• "The notion that an artist’s life project, his crowning glory, should have been a sort of side project, something done in the margins, as it were, while he was busy getting on with the real thing (whatever that was) is to be savored. It expresses an almost universal truth, and says everything about Phillips’s infatuation with whim, chance, and the vicissitudes of choice." Lovely review. Also, gosh, the second edition looks exciting.
  • "Work energises work, and I have set about filling some of those remaining frames for Version II which, in anticipation, hold blank grey sheets. Half a dozen have already appeared with more to follow as the exhibition heads to its closing in January 2014. One such revised page features Peckham mud combined with that gathered from a nearby river in Massachusetts." What a wonderful way to hang it.
  • "Certainly as delivered through mobile devices, contemporary AR imposes significant limits on your ability to derive information from the flow of streetlife. It’s not just the “I must look like a dork” implications of walking down the street with a mobile held visor-like before you, though those are surely present and significant. It’s that the city is already trying to tell you things, most of which are likely to be highly, even existentially salient to your experience of place. I can’t help but think that what you’re being offered through the tunnel vision of AR is starkly impoverished by comparison — and that’s even before we entertain the very high likelihood of that information’s being inaccurate, outdated, or commercial or otherwise exploitative in nature."
  • GameMaker-like tool for OSX and Windows – that outputs Flash games, built out of Flixel and Box2D. Niiice.
  • "Cole Phelps has no health bar, no ammo count, and no inventory. He doesn't write journal entries, and has no safe house or property. He doesn't eat, doesn't sleep, doesn't smoke or drink or sleep around or go out with his friends. I have seen nothing of his wife and children, his passions, his hates or his desires. He walks into a crime scene and barks his introductions like a dog, rude and abrasive; petulant and bullying. He carries himself like a child playing dress-up, weak-chinned, pale, and aimlessly angry. Cole Phelps is kind of a prick.

    But when I look at what's going on around him, I can't really blame him. What to make of this Truman Show-esque existence, this vast, toothless city? If I were trapped in such a purgatorial nightmare, I'd probably behave badly, too." This is good, and expresses in poetic and critical terms one of the many reasons I just don't care about LA Noire.

  • "The ways in which people interact with computation are changing swiftly as we move into more casual relationships with our digital services on tablets, big screens, and across social networks. We believe we have some compelling answers about how digital experiences will evolve into these new contexts. Please, follow along with us and explore these playful, dynamic instruments of discovery together." These guys are going to be worth keeping a very beady eye on; what a team.
  • "I have been an avid gamer since the advent of Pong in 1972. At their best, videogames strike me as a form of art. Like all art, they can augment outer reality and shape our inner reality—but they do this by the very nature of the fact that they are not reality but a Place Apart. Being awestruck at "Halo" does not entail awe any more than "grieving" for Cordelia entails grief. Rather, art at its most serious is a sort of exercise, a formative practice for life—like meditation, only more fun." WSJ review of Reality is Broken; negative, but acute.
  • "To celebrate the appearance of A Humument App on iPhone I shall shortly add a dozen or so newly revised pages." Awesome: the magically-changing book is taking shape.
  • Twenty-two lines, ten words a line, just like the blocks.
  • "The DJ Hero franchise will follow Guitar Hero into the flames, publisher Activision has confirmed.

    Speaking at an investor call today, Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg explained that its entire music division was to close. It's not clear exactly how this will impact DJ Hero developer Freestyle Games nor Guitar Hero team Vicarious Visions, though the publisher confirmed that 500 jobs would be cut company-wide during restructuring."

    Idiots. Not being able to flog something to death on an annual basis doesn't make it bad; indeed, both DJ Hero games were superb, rivalling the early Harmonix Guitar Heroes. A shame, especially for everyone at Freestyle. I do hate the games industry sometimes.


All in all: well, that was better than 2009.

There was masses of output at BERG. The most sizable work for me was the launch of Schooloscope, which has been my main focus for the year. But! I also had hands in Dimensions/howbigreally.com, a new company website, a geriatric chatbot, a tiny part of the colossal team effort that was Mag+, and all manner of other things that you can’t link to because, really, they were just the being-in-a-room-ness. And then all the amazing work I had less to do with – Michel Thomas, Making Future Magic, Penki, the Media Surfaces films. Brilliant.

What else that wasn’t work?

Noticings closed, which I’m sad about but don’t regret; the site required more maintenance than we’d have liked, and people got understandably annoyed when their images didn’t always score. But: the game is still afoot; it’s a game you can play without a website scoring you, and I’m going to write something in the next few days about some of the ideas and influences that went into it that aren’t so visible.

I’ve dialled back speaking at conferences for a variety of reasons in the past years, but went to Interesting North to talk about Things Rules Do. In the end, I was very satisfied indeed with it. It’s a better talk than a piece of writing, but I’m going to have the transcript complete soon (I promise), as I’d very much like to share it.

