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Chris
Outsider philosopher, game designer and author
Recent Activity
Hey NoShep, Always a pleasure to meet a Ghost Master fan! There were definitely issues with timing involved in that project, and the situation is very different now. As for the sound track - that was the magnificent Paul Weir, who also did the soundtrack for Discworld Noir... I've always enjoyed working with him - and we'll get him back for the spiritual successor when it's time comes. Now we're not officially ready to launch our mailing list, but if you hop over to ihobo.com you'll find you can already sign up from the sidebar. We're in shakedown right now, but the list should launch later this week. That's the best way to stay in the loop about what we're planning. All the best, Chris.
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Hey dmf, I wouldn't single out object oriented ontology specifically as useless - my general sense here is that "all ontology is utterly useless" i.e. our imagined models of how things sit together are not as important as we like to emotionally invest into. This was as true of Middle Ages cosmotheology as much as it is true now, for reasons I wrote about previously in Ontology as Non-theology, which is a piece that (rather fittingly!) nobody really cared about, even though I feel it contains an absolutely critical observation on our contemporary philosophical situation that perhaps ought to be taken more seriously than it is. Ian does great work in The Atlantic, and I admit a little touch of envy that he has such a platform available! But he has earned it, too. I'm also jealous that he has got to be part of a philosophical movement whereas I get to be a loner, which is not as much fun. But these feelings are pretty trivial and I don't let them bother me. :) All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented 7 days ago on The Black Library at Only a Game
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What are the behavioural effects of technological networks? What happens if we stop thinking about technology as shiny machines and start looking at other, subtler tools? Can we design technology to have better effects upon humans? These and other questions... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Only a Game
Hey Justin, "Every time a new piece of software or modular synth comes on the market, you can hear the kids teasing the wonder hidden within them. Instructions manuals belong in the bin. The chaos continues." This is such a wonderful reflection on this topic, many thanks for stopping by and writing such a lengthy comment, Justin! I had put this into the list of pieces to write about a while back, in part as a result of conversations we had had previously, and writing it was particularly satisfying since so many of these A Hundred Cyborgs pieces end up downbeat, and this one (if you'll excuse the pun) danced around the issues more joyously. I'm wary of being too positive about the details about the electronic music scene, but at the same time I do find Illich's conviviality amongst this network of beings and things, and think it a context where we can still find some hope in our relationship with robots. Hope life is treating you well, and vice versa, Chris.
Toggle Commented Oct 15, 2018 on Techno at Only a Game
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Hey dmf, Thanks for another weird and wonderful link! You certainly have your fingers in some interesting internet pies! Chris.
Toggle Commented Oct 15, 2018 on Techno at Only a Game
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Ha, Ian and I go way back... He's the one dual class philosopher-game designer to have more name recognition than me. :) Thanks for the link, Chris.
Toggle Commented Oct 15, 2018 on The Black Library at Only a Game
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Almost all human music is made by cyborgs – from the pipes and drums of the Stone Age to electronic music today, the compositions we are engaging with are facilitated, created, and distributed through technological networks. Techno was among the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2018 at Only a Game
Hi Karthik, No idea why you chose this particular piece to ask this entirely unrelated question, but it was nice to revisit it! :) I believe the game you are referring to is Relic's Homeworld, which was released in 2003 and was a strategy game with a largely yellow palette for the main ships. I can't vouch for giant robots and spider-like machines, but everything else seems to fit. Thanks for stopping by, Chris.
Toggle Commented Oct 11, 2018 on Absurd Doubts at Only a Game
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If a ‘black market’ is anywhere goods and services are exchanged illegally for money, a ‘black library’ is where they are exchanged for free. Although some illicit copyright infringement did happen in bricks and mortar library buildings – music CDs... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2018 at Only a Game
Ha, that's priceless! Thanks for sharing, PM! Chris.
Toggle Commented Oct 5, 2018 on Free Parking at Only a Game
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Thanks for the kind words, Filip! I know I say it often, but it means a lot to me that there are fans of this title, which is still the game I'm proudest of designing. Since I was unable to recover the rights to Ghost Master when Empire Interactive folded (they are now owned by Strategy First) a sequel under that name is unlikely, but I have spent a great deal of time thinking about a spiritual successor. We are working right now on a small scale Kickstarter for a different project (this should launch soon); if that goes well, it will be a step towards pursuing a spiritual successor to Ghost Master some time in the future. Many thanks for dropping by and sharing your love of this game! Chris.
