From M. John Harrison:
A Happy Christmas to everyone else, the best possible Christmas to the fucked up and the nearly done, all the deadbeats and ne’er-do-wells, the metaphysicians, atheists and losers, all the so-called scroungers, all those not in receipt of a Royal pardon, all the thoughtful, intelligent and above all decent people who believe there is such a thing as a society, the readers and the writers, students and philosophers, and — especially — a big shout out to the 32,000 people in the UK who didn’t receive their benefits on Christmas Eve due to “administrative error”.
Over here, we have Calexico’s Green Grows the Holly on repeat. Merry Christmas!
Finally, an online advice column where all of your questions about life are answered by one of five cartoon columnists. I’m not a heavy tumblr user, but this is probably the best use of tumblr’s “Ask” Box I’ve seen.
Because, really, no one could answer a question about daydreaming better than Mulbert the cartoon moose. Fantasies are fascinating creatures, aren’t they?
This short post is about starting areas in MMOs. When you create a new character in, say, World of Warcraft, where do you begin? How much of the world is available to you, and how soon?
Here’s the author Keen’s ideal starting situation — one that apparently goes against the grain of modern MMO design:
Players start hours apart, and in areas of the world so different from each other that the social mechanisms are different. I remember seeing people say, “We do things differently in this part of the world.” Someone hunting in Crushbone might be used to players behaving differently than those in Blackburrow. Even the experiences are totally unique; players on one side of the world might have a dungeon crawl deep into the depths of a vast cavern network, and players on the other side fight camps of orcs in a forest. The unique experience matters because people can swap stories.
Because people can swap stories! That’s so great, and so important. I don’t know exactly how this applies to domains beyond MMOs, but I’m quite sure that it does.
In two weeks of blood and fire, one of the greatest intellectual and cultural legacies the world had ever seen came to an end. Crushed under the hooves of a mighty foe (in one case literally), a dynasty, an empire, a city, and a library all disappeared. It was perhaps the swiftest and most complete collapse of a civilization ever, still felt to this day. Now, how about for some context?
What an opening, right? That was the opening salvo of a Metafilter post 3 days ago. It feels like a sea creature from the deep – defiantly, resolutely Old-World-Internet, ignoring many of the unspoken rules that posts today follow. Large, well-spaced paragraphs? Nope. A gentle introduction, for those completely new to the subject? If you’re interested, you’ll figure it out. Careful sprinkling of links? Here’s a wall of them.
This is the web on hard mode. Tread slowly, watch your step, and pace yourself – it’s going to take you days, if not weeks, to get through all the gems. (Here’s some of the highlights.)
In a months-ago message to my email list, I shared a handful recommendations for other lists; one of them was Craig Mod’s Roden Explorers Club. It has about the same pace as mine — it might even be slower — so there haven’t been any dispatches since that recommendation… or there hadn’t, until today. And now, I feel like I want to send a one-word message to my list: SEE??
It’s just a wonderful piece of writing to find waiting in your inbox. I wish I could link to it, and at the same time, I’m glad I can’t. Email has different physics, and accordingly, our relationship to it is different — less performative, I think. (Present post is obviously an exception.) I know some people are professing email newsletter fatigue these days, but I think that’s driven by the weekly blast format, the oh-great-one-more-thing-to-read format. But many lists have a pace more seasonal, possibly celestial, and for me, their pleasures are comparable: a voice reappearing like a bird, blooming like a tree.
But you gotta be around to see them bloom.
P.S. Don’t forget, my list is a beautiful seasonal organism, too!
Oh yes. Of course.
Link via Waxy, just like the good ol’ days!
This could hardly be better: simple evidence of brains at work, and muscles too; tiny collections assembled and abandoned. A photographer haunts a university library; he spots and captures stacks of books.
The photographer writes of his first encounter with a noteworthy stack:
However, by dint of the peculiar juxtaposition, it seemed as though I happened upon the mineral tailings and spent fissile materials of a speculative research project born a few hours prior.
It’s totally enjoyable to click through the images, remembering that each one represents a real person’s migration through physical space; I think the wacky juxtapositions are therefore interesting — and occasionally melancholy? — in a way that, say, browser histories are not.
I only wish you could link to individual images!
Via Alexis Madrigal’s 5 Intriguing Things.
This 3D-printed “room” — really more of an architectural sculpture, as you’ll see — was designed by Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger. They call it a (the?) Digital Grotesque, and in its totality, it’s pretty astounding –
– but it was the close-ups, in the video, of the object’s various twisting crenelated modules that made my jaw drop. Beautiful.