This is going to be a hodge-podge of a post; it’s just a bunch of things I’ve run across in recent week that I think are worth sharing. Each one is absolutely worthy of more than a list bullet, but alas, 2010 grows short. Rapid fire, now:
- Back in the old neighborhood (and it’s full of koopas). One Chance is a short, simple game about the end of the world. It’s interesting to play, but what really resonated with me was the use and re-use of the background graphics; they get bleaker and more barren as, uh, the world ends. Of course, video games always do this—and, as in cartoons, the labor-saving trick has now become a wonderful convention of the art. You return to your old village, except now it’s been ravaged by Ganondorf; you make your way back through the game’s first level, except now instead of scrolling left-to-right, fighting your way through robots, you’re scrolling right-to-left, running for your life as a timer ticks down at the top of the screen. I love stuff like that. Games can deliver these great little hits of nostalgia, but nostalgia for what? Something you saw two days ago, or two hours ago, or even (in the case of One Chance) two minutes ago? It’s the history of the world in miniature.
- Illuminated manuscripts. Matthew Battles wrote a great post over at Gearfuse on images and the future of reading. It riffs on Steve Martin’s new book, An Object of Beauty, which, rather than laboriously describe famous paintings, just drops full-color images into the text. I love that, and I love it whenever a story is more than just a string of characters. Bring on the maps, the drawings, the Salvador Dali!
- I Only Know (What I Know Now). James Blake is totally new to me and totally great. Maybe this is exactly what you’d expect a late-2010 listener to say, but I agree with the Flavorwire writer on the other side of that link: Blake sounds unanchored, atemporal—which I intend as high praise.
- Wide-body CPMs. I think really, really big ads are going to be the new thing. And I don’t think that’s a bad new thing! Look, for instance, at the ads over on Pictory. I think I’d rather have a big beautiful image take up my whole screen for a moment than continue to suffer the blinking monkeys in the corner. This is connected to the full bleed thing. Down with fragmented experiences, down with media mosaics. Give me one big, beautiful thing at a time.
- No. The irony of that last exhortation deep in the body of this fragmented blog post is not lost on me.
- I paid a thousand people to read this post. This analysis of spam tasks on Mechanical Turk is depressing. I ran a Mechanical Turk experiment using CrowdFlower not too long ago; the experience was (no exaggeration) thrilling and revelatory. You should try it, just to see the zeitgeist up close and personal. It’s really an amazing system that Amazon has created—and therefore really a shame it’s being bent to such largely lame purposes.
- Magazines about Mars. I meant to post this as a last-minute Christmas gift suggestion. Oops. Megan Prelinger’s book Another Science Fiction is another thrilling revelation: a well-narrated collection of industry ads gleaned from the heyday of the space race. Some are goofy; some are histrionic; and some are (quite unexpectedly) gorgeous, like this one:
That’s it. I’m gonna go watch a Western now.