Warren Spector on dialogue:
“It’s very easy for us to simulate the pulling of a virtual trigger, and it’s very, very hard for us to simulate a conversation. I defy anybody to show me a conversation system in a game today that isn’t identical to the conversation systems that Richard Garriott was using in the ’80s. The big innovation in conversation systems now is that there’s a timer on your choice on the branching tree. And I just don’t think that’s good enough. But again, if I knew how to solve that problem I would. I’m not disparaging everybody in the game business. What I am saying is, I wish we would spend a little bit less time on combat AI and a little bit more on non-combat AI—on creating characters you can bond with on an emotional level.”
Source: You Don’t Have as Much Control in Videogames as You Think | WIRED
(via Patrick Finn on Facebook)
David Levy, in “The Useless Agony of Going Offline“:
(He went offline for 72 hours over the new year’s long weekend. Productivity ensued.)
I didn’t miss my smartphone, or the goofy watch I own that vibrates when I receive an e-mail and lets me send text messages by speaking into it. I didn’t miss Twitter’s little heart-shaped icons. I missed learning about new things.
During the world’s longest weekend, it became clear to me that, when I’m using my phone or surfing the Internet, I am almost always learning something. I’m using Google to find out what types of plastic bottles are the worst for human health, or determining the home town of a certain actor, or looking up some N.B.A. player’s college stats. I’m trying to find out how many people work at Tesla, or getting the address for that brunch place, or checking out how in the world Sacramento came to be the capital of California.
What I’m learning may not always be of great social value, but I’m at least gaining some new knowledge—by using devices in ways that, sure, also distract me from maintaining a singular focus on any one thing.
I struggle with this (as I’m sure everyone does). “Screen time.” On the one hand, I’m shocked at how much time I spend with a magic internet device in my hand. On the other, I’m amazed at how much I read, and on such an incredible variety of topics. Pretty much instantaneous access to any current information, from pretty much anywhere on Earth. Is that a good thing? Breadth over depth? Is this mediating my experience with the “real world” – and does the “real world” mean “everything except those things that have a MAC address” (or are these things now part of the “real world” and so the either-or deliniation is false anyway)?
And, was David Levy’s sudden burst of non-screen productivity a result of non-screen-ness offline time, or was it the novelty of the situation that resulted him in doing a bunch of other things? Try it for a few months to find out… (I haven’t. I don’t think I will…)
New forms of online education like MOOCs lost both forms of primacy at once. By making them free, students had few incentives to not quit any time the course materials got boring or difficult. Without a physical presence, there weren’t the social peer effects of friends encouraging us to attend our classes on time, or shaming us about our poor performance.
These products often tried to emulate the feel of a course by forcing students to take them concurrently. The effect of that model, which Coursera particularly prioritized, appears on the surface to have been unsuccessful, while also reducing the convenience that should be the hallmark of online education.
Open education is absolutely needed – course materials should be distributed as widely as possible for as cheaply as possible. Knowledge deserves to be free. But that openness also makes it hard for these materials to gain primacy in the lives of their students when they are just sitting on the web like every other web page.
Source: Why Is The University Still Here? | TechCrunch
The results were immediate and powerful. The employees exhibited significantly lower stress levels. Time off actually rejuvenated them: More than half said they were excited to get to work in the morning, nearly double the number who said so before the policy change. And the proportion of consultants who said they were satisfied with their jobs leaped from 49 percent to 72 percent. Most remarkably, their weekly work hours actually shrank by 11 percent—without any loss in productivity. “What happens when you constrain time?” Lovich asks. “The low-value stuff goes away,” but the crucial work still gets done.
via Are You Checking Work Email in Bed? At the Dinner Table? On Vacation? | Mother Jones. (via BoingBoing
I’d love to set this policy up at the office. I’m as guilty of this as anyone.
Update: and… 5 minutes after sending the link to the article, and we have an informal policy in the Taylor Institute to try out prohibiting work-related emails before 8am and after 5pm, and on weekends. Awesome. It’s a start.
