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from Kerri

 

RimWorld, that's what I'm going to talk about today. Lost, on the edge of space, on the outer planets, building a new life for folk not unlike each other lost or born to a world lacking in the essentials of food, shelter and security. A harsh life to live when only several light years away are the central planets and all it would take to get home is a starship.

Now RimWorld is still in development, it's an early alpha game but it offers so much in replayability, character development and even story. It's a roguelike so there's a lot of procedural generation but that's mixed with detailed character back stories, character relationships existing or created through gameplay and world generation creating a large variety of landscapes that could be a paradise or death sentence.

Imagine this scenario, you start a new colony fresh out of the central system and crash landed on a rim world far on the edge of the solar system. The natives are primitive, choosing to fight with bows and spears, you were lucky enough to crash land with a rifle and a pistol. The area around you is reasonably defensible, there are plenty of trees and rocky outcrops. You set about creating some shelter, a basic hut with three beds and somewhere to cook.

By the end of the third day you've managed to settle in despite the anxiety and fear of this new world. Some of your colonists find strength in their low expectations and are looking forward to what they can now create. Their bedrooms are now separate and there's a designated area for cooking. Hunting has gone well shooting small birds and rodents and moods are generally okay. That's when you get the distress call. A native has been chased out of her tribe and is being hunted, she seeks refuge but granting it would bring the raiders to your base. There's only three of you, you know you could use the extra pair of hands but you know nothing about this newcomer but their name, you grant refuge. As soon as you do arrows are flying towards your base, the two colonists with guns find cover and return fire. The refugee is bleeding and hasn't got a bed to rest in, one of your colonists has taken an arrow to the lung and has collapsed but finally a rifle shot lands true and kills the attacker. Moods have dropped significantly. Even in defense witnessing a corpse is no good sign, another colonist has given up their bed for the refugee and is haphazardly attending to their wounds, the colonist with the pistol and punctured lung is carried back to the safety of their bed and is waiting on treatment.

Then the only colonist with any medical skill falls into a daze. Overwhelmed with all the blood and violence, with the dead body not ten paces south of where they sleep, unsure of their own survival and so aware of their own mortality they wander aimlessly in shock. Meanwhile the lung wound becomes infected, the remaining colonist does everything in their power to comfort their dying friend but it is all for naught. You've been here a week, and you've already lost a friend.

This isn't speculation, this isn't some abstract story concept derived from content in the game. This was a scenario that occurred for me. One of many that keeps me coming back to the game. Every new colony is a new story waiting to be written, and even with the lack of content at an early point in it's development it's provided an incredible platform for emotive story telling. I eagerly anticipate major updates such as the recent addition of caravans, of which I have yet to try, as well as any future story I can be a part of writing as I continue to play the game over and over.

I would be happy to give my #GotY vote for the best independently developed game of 2016 to Ludeon studios for their creation of RimWorld and am excited to be a continued part of their development through pre-ordering their game with early access and taking to their forums for bug reports, feedback and suggestions. Even now there's a growing modding community following the game and introducing new mechanics and objects. So the game is as much an open canvas as the stories it can tell.

You can find more information about RimWorld here or get the game on steam early-access and try it out for yourself.

Thanks for reading.

- Kerri

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from KiWords

 

My country tis of thee...

Sweet land of liberty...

Of thee I sing.

8 years ago, standing among almost two million people, shivering in freezing temperatures, I listened as Titi Retha (Aretha Franklin to those who aren't in the family) sang that song as part of the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Like many people around me, as I listened, I cried. It was a moment that I will never forget, and a moment that I fear I will never feel again. See, the tears that I shed that day were not of sadness, but of pride. I was proud to be watching the first black president be sworn into office. I was proud to be on the mall watching something that my great-grandma, a woman born around the time the Klan came to power, said she thought she would never see in her lifetime. For the first time in my life, I was proud to be an American.

For the first time that I could remember, I looked up at the flag and thought America had finally delivered on its promise. That my stolen and nameless ancestors' wildest dreams had finally come true and I was lucky enough to see it happen in my lifetime. The more the flag waved, the more pride I felt.

