"All right action flows from the breath"
- Hajakujo

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Monday, December 11, 2006

mUsIc live, freedom love


Check out this cool, cool band...

The answer moves, but always leaves you clues.
Every new state will reflect a past face.
All this comes to he who does not look but waits.
When walking, stumble and jog to hold steady.

That's all I have to say.

Friday, December 08, 2006

"A great Eye, ever watchful!"

Saturn recently developed a superstorm over its south pole, the diameter of which is two thirds that of the Earth. Imagine, if it weren't for practical reality getting in the way, you could dip something the size of the Moon right in there without touching the sides. Cool.

Anyway, the point is that this news led me to this article, on this site, wherein I learnt about the electrical universe hypothesis. This hypothesis directly addresses one of the assumptions which I had about the local physik reality*, namely that the Earth has an electrical field, but it is localised and not linked to those of the other heavenly bodies. As I said in an earlier post, this assumption limits the capacity of the accessible electrical field, and in part caused me to drop or alter one of my mad notions about the nature of that part of our existence that some might say, concerns us most but is least well understood - the afterlife. What happens after life? Do we remain extant in any form? Where do we go if so? And so on.

Now, as if by magic, comes a new way of looking at the localised physik* that just might resuce the possibility in my mind of 'afterlife' phenomena without resorting to multi-extra-dimensional physical theories like String Theory. Which is good because, while I cannot criticise String Theory on any informed grounds, I am made uncomfortable in accepting it at face value simply because of its great self-divergence and lack of forward progress. But, if the electrical field extends beyond individual heavenly bodies, then we can imagine an infinite substrate on which to base the information storage/transmission necessary to allow some transference after death, of whatever pattern of energy it is that is associated with a living being.

It's all terribly pie in the sky, but quite a fun thought experiment. For if you grant it temporary credence, then you can start to think about all the exisiting faiths and metaphysics that rely on an afterlife concept of some sort but offer no rational physical explanation for it.

* Forgive my mad phraseology, but I just can't take myself too seriously when I write this stuff :D

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Free your country!


In my country there is problem,
And that problem is transport.
It take very very long,
Because Kazakhstan is big.

Chorus 1
Throw transport down the well (repeat line)
So my country can be free (repeat line)
We must make travel easy (repeat line)
Then we’ll have a big party (repeat line)

Verse 2
In my country there is problem
And that problem is the Jew
They take everybody money
And they never give it back

Chorus 2
Throw the jew down the well (repeat line)
So my country can be free (repeat line)
You must grab him by his horns (repeat line)
Then we have a big party (repeat line)

Verse 3
If you see the Jew coming
You must be carefull of his teeth
You must grab him by his money
And I tell you what to do

(Repeat Chorus 2 twice)

See it sung and played! Borat and his Cowboy Astoni-band! Yee-haw!
Then go and spread the message, that we can finally find a solution to the evil, thieving JEW. Not 'did you', but JEW.
(Perhaps these lyrics would be better set to some Vagner. I mean Wagner).

Friday, December 01, 2006

Wave of the future, Dude...

Jobs for the boys! All those poor schmos slaving over their hot cracked 3DS max 7 can now put their underemployed talents to use, slaving over hot cracks in their hot cracked 3DS max 7. All you need is a good imagination and some business savvy, like these guys. And real feelings!
Cool :D

(loook at these women...they've got dead eyes!)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Statistics is fun!

Hans Rosling gives it welly. On the development of the world since 1962.
This is interesting as, with the right kind of eyes, you can almost imagine accompanying slides demonstrating the trends associated with global warming over the same forty-year time period - and they would correlate.
Development in the Western world is not to blame for global environmental destruction - we are driving smaller cars, our families are at a stable size, economic growth is in low single digits. No, the blame is solely that of our vision. We are outnumbered many times by the huddled masses (that we huddled), and we gave them an economic model to follow that relies on exploitation and rapine. We told them they needed a western economy to enjoy the 'benefits' of a western lifestyle, and never once incentivised them to follow that model but with sensitivity to their own surroundings. In fact, we actively participated in the rape of mother nature. And you know what that makes us - mother fuckers*.
Gooooood Morning the West!

