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Zygar




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I've been slowly pulling back from video-games lately for this very reason. There were grind-y games I used to be able to play for hours (Minecraft, WoW, DayZ, etc) that now leave me with nothing but an overwhelming sense of pointlessness and futility. And I've not been able to play most new AAA games for a long time—the gameplay feeling formulaic and dragged out; even if the writing is outstanding.

I think it comes down to time scarcity. When you value your time more, you raise your standards and have less patience for padding. Also, my line of work requires knowing how things are put together—design patterns/tropes/formulae—and the bugger of it is that once you're able to apply this type of thinking to one area of your life, it seeps into others as well. Once you've played one cover shooter or open-world game, you've played them all. :-(

On the bright side, it gives you a lot more appreciation for the games that buck these trends. I'm hugely optimistic about the future of indie gaming—where padding is non-existent and the storytelling is rich. And there are still some pretty awesome sandbox and AAA games out there (Kerbal Space Program and Civ V can suck up a Saturday for me)—even if some of the best names have gone down the junk-food-gaming toilet (RIP Simcity)

Zygar  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Personal content isn't a sin.

To elaborate—

You have the most information about how to solve a problem once it's become a problem. If you're running into scaling issues—you very, very quickly find out where the chief bottleneck lies and can work out a solution.

And when spammers slowly try to take over, you'll be able to observe the ways in which they game the system and respond appropriately.

Often, the biggest problems are the ones which you can't predict.

Zygar  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: So, what do you guys do around here?

I think the "core" of users is something that scales fairly well with the way Hubski is structured around people instead of around topics. Social networks of like minds scale well—but social networks around topics do not. A popular topic leads to giga-threads, hivemind, and a tendency to lurk. Whereas self-organisation around like-minded people leads to a different set of behaviours entirely—one that is inherently less intimidating.

Certain sets of rulesets afford certain kinds of behaviour.

Zygar  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: So, what do you guys do around here?

This is a bit of a tangent, but I've been chatting to insomniasexx a bit recently about marketing and growing Hubski, because I'm in exactly the same situation with my startup. I then stumbled across this thread (well, because I follow you, thenewgreen) and a couple of the things you said here rang really familiar, and I thought it could be helpful to chip in at a more general level.

    In order to understand what makes the "community tick", you must invest some time.
It's a common situation: you've got a kick-ass product, it solves a very real problem, people who use it are head-over-heels in love with it, but there's a bit of a "dip" that requires you to take a leap of faith and use it for a bit before you get hooked. Twitter's subtle effect was that of adding an "ambient awareness layer" to the internet—a sort of dim "knowing" about what's going on in the world.

But Twitter was commonly misunderstood as being a way to "share what you had for breakfast." You had to use it for a while to really understand it. They got past this by pushing Twitter as a way to find new content from interesting people and letting people get sucked in over time.

    When a friend recommends a book to you, you can't look at several pages and expect to understand and appreciate the entire book because it's the entire experience that they are recommending and in order to get the full effect you have to dive in and read the whole thing.
I love this example because it's true; yet not an immutable problem. Book services like Readmill let you shortcut this whole process. I can recommend a friend a book, but the chances of them reading it aren't huge if they can't see how it would immediately make their life better to read. It just goes into the "later" pile. But the Readmill book page contains my own personal cliffnotes: https://readmill.com/Zygar/reads/glut-mastering-informaion-t...

No real conclusions to offer here—just a few thoughts that tangentially connect with some of your examples. Hope they're helpful.

Zygar  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Personal content isn't a sin.

The great thing about the internet is that it's not a broadcast medium—when you put something out there, you get something else back.

Books used to be viewed as these canonical artifacts—what was written was absolute truth. But now, when something is published, it's just the start of a conversation.

This is why I love your policy—you have a community of intelligent people who take the time to digest and thoughtfully discuss big ideas. If these big ideas take the form of a long Hubski post, or a link to a blog, the difference is entirely semantic.

Zygar  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: As We May Yet Think

Damn, thanks for the awesome writeup insomniasexx—it pretty much exactly captures the intent behind Twingl.

There is something about the medium of the web that—even when you're actively working towards a goal, such as writing an article or planning a presentation—encourages wide reading, but not deep reading. We create bookmarks on the promise that we'll return to an article again later—but all you end up with is a 20 character title and a link—you lose all context. What is this link? Why did I bookmark it? When was I here?

I grew somewhat phobic of bookmarking; knowing that if something went in there, it wasn't coming back out again. Tabs would stay open until I'd finished with them "permanently", but that's not how the creative process works—we work hard on a problem, get stuck, and retrace our steps, discovering insights that we hadn't seen before.

thenewgreen, this week has been spent entirely on "getting out of the building" and talking to people; and most of the feedback has been either of insomniasexx's type, or a general sense of "ok this is a cool idea, but why would I use it?" Positioning is the big challenge at this point.

P.S. The latest "brain" photo—19 days in!

I'm the big cluster in the bottom left, insomniasexx is the third largest cluster just to the right. My co-founder is the huge one to the north.

You can see some pretty interesting trends begin to emerge—like minded people naturally pull together because they are reading—and importantly, reacting to—the same things. It would be particularly fascinating to see the way a social network such as Hubski would self-organise in a system like this—I suspect individual online communities would start to resemble cities. You'd have the space geeks over here, the book club over there, etc.

Zygar  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: As We May Yet Think

Your comment on the next generation reminds me of this: http://coding2learn.org/blog/2013/07/29/kids-cant-use-comput.../ It's a bit of a worrying trend.

Both those links were fascinating reads, thank you for sharing! I love seeing these little ghetto solutions which spring up using existing tools. Writing emerged in much the same way--as volumes of transactions conducted in early agricultural settlements began to increase, merchants would use various marks to keep track; offloading their memory to an external "device."

I do think the accelerating pace of change is a problem, and it worries me that the education system has not yet adapted. Ken Robinson did a great talk on the subject: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_crea...

Zygar  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: As We May Yet Think

Thank you! It will be interesting to see what this future looks like. I suspect much of the non-biological augmentation will happen at an almost unconscious level; in the same way that our brain magically turns a series of upside down saccades into a continuous feed of the world around us. Right now we perceive a screen full of pixels as a single image, what will it be like when our brain perceives a whole field of knowledge as a single coherent entity?

Zygar  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: As We May Yet Think

Thank you for the welcome and the kind words!

We have a number of options available to us today--services like Evernote or Diigo have wide userbases and many evangelists. However, all of these tools are rooted in the same organisational conventions that we have been using since Gutenberg.

Ted Nelson:

    EVERYTHING IS DEEPLY INTERTWINGLED. In an important sense there are no "subjects" at all; there is only all knowledge, since the cross-connections among the myriad topics of this world simply cannot be divided up neatly.

    Hierarchical and sequential structures, especially popular since Gutenberg, are usually forced and artificial. Intertwingularity is not generally acknowledged—people keep pretending they can make things hierarchical, categorizable and sequential when they can't.

We are, as individuals, stuck with filing cabinets, predicated on lists and folders and tags. Worse, we're pulling things OUT of their original context, a deeply intertwingled web, to drop them into these filing cabinets. And while lists are fantastic as a tool for curatorship (these Hubski archives you talk about are the quintessential anthology), often the true value or "location" of an idea only reveals itself over time. Every single "external brain" service I've used ends with an inbox 3,000 items deep.

---

I have actually been working on the solution to this, in various forms, for about two years--with things starting to get serious over the last 6 months. We just recently launched the beta of a platform we're calling Twingl, which is kind of like a "Dropbox for Knowledge." Instead of organising stuff using tags and folders, you simply make synapses (Twinglings) between items. And instead of one monolithic app-to-rule-them-all, we are building the brain itself; with all of your ideas and connections available in a variety of specialised apps.

The brain is still in utero at the moment (about 30 users so far); and is looking like this at Day 7 (with red dots being people, turquoise being comments, triangles being websites and yellow being highlighted bits of text.)

Zygar  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: What's your favorite passage or quote?

Picking just one seemed a tragedy.

On knowledge, creativity, and connecting the dots:

    Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.
– Steve Jobs

    Good ideas are not conjured out of thin air; they are built out of a collection of existing parts, the composition of which expands (and, occasionally, contracts) over time.
– Steven Johnson, "Where Good Ideas Come From"

    Knowledge is a network phenomenon, with each fact a node. We say knowledge increases not only when the number of facts increases, but also, and more so, when the number and strength of relationships between facts increases. It is that relatedness that gives knowledge its power.

    [...]

    Science is not built to increase either the “truthfulness” or the total volume of information. It is designed to increase the order and organization of knowledge we generate about the world.

– Kevin Kelly. "What Technology Wants"

These three ideas changed the whole way I thought of the world. Science is not about discovering new facts, but connecting new observations to the web of existing knowledge. Creativity isn't invention—it's just connecting the dots. Design, science, writing, art—they're all just ways of gradually increasing the order and interconnectedness of human thought. Through that lens, it's no wonder that the internet accelerated nearly every sphere of human achievement: if you increase the ability for ideas to find each other, connect and combine—you accelerate everything.

Most awe-inspiring quote of all time, however, goes to Carl Sagan. Goes with this image:

    From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

    The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

    The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

– Carl Sagan, "Pale Blue Dot."