• "Herzog Zwei was a lot of fun, but I have to say the other inspiration for Dune II was the Mac software interface. The whole design/interface dynamics of mouse clicking and selecting desktop items got me thinking, ‘Why not allow the same inside the game environment? Why not a context-sensitive playfield? To hell with all these hot keys, to hell with keyboard as the primary means of manipulating the game!" Brett Sperry, of Westwood, on the making of Dune II. Via Offworld.
  • "Changing the Game (order via Amazon or B&N) is a fast-paced tour of the many ways in which games, already an influential part of millions of people’s lives, have become a profoundly important part of the business world. From connecting with customers, to attracting and training employees, to developing new products and spurring innovation, games have introduced a new level of fun and engagement to the workplace.

    Changing the Game introduces you to the ways in which games are being used to enhance productivity at Microsoft, increase profits at Burger King, and raise employee loyalty at Sun Microsystems, among other remarkable examples. It is proof that work not only can be fun–it should be." I shall have to check this out.

  • "As a result, vendors here are more likely to decline to sell you something than to cough up any of their increasingly precious coins in change. I've tried to buy a 2-peso candy bar with a 5-peso note only to be refused, suggesting that the 2-peso sale is worth less to the vendor than the 1-peso coin he would be forced to give me in change." They're running out of coins in Argentina, and it makes for a seriously odd situation – and a reminder of the differences between value and worth.
  • "The artist Keith Tyson is offering 5,000 Guardian readers the opportunity to own a free downloadable artwork by him. The costs you'll have to bear are those of printing out the work on A3 photographic paper – and framing, if you so choose… You will be asked to enter your geographical location – which forms part of the unique title of each print."
  • "The media would have us believe that those with the best ability in Parkour require and condition to bodies of hypermasculine levels, and the first notions of this concept seem quite logical. However, it is known to any traceur that the spectacle of the masculinized body is not in necessary relation to one’s ability of movement. Mass media tries to paint another picture with a careful selection of handsome, muscular men as traceurs… At its simplest, the hypermasculine spectacle is an easier sell to masses. However, our problem does not end at the body. It is not only the body that is masculinized, though, as we see the same pattern occurring to the discipline itself." Interesting article on Parkour and gender; specifically, the hyper-masculinisation of the art by the media.
  • "Over three years ago I set a goal for myself. That goal was to have a max level character for every class in the game… Tonight, at long last, I’ve finally achieved my goal." Blimey.

Last night, I took a look at James Darling‘s Ruminant library for Ruby. It’s a little Ruby library that lets you assembled designs and orders and send them to the Moo API for printing. It’s really nicely designed, but it’s only in the very early stages of development; it only supported creation of Minicards.

For various reasons, I’m looking at creating stickers through the API, and decided that it only seemed right to add sticker support to Ruminant.

As of last night, I’ve done exactly that. This is in part down to the joy that is GitHub. I forked James’ original code, and started work on my own Ruminant fork. I’ve added support for stickers, and have issued a pull request so that hopefully it’ll get merged back into James’ branch.

To install it, you’ll need Hpricot installed (sudo gem install hpricot). Once you’ve done that, you can install it as a gem directly from my Github code. First, add Github to the list of sources rubygems supports:

gem sources -a http://gems.github.com

and then install my gem:

sudo gem install infovore-ruminant

and follow the instructions in the README.

More to come, along these lines…

So I’m only the umpteenth person to say that I’ve just ordered a whole bunch of MOO minicards. Having seen them from some friends already, I can tell you that the quality is great, the size is lovely, and the colour repro is spot on.

What I find really interesting about them, though, is that MOO describe them not as “business cards” but as “calling cards”. I really like that; it’s an important distinction, and a nice reminder of the origins of what we now call business cards. They’re tools of etiquette, ways of seeking permission to see someone and also permission to engage with them. They’re also a signifier; in the old-fashioned usage (seeking permission to see someone) the card with a name on is presented before the card’s owner is even permitted inside the house.

And, as Wikipedia points out, we exchange business cards to swap not only contact details, but business interests. When I look at the cards I have, even though many of them are from friends, it’s still a reminder of what they do rather than who they are. We all have so many ways to contact us now – mobile, email, IM, VOIP, MySpace – that it makes sense to resurrect the idea of cards precisely for personal usage. No business strings attached, no implicit sell; just me, my name, my number.

That’s why I really enjoyed reading the comments on this Techcrunch post about MOO, which Tom linked to.
Handing out photographs as business cards is confusing, difficult to read and unprofessional,” writes one commenter – but he misses the point, because these aren’t really intended as “professional” tools. The fact they can be used as business cards is, in fact, a nice side effect, and several commenters in that thread point out the value of photographic cards for trade purposes. But really, they’re just ways to remember who people are, and perhaps how to contact them.

I love the revival of a simple, physical identifier in an age when we’re drowning in digital identifiers that we keep losing. I also love that it’s designed for constant, ongoing delight (rather than just an immediate “wow!”). I guess that comes from the certain satisfaction in pulling out a physical thing you’ve had a part in making. Chris remarks that “the best thing is that each picture has memories and stories attached”. He’s spot-on. Every time you give one away, you’re not only giving away an identifier – my name, my number – but also a descriptor – “here is a photograph I like, which I took, which in part describes me through my taste”.

I’m looking forward to receiving my free set, and then I’ll set about getting some more. Demand will no doubt be huge, but I’m sure Stef and the team will cope. More to the point, I can’t wait to see what else MOO are going to do in this field. There’s so much exciting content around the web (besides text), waiting to be dumped out – I commented on the value of hard copy at Reboot in June. As such, surely there’s never been a better time to be in the print business?