For a moment...

I even closed my eyes. I ignored the freezing temperatures and I let my emotions and Aretha's voice take me to a place that didn't feel constrained by the pain of the past, but encouraged by the promise of tomorrow. I had the Savannah, Bernadine, Gloria, Robin moment. A feeling that I and countless of “other” people had been waiting on...I exhaled.

In that moment I breathed freely and deeply, thinking that all 50 of those stars and all 13 of those stripes were meant for me. A 20-something, wide-eyed black girl from the South. The flag was finally for me.

But it was on loan.

And the owners have come to collect.

Somewhere in these past 8 years, even before He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was elected, that same flag that I looked upon 8 years ago which such pride and admiration, became a symbol of fear and hatred. Maybe it's been the election, maybe it's been the police shootings, maybe it's been inhaling the dense racial smog that is ever present in the South, but when I see it, it scares me.

The same feeling that was evoked in me as a little black girl growing up in South Carolina every time I saw the confederate flag, is the same feeling I get now when I see the American flag. A feeling of fear, confusion, and anger arises in my spirit every time I see it.

because they lied to me.

I feel like I've been kicked out of a club. A club whose general admission requirements are white skin, and more often that not, a penis. It's like Barack Obama's election was just Negro Day and now it's back to your regularly scheduled programming.

My only question is, where do I go from here? I am a person without a flag. Sure I could claim the Christian flag, I mean I do love the Lord...but the only time I see that getting waved is at Vacation Bible School. Should I claim the South Carolina flag that until the massacre of 9 church goers was consistently accompanied by the confederate flag? I think not.

I think I could claim an African flag every now and then. But which country? Unlike other immigrants to this country who can look at a book that says, Peter Macelli-Italy and Mike O'Malley-Ireland, all of the history books with my lineage will say Big John-50 dollars.

So which flag do I wave? The flag that evokes fear every time I see it? Or the flag of a place I've never been to and may not be from?

There is no flag for me.

Your country tis of thee...

Enjoy your liberty...

Of thee I dream...

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from Iglesia Ni Cristo

 

TANGING PAGTITIPON

Ministers, Ministerial Workers, Church Officers Officiated by Bro. Radel G. Cortez

It's well-known even before the year 2017 came that the theme of the Church for the year is this:

“Isulong ang Ikapagtatagumpay ng Lahat ng Gawain ng Iglesia”

We know that in line with this, it's necessary for the members to do their best not only in edifying their faith but also doing everything we can for the propagation of God's words.

The Church of Christ in these last days was never neglected. God was with us ever since the beginning, and He fulfilled His promise to the Last Messenger, that He will never forsake his chosen ones (“BAYANG HINDI PINABAYAAN”).

So this is why we should NOT be INTIMIDATED by doing God's works. He will be with us every step of the way. Remember that if you don't do your part in God's works, you are not united with the Church Administration, nor with Our Lord Jesus Christ, and nor with our Almighty God. Ultimately, you will not take part in the salvation of God in the coming Day of Judgment.

Remember that those who don't listen to God, God won't listen to you when you call unto Him in times of need.

The first thing we can do is that we should do our best to CONTRIBUTE to our respective Area Groups. In this way we will help the Locale to advance, and in essence we help the whole Iglesia move forward in its services to God.

Not only must we do MISSIONARY works but we also need to RECRUIT more Church Officers who will watch over the ever growing number of members. Naturally, capable, faithful young men are also encouraged to take on the greatest office one can have: to be a MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL. The growing GEOGRAPHIC coverage of the Iglesia necessitates this need for a larger force.

We should always be ACTIVE in our works. Not just merely active, but FIRMLY ACTIVE and CONSISTENTLY ACTIVE.

It's PROHIBITED to be LAZY. It is BAD to be LAZY.

We should imitate those who have been very hardworking in the works of God. Do whatever it is God says.

