Princeton University Press just published "You Are Not Expected to Understand This": 26 Lines of Code that Changed the World. And they brought in 29 different authors -- "technologists, historians, journalists, academics, and sometimes the coders themselves" to share stories about "how code works -- or how, sometimes, it doesn't work -- owing in no small way to the people behind it." (And in general, I really liked how they focused on the humanness of it all.) So here's my new rollicking interview with the book's editor, Slate's Future Tense editor Torie Bosch. I also wrote the book's ninth chapter, about how a 1975 comment in some Unix code became “an accidental icon” commemorating "a momentary glow of humanity," that ultimately provided the book with its cheeky title. (And I’m also responsible for the book’s index entry for "Linux, expletives in source code of...")
My book about gamification is out! You've Been Played (Bookshop.org, Goodreads) examines how points, badges, and leaderboards are creeping into every aspect of modern life as tools for profit and coercion. It’s a critique of gamification, sure – but by an actual game designer, games journalist, and former neuroscientist. And it goes far beyond the usual suspects like Fitbit and Duolingo to look at the historical roots of gamification. Foucault, Lewis Mumford, Skinner, medieval indulgences, Taylorism, ARGs – this book has it all! Reviews, talks, and excerpts inside... [more inside]
I have decided that my next project is visiting, rating, and reviewing every english-language bookstore in the entire world. I threw together a website today to keep track of this, and backfilled it with around thirty bookstores that came to mind so far, largely in New York and San Francisco.
Last June, my brother texted me a rave review urging me to watch Bo Burnham's Netflix special INSIDE, which had been languishing on my to-watch list along with a hundred other things. I ended up loving it so much that I made this exhaustive megapost about it. As thanks (and for his 30th birthday present), I embarked on a project to turn the entire special into a coffee table-style photobook. It took a biiit longer than I thought (about six months longer!), but the project is now complete. Process, photos, and full PDF available... Inside. [more inside]
Winner of the 2021 Quarterly West Chapbook Contest, saneens, nubians, one lamancha is a collection of poetry recounting my first six months as a novice farmhand on a small raw goat milk dairy in the southern United States. The poems seek to expand the frame of the pastoral by leveraging the specific experience of a black body learning to work, live, and exist in the agrarian. [more inside]
It's the Bible — with added swearing! [more inside]
I've just published Ray and the Cat Thing, the book I wrote during the hard lockdown when I desperately yearned for a light, escapist, happy story. [more inside]
The Marvelous Money Machine could make the whole town rich! But…how does it work? A pay-what-you-want picture book for children and immature adults.
My new book, Shape, comes out this coming Tuesday, May 25! This book is about geometry: in it you'll find gerrymandering, pandemics, the foundations of AI, poetry, math/theology beefs of late-czarist Russia, championship-level checkers, the Talmud, why you are your own negative-1st cousin, wrinkles in time, and a lot more. It's not just about triangles (though there are some triangles in it.) The New York Times calls it "unreasonably entertaining," and there's an excerpt in this weekend's Wall Street Journal (paywalled.) Shape is available for preorder now at Bookshop and Amazon, and of course it will be at your local bookstore on Tuesday!
In Hawking Hawking, I explore how Stephen Hawking came to be thought of as humanity’s greatest genius. Hawking spent his career grappling with deep questions in physics, but his renown didn’t rest on his science. He was a master of self-promotion, hosting parties for time travelers, declaring victory over problems he had not solved, and wooing billionaires. In a wheelchair and physically dependent on a cadre of devotees, Hawking still managed to captivate the people around him—and use them for his own purposes. [more inside]
My essay collection about feminism and mythological monsters is out! It's a combination of personal writing and cultural analysis, looking at how myths about monstrous women still influence us and how we can reclaim those images. Of specific interest to Metafilter: it includes a chapter expanded from the essay linked in this FPP, and some discussion of the emotional labor thread including a few quotes from Mefites. (Also mentioned the emotional labor thread on this week's Longform Podcast.)
A tiny public radio station is run by a conservative college in Eastern Arkansas. The show follows the station over a nine day period as it goes through the daily trials and tribulations of broadcasting the news, managing employees, navigating politics, wrestling with diversity, dealing with technical problems, and interacting with donors, all while trying to have a successful pledge drive it needs to meet its goal and stay on the air. All of this craziness is just out earshot of the audience and just below the surface of the staid and controlled exterior of public radio. The situations are based things that have individually or collectively happened, are happening or most assuredly will happen in the public radio. [more inside]
a playful ghost story brought to life by the one-of-a-kind way you see the world. Working with friends and Canada's National Film Board, we spent the past three years trying to develop a new vocabulary for a kind of interactive novella and portable treasure hunt. It's a curious adventure about a ghost named September and you can explore all six chapters free on your phone.
