Big data, 8-bit style

His job was related to big data and data extrapolation. The first two first words simply meant he worked with computers, while the second pair was a bit of clever marketing speak to indicate that he worked with forecasting whilst at the same time clearly not saying he worked with forecasting. Which, in short, meant he got invited to a lot of forecasting events, where everyone talked about different ways of predicting the future, possibly using computers in some way. For those not savvy to the distinction between extrapolation and forecasting, he was indistinguishable from those busy attempting to predict the future

The reason for insisting that he was not, in fact, in the prediction business was that his big data did not work. Trends that had looked the same for decades suddenly changed, while temporary movements became permanent fixtures of the data landscape. This was true only so long you did not apply this analytical heuristic, however; it almost seemed as if looking at the data changed it by means of some unclear causation. Given the data, it made no sense whatsoever, yet there it was. And it was his job to find something useful to do with this tangled mess of all the things. Somehow

Rather than digging in and galaxy braining the data, he had opted for another method of dealing with the pervasive random fluctuations. Whenever he needed to perform some public function relating to his job, he consulted the I Ching. Not because it worked (although it had a better success rate than most of the algorithms in use), but because it too was something depicted as a predictive tool when it explicitly and specifically was not

In his heart of heart, he suspected many of his conference peers and network buddies performed similar extracurricular activities, but that admitting this would demolish the prediction business as we know it

This was the only prediction he made with a statistically significant degree of certainty

Narrative cohesion

It had been a long day of adventuring. A hostage situation in a goblin camp (resolved peacefully, thank the yods), before a long trek to the mine entrance. There, it had taken long, arduous hours to figure out how the ancient mechanical puzzle lock were to be opened, and they had almost given up hope before one of the younger party members accidentally poked the correct lever. Inside the mines, the party had tried and failed to parley with the dwarven authorities, which necessitated the slightly less than lawful act of jailbreaking. Once outside the grand city, a fierce battle with a pack of phase spiders had pushed everyone to the limits of their respective endurances, and thus camp had been made. At camp, the party members discussed plans to evade the search parties that were sure to follow them when the cause of the system-wide prison break was eventually discovered. These deliberations continued long into the depths of night

Early the next morning, the party awoke well rested and ready to face a new day of adventuring and spelunking

The art of gracefully begging to differ

Being the moderator of a feminist facebook community was dramatic. Ironically, it was also very predictable. Something about the combination of drama and predictability spoke to her, like some unsung poem of modernity being scrawled on so many metaphorical walls. It almost took on the quality of a soap opera – everything happened at extreme velocities whilst also somehow standing completely still. At no point did anything change, yet the details of the standstill could enthrall the unwary for years upon end

This is not to say she hadn’t learnt anything from the experience. Far from it. Somehow, she had acquired the force of discursive obviousness that allowed her to instantly disable any troll wanting to stir and/or wreak havoc. Not by means of outright banning the offender (although that is always, in her opinion, an acceptable option), but by simply agreeing with the troll in question. This worked exceptionally well with those who entered into the group with the time-honored introduction “I don’t actually know anything about feminism, but I think my outsider’s perspective might shed some light on matters, if you but let it”. She let it, by responding thusly:

“I’m happy to see that you acknowledge your ignorance, and your further contributions will be read accordingly”

Until this day, only a single person had managed to not dig themselves into a hole after this radical agreement. The inherent irony of disagreeing with oneself seemed to be a radically new concept to many; they begged to differ even as she agreed ever more profusely

This, too, was part of the unseen multivolume, multimodal poem. Perhaps she’d sing it some day. Just to spite modernity

How to do time in an untimely fashion

Trying to capture travelers from the future is an inherently disadvantageous situation. Being from the future, your prospective captives already know the lay of the land and the overall historical forces at work at the present moment; the great uncertainty of what is to come has become the epitome of certainty. While the particulars might elude their grasp, the general overall picture will serve them well enough for the purposes of escaping

However. This foreknowledge can be used against them, especially in cases when they try to blend in. Knowing the future means knowing things that are unthought of and possibly even unthinkable in the present, often to such a degree that the unthinkability has faded into the mists of time. Thus, the way to trap them is to make impossible statements invoking every flight of fancy imaginable, and see how ruffled they become. Those unaccustomed to telecommunication, for instance, will balk at the merest suggestion of it, while those whose lives are permeated by it at every turn will barely blink at the notion

And that is their undoing. That is how we shall get the bastards

On the playing of video games

Of the two words involved in the concept of “video games”, “games” have traditionally received a substantially larger attention than “video”. See, for instance Atkins and Krzywinska (2007), Flanagan (2009), Isbister (2016), Juul (2005), Huizinga (1949), de Koven (2013), Pearce (2009), Schmidt (2018), Taylor (2006) or Wittgenstein (1953). However, the “video” component also requires its theoretical due

A video is a device for encoding and decoding video tapes

 

 

References

Atkins, B., & Krzywinska, T. (ed) (2007). Videogame, player, text. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Flanagan, M. (2009). Critical play: radical game design. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Isbister, K. (2016). How games move us: emotion by design. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Juul, J. (2005). Half-real: video games between real rules and fictional worlds. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Huizinga, J. (1949). Homo ludens: a study of the play-element in culture. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

de Koven, B. (2013). The well-played games: a player’s philosophy. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press

Pearce, C. (2009). Communities of play: emergent cultures in multiplayer games and virtual worlds. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Schmidt, M. (2018). Gotta go fast: measured rationalities and rational measurements in the context of speedrunning. Master Thesis: Örebro University.

