• "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.
  • "The point is that making one-click tools that force the entire web to play catchup, whilst putting people at risk, just isn’t a sensible way of talking about security. There’s a reason we (most of us, anyway) don’t secure our houses with turret guns and dogs, and that’s because most of the time, a lock and key is good enough. We want just enough security to feel safe at night, and not to cause us too much hassle. And that’s why this tool makes me sad. Because it’s a symbol of an arms race – a fight to the death over unimportant things, when really, I’d rather not have to remember to lock my windows at night." Yes.
  • "Today's video is 'Boys vs Girls', showing the relative points and badges etc. accumulated by boys vs. girls over the course of the day. It ends with a "get running, girls!" message, and I love that data visualization is being used as a way for a brand to tell a story, in something close to real time, in a specific way tailored to the events on the ground."
  • "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.
  • "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.
  • "Eons ago, in 1996, Next Generation magazine asked me for a list of game design tips for narrative games. Here’s what I gave them. Reading it today, some of it feels dated (like the way I refer to the player throughout as “he”), but a lot is as relevant as ever. I especially like #8 and #9." Jordan Mechner is a smart chap; nice to know he was on the right lines so long ago.
  • "A rain-proof planetarium machine could be installed in public, anchored to the plinth indefinitely. Lurking over the square with its strange insectile geometries, the high-tech projector would rotate, dip, light up, and turn its bowed head to shine the lights of stars onto overcast skies above. Tourists in Covent Garden see Orion's Belt on the all-enveloping stratus clouds—even a family out in Surrey spies a veil of illuminated nebulae in the sky." This is lovely, though no idea if it'd, you know, work.
  • "Noticings is possibly one of the first services to integrate the Yahoo Geoplanet Data deeply". Tom explains how we're using Geoplanet inside Rails. Really good stuff if you're interested in that geo malarkey
  • "if the Choose Your Own Adventure books are just another Finite State Machine, it should be possible to use some of the same techniques to examine their structure." And so begins a lovely, lovely post on data visualisation, and what visualisation can tell us about the changing editorial strategy of CYOA books. Be sure to check out the "animations" at the top of the page. It's all very beautiful.