It’s Tuesday, March 22 2022 in Portland, Oregon and it is not raining as hard as it could be. Freischwimmer cover/mix of California Dreaming1 is playing in the background on single track repeat and has been since last Thursday because a) it was in that episode of Star Trek: Picard and b) apparently it’s an ADHD thing to listen to a single track on repeat as a sort of audio stimming? I am not entirely convinced, I just… like listening to certain songs on single track repeat. For days. Weeks, even.
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Annie Rauwerda has a piece in Slate, Russians Are Racing to Download Wikipedia Before It Gets Banned. Some notes: Russian-language Wikipedia is 29 gigabytes, English Wikipedia with images in 87 GB (or 47 GB without). Part of the reason due to the size difference is the number of articles: Russian-language Wikipedia has 1.8 million articles compared with English Wikipedia’s 6.4 million. This one can easily be put in a sort of Moore’s Law leads to cheaper storage (flash drives, not hard drives!), cheaper cost to access and cheaper cost to participate. Although remember, it’s not like the democractic, open encyclopaedia doesn’t have issues of participation, representation and bias, never mind outright sexism and racism.
Internet friend Cat Manning, a Nebula-nominated narrative designer and writer, is at GDC this week which means I get to vicariously enjoy all the good bits of GDC. Cat has a great thread on Nate Austin’s session, Getting Players Emotionally Invested in Procedural Characters in ‘Wildermyth’, covering the idea of doing ‘casting calls’ when generating a procedural narrative. Just the terminology I think is brilliant because it reframes, in human brains, at least, the problem from “search for an available character through which to continue the procedurally generated narrative” to “cast for a character”, and cast just has… such a better, more expansive meaning. A much better looking vector, if you like, for the problem at hand. Cat points this out: the casting is framed as “theatricality”: how do you think about a game’s narrative design using the metaphors and analogies of scenes, plays and casting.
Just writing above about how the single word casting reframes a problem in a different direction and gives it a whole new colour reminded me of when a few weeks ago I ended up thinking about Iain M. Banks’ use of language in his Culture novels.
It started pretty dumb, with Terry Matalas, the showrunner for Star Trek: Picard season 2 pointing out that shuttles still don’t have cup holders in the 25th century2, to which my snarky response was that:
Iain M Banks’ Culture solved the problem of needing cup holders in modules etc by being able to snap-displace any beverage container as soon as it enters an unstable state3
But just that joke/aside had me thinking about the difference in language and feeling (in me, at least) of a snap displace versus, say, an emergency transport, from one of my other favorite multi-decade conglomerate-owned multi-platform science fiction franchises exploring a utopian post-scarcity future. Snap.
There’s a bunch of stuff going around where an influential4 Silicon Valley figure invented5 slavery by suggesting that the best way to, I don’t know, make sure a gazillion Einsteins bloom is to own a bit of them and their income for, like, ever, if it doesn’t work out. So I’m all:
tech: nonfungible tokens!
also tech: but also, fungible humans!6
Via Christina Wodtke’s poll7 about terms for no-code interactive design testing/research, I learned the phrase Wizard of Ozzing, where it’s faked and you’re not supposed to look behind the curtain and I love it again because the theme today appears to be “words and how to use them to achieve and convey your intended effect and meaning”
My friend Leigh Dodds has a good thread on data stewardship, data governance usw8 summing up the state of the art and pointing out unhelpful incompatibilities and internal inconsistencies. Which I’m noting here because I need to go through it and read it properly.
Okay, that’s it for today.
Hi! How have you been?
Iain M Banks’ Culture solved the problem of needing cup holders in modules etc by being able to snap-displace any beverage container as soon as it enters an unstable state, Me, on Twitter, again, forever, because of my questionable life choices ↩
Fine, it’s Sam Altman. ↩
Invented, disrupted, implemented on the blockchain, restated without having done the requisite reading from history, spouted off, actually did do the reading from history but exposed their beliefs as a human being toward other humans, put forth into writing on an electronic network their belief in the primacy of certain economic models, etc ↩
usw, for und so weiter because apparently there are things you will never forget from GCSE German, twenty seven years ago. ↩