Sep 13, 2009
I’m speaking at the IDEA Conference in Toronto on Tuesday at 11:00am. Many thanks to Russ Unger for the invitation and the conference looks to have a terrific lineup of speakers. My talk is titled, “Making Virtual Worlds: Games and the Human for a Digital Age.”
Jun 19, 2009
Making Virtual Worlds: Linden Lab and Second Life comes out tomorrow, June 20th. Hurray! Even more exciting, the State of Play VI Conference in New York is very graciously throwing a book launch party for me there. The party is open to conference attendees, and runs from 5:15 to 8:00pm. Copies of the book will be there for sale, and I’ll be signing for anyone who asks. Many, many thanks from me to Dan Hunter and the State of Play folks for making this happen, and to Cornell University Press for supporting the effort from the start. Also, and not coincidentally, the book is now “In Stock” at Amazon. /cheer
Mar 12, 2009
We are in the midst of a fascinating moment, when much seems up for grabs for one of the United States’ political parties. As the GOP looks to right its ship after the disastrous adventures of the Bush administration, a number of conservative writers have understandably begun to re-examine what conservatism is. Meanwhile, the success of Obama has raised the stock of the word “pragmatic,” even if for the most part the word is tossed about in a pretty vague fashion, as Ta-Nehisi Coates has noted.
So it should not be a surprise to those like me who admit to some schadenfruede at the right’s current predicament to see that one move currently gaining ground is an attempt to claim that conservatism was pragmatic all along. Thus is conservatism to be kept well clear of the rising toxicity levels of the word “ideology.” Of course, to make this move to higher ground stick, one must aim to make a pragmatist of the granddaddy of all conservative thinkers, Edmund Burke. And while Sam Tanenhaus, Andrew Sullivan, and most recently David Brooks have all jumped on board to re-chart this territory, there is only one problem: what Burke actually wrote.
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Feb 10, 2009
There is no shortage of opinion, much of it from folks more knowledgeable than I, about how we might make sense of the recent financial catastrophe. Still, I continue to be struck by the way in which a recollection of Adam Smith is apt. By this I mean Adam Smith in his actual writings, not in his mythicized persona – Smith seems to share with Charles Darwin the indignity of massive and sustained misunderstandings of his core ideas. This makes it all the more remarkable that, for us today, Smith’s vision of the market 230 years ago was so clear that he can help us understand even its recent, science fiction-like, turn.
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Feb 8, 2009
[Cross-posted to Terra Nova.]
In a recent post I raised the idea that, like religious experience for William James, play may best be thought of as a mode of experience. Less foregrounded in that discussion was a further lesson from James: that we should expect to find this disposition in as many varieties as there are times and places for human life, rather than in some universal form. I’ve recently posted a paper to ssrn that aims to get us thinking about how play may be distinctively configured in different times and places, specifically in Europe directly after WWII and in the United States through the present day. In it I consider “New Babylon,” the fascinating project of Unitary Urbanism by Constant Nieuwenhuys (aka Constant), who through it sought to make a city for Homo ludens. I set Constant’s vision against Linden Lab’s Second Life, a world also deeply informed by ideas about games and play. In both, though in quite different ways, architecting for play held the promise of post-bureaucratic sovereignty.
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