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beyond the Kuiper Belt, over the sea

Archive for April, 2011


Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Twitter is really cool. For a long time, I didn’t understand what it was for, but I’m getting an increased understanding of it. It’s kind of like a room where you can define who’s near you, and nearness is not necessarily transitive. So you can overhear conversations and join into them seamlessly, or hear when someone shouts across the room to you. It’s broadcast IM with a smooth multi-user chat transition.

On top of that, the social expectations of the site are such that talking with people you don’t know is encouraged, which just makes it great at community building, rather than Facebook’s community-recording.


Thursday, April 14th, 2011

So, I need to always revisit why I am doing a thing. In this case, grad school seems unpleasant currently, so I am trying to see what it is that I like about it. And really, it is the teaching. I very much want to do that. I am sure that I want to do research and publish things, too, but right now that desire is distant, obscured.

I got a great compliment from a student the other day—she said that I was the only TA she had this semester who seemed to know the material. I then had a conversation with another student about the ways in which what they’re learning in intro Ling isn’t, per se, true, but is, I hope, a set of useful simplifications.

This is probably just end-of-semester workload blues. Lemme write 20 decent pages more and talk with you again. I reckon I’ll be fine in a few weeks.

Public Space

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

It’s a beautiful day, and I’m working at a coffee shop on Pearl Street. Nice space, doors open to the air outside, a comfy chair and a nearby outlet. I don’t feel like their choice of music, so I’m listening on my headphones to Carter & Grammer—Drum Hat Buddha right now, but it’ll move on soon.

And amongst this, I am thinking about the use of public space, by which I only mean “spaces not hidden in someone’s home”. We four here have taken to working at coffee shops, and occasionally a local pub or two, when we want to get things done. It gets us away from the distractions of home, but more than that, it shifts our context enough to jump-start some work.

One thought leads to another, and soon I am thinking about  Cassidy’s, on Westmoreland Street in the middle of Dublin. Some friends took me there once, to find the basement bar full of gamers—some people playing card games, some playing role-playing games, some playing board games, some just talking. This idea has stayed with me since I saw it; rare is the place in this country where that would work, was my first reaction. But maybe not; maybe I just have to talk to a few gamers, and talk to a few pubs. Part of what makes it work, of course, is the size and layout of an actual Irish pub; there’s a whole basement bar that allows people to set themselves aside a bit, and not be disturbed or disturbing.

So, from there, I come to something that Vincent Baker posted about today: Owl and Raven, a community space that’s just opened in Northampton, MA. The idea is to have a space where people can come to work on projects, hang out, and learn from each other and talk with each other. This seems a really compelling idea, and I look forward to following these people to see how it works.

Finally, all of this leads me to remember an idea I had a while ago, that I occasionally revisit: gamerspaces. The idea is to make something like hackerspaces, but for gamers and games. A bit over a year ago, I was frequenting the IRC channel of, and had the notion to get a group of gamers of all stripes to pitch in some membership fees to get a space and furnish it with what you need for games and gamers: tables, couches, nooks and crannies, and 24-hour access and security. One problem with this idea so far has been that companies will sometimes donate to hackerspaces, but I have a hard time envisioning getting funding for a gamerspace from anything but members’ fees.

All of these ideas are as-yet just vaguely related notions floating around, but I thought I’d put them out there, to remind myself and maybe give other people ideas.