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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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The Future of Luxury: Avoiding People

Services like Silvercar, Uber, and pay-to-play airline VIP programs help keep the new aristocracy away from the rabble

When I power on my phone upon landing at LAX, a text message is already waiting for me: “Hi Ian, Silvercar here! We have your res at 1:00pm today. Let’s roll!” Silvercar rents a fleet of silver Audi A4s at airports in Austin, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. A slogan speaks plainly on the company’s behalf: “car rental that doesn’t… read more

Proteus: A Trio of Artisanal Game Reviews

Three reviews as three lenses through which to approach and appreciate an unusual videogame.

Originally published at Gamasutra One: Nil Person Videogames are narcissistic. They are about you, even when they put you in someone else’s shoes. You are a space marine among hell spawn. You are a mafioso just released from prison. You are a bear with a bird in your backpack. You are a Tebowing Tim Tebow. We may think we play… read more

“Hundreds” Is the Haute Couture of Video Games

A new multi-touch puzzle game for the iPad and iPhone is about form, not function—and it's about to become a status symbol.

Some media exists for you to “consume”: to read, to watch, to play. Even though a book, television show, or video game isn’t destroyed by this encounter like a cheesesteak or a firework might be, the creative work is meant to be made a part of ourselves. To transform us in some way. But other forms of media don’t aspire… read more

Real Networks Don’t Have Leaders

September 11 and Distributed Networks

On September 11, 2001 I was supposed to meet with Rick Harshman, an Akamai account executive, in my Los Angeles office. I only remember Rick’s name eleven years later because it kept staring at me from my Outlook calendar that morning suggesting an alternate timeline. I can’t remember why we were going to meet; I was working at a design… read more

The Great Pretender

Turing as a Philosopher of Imitation

It’s hard to overestimate Alan Turing’s contributions to contemporary civilization. To mathematics, he contributed one of two nearly simultaneous proofs about the limits of first-order logic. In cryptography he devised an electromechanical device that decoded German Enigma machine’s signals during World War II, an accomplishment that should also be counted as a contribution to twentieth century warfare and politics. In… read more

The Perils of Farmville

Me on NPR's Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane

I’ve had a chance to be on a number of different radio programs, both national and local. I really like doing radio, particularly longer programs on NPR and CBC since the additional time really allows more sustained exploration of a topic. It’s also particularly fun and weird to be on a show you’ve listened to extensively. I did NPR’s Talk… read more

What is a Game Bundle?

From my Persuasive Games column at Gamasutra

From Humble Bundle to Steam Sales, from Indie Royale to Indie Gala, it seems like you can’t go online anymore without seeing a new “game bundle” offering — a set of unusual, overlooked, and independent game titles offered at a substantial discount for a limited time, often with a portion of proceeds donated to charities like the Red Cross or… read more

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Alien Phenomenology

or What It's Like to Be a Thing

This book is available in digital or physical format. Buy from Amazon A bold new metaphysics that explores how all things—from atoms to green chiles, cotton to computers—interact with, perceive, and experience one another. In Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing, Ian Bogost develops an object-oriented ontology that puts things at the center of being; a… read more

How to Do Things With Videogames

How to Do Things with Videogames

A fresh look at computer games as a mature mass medium with unlimited potential for cultural transformation.

This book is available in digital or physical format. Buy from Amazon In recent years, computer games have moved from the margins of popular culture to its center. Reviews of new games and profiles of game designers now regularly appear in the New York Times and the New Yorker, and sales figures for games are reported alongside those of books,… read more