• "Trace Holden Caulfield's perambulations around Manhattan in "The Catcher in the Rye" to places like the Edmont Hotel, where Holden had an awkward encounter with Sunny the hooker; the lake in Central Park, where he wondered about the ducks in winter; and the clock at the Biltmore, where he waited for his date." Lovely.
  • "Dreamed up by American and European SF writers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — at a time when Lamarckian evolutionary philosophy, which posits a tendency for organisms to become more perfect as they evolve (because such change is needed or wanted, e.g., by “life”), remained popular — many of the first fictional supermen were portrayed by their creators as examples of a more perfect species towards which humankind has supposedly long aimed. Radium-Age superman was, that is to say, homo superior, an evolved human whose superiority was mental, physical, or both." Lovely essay; a nice bit of SF history (and originally published on IO9, I believe).
  • "I saw these two videos of Rock Band Network tracks over at RBDLC and couldn’t resist sharing them. The first is a serious jazz tune: “Footloose and Fancy Free” by Bill Bruford’s Earthworks. The thing that’s interesting about this is that the “guitar” track is actually piano — something Guitar Hero has done in the past but Rock Band has generally shied away from. But what’s even neater is that the “vocal” track is actually a sax line, intended (one would assume) to be played with a sax or other horn; the “lyrics” are simply the notes being played." There's no question that building tunes for RBN is hard wokr, but god, this Bill Bruford video is stonking, and the sax-as-vocal idea is cracking.
  • "Valve subtly guides the player’s attention toward significant events and objects by using elements naturally found in the game world. This allows the player to retain control of their perspective without getting lost or confused, and contributes to an overall immersive experience." Matthew Gallant puts together a nice selection of screengrabs to illustrate Valve's craft.
  • "There was an implicit value judgement in Greenfield's talk between the "purely sensory experiences" of raves or today's computer games, and the cognitive activities of reading a book or listening to a symphony, which, because they make us "see one thing in terms of another thing", involve a more mature mental engagement. For Greenfield, the Beethoven was a higher experience because it offered an "escape from the moment", where a rave was about losing yourself to the "thrill of the moment". I think that's a flimsy distinction, since both are about submitting to the sensory power of music. I'd like to see the difference in brain activity between somebody "escaping" life's mundanities and another person "thrilling" to the implacable now of the beat."
  • "I thoroughly enjoy the more real time nature of these diary fragments popping up among my friends’ updates. It’s easy to picture @samuelpepys conducting his business and pleasure, travelling around London — from his home near the Tower of London to Deptford to Westminster — when he’s updating you on his progress during the day." Phil on the joy of small updates from things that aren't (quite) people.
  • "Sony acts like a character in a Charlotte Brontë novel–they seem to think they have an entire lifetime to seize the moment."