Zed Reads 001

This is an attempt to catalogue and journal most of what I’m trying to read. It is an exercise in articulation, and (hopefully) quick writing and quick reading.

Tech

Bitcoin — The Internet of Money | Startup Boy

Great primer on what the Bitcoin is. It comes down to this: the Bitcoin is the digital equivalent of a physical coin. It’s mined by time and computing labour, and each coin is unique because built into every digital wallet is a database of sorts that tracks every single transaction, making sure that no bit coin can be spent twice over.

Which brings me up the second article.

The Fifth Protocol | Startup Boy

Bitcoin’s legitimacy as a currency may be a volatile right now, but what it entails as a piece of technology is tremendous. Startup Boy here explains that Bitcoin (& co.) and its underlying technology has potential as another secure layer of transfer protocols that currently run the internet. Because its cryptography is currently unbreakable (or is simple impractical to break), it can be used as a series of tokens to authenticate transfers, or to simply provide a concrete and decentralised way for resources to be allocated across the Internet.

What is the Internets?

For a bit of background: A brief history of the Internets, and how things generally work. Good read.

Game Studies

The State of the Field | Critical Proximity

A brief look at the growing pains of the relatively young field of Gaming Criticism. It’s a field that I feel strongly for and would love to be a part of in time to come.

What would a game criticism citystate need? Walls, surely, in the form of a united front against the barbarians and trolls that seek to discredit individual critics and the field itself. Specialization, too, so that critics aren’t forced to wear many hats in order to survive. Perhaps a guild system, or something like it, to foster education and imbue the craft with a heightened sense of professionalism. Lastly, it would need scribes and annalists, to preserve the wonderful ongoing works that are so frequently lost to the internet’s shifting sands. It seems a lot to ask.

Playground Society | ᔥ Kill Screen

Instagram gaming. Curious about how this will work, but this will be a fun one to follow.

THE VIRTUES AND PITFALLS OF PLAYING AS A MAN (IF YOU’RE A WOMAN) | Linsey Duncan, Kill Screen

See, I’ve played a lot of dudes, and I’ll yet play more dudes. Turn gender into a mechanic, and the choice becomes a lot more interesting. It starts meaning something. Or, at least, being more fun.

On switching on and off your boobs in video games. Linsey Duncan contemplates being embodied as either sex in video games, how sex in most games are just a case of being able to “switch boobs on and off in character generation”, and how that can and should change in digital games.

Duncan also brings up an interesting Oculus project that explores swapping bodies with the opposite sex in VR. The Machine to be Another (http://www.themachinetobeanother.org/)(https://vimeo.com/84150219) draws on ideas of implacement and reciprocity to create the illusion that you’re inhabiting another body. The project is a work in progress and is definitely worth watching out for.

Homefront Culture (Singapore)

What Burning Paper Money Really Meant | Nalanda.org

The ORIGINAL meaning of such an act is to show everyone present that all former possessions of the deceased cannot be brought along to the next life.  At one’s death, everything one had ever owned has to be left behind. The burning only emphasizes this message, as it is the most graphical, symbolic, and dramatic way of showing total loss!

What’s interesting here is that the shifted meaning of “burning paper money” is described and seen as a loss or misappropriation of culture, rather than a legitimate facet of perhaps what is a “neo”-burning. Because symbolic “burnings” have always had fluid meanings that narratives of destruction, rebirth, transience, sacrifice all borrow from.

It also points out this: that ritual is ultimately for people and by people. I’ve seen and heard people who don’t participate in ritual because it would contravene doctrine. I’m not saying that doing so is wrong, because you and I have our own sets of moral codes and we make our own peace with what we do. What I’m saying is that ritual’s meaning is ultimately (and put really simply) what you make out of it, so I’d rather that I do something that makes everybody else feel better than not (caveat is that it doesn’t go against any other moral stance that I hold).

Misc

The Books You Think Every Intelligent Person Should: Crime and Punishment, Moby Dick & Beyond (Many Free Online)

A list of some of the classics, most of which I admit I haven’t read. Most of my fiction reading has been limited to my literature texts (which number about … 10?), so this is a thing I hope to get into.

What did Oscar Pistorious fear? | Amy Davidson, New Yorker

All eyes set on the Oscar Pistorious trial seem to have already decided on whether he intentionally shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in their hotel room. The South African — and first Olympian competing with the use of prosthetic limbs — put three bullets through the door of their hotel bathroom, killing Steenkamp. What’s eerie is the calling of Steenkamp’s voice from beyond the veil through her text messages to Pistorious before the night she was killed. It is a voice that berates and accuses, a voice that surfaces from the excerpts read out in court to show the anger Pistorious was capable of harbouring towards Steenkamp in public, gesturing towards a capability for possibly more anger and hence violence in private. Pistorious’ defence? It comes down to his “insecurity”. But “insecurity” with regards to what? His own safety? The defence implies that in private, Pistorious without his prosthetics is physically vulnerable, hence a heightened tendency to over-react when he feels threatened. But it seems that this “insecurity” goes beyond his physical vulnerability when he is without his prosthetic legs, because through Steenkamp’s texts, he seems angry all the time, seems wary all the time of Steenkamp’s ability to function without him.