Friday, October 30, 2009

My Mom Has Facebook

You know, at first Facebook was just a playground; our generation grew up doing whatever we wanted here and figuring out how it works alone. I would have thought having parents online would... kill it. But their presence is proving to be, nice?

They (old people) complete things socially. The immigration of physical society onto... whatever facebook is... it's over. Sure there are parts of the world still left unconnected, but the generational void that we (born 1985-1995) have experienced since AOL 1.0 is closed. The whole gang is here, and you can bet my kids will be here too.

The "groups" we are forming are going to begin to consolidate into something more... useful? marketable? powerful?

Thing is, this facebook connection is TOO nice; too easy now. My "social network" is at arms length at all times.

We are going to become tribal. Close-knit emotionally but separated physically.

but will these networked tribes FEEL the same way the real ones used to? I've taken a digital break with my SigO because the interactions through 1's and 0's feel too... hollow.

So yeah it's nice to hear from my mom more often, but it's sad that my kids might not know what it means to really miss someone.

ps: How in the hell is Facebook building my news feed? They've recently revamped it. I'm only getting certain people... people I pay attention to. Big brother is blue and useful.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Everyone Would Rather Be Lucid Dreaming

My dreams have been somewhat shattered. Somewhat. There is a strange tension that pervades The International Symposium On Augmented and Mixed Reality (2009). It's like there are 400 children who have been told to go to sleep the night before Christmas, except there might never be any presents. AR just might be hype and never really happen. Nobody knows, and there's a lot of squirming going on.

Plus there are 400 children vying for one gift under the tree.


There will most likely emerge a monopoly within the AR industry, it's prophesized by the nature of the technology. The augmentations will have to be hosted and edited from a central point. Whoever hosts that will have to design a popular world, a first app that uses glasses (head mounted displays) with controllers (gloves?) properly and attracts the first wave of users large enough to matter.

They say that this emergent company will be whoever hosts the best "points of interest," the most useful geographically-tagged information datums. An unspoken understanding from deep within the Orlando Downtown Marriot: whoever figures this out will make billions of dollars.


And the tension that pervades the building exists because of the buzz. AR IS SO COOL. Well what if they don't pull it off? Honestly it probably won't be these guys who do pull it off. Apple or Google could just as easily (maybe more easily!) become the super-emergent billion dollar AR host everyone is lucid dreaming about. Why haven't they made the move yet? Why aren't they at this conference?

I have yet to meet any other game designers. People want to figure out how to build a "facebook for AR." They want to know: how do you get people to start tagging places and contributing information and feeding the host company piles and piles of personal data so they can go and sell all of it off to....

sorry. Fun secret cosmos fact: The killer app is going to be a game. It'll be a pervasive MMO that allows people to change how they look, interact with interesting narratives and cooperate/compete socially.

How do I know? Because I'm their target audience. Because humans are very simple and we just want to engage in systems of reward. Games are invented systems of want and need. "I NEED TO CHECK FACEBOOK." No you don't, that need was presented by the technology and you have bought into it's system of social rewards. Games. Play. Design. Fun. Discovery.

These people are... mmmf. Don't get me wrong: lot's of cool tech. Surgeons can operate on people who are thousands of miles away by projecting remote visuals. Some of the demo's are mind-blowing.

I tried on some lightweight glasses that perfectly overlay 3D objects: coolest damn thing I've experienced in awhile. $250. And the guys who make them were the most interesting to talk to so far. They're building these things so people will make the kinds of games Nick and I are talking about. This is 100% doable. It'll be tough, but the tech is there. We can get an API dev kit for the glasses. That's all I needed to know.

All the buzz about stepping away from reality... people seem to have lost touch with something. Maybe I have too? We so badly want to just play around somewhere other than the Downtown Orlando Marriot.

But as we chase improvements to reality (make things faster, more beautiful, more immersive, more informative) we improve along lines of human desire that are one-directional. It's a straight road away from physical existence and these kids are sprinting down it. Eventually they'll want to go back. Maybe some of them already do and that's what I'm picking up on. The atmosphere of headlong illusion makes me reassess the things I believe in, the things that tie me to this world and make it worth playing out as a real person.

I miss her.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I sleep as late as I want to biologically. No stabs from digital alarms, please.

Let go of time for a time.

Spend minutes opening my eyes. Further minutes feeling the sun. I pick up a book kept close and read a chapter slow.

First time in awhile.

Slower, better. I am getting more done by not going as fast.

Then... I open iTunes. Tokyo Police Club? I should download all their stuff. Skype chirps. did you get my email? No, let me check after-Facebook- wall post I'd like to bury under a good link, what can I find that's entertaining enough for my... friends? My breathing shortens. I let the music turn off searching for youtube music videos to share with strangers, hope the strangers like it so they like listening to what I say I listen I sit in my bed in silence. My perfectly long day begins to thin out, but I catch myself.