Like Christ when he hoped he could escape his fate (“SARO NG PAGHIHIRAP”), but He said let not His will be done, but instead the will of GOD. He obeyed until the end and now he sits on the right side of God's throne in heaven.

Christ prayed with FAITH.

But faith alone is not enough. Like Christ, we must DO GOOD WORKS with faith.

That's why in the upcoming Church activities, we should remove the word “IMPOSSIBLE” from our dictionaries, as Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo has mentioned. Because NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE with God. Just look at the achievements of the Church, though it just celebrated its Centennial Anniversary.

There has never been a work of the INC that went backwards. It always went FORWARD.

Like Abraham, he believed and trusted God. He had faith in God. Though God tested his faith, he passed it. Not merely passed, but EXCELLENTLY passed it. He had proven himself worthy of God's promise.

And so he was the father of many nations. God ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISE.

He will do the same to us. He will help us do His will. It is our main purpose in life, after all.

Come trials and tribulations we aren't intimidated, because God is with us. We have solace and comfort in Him.

So therefore we promise that we will OFFER our lives, our knowledge, our strength, our material wealth, WE OFFER EVERYTHING WE HAVE in order to fulfill God's will.

And God be with us and will give us success.

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from Kerri

 

That's right, I'm talking about Oxenfree. Oxenfree is one of the most critically acclaimed independently developed games to have come out last year. It won the IGF award for “Excellence in Visual Arts” and was nominated for a further four. But what about my experience with the game?

Choice and Consequence is one of the things that drives me towards a game like moths to a light. In my opinion it is both delicate and tough as a theme and provides the best literary moments to drive character development and that's what Oxenfree has done so well. Not only are you given this character who already has established relationships, you're put in an extreme situation and your decisions in interacting within the confines of those relationships have very clear outcomes. Your two friends could get together, you could repair a broken friendship and you can even bring your brother back through weird alternate dimension time-travel magic that no matter how hard I try and understand will likely forever remain a mystery to me.

It's not just character development that shone out in the game for me though, the story behind it all is just as thrilling, and if you've played it and not found all of Maggie's letters I implore you to do so as soon as you can, find all the radio sites too. There's so much depth to the ghost characters, to Alice and Maggie, and knowing their stories might just save your life.

It's also not enough to just play through the game once. I was incredibly impressed when after my first play through, after having thought I'd messed up and died but everything seemed to reset itself, the game continued as if that's exactly what had happened, Alex even remembered some of it, saw it happening all over again but couldn't do anything to stop it. It was so liberating to not only make different choices, but to be able to feel justified in doing so for reasons other than “I didn't pick this one last time.”

Now I'm a big fan of Life is Strange, and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, both amazing titles that I'll recommend to everyone, they also feature Choice and Consequence as a core theme, but they don't have much replay value if you try and play the games true to yourself as a person. I thoroughly enjoyed both games, but I only revisit them years apart to relive my experience or see how my personality has changed. In Oxenfree I was given the option of replaying without the guilt of contradicting my own opinions and that's something I haven't experienced before in a game like this.

So beyond the beautiful art work, the incredible dialogue and the super mysterious underlying story behind everything in the game it's the innovation in a theme that's won me over and has put Alex on a higher pedestal than Zoe or Max in my mind. Choice and Consequence with consequences not just for the characters, but also the player.

Thank you for reading, if you have any thoughts regarding Oxenfree or Choice and Consequence just hop on over to my home page and hit that write button. I'll be looking forward to the conversations.

- Kerri

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from What I Learned Today 😒

 

Today I learned that seeing the sunrise is a choice.

Instead of driving, I decide to ride my bike to the coffee shop. This journey takes me along a beautiful river, over two bridges, above train tracks, and beside our sleepy, glittering city.

I see joggers, people hanging out together, and walking their dogs. Old school socializing.

About half way into my trip, the sunrise. Pink, orange, purple, and blue pastels above the glitter. Of course it only gets better as the ride goes on.

