Misc

Misc

Stuff that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else.

MiscSocial media is broken

 Posted by (Visited 1164 times)  Misc  Tagged with:
Nov 132014
 

Wil_Wheaton_by_Gage_SkidmoreThinking on Wil Wheaton’s well-intentioned essay, here are some things that we know.

Anonymity is usually problematic. But the real issue isn’t anonymity. It’s actually “lack of persistent identity.” Anonymity can serve as a cover for bad behavior, because humans are deeply situational when it comes to ethical choices. We fall prey to disinhibition readily, and the biggest reason is “we don’t think we will interact with these people again.” It’s repeated interactions that drive trust, you see, and we behave well because we expect to be treated well in the future.

Anonymity can be very important for the marginalized, for whistleblowers, etc. But within their communities of trust they build reputation, including pseudonymous reputation.  The real issue is feeling free of reputation, which equals feeling free of consequence. That is where bad behavior comes from.

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Aug 122014
 

The tl;dr version is “go here for the talk.”

This past week I was in London, attending Wikimania 2014. Many thanks to Ed Saperia and the organizers for inviting me to speak, it was a highly illuminating experience.

I gave a talk about seeing the Wikipedia experience itself as a series of games: the game of being a reader, the game of editing (or attempting to edit) the content within, and the game of active participation in the community, in terms of working with its policies, its infrastructure, and so on.

Along the way, my intent was to basically toss a few hand grenades in the general vicinity of the foundations of Wikipedia, and in fact of the larger Wikimedia project. This is one of the most idealistic projects in all of human history, and a group of highly intelligent and altruistic people who are fortunately very open to self-examination. So I felt that maybe questioning some of the fundamental assumptions about how they saw themselves and their project was something healthy, and maybe something that would be extra-helpful if done by an outsider.

To make it extra fun, I tried to make the slides look like they were from an old print book.

You can find the slides as a slideshow or as a PDF, and even video of the talk, all here on this new page I have created. I also participated in a panel with a bunch of wonderful folks, on the broader topic of virtual communities. That video is also posted there.

I left the conference thinking a lot about complex systems thanks to lengthy chats with Yaneer Bar-Yam, and toying with the idea of reframing my various definitions of play and games as just “dealing with complexity.” About which more later, I am sure, as it continues to percolate.

Jun 112014
 

Apple-looks-to-standardize-iBeacon-manufacturing-by-third-parties.jpgCreate a tiny computer using as small a chip you can get.

Stick a Bluetooth LE or equivalent transmitter on it. Even better if you can get GPS. Even more if you can get a low power cellphone chip.

Call this a node.

A node has a unique id. Nodes get stuck on objects in a non-removable way. So basically, you have a ThingID.

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MiscIs this the future?

 Posted by (Visited 3258 times)  Misc
May 062014
 

Premise: Goods made of bits offer tremendous advantages to providers of said goods.

Therefore, any good that can be described in terms of bits will be.

Therefore, any good that cannot be described in terms of bits that can cheaply phone home will, in the name of better service, causing it to effectively be bits even if it has a physical manifestation.

Therefore, any good that can be described and experienced in terms of bits will cease to be owned and instead be a service.

Therefore, there will be ongoing service costs to all physical goods.

Therefore, because of economics, anything that is a service will eventually get the service turned off.

Therefore, the more we move to bits, the more we have the dead media problem for physical goods.

Observation: Anything with a service that is turned off will get hackers reverse-engineering a fake server to try to keep it functional. That said, I think in most cases platforms die. Hopefuly, a lot of stuff can function with a fake loopback of some sort.

So how long until the Doctrine of First Sale is obsolete entirely? Just wondering.

 

MailbagMailbag: breaking in (again)

 Posted by (Visited 2576 times)  Mailbag  Tagged with: ,
Mar 082014
 

Hello Mr. Koster, my name is J___ A_____ and I am a recent college graduate with a computer science degree. I came across your name on the Wikipedia article about MUDs, and noticed the link to your website and in turn this contact form. I realize this is a complete shot in the dark but I’ve gotten so many friendly “no thank you” letters recently I figure the worst that happens is you never reply.

In 1993, I began playing a hack and slash Rom 2.3 mud called Creeping Death, and completely fell in love. In 1999 I taught myself C and with the help of a friend, we put up our first MUD. I have been actively coding them off and on ever since. A few years ago I went back to school and pursued a Bachelors in Comp Sci and am desperately trying to break into the video game industry. Outside of mud coding I have little expertise in game design. My question then is this:

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Jan 162014
 

floatingeyeballkiddear Mr.Koster,

I’m a design student studying at __________, of ____. I’ve read a lot of your blog entries and they’ve helped me a lot through my design project especially your article on “good design, bad design and great design.

I would just like to ask you as a designer, what is a bad design decision? What are the points we often forget to incorporate in our designs .

Thanking you in advance,

R___ J_____

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Open threadMajor blog overhaul

 Posted by (Visited 2195 times)  Open thread  Tagged with:
Dec 182013
 

biglogoYou may have noticed that the site looks a little different today! It has seen a major overhaul — years of hacks in files have been overwritten by a modern customizable theme (Suffusion).

