Interactive Fiction: ink & inklewriter, et al.

“* inklewriter is an easy-to-use online tool to write basic interactive stories.

* ink by comparison is a more powerful narrative scripting language that is primarily designed for professional game development, though it can also be used to write and share choice-based interactive fiction. It is also surprisingly easy to learn, though for ease of use it’s hard to beat inklewriter!

https://www.inklestudios.com/ink/

h/t to Interconnected and the post “Filtered for some text-based virtual realities.” I could have easily made posts for

The whole post is gold for anyone interested in what’s going on and the tools in current use with the interactive fiction community. My knowledge of the tools stopped at Inform 7.

How to Destroy the Earth

“This is not a guide for wusses whose aim is merely to wipe out humanity. I can in no way guarantee the complete extinction of the human race via any of these methods, real or imaginary. Humanity is wily and resourceful, and many of the methods outlined below will take many years to even become available, let alone implement, by which time mankind may well have spread to other planets; indeed, other star systems. If total human genocide is your ultimate goal, you are reading the wrong document. There are far more efficient ways of doing this, many which are available and feasible RIGHT NOW. Nor is this a guide for those wanting to annihilate everything from single-celled life upwards, render Earth uninhabitable or simply conquer it. These are trivial goals in comparison.

This is a guide for those who do not want the Earth to be there anymore.”

qntm, “How to destroy the Earth.” qntm.org. April 4, 2003.

For the record, I’m favoring: “A variation on [the cooked in a solar oven method involving] turning the Sun into a gigantic hydrogen gas laser.” Of course, swallowed up by the Sun as it becomes a red giant seems to be a certainty, if you are prepared to wait 5 billion years. I think I’m going to wait, everyone.

Weekly Review

“Every Friday afternoon, I’d send my boss a short email with three categories:

* The work I had completed that week

* What I was working on, including any deadlines that may have shifted or obstacles I’d encountered

* What I was waiting on—that is, tasks that I’d completed, but require sign-off from my boss or contributions from someone else

Over the years, I refined the practice. I used a timer to ensure that the weekly update would not take longer than 15 minutes to write. I used a simple template where I could pop in information, so as to expedite the process.

-Khe Hy, “The 15-minute weekly habit that eased my work anxiety and made my boss trust me more.Quartz. April 20, 2017.

Not just a good idea for your boss either. I used to find using a template for a weekly review helpful to hold myself accountable as well.

Older Skaters

“So, you started skating again (or want to) after a long break? Awesome! First, and foremost, welcome back! This is a great time to get back into skateboarding. Our golden age is happening now. There are parks and DIY builds everywhere, any type of equipment you might want is available (not true in the past), and there are plenty of ways to get connected with other (older) skaters. Moreover, if you stick with it, you will have more fun skateboarding now than you ever did before. I promise you that. However, before you get totally up and running again, there are a few speed bumps along the way that we need to address.”

-sedition, ” Welcome Back: Starting-Up Again After a Long Break..” Concrete Existence. November 26, 2019.

I live within a block of a skate park, one with a pool, half-pipe and is always packed. I’ll admit I’d like to get out there and try it. I’ll also admit that I read recent posts from this blog like, “Ankle Update, Feb 2021,” and think the risk of skateboard injuries in your middle-age sounds a lot less fun.

A New Samizdat

“What if now were the time for a new self-publishing here at home — a new samizdat? The time to create a new, parallel communications network and a fresh system for information sharing? A parallel network and a fresh system owned not by commercial interests — so Twitter, Facebook, Medium, and other seemingly “self-publishing” platforms can’t factor in here — nor by the state or the government, but by the very people who create and maintain them, part of a widening nonprofit, non-commercial ecosystem. Václav Havel spoke of the battle of first and second cultures as an epic contest between “an anonymous, soulless, immobilizing (‘entropic’) power,” on the one hand, and “life, humanity, being, and its mystery,” on the other. [5] Fellow dissidents spoke of samizdat’s second culture as “the only meaningful construction” people could create if they did not want “to remain passive appendices of the political and social structures created by the ruling power.” [6] They signaled each other as they wrote, distributed, and published — from the smallest codes, of the kinds that the Encyclopédistes used, to the largest and, also like the Encyclopédie, most earth-shattering. [7] Solzhenitsyn spoke of the mystical wisdom of a process in which information that is urgent somehow rises to the top. Samizdat, Solzhenitsyn wrote, “knows what is what.” [8]

