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All of Your Co-Workers are Gone: Story, Substance, and the Empathic Puzzler

However, running parallel to the evolution of these [graphic] games was a family of explicitly, un- ashamedly narrative titles. Colossal Cave Adventure (Crowther & Woods, 1977), Zork I (1980), and Adventureland (Andventure International, 1978) have equal importance in the evolution of video games, but rarely receive the same kind of general, mainstream popular cultural appreciation as their graphical rivals. These games focused almost entirely on the story and the characters…

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The Most Epic Demo in Computer History Is Now an Opera

This is nice, but what I really want to see is an Elizabethan-style revenge play featuring Clippy. December 9, 1968… in an underground convention center in the heart of San Francisco, Doug Engelbart gave The Mother Of All Demos, introducing the world to an astonishing slew of technologies including word processing, video conferencing, windows, links, and the humble mouse.

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They called it a “flashlight” because early handheld lights weren’t designed to shine steadily

A student’s short story featuring a treasure hunt at an ancestral mansion uses a vintage name for the mistress of the house a vintage name and supplies a butler, suggesting a Victorian Engliand setting. But the story also used the term “flashlight” — an Americanism for what the Brits are more likely to call an “electric torch”. So I looked up the history of flashlights.

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The six wives of Henry VIII, in pie chart form

If you’ve ever wanted to see the reigns of Henry VIII’s wives represented in a pie chart, the New Statesman is here to serve. Catherine was queen for 24 years. That’s nearly seven times longer than her nearest successor. It’s nearly 50 times longer than Anne of Cleves, who was queen for all of six months. There was barely time to adjust the headband on the crown. Frame it a…

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Notes on watching “Aliens” for the first time again, with a bunch of kids

“This movie has so many cliches in it,” a boy said when Colonial Marines disembarked the drop ship and made their way through rainy darkness to enter the alien-infested colony. My son told him, “This movie was made in 1986. It invented all the cliches.” Another of his friends was impressed by the “personal data transmitters” implanted in the colonists—impressed that someone had thought of that back in 1986. —MZS |…

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Justine Sacco Is Good at Her Job, and How I Came To Peace With Her

Justine Sacco is the PR exec whose tweet about AIDS went viral last year. It turns out that the angry Twitter mob that called her racist and unprofessional just might have been uninformed about the whole story. Imagine that! An apology to Justine Sacco had been itching at my throat from the moment I saw her. I was afraid to say it—because who knows what else I should be sorry…

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Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job

The Internet Archive is mostly known for archiving the web, a task the San Francisco-based nonprofit has tirelessly done since 1996, two years before Google was founded. The Wayback Machine now indexes over 435 billion webpages going back nearly 20 years, the largest archive of the web. For most people, it ends there. But that’s barely scratching the surface.