• "I want to suggest that there is a utility for procedural literacy that extends far beyond the ability to program computers. Computer processing comprises only one register of procedurality. More generally, I want to suggest that procedural literacy entails the ability to reconfigure basic concepts and rules to understand and solve problems, not just on the computer, but in general."
  • "Rorschmap is cartographic navel-gazing, a reframing of the map. It will not help you find anything. We are bored with your squares and your margins. We want new shapes and new dimensions, the unicode snowmen of visual representation. †‡†, as the man said." I am wearing out the "James is brilliant" button on my keyboard, but I will keep pressing it as long as he does this sort of thing.

Charabanc

27 July 2011

So, I’ve designed a game.

Well, I’ve nearly finished designing it. Needs a little more work. But:

Next week, you’ll be able to play it, as part of Hide&Seek’s Southbank Seaside Sandpit.

It’s called Charabanc:

Ah, the race for the last seaside parking space: Mum’s tired, Dad’s lost, the kids need the loo, and EVERYONE’S COMPLAINING. A noisy, competitive role-playing team game for two or more groups of four.

It involves a deck of cards I’m still balancing, and groups of four pretending to be in a people carrier. The Clore Ballroom will be reverberating to cries of “I’M REALLY HUNGRY”, “I FEEL SICK”, and “ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?” next Thursday night. Maybe. Or it might break quite badly. Either way: it should be fun, and there are loads of other games on that night, some of which I can tell you are definitely really good.

This is my first game for the Sandpit; given I work at H&S, thought I ought to dip my toes into the more pervasive and theatrical end of game design. Charabanc is the result. We’ll see how it turns out next week…

  • "In an official ceremony this week, the cutter will be sealed off by a concrete wall; the chamber will then be filled with concrete, encasing the cutter in a solid cast, Han Solo-style, so that it can serve as a support structure for the tunnel. A plaque will commemorate the site. A spokesman said the pouring of the concrete was expected to take place on Wednesday." When we abandon the robots, we should give them funerals.
  • "In this column I want to look at a not uncommon way of writing and structuring books. This approach, I will argue, involves the writer announcing at the outset what he or she will be doing in the pages that follow. The default format of academic research papers and textbooks, it serves the dual purpose of enabling the reader to skip to the bits that are of particular interest and — in keeping with the prerogatives of scholarship — preventing an authorial personality from intruding on the material being presented. But what happens when this basically plodding method seeps so deeply into a writer’s makeup as to constitute a stylistic signature, even a kind of ongoing flourish or extravagance?" Oh, bravo, Geoff Dyer, bravo.

Story Warp

26 July 2011

I’m going to be talking at Story Warp on Thursday evening (the 28th) – an event about storytelling hosted by Made by Many. It’s a great panel, and I think – given my own perspectives and beliefs on the S-word – there’s going to be some healthy and vigorous debate.

Slightly late notice – and the event’s full now, I believe. But: if you’re there, do say hello. It should be a good evening.

  • "I was serious. I presented the pirates with a choice. A one-time, limited offer that was only good right there and then. They could either click the “No thanks, I’d rather just keep pirating this software button” or they could be taken directly to my store’s checkout page along with a hefty discount." A thoughtful post on dealing with piracy – and some lovely examples of copywriting to boot.
  • "On Valentine’s Day, 1980, a couple of weeks shy of my 15th birthday, I saw my first “X” film. The visceral Philip Kaufman remake of Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers, I didn’t have to sneak in through a held-open fire door, wear a false moustache or lower my voice an octave, as per underage tradition. I paid £1 to see it, legally, projected onto a modest screen before an auditorium of arranged plastic chairs at Northampton College of Further Education’s Arts Centre, courtesy of their members-only Film Society." And so begins a lovely, charming article by Andrew Collins, about the battle for his soul (between film and punk-rock), and how, as an earnest sixteen-year-old, you get to see movies. I did this fifteen years later, with a bit less punk rock, and replacing the NCFE Film Club with a VHS recorder and Moviedrome – but it all rings very familiar. Spot-on.

Links & notes for this month