* For more on our shit-ness (actually mostly that of UK/US&A), see my previous post and hope the link is still valid.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Creative Computing @ Coleraine

In case the Posting post wasn't obvious enough, my research group has a new site, in blog format, created by ME!
Go there or go to hades...


As I said last post, conference this week in big Dubbers.
But, ok, I'm actually in town for a gig by Tool, contemporary kings of hard rock. Makes them sounds like Nashville country stars...hmm. Maybe modern Emperors of metal rock. Imperator musica!
The heirs to Zeppelin, in innovation, uncomprised excellence in both form and function, dedication to quality over commerce - it is fitting that they have produced the best Zeppelin cover to date in No Quarter. And if you count their sister band A Perfect Circle (basically the same members, but in a more reflective and politcal vein), also When the Levee Breaks. That one goes the other way, not powerhouse at all but interesting and delicate.

And coincidently (or not, as one might say that there is no such thing as coincidence), last week the Zep where inducted in the UK Hall of fame - maybe you saw it?
If not here's a clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSYscoIx69A
A fair bit of waffle to start and then mostly clips from the DVD, but the end is worth it!

Of course its not that impressive to get into the hall of fame when Bonzo's already dining in the Hall of the Gods, drumming and boozing and shagging all at once like fuckin shiva, but the time will come for that for all of us.

Hail to the Gods of Rock!


CGAMES, 22nd-24th November, DIT Aungier Street, Dublin 2. Heading to my third conference this week, not on the back of any effort or work this time but as a volunteer. Gonna slide in and network for all I'm worth with the minimum of effort expended. Tie up a pretty good year on the self-promotion of my research front...

First off I wrote a paper, User-System-Experience Model for User Centred Design in Computer Games, expressing my understanding of gameplay, adaptivity, and the play experience as it stood. Quite a lot to squeeze into a little 5 page piece - took me longer to edit down than to write up! Accepted to Adaptive Hypermedia 2006, a pretty shit-hot conference even if I was only part of the Doctorial Consortium stream. Nice freebies, anyway :D
Next the reading I was doing led me to look at Information theory and eventually do some experiments on player modelling in Pacman using predictive methods - Using Decision Theory for Player Analysis in Pacman. Wrote that up for a promising-looking workshop in Roma (a favoured place, although more for the people than the locale), organised by the right honourable Yannkakis.
Then in swift succesion, writing up the 1 year confirmation report, attending AH'06 and back again for my confirmation hearing.
A summer of - not very much at all, but solidified my ideas on games, players and experience as information systems. Now it has all been turned into a journal paper (link when i get published!) and seminar. This will form the theoretical underpinning to my practical work, and there is a much clearer idea behind the point of it all than there was when
Thereafter, attended the workshop in Roma (proceedings here), then had myself a holiday in Venice (che bellissimo!). Formed some resolutions with the other delegates about the value of the workshop (it was the inaugural year, the form of its future was under question), leading to the formation of the 'Optimising Player Satisfaction in Computer Games' mailing list. Also I wrote a review on the C^3 blog.
Now that the journal and seminar are nearly done with, its almost time to begin a new phase of the PhD, with practical overtaking theoretical and coding trumping reading. I hope! I could wallow in papers and books forever, its a steep-sided slops pit of knowledge and I do manage to be productive within it.
But the little gods of computing demand a sacrificial offering, and I am not yet wont to follow the Lightbringer and carve out my own domain. So next up - Pacman!


Saturday, November 18, 2006


Mad, brilliant, slight, intuitive and effervescent. And even if you're crap at the game, you can amuse yourself reading the savage french put-downs that commentate on your game:
"Oulalala, as-tu moins un cerveau?"


My top score: 28.899 seconds

Beat that!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Been busy whoring my blogging time to the man, to build this quite amazing edifice to our collective research efforts. Of course, if you build it, they usually still have to be forced to come. So its a little light on traffic, or posts. Hope that changes...

