• "Where you see gadget, I see process. Moreover, where you see prose, I see poetry: for the UK will continue to have no manufacturing all the while it has lost its collective sense of the poetry of production. The ignominious application of production line metaphors to (the actually very creative) industrial life has helped alienate people from the process of making: whereas Lean Manufacturing instead helps to reconnect workers with the project as a whole, by seeing waste as a thing that erodes value, and that corrodes the relationship between customer and producer by making it unnecessarily fragile and contingent." There's lots to recommend in this piece. I'm not sure I agree about software, even ignoring my vested interested and perspective, but there's so much else of value in here. I think this paragraph spoke most to me, though.
  • "When a product is connected to the network it has two brains. A little local one that can perform cheap calculation, and a big one in the network that can do potentially anything at all: massive facial recognition, searching all of Amazon, advanced artificial neural networks, whatever." It's great that Matt's writing so much again – but "little brain, big brain" is a great explanation of the concept.
  • "These are clearly black market frankenproducts – made from a combination of surplus mobile phone components and car alarm key rings. I wonder how much they actually cost to manufacture. I wonder if the bits are stolen." Ben Bashford on the magic of Shanzai. And, of course, when a video camera is eight pounds, it's no longer precious, and you start doing weird things with it: Youtube is full of examples.
  • "Curveship is an interactive fiction system that provides a world model (of characters, objects, locations, and things that happen) while also modeling the narrative discourse, so that the narration and description of the simulated world can change. Curveship can tell events out of order, using flashback and other techniques, and can tell the story from the standpoint of particular characters and their perceptions and understandings." This looks both bonkers and brilliant.
  • "Data combined with narrative creates personality. It can be used to construct a larger and richer history around a subject.

    The world is already divided in to two camps: People who are going to watch the Super Ball and those who aren't. This is an opportunity to delight the former and reach the latter, by providing a larger and more playful cast of characters to describe the events during the game." Nice!

  • "I thought this was a fascinating take on the need within companies for stories… Companies spend a lot of money looking for these stories. Traditional product companies had to ask people and users to tell their stories, normally through market research. Web companies are at a huge advantage: they have rivers of usage data flowing through their servers, and the problem inverses – how to make sense and tease out meaning and interest from such a torrent." This is very good; I'm looking forward to future installments.
  • "If Ferelden has room for priests, elves, mages and golems then why doesn’t it have room for sceptics and scientists too?" Lovely notion – roleplaying an aetheist in Dragon Age (as best possible within the game). In this case, the player character believes in magic, but not in the montheist religion that much of the world ascribes to; miracles are really just magic at work. Subsitute "magic" for "science" and you begin to see his point. It's a nicely thought-through piece.
  • "The closer has confounded hitters with mostly one pitch: his signature cutter." Lovely motion infographics – informative, and powerfully confirming the narration.
  • "The move during the past 10 years or so has been from cameras being precision mechanical devices to molded polycarbonate containers for electronic components. This has meant a lowering of overall physical quality. What one gets in terms of features, functions and image quality is higher than ever before, but the satisfaction of owning and using a high quality mechanical and optical device has for the most part evaporated. Only the top models within any brand produce a tactile satisfaction and please one's esthetic sense." The quotation is from Michael Reichmann; the discussion that follows is as thoughtful as usual from TOP's readers.
  • "The Enough Project says that auditing component supply chains at the smelters to see whether the metal was sources from “clean” places like Australia or Canada instead of lining the pockets of Congolese warlords would add about one cent to the price of a cellphone, and that this figure originates from within the industry. I’d happily pay a thousand times that for each of my devices – a mere ten bucks – to ensure that I wasn’t bankrolling rape and murder." Depressing, and a very, very good point. It doesn't make me any surer of what to do, sadly.
  • "It's not a subscription; it's more casual than that. It's an **impulscription**; they get the chance to dangle the week's headlines under your nose, and you get the chance to buy if you like the look of that issue. No obligation, no hassle. It means I never have to miss an Economist Technology Quarterly, and nor do I have to take out a proper subscription and then suffer the guilt of seeing unread copies piling up in the living room.<br />
    <br />
    I want all magazines to be available like this, please." What a great idea. (Also: I *love* 'impulscription').
  • "Economics has been defined as the science of distributing limited means among unlimited and competing ends. On 12th April, with the arrival of elements of the 30th U.S. Infantry Division, the ushering in of an age of plenty demonstrated the hypothesis that with infinite means economic organization and activity would be redundant, as every want could be satisfied without effort." Remarkable article; fascinating for its subject matter, when it was written, what it describes, and the patterns that hold up inside such a regimented economy. A must-read, really – can't believe it took me so long to get around to it.
  • "Our attempts to bridle the player's freedom of movement and force our meaning onto him are fruitless. Rather, it is a distinct transportative, transformative quality– the ability of the player to build his own personal meaning through immersion in the interactive fields of potential we provide– that is our unique strength, begging to be fully realized." Some great Steve Gaynor; reminds me of Mitch Resnick's "microworld construction kits" all over again.
  • "It's an easy, irresistible, almost childish pleasure: the ground meat dissolved into a dark blood-red sauce until they are one and the same; no hacking, slicing or cutting needed; a slurpy goodness; the oily bolognese hanging on to the slippery pasta; guaranteed joy in a world that's just ruled it out." Recipes for ragu.
  • "Suddenly, instead of Pong, Nolan Bushnell unleashes a stark, monochrome rescue challenge on the world. AVOID MISSING PRINCESS FOR HIGH SCORE burns itself into the brains of a generation. A couple of sequels expand the world of this strange new hero and, keen to bring its popularity to bear on the 2600, Atari execs strong-arm Warren Robinett into populating Adventure with mushroom monsters and making the green dragon friendly." Delightful alterna-history from Margaret in her Offworld column.
  • "Soon enough, amid the daily grind of his obsession, he would see in the game itself a way out of the bleak hole he had fallen into. He would take a clear-eyed, calculating look at what he and his fellow players had been doing all those months—at the countless hours they'd given over to the pursuit of purely virtual but implacably scarce commodities—and he would recognize it not just for the underexploited form of productivity it was but for the highly profitable commercial enterprise it might sustain." Fantastic article from Julian Dibbell on IGE, the massive real-money trading operation.
  • "We will both have to take responsibility for our consumption. A product that keeps working for longer uses less-resources in the end. The key ingredient to all this is quality. To make something well, you know, the best you can do. To go the extra mile that it takes to do that. Every stitch, every zip, every little feature considered. The weakest points made strong. Then, and only then, have we made something that will last the test of time. Guaranteed for a minimum 10 years. Each product will come with a hand me down contract. You will sign who you want to leave the product to. This is legally binding."
  • "Trust begins when I can see the design intention of an application." Great stuff from Rands on how sync should work – namely, in the dumbest way possible – and what building trust into application design looks like.
  • "Throughout most of the year, gaming is distraction and entertainment. November separates the proverbial patriarchs from their upstart offspring. In November, the Gamer! and the With Job! blur. I spend my ill-defined work hours thinking, talking and writing about games. And the time I'm playing games become a form of work – a struggle to keep up no less frenetic than that of the clock-manager in Metropolis." This year's November release schedule was crazier than most, too.
    (tags: games writing )
  • "the brains behind the siduhe bridge decided to ignore all those options and break another record instead. they attached the 3200ft cables to rockets and accurately fired them over the valley, becoming the first people to do so." Woah. The photographs are awesome.