Eightface

by Dave Kellam

Classroom gaming

Video games in the classroom explores the use of games as a teaching tool.

Salen’s theory goes like this: building a game — even the kind of simple game a sixth grader might build — is equivalent to building a miniworld, a dynamic system governed by a set of rules, complete with challenges, obstacles and goals. At its best, game design can be an interdisciplinary exercise involving math, writing, art, computer programming, deductive reasoning and critical thinking skills. If children can build, play and understand games that work, it’s possible that someday they will understand and design systems that work. And the world is full of complicated systems.

For a generation growing up immersed in technology, it offers a great opportunity for cross-curricular learning. Implementing a broad program like that could be problematic with the compartmentalized subject structure found in most schools. There would also be issues in an educational system with standardized testing, where you pretty much have to teach to the test. Regardless, it’s an interesting approach that has a lot of potential.

September 30, 2010 ·

An article about a scientific paper

A brilliant sendup of half-assed newspaper articles about scientific papers.

In this paragraph I will state the main claim that the research makes, making appropriate use of “scare quotes” to ensure that it’s clear that I have no opinion about this research whatsoever.

In this paragraph I will briefly (because no paragraph should be more than one line) state which existing scientific ideas this new research “challenges”.

September 28, 2010 ·

The origins of abc

Ever wanted to know where our alphabet came from? Read The origins of abc from iLT.

That story spans some 5,000 years. We’ll travel vast distances, meet an emperor, a clever Yorkshireman, a Phoenician princess by the name of Jezebel, and the ‘purple people’; we’ll march across deserts and fertile plains, and sail across oceans. We will begin where civilisation began, meander through the Middle Ages, race through the Renaissance, and in doing so discover where our alphabet originated, how and why it evolved, and why, for example, an A looks, well, like an A.

An excellent read, with a great layout for the web, and a collage from Able Parris to boot.

September 21, 2010 ·

Jane Austen manuscripts

Jane Austen excerpt

Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts is a joint project from the University of Oxford, King’s College and the British Library, that seeks to create a digital resource from all of the author’s surviving manuscripts.

Jane Austen’s fiction manuscripts are the first significant body of holograph evidence surviving for any British novelist. They represent every stage of her writing career and a variety of physical states: working drafts, fair copies, and handwritten publications for private circulation.

Great care has been taken to provide a digital record of the original materials, as well as an accurate transcription which can be viewed simultaneously.

Austen’s handwriting and punctuation are agreed to be of great importance in the understanding of her work but have hitherto been little studied. The mark up scheme has recorded orthographic variants and punctuation symbols in minute detail for subsequent computational interrogation.

The flash interface is somewhat awkward to use, but the “diplomatic display” is quite impressive.

September 20, 2010 ·

Videogames as journalism

Can videogames be journalism? A brief look at Newsgames: Journalism at Play, the new book from Ian Bogost, Simon Ferrari and Bobby Schweizer.

“Games allow us to address systems instead of stories,” Dr. Bogost said in an interview. And, in some ways, they can offer more depth. People often search for simple answers to broad topics like the Gulf oil spill or the 2008 financial crisis, but in reality both were the result of a confluence of failures and events. Games can help to convey that complexity. “In particular, they can offer this experience of how something works rather than a description of key events and players,” Dr. Bogost says.

September 15, 2010 ·

Japanese woodblock prints

Japanese woodblock print

UCSF has a collection of Japanese woodblock prints available for your viewing pleasure. The archive consists of four hundred woodblock prints on health-related themes.

The Japanese woodblock prints offer a visual account of Japanese medical knowledge in the late Edo and Meiji periods. The majority of the prints date to the mid-late nineteenth century, when Japan was opening to the West after almost two hundred and fifty years of self-imposed isolation.

September 14, 2010 ·