Critical Linking: April 14, 2012

 

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“Nothing gets attention like saying ‘we will top up your per sale income’,” said Atwood. “That’s not to be sneezed at.”

Wicked smart idea.

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In this fourteen-minute TEDxBoston Talk, uber-geeks Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel talk about what they’ve learned from processing 5 million books (or 500 billion words) via the Google Ngram Viewer. This tool uses text scanned from books to find specific terms and phrases, so you can figure out historical patterns of language usage. This may sound really geeky, and it is, but it’s presented in a really sweet way. On stage we have two guys who are like us — geeks — sharing some fun examples of what they’ve learned. Even better, the audience is equally geeky and laughs at all the right stuff. I found this delightful.

Delightful and weirdly meaningless.

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But any book weeder, no matter how lenient, inevitably wonders if he’s weeding too much. Like many readers, I’ve often confronted the basic dilemma of culling one’s shelves, which is that the book one gives away today is the very title that will be needed — or fervently desired — tomorrow. I feel a tinge of grievance each time I’m required to visit my public library and borrow reference books that, in some previous clean-out, I donated to the collection. As if plotting to spring them from jail, I sometimes wonder if I can secretly steal them back.

Now that I am mostly ebook, I don’t have to worry about this painful process ever again. Shiver.

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Inspired by the alternate realities presented in Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams, Blow created five main realms where time behaves in distinctly different ways. In one world, some objects aren’t affected by Tim’s rewinding ability; in another, his merely moving left and right will cause the world’s inhabitants to travel backward and forward in time.

Yet perhaps Braid’s most startling feature is that it feels, far more than any other game, like a fully authored text—as rich with meaning and emotion as any well-crafted short story.

I’ve been waiting more than twenty years for games to become narratively mature. Looks like the wait might be over.

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