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Welcome to Dataland

Design fiction at the most magical place on Earth

I am in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and I am standing in line. My family is awaiting entrance to Be Our Guest, a Beauty and the Beast-themed quick-service restaurant nestled into the recently-revamped Fantasyland. It’s late spring in central Florida, and it’s hot. A Disney “cast member” wheels out a cart with drinking water and disposable cups, and each family… read more

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What Do We Save When We Save the Internet?

We cannot champion Network Neutrality without admitting that the Internet is no Utopia.

Think about regret as if it were sin. Some regrets are mild, but acute. The regret associated with choosing the wrong supermarket checkout lane, or buying an outfit that you notice goes on sale the next week—these seem woeful. They chafe, but their pains are pin pricks that soon subside. These are venial regrets. Regret is more severe when it steeps… read more

Review of Bone’s Restaurant

By my nine year-old

It’s been a while since my daughter has offered her opinion in writing on matters of contemporary culture. No doubt you remember her reviews of TRON: Legacy, recording artist Madeline’s album White Flag, and Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams. And if you do, you may have noticed a pattern of, well, mild contempt. Thus I am happy to publish… read more

Frequent Flight

An essay on flying

I will fly more than 200,000 miles this year. It routinizes, like an extended commute. The suburbanite knows every moment of the drive: on-ramp, lane-change, morning-show, cup-holder. I’m like that, but on a global vector: freeway, parking lot, door S-3, South security checkpoint, wallet, shoes, laptop, zip-lock, escalator, train, SkyClub, jetway, seat, jacket, bourbon, nap, tarmac, sky, sky, sky. We… read more

Diskinect in the Living Room

Why physical movement games are incompatible with our homes

The Microsoft Kinect is available today, and with it come innumerable reviews of its successes and flaws (find a summary of them at Gamasutra). A common property of many negative reviews is the enormous amount of living room space Kinect requires, far more than most people will have in a sizable home let alone a modest apartment. I wrote about… read more

Top 10 Ways Bartenders Screw Up My Old Fashioneds

Plus, how to make one properly.

The Old Fashioned is one of a few common cocktails for me, both when I’m at home and when I’m out. However, when ordering one at a bar, the likelihood of something going mildly to terribly wrong is disturbingly high. That in mind, I present the Top 10 Ways Bartenders Screw Up My Old Fashioneds, followed by instructions for how… read more

The Mereology of Cola

On generic names for carbonated soft drinks

Harman links to this lovely map infographic of generic names for soft drinks in the United States (click below for a bigger version). It’s been around for a while but is worth revisiting in light of a few points Graham makes in his post. First, Graham wonders what comprises the green “other” category in these maps, which is far more… read more

Things I Did Instead of Blogging

The miscellany of autumn

I’ve been a bit of a mess this week, as I’m finishing up the Newsgames book with my two graduate students and preparing my keynote for SLSA the week after next. Fortunately, interesting things have gone on without me. As I previously mentioned, on Monday, we hosted a colloquium on “how to think about narrative and interactivity,” featuring Espen Aarseth,… read more

Art on Spec

Thoughts on Kickstarter

A relatively new service called Kickstarter, which describes itself as a funding platform for artists. Writers, filmmakers, musicians, and other creators can post projects to the site with attached budgets, which visitors can fund via pledges. If the budget is met within the specified time, the project gets funded. Otherwise, all funds are returned to the patrons, like a challenge… read more

Peanuts, by Charles Bukowski

Schroeder played the piano and all of the girls loved him.

I’m not a big fan of fanfic, but I am quite enamored of appropriations of pop culture that shed surprising new light on their source material. For some time, my favorite example of this sort of thing has been Garfield Minus Garfield. By removing the titular cat from each comic strip, Dan Walsh exposed “the existential angst of a certain… read more