If I think with my body

…and my body is damaged, bruised, broken, in agony, etc, etc – what does that do to my thinking?

Physical torture becomes mind control, and ‘brainwashing’ becomes much more understandable. Less serious injuries can even have serious effects on thinking (and feeling). Am I ‘in my right mind’ when I don’t want to even get up off this couch for fear of screaming muscles? Should I take the sense of not being “at my peak” more seriously? (Maybe not seriously – it probably doesn’t matter that I’m not at my ‘peak’ or whathaveyou – but it’s more real perhaps than I was giving it credit)

I dreamt last night about my body and in the dream I understood that it was just another object or unit, translating and building a world of contact between other objects. When I walk, the ‘parts’ of me don’t just perform ‘walking’… they’re enveloped completely and utterly in a body-world correlate, bringing together groups of other things – internal and external – ground and air and sugar and glucose and electrical nerve impulses and shoes and clothes and bloody-lung-oxygen systems, etcetera, etcetera, and for my body that is the entire extent of everything that exists for it. Latour’s “nature/cultures” seems to be closest to this dream-position I had, and thought it’s taken me months and months, I feel like I’ve finally understood it (even if I keep forgetting and slipping back into too-simple materialisms or scientific reductionism on a regular basis).

(I went paintballing yesterday – and I’ll have something to say about that soon)

The Beach Website as Genre

You didn’t know that websites had genres, did you? Well, they do, and I’ve discovered a new one. Blogs are a genre of website, ‘portal’ type sites are another, forums are also a genre, shops are a genre of website too… but until now no one had formally identified the Beach Website as a genre.

Check out Piha Beach, voted New Zealand’s best surf beach, located out on the far western coast of Auckland. It’s a great piece of work, even for a  website made in 2004.

This initial discover stirred my curiosity… what other famous beaches harboured a secret internet presence, and what did they demonstrate about this genre? What kind of person even looks for the website… for a beach? I have no answers, only more examples.

What kind of website would Sydney’s most famous beach have, I wondered? My answer: this kind. Is a pattern emerging?

One more, from Sydney’s Cronulla Beach. A functional, council run beach site. Very much a bureaucrat’s idea of a “good beach website”.

From the other side of the continent, Perth’s Cottesloe Beach (pretty similar to Cronulla).

And because we’re interested in an international genre, here’s Waikiki Beach, with live cams from the Hawaii Government’s website.

If I were a proper researcher I’m sure I’d go dig up some more examples, but I’m pleased with those. The Beach Website it seems comes in two forms – the remnant of the geocities-era, in which making websites for things like Beaches was still something that people did (“Hey, I wonder if Piha has a website… I wonder if I could make one?”). The other kind is just a boring slice of CMS-content with some local photos and probably a map or useless information to pad out the otherwise empty page (Cronulla: Opening Hours, 24 hours/day, 365 days/year).

It’s interesting to think about how Websites have ossified into just a few genres. It’s hard to find a site that doesn’t fit within one the few formats mentioned above (blog; forum; portal; CMS; store; I can’t really think of any others). Perhaps we’ve reached CSS saturation — and with good reason! CSS rocks, and the web is so much nicer for it… but I also wonder, no actually I’m reasonably sure, that standardisation has also curtailed a lot of the early weirdness and creativity of the internet. Who makes websites for beaches anymore? Bureaucrats and city council employees, only.

Standards and genres do things – to our expectations, and to our experiences. And in light of articles like this, I can’t help but think questioning these rapidly calcifying genres and standards is a probably a good thing. The author of that piece declines from manifesto, but I might write one. If I do, it’ll be about Doing Weird Shit with websites, like breaking them. “CSS SUX” isn’t just a song, it can also be an avant garde anti-web-standards critical stance.


This will be our rallying cry and the internet will be proper shitty.

I wonder what kind of trackback spam I’ll get now? All these beaches will probably skew and confuse my SEO spambots.

Feeling is a kind of thinking

We don’t just think in words – we also recognise that we think in images, sounds, smells, colours, even whole situations (think of dreams you’ve had where whole dimensions of experience are just given to you without being ‘known’ via any sense). The content of our thoughts are not always words. I don’t think with merely the linguistic portion of my brain… I think with my whole body.

Feeling (emotion) is a kind of thinking.

Attention and Immersion

A video essay about the term ‘immersion’ and why I think it should be replaced.

While video of Richard Lemarchand’s GDC talk is behind the GDC Vault paywall, his slides and text from the talk are online here.

I’ve received a few very nice replies and comments – Shawn Trautman wrote out some of his reservations and emailed them to me, and he quoted some of my reply here.

Robert Yang commented on the video when I posted it to my Facebook account, and he had the following to say:

I’d get more polemical than you and say that the industry actively encourages this fallacy, and the idea of the holodeck / this technology fetish results in an “immersion industry” where the Crysis 3 box says ridiculous shit like “aliens behaving realistically” — what the hell could that even possibly mean and who wrote that copy? But no one cares, because we’re used to it, and that’s what’s worth $60 instead of 6 indie games.



There’s a strange, and relatively new, genre of YouTube video, based on parodying the over-serious, über-gamer culture that surrounds professional gaming, and in particular the MLG (Major League Gaming) circuit. The typical MLG fragvid is full of over-the-top special effects, in-text commentary, and often accompanied by a dubstep soundtrack, oriented towards demonstrating a certain Pro player’s skill with the maximum of bravado. “360 no scope!” “no snipers” “~xXRunning RiotXx~” etc. The videos often reference drug culture, and feature ‘420‘ references and other elements of cannabis culture.

Sometime late in 2011 it seems some gamers across a couple of different communities (perhaps /v/ and some of the Reddit gaming sub-forums?) decided to spoof the MLG fragvid and in the process spawned a whole new genre of YouTube video. I find this parody genre strangely compelling, and for the sake of curation and posterity, have collected the best, funniest, and most demonstrative examples of the genre here in a YouTube playlist over half an hour long.

The playlist begins with my absolute favourite entry in the genre, a masterful repurposing of all the elements from the PRO fragvid. As an aside, I’ve been reading George Lakoff’s writing about categories, and following Lakoff, this first video is very much prototypical of this parody category. Bookending the playlist, the last video is a 5minutes long parody and is a less-subtle deconstruction of the MLG fragvid genre, but it makes quite explicit what is going on in this type of video. It’s useful, if less entertaining, because of how visible all of its “moving parts” are, so to speak.

There’s certainly more to say about what this genre means or is indicative of – yet more evidence of the fracturing of the gamer community as gaming becomes more mainstream and more diverse (if, perhaps, no less typically “masculine” yet), etc, etc. But there’s something very fun and clever about these parodyvids that is worth preserving without too much dissection.

So without further introduction, I present the collected playlist known as “MLG 420 PRO vids (xXCriterionCollectionXx)“.

Update: Okay so I collected 200 in the first playlist and hit YouTube’s limit for videos in one playlist. So here’s the sequel – MLGStackOverfl0w: