this sensation definitely felt like déjà vu."
  • Man hangs dead from the ceiling, yet remains online: "A play about a man who hangs dead from the ceiling of his apartment while his computer program maintains the facade that he is still alive was among the top entries in a new competition for plays about science and technology. That play, titled "On-line" and submitted by Minneapolis playwright Mark Steven Jensen, earned finalist status in the first Scientists, Technologists, and Artists Generating Exploration (STAGE) competition."
  • Interactive Narratives Revisited: "My lecture contained a critique of the whole concept of interactive movies, and in fact I ended up saying that I didn’t believe there was any such thing as an interactive movie at all, a remark which produced prolonged cheering in my largely techie bad-attitude game developer audience. The challenge of the interactive movie, I concluded, was to make decent computer games in spite of the fact that the marketing department will insist on sticking this idiotic label on your box. So I abandoned interactive movies as a design concept, because I couldn’t figure out what they were supposed to be, and looked at interactive narratives from an abstract, theoretical point of view. In that lecture, I identified three key problems that I felt made it difficult to create interactive narratives. So the idea behind this lecture is to look back and see how things have changed since I named those problems... to see if, perhaps, any of them have been solved."
  • The Latest on Long-Running Experiments: "We are happy to report that three of the world’s longest-running scientific experiments are indeed still running. It has been a number of years since anyone checked on all three ... In 1984, the European Journal of Physics published three remarkable reports, each describing a different experiment that had been continuing for decades. The youngest -- the pitch drop viscosity experiment at the University of Queensland in Brisbane -- had been started in 1927. The oldest -- the now-and-then-famous Oxford electric bell at Oxford University, was begun in 1840. The third experiment, the Beverly clock at the University of Otago in Dunedin, was commenced in 1864."


Link Dumpage: Canon (manga)

I'm queuing these up now in a supa-sekrit text file. SshhHh.

  • What Game Developers Hate About Videogame Reviewers: "They smile at junkets, exchange pleasantries at E3 and treat the enthusiast press exceptionally well, but behind closed doors, many game developers take a dim view of videogame reviewers ... Developers hate game reviewers that only play their games for a few hours ... Developers hate game reviewers because they don't understand games that are targeted for a specific audience ... Developers hate game reviewers who review games in proxy for an entire genre ... Developers hate game reviewers who have no idea what it takes to make a game."
  • Are Games Getting Easier?: "When the gaming phenomenon really got going in the 1980's, it existed virtually exclusively in arcades. Back then, games were built around a couple of key concepts: they were fun, addictive - and nearly impossible to master. Games like Pac-Man have a seemingly infinite number of levels, and even the best of the best can lose while just barely scratching the surface of the game. But as games have become more complex, game designers have started wanting everyone who plays their games to get to see everything they put into it. This in turn has resulted in a generation of games that are easier to conquer. In spite of the rapid growth in technology and the ability to make games more intricate, game have become fundamentally less challenging than they were 20 years ago."
  • Richard Lamm on Multiculturalism: "Last week there was an immigration-overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American's finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor named Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, "Mexifornia," explaining how immigration — both legal and illegal — was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream. Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States."
  • Playground game design as a sustainable competitive advantage: "Some of the top franchises such as GTA or Sims do not experience the same competitive pressures as do other titles in popular genres. Also unexpected is that the companies that originally innovated with the creation of a new genre end up dominating. Something beyond your typical branding and IP ownership acts as a barrier to entry for new companies looking to cash in on popular new genres."
  • MGC: Leading a Passively Multiplayer Life: "Hall ruminated on his concept of what he referred to as an entirely new genre - "inescapable games," or Passively Multiplayer games. The game, Hall explained, would be one that everyone is playing at all hours of the day. This is made possible thanks to the incredible amount of user data that individuals voluntarily give up about their hobbies, interests, school or work schedules, and all other aspects of their lives."


Link Dumpage: List of Sri Lankan musicians

I'm, what, six months behind on my reading list now? Holy crap.