I made a Twitter bot to take a joke to its logical conclusion. It became absurdly popular. It’s not been working for a while (and, sadly, I think I know why), but at the time, it very much hit a bunch of things I wanted to do on the head – mainly making jokes through software. Somebody complained that kanyejordan’s output should be edited so that only the really funny messages were posted. I disagree thoroughly (and not just because it’d be more work for me). The point of mechanized satire is that you make the system it works on completely transparent: in this case, that you add “Liz Lemon, ” to the start of every message. That means some are hilarious, and some are nonsensical. It also means you never forget that this is humour being made by a stupid computer; the fact that so much of its output is so funny is even more entertaining when the simplicity of the code behind it – the complete lack of anything resembling intelligence – is made clear.

I didn’t quite write enough, but as ever, will be working on that this year: primarily by overcoming my fear of textareas and structure and planning and perfection and instead just starting typing and see what happens. Which is what I did today.


I went on holiday to Wales – hiking in the Brecon beacons – and I still haven’t properly processed the photos, which is why it looks like I disappeared for a week. It was great – lots of reading, sitting, fresh air, going up hills and staring at the sky. The weather wasn’t great, but there were still a few glorious days, and it was a much-need holiday. Lessons learned for this year: I need to take more holidays. (I had a moment of being scared and depressed about my photography in general, which is one of several reasons I have a little backlog of pictures. I shall get them up asap. In the meantime, here’s a nice picture of a waterfall).

That holiday was enabled by my big significant achievement of 2010: learning to drive.


I had started learning when I was 18, and then a bunch of things – university, moving to London – happened, and I never really got around to finishing learning. So, whilst I knew how to operate a car, I’d forgotten almost everything. In January, I bit the bullet, and threw money at the problem. After I passed, I also ended up buying a car. Which might sound daft, but really: I can’t rent a car until I’ve had a license for a year, and I’d quite like to drive now, and I use it just about enough to make sense, although I’m aware it’s a slight luxury. But: it’s lead to trips to the seaside, and a holiday touring the Brecon Beacons, and giving friends lifts, and trips back to the Cotswolds without horrendous train delays, and so alltold it’s been a marvellous boost. It’s also an way to feel one more notch along the (admittedly irrelevant) “being a grownup” track; imaginary nonsense that I still manage to feel I’m doing badly at. Might sound mundane to have learned to drive at 27, but it’s turned out to be marvellous. As I’ve said many times before, it has genuinely changed the shape of the map – indeed, the shape of the country – for me.

And then: a smattering of weddings, a funeral, some fine parties, and a whole bunch of books and other media, which I’ll be writing about in a separate post.

2010. It was a pretty good year – not remarkable, but in comparison to 2009 it deserves many, many gold stars. And, in the best way: just enough momentum to push me over into 2011. Some plans, some ideas; now I just need to keep going. What’s to come: more writing, more making, more reflection, and some more trips to the swimming pool. I am not going to commit to more than that – but it’s enough to be thinking about for now.

Happy New Year.

  • "I'd go so far as to say an unarticulated experience or creative process is one left unresolved. By writing about your experience you close the loop, so to speak. When you publish, both the output of the experience (book, software, photographs, etc) and now the ability to replicate that experience is in the hands of your audience. That's a powerful thing. And I can say with absolute clarity, there is as much satisfaction in seeing your experience manifest in others as there is in the creative output alone." Craig's review of the year is marvellous, but this is a particularly salient point, for me, right now.
  • Grandpa Wiggly rules perhaps more than it is possible to rule. Highlights: Mayonnaise the cat, general levels of tolerance, Six Feet Under fan, the whole conversation with 420Manda420, utterly charming Reddit manner. Sometimes, the world is awesome.
  • "Craig Raine’s Heartbreak is a novel in the sense in which Eton is a school near Slough. The description is true but misleading. It is really a collection of short stories, loosely linked by the topic announced in the title; but perhaps because the English are said to be averse to buying such volumes, the publishers have represented it as a novel, rather as Jedward are represented as singers." Yes, this has got a lot of coverage (mainly for that opening sentence) but it's still a powerful piece of criticism from Eagleton.
  • "Henrietta was an African American woman from Baltimore who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Before she died some of her cancerous tissue was taken – without her permission – and the cells have been reproducing in laboratories around the world ever since.<br />
    <br />
    Henrietta Lacks' cells are immortal. They are known as the HeLa cell line, and they have become deeply involved in all sorts of medical and genetic research – sometimes in the most unexpected ways."
  • "What else could we apply crash-only thinking to? Imagine a crash-only government, where the transition between administrations is always a small revolution. In a system like that, you’d optimize for revolution—build buffers around it—and as a result, when a “real” revolution finally came, it’d be no big deal."
  • Cosplaying not only appearance, but also UI. Lovely.