The things I need to do, need to be done slowly.
The tools I have to manipulate this machine aren't yet in rhythm with my body or my mind.

Maybe someday...
But not now.

I am at the border between two kinds of pace.

[two hours pass, I write again] Am I? Does the tech have anything to do with mental pacing? The mind fractures fine without digital aid. Friends enter the room, a conversation begins, food distracts. Gmail opens in response to a conversation. Fractures.

[an hour passes] when am I going to post this? By now there are enough mental applications running in the background, doing the same things to my sense of time and place as the 23 tabs in firefox that _a part of me knows_ are open on the other side of the room. A phone call with my sister seems jagged because I'm busy making notes to record the sensation later here for....

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rewards Are Like Steroids (If Everyone is Watching.)

this post is a rant. you will not find many like it here but I mean this one and here it is:

Barack has won the Nobel Prize. The award was given so that he might gain some political clout for future peacekeeping efforts. Why should we care if he doesn't "really deserve it"?

Whatever media you take in defines your reality. By telling us what's going on with our government, the news shapes what we think is going on. No? Yes. We listen! "This happened today, this did not."

Such a system makes it economically advantageous for both sides (CNN, you) to create centralized celebrities like Obama. Making an equally compelling character out of every member of congress would use up too many resources, too many scriptwriters.

So they have fashioned a global hero for us.

We have inadvertently designed our current system of political discourse (power/memetic transfer) in a manner that is more centralized than we can admit. Bush couldn't handle the pressure that comes with it: he folded under our eyes.

Obama now stands in the center of a telecommunicative forum that is only beginning to grow in its power and scope. Every computer screen on the planet sits facing him, eyes wide. He is what we will listen to because he is all that we make time to listen to.
By making Obama our only source for _____... we hand him everything.

What does he give us? Hope? Information? Orders?

I'm not one to pick sides, but men are still dying in Afghanistan and Iraq. More catch bombs from remote drones in Pakistan than did under Bush. Nothing is being done about the slaughter in Africa.
Guantanamo stays open. Rarara... yet we thank our hero for "peacekeeping." Of course these are difficult issues and no one person could possibly fix all of it...

And yet we expect him to. We gave him the award so he would. Our perceptions of real world affairs blurr with the hum of telescreens as important men thank our man for "a new climate in international politics."

That climate only exists in print, between broadband nodes, tweeting out of telephones or flashing across overused laptop screens.

Nothing is being done, but we thank him for
playing along with us.

The media hands us stories that are cut and formed like lego bricks. It's what they do. Eye-catching and easily added to our collection we can only nod in agreement and throw what we will into our given "political reality." Hey! Mine's a dinosaur! I need to go buy some more preformed world understandings so I can really delude myself...

(cable gets charged monthly, don't worry)

"Okay okay, whatever, let the masses nod along," you might say, "I'm educated and I know what's going on so that's okay!" Ah, but powerful networks of noddings can be directed anywhere with enough spin; they hold power:

"Iraq caused 9/11!" boom

So who is pointing our eyes toward this new Hero in the first place? Who designs avenues of information trade? They're people trying to make MONEY. Employees at places like are hired to build a reality for you to watch and paid to keep you watching.
... just scared enough to need a hero, just happy enough not to act.

I feel as though I am no longer involved in what's going on in my country. We're a generation of observers, of watchers. Not doers.

Nod... nod.... nod.

From Satire X of the Roman poet Juvenal (c A.D.200):

"… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses"

bread is still our bread, cable our circus. Obama? He's a famous Lion Tamer standing in the middle of the ring who has yet to place his head anywhere sharp. Who can blame him?

So he stands there between reruns of friends and the weather channel and we listen for a few moments before changing the channel, assured that he's keeping us safe.

We need to get out of our tent and go put out some fires. The Visigoths are coming and no one remembers how to fight. Ask the lion tamer to do something quick or to give you your money back.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hidden meaning?

In gaming, this is the symbol for half-life 2, one of the greatest/most popular works in recent years.

In Chinese, this is the character ren (second tone), which stands for "person" or "people." Or just "man" sometimes:
So the HL2 logo is the inverse of the symbol for "man" because the player has to topple an oppressive alien government and free humanity from mental slavery! SEE?!

or... the logo is just a lambda.

Meaning is always an invention.

Friday, October 2, 2009

In short:

By studying the way in which game systems can be designed to control and influence their users, we should come to better understand how “design,” modern society and new media forms will coalesce into avenues of exclusive power.

Quote me.

!go too fast

“Doing everything by hand has the advantage that you understand every step. It takes longer, but it gives you the feeling that you understand what you’re doing. A computer relieves you of a lot of the work, but it often takes away the possibility to trace each and every step.”

(good find magstar)