I posted previously on Projects about the literary food blog that my friend and I write, and now I'm back to share that we have published a book! [more inside]
This is a longish (~4,000 words) essay about why people still go back to Tom Clancy's books, how they're both toxic and really relevant to American life in 2019, and how Clancy wrote the purest distillation of the World of the Boomer Dads. I swear it's also a lot more fun to read than this makes it sound.
Italy’s Tiber river has served as the realm of proto-mythic creatures and gods, a battleground for armies and navies, a livelihood for stevedores and fishermen, the subject matter of poets and painters, and the final resting place for criminals and martyrs. Tiber: Eternal River of Rome, is a collection of a hundred essays examining these many facets. Entries range from a single paragraph to several pages, drawn from over three thousand years and more of the river's history. The stories range from familiar to obscure, violent to gentle, inspiring, diverting, weird, unlikely, and at times downright comedic.
We wrote a book! It came out in January and is available in the Mefi Mall. We've been chugging away at putting all the words online, and they're pretty much all scheduled to be up by the end of the year. Or so. Enjoy! [more inside]
My bot and I wrote a book! I used a fancier version of pentametron (previously on projects) to generate a book of sonnets made entirely of texts found on twitter. It's been published by Counterpath Press as part of the Using Electricity series edited by Nick Montfort. [more inside]
An excerpt from The Lavander Ledger, a manuscript in progress by John Leavitt about murder, gossip, and scandal in the gay underworld of 1940s Hollywood.
I wrote a book! It’s a popular science book (no equations), and it’s called What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics. It’s about the 90-year-long struggle to decipher what quantum physics says about the true nature of the world around us. It’s my first book, and I’m still in shock that it’s done (and I'm really nervous about promoting it here). But apparently people like it: the New York Times called What is Real? “a thorough, illuminating exploration of the most consequential controversy raging in modern science.” [more inside]
Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, I've written & designed This Thing of Paper, a knitting book inspired by early printed books. Officially the first knitting book to be included in the Gutenberg Museum's archive of book history. [more inside]
Coming soon! My second collaboration with photographer Ralf Mitsch. The first one was called Why I Love Tattoos. This one is Why I Love Sex. It features more than 50 personal stories about embracing eroticism and sexuality in life and work, including a few famous ones like Xaviera Hollander and Kaat Bollen. I translated the interviews into English. Contains lots of pictures of naked people, and some really interesting stories. [more inside]
I didn't want to post about it earlier because it might have been construed as crowdfunding. I wrote a hard science fiction novel about a man who inadvertently gets duplicated while teleporting (the en vogue method of transport in the mid-22nd century). The book is called The Punch Escrow, and it won the Geek & Sundry hard sci-fi contest on Inkshares. It's getting published July 25 and the movie rights have been optioned by Lionsgate. [more inside]
I wrote an article on my Gamasutra blog about how Pac-Man can move through the ghosts without getting caught. It's an excerpt from my book Bug Voyage, in the current Storybundle, which tells about glitches in classic games while offering a smattering of computer science ideas along the way. It's kind of a change of pace for me, it has little to do with roguelikes, but it does explain how you can crash any Galaga machine without putting money into it. [more inside]
I'm happy to announce that my first book — "Will It Waffle?" — has a follow-up: "Will It Skillet?" I've gone from waffle iron to cast iron. MeFites have been supportive of my first book since well before it was even a book. What can I say? I hope that people like the second book, too. [more inside]
My first book of poetry is being published by a small press. I drew the cover art, and then decided that I should also record myself reading every single poem. (Remember this AskMe?) But I didn't want a simple audiobook. So I composed and recorded original music for every single poem in the book and posted the resulting mega-album to Bandcamp. Then I made a little microsite for the entire project.
Released today, The Museum of All Things Awesome and That Go Boom is an anthology of science fiction featuring blunt force trauma, explosions, adventure, derring-do, tigers, Martians, zombies, fanged monsters, dinosaurs (alien and domestic), ray guns, rocket ships, and anthropomorphized marshmallows. [more inside]
At the beginning of the year I decided to write one short story, every weekday, until December 31st (260 stories). To help motivate me, I'm releasing twelve Collections of these stories on Amazon. I've been at this since January, and so far I'm 135 stories in. This is Collection one, if you like it, it would be awesome if you could leave a review. Also, if you're interested in following the project in real-time, you can see all the stories here.
