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The joy of text – the fall and rise of interactive fiction

Although the IF community first formed around Inform, a tool for creating parser-based games of the popular sort released by Infocom (Zork, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game, and A Mind Forever Voyaging), tools today are numerous, and many of them bypass the compelling but fricative parser language entirely. For example, in recent years, a free text tool called Twine has exploded onto the creative scene, offering entry-level designers…

Imagine what your professor's closet looks like. Tweed. Acres of tweed.
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Why do academics dress so badly? (Answer: they are too happy)

I used to wear a suit and tie when I taught technical writing at my previous job. In part I was sending a message that technical writing is a profession, and in part I was playing dress-up to enjoy the first full-time job I’d ever held (at age 29, after 11 or so years doing various part-time jobs that fit around my schedule as a full-time college student). For just…

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Wearable Tech: Rest in Peace, Google Glass: 2012-2014

I did enjoy the opportunity to play with Google Glass briefly, and can imagine certain instances (for instance, while crawling through the real Colossal Cave in Kentucky) when having a hands-free recording device would have been really handy. The social questions raised by Google Glass won’t go away; in the near future, when this sort of technology can fit in the frame of a conventional pair of glasses or in…

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The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class

When it came time for me to make suggestions to the school about how they could best meet this little boy’s needs, my answer was simple: “He needs more time to play and move his body. Fifteen minutes of recess is not enough. I recommend an hour-long recess session everyday.” Most of these teachers had already read my article about why kids fidget and agree with this philosophy. It didn’t…

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The magic of words opens a whole new world of fun

Emily Short’s work is always worth seeking out and exploring; she’s been a visionary in the world of text-based games for years and her personal blog is a masterclass in both reading and writing interactive fiction. I’d recommend starting with her short game, made with Liza Daly, The First Draft of the Revolution, in which your choices about how you edit letters between a husband and wife drive how the…

iPod

On Death and iPods: A Requiem

I never owned a classic iPod, though I did have a B&W PalmPilot and a color successor. They day SHU gave me an iPad, I carefully collected all the cords and manuals and put my Palm away in its original box. I still feel a little guilty that I didn’t even bother to synch it one last time. Less dramatic was the decline of my relationship with digital voice recorders. I…

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Report: Many U.S. Schools Can’t Afford Mannequins, Human Urine For Art Classes

“It’s sad, but my students don’t even have the supplies they need for an exercise as simple as depicting patriarchal oppression with a mannequin that has been painted orange, set on fire, and then doused with a bucket of warm urine,” said Robert Kessler, a sixth-grade art teacher in Cleveland, noting that his supply closet also lacks the old doll heads, used syringes, and Virgin Mary statuettes his pupils require.…