Taylor, T. L. (2006). Play between worlds: exploring online game culture. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.

Exodus from the blockchain

Economists were baffled. This was a commodity with no possibility of a market whatsoever. It was simply impossible for a market to exist – at any point in time, simply using it would confer greater value than exchanging it ever would. Trading it would always be a net loss, regardless of time, place or circumstance

This is not to say it was worthless. Far from it. It’s just that its utility is of such magnitude that no monetary boon, favor or extracurricular recompense could compete with simply putting it to immediate use. There were simply never any reason to exchange it, ever, much to the chagrin of those ideologically committed to letting market forces dictate distribution. One can not force a market into being when there are no conditions for it

If only, a noted ideologue lamented, there were some theory that could explain this strange anomaly, in such a way that we could understand its implications

Time pockets

It began as a simple exercise in efficiency. Providing historically active clothing for time travelers turned out to be a costly enterprise, especially given the many varieties of fabrics used over the ages, all treated in different ways so as to suit geography, fashion and socioeconomic status. When seen in the long view, it all seemed a bit much. Thus, the time travel consortiums gradually begun setting up small historically appropriate fashion business all across their respective slices of the time-space continuum. The leading thought being that if you can’t beat them, joining them for a marginal profit is preferable

Naturally, things did not go according to plan. Instead of being marginal footnotes in the history of fashion, obscure yet recognizable garments appropriate across most relevant ages, the enterprises turned out to be economic juggernauts utterly dominating their respective settings. In other circumstances, this might have been a win; in the context of stealthily studying the natural evolution of societies undisturbed over long periods of time, it was anything but

Fortunately, given time travel, it was only a matter of going back to the first time this idea was broached and discourage it. As the saying goes: better luck next timeline

A horoscope of authorial demise

Aries

As you prick yourself with your golden quill pen, you ponder how ironic a cause of death this would be. This was indeed an ironic last thought to have

Taurus

No one will remember your works of fiction. Your fictional works, inserted into bibliographies of grand narratives, will however live on forever

Gemini

As a prolific author penning many avant-garde works, you only ever met with fledgling success at best. That one throwaway idyllic piece about the virtues of simple forest life, however, became an integral part of the national mythos for generations to come

Cancer

You fell asleep under a pile of cats and was never seen again. We envy you

Leo

Your books spawned a bustling empire of fan fiction; however, for reasons unknown, you yourself have been comprehensively banned from participating in said empire

Virgo

At one time during a subway commute, you thought of a great idea for a book. Then someone sneezed, and you forgot all about it

Libra

During generations to come, they might acknowledge wiki entries as authorial works with merit beyond zero-degree writing

Scorpio

No one could muster the energy to cite your works properly, and your ideas were retroactively attributed to Foucault

Sagittarius

You have one new notification

Capricorn

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It is a truth universally acknowledged. But I digress

Aquarius

As the unimaginable horror from Beyond crept ever closer, an inexplicable impulse made you describe the process in extensive detail. It crept closer, closer. Now, it’s grabbing your leg, dragging you towards its gaping maw; as your extremities have all been devoured, you scribble one last final warni

Pisces

In English writing we seldom speak of tradition, though we occasionally apply its name in deploring its absence. We cannot refer to “the tradition” or to “a tradition”; at most, we employ the adjective in saying that the poetry of So-and-so is “traditional” or even “too traditional.” Seldom, perhaps, does the word appear except in a phrase of censure. If otherwise, it is vaguely approbative, with the implication, as to the work approved, of some pleasing archaeological reconstruction. You can hardly make the word agreeable to English ears without this comfortable reference to the reassuring science of archaeology

A list of free podcast names

Symptoms of the algorithm

Fan art of the simulacrum

They said there would be cats

The blank spaces are talking to me

I preordered this podcast and all I got was an RSS feed

The sound of rain falling on rooftops during a non-stressful Sunday morning

When in doubt, ask Kate

This, my friends, is slightly too many spiders

Listeners are discursive anomalies

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but

We like unfinished adventure games, and play them for the lore

After reading the book, we are both more and less impressed than we thought we would be

The good news is, but the bad news has yet to come

Whatever it is, it bears repeating

Support us on patreon and we will get a better microphone

Just you wait until the next episode

For every bird, there is an equal and opposite bird

Your listicle is wrong, and here’s why

History ended in 1878, and we are living in the postapocalypse

I can’t believe the university let us use their studio

Snakes on an icosahedron

The moon landing wasn’t fake, but I question its ethical foundation

How to escape the podcast-industrial complex

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Civilization 4 mod Fall from Heaven 2, but never knew who to ask

The vague specificities of urban everyday life

More longer friend, did you ever actually see that sky?

The sum of all nostalgia

Out of the blue, she was struck by a sense of nostalgia. Emboldened, she threw caution and deadlines to the wind and installed it, the game that had occupied her so many hours back in the days. She double-clicked the install icon, and

It did not start

Remembering this part, she knew she had a CD with fixes to this very problem on it somewhere. The hunt was on. When she found it, she realized that her new computer did not have a CD player. No biggie, she had a spare one of those somewhere too. Which should have just worked after being plugged in, but didn’t, so it had to be troubleshot (for both cables and drivers) for a couple of hours before finally spinning up. But she did, and it did. Thus, finally having installed the game, she double-clicked the desktop icon, and

It did not start

Right, patches. There was one that made the whole thing work post-DOS. After an amazing number of dead links in mausoleums thinly disguised as forums, she finally found the necessary files and applied the update. Thus, finally, several hours in and only just now able to start the game, did she realize

This was the true nostalgic experience all along