Catch a powerpoint exposition of my latest ideas and work either on the group page, or here. Delivered this powerpoint in a seminar talk not two hours ago. It was marching boldly once more onto the breach, dear friends, as my detestation of public speaking, and the undernourished state of my explanations of what's been going on inside my tiny mind combined to make it a gruelling talk - however the realisation that I actually know quite a lot about the subject now made the following question time much more fun. I have the answers!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bun Invaders!

First off, click here.

"Watch as I shoot upwards through my own shield!"
"He's a mad man, A MAD MAN!"

Once again, more bunny suicides here.

This page gives me an idea for a swishy 2D game, like an inverse Lemmings. Bunnies breed like rabbits, and their populations boom and bust, in the process devastating their locality for other small scale lifeforms. With this natural justification, it should be easy to devise game mechanics where you have to devise interesting ways for a bunch of reproducing, autonomous bunny agents to kill themselves. Involuntarily would be the obvious paradigm, traps and such, but voluntarily might be more fun. Imagine persuading a bunny character to kill himself by offing his affianced bride, then destroying the alcohol supply he would naturally turn too, then putting him in close proximity to other happy bunny couples. Or other tradegy and despair induced suicides. Then we'd really have a game!

One of these days :D

Monday, September 11, 2006

L'essenziale è invisibile agli occhi

"Anything essential is invisible to the eyes. It's the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important.
You become responsible forever for what you have tamed.
You are responsible for your rose"

The Little Prince,
Antoine de

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Games as art...

Someone once said, in response to the criticism that games are inherently inferior to film and literature, that "Each time some new medium appears, I feel that it's important to respect it, even if it appears primitive or naive at first, simply because some people are finding important things in it. If you have one guy in the world who thinks that Silent Hill or Zelda is a beautiful, poetic work, then that game means something. Art only exists in the eye of the beholder."

He goes on "Most people who despise a new medium are simply afraid to die, so they express their arrogance and fear like this... Human beings are stupid, and we often become assholes when we get old".

And in a devastating coup de grace, he concludes: "Fuck him, he will realise that he is wrong on his deathbed."

Strong words. Of course, it was Christophe Gans, in response to Roger Ebert, and it was news about half a year ago. But I think the theme is relevant now and probably in the future for some time to come, so I have to add my bit.

Games contain art; they can represent artistic endeavour on the part of the creators; they can even be meant as works of art. But art, as Gans says, exists in the eye of the beholder. So can games make us feel the way that films or literature can? I don't need to present much of an argument here, I think.
I have two:
Boy meets mysterious, elfin, unintelligible girl in birdcage. Boy breaks his ass to help girl, and is eventually repaid with his freedom and possibly a sequel involving more hard work. Sounded uncomfortably familiar when I played it, naturally adding to the appeal.
But in the general case, a more romantic tale you could not imagine. Compares with...Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Maybe not Anna Karenina, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. It's a fair point to say that comparing any modern media with literature, painting or sculpture is a little off-target.
And secondly:

As always, the sight of Mario provokes a little chuckle, like Calvin and Hobbes or Mel Brooks. Why they got Bob Hoskins to play him and not Mel, I couldn't fathom.

There is stands. Plato would be proud of my argumentation, Da Vinci of my erudition...
Apologies to Danc for stealing. Good work...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

~ A History of Oil ~

Anyone who hasn't seen this yet must hie thee hence at once!

I would vote Robert Newman No.1 for President, Prime Minister, Premiere, Chairman, Party Leader etc, all at the same time. Secure in the knowledge that any man, who can not only be in multiple physical coordinate spaces at the same time, but can also perfectly imitate the current holders of these positions (at the same time as the time of his polymanifestation trick)...would probably do a better job of running the world, even if the cost was his own sanity.

Also, he's done his research...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Flow is...