  • Managing User Creativity, Part One and Part Two: "... user creativity is a great force which can allow the creation of new content at a level that staff couldn't possibly manage. However, user creativity also leads to issue of management, because it can be somewhat chaotic, somewhat unfocused, and somewhat uneven."
  • To Hell with WCAG 2: "The proposed new WCAG 2.0 is the result of five long years' work by a Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) committee that never quite got its act together. In an effort to be all things to all web content, the fundamentals of WCAG 2 are nearly impossible for a working standards-compliant developer to understand. WCAG 2 backtracks on basics of responsible web development that are well accepted by standardistas."
  • Interactive Fiction: First-Timer Foibles: Point Profusion, Synonym Sickness, Textual Truncations, Exciting Exclamations!!!, Aberrant Articles, Oral Offences, Encumbering Exposition, Shocking Spelling and Grisly Grammar, Player Perusal, Laconic Locations, Action Advancement, Insipid Initials, Mangled Mimesis, Action Abortion, and Closemouthed Characters.
  • Firefox Microsummaries: "Microsummaries are regularly-updated short summaries of web pages. They are compact enough to fit in the space available to a bookmark label, they provide more useful information about pages than static page titles, and they get regularly updated as new information becomes available. ... If you are a web site developer, you can provide microsummaries for the pages on your web site by ... linking to them from within the pages being summarized via <link> tags."
  • The Designer's Notebook: 'Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie!' VII: "We all know the game industry suffers from a lot of personnel turnover. Enthusiastic young people join the business; the hours and working conditions burn them out; they leave to find a more sane occupation, and a new crop shows up all ready for the flames. Apart from the waste of life and talent this represents, it means that game companies have no institutional memory, and that's partly why we keep making design errors."


Link Dumpage: Ray Gun (film)

My head is angry today, though my gamer score is not. Lots of Koster today:

  • User-Generated Content: The List: "I love the fact that thanks to organizations like Valve, Maxis, and Bioware, user-generated content is attracting tremendous attention from industry and media alike. Still, coverage typically revolves around a single point of interest, i.e. 'UGC makes games more interesting' or 'UGC can help drive sales.' So I thought I'd compile a (by no means exhaustive) list of the good business-y things about UGC in the context of games..."
  • User created content: "The lesson here is that everyone is a creator. The question is 'of what.' Everyone has a sphere where they feel comfortable exerting agency -- maybe it's their work, maybe it's raising their children, maybe it's collecting stamps. Outside of that sphere, most people are creators only within carefully limited circumstances; most people cannot draw, but anyone can color inside lines, or trace. If the games require serious commitment and challenging creation tasks equivalent to drawing from scratch, they will have smaller audiences."
  • The lifecycles of a player: "A while ago, a poster in the comments thread asked what I thought the lifecycles of players were. I don’t think there is only one lifecycle, is all. I know of several models that have stood up over time, so here they are, briefly described."
  • 40 ways to be a better (game) designer: "I'm always looking for ways to become a better game designer ... it's with interest that I read articles like 50 ways to become a better designer. Much of the list isn't directly applicable, but some of it is, and it inspires a list of my own, centered around games. Not exhaustive, and probably not even accurate, but stuff I have often helped myself with. Many are cribbed and adapted."
  • Rails and Ajax: a Match Made in Purgatory: "...we cannot efficiently mix desktop and web paradigms. All kind of problems ensue when we attempt to build a web app that should behave as if it's a desktop app. And vice versa. And yet, that's what Ajax-colored approach seems to advocate. Bring back the desktop paradigm into the world of web. That's not the wisest thing to do, if you ask me."


Link Dumpage: Fighting Vipers

Zomg, the list grows! IT LEAVES ME NOT BE!

