Coming soon: Glitch!

Some news today grabbed my attention via Powazek: Stewart Butterfield and his fantastic crew are getting ready to release Glitch. There’s a lot more information in an article about the new endeavour: Watching the birth of Flickr co-founder’s gaming start-up.

This is really exciting news for me. I was a devotee of GNE, the pre-Flickr project from Stewart’s (and Caterina Fake’s) former company, Ludicorp, and this promises to once again take gaming down a wickedly fun road. While I don’t assume Glitch will be simply an expansion on that, having read about it and seen the intro video they’ve posted, I can already see enough of the amazingly quirky touches in this new project. I’ve never been into MMO games; but I’m very confident (read: terrified) that this one will be a very satisfying time-sink (!).

And I have to add: it makes me happy to know that this great dev team (arguably one of the greatest ever assembled, both by my subjective judgement and by any objective measure you could come up with) is back at it again.

Brainstorms and Raves

: Accessibility Lockout for Olympics 2002 Site — Again?!. A good quick rundown of some problems with the official site for the Games this winter. Add to it that the site’s URLs are virtually useless. Accessibility in the case of this site is a problem even for fully able people with regular browsers using all the tools built in. It’s too bad, it’s a huge missed opportunity. Doing a site like that should be an opportunity for some really innovative work – but it was clearly squandered. I’d love to get my hands on a project like that and hire a dream team to develop the thing.

Naomi Klein

: Game Over: The End of Video Game Wars.

When I was in undergrad I published my first and only paper in a journal. It wasn’t actually much of a paper, and I never followed up on the subject very seriously, but it resonates a bit now.

The paper was about the rise of trade unionism in the First World War in Germany and the UK. The story is often forgotten, but it’s important. The British Union movement staunchly resisted the war effort, and in particular resisted giving in blindly to the government’s demands due to “wartime considerations”. They fought tooth and nail for concessions in working hours, in pay rates, and most importantly for recognition by the state.

Britain still won the war (with lots of help from others of course), and not in spite of the Unions, because the criticisms they brought to the table improved the conditions of people in general, which led to greater success and support in general for the war effort.

There’s a lesson in this for us, today. Important parts of societies can be critical of their government and strive for improvement while not dooming the whole effort. Societies can be improved during crisis periods, and such improvement doesn’t always mean blindly following along, necessarily.

The price of freedom, it is said, is eternal vigilance. That applies equally, always, inwards as well as outwards. The external foe is not the only threat.

I’m listening to the afternoon

phone-in on the CBC. It’s about this kid, ranked 10th or so, who managed to come in third in the steeplechase at the Canada Games – and in his infinite wisdom, decided to moon his teammates when hi got his medal. So the humorless organizers stripped him of his medal and sent him home from the event. Calls are running at least 3-1 in favour of reinstating his medal.

Heard today

at my weekly soccer game in Parc Lafontaine: CRACK (or perhaps CRUNCH is more accurate – probably both). As I came down from a wild header attempt into a little hole in the grass. I sprained my ankle quite severely, to the extent that I felt it necessary to go to the Royal Vic emergency room to check that it wasn’t broken. The sound of my ankle doing what it did was quite chilling – though nothing compared to an ACL that blows during a ski race or something, which sounds like a muffled gun shot. I was very happy with my hospital experience – even on a Sunday evening, I was in and out in under an hour, including x-rays and a very thorough consult with the attending emerg doc. And of course it didn’t cost me a cent. Long live socialized health care.

Wired News

published an interesting update on Minitel today. It’s interesting to note that as the internet moves from the desktop to other devices (in addition to the desktop, this ain’t no zero-sum game), these other environments (phones, PDAs, etc.) are quite similar to what minitel has always offered. Hmmm. Back to the future indeed.

Playing a little catch-up

:

New weblogger

Don Melanson pointed me towards Feed’s latest special issue: Video Games 2001, with good articles by Steadman, Hall, Johnson, and more. Carl‘s up to his usual high standard: “But a 3-D shooter mapped into 2-D space also means an end to the paranoia — it’s no longer about what lurks around the next corner or who’s fixin’ to gib you from behind. The game isn’t necessarily easier, but — for me at least — it’s more like playing a game. If 2-D is less visceral, well, I eat enough Xanax as it is.”

When I first heard

that one of my old heros, The Good Doctor Thompson, was going to be writing a column for ESPN I was very afraid. Afraid he’d lost his edge, or his sanity, or both. Afraid that he’d seem vaguely silly in the context of big money sports, out touch. That the man whose best conversations with Nixon were about the NFL was past his prime.

His first column pretty much confirmed this for me, but ever since he’s been much closer to regaining his stride. And in today’s column about the NFL, diminished talent pools, and the election I think he’s very close to being at the top of his game. It’s pretty subdued for HST, but pretty good nonetheless.

I saw the most

ridiculous little tidbit in Wired News today: GE to Dot-Coms: ‘Game Over’. Uh, right. If dot-coms get into trouble it will be mostly of their own making (lame business plans, no biz plans, high costs, egomania, etc.) not cause GE decided to jump in.