Four short links: 28 Jan 2009

Sensors, games, recession indicators, and book prep in today’s four short links:

  1. New