The goals were

  • Get it looking nicer, because, damn, it was dated. I usually overhaul it every few years, and it’s been overdue.
  • Get it faster and more responsive, thanks to streamlining all the cruft away. We’ll see. The database for the blog is, by the way, around 5GB of data. Yeesh. So it may be that getting it faster will require major DB surgery.
  • Cut away some of the stuff that was outright obsolete, like the links list (I’ll have to create a new one, sorry for anyone I wiped out!)
  • Give better and faster access to frequently desired material. This is being done with the nav bar up at the top. You’ll notice that this still takes you to the old site’s static pages (static pages that now date back to 1998 in some cases). Over time I expect to migrate all this into WordPress proper and redirect all the old links.
  • I also plan to add new stuff now. Like, some gallery pages for the games I have worked on. Seems silly to be a game designer with a game design site and not have a portfolio page… There’s also all the books that I have had chapters in, I ought to have those up here too. Maybe Slideshare widgets for all the presentations.

Among other things, the site is now fully responsive, so it shouldn’t take pinching and zooming to read it on a smartphone anymore. I swapped out the tag cloud widget, and the translator widget too. The old translator actually cached all the pages; this one just sends you off to Google Translate to do it yourself, so that should save a lot of space.

There are still many things that I have to sort out: whether to keep the frames on images, the weird bottom edge of the nav bar, what to do about comments (I like having the Twitter comments show up seamlessly, but I don’t think I like the reverse chronological order they show up in!), how to handle the older parts of the site, the bits of stuff left over like the blue highlighting of my comments that no longer matches the theme, the way drop caps are messing up when there’s an image in the top left, the bad headers on the right side…

Of course, feedback is welcome! Let me know what you think of stuff like the color scheme, the layout, and so on.

ArtMiscWindows 8 tablet, part two

 Posted by (Visited 8743 times)  Art, Misc  Tagged with: ,
Mar 202013
 

Life with a new Windows 8 tablet.

Oh boy, are there teething pains. Here’s some of what I did, located after insane amounts of Googling and multiple days. I am posting it here to save other people all the pain.

An amazing resource: the forums at http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/

Gosh, the storage is limited.

Yes, it is. First off, don’t even bother getting a 64GB model. You need the 128, I guarantee it. In the case of the Smart PC Pro, people are even buying 256 or 480GB SSD’s – unlike the Surface Pro, the machine has some user-serviceable parts, and you can replace the SSD without a huge amount of hassle. If you’re brave, check here: http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/samsung/54457-ativ-700t-question-anyone-open-unit-yet.html

If you’re not brave, well, then:

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ArtMiscWindows 8 tablet, part one

 Posted by (Visited 7191 times)  Art, Misc  Tagged with: ,
Mar 192013
 

photoGiant post ahead!

Some background: I have been using Tablet PCs for a decade now. Back in the UO days, I always walked around with a paper notebook full of doodles, and I often sketch out design ideas as diagrams and quickie cartoons. With a pressure sensitive stylus I can also then do artwork directly — concept paintings (the sort of thing you then give to an artist so they can make the real concept painting…!) or game sprites or whatever. These days, I carry my iPad pretty much everywhere, and I can code on it a little bit, I can sketch on it, I doodle with it in Notes Plus, and I even have the Pogo Connect pressure-sensitive stylus, so I can use that for art. But I am working on the colored cartoons for the second edition of Theory of Fun, and none of the iPad art programs will successfully load the Photoshop files I need to work in. And I was in the market for a new laptop anyway, so I went shopping for a Windows 8 tablet.

So this post is what I learned and what I picked. I have another giant post done as well, with everything I had to do to get the new machine set up to my satisfaction. It was info all scattered randomly all over the Internet, so I figured that it might be valuable to gather it all in one place. But this post was long enough already! So look for that one tomorrow.

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Game talkMailbagWhy do we like a given game?

 Posted by (Visited 6168 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with:
Feb 152013
 

I was just asked this on Quora, and thought I would crosspost my answer here.

What makes people like specific genres of gaming (FPS, strategy, sports, racing etc)?

What can you tell about people who like only a certain genre of gaming like Fps rather than strategy?

Everyone starts out with different natural predispositions. For example, some people are born with more fast-twitch fibers in their muscles, which gives them the ability to move more explosively than others [Skeletal striated muscle]. Other folks have greater color sensitivity, faster reaction times, better ability to see things that are moving or that are standing still.

Some of these things are spread across a gradient where a person may fall anywhere on the gradient, but there are biases based on the sex of the individual in question. [Men and Women Really Do See Things Differently] We should be cautious about treating this as “biology is destiny” and instead think in terms of statistical distribution; recent metastudies show that overall, sex differences in cognition are weak correlations [Science Confirms The Obvious:  Men And Women Aren’t That Different] but there are nonetheless some large and obvious differences between sexes and of course between people.

These predispositions mean that some things are easier or harder for a given individual. Not necessarily hugely so — maybe only marginally, say 1% easier than the norm. But it doesn’t matter, because of how the brain’s reward system works. Continue reading »