For a moment I'm struck with a weird feeling of jealousy (or was it sadness?) that I'd not been able to see the many sunrises before this. All those joggers and dog-walkers got to see it.

Whose fault is that? The sunrise is there, every single day. And it will be there tomorrow. And every day after.

It makes no sense to regret missing past sunrises. I had a choice to get up earlier and ride my bike to the coffee shop. But I didn't. It was always there for the taking.

Since I tend to turn everything into an introspective life lesson these days, this experience is no different.

There's a ton of things in life that are outside waiting for me. I just have to show up and take them.

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from jsx

 

I wanted to get in on the end of the year review. So, I decided to list out some of the stuff that I did this year that I was proud of.

  • 52 Stories Publish on Medium

  • 57 Posts On Person Blog

  • 5 Episodes of Podcast Released

  • 1 Class Launched On Skillshare

  • 1 Android App Launched

  • 1 Facebook Bot Launched

  • 10 Month Challenges Completed

  • 15 Books Read/Listened

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from KiWords

 

Control. Something that all of us want, but most of us don't have. The ability to control the weather. Lottery tickets. Traffic lights when you're running late for work. To extend the last moments that we have with our loved ones. What will happen to you tomorrow. We all want to know.

I'm 27. The 26 years before this one, I thought I was doing a pretty great job of controlling the circumstances of what happened around me. Throughout my life, I have taken very calculated risks. I stepped out only enough to peek around the corner to see what was coming next. The whole leap of faith thing never appealed to me. I always needed to know what was coming next. If I didn't like what was coming next, I had to organize circumstances in my life that would lead to my desired outcome.

Then the 27th year happened. Boom! Zap! Wham! (and all the other examples of onomatopoeia that resembles the sound of getting hitby a bus) I lost it. I applied for new jobs that I thought were in my reach. I didn't get them. I broke up with someone who loved me, because I thought I could find someone who fit into the model of who I thought I was supposed to be with. I haven't found him yet. I took on a million and one projects at work to prove that nobody could out work me. Then I got lapped. I tried to take care of myself, by myself. I got sick. I tried to catch my breath to get better, but I couldn't breathe. Months have gone by with me still waiting on the snap back. The moment where I can take a deep breath again without wrenching pain. A day when I don't wake up with an immediate reminder that I was diagnosed with lupus. A day where I can wake up again and feel some sense of control about what will happen to me that day. That day has not yet come, but a lesson has.

This year has taught me one thing. While you can't control everything that happens to you, you can control how you react to them. Our reactions to life's difficulties is what defines us. In fact, I don't think you can define yourself until life gives you a situation that offers a definition.

I used to teach 6th grade. Before any lesson we ever did on character development, I always asked, “Can you come up with three words to describe yourself?” At the beginnnig of 2016, my three words would have been different than if I was asked that question again today. Needless to say, this has been a defining year for me. Not because of a large number of life events. I'm not engaged. I haven't had kids. I have been working in the same job for the past 4 years. The definition has come in the non-fulfillment of all of those things. Not that I'm jumping to have children...but I have seen everyone around me gain the things that I have wanted so much throughout various times this year. It has made me feel small. It has made me feel insignificant. It has made me feel like a failure.

I couldn't figure out what life seemed to be working against me, why nothing was going right for me. After lots of soul searching, praying, crying to best friends, and several $30 co-pays to my therapist, I am thankful for losing the control that I thought I had.

While you can always have a plan for where you want to go, you never know what obstacles are waiting once you set sail on your course. Storms come. Winds blow. So much rain falls that you think you might drown. But just like the flowers need water to grow, sometimes we have to go through situations that produce a few tears to grow to our next level.

If we could control the things that would make us grow, we would never utilize them. As human beings, most of us have a tendency to retreat from pain. As much as I have struggled. I thank GOD for my 27th year. While I am by no means a flower yet, blossoming and beautiful. I am very much a seed that is still taking root. Let's see what blossoms the next years brings.

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from Kerri

 

I've often wondered what it would like to be a writer, a blogger, a novelist, a video-game critic... Yet, never have I sat down and considered turning that wonder into action. Until now.

