• ""The Iraq War: A Historiography of Wikipedia Changelogs" is a twelve-volume set of all changes to the Wikipedia article on the Iraq War." James is brilliant, but I knew that already. This is quite a thing.
  • "You never see anyone using a slide rule in a film. Matinee idol scientists always work out algorithms unaided in their brilliant minds, or scrawl them manically in chalk on giant blackboards. By the same token that unfairly condemns people with colour-coded ring binders as the owners of overly tidy minds, slide rules are supposed to belong only to the pedantic foot soldiers of science, the plodders who have to show us their workings out. But slide rules are lovely things: pleasingly solid, elegantly mysterious in their markings, the perfect marriage of form and function." Joe Moran on slide rules and scientists.
  • "In the 14 months since [TeamFortress 2] shipped, the PC version of the game has seen 63 updates – “that’s the frequency you want to be providing updates to your customers,” [Newell] adds. “You want to say, ‘We’ll get back to you every week. The degree to which you can engage your customer base in creating value for your other players” is key, says Newell. “When people say interesting or intelligent things about your product, it will translate directly into incremental revenue for the content provider.”" Great write-up from Chris Remo of Gabe Newell's DICE talk.
  • "This is a sort of thorough, empirical, sociological study of art students at two British art schools at a very interesting moment, the late 1960s (a moment when, as the book says, anti-art became the approved art, bringing all sorts of paradoxes to the fore). I find it fascinating that such a subjective thing as developing an art practice can be studied so objectively, but then I find it amazing that art can be taught at all. The book shows the tutors and students circling each other with wariness, coolness, misunderstanding, despair, appreciation." Some great anecdotes and observation.
  • "Busker Du (dial-up) is a recording service for buskers through the telephone (preferably public payphones hidden in subway stations). Audio recorded will be posted to this audio-blog and made available to all who cherish lo-fi original music. Try it out at your favorite subway station or street corner." Dial-A-Song comes full circle.
  • "Poole – HAL 9000 is a fictional chess game in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the movie, the astronaut Frank Poole is seen playing chess with the HAL 9000 supercomputer… The director Stanley Kubrick was a passionate chess player, so unlike many chess scenes shown in other films, the position and analysis actually makes sense. The actual game seems to come from Roesch – Schlage, Hamburg 1910, a tournament game between two lesser-known masters."
  • Lovely demo – some interesting interfaces that feel quicker than current alternatives, as well as experimental ones that, whilst slower and clumsier, represent information a bit better. I mainly like the form-factor, though – but what's the unit cost? These things get a lot better the more you have.
  • "Something like: Trying to create a reading list that gives the best introduction to everything. This may change." Phil is trying to collect the Good Books in many fields. It's an interesting project, for sure; it'll also be interesting to see how it pans out.
  • I was a little excited from the ongoing Offworld love in, but Oli Welsh's review suddenly makes me insanely excited about Keita Takahashi's new plaything. Why is it that all the reasons for me wanting a £300 PS3 are £3 PSN titles?
  • "…the biggest consequence [of a universal micro-USB adaptor] will be the ease of transferring data/content from street service provider to consumer, and consumer to consumer… There is a place at the edges of the internet where the level of friction makes content and data grind to a halt. It's largely unregulated. And it just got seriously lubed."
  • "30 Second Hero is an action RPG which consists of really short battles that require no interaction, as players race against the clock to save the kingdom from an evil wizard's wrath. As indicated by the title, you only have thirty seconds to level up your character sufficiently for the final battle, although additional time can be bought from the castle at the cost of a hundred gold pieces per increment of ten seconds." Hectic; the entire early JRPG genre (FF1, et al) condensed into a minute-long rush. Grinding as poetry.
  • "I was convinced that it was a spoof. As if there’d be a genre called Donk. Everything is wrong about the video. The knowing subtitles over subtle Northern Accents. The presenter’s slight grin when he’s chatting to folk. The funnily named shops. Everything. There’s no way I’m falling for a prank like that. It reminds me heavily of the episode of Brass Eye where they whang on about Cake (the made up drug). And all the characters and the interviews look like they could be setups or clever edits." But no, it's real. Iain Tait discovers Donk.
  • "…with that sad note from Sarinee Achavanuntakul, one of the most enduring (if illegal) tributes to gaming history came to an end." Home of the Underdogs is no more; just gone, like that. It wasn't that it had the best games or the worst games, or that they were illegal, or free; it was history, and childhood, and the smell of cardboard and boot disks, all wrapped up in one giant cathedral to Good Old Games. Most things I played on my old DOS machine were there. A shame; I hope they're elsewhere. This is why we need proper game archives.
  • Tweaking a game five months after launch to make it both more playable, and also more realistic; understanding that realism is key to NHL09 fans, and delivering on that as an ongoing promise.
  • "Warcraft’s success has always been substantially due to the extraordinary physicality of Azeroth, to the real sense of land transversed, of caves discovered, and of secrets shared. Players old and new bemoan the endless trudging that low-level travel requires, but it’s crucial for binding you to the world." Yes. Despite QuestHelper, I'm always in awe of the new areas. I just wish more people were playing the game as slowly and badly as me. Another beautiful One More Go, and one that resonates a lot right now.

Five pages to print off

24 August 2006

Matt Jones asked us what we’d print out from the Internet when it went down for good. I spent a while mulling this over; like Tom, I came to few conclusions. But I wrote some ideas down.

Anyhow, it’s now August 24th, and I’m going to Barcelona for a week tomorrow (because I desperately need a holiday). So I thought I’d just put up what

1) Something on how to make batteries
– Jones has stolen all the useful stuff, and besides, books still exist. Electronics may be dead, but electricals are going to be very useful. Batteries aren’t so hard to make (although they’re not exactly going to be Energizer standard), and might turn out handy. Also, it’s the kind of knowledge I can trade for more useful things.

2) Having remembered to use Flickr properly, dump out a nice flickrToys page of my favourites.

3) Print out everything unread in my RSS account.

4) Print out the huge single page which is every blogpost I’ve ever made (and which, for the sake of argument, resides in secret on my server.

– so, I was racking my brains about what to print out from the Internet that wouldn’t be available in any of the many libraries. I had a really hard time. Most things I was thinking of were available elsewhere – it’s just I came to them via the Internet because, well, it was more immediate, it had search. So there’s not much that only exists in Wikipedia, or Gutenberg, or even the web. And what I can think of that is uniquely online is either experience – be it Flash, or something like Flickr (where the value is not in the content, but the interactions; not in one page, but in the social links and relationships represented across many) – or things like the cartoon strips I read that would never really get published apart from on the web.

Hence why I’m printing out my social interactions – my memories of “the Internet” as a place, rather than any unique information it could offer me. Silicon may be dead in Matt’s dystopia, but books aren’t. I’m planning to ransack the Cambridge University Library pretty much the second the bombs start falling – hopefully it’ll be a less popular target than the British Library.

(Talking this over with Alex, she also said that actually, in an Internet-free-world, that was a great idea; she wanted a wing in the Library of Congress or the British Library just for blogs – everyone prints their own blog, binds it, and hands it over. It’s not about saving the high-value content – it’s about saving all the content people make, just like any copyright library does with books. If the internet’s gone, we should be saving as much of the unique content on it as possible, rather than stuff that might just exist somewhere else; if everyone chose a blog as one of their five pages (because you can probably dump the entire contents to one, massive, page), we’d save so much – not just in the content, but in the blockquotes, in the excerpts, in the criticism, in the memes, in the anecdotes, and in the stories. I’m glad it wasn’t just me being egocentric, then).

5) The original Yahoo homepage. (Actually, the original is a bit too spartan, but this one is a better bet

– Possibly my “slightly up-oneself” entry. I’m interested in this because before the search engines, the web wasn’t searched; it was explored. Yahoo found you things by cataloguing what was out there. Very Dewey-Decimal way of thinking. But I want that original list of categories, if only to remember that this was the structure that much of the Web began with; this was how somebody imposed order on the system in the early days. It’s easier to extrapolate from an ordered beginning. So I want to keep that fragment of the early architecture of the web so that I can remember how it all began – when that was “all it was” – and remember that it all grew from there.

After all, silicon may be dead, and the world might be ending, but once you’ve had widespread shared knowledge, it’s hard to go back. Somehow, we’ll work out how to build another Internet – even though it might be slower, mostly-off, and not very neutral. When we do, I want those categories, just to compare the new effort to.

To conclude: it’s a bloody hard question and I feel my answers aren’t really so good, but at least I tried. And I think it does prove that right now, the Internet is more about the interactions we make than the data therein. Which is Web 2.0, right? So it’s not that the sites themselves are “2.0” or not; maybe it’s the users who’ve demanded more, who’ve been upgraded.