Well, for me Flow has variously been found in karate, city centre bicycle couriering, trail-less hill walking, programming, writing papers, and games. Computer, team, physical, mental, solitary or social, competitive or cooperative. Games are just a great way to achieve a state of highly optimal psycho-physiological being. Not all games, maybe not even most games. Well, maybe most games, for me. Maybe most because I only play the ones that survive the critical weeding out of mass-consumption. But in any event, they seem to me to belong to a class of activity that almost singularly well enables Flow. Whatever the bounds of this class of activity (and I don't think I'll attempt a definition of those bounds any time soon), games fall within it unless their design is broken. And falling within it, they provide a 'shortcut' to Flow that is a pointer to a revolution of the self for every individual that can see the path. For as Csikszentmihalyi says, "those who are in Flow most often tend to have more positive experiences in the rest of their lives".

Why does this class of activity more easily lead to a Flow experience? If Flow, as its primogenitor claims, is a "panhuman phenomenon" recognised the world over and found in almost any activity, then surely no single type of activity will facilitate Flow more easily than another? Well, it is this very universality that allows me to reason that Flow must be a part of our evolutionary heritage, and thus its manifestation will be a uniform cognitive event, no matter the individual or activity. Csiks' even posits something similar, when he says "the universality of Flow might be accounted for by the fact that it is a connection that evolution has built into our nervous system".
If this is the case, then it is logical that the 'connection in the nervous system' - which I would describe as a cognitive/emotional state - can be approached more quickly by pursuing an activty that requires a similar cognitive state to be assumed. Games require this from the player, they incorporate an element of the imperative in that they force the participant to follow certain rules, to observe certain formalities and ultimately assume a certain state of mind.

This may not be a mind-blowing observation to anyone who's read enough on the topic to follow the implicit references, but it's the why of it thats really interesting. What could it be about games that incites Flow - structure, mechanics, constituative/operational/implicit rules, cute graphics? Any takers on a complete explanation or dire refutation, please - talk to me baby :D

I just had to steal this...

To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

An engineer was crossing a road one-day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up again and said,
"If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week." The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want." Again the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.

Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess and that I'll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?"

The engineer said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that's cool."
Taken from here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Poetry of Flow

“When goals are clear,

when above-average challenges are matched to skills,

and when accurate feedback is forthcoming,

a person becomes…so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter;

the experience itself is so enjoyable

that people will do it even at great cost,

for the sheer sake of doing it.”

- Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, 1990

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Poetry of Play

“Play is a voluntary activity or occupation,

executed within certain fixed limits of time and place,

according to rules freely accepted but absolutely binding,

having its aim in itself and

accompanied by a feeling of tension,


and the consciousness that it is ‘different’ from ‘ordinary life’.”

- Johann Huizinga, 1949

Monday, August 21, 2006

I am a character in a play in the mind of 10,000 monkeys...

Here I am on Chris Bateman's onlyagame blog again, weighing in with nerdish, hyper-intellectual humour to the gathering of game ghouls. Below is my entry, reproduced with slightly better formatting for clarity (although clarity in the content is sadly absent).

Level 1.6180339887 muser & mutterer
Background: see Grimoire Backgroundicus (that's here!)

M|WS|BS| S | T | W | I | A | Ld
5 | 10| 7 |0.2| 8 |2.4| 2 | 6 | 0

M = Moaning
WS = Worry Skill
BS = Bullsh*t Skill
S = Staying at work power
T = True grit (and we are chock full of that)
W = Wounds (avg number sustained after 1 week of drinking and karate practice)
I = Idiot points
A = Argumentative-ness
Ld = Leadership


99% Pontificating about modern mediated culture.
77% Pretending to be clever.
Speed (at completing internet postings and emails) 1/27% Lucidity (of internet contributions) 12% - 63% depending on lucidity of reader
5% Programming
10% Researching

Special Ability
pReScIeNcE - can predict own future within the ontological bounds of own dynamic, subjectively-defined reality E.g. (10+5 / x {12 <>

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Morally oxygen starved games

A couple of games that are not about trying to kill as many things as possible.
Peacemaker by Impact Games, and A Force More Powerful, by BreakAway Ltd.