Let me introduce myself.

Hi there, I'm Kerri. It's a pleasure, I'm sure, to be making your acquaintance. I like dogs, tragedies and muffins. I'm a programmer. I'm a video-game enthusiast. I'm a book worm. I'm a woman.

If you happen to find yourself keeping up to date with all of my vapid ranting in the future to come, expect to be witness to a wide variety of content. The opening paragraph should imply my intent with this blog but to clarify I hope to regale you with tales of games, tragic stories, interesting thought concepts and the occasional development project.

I look forward to many weeks of tapping at my keyboard, thank you for joining me now and, if ever, the future.

- Kerri

P.S. Blueberry is my favourite type of muffin.

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from Matt

 

“Growing up” is one of those societal constructs advertised to us from an early age. We saw it in the cartoons we watched, toys we played with, and the adult humans around us — all “grown up” themselves.

But growing up is a very abstract concept. If I look at my own life, I can point to some aspect and say I grew up at some point in time. I could look at another and say I'm still growing up there. (Am I doing it right?) But for most, this idea is grounded in the expectations others set upon you.

In the US, the doctor recommends you get a job, buy a house, find a spouse, have some kids, and retire. Our culture reinforces this through our TV shows, our ads, our news, our magazines. And each accomplishment along the way continues this reinforcement with a celebration. Bought your first house? Congratulations! Get engaged? Great! Each milestone makes you feel good, and is one step closer to realizing your full “grown up” self.

Of course, none of this inherently bad. Self-sustainability is always good, as in getting a paying job. But once you can cover your basic needs (food, water, shelter), I think it's safe to declare you've “grown up.” Because part of being grown up means getting to decide what being grown up means. Want a family? Go make it happen! Rather not? Cool! You're a grown up! Do what you want! The important thing about growing up isn't “growing up,” but forming your own expectations for yourself so you can personally gauge how well you're doing in life.

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from kevin5i

 

When you have a lot of people saying “I wish it was you” to you as a confession, you come to a point of pondering how it would've been, and I guess that's when everything comes to down spiral.

I'm no stranger to making a mistake, to failing to be faithful to someone I promised commitment. Reflecting on the reason of my stupidity it stems from the thought that: “there is so much better”, and frankly, there will always be “someone better.” as no one is perfect. I've talked to people that are more, sweet, more daring and more young — each of them having a definitive characteristic I like better. That goes to say that that doesn't mean who I have committed to doesn't have a definitive edge either, but there will always be that little chunk missing which I can choose to accept, or have someone fill over.

Keeping prolonged contact and fantasizing over what won't happen only makes it worse. The greatest mistake in this context is entertaining it, roaming close to the fire but hoping that the heat won't burn. To people that you feel “left out” from, inhibition and control won't certainly be your forte. Temptation isn't worth fighting against, only running away from.

The greatest way to avoid feeling left out are two things from my experience: Consider what you have and be thankful for it, and the best one is to come into acceptance that some things are not for you. I have been forgiven and have chose to actively renew my contentment everyday.

Root principle: Contentment. Our world offer us that we can have so much more, but if you have not come to a point of where you are content, insatiable hunger has never done anyone any good. Be content or be left out for the rest of your life.

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from Is Anyone Listening?

 

Don't know where I'm going with this. Do I worry? I say no, but deep down I'm a little afraid. Not at the fact that something bad will occur. At the fact that this whole time I've had it all planned out and nothing came out right and now that I am willing to just go with whatever happens, I might get to where I've wanted to go or end up in a better place than I ever thought.

-ℒ❤

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from kevin5i

 

I went to the garden beside our room in Baguio to find a butterfly with one wing crumpled. I wonder: Since it would have a very hard time to fulfill its role, is it the same as losing its purpose? Is it now equivalent to useless?

