Bruce Ster­ling / trans­me­di­ale 2014 after­glow Open­ing Cer­e­mo­ny (by trans­me­di­ale)

Per­haps not Sterling’s great­est per­for­mance ever but he makes some inter­est­ing points towards the end about the need to argue with the sta­tus quo by build­ing alter­na­tives. And that the val­ue of these alter­na­tives can be in their rick­ety nature. A few choice quotes:

It’s time to build alter­na­tive com­pu­ta­tion­al sys­tems which reflect our own ethics and val­ues. We can do that.”

In the tech art world we have to break with our long habit of liv­ing off oth­er people’s crumbs. We got­ta stop sleep­ing in the rich guy’s used car.”

Now that com­mer­cial com­pu­ta­tion has become so slick and seduc­tive. Peo­ple for­get that tech­nol­o­gy and tech­nol­o­gy art are hard labour. It’s a tough scrab­ble when you’re real­ly on the elec­tron­ic fron­teer. And if it’s noth­ing but deca­dent point­ing and click­ing. How do you know if you’re any damn good? You’re good if you’re build­ing some­thing that peo­ple can use with some sense of decency.”

A yo, Michelle was gonna beat on Barack for tak­ing dat self­ie with dat chick at the Man­dela wake! What­e­va da fuk a self­ie is! What’s a self­ie, some type of bailout?” yelled Don­tay from the kitchen, dump­ing Utz chips into a cracked flow­ery bowl. I was plac­ing cubes into all of our cups and equal­ly dis­trib­ut­ing the vod­ka like, “Some for you and some for you …” “What the fuck is a self­ie?” said Miss Sheryl. “When a stu­pid per­son with a smart­phone flicks them­selves and looks at it,” I said to the room. She replied with a raised eye­brow, “Oh?” It’s amaz­ing how the news seems so instant to most from my gen­er­a­tion with our iPhones, Wi-Fi, tablets and iPads, but actu­al­ly it isn’t. The idea of infor­ma­tion being class-based as well became evi­dent to me when I watched my friends talk about a weeks-old sto­ry as if it hap­pened yesterday.

Too poor for pop cul­ture —

No pro­found state­ments about inequal­i­ty here, just a sober­ing sketch of life amongst Baltimore’s poor.

Playing with Rules workshop at Lift 14

There are some inter­est­ing com­ments from a par­tic­i­pant of our Play­ing with Rules work­shop at Lift 14 in this video made by the organ­i­sa­tion. In the video the par­tic­i­pant (David Canat) describes the “Men­sch ärg­ere dich nicht”-adaptation his group made about work­place inequal­i­ty. They man­aged to get play­ers to become con­flict­ed about wether to col­lab­o­rate or com­pete. He does not men­tion it explic­it­ly but I know they also found per­son­al ethics start­ed to influ­ence play­er choic­es also. It’s inter­est­ing how a seem­ing­ly sim­ple boardgame can already have such strong effects. It also gets me think­ing about irra­tional­i­ty as an impor­tant qual­i­ty for social issue game design.

It’s time for us to remem­ber that civic and com­mer­cial inno­va­tion can thrive on the local lev­el as well – not just glob­al­ly. The argu­ment against Balka­niza­tion, made by US-based tech­nol­o­gy giants, has always relied on some per­verse notion and at times fun­da­men­tal­ist notion of utopi­an cos­mopoli­tanism: if only we are allow max­i­mum inter­con­nec­tion, inter­cul­tur­al con­tacts will get estab­lished, peo­ple in Mali will dis­cov­er peo­ple in Mon­tana, every­one will sud­den­ly care about African war­lords like Joseph Kony, and so on. Yet, per­haps, it’s time to ques­tion whether the pur­suit of this cos­mopoli­tan agen­da has served us well. We want­ed to build a glob­al vil­lage – only to end up with a glob­al panop­ti­con instead. There’s lit­tle evi­dence that peo­ple in Mon­tana are any more con­cerned about Mali than two decades ago. At the same time, the cos­mopoli­tan impulse – strate­gi­cal­ly played up by Sil­i­con Val­ley in seem­ing­ly noble ini­tia­tives like (a Face­book-led effort to get the remain­ing five bil­lion peo­ple con­nect­ed) has stopped us from exper­i­ment­ing with com­mu­ni­ca­tion mod­els that, while pos­si­bly less inte­grat­ed at the glob­al lev­el, would pro­mote dif­fer­ent val­ues locally.
I think the best games do this. Cara men­tioned the FPS exam­ple, but to be frank, it applies to any­thing: card games; beat-em-ups; sports; real-time-strat­e­gy. The first read has to be clear, broad: grokkable, and also aes­thet­i­cal­ly entic­ing. Once enticed, you need that detail to repeat, to be frac­tal, to be backed up by sub­stance. And then, as you delve deep­er, into exper­tise and expe­ri­ence, there’s still depth to reward you, but it nev­er clash­es against that first read you had, the thing that sucked you in.

