best when viewed in low light


Altepehua Atlas

Possibly a repeat post, I was cleaning out my dropbox today and rediscovered this incredible project by the talented (and no doubt, gainfully employed former USC student) Diana Hughes.

It's the Altepehua Atlas, and it's fascinating. From the first time I saw it, I've wanted to use it as the source for a game design.

Since I'm too lame to figure out how to embed a PDF (and you can no longer download this amazing thing from Diana's USC website), I've turned it into a series of jpgs...



The future of school

Becoming a parent has changed everything for me. It's not that I didn't hold the same set of values and beliefs before, it's that enacting them has become intensely, critically important now that my daughter has to grow up in this world.

The bane of my existence for the first...well, for my life so far...has been education. Or, rather, school.

School sucks. Everything about it is frustrating, enraging, confusing, archaic, and counterintuitive. I've felt that way since my first day in school, and I still feel that way today.

I've said for many years that I want to start a school - a place where I could dispose of all the systems, incentives, and relationship dynamics that resulted in my hating school with a stultifying passion. The problem, after all, is not the idea of a school. The idea of a school is wonderful, exciting, inspiring! It's the current construction of school that is so disappointing. And that can be changed.

Thanks to another seed of inspiration from my mom (via this link, plainly embedded in an email titled "Have you considered Framingham MA?"), this issue now occupies the majority of my attention...

Some day Artemis will have to go to school.
Do we attempt to support her and assuage the inevitable feelings of frustration, confusion and humiliation as she adapts to the NYC public school system?
Do we sacrifice our financial future to fund a private school education that is questionably more effective and demanding?
Do we leave Brooklyn?
Do we homeschool?
Do we search out a school that embodies a different philosophy, here or elsewhere?
Do we realize our fantasy of building a school that reaches out to the whole person? And when, when do we do that?

The way I see it, the clock is ticking. At the best, we could delay her entrance into school until she's 6...forever if we commit to homeschooling, but the requirements for that in NYC are already ridiculous. They presume compliance with the evil corporation that is "Common Core" requirements. There are standardized tests and worksheets involved... And can we afford it?

What I know for certain is that I can't set this aside and just accept what's handed out, or gulp down my aversion and join the rat race that is charter school admissions in Brooklyn... I don't want to be one of those parents that's harping and harassing the "good schools", because parental involvement in school is worse than neglect - that lack of trust communicated to your kid and to the teachers and staff? No. Hell no.

Becoming a parent makes me want to be an activist... Don't mow your lawn, let the wilderness grow! Everybody bike! Turn off your lights! Buy reusable containers! Buy organic! Grow your own! Build your own! Design better! Play outside! Dance ugly! Sing your own songs! Form cooperatives!

Ada's Apotheosis

From one of the Ada Lovelace profiles...

"Her life was an apotheosis of struggle between emotion and reason, subjectivism and objectivism, poetics and mathematics, ill health and bursts of energy."


I challenge this characterization. Life exists in the tension between emotion and reason, subjectivism and objectivism, poetics and mathematics, ill health and bursts of energy! To believe otherwise is to buy into a narrative that forbids contradictions. That only exists in myth.

And even more...what a wonderful way to see the world! Full of logic, confounded by chaos.

Being able to see that the creation of systems is a human created, arbitrary activity that can encompass literally anything that can be assigned a rational value...perhaps that awareness arises from the acknowledgement of this life tension. It certainly requires a mind that accepts disconnections and contradictions without refuting them.

Ada came into the conversation when Suheir and I were discussing the potential for a poetry game - What would that be? What would it look like? And since the real act of poetry is a surgical truth-telling, and that's awfully hard to set up as a game, could you instead create a database (perhaps crowd-sourced) of values assigned to words that would generate "points" when combined? Would order and grammar and specificity matter, or would abstract or random orderings have the same interpretive value?



Ada is the start of all things

I almost wish I'd named our daughter Ada...but Artemis suits her perfectly.

I always do what my friend Suheir says, because when she says something that sticks in my mind, she's always right. She's the queen of the ear-worm.

I was at the Different Games Conference this weekend, and though I loved and laughed at Leigh Alexander's keynote, and was totally curious and engaged by the panel on Sex Games, I still feel like there's something missing from the conversation of games.

Because everything is a game! And where is the discussion of how our systems and incentives are set up to make choices for us? Or force choices that don't let us move outside of those systems? Or question those incentives?

Suheir suggested that I look up Ada Lovelace - whom I of course heard of, but don't know much about - and it turns out that it's really hard to find anything out about her. I guess that shouldn't be too much of a surprise, since she's a woman and she lived before the 21st century...

I'll have to extend the search into primary sources and whatnot, but here's what a quick google search came up with:

Ada and the Babbage Engine, from the Computer History Museum

Ada's Bio, from Yale's Computer Science Dept home page

Analyst, Metaphysician and Founder of Scientific Computing (this one has some helpful sources that I'll be looking into)

Hilariously short profile from the site for Ada Lovelace Day (?)

Of course, Wikipedia, which has the most comprehensive collection of information

More digging to be done...

In the past...