Awhile back Bill Nye debated Ken Ham on science vs. creationism, at Ham’s museum of young earth creationism. Nye just posted some background on the talk and his preparations, and this kind of jumped out at me:
On the slides in my “decks,” as they’re called, I do not use many words. My colleagues sent me dozens of PowerPoint slides for my use. Thank you of course, but my goodness you all, when I watch many of your presentations, it’s like reading a page of book projected on a wall. How can someone in the audience focus on what you’re saying, when there’s a blizzard of words in front of her or him?
via Bill Nye’s Take on the Nye-Ham Debate – CSI.
The taste of “success” in our world gone mad is measured in dollars and francs and rupees and yen. Our desire to consume any and everything of perceivable value – to extract every precious stone, every ounce of metal, every drop of oil, every tuna in the ocean, every rhinoceros in the bush – knows no bounds. We live in a world dominated by greed. We have allowed the interests of capital to outweigh the interests of human beings and our Earth.
We cannot necessarily bankrupt the fossil fuel industry. But we can take steps to reduce its political clout, and hold those who rake in the profits accountable for cleaning up the mess.
And the good news is that we don’t have to start from scratch. Young people across the world have already begun to do something about it. The fossil fuel divestment campaign is the fastest growing corporate campaign of its kind in history.
via We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet | Desmond Tutu | Comment is free | The Guardian.
Why does a show about the universe produced in 1980 have such a strong pull on us today? It’s not because of the compelling communication style of Carl Sagan alone, although that is a small part of it. Nor is it because Sagan gave us information that most of us never had. The reason Cosmos endures is because the presentation of the original Cosmos series made it clear why what we were seeing and hearing mattered. Even if it was not always explicitly stated, the message was clear: This is important. This is remarkable. And you are a part of it.
via Presentation Zen: More storytelling lessons from “Cosmos”.
I wonder why MacFarlane and deGrasse Tyson didn’t just whip together a Prezi…
What I’m afraid of is the society we already live in. Where people like you and me, if we stay inside the lines, can enjoy lives of comfort and relative ease, but God help anyone who is declared out of bounds. Those people will feel the full might of the high-tech modern state
via Our Comrade The Electron – Webstock Conference Talk by Maciej Ceclowski.
Where everything goes on a permanent record of some sort, the only dissent allowed involves which colour of avatar to select on Twitter.
Pariser, E. (2011). The Filter Bubble: How the new personalized web is changing what we read and how we think.
I (finally) started reading this on the flight to Toronto. Fascinating take on the whole you-are-the-product thing.
Just as the factory farming system that produces and delivers our food shapes what we eat, the dynamics of our media shape what information we consume. Now we’re quickly shifting toward a regimen chock-full of personally relevant information. And while that can be helpful, too much of a good thing can also cause real problems. Left to their own devices, personalization filters serve up a kind of invisible autopropaganda, indoctrinating us with our own ideas, amplifying our desire for things that are familiar and leaving us oblivious to the dangers lurking in the dark territory of the unknown.
The manifesto that helped launch the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the early nineties championed a “civilization of Mind in cyberspace” – a kind of worldwide metabrain. But personalized filters sever the synapses in that brain. Without knowing it, we may be giving ourselves a kind of global lobotomy instead.”
Matt Mullenweg on blogging:
This post might be ephemerally tweeted by dozens of avatars I might or might not recognize, accumulate a number in a database that represents the “hits” it had, and if I’m lucky might even get some comments, but when I get caught up in that the randomness of what becomes popular or generates commentary and what doesn’t it invariably leads me to write less. So blog just for two people.
First, write for yourself, both your present self whose thinking will be clarified by distilling an idea through writing and editing, and your future self who will be able to look back on these words and be reminded of the context in which they were written.
Second, write for a single person who you have in mind as the perfect person to read what you write, almost like a letter, even if they never will, or a person who you’re sure will read it because of a connection you have to them
via The Intrinsic Value of Blogging | Matt Mullenweg. (HT to Dave Winer )