So far to what I know their role in this world is to pollenate. After watching it for a few good minutes of struggling to get out of the concrete, I helped it up with a leaf into the brush just a feet away. While it was on the concrete, you can definitely see it struggling, falling into its back a number of times. On the brush, it had a hard time balancing on a leaf and clinging to it for its dear life. It could definitely not fly at all, now now, and not for a long while at least.

In watching its problem, I wonder: Now that it would fail to do it's designed purpose how will it live its life and how fulfilling can be the rest of its existence be. As humans, thankfully, we have the capacity to augment our handicaps given we have enough resources to be able to acquire it, but for a specie such as the butterfly, is it as good as dead to the world?

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from vimoh

 

Human beings have wondered about the purpose of their existence for a long time. The question occupies everyone's mind at one point or another. I have given it thought as well. The closest I have ever come to anything resembling an answer is this:

We are here to understand.

In the scale of cosmic time, human existence (as we understand it right now) is small in terms of size as well as in terms of the amount of time that we have been around for. It is fair to say that nothing we have ever done in the course of our existence so far has made any difference to the universe.

We think of our lives as important and as having consequence, but few of us leave anything resembling a legacy behind. It is very likely that when humankind vanishes off the face of the Earth, the planet will not have suffered a great and irreparable loss. The universe would not even notice our departure. No stars would explode in sorrow and there would be no slowing down of the galactic spin.

We are no different from the rocks and dust that surround us. We emerge from inert matter and we disintegrate into inert matter. And for a brief duration of time therein, we are aware of things. We know things, and we know that we know things. This cognitive advantage is all we have. It is all that separates us from inert matter. It is what causes us to stare at our own hands in amazement and marvel at the sublime beauty of all the natural forces that brought us into being and made us what we are.

The human promise – if there is such a thing – lies not in any thing we can acquire, build, or dominate. All such achievements are bound to be as fleeting as we are. The human promise lies in the here and the now. It lies in our ability to process reality and come to conclusions about our world. In the long run, it will not survive. Its importance lies in its existence.

At the end of the day, understanding is the only thing that we can do. It is not the means to an end. And it is not an end. It simply is the only thing that matters.

As individuals and as members of the human species, the only point of our existence (it seems to me) is our ability to observe and understand. If we do this one thing, then, at the time of its end, this universe will have been more than just a universe. It will have been a universe that, for a fleeting moment, understood what it was despite largely being composed of inert matter. And that is something special.

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from Tuxela

 

I had a lot planned for my holidays after my exams, mostly working on my projects, as i had to finish one of the sites before knew you, optimize SEO for another one, and edit design for third one. It turned out to be ambitious…

I barely had spare time between resting after my exams, as I was exhausted, playing few new games that I missed due to exams and actually working, at the beginning I actually let myself with minimum workload, then I slowly increased it, as it turns out I was actually bored, lol. I finally started working, and making some progress.

Btw that whole optimising thing, I launched a website that is pretty much a curated list of products, then i somehow mention it on social media, people go there, most of the products are sponsored, so I just try to find different content and make few landing pages so conversion rates can get higher, and i’m trying to get some seo traffic here cause its too low.

Medium: http://bit.ly/2hnUdpz

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from vimoh

 

Compared with the story book universe inhabited by, among others, characters from our favourite comic books, our world has a low likelihood of unlikely things happening. A spider bite in our world, for example, is more likely to give you a disease than super powers. Exposure to radioactivity is more likely to kill you than give you super powers. Dying aliens are quite unlikely too, as far as occurrences go. But oddly enough, these things happen with surprising regularity in story books.

Look at it from the comic book point of view and you will find that such odd occurrences happen with great regularity in the same universe.

People say miracles are impossible. But when you think about it, it seems obvious that miracles are only extremely unlikely occurrences. An event gets called a miracle because it happened, because it was extremely unlikely to happen and it still did.

If comic book universes actually existed somewhere in the multiverse and if we could compare them with the world we live in, we might conclude that our universe has a lower ‘miracle range’. And yet, it may be argued that miracles happen quite regularly here as well. Of the millions of sperm cells that leave for an egg, only only one makes it. It is a mighty unlikely occurrence, but it happens every single day and is exceedingly common.

