On writing, blogging, design, fake Twitter accounts, spoilers, and death on Facebook #dyr

research verifies that taking notes makes writing easier­—as long as you don't look at them while you are writing the draft! Doing so causes a writer to jump into reviewing/evaluating mode instead of getting on with the business of getting words on the screen.


I have come up with a conceptual framework that explains what I believe to be the core elements--and the essential worth--of a blogging initiative, either within a course or across an entire program. I've built the framework out of three imperatives: "Narrate, Curate, Share." I believe these three imperatives underlie some of the most important aspects of an educated citizen's contributions to the human record. And in my experience, blogging offers a uniquely powerful way of becoming a self-aware learner in the process of making those contributions.


Breakthroughs in all fields—science and engineering, literature and art, music and history, law and medicine—all come about when people find fresh insights, new points of view and propagate them. There is no shortage of creative people in this world, people with great ideas that defy conventional wisdom. These people do not need to claim they have special modes of thinking, they just do what comes naturally to them: break the rules, go outside the existing paradigms, and think afresh. Yes, designers can be creative, but the point is that they are hardly unique.


One of my indulgences, however, is reading well-crafted tweets from satirical Tweeters who've taken on the persona of someone else. To do it right is like being a method actor: You have to get inside the head of a famous person but with a twist; the post has to be funny and insightful. It isn't easy and Twitter is littered with failures.


Subjects liked the literary, evocative stories least overall, but still preferred the spoiled versions over the unspoiled ones.

Why? The answers go beyond the scope of the study, but one possibility is perhaps the simplest one: that plot is overrated.


Nobody is resting in peace anymore. The suicide, the aneurysm, the overdose. Distilled into how they died because their [Facebook] pages are a persistent reminder they are dead, not of how they made me feel alive. I’d like to believe a legacy is in memories made, not the unintended irony of a last status update.


"Open worlds are so popular now, but only a few developers know how to make them truly work." #wymhm

Non-player characters are very important when creating this kind of world. BioWare can get away with having everyone stand around forever, but in an open world, the people must be moving and acting. It’s surprising how many games fail at this. Assassin’s Creed, The Saboteur, and Red Faction: Guerilla are all high-profile open worlds filled with people that do nothing but wander aimlessly. They feel like artificial obstacles in our path. Rockstar is great at creating emergent moments of NPC interaction, moments that occur regardless of our presence. From the spontaneous gang wars in GTA to another gang dragging some poor sap through a town in Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar uses these NPC interactions to make their worlds feel persistent.

I look for opportunities in games to forget my responsibilities to missions and NPCs. Accelerating along the San Fierro Highway with the radio blaring was one of the most memorable experiences for me in San Andreas. Wandering the Capital Wasteland was often more engaging than searching for Liam Neeson. Riding the rails in Empire City was a consistent exhilaration. For some reason, knowing I was the lone non-NPC in the gameworld was a comforting freedom, too.

"“I write games for old machines for the sheer fun and sense of freedom it gives me" #wymhm

One of the main motivations is being able to concentrate on gameplay. The programmers understand the age-old languages well. “I write games for the Commodore 64 because it's very simple and quick to learn,” admits a coder who calls himself, rather ironically, Richard of The New Dimension. “It also shows support for the retro gamers who still love this retro machine today.”

The guys who code retro games (they're invariably all men) also know the technology inside and out and it allows them to push the boundaries of what the machines can do.

“People are pushing the hardware to do things they never did back in the 80s and 90s,” says Jason Mackenzie, owner of retro label Psytronik. He explains that people are not just interested in creating the very best games and says some also want to hack the hardware too. A new graphics mode for the Commodore 64 has been created called NUFLI. It displays high resolution, full colour, bitmap images on a standard machine.

I admire and appreciate this kind of nostalgia much more than what Nintendo churns out on a regular basis.