The Problem with Gamification

The problem with Gamification is that it tries to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. We already have a universal points system, across all aspects of life, that represents status and is redeemable for real world prizes. It’s called “money.”

Greg Costikyan nails it


Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter

Double Fine are using Kickstarter to fund their new adventure game. 140% funded in 24 hours.

Seriously, this is monumental.


Fountain – A Markup Language for Screenwriting
John August:

Back when we announced FDX Reader, I got a lot of emails asking, ‘When are you going to make a screenwriting app?” Answer: Today. My hope is that we just made a thousand. Fountain turns every text editor into a screenwriting app.

This means flexibility. This means genuine collaboration – people in geographically different locations can edit the same Google Doc at the same time. This means I can write a screenplay on my phone.
This means I don’t really have any excuse not to write any more.


El Wingador
Errol Morris Op-Doc on Bill ‘El Wingador’ Simmons. I love that he has a cross-stitch by his front door saying “NOTHING EXCEEDS LIKE EXCESS”.


Disney Canon: 1957

DISNEY HISTORY INSTITUTE: Disneyland Canon: 1957 via Waxy

One thing stood out watching this amazingly restored home video of Disneyland. With ‘Main Street USA’, Walt Disney was attempting to recreate the atmosphere of small-town America that he grew up with – the America of the 1900s and 1910s. This video is from 1957, so most of the people walking through this section of Disneyland had either direct memories of this period or were only one generation removed from it.

If you visit Disneyland now, you’ll walk down a Main Street USA that is still going for that same atmosphere of turn-of-the-century Americana, even though the people visiting it are likely four or five generations removed from this period. They don’t have any nostalgia for this time. They probably don’t even know what the hell a “Penny Arcade” is.

Interestingly, if Walt Disney was just getting started today, and was building his first park now, the atmosphere of small-town America he would be creating would actually be the America of the mid-1950s – the time when Disneyland was actually built.



One of the unfortunate effects of living in another country for almost five years is that you have to almost completely rebuild your knowledge of your home city. Specifically, I find that I need to find out where the best bars and restaurants are (because, honestly, there’s only so much Crackbird a man can handle).

In theory, this is where things like Yelp and Menupages are supposed to come in. The internet hive-mind is supposed to work its magic. I should be able to shout “Yelp! What is best in life?” and it will tell me “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”. Instead, it says “Paulie’s Pizza, Kilmainham Gaol and Croke Park.”

Wrong, Yelp.

I guess it’s just a fundamental problem with crowdsourcing. Rather than helping the cream rise to the top, the noise generated by these sites actively drowns out useful information, making them useless. Even large sites like Amazon suffer from the same problem. I recently tried to buy a wireless access point for work. I checked out a few tech blogs and read reviews of some products. I finally settled on a Cisco product and went to Amazon to order it. Despite the almost entirely favorable reviews I’d read, the access point had only two and a half stars on Amazon. Turns out this was based on two reviews, the first of which was a one-star review with the person saying he’d had a problem with the technical support for another Cisco product. The other review was from Cisco themselves, giving the product five stars. The text of their ‘review’ was “if you have an issue with a product, please email us at $blah”. Both reviews were useless and, if I’d been basing my purchase on the overall score of the product, I would have walked away.

More useful than the hours I’ve spent trawling Yelp and Menupages has been the one post I put up on Facebook, asking my friends where they’d recommend for places to eat. This way, I’ve immediately got context for each one of the places that have been recommended – this friend has impeccable taste, so I’ll try their recommendation first etc. It’s a similar reason why I trust Brian Lam’s The Wire Cutter over the countless aggregation sites, or anything that relies on the average score of a large group of people to recommend technology. A sufficiently well-curated site run by a single person can still trump the wider internet.


The Tao of Swearengen

“Pain or damage don’t end the world. Or despair. Or fuckin’ beatings. The world ends when you’re dead. ‘til then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man – and give some back.”


Connecting nvALT and Address Book
I use nvAlt (synced with SimpleNote) all over the place, from storing little code snippets to keeping track of ideas and lists over time. Brett Terpstra has come up with a great idea for linking notes with individual people in your address book. Love this.