• "Some rapid prototyping later, alongside the expert developers from the R&D team, I had arrived at the below: an autonomous system capable of delving into the BBC’s media archive in search of certain foley effects, deconstructing the artifice of television back into its constituent parts. Pre-loaded with a particular search term, it spiders the archive, iterating backwards through time for instances of a particular kind of sound effect, downloading the relevant media, and extracting the specific timestamp referenced by the subtitle. It then re-composites them to create a generative collage, structured by chance based on when a particular kind of sound has appeared on-screen." Dan Jones programatically extracting Foley from the BBC archive.
  • "The printing press on its own did not create poetry, but by spreading poetry around it helped to create new poets. The steam engine on its own did not create the industrial revolution. Tools are made by people and when tools call out for revolution they will speak through people." Love this quotation – it's a good article, too.
  • Yes, all of this. Especially:

    "10) be encouraged to think of the arts as including or involving investigation, invention, discovery, play and co-operation and that these happen both within the actual making and doing but also in the talk, commentary and critical dialogue that goes on around the activity itself."

    And: this applies not just to the arts but all forms of craft, making, and creating. To be honest, this applies so much to that whole Year Of Code nonsense – much more so than the abstract utility of things. "Code is neither superior nor inferior to anything else that goes on in schools". Yep, that. I am very fond of Michael Rosen; by which, I mean, I admire him a great deal.

  • And, re: my previous, this. The purpose of higher, further, *any* education, shouldn't be to learn a skill to be put to direct use; if anything, it should be the opposite of that – to luxuriate in a subject, just as the girl studying Norse Literature was, because we don't just learn facts. We learn ways of thinking, we learn more holistically, and a richer education benefits everyone: students, children, employers, peers. (As usual: I will defend my humanities degree to the hilt).
  • "So the Year of Code isn’t about doing fun stuff with JavaScript, Python and Ruby. It’s about building another element of a society where those that don’t work don’t eat, and where the rewards of work are skewed ever further towards a tiny minority at the top of the pile… It’s about creating childhoods overshadowed by adult anxieties about work and economic survival. It’s about replacing the broad expanse of education – with all the exploration, creativity and genuine freedom that implies – with the narrow tunnel of schooling. It’s training children to have “relevant” employer-friendly skills and the right attitudes and politics to go with them." Yeah, that. I have no problem with the idea of teaching code, but I don't care for the idea that you're teaching code so that people can do code for a living. Education is about more than a direct translation of rote learning to skills for business; it should be about skills for the soul. for the well-rounded adult yet-to-be. I hadn't twigged that the thing that always rankled with me was the 'neoliberal' part.
  • "I like co-op games where the other player gets a beer, not a second controller, but can still be utterly pivotal to the outcome of a game." Yes, that, and indeed, all of this lovely post from Margaret. I should return to FTL – I played a lot of it last year, and loved it, even if it mainly was a game about seeing how quickly somebody would asphyxiate when the Oxygen Machine blew up. Again. Sigh.
  • "The best lectures are also full of what the Elizabethans called ‘lively turning’ – strange juxtapositions, leaps of thought, rhetorical tricks, jokes and the element of surprise." Very true – a nice piece by Joe Moran on lecturing in the MOOC age.
  • "As serious intellectuals often do, we spent hours discussing these questions, what data we would want to collect to answer them, and even how we might go about collecting it. It sounded like a fun project, so I wrote a program that takes video captures of our Mario Kart 64 sessions and picks out when each race starts, which character is in each box on the screen, the rank of each player as the race progresses, and finally when the race finishes. Then I built a web client that lets us upload videos, record who played which character in each race, and browse the aggregated stats. The result is called Kartlytics, and now contains videos of over 230 races from over the last year and change." Yes, it's a plug for manta, but it's also a nifty piece of engineering.
  • "Termshows are purely text based. This makes them ideal for demoing instructions (as the user can copy-paste), making fail-safe "live-coding" sessions (plain text is very scalable), and sharing all your l33t terminal hacks." Really lovely: record terminal activity, upload it to a URL, share it with others, dead simple. And the client playback is all javascript. Lovely.
  • "In school most people got to try drawing or playing instruments. Trying out code should sit in the same category: as a creative pursuit that you should at least try before you decide whether you like it or not. There is a huge drive now to get kids to do just that, whether it’s to give them skills required by the modern world or whether it’s about teaching creative ways of thinking. CodeClub is one of the initiatives that has the potential to not just show how much this is needed, but provides the solutions. Kids will be okay." [this is good]
  • "Design critique is not a place to be mean, but it’s also not the place to be kind. You’re not critiquing to make friends. Kind designers don’t say what they mean. ‘Kind’ is not about the work, and design critique exists to make us better, but mostly, it’s to make the work better." Mark Boulton talks about the value of crits. I was introduced to the vocabulary and tone of the design/art-school crit at Berg, and find it useful, though I daren't think what 18-year-old me would have made of it. Stressing that it's not personal, it's about the work, and that that is contained within a magic circle, is really difficult, and it's really important.