Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I like any museum where you walk through and say, "That looks like something Magritte would paint... oh wait... Magritte did paint that."
Monday, August 23, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Carse's Long Now talk, which was interesting, but I don't feel like it gave me much more enlightenment. I have the feeling this is a book he brought over from the proto-world, and he probably does not understand it completely himself. I do feel certain that the relationship between our attitude about play and games relates powerfully to the nature of tranquility, which you might recall from here as being central to the meaning of life. I think the missing link is probably harmony, the secret to which I suspect is locked in Christopher Alexander's later books... I wish I could read them properly -- all my attempts have paralyzed my mind with thought. Perhaps I'm almost ready. I do hope I can comprehend this relationship during my lifetime.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The book is intensely thorough, and does more than just present data -- it attempts to uncover the forces that are at work making things better, starting with the question of why we have it so much better than the other animals. The answer, Ridley explains, is trade. We are the only animal that trades. Other animals give and take, and use tools, but none of them trade. He even shows interesting evidence that this is what allowed us to kill all the Neanderthals -- they couldn't trade and specialize, and we could. He goes farther, suggesting that our differences in gender roles are probably what got this started.
I found this an incredibly thought provoking book, and it gave me great tools for thinking about the future -- I recommend it highly.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Jaron's first argument: Web 2.0 is full of templates, and templates diminish creativity, therefore web 2.0 diminishes creativity. This argument seems ridiculous to me, for several reasons. First of all, it is not at all obvious to me that templates diminish creativity -- often, figuring out what you can do in a limited pallet forces one to be much more creative than when you have a plenitude of choices. It's kind of like arguing that musical instruments limit creativity, since they only make certain sounds. Secondly, web 2.0 templates are not very limited, and there seems to be a boundless supply of different ones, and you can always make new ones, if the old ones don't suit you. Third, people on the internet share so much more creative now than they did before, so I have to think that the new templates are helping.
Jaron's second argument: When people give away content for free, it sends a message that the content is not worth anything. He is not talking about stolen content here, he is talking about anything you create and share on the Internet at all. If you write a song, or a joke, or make a short film, and give it away for free, you are hurting the pocketbooks of all content creators, he argues. He gripes that it is intensely frustrating that there is no way to sell digital content for money on the Internet, an argument that struck me as strange considering I paid him $9.99 for the privilege of reading that argument on the Kindle. He suggests that existing piracy problems can be solved with a simple system whereby it is illegal to "own" any content, but that rather you pay to access it in a streaming way. He handwaves the technological challenges (what if you are off the net, etc.) saying they can be solved easily(??). Copyright and how to pay for content are complicated issues, I grant you -- but I have a hard time with the idea that when some people choose to share what they make, it hurts everyone.
Jaron's third argument: Music has hit a plateau of creativity -- it all has sounded the same for the last twenty years, because technology has stifled creativity. I find this a thoughtful observation, but I can't agree with the conclusion. I find that if you look at the history of music, the changes in musical style are largely driven by technology. The 20th century saw an unprecedented evolution of music as technologies changed, giving nearly each decade very distinct sounds. Unfortunately, we seem to be reaching a kind of technological limit of music -- now that we can make any sound, and modulate it any way we want, how can technology continue to drive style? T-Pain's autotuning may be our last tech-driven musical innovation (though I hope that is not true). I guess I feel like 20th century musicians had it easy... they could lean back on new technology for their innovation. 21st century musicians will actually have to innovate their music, not their technology. Jaron then does a rant about the problem is that everyone is stuck in the past -- they need to look to the future, instead. Weirdly, he seems to prove his point by then talking about the greatest VR experience he ever worked on, and yes, it's that dancing lobster from the 80's. So, he's arguing that people should stop pulling inspiration from the past, unless it's from the stuff he worked on, I think.
So, my gripes with the book are that it feels ego-driven, that it makes weakly supported, contradictory arguments, and that it seems to lack a central point. The point is supposed to be that we should be more creative than the machines will let us, but when we do occasionally bump into that point, it feels as if it were by accident.
On the other hand, I have to admit I found the book very provocative. I didn't agree with many of his points and arguments, but I had to stop and think about why I felt that way. Without a doubt, reading it channeled my thinking into interesting avenues I never would have gone down if I hadn't read it, and I continue find my thoughts returning to unanswered questions that the book provoked. And it's short.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
my own set. Mental Notes is an attempt to lay out principles of psychology that might be useful for web design. You can use them for other things, of course, but there is a bias here towards web design in the detailed descriptions. The Mental Notes deck gave me a lot to think about, because I had, at one point, a plan to create a sequel to my Art of Game Design book, entitled The Psychology of Game Design. Similar to Mental Notes, the idea was to connect various ideas from the world of psychology to game design. Unfortunately, the more I worked on it, the more it felt like an encyclopedia, or maybe I should say, it felt like a deck of cards -- many random principles, but little that built up into anything significant or meaningful, and ultimately I abandoned, or at least set aside, the project. This deck suffers a little from the same problems -- I kind of wish its principles were a little more organized into suits, or some such, and like many survey treatments of psychology, it feels like important things have been missed. That said, it does seem like a useful set of "lenses" to flip through on a project, and you are sure to pick up some meaningful ideas and turns of phrase along the way. And the box is super attractive, so it makes a very nice gift for any designer. You can buy them here.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Carnation Milk is the best in the landI actually finished reading this book some time ago -- I had the idea that if I blogged about it, I could part with the book... but now I'm not so sure. Perhaps if I read it again...
Here I sit with a can in my hand--
No tits to pull, no hay to pitch,
You just punch a hole in the son of a bitch.