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Ecology/Ontology [2014]

Shadowing my increasing appreciation towards an ‘ecological’ approach.

  • The Lives of a Cell was a great series of essays for more experientially exploring the idea.
  • Why Delanda draws a trajectory of my thought/interest on the matter, written after my notes on Intensive Science.
  • The Seven Laws of Fundamental Ecology are a series of essays/meditations from the Archdruid John Michael Greer. As ever, a great writer on the kind of arcane topics that have driven my interest in the past couple of years.
  • Excerpts and Notes from DeLanda’s Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy, a refactoring of some of the work of Deleuze:
    • Part 1: “The Mathematics of the Virtual”
    • Part 2: “The Actualization of the Virtual in Space”
    • Part 3: “The Actualization of the Virtual in Time”
    • Part 4: “Virtuality and the Laws of Physics”
  • Mulling: Doctorow’s Wars, Estrada’s Organisms: Summaries of Cory Doctorow’s War on Generalized Computing and Dan Estrada’s “Organisms of the Future”. Some philosophy-of-tech interest.
  • Social Physics: Sandy Pentland subscribes to the kind of ecological view that a lot of my recent sources have espoused- an emphasis on the relations between objects, instead of on the objects themselves. He argues for a “computational theory of behavior”, using Big Data and a system of collection/observation that he calls “reality mining”: the point is to grow the fullest, richest models of social behavior possible in order to capture all of the details, the micro-patterns, that traditional methods would overlook in favor of averages and stereotypes, and to capture them in “real life” as it is lived, instead of in a sanitized environment.
    • Social Physics and Algorithmic Prisons: Introducing the “Algo Prison”, which I thought was useful. Also an opportunity to check my baggage before reading Pentland’s Social Physics.
    • Part 1: A broad summary of the book, the methods involved, etc.
    • Part 2: Heavier details on the foundations of Social Physics (Social Learning, Idea Flow, Engagement)
    • Part 3: On Social Network-Incentivized Organizations
    • Part 4: On “Data-Driven Cities”
    • Part 5: On “Data-Driven Society”, policy and design thought.


Narratives and Decision-Making [2014]

Mostly my own riffing on ideas I’ve alluded to before.


Centralized Systems [2014]

On authoritarianism and totalitarianism, from various angles.

  • Totalitarianism: Grokking what totalitarianism is, difference from authoritarianism, and linking to some resources of fascism in particular.
  • The Democratic Surround: The American intelligentsia devises techniques for identifying and combating fascism at home and abroad.
    • Part 1: The Committee for National Morale, The Bauhaus movement, and the birth of the Surround.
    • Part 2: The Cold War, the Computer, “People’s Capitalism”, American Hegemony, and the New Thought that would spawn the 60’s counterculture.
    • The “sequel” is From Counterculture to Cyberculture, notes available here: 1, 2, 3.
  • The Last Psychiatrist on what/how the system wants.
  • Adam Greenfield’s first installment of The City is Here for You to Use


Games/Games Studies [2014]

  • My Life with Games is a short skim through my point of view as a person who has been engaged with the consumption and production of games. Autobiographical, light.
  • The Simulation Gap is an extended excerpt from an older essay I wrote on persuasive games, and roughly defines my academic view of games in my college days. A little dry.
  • Mulling: Governing Systems is a shadow of my likely direction once I get on track to shooting bull on Gamification, a long-standing favorite topic of mine, and one I’ve deliberately held back from spilling into this blog so far.

In early 2014, I provided notes and excerpts from some game studies texts, starting with the underappreciated anthropological approach.

I was/am compiling information for a possible series on this aspect of game studies. There are many other approaches that have been developed- there are a mass of practitioner texts. Game studies has taken off since the 90’s and the proliferation of the videogame, but I was interested in stepping back into older views of games in general because they are sometimes referred to but, I suspect, not widely read. It was this kind of exploration that I thought of when I rationalized why I was naming my blog after a lost/rediscovered nuclear weapons material.