A few years ago, I began photographing bonsai trees as a personal project. Fast forward two years later, I have a beautifully-designed book of my photos I'd love to share. I wasn't sure why, but I felt a deep, visceral connection to these ancient trees. The bonsai, themselves, seemed the very opposite of the subjects I usually photographed - they stood before me fully present, their sense of time measured in decades, even centuries. From my first glimpse of the trees all those years ago, I knew implicitly that there was something to be learned from them, from their endurance and quiet dignity. [more inside]
I edited a book for freelancers to help them figure out things like how to price, how to chase payment and how to make sense of their accounting reports. It's pretty comprehensive, and it's free to download. [more inside]
From the Kickstarter: "My book is divided into two parts. The first part is a point-by-point response to McKenzie Wark's excellent Gamer Theory (2007, Harvard University Press). The second part offers an expanded definition of Gamer Theory, complete with suggestions for ways the reader can think critically about gaming and still enjoy the hell out of it. " [more inside]
Tea with the Black Dragon Author R.A.Macavoy asked me to work with her on a book... (I KNOW, right?!?!) We've now finished. [more inside]
I have a book out! It's a compilation of my @Play columns on roguelike games, with some new material. It's part of the current StoryBundle too, with some new material. ALSO, one piece on the book is up as @Play 83, AND another is up now on Kotaku! [more inside]
It's an astronaut instruction manual. For pre-teens. [more inside]
Instar Books just released a book version of my Twitter bot @everyword, which tweeted every word in the English language over the course of seven years (2007 to 2014). The book includes the entire run of the bot, with favorite and retweet counts for each word, along with an introduction by me in which I talk about the bot's origins and how running a (modestly) high-profile Twitter account came to affect my life. [more inside]
I'm trying to get my new novel April 86 published through Amazon's new Kindle Scout program. If you go to the link and click "Nominate Me", and enough other people do so, you will all get a free copy of the book. So what's the book about? Read on . . . [more inside]
So, I wrote this science fiction book about rum, labor unions, and stellar-spanning conglomerates, and I wanted to do something fun with the book's marketing. What would my heroine's former employer's website look like? One thing was for sure: it would have a bland yet menacing motto. [more inside]
I wrote a chapbook of poems about the 2008 California wildfires, drought, love, and anxiety about the future called Northern California Lightning Series. [more inside]
Dicho Ilunga’s Dancing with Cannibals brings an African perspective to telling the story of the most horrifying chapter in the European colonization of the African continent. [more inside]
I just launched the 2nd edition of my book about customer experience and strategy. It has a bunch of case studies - from Apple, Google, Netflix, Walmart, an African hand pump, a New York City park, and the B-17 bomber - showing what happens when organizations fail to include the customer/user/recipient when they make big decisions. [more inside]
A blog version of two books of thrilling travel yarns by forgotten Edwardian adventurer Cecil Herbert Prodgers, set in Bolivia, Chile and Peru. I'm working through them in annotated entries of around 1000 words each; the first volume, Adventures in Bolivia, is over halfway through, with our man Cecil in the thick of the jungle and facing danger from pumas, jaguars, piranha and candiru. [more inside]
Campbell McGrath’s Picasso/Mao appears in Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 1, along with short collections by Jenna Bazzell and Martin Anthony Call. [more inside]
This "cautionary tale about self-improvement" tells the story of what happens when your whole life is dominated by the world of self-help. It comprises 82 letters written over 16 years describing every self-help book, pop psych article, and personal invention I used—or abused—to change who I am. [more inside]
Waffleizer — the blog that tackled the question "Will it waffle?" — has led to a book with more than 50 unexpected recipes for your waffle iron. I'm happy to say that book ("Will It Waffle?") is out this week. [more inside]
My small press, Upper Rubber Boot Books, has just released the first nine titles in the Soles Series of Stories, which comprises standalone ebook short stories spanning the speculative fiction gamut, including science fiction, literary stories using SFnal tropes, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic, steampunk, slipstream, alternate history, utopian and dystopian, fantasy, and horror. [more inside]
After three years of work, my book HOW NOT TO BE WRONG: THE POWER OF MATHEMATICAL THINKING comes out today from Penguin Press! It's about math. Also: baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia’s views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, packing 24-dimensional spheres, what Facebook can and can’t figure out about you, the invention of calculus, and the existence of God. The book is available at Amazon, Indiebound, Waterstones, and (I hope!) your local bookstore. MetaFilter has been a fantastically useful resource for me in putting this together; partly because I can use Ask for my questions about statistical significance in different languages and stockpicking scams, but more importantly because I've learned so much about how to write about math for non-mathematicians from writing about math on MetaFilter!
For the last few months I've been helping a group of Artists/Engineers/puppet makers called Rusty Squid to design, make and install the Book Hive in Bristol Central Library, UK. There's more info on MyModernMet. [more inside]
A collection of great first lines. Just launched this week. If you want to recommend a first line, please comment! Excited to share my first project with you, I've been an AskMeFi lurker for years.
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