  • For a while I've been trying to find the best way of putting my videos online in an easily accessible format. I knew it'd be Flash Video (.flv), but it was just a matter of finding the proper way of converting to that format. After a month of random and bored searching, I settled on FFmpeg to convert the files (save WMV) and FLVTool2 to add the metadata necessary for fast forwarding and seeking. Gallery recently added a flashvideo plugin to its development branch, which saved me the effort of deciding between FlowPlayer and the aptly named Flash Video Player. As fate would have it, the day I eureka'd I found Video Blogging using Django and Flash(tm) Video (FLV), which covers nearly all the same corners I was peering into.
  • Video Games are Dead: A Chat with Storytronics Guru Chris Crawford: "I haven't even seen any new ideas pop up. The industry is so completely inbred that the people working in it aren’t even capable of coming up with new ideas anymore. I was appalled, for example, at the recent GDC. I looked over the games at the Independent Games Festival and they all looked completely derivative to me. Just copies of the same ideas being recycled. I didn't see anything I'd call innovative, and this was from people not even interested in doing anything... in making money. It was just straight amateurs trying to be innovative and even they couldn't be innovative."
  • How to cheat good: "It is particularly irksome when their cheating implies (reminds?) that I am a fool. So, to help students across the country cheat better, saving themselves both from easy detection and from incurring the wrath of insulted faculty, and leading to a much more harmonious school environment, I offer the following tips, based on recent experience."
  • Literatronica: The next generation of hypertext authoring: "Literatronic is a dynamic hypertext authoring system which instead of relying solely on static hypertext links (for the system allows these as well), uses an AI engine to recommend the 3 best next lexias based on what you have already read. ... Out of these "distances," the system creates a map. To help the reader traverse the map, the system runs a "shortest distance" algorithm to suggest paths. Because the system is dynamic, it can change paths according to the lexias the reader has already encountered."
  • bud: " is an experiment to turn our personal data trails into a playfield for a web-based massively-multiplayer online game. Call it passively multiplayer - the reality of communication networks. Already, Web 2.0 and social networking sites keep track of our relationships and communications. proposes to make that web more engaging through surveillance with non-threatening stakes: browser-based multiplayer play."


Link Dumpage: Finally the Punk Rockers Are Taking Acid

The heat is oppressive and so is my reading queue.

  • Jeremy Zawodny has a six part series (six dumps for the price of one!) on how he lost 50 pounds (of himself) over a year with three simple steps. I've no intention of ever following, or going on, any sort of diet plan (for the same reason I dislike taking medicine -- it seems an admission of dislike with whatever grande scheme I happen to believe in at the moment), but I do find some interest in reading over weight loss tips for people who sit on their ass all day. I've a belly, sure, but I can still see my penis. Good enough, right?
  • The Library of Congress: Web Capture: "In 2004, the Library's Office of Strategic Initiatives created a Web Capture team to support the goal of managing and sustaining at-risk digital content. The team is charged with building a Library-wide understanding and technical infrastructure for capturing Web content. The team ... is identifying policy issues, establishing best practices and building tools to collect and preserve Web content." Their primary acquisition tool is the Internet Archive's Heritrix, an open-source, extensible, web-scale, archival-quality web crawler.
  • Is the RPG Industry Screwed?: A useful read if I ever get around to finessing a Ghyll book. "Paradoxically, it's never been easier to get an RPG published, but never harder for a new RPG company to support full-time endeavour. The scalability of the new publishing model means that although it is very hard to make money, you are much, much less likely to lose it through an expensive litho print run."
  • The 7 (f)laws of the Semantic Web: "When it comes to the Semantic Web, you might call me a disillusioned advocate. I’ve been dipping in and out of the technologies for the last 5 years or so, but am increasingly frustrated by the lack of any visible progress." Some questionable conclusions here, like drawing a negative inference that there are more AJAX books then RDF books. AJAX is graphic/UI whizbangery that has more than enough glitz to harm the web vs. RDF which is much more grounded in information design (and more difficult for someone to just "pick up"). Bonus points for the shoutout to crschmidt (from #swhack).
  • BBC Domesday Project: "The BBC Domesday Project was a partnership ... to mark the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book, an 11th century census of England. It is frequently cited as an example of digital obsolescence ... In 2002, there were great fears that the discs would become unreadable as computers capable of reading the format had become rare (and drives capable of accessing the discs even rarer)."


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