Infovore » First Read / Sec­ond Read

Inter­est­ing thoughts from Tom on design­ing for dif­fer­ent degrees of appreciation.

Yes, we “play” games like we do sports, and yes, games bear “mean­ing” as do the fine and plas­tic arts. But some­thing else is at work in games. Games are devices we operate.

The Squalid Grace of Flap­py Bird — Ian Bogost — The Atlantic

Just one high­light from a Bogost piece I could quote almost entire­ly it’s so great. The best thing I’ve read on games in ages. Don’t be fooled, this dis­cuss­es Flap­py Bird, but it’s not a Flap­py Bird arti­cle. Read it.

we – play­ers, crit­ics, jour­nal­ists – real­ly strug­gle to appre­ci­ate that these games are cre­at­ed not just by the one or two peo­ple we see in a dozen pre-release inter­views and pro­files, but by dozens if not hun­dreds of peo­ple, each with some small say in what the final cre­ative work will look like […] it’s much eas­i­er as an audi­ence to boil the author down to a sin­gle per­son: the direc­tor, the lead singer, the con­duc­tor. But this obscures the real­i­ties of how that work was pro­duced and why it is the way it is.
For McKinlay’s plan to work, he’d have to find a pat­tern in the sur­vey data—a way to rough­ly group the women accord­ing to their sim­i­lar­i­ties. The break­through came when he cod­ed up a mod­i­fied Bell Labs algo­rithm called K‑Modes. First used in 1998 to ana­lyze dis­eased soy­bean crops, it takes cat­e­gor­i­cal data and clumps it like the col­ored wax swim­ming in a Lava Lamp. With some fine-tun­ing he could adjust the vis­cos­i­ty of the results, thin­ning it into a slick or coag­u­lat­ing it into a sin­gle, sol­id glob. He played with the dial and found a nat­ur­al rest­ing point where the 20,000 women clumped into sev­en sta­tis­ti­cal­ly dis­tinct clus­ters based on their ques­tions and answers. “I was ecsta­t­ic,” he says. “That was the high point of June.” […] Most unsuc­cess­ful daters con­front self-esteem issues. For McKin­lay it was worse. He had to ques­tion his cal­cu­la­tions. […] “I think that what I did is just a slight­ly more algo­rith­mic, large-scale, and machine-learn­ing-based ver­sion of what every­one does on the site,” McKin­lay says. Every­one tries to cre­ate an opti­mal profile—he just had the data to engi­neer one.

How a Math Genius Hacked OkCu­pid to Find True Love — Wired Science

I’m not sure if I should be awestruck or creeped out.

The most enjoy­able part of this sto­ry is that for all the advan­tages McKin­lay has over most daters thanks to his math prowess, once it gets to the point of live inter­ac­tion with anoth­er human he is back on equal footing.

It is my belief that videogames are irre­ducibly pseu­do­sci­en­tif­ic, being com­posed of such sub­ject-object dis­solves, and that fail­ing to account for their sta­tus as such will only serve to cut off those spec­u­la­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties best pre­pared to advance the medi­um. […] The rela­tions between game­ful­ness and art­ful­ness and play­ful­ness are by no means well under­stood, and the prophet­ic pow­er of the notgames idea has not at all been exhaust­ed. Notgames have their for­mal struc­tures, too, and I am inter­est­ed in explor­ing them. […] I’d been call­ing Infi­nite Sketch­pad a game, and I still do, but it can be con­sid­ered as such only if irra­tional games are allowed to exist. […] Attempt­ing to allow a max­i­mal­ly intensified/living Art to coex­ist (become One with?) a max­i­mal­ly intensified/living Maths is the most promis­ing project of videogames, as far as I’m con­cerned. A new kind of Hip­pa­su­sian-Pythagore­an approach is want­i­ng, where we DO NOT think that it sucks for games to be all about math, because math is not regard­ed as over-ratio­nal reduc­tion­ism but is rather, as it has always been, the for­mal­iza­tion of the play­ers of meta­physics itself, the One, the Many, the parts and the wholes, the ratio­nals and irra­tionals, and their rela­tions and incon­sis­ten­cies— the games that they play.

wombflash for­est: Infi­nite Sketch­pad / I Am A Strange Loop

A few out­takes from the rather excel­lent intro­duc­to­ry blog post to David Kanaga’s essay on Infi­nite Sketch­pad. If you like orig­i­nal think­ing and chal­leng­ing notions on games and play then this is required read­ing. Infi­nite Sketch­pad itself is also a rather curi­ous thing to play with.