Link Dumpage for 2010-06-15

Notable links enjoyed today:

  • "We hacked the Portal 2 BBS and tracked Meltzer's kidnapped daughter to Rapture without touching a video game console. Alternate-reality games (ARG) have become more sophisticated in the last few years, and now it seems every major release comes with an extra mystery to solve. What makes these games so popular? Who plays them, and why do developers sink so much time and effort into a free product?"
  • Delicious tags: books criticism reading
    "One man's Shakespeare is another man's trash fiction. Consider this pithy commentary on the Great Bard's work: "With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare….” But, of course, there must be SOME writers we can all agree on as truly great, right? Like Jane Austen. Or not: "Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice,' I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”"
  • Delicious tags: books serials writing
    "There are people arguing that the ebook will never achieve mainstream adoption. I think we can safely assume, for reasons logistical, economic and environmental, that this isn't the case … Once our books are consumed in significant proportion by people reading on the screen, people are going to want to interact with their books the way they do other content. And that pressure is going to fundamentally change what books are, and how they're written, sold, and read … Welcome, one and all, to the rebirth of short and serialized fiction. Short fiction has been dead for a long time. And by "dead" I mean there's been very little market for it, which means there's been very little money for writing it. That's going to be changing.”
  • Delicious tags: writing pulp fiction
    "This is a formula, a master plot, for any 6000 word pulp story. It has worked on adventure, detective, western and war-air. It tells exactly where to put everything. It shows definitely just what must happen in each successive thousand words. No yarn of mine written to the formula has yet failed to sell. The business of building stories seems not much different from the business of building anything else."
  • Delicious tags: biology science bacteria
    "In the 1990s, a European biotech company prepared to commercially release a genetically engineered soil bacterium for use by farmers. They were operating under two very reasonable assumptions: 1. Nobody likes plant waste [and] 2. Everybody likes booze. Whereas the common man might address these issues by simply not doing any plowing and opting to get plowed instead, scientists at the biotech company thought of a much more elegant solution: Engineer a bacterium that aggressively decomposes dead plant material--specifically wheat--into alcohol. And in 1990, they did exactly that. The bacterium was called Klebsiella planticola, and it nearly murdered everybody; you just don't know it yet."