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April 27, 2009

Filed under: random»linky

Warmup Links

With my hands now recovering from what was diagnosed as a case of mild extensor tendonitis, I'm hoping to get back into the habit of writing something here every day, in the morning or evening. Let's warm up with a linked list:

  • The AV Club pays tribute to Bea Arthur by posting her roast of Pamela Anderson. It's a pitch-perfect slice of comedy--the whole bit is Arthur simply reading selections from Anderson's "fictional" book with that dry, acid tone of hers.
  • The Boston Globe finds a few yuppies who have given up technology in their lives. "They're not elderly luddites," the paper writes. Indeed: they're not elderly. And remember, it's the Internet that's killing journalism, so presumably these people are quite trustworthy and not creepy at all.
  • Late last week, I started writing a voxel terrain engine in Flash, just as a practice project. So far, getting something to run at a decent framerate and resolution (say, 640x480) has been a challenge. I've been reading a lot of Actionscript optimizations, which are fascinating in a geeky kind of way. As a high-level scripting language that gets compiled to bytecode (and, sometimes, native instructions), some of the speedbumps are suprising.
  • Speaking of terrain engines, if you haven't seen the footage of indie MMO/shooter Love, you really ought to take a look. The UI looks pretty hardcore, but the way that developer Eskil Steenberg has put together a flexible, beautiful framework for user-generated problem solving is very impressive. I particularly like the way that items in the world can be triggered by a "key" over the in-game radio system, so that complex mechanisms can be built out of simple components.
  • In all the fuss (hype?) about Twitter and social change, Evgeny Morozov reminds us to remember the power of radio. I have a soft spot for radio, obviously. This is just one of many great posts that Morozov's been putting up at his Foreign Policy blog.
  • Tim Hwang, founder of ROFLCon, talked to the Berkman Center about Internet memes and their spread early this month. Interesting comments about how open platforms like 4chan have a lot more cultural generativity than closed systems like Facebook. Unfortunately, I feel like it's just really not that simple.
  • Along those lines, Mute Magazine has a piece on Africa and software politics. It makes a few new points: that lack of bandwidth is a serious problem for African open-source, that open-source is (sadly) not a panacea incompatible with state power, and that (similar to the Ishango Bone, which is the oldest known table of prime numbers) perhaps the network society needs a new, Afrocentric genealogy.
  • And for the data visualization nerds reading, the World Bank has opened up its economic indicators and development photos with an external web API. It doesn't look incredibly detailed yet, but I guess it's a start.

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