  • Unnecessary Obstacles: A very short practitioner’s view.
  • Homo Ludens was one of the seminal books of anthropological game studies.
    • Homo Ludens I: On play’s function in civilization, “play-communities”, representation, and play and the sacred.
    • Homo Ludens II: A wider lens on the elements of play in a variety of human activities.
    • Homo Ludens III: The closing passage of the book.
  • Make-Believe: On make-believe and representation theory, via Bateman’s Imaginary Games and Walton’s Mimesis of Make-Believe.
  • The New Games MovementYet another movement we find Stewart Brand at.
  • A bit about “Prowess and Cheapening
  • A bit about my concern for uncritical enthusiasm
  • Unit Operations is Ian Bogost’s much more recent contribution to the field. It hails from an entirely different train of thought than the anthropological views above, but the segue made sense in my posting logic because of Bogost’s Deleuze-influenced ontology.
    • Part I: Defining units and operations, and recognizing the totalizing views of Systems Operations.
    • Part II: Comparative studies, and applying unit operations to games and the relation of a game’s components.
    • Part III: “Procedural subjectivity”: the the nature of simulations, their limitations, and the critical role of the user.
    • Part IV: Complex Network Theory, Deleuze, wider applications of Unit Ops thought
  • From Counterculture to Cyberculture and it’s subsequent book (prequel) The Democratic Surround were great historical works that filled in several holes and tied together several stories for me.
    • From Counterculture to Cyberculture Part 1: Broad overview and tracing the connotation of the “Computational Metaphor” from one of dehumanization and control to one of anonymity, equality, and freedom.
    • From Counterculture to Cyberculture Part 2: Some personal commentary, and Stewart Brand’s influences.
    • From Counterculture to Cyberculture Part 3: Early Digital Communities
    • The Democratic Surround Part 1: The Committee for National Morale, The Bauhaus movement, and the birth of the Surround.
    • The Democratic Surround Part 2: The Cold War, the Computer, “People’s Capitalism”, American Hegemony, and the New Thought that would spawn the 60’s counterculture.

DownWing Thought (and other Internet Politics) [Mostly late 2013]

Prereq: Upwing/Downwing and Etherealization

I’m fascinated by fringe politics, partly for the rhetorical/tribal functions that are easier to see in ecosystems I’m not a part of, and partly for their clarifying effect on the failings of more familiar political thought. (A little more on my rationalization of this obsession in “Why Weird Politics” here.)


Oswald Spengler and Decline of the West [Late 2013]

  • Prereqs: Notes on Historiography mentions Spengler and other historians I took an interest in this year. Wrote all of this in early October 2013.
    I got into Spengler through John Greer’s blog. Greer is a fascinating DownWing author has been a fount of resources on certain strains of thought.
  1. Spengler’s Winter (an intro)
  2. Spengler’s Meaning of Numbers (on the first chapter of Decline of the West)
  3. Faustian Culture (Spengler’s preferred title for “Western” culture)
  4. Spengler on Pseudomorphosis (Cultures that clash)


“Apologetics” (Narratives that define groups) [Late 2013]


Minds [Late 2013]
Inspired by Ribbonfarm’s 2013 guests (mostly Mike Travers and Kevin Simler, although I liked all of the guest writers), I started looking into “Parliamentary Minds” and “Bicameral Mind” threads of thought, which I was mostly familiar with through Daniel Dennett and Douglass Hofstadter before.


Views of Human Organization [Late 2013]
Posts responsible for a lot of the vocabulary I use.


Numbers as Rhetoric [Late 2013]

[Late 2013]

The oldest thread in this blog was on a nonlinear view of history and technology.


Scrambled Notes [Late 2013]

There’s some idea development going on in short bursts here, based on readings I enjoyed.


Early Consolidations [Late 2013]

This is some longer stuff I tried my hand at earlier, but will probably be retreading soon because they were sloppy, too-early draft attempts.

The Weird and the Banal / Playing Everything