A wondrous story book universe therefore, simply exists inside a wider range of possibilities. Spider bites give people superhuman abilities, aliens land up on Earth with alarming regularity, children are born with the ability to shoot laser beams from their eyes. These are all extremely unlikely things, but they are made possible because of that universe’s support of a wider range of possibilities.

Scientists have spoken of our reality being a small part of a multiverse. A string of universes containing all possible worlds. Perhaps, somewhere out there, in that infinite string, is a world where strange and wonderful things happen everyday, much like in a comic book.

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from vimoh

 

The music industry was changed forever when mp3 files came to be the default unit of music media. Before the single soundtrack became the fundamental unit in the music market, that position belonged to the record. That is why the sellers were called “record companies” and not “song companies”. Music lovers bought a CD of 10 songs and ended up truly enjoying only one or two of them. They couldn’t choose to buy individual soundtracks unless they illegally ripped songs off a purchased CD. In an ideal world, a record company would have noticed the demand for such a market model and embraced the mp3 format, but it didn’t happen that way. The companies fought legal battles against teenage downloaders and spent money on advertising campaigns that made downloading music seem like a mortal sin. In due course of time though, the single song did find its way into the record companies’ good books. They slapped DRM tags on it and went about their way in the usual fashion.

The good thing that came out of all this was that no longer could a bad song ride into people’s music libraries simply by being in the same CD as a good song. Good songs get downloaded, bad songs get ignored. That is what the new single-unit model made sure of.

Oddly enough, the flexibility of the web hasn’t done much to the market that deals in words — book selling. This is especially odd because the web is fundamentally a text-based environment. The web is different because it is based on a whole lot of words (text, code, source etc.)

The default unit in the book market remains the paper book and the nature of our favourite genres hasn’t undergone much of a change either. Novels are still long and chapters are still the building blocks that go into their making. This is not surprising since, even in the music market, it was the distribution mechanism that changed and not the form of music.

But that is not entirely true, is it?

The record can be split up into songs and the songs can have their own independent existence. The novel loses everything if the chapters become independent. This is why it is unrealistic to expect the web to change the book market. The form factor does come into play when we consider web compatibility. Forget book-length narratives, people won’t even sit through a 5000-word article.

What the web CAN do is become a field for short fiction. The single short story can become the equivalent of the single soundtrack. In the minds of those who read fiction, the short story is still part of a collective — an anthology, a collection, or a series. While the idea of a short story collection may not be something evil, this collective does not have to be a tangible construct. It can simply be an identifier — a label — a title or description to help contain a mass of short narratives.

What that means is that the short story does not have to be part of a physical book. It can exist on its own as a work of fiction. If it needs context, then that can come from a label. Each Byomkesh Bakshi detective story is an independent work, but it gets context from the title and the shared character set. A reader, if/when he finds a Byomkesh story, does not need a physical construct (like a book) to be able to place it in the right folder in his mind. In the music market, such contextualising happens by way recognising artist names. In the book market, it can happen through author names and franchise names.

Think about an online marketplace where you go and find short stories listed. Some are independent of franchise context, some belong to a particular series (Byomkesh Bakshi?) and all stories are brand new. You read excerpts and click on the buy button next to the stories you find interesting. You pay… what? about 10 rupees for a story and it is added to your library.

The problem is, we don’t have suitable micro-payment systems in place to make such a marketplace possible. In addition, I have a feeling that such a market will work more for short fiction that falls under some manner of concept umbrella. For example, people will be more likely to buy stories featuring their favourite characters or stories by their favourite authors than go for something standalone (both in idea and author terms). Think about it — Would you rather buy from DetectiveStories.com or ByomkeshBakshi.com? A story’s presence is felt not just in the words it uses, but also in the anchors it places in the backs of our minds.

It is possible to free fiction for the web, but it will take some serious thinking and a rather adventurous spirit among publishers. Heck, if the micro-payment thing wasn’t in my way, I would have done this myself by now.

