Weekend Reading XCXI

by uber

In 2014 I Learned That…

No matter how far I swim, run, cycle, walk, or fly, I always end up back where I started.

http://thereformedbroker.com/2014/12/31/in-2014-i-learned-that/


Designing the Best Boardgame

We played some damned obscure board games in College (Battle of the Halji, anyone?). Simpler really is better in boardgames, as is certainty. The sooner you can get players to the point where they are no longer guessing at actions, but feel secure to form a strategy, the better in my view.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/designing-the-best-board-game-on-the-planet/


The Shawshank Residuals

Repetition is a huge part of popularity. I think that it’s possible for things to become popular almost because they are just dropped on the audience so often that they gain it. Shawshank is a very good movie, but its water-cooler value is a huge component of its endurance: lots of people have seen it, it’s a common reference point in culture. There’s a lot of debate as to whether the long tail does in fact exist. It certainly hasn’t wiped out mass media experiences, as demonstrated by things like serial, and recent TV and movie hits.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304536104579560021265554240


Business Travel

Definitely the biggest difference apaprent to me between the type of work travel I have done and a lot of what I read about from the USA is the automobile. Even in the Hilsboro, which is solid car country, I avoided renting.

http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/blog/2014/12/26/the-rookie-road-warriors


Reproducible Psychology

There’s a major challenge associated with research ethics (at least in academia). The design of experiments on cognition (or, closer to my own area, on intellectual tasks and user preferences) which are conducted on fully-informed users, but which are authentic, is a challenge. I am interested to see that the unsupported effects relate to priming in this context. It seems that priming is a real thing, but specific primes are highly variable. It’s worth noting that the failure to find significant reproduction does not mean that the specific effects don’t exist, just that the test did not detect them.

http://www.nature.com/news/psychologists-strike-a-blow-for-reproducibility-1.14232


“Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty”

It arises often enough on facebook, you don’t ‘like’ the content of a post, but you want to indicate that you have read it without having enough content to really form a useful comment. It’s hardly fair to blame facebook for this or the incident in the article (a point the author himself makes very clearly), honestly, we should not expect these edge cases to dominate our designs, nor should we expect algorithms to somehow magically be able to avoid faux pas since we ourselves as people put our feet in it frequently.

http://meyerweb.com/eric/thoughts/2014/12/24/inadvertent-algorithmic-cruelty/


The long, slow death of our watering holes

I think this article fails to identify the key reason that our communal areas are changing, the telephone. People used to be in Clubs, Coffee Houses and other communal places at fixed times so that they could be found in public. This meant hanging around regularly, which resulted in society. As the need to be somewhere to be found has disappeared, so has the need for regular attendance at a place. We now can contact our friends and arrange to meet them, we don’t see the people around us as social contacts.

http://boingboing.net/2014/12/30/gathering.html


The Design of Hearthstone

Lots of interesting insights here into how to build a card game in software. Even more interesting is the difference between ‘beginner’,’intermediate’, and ‘advanced’ player profiles. I seem to be rather more of an intermediate thinker than I am comfortable with.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/224101/Video_Building_the_AI_for_Hearthstone.php


Visualising Plot Arcs

Perhaps this is evidence that TV really is as formulaic as you might sometimes imagine.

http://sappingattention.blogspot.ie/2014/12/fundamental-plot-arcs-seen-through.html


It’s Beginning to Trend a Lot Like Christmas

There’s some sort of mad race to the bottom going on. Brown Thomas now begin their Christmas Preparations in August. For me, the enduring Christmas songs that I like are the choral ones, especially the Carol of the Bells.


http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/christmas-music-season-data/