there are 4 posts from December 2006

December 29, 2006

play money

Just finished Julian Dibbell’s Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot.  I loved how Dibbell takes you along for the ride from player to “player;” chapter by chapter you’re ever more engrossed in the micro-economics of what he’s up to.  And by the end you’re thinking to yourself  “yeah, there’s potentially real economic value here, there’s real work being done, there’s even cheap, outsourced Chinese labor producing goods in these worlds and heck, ever since we ditched the gold standard the greenback’s just as much a collective hallucination as Britannia gold.” And then Dibbell brilliantly leaves it to an IRS agent (of all people), to pull the magic carpet out from under you and send you crashing back down to reality:

“And as soon as it starts holding value, you’re gonna wish it didn’t, you know what I mean? Because how are they going to keep track of it? The game company’ll have to start sending out 1099s for every time somebody gets a gab of grapes or a gold coin or a shiny emerald – the game companies are going to say we don’t want to do this anymore, because we’re not making that kind of money.  And your online subscription’s going to triple. Just to keep the paperwork. You’ll see the game collapse the moment they start putting value on that.”

Not to ruin the ending for you or anything.

December 12, 2006

we'd follow her anywhere

A Diet Coke, a cigarette, an arched eyebrow, a bit of gossip, a good helping of advice, an inside joke, a copy of the record you have to hear, a pointer to the artist you have to know about, an introduction to the person you must meet, a story you just can’t believe.

Leslie Harpold made everyone who knew her better. And we’re all in her debt.

December 11, 2006

jeff hawkins and love

I picked up  The Beatles Love over the weekend, and on each listen it literally surprises me.  Leaving aside for a moment whether this is a “good” or “bad” thing, the record is an object lesson in Jeff Hawkins’ memory-prediction framework as outlined in On Intelligence.  Your brain, wired for years to expect one thing, gets something else entirely, triggering the “whoa” response.

It’s impossible to listen to the record as “background music” while trying to perform other tasks, because your brain keeps interrupting you with “you need to pay attention to this thing over here.” While remixes aren’t anything new, the deep grooves the original tracks have worn inside any Beatles fan’s head makes listening to Love a very different experience.

December 01, 2006

it's now officially christmastime

Where I grew up, Christmas season didn’t start the day after Halloween, nor did it start the day after Thanksgiving. It started on December 1st - the day the Advent Calendar went up on the wall, and we could start counting down the days by peeling back a little bit of cardboard every morning.

Today the unstoppable Leslie Harpold kicks off Advent Calendar 2006, where each day from now until the 25th you get “a Christmas memory, a holiday link and something special.”  Mind you, this is no auto-posted template-driven affair; each day’s entry is a lovingly hand-crafted and custom-designed thing of beauty. Want proof? This is the Leslie’s sixth year of online Advent Calendars; after you’ve peeled back today’s, revisit December 1sts from 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001.