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Of all the strange things that money does to humans, one of the most arcane is the venture capital fund. These networks of investors and businesses are geared towards the willing exploitation of start up companies who happen to have... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2018 at Only a Game
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We should not confuse ‘free parking’ with the ability to park without cost. The latter is a capacity created by the absence of any parking arrangement, although not in the absence of technology since we are always dealing with roads,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2018 at Only a Game
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What a strange and sprawling cybernetic network the contemporary cinema possesses! Writers work with computers to produce scripts to sign with production companies; acting talent perform those scripts in highly-technologised locations rife with complex lighting, mikes, rigging, and cameras; dozens... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2018 at Only a Game
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Houses are a defining feature of the world we live in, yet it is by no means inevitable that we would live this way: nomadic tribes, even today, live with tents and animals instead of inside a permanent dwelling. We... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2018 at Only a Game
Firstly, let me thank the three of you - stalwarts all! - for commenting on this piece. I was rather discouraged when the 'repeaters' (tweets) ran without the post being viable and nobody noticed, so it is great to have comments on the piece in the end. RodeoClown: In the UK, the limit is £30, which means I still quite frequently have to use the chip-and-pin method. Despite the negative tone of this piece, I am perfectly happy with contactless for myself - but my wife and I meet once a week to process the household budget. The concern in this piece is merely a worry I have about the technology... (As for safety, it is easier to clone a magnetic data strip than an RFID chip - but both are perfectly possible!) Malte: This 'chain of trust' idea is an interesting one, but I don't forsee much risk that it breaks down over contactless payments, per se. But this is certainly a factor - and especially in the rise of cryptocurrencies, which some believe forges new trust through its distribution. Interesting perspective. Michael: It's a great pleasure to get a comment from you... and yes, life gets hectic pretty fast once you get out into employment, and time vanishes. It recedes even further when you have kids as I have discovered! But I appreciate it any time you can drop by. And yes, 'Everyday Carry' is the logical extension of affording so much power to our pocket robots. It is precisely our dependence upon them that triggered my writing The Virtuous Cyborg... something significant happened, and it happened in a barely noticed manner. Your argument via Kant is sound: the institution remains intact. (This is Malte's point too... although he puts a more cautious spin on it). For me, the concern with contactless is that precisely by reducing the 'friction', it makes spending money too easy. I should like to see if I could get statistics on whether the number of people going into their overdrafts has increased since contactless appeared... I fear there is another side to this convenience we are neglecting - hence this piece. Thank you all for sharing your perspectives! It is most welcome.
Toggle Commented Sep 21, 2018 on Contactless Payments at Only a Game
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It is exceptionally common to hear lotteries being accused of being “a tax on stupidity” or “the poor person’s tax” but I have found it very difficult to accept this conclusion uncritically. It rests on treating the lottery not as... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2018 at Only a Game
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As someone who is faintly terrified by Facebook, I was not entirely convinced about joining Twitter. I did so because it was recommended to me by games industry friends while I was visiting Seattle for a speaking gig. The justification... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2018 at Only a Game
Chris Billows (AKA Doc Surge) has replied to the earlier A Hundred Cyborgs piece on Vintage Collectibles with his own reflections on nostalgia. Here’s an extract: Nostalgia is a chemical mixture that blends complimentary and contradictory ingredients. For it to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2018 at Only a Game
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One of the most common values that consumer-facing corporations have been pimping in recent decades is convenience... This was readily apparent in the earlier discussion of the appeal of Amazon, a company built upon leveraging convenience through economies of scale.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2018 at Only a Game
Many thanks for this! It sets a few other thoughts running with me... And infinite gratitude for your continuing participation in the Republic of Bloggers - there are few of us left... those that remain should definitely be talking to one another! I'm not sure if I'll be responding directly or indirectly, but I will follow this up at some point later this year.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2018 on Vintage Collectibles at Only a Game
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Thanks! Alas, the follow up piece for Thursday on Contactless Payments failed to run as I had set the wrong flag in Typepad. But it will run this morning. All is chaos - it was ever thus! :)
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2018 on Cash Machines at Only a Game
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Thanks for the extended Rorty quote! He's been on my reading list for a while (specifically his 1979 Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature) but I am so far from on top of my reading these days. My work in games is sucking me in again, and my time for philosophy narrows daily... Hence I greatly appreciate these exchanges with you!
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2018 on Robot Recommendations at Only a Game
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Hey dmf, Thanks for the info re: Rorty! The issues you raise here about experts and democracy are key points in WKN, where I draw against Latour and especially Isabelle Stengers (who influenced Latour) to try and address some of these questions. I'll be really interested to see what you make of my approach - it will certainly invite objections, but as a first stab at a positive solution to contemporary epistemology, I'm rather proud of it. I'll be very interested in your impressions, when you get around to it (although I too know all-too-well what it means to have a 'reading list' rather than just 'a book' to read. :D). Thanks again, Chris.
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2018 on Calculators at Only a Game
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Hey dmf, I'm not trying to assert any hierarchy of values in these pieces; I just take a technological assemblage and consider it for cybervirtue. It's likely at some point I'll cover a set of gig economy cyborgs (quite possibly Uber), although it's not on my list for Cyborgs #21-30. Seventy more to go after that, though. :) This piece is effectively a preface for Thursday's piece on contactless payments. I was in the mood for a 'double bill'. All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Sep 5, 2018 on Cash Machines at Only a Game
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