• (tags: via:tmo )
  • "You can now browse your friends’ Liked items to find great articles to read." Instapaper now has social functionality, but it looks like just the right level of sociality for the product. I mainly use Instapaper on my Kindle, now, but will be sure to hit "like" on the stuff I'd recommend from the website. Now: to get Instapaper likes into Stellar?
  • "Built upon that sinking feeling of tuning into Radio 4 and hearing people acting at you, Radio 4b plays you a string of random programmes from Radio 4's factual archive. You might get the last thirty seconds of an episode of the Archers, but that's all. You will not hear middle-class actors tapping a teaspoon and talking about divorce."
  • "Each Bakugan is effectively a marble with the imagination taken out, the rules written down, and formalised, because each one can be used in a card game which apes Top Trumps, but in a more collectible, mercenary way." Duncan Gough on the sad facts of toys that just don't work (see also Fortress of Solitude). Also: I liked this quotation.

Dylan is six or seven, and frustrated that his toys don’t live up to their promise:

If the Etch A Sketch and the Spirograph had really worked they would probably be machines, not toys, they would be part of the way the adult universe operated, and be mounted onto the instrument panels of cars or worn on the belts of policemen. Dylan understood and accepted this. These things were broken because they were toys, and vice versa. They required his pity and patience, like retarded children who’d been entrusted to his care.

Jonathan Lethem – The Fortress of Solitude.

I’m enjoy the book a lot, but that paragraph leapt out at me early on and has been dog-eared since.

Margaret talks a lot about one possible pillar of good game design being “how is this interestingly hard?” I described this to her, and she suggested that what distinguished many (but not all) toys as toys were being things that were interestingly shit.

Of course, not all toys are; many of the very best are just genuinely interesting. I immediately leap to Lego to answer that one. But broken-in-interesting-ways allows for subversion and exploration; enjoying it not despite, but because of brokenness. Difficult-in-interesting-ways allows for mastery. Both are interesting, and worth pursuing.

And yet: reading Dylan’s disappointment, as he realises the Spirograph is just not as tolerant a device as the cover of the box suggests, I felt that same feeling in my gut; the same feeling I felt at six or seven, realised all my efforts with my Etch A Sketch were doomed to being rubbish. Interesting, but broken.