Won't you think of the children?
- The OLPC program is on a roll with its recent ad efforts (don't
they have better things to do? Like, I don't know, not screwing up
distribution?). First, they imply that their hardware will stop
child labor, prostitution, and soldiering. Keep this in mind the
next time that they claim that the project has been misrepresented as a
poverty-fighting panacea. Then they digitally revived John
Lennon to shill for them. Stay classy, Negroponte.
- This a while back from Boing Boing: computer
scientists devise a test to predict programming skill. Basically,
the authors of the paper (which is pretty funny, actually) tested people
on some simple statements of assignment and sequence. They found that
the classes could be divided into three groups: people who applied a
consistent (but completely arbitrary) model to the questions, people who
tried to solve each question based on informal meaning, and people who
refused to answer because the whole thing looked like nonsense. The
first group, unsurprisingly, contains the best programmers.
- Pandagon's Jesse Taylor comments on the Fear of
a Black ISBN--i.e., the fallacy of a section for African-American
literature in bookstores. "If James Patterson can write eight million
terrible bestselling mysteries about a black protagonist, then actual
black people can probably write equally terrible bestsellers about
equally unbelievable black (or even white!) people."
- A friend sent me this report from the WSJ: As if
Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S. Be
sure to scroll down for the map, which splits the country into four
pieces between Canada, China, the EU, and Mexico. I, for one, welcome
our 220-volt standardized overlords.
- If you get the chance to see Danny Boyle's Slumdog
Millionaire, take it. It's intensely structured, filled with a cast
of great actors, and closes with a bang. Really ought to win a ton of
- Obviously, I've gotten sidetracked lately from reading about new
media for social protest into their use for development. One cool
initiative: Mobiles in
Malawi tracks the use of SMS communications for coordinating
community health workers.
- I guess at the end of the year it's customary to make best-of
lists. I don't really have anything for that. I will say that, in
gaming, one of the high points for me was the sound design of
Geometry Wars 2. The original game already used sound really
effectively to warn players about spawning enemies. What the sequel adds
is a fascinating use of filters and processing to deepen the
relationship of the action onscreen to the sound of the game. For
example, in King mode, leaving the safe zones muffles the sounds with a
lowpass filter, and entering them opens it back up--it instantly
reinforces the fact that the player is only secure and fully-powered
inside the zones. The interactive music and time-stretch effects
literally grind to a halt when the player dies in Deadline or Evolved.
These kinds of effects are well-known in more "realistic" games, I
think. But it's really nice to see them used to augment the abstract,
arcade landscape of GW2, and a tribute to the power that good
audio design can have.