-Peter B. Kaufman, “Freethinkers Versus the Monsterverse: An Excerpt from ‘The New Enlightenment.'” Los Angeles Review of Books. February 23, 2021

This is one of the motivations behind my use of a blog and stripping out advertising. But, this points to a much fuller conception. Should I be making ‘zines, podcasts, create a video channel? It all sounds very exhausting. But, at minimum, I’m not going to spend my time helping the feudal Internet hit their revenue targets with what passes as my commentary.

Crystal Nights by Greg Egan

“The Phites who’d invented the boost had had one big advantage as they’d tinkered with each other’s brains: it had not been a purely theoretical exercise for them. They hadn’t gazed at anatomical diagrams and then reasoned their way to a better design. They had experienced the effects of thousands of small experimental changes, and the results had shaped their intuition for the process. Very little of that intuition had been spoken aloud, let alone written down and formalised. And the process of decoding those insights from a purely structural view of their brains was every bit as difficult as decoding the language itself.”

—Greg Egan, “Crystal Nights.”

Struck me as an interesting example of how lived experience cannot be reduced to language and abstraction.

Experience Japan Pictograms

Experience Japan Pictograms are a novel set of visual symbols developed by creative director Daigo Daikoku for people of all cultures and ages to enhance their tourism experience in Japan. And whether you run a restaurant, are building an app or putting together a guidebook, the pictograms are free and available to download for any use, even commercial. You can even change the color as you wish.”

Over 250 Pictograms Depicting Japanese Culture, Released to the Public for Free Use.” Spoon & Tamago. February 19, 2021.

Just to show you options beyond changing colors, it is possible to combine different elements from Experience Japan Pictograms in Illustrator or Inkscape (free). Above, I created a site header for cafebedouin.org combining the dunes of L_TOTTIORI-SATYU.svg with a camel I traced from an image in Illustrator, and then combined the camel with the coffee icon in F_KISSATKEN.svg. Fairly easy to do. Of course, I’m not a big fan of unnecessary images on my site. However, the camel coffee cup might be a good logo of sorts. Anyway, I could see quite a few possibilities for using these pictograms in headers for a site, promotional materials or what have you.

What Networks Whisper

“In the words of Paul Graham, “every city whispers something.” So when you choose to live in a city, you’re also choosing what kind of whispers you want to hear. Even if they’re subliminal, the whispers of cities are so influential that innovation has historically been clustered in small pockets. The cities we inhabit strongly influence our odds of success. As Paul Graham wrote: “How much does it matter what message a city sends? Empirically, the answer seems to be: a lot… Most people who did great things were clumped together in a few places where that sort of thing was done at the time.”

Now, the same thing is happening on social networks: each one whispers something. Twitter tells you to be witty, Reddit tells you to be clever, Facebook tells you to share your everyday life, Instagram tells you to be glamorous, and TikTok tells you to be entertaining. 

Social networks are cities for the digital world.”

-David Perell, “What Networks Whisper.davidperell.com. February 2021

Proust Lu

“From Bali to Paris, the readers in Véronique Aubouy’s huge project, ‘Proust Lu’ (‘Proust Read’), have been captured in bedrooms, offices, supermarkets, factories and beauty spots. Farmers, schoolchildren, businessmen, even the French director’s doctor have participated. ‘It’s a slice of life,’ Ms Aubouy says; ‘a reading about time, in time.’ The cast is as diverse as the novel’s, brought together by their own web of connections and coincidences.”

—”A tag-team reading of ‘In Search of Lost Time’.The Economist. February 6, 2021.

I love this idea. I’ve picked up the first volume of Proust’s book, and I didn’t like it. I stopped maybe 50 pages in. But, I can imagine tackling the novel in this way. It’s ~4,000 pages long. If you wanted to read it in a year, you’d need to read 11 pages a day. It’s doable, but it seems like a tough slog.

But, 2 pages a day over the course of 6 years, assuming you missed a couple of hundred days and added a page or two here and there? That seems to be exactly the kind of reading this book calls for.

Also, some of the readings from Proust Lu are on YouTube, in French, bien sûr.