How a clunky Swedish computer game is teaching millions of children to master the digital world.
Clive Thompson, The New York Times
Yes, this article is over a week old and you may have seen it, but it’s too good to pass up. My first introduction to programming began with the release of Lego Mindstorms in 1998, where I clicked together physical Lego brick coupled with motors and sensors, then clicked together blocks of code into chains, similar to the lessons that can be found on Code.org
Minecraft is one of the most popular games of all time, and with good reason. It is not simply a video game in the conventional sense that we’ve become accustomed to. It isn’t even a game at all by many of the standards of story, structure, outcomes, and goals. There’s no princess to save, no final boss to beat, no planet to defend (minus the survival mode that you can choose to play). Instead there is an open world that you can fill with any creation that you can imagine, and it’s a world that encourages hacking and discovery.
The discovery process is important here, as well as the freedoms that players enjoy. There is no tutorial when you start planning, no predefined path that you must take. Instead the rules of this world are revealed as you explore, and some new rules are created when you choose to create them. The game has been out for seven years now, and we are quickly approaching a point where children growing up playing Minecraft are entering colleges and vocations and using the skills that they honed from play to create new things in our world. I’m excited by the possibility of a world of creative thinkers, and hope that discovery via play is encouraged even more.
Joe Concha, Law Newz
Let’s say you’re Kanye West and you say that your latest album, ‘The Life of Pablo’ will “never never never be on Apple”. Now let’s say the album comes out and it’s for sale on Apple’s iTunes service. Does your Tweet count as deceptive advertising?
If you’re Justin Baker-Rhett, you not only believe that, but you’re willing to open a class action lawsuit against West and Tidal, the music streaming service founded by Jay-Z that he is part owner of. It’s been suggested that over two million new subscribers came to Tidal at $9.99/month to get the supposedly exclusive album that you can buy elsewhere and stream on Spotify, the much larger rival to Tidal that many of these subscribers would already have.
Brian Feldman, New York Magazine
Honestly, I am far more a Bowie fan than I’ve ever been a Prince fan. The main thing that I was reminded of at news of his passing last week that despite being a pretty heavy web user, taking interviews in chatrooms in the 90’s, he was also a bit abstruse. When Prince famously changed his name in the early 90’s, his design team put together a
Eric Geller, The Daily Dot
The timeline put together by Eric Geller only goes back to early 2003 and the aftermath of the Patriot Act and the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 which though never officially passed helped pave the way for the current crop of encryption debates in the US. While it’s not all encompassing, it’s a good overview of where we are on domestic encryption views and how we got here post 9/11.
For a more detailed look at the years prior to 2003, Steven Levy’s 2002 book ‘Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government Saving Privacy in the Digital Age‘.
Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
Privacy activists often refer to a “Chilling Effect” that goes far beyond the actual surveillance and direct silencing of free speech, into the scary realm of modified speech and thought based on the knowledge that surveillance might be taking place. Greenwald points to several studies that show that this is not just a hypothetical, but a reality in which people are less likely to use Google or Wikipedia to research specific topics in fear of looking guilty of made up crimes by their governments.
Joe Pendlebury, UX Chap
Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David had a lot of strong opinions, both on the show and in real life. Joe Pendlebury collected some hilarious gems from the show and related them to user experience design, and the need to balance development and design with user expectations and needs.
Joon Ian Wong, Quartz
Blockchain technology is poised to make a large variety of currently opaque or hard to track systems much more transparent over the coming years. One suggestion being research is using Bitcoin or something similar for the British government to disburse research grants, making it much easier to track and independently verify that money is being allocated and distributed as promised.