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February 16 2012

Four short links: 16 February 2012

  1. The Undue Weight of Truth (Chronicle of Higher Education) -- Wikipedia has become fossilized fiction because the mechanism of self-improvement is broken.
  2. Playfic -- Andy Baio's new site that lets you write text adventures in the browser. Great introduction to programming for language-loving kids and adults.
  3. Review of Alone Together (Chris McDowall) -- I loved this review, its sentiments, and its presentation. Work on stuff that matters.
  4. Why ESRI As-Is Can't Be Part of the Open Government Movement -- data formats without broad support in open source tools are an unnecessary barrier to entry. You're effectively letting the vendor charge for your data, which is just stupid.

March 15 2011

Four short links: 15 March 2011

  1. Twitter Numbers -- growing at half a million accounts a day (how many are spammers, d'ya think?), over 140M tweets sent each day.
  2. Online vs Newspaper News (Mashable) -- The Poynter Institute, a landmark of American journalism research, has determined that as of the end of 2010, more people get their news from the Internet than from newspapers — and more ad dollars went to online outlets than to newspapers, too. (via Sacha Judd)
  3. Blue Lacuna: Lessons Learned Writing the World's Longest Interactive Fiction (PDF) -- While I felt Progue was largely a success, the extreme complexity of the character's code made di*culties with him both intensely di*cult to diagnose and repair, and failures all the more mimesis-breaking for an engaged audience. In addition, the subtle text substitutions and altered behaviors provided in many cases too opaque a window into Progue's interior workings. From informal interviews and published reviews I gathered that players could often not tell which conversation responses might cause Progue to become more submissive, paternal, and so on. In many cases, the change was not noticeable at all, and did not successfully indicate to players that their actions had had an e*ect on the character. More mechanisms to let the player shape their relationship with Progue more directly might have created a stronger feeling of agency for players, and an increased ability to shape the story more to their liking. Lessons for people designing complex emotional states into their products. (via Zack Urlocker)
  4. From Head to Hand (Slate) -- I was searching for the place where someone, anyone, writes about that epiphany where you see what you have made and it is different from what you had conceived. I was searching for a description of how an object can displace a bit of the world. I was avid. I wanted someone to write a description of Homo faber, the maker of things. I wanted a story of making told without the penumbra of romanticising how hard it is, without nostalgia.

February 03 2011

Four short links: 3 February 2011

  1. Curveship -- a new interactive fiction system that can tell the same story in many different ways. Check out the examples on the home page. Important because interactive fiction and the command-lines of our lives are inextricably intertwined.
  2. Egypt's Revolution: Coming to an Economy Near You (Umair Haque) -- more dystopic prediction, but this phrase rings true: The lesson: You can't steal the future forever — and, in a hyperconnected world, you probably can't steal as much of it for as long.
  3. Why Startups Fail -- failure is a more instructive teacher than success, so simply studying successful startups isn't enough. (via Hacker News)
  4. Computer Science and Philosophy -- Oxford is offering a program studying CS and Philosophy together. the two disciplines share a broad focus on the representation of information and rational inference, embracing common interests in algorithms, cognition, intelligence, language, models, proof, and verification. Computer Scientists need to be able to reflect critically and philosophically about these, as they push forward into novel domains. Philosophers need to understand them within a world increasingly shaped by computer technology, in which a whole new range of enquiry has opened up, from the philosophy of AI, artificial life and computation, to the ethics of privacy and intellectual property, to the epistemology of computer models (e.g. of global warming). I wish every CS student had taken a course in ethics.

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