"All right action flows from the breath"
- Hajakujo

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It's a pity that my head is mine alone, or rather that the confluence of concepts and metaphors that occasionally arises when I get on a good streak of discovery cannot be shared, in such a way as to lend context to something that arrives CRASH and crystallises amorphous forms.

Here is a quote that does it nicely:

"This website considers the apparent one-to-one correspondences found between the characteristics resulting from simple dichotomous development and some of the modern models of reality, leading us to the probability that we have adapted to the, at least 'local', spacetime continuum by internalising at least one of it's characteristics - dichotomisation. And so the tendancy by some to see 'mind' in the formation of the universe, or to find 'truth' in esoteric maps is based solely on dichotomous analysis, and results from the projection of the proposed template out into the universe; the models of reality are based on metaphors which are models of our selves."

Whether we call it god, or science, or something else, we are looking at ourselves.


Sunday, November 14, 2010


Words, far from being too definite, are rather too indefinite - language is a by-product of our evolution of an extremely powerful capability to model the world, and thus manipulate it. Thus it is NOT a tool for communication - if anything, language is a hindrance to communication when it comes to concepts which we can know intuitively such as emotion. Only when we communicate abstract concepts, fixed, distant and eternal, are we really at an advantage using language. Even then, we must go to so much trouble to fix our definitions for mutual understanding, that a conversation without such fixing can be worse than useless. It isn't just that you don't know the terms from my field, but that the terms I use work from other metaphors. My perspective on the world, my model of it, is not yours and you can only communicate with me to advantage if you build a ground truth from the same metaphors. If this seems too rigid, if it seems that in your life you manage to communicate about your ideas quite well, remember that you live in a world where homogeneity of thought has been increasing for milennia. Try to imagine communicating your most sophisticated ideas to a Guarani indian. Or even just a randomly selected immigrant of different educational background.

Of course all this doesn't include so-called 'peripheral' forms of communication when using language, such as intonation, prosody and body language. These are actually deeper, closer to our true meaning (unless we dissemble). However pure prose, dissociated words, are fixed meaningless symbols manipulated to address real meanings.

Probably music is closer to an expression of our 'felt' reality than words.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Internet Life

Tuesday, July 13, 2010



Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Israel's crimes

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Serious Games

Serious games, eh? There´s always a place for serious games. If we could just persuade everyone in the world to turn all activities into a serious game, everything would become a garden of halcyonic fucking delights.



Saturday, April 10, 2010

Buy Your Rebellion Here!

This isn't actually a social politics post (thank jebus), but the title is just a reference to what is so commonly assciated with rock music, which is what I really want to talk about.

Commoditisation of rock music could very nearly have killed the genre. That's a bold claim, but I think the way that punk washed overthe relevance of rock like a wave in the late 70s shows the point. Rock simply got too big, too commercial, too irrelevant. Metal had barely gotten off the ground before hitting the same doldrums. They both revived in the 80s, morphed a little (rock a lot more than metal, witness grunge), and that was in no small part thanks to punk and the inspiration that musicians got from seeing the energy created in Manchester and New York.

Further declines (does this follows a decadal pattern?) were answered with the internet. By now we are in a strange new place where new business models are the only hope of the dinosaur record companies who seem largely not to recognise that fact, and bands are doing all sorts of things now that money's too tight to mention.

So thats the history, and we all know where we are - so going back to my original point. Commoditisaton of rock (and all music to a lesser degree). Why is it a bad thing to create a product out of a band? Because, I argue, music is fundamentally a service...a good time, where the source is objectively less important than the experience. I don't say musicians shouldn't be well rewarded, but to create a monolithic branded entity, who is the only one who can give you your high, is pretty much the same as having only one dealer in town. Invitation to a monopoly, abuse of power and fixing the system to fleece the consumer - all the fun capitalist tricks that the music industry indulged in until thepiratebay changed the rules.

Its the fault of the Beatles really. Apple products (not the computers), branding films and merchandise...compared to them the Zep look quite tame. "Selling bootleg posters while the band are on stage"...nobody fucked with Peter Grant :)

Music is music. Musicians interpret it, and serve it to you as the skilled chef serves a meal. Celebrity chefs are only worthwhile when they're telling other chefs that they're 'fucking crap' on TV. Classical music has stars, but their power is not open to abuse because the real star is the music. People idolise Beethoven, but a) he's long dead, and b) it is really his music that is loved. So anyone can play it, and it sounds great, but there's no sense that you have to break up the band now that the composer is dead. More importantly, its not necessary to try to create another brand named Boothoven, selling its weak facsimile copy CDs for massive markups because the consumer wants so badly to not be able to believe it's not butter.


