• "…a genuinely meaningful social mechanic can create its own share of problems. Facebook friends are not necessarily one’s actual friends. Players often announce their names and character details in various forums, hoping to find “fake friends” to fill out their list. Doing so creates three advantages. First, the more friends the player has, the more opportunities for his character to be borrowed and thus earn friend gold for the player. Second, high-level friends make combat far easier because of their high stats and upgraded skills. Finally, a surplus of friends allows the player to bypass the rest time restriction." How do you get around all this? Johnson explains all. It's a really lovely piece of genuinely social game design.
  • "It's very simple. If there are more than five bikes at one of these bike stations the relevant LED comes on. It's a glanceable guide to which way to walk when we head out. It's going on the wall by the door. No need to reach for a device, launch an app and navigate to our favourites." Situated hardware. Very good.
  • "However I am just as impressed but the extent in which Scarry’s work has in fact not dated very much at all. While the book covers an almost bafflingly broad range of occupations and includes sections on the extraction and transformation of raw materials, there is one notable omission: large-scale manufacturing. And without industry, from a Western perspective the book seems in fact almost presciently current. Some of the jobs the author describes have evolved, very few of them have all but disappeared (you can’t easily bump into a blacksmith, much less one who sells tractors); the texture of our cities has changed and those little shops have given way to larger chain stores; but by and large we still do the things that occupy Scarry’s anthropomorphic menagerie: we fix the sewers and serve the meals and cut down the trees and drive the trucks and cultivate the land and so forth. It’s almost as if Scarry made a conscious effort to draw only the jobs that could not be outsourced overseas, and had thus future-proofed the book for his domestic audience." I read this when I was very small, and loved it; fond memories, and sharp analysis
  • "The CSM [player-run council] is a dirty election. It’s a third world election. Anything that’s allowed under the EULA in Eve is allowed in the election. You can buy votes, dead people can resubscribe and vote, you can scam people for votes, so it’s hardly an iconic democracy. So, this coming election, almost every major candidate you will see on the council will have been backed by a null sec plot. In advance, we’ve all met and spoken to one another to decide on the issues of the day. So I’m not going to be a voice in the wilderness. I’ll be speaking alongside people I’ve been fighting with or working with diplomatically for years."

    This interview is full of some great moments – nice to see the "1% problem" acknowledged by a player, but gosh, you can see the appeal of that 1%. This line was particularly acute.

  • "Command line work isn't a separate task that should live on its own—it's an integrated part of your natural workflow. DTerm provides a context-sensitive command line that makes it fast and easy to run commands on the files you're working with and then use the results of those commands." This looks great. Will report back on it.
  • "This is where I write about social & political stuff, mostly relating to sex. Yes, there's going to be a book. As an ex-sex worker, you can imagine what my bias is. Nevertheless, I am also a scientist, so will do my best to present the evidence base for each post." Brooke's new blog. This looks like it could be good.

No Furniture So Charming

04 April 2011

I’m going to be talking at No Furniture So Charming – part of the London Word Festival – towards the end of February.

A night devoted to the architecture of knowledge and the future of book-borrowing. Much more than just bricks and mortar, the public lending library has long been considered the cornerstone of an educated and literate population, but what lies ahead for the future?

Borrowing its title from Sidney Smith’s description of books, No Furniture So Charming gathers artists, writers, creatives, technologists and architects to present their vision for the library of the future. Be it a personal utopia, a visionary work of science fiction, a digital or practical re-imagining of user centred design or a call to action.

I think – think – I’m going to talk briefly about books as social objects, and, specifically, the fact that books are friends with other books. And what libraries might do to emphasise that. That may all change, of course.

Interesting lineup, and a nice topic to sink one’s teeth into. I might see you there.

Links & notes for this month