Fantastic, all of it.
Sneeze is the latest minigame inside Routes to be released. It's a bit like Boomshine and Every Extend, except using the common cold as your weapon. Children are easy vectors, the elderly are slow but you get more points for infecting them. Lots of fun, and great splatter effects.
"This story clearly illustrates the problem with ordering over the phone." Oh dear.
"A set of rudimentary exercises intended to prepare students of rhetoric for the creation and performance of complete practice orations (gymnasmata or declamations). A crucial component of classical and renaissance rhetorical pedagogy. Many progymnasmata exercises correlate directly with the parts of a classical oration."
"Our team of investigative journalists has compiled a database from four years' worth of company accounts to show how much the FTSE 100 companies make in pre-tax profits, and how much they pay in tax. We have published this data as a user-friendly interactive guide at guardian.co.uk/taxgap/data." But, as well as the user-friendly guide, there's also all the data. Bravo.
"Unlike other games, L4D brings this entropy to the surface — there's a palpable feeling of dread throughout, as if the world is relentlessly and mercilessly trying to turn you into a red mist as fast as possible." Not convinced entirely, but this is a really important point: the best games expose their mechanics in plain sight. The systemic nature of the game – the entropic tension between survivor and zombie – is clearly critical to it, and there's no point where that's not made clear.
"FreeAgent is an easy online accounting tool, perfectly suited for freelancers and small businesses." Lots of good support for UK-based business, especially when it comes to tax calculation.
"Templates are simple ruby files containing DSL for adding plugins/gems/initializers etc. to your freshly created Rails project." That looks very handy.
I've had this bug for ages. Basically: when you upgrade to Lightroom 2, keywords from Lightroom 1 aren't exported by default, making exporting to Flickr irritating, because you end up having to rekey some (but not all) keywords. This magic Lua script fixes everything.
Condition 1 weather in Antarctica is nasty! – Gadling | travel blog | news, stories, deals, and tips. Go there."During Condition 1 weather, winds gust at speeds of anywhere from 50 to 60 MPH and the wind chill hits anywhere between 75° F to 100° F below zero. Ouch. Not surprisingly, personnel are prohibited from leaving their buildings during these storms." Which gives them ample time to make videos like this.
"Most usability experts will agree, Dr. Donald Norman’s book “The Design of Everyday Things” is required reading for any aspiring user experience or product designer. But it’s also an excellent resource for game creators – even if it’s less commonly found on studio bookshelves." NGMoco's blog, on POET, and what it means for game designers. Not rocket science, but really well explained to a non-specialist audience.
15 January 2009
Seth Godin recently wrote about the end of newsprint, and how he frankly didn’t care. I think he’s correct about some aspects of journalism, but to talk about newspapers without talking about actual physical newspapers is crazy.
What will we miss?
All the second-order effects. We’ll miss the daily conversation with the guy on the newstand. We’ll miss the cuttings that our parents and grandparents send us in the post. We’ll miss seeing other articles in our peripheral vision as we read – complete articles with photographs and boxouts, not just headlines – as opposed to the ads that surround the online edition. We’ll miss scrawling notes in the margin. We’ll miss leaving them lying around the flat for our flatmates to read. We’ll not have anything to wipe our shoes on.
I say this as someone who’s happy reading from a computer screen, if not from an e-reader. The second-order effects of newspaper journalism being transmitted in physical newspapers are just as compelling a reason for their existence as the intended outcome.
This reminded me of something else that’s been on my mind, relating to another newspaper; this time, one my friends made.
Russell and Ben’s lovely paper is receiving a slowly escalating amount of attention. I’m glad, because it’s really good, and because there’s a (passable) piece of writing by me and lots of (very good) writing by many of my friends in there.
But I’m curious – and perhaps a bit concerned – as to what others might take away from it.
The most important thing about this isn’t “hey, they printed stuff off the internet“. The most important stuff is all the craft, all the second-order effects it has; the details Ben writes about in his excellent post on designing and making the thing; the tangibility it gives to work we’ve done that our non-technical friends (and especially relatives) might never see; the ease of distribution amongst small, hand-to-hand circles it affords; the way you design for (small) mass production rather than one-offs; the reminder that small-scale print is affordable and doable.
Let’s not forget the importance of the immediate first-order effect: this is a beautiful thing, lovely to hold, great to read, fun to show others. In and of itself, it’s delightful (in every sense of the word).
Russell and Ben are, I think, somewhat correct in their closing comment, that “2009 feels like a year for printing and making real stuff in the real world. Its going to be exciting“, but that’s something to consider with caution: making real stuff, printing real things alone, isn’t going to be enough; you’ve got to have the thought, the details, the affordance of second-order effects as well.
I’m excited, for many reasons, as to what 2009 might hold; I hope there’ll be, for me at least, a sizeable amount of making spread across all manner of media – words, things, screens. And, especially, the things that can’t make up their mind which they are. I’m not fussy, and I still think there are lots of interesting problems on screens to solve.
Whatever I’m doing, though, I’m going to try and remember that it’s not just about the idea, not just about the hey-look-a-thing-ness of it all; it’s about the execution, and the detail, and the thought – and embodying that thought in the final product.
To go back to Seth Godin: that’s what newspapers, real, physical, printed newspapers always did. They had affordance out their earholes, and that’s what we loved them for.
I think I’ve found my (slightly corrupted) mantra for 2009:
think twice, cut once.