Monday, April 05, 2010

Serious Games blog

 Don't forget to keep checking out the SAVE ENERGY serious game blog, detailing (intermittently, like all my blogs), the development of the Green My Place game.
It would be nice if I could reply to your comments too, but right now the word press admins for the projects haven't even added a simple spam filter plugin to the blog, so its overwhelmed with ci@lis etc.
But I'll be happy if people simply know about the game.

All the best!

Feeds: http://serious-games.community.ict4saveenergy.eu/feed/


Funny Pages

 Here´s an idea for the day - why doesn't somebody create a website that aggregates all webcomics, using a folksonomy model in a social network way. The site links to the comics that people tell it about, and provides systems for people to rate the ones they like, comment and share. But what is most important, it gives the user some sliders to control content they see - like the slider for ratings, so you only catch the comics that are funniest. Even Cyanide and Happiness has crap days. Why waste my time? Just tune it out!
Then, a recommender system can act on top of that to start matching  your ratings with other people´s ratings to know what you like, so it can favour the rated comics from people who are like you. And people can recomment each others ratings, and recommend each other´s recommendations...

And then, why not use the same system to create non-funny pages? Go to the online newspapers and reproduce the best articles, topically arranged and rated by the community.

Seems pretty easy, so I'll give this one away - just an original idea credit please.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Memory is a funny thing. Is it an evolved trait that we have imperfect memory? If all our memories are retained at some deep level, and the machinery exists to recall it, why is it that the system works so poorly?
Perhaps it is evolutionary - natural selection does not favour introspection. The introspective aren't active enough, wallowing in the ghosts of their past. Did the first bipedal hairless apes feel nostalgia or melancholy? Do we only retain that because it is too neutral and adaptation to effect our survival? Perhaps memory has levelled off at the tradeoff point between the quality of our learning and the distraction of our internal lives. We know no more than we do because individuals that remember too much find it a disadvantage, and procreate less readily than those who just do.

Or is this all hokum? Evolutionary psychology, a lovely game for wasting the hours when you can't remember enough to waste them in the past.


Sunday, January 10, 2010


Greetings, blog lovers!

Well its been a long time since I blogged regularly here, practically a year - and so it is fitting to kick-off again at the dawn of not just a new year, but a new decade.
Although there was an abortive attempt at a restart last summer, it ended rapidly as the final leg of the PhD reared its ugly head: preparing and sitting the defence, followed by minor corrections made extensive by my own perfectionism. That sounds odd saying it, since I'd far from claim the thesis to have been perfect, even in its own small domain. The other words I tried simply fit less well :)

So where are we?
The new year should herald a good deal of closure as I wrap up the writing from my PhD - after Pacman conf. paper III must come journals 2, 3, 4, etc! Yet there are more opportunities for investigation there in the original data and methods, so that could open new lines of work (all extra-curricular, that is, outside working time :).
The personal projects also include running a Helsinki site for the Global Game Jam, which I proposed last October (or August?) in work. A few hardy souls ventured to row in with me and it looks like it's going to pay off. We've teamed up with two other loactions, Tampere and Kajaani, and possibly also a site in Turku still to be confirmed, to create the subset jam: Finnish Game Jam! Last year there were no jam sites in Finland (ironically since the whole concept started off as the Nordic Game Jam in Copenhagen, practically on our doorstep). Anyway, keep track of us on the site and through our twitter HelsinkiGameJam.

Meanwhile, the work projects opened last year, TARGET and SAVE ENERGY, will complete first phase by March & June, so phase shift will mean a new (hopefully more contemplative, less stressful) mode of working.
Right now I'm running a pretty large data gathering phase for my 'psycho-physiological correlates of learning in serious games' experiment (Raph Koster notwithstanding, it's a topic still needs some work).
On the SAVE ENERGY serious game, development is about to hit a new phase, as we commit to implementation of a complete visual/conceptual design for the meta-game, what we are now gonna call 'Green My Place', and begin the work of iterating our mini-games to beta. I did manage some blogging relating to the game, on the project's weblog, in the last few months. That was another reason not to ressurect this blog earlier. The final one had something to do with letting my old domain name lapse, so zenben.net was poached by some Californican cowboys and is gone from the world of (semi-)respectability forever...

Outside the head-space, I really want to get my nidan grade in karate sometime after August. That pretty much means training somewhere between 5 times a week and every day.

That's my diary for today, more cogent thoughts of interest-worthy content to follow!
I may do a cross-posting thing between this blog and the Green My Place blog, make myself seem a little busier that way :)
Eyes peeled!