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from kevin5i

 

Not everyone has the luxuy to give gifts to anyone but to anyone who has you'd be surprised that it's more than just losing what you have but it's gaining something more than what meets the eye.

Last Thursday I was out to run errands when I got parched. I'm not particularly sure if I am sick or I'm just tired of extended moving from to and fro but getting the Teavana Hibiscus tea from Starbucks made the effort worthwhile. Now, it may not look like it but I already completed my sticker journal and had redeemed it already. (I'm selling it by the way, but that's for another story.) So, I opted to give it to the old man beside me and lo and behold, he grinned.

“Hijo, would you like to know how special you are?”

While unraveling his promo card he then pointed out he needed only one sticker to complete the promo. I noticed he needed the Christmas drink though and with a hint of disappointment I replied

“Oh, but that's the Christmas drink's section”

Fortunately the barista had the holiday spirit as well.

“It's alright we can consider that.” She butted joining into the joyous occassion placing the last piece of the puzzle in place.

It was such a cheerful moment: For me, the barista and the old man.

If there's anything that I took with me from that place other than the refreshing cold drink it's the thought that we don't need a miracle to be able to give, all it takes is to consider what you need and share what you don't.

P.S. A smile is something you have that you can give for free without losing anything in return.

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from vimoh

 

A friend of mine mailed in to express her happiness that a recent photo she posted of herself got a gazillion likes. I think Facebook likes are somewhat like the page view counters of yore. They are fun and ego-boosting but entirely pointless in the long run.

One of Facebook’s goals is to be a reasonably accurate reflection of your real life social connections. This goal actually suffers because of the ease with which people can connect on Facebook. In real life, connecting with someone takes effort. You have to travel, you have to make small talk, at the very least you have to pick up your phone and dial a number. You know who is an important part of your life because they come through this filter – they make an effort to be in touch with you. On Facebook, because the amount of effort required to connect with someone is minimal, even people who don’t much care about you and the events in your life end up watching and reacting to your updates.

Think of it this way. You are getting married and you have sent out invitation cards to all your friends. Those who turn up made a conscious choice to do so. They took the time out, they booked tickets, they put other appointments on hold, and they undertook a journey to reach the place you are getting married at. It took some real effort on their part and that tells you that they attach importance to the relationship they have with you.

If anyone could attend your wedding with the click of their mouse, the element of effort goes out of the picture and there is no way to establish which relationships are important and which are not. Heck! Most people, if they could indeed attend your wedding that easily, would attend your wedding. Who would want to miss out on all the free food on the other side of the “like” button?

Of course, I am talking strictly data here. It is entirely possible that because of Facebook’s ease of use, you might end up connecting with people who might otherwise have remained distant and unfamiliar. But as far as Facebook being representative of your real world social graph is concerned, the current model just doesn’t work. Part of the reason behind Facebook’s early success was the element of exclusivity (with its user base being limited to members of particular institutions). Now it is heading in the exact opposite direction.

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from Matt

 

Some people (like me) romantically dream of throwing out all the unnecessary things we've accumulated over the years and going off to live in the woods, or live off the land; to have a peaceful environment, or even to toil a bit.

It's a nice dream. But many people don't do it. We've already adapted; we're busy reveling in modern life. We like our houses and our things; our conveniences and our connections to one another. Because through all our invention, mankind's greatest is that of complete and utter comfort. We don't have to hunt or gather. We get to enjoy a cool room on a scorching hot day. We get to travel long distances with little physical effort. And we have really comfortable seats. We rarely end up leaving because our desire for comfort outweighs our desire to discover new uncomfortable things.

And it's an important realization. Thoughts of going off to live in the woods, or to work on a farm somewhere across the ocean, can take up a lot of your time. You think about what it might be like, and how wonderful it would be — almost as if you're looking for that last reason you need to go do it. But you're never really committed to it, and you usually realize there's actually something else causing the thought in the first place. The sooner you realize what that something is, the sooner you can focus that longing on improving your current place in the world, instead.

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