Hear hear. Not that these types of games ever find much of an audience, or are generally much fun. But the spirit is also important - if I want to say that games are important, then I have to admit that they affect people and thus they affect people's behaviour. And if that's the case, I have to admit that games should have moral awareness.

Of course that doesn't mean they have to be po-faced preachers of messages Good and Holy - a moral compass is one thing, but sermonising is a pain in the ass. Like, I wonder if you could call Defcon an astute moral parable, in the satirical bent of "How I Learned to Stop Worrying..."

Feeble excuse for a Gratuitous Quote!
"Gentlemen! You can't fight in here, this is the War Room!"

Digital Identity - D.I.D.

A while ago I wrote on electronic identity and privacy issues..."Its about the digital signifier population that makes up your electronic identity being accessible to you, controllable by you, and gated by you".

I wanted to address what I meant by that closing sentence, and what it implies in the day-to-day.

Which is longest?

Which of your conceptions of the phases of time is longest - the past, the present or the future?

Its only a mini brainteaser, since there's no strictly right answer. If you look at it in terms of age of the universe, we have a figure of about 14billion years for the age of the universe, and by any of the topologies it will be around for a lot longer than that, so the answer there would be 'the future'. If you look at it in terms of an objective reality of observable phenomenon, then all you have is the past. You can't observe future events, unless you count indirect observations of sort implied by quantum non-locality, and that's only relatively in the future. If you can't observe future events, then you cannot really say you are observing present events, since the events themselves take time to be observed. In this sense, the answer would be 'the past'.

What I answered, because I like the simplicity of the logic involved, was 'the present'. In this case, one assumes that there is no past or future. Relatively, subjectively, one simply discounts the independent existence of time. There is only the present, and from that viewpoint it is the only possible answer, never mind the right one.

Answers on a postcard, winners receive nothing.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Of course, string theory is currently stuck in the toilet, it can't advance and all the efforts to do so seem to just diversify (and dilute) its potential as a solution. So using it a basis for a posit on the nature of conscious embodiment is a little...dodgy.

Coming up fast from behind are Loop quantum gravity and Heim theory, the former of which does not initially require extra dimensions (Heim is formulated in 6 dimensions, as I understand it. Not many do understand Heim right now).
Of course, as Smolin says, if there were to be extra dimensions and supersymmetry, loop quantum gravity could accommodate them. So I might be alright after all.

I really don't care right now, to be honest. I'm waiting for the Heim vehicles, close-to-light-speed gravitational-field-manipulating spaceships, so I can be Buck Rogers...

Friday, July 28, 2006


I keep having minor revelations concerning my personal esoteria - i.e. the work that I'm meant to be doing on player modelling for adaptive artificial intelligence in computer games, and the shadow-clad conceptually philosophic highwaymen that waylay my productivity, forcing me to Think on the questions that really serve no end to Think upon, at least in the short term.

Like recently I discovered a possible answer to a riddle that had long puzzled me: is there an afterlife, and if not, why does the human race have such a strong intimation that there is?

Now when I say answer, what I'm talking about is a pointer to a possible explanation, a pointer whose validity satisfies my cursory curiosity about the subject. Nothing comprehensive, nothing rigorously reasoned. Just enough to allow me to file the subject away, satisfied that I now have an opinion on it that I can trot out if faced with a fully formed opinion from someone whose beliefs source in a different faith (more on this later).

Awhile ago, a friend and I started to wonder if there was a link between conciousness, the active energy in our physical form, and the electromagnetic field of the earth. Could electromagnetism in a powerful localised field, such as that the earth generates, provide a substrate to support an abstract pattern that would represent an individual conciousness? Firstly, I think this could only work if the proponents of strong A.I. are correct that conciousness is algorithmic, and thus can exist in any phyiscal form as long as the complexity of the algorithm is supported. Secondly, it all seems rather simplistic. We have been studying the electromagnetic field (for a time as seperate fields) for well over a century, and there is no sign that anything special happens to it when a person (or hundreds of thousands of people) die. There's no evidence for transference, and thats what we need. Besides which, what about capacity and entropy issues?

No, its a poor explanation, and I was never happy with it (even on the rather tenebrous level on which I reason about existensial matters). But recently, I've been thinking a bit more about conciousness, and I came up with this:

Basically, it says that the self is related to, and embodied in, it's physical surroundings. Now this brings up the question of the nature of our surroundings, but I don't really think I need to address that here. What I'm talking about is the difference between the view of each consciousness as an independent entity, and the view that each consciousness is merely a facet of a much broader, context-dependent entity that must include what we call our physical body, our environment, other conscious entities and the subconscious ghost in the shell. Quite analagous to the Zen philosopihies. Although I don't believe to the same degree in the illusion of the self - individuation is not what we as individuals intuitively believe it to be, but I don't think that means that it's non-existent, after all individuation is what drives the universe (energy to do work, law of entropy, etc).

So, to be embodied is a prerequisite for conciousness. And embodiment could be an 11, or 6, dimensional state, if you listen to the string theorists. What aspect of conciousness, then, is tied to extra dimensional embodiment? What if there is a mental aspect tied into these extra dimensions that is related to our waking concious mind in the same way that extra dimensional physicality is related to our familiar four dimensions of spacetime?

Could a sentient entity be an energistic phenomenon stretched over these many dimensions, like a rubber band stretched around 11 fingers? And what happens if you withdraw four of those fingers? The band snaps back, to stretch between the remaining fingers. Could that process give us a pointer to the reality of a soul?

Hint of truth, or ramblings of an over-abundant imagination!?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Paragon of animals!

To plunder another's wit is the greatest of compliments - oh, apart from sleeping with them...

But we'll not go there. To paraphrase Shakespeare!

"I have of late, I know not where, lost all my mirth...What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in apprehension how like a God! And yet to me what is this quintesscence of dust! Man delights not me, no, nor women neither..." Nor women neither

And, not at all inspired by Koster, here's a poem that means nothing to the masses. Oh, the human urge to publish! Twill undo us all!

Anything I'm doing,
the state of being,
I can feel you there
most times faintly
sometimes clearly.

My head becoming grey,
frame would wont lay,
You won't shake off
but its not your hand
tis not your command.

Sits in my speech,
words cleave to each
well met stranger
tell them "fuck off
you are not enough".

I'm standing alone,
not kneeling nor prone.
Its life, it is life
in one joy's bequeath,
another's funeral wreath.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


My contribution to the Only a Game Play Specification Symposium.

For the symposium entry, and an explanation on what play specification is, see here. To understand why there is such a thing as play specification, play some low-rating games (maybe an X-men licence), then ask yourself - did the game designer really know what was going on between his game and its players? Or was he just throwing game tropes at the wall and hoping they'd end up a Picasso?

This is probably a controversial entry, from the point of view of being acceptable under the defined genre for entries - shooters. However, I loved this game, and even though it is not strictly shooting, the Constituative rules could be easily fit to a pure shooting game, with an Operative makeover.

Breakout! (who published the original? when? I'll never know, I first played a PC port circa 2000)
Specified by Ben


Move (L/R arrow keys)


Bat (avatar)
Ball (or sphere, polyhedron, polygon, cube, etc depending on your philosophical outlook. I'm a glass half full person (I prefer to ask the more pertinent question - who stole the top half?) so I say its a ball)
Extra Lives
Life Counter


Length (of Bat)
Speed (of Ball)
Consistency (of Blocks)
Effect on Verb (of Power-up)

This is a little hasty in formulation. Possibly copy/paste and cut out the smart comment for clarity :D.
There are fine details that I'd consider important, but couldn't see how to express within this definition structure. Perhaps they just aren't the kind of details this structure deals with. I remember some of the power-ups as being radical enough to alter the whole gameplay, such as the sticky bat, which allowed you to choose when to release the bounce. It was the same bounce, but once you caught the ball you had all the time in the world to position your bat before release. That took all the time pressure off, and when that ball is zipping about at high speed, time pressure is a big gameplay element. But, I suppose the play specification is talking Constituatively, and time pressure is perhaps an Operative consideration (like clocks in chess).

When every game designer is using some kind if formal play specification, its gonna be soooo much easier to implement interesting things with some nice real-time machine learning of player types...but I'll say no more for now ;)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Identity and the Acceleration

Electronic Identity. Its more than just a 128-bit key, RSA encrypted, digital signature. There are growing, even very now, whole worlds of data on the vital statistics, habits, interests, correspondences and dirty secrets of each and every person with digital presence. What do I mean by digital presence? I mean everything that is recorded. Whether the primary source is electronically based or paper and pen, it all gets transcribed and stored in a database somewhere. Census data, loyalty and clubcard data, bank and credit card transactions, phone calls, motorway CCTV recordings, and of course, every key press of every second spent online.
This information repository is vast. It covers many facets of your life, and if collated and analysed, can reveal through statistical heurisitcs very deep and meaningful information about you as a person.

The question is, does anybody care? Nobody is tending the light at the end of the tunnel, nobody is keeping track of us. Not all at once, not in complete detail as outlined above. I hope.

But its getting closer. And those who will be tending the light? I call its name: Google.
Ha ha. No but seriously all those who have gmail - look at the targeted ads, on the top of the inbox. Compose and send a mail (to whomever) about some product, place or item: let's say Finland. Within a few hours, you'll have ads for "Fodor's Travel Wire - Rock Bottom R/T Fares to Finland on Air France! - 4 days ago". Note that's Google sending you a link to 4 day old ad, not Fodor's. Why'd it be 4 days old if Fodor's sent it? They see, they record, they analyse and react. They do all this relatively benignly, but only change the nature of the adverbs and that last sentence could sound a lot more unpleasant.

Now I'm not advocating Luddism. You can't reject the future, even if you can't actually prove that it exists, or talk about it logically (but that's another post).
No, the great thing is to embrace the symptoms of the future, that you will be metamorphosised into a native of the future whether you are active in the process or not. What I'm worried about is that we are being denied access to large portions of our own future identities. Similarly to large corporations trying to trademark individual genes, or even genomes.

Its about the digital signifier population that makes up your electronic identity being accessible to you, controllable by you, and gated by you.
Hmm, I think that sentence warrants another post, with time permitting...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pure Paidea indeed

Calvinball; Isn't it funny how this piece of comic-book comical genius is in fact a perfect synopsis on the work of the real namesake of the secondary eponymous character?
Hobbes' Leviathan concerns the necessity of the social contract to ward against anarchy, the war of all against all. The basic logic is simple enough and can be found explained in modern terms in many places, including game theory. The highest expression of the social contract probably occured in Victorian Britain, an order for and on society that pre-disposes ordinary people to obey the rule of law and the spirit of justice. Even if one is lawful, in today's litigous society there's few enough who believe in justice. But why should they? The idea that the justice system can be played like a harp from hell is well out of the bag, and as for justice in world politics!
It is the lesson of Leviathan that the cassus belli omnium contra omnes is the idea that your neighbour thinks he can attack you without fear of repercussion from some higher power. You therefore have to assume that he will, in which case the only reasonable course of action is pre-emptive strike. But being like you, your neighbour has been thinking the same thing, and will arrive at the same conclusion. Neither of you even have to want to attack the other, just be unrestrained in that option...and then you have M.A.D.

Calvinball. All you know is that your opponent can make any rule, forfeit or contingency for you that she can imagine...and you can do the same to her. All you can expect is pain, strain and embarrasment. What is the point of playing? Its fun!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

WTF is Kosh?

What tremendous fellow is Kosh? I'm KOSH! I have no idea who Kosh is having never watched Babylon 5, but thats me, I took the test, I can't deny my fate. Try it. It's meaningless, probably (psychologically) harmful fun.


A reclusive seer shrouded in riddles, you reveal very little and only what is deemed congruent with your plans.

Understanding is a three edged sword. Your side, their side, and the truth.

Kosh is a character in the Babylon 5 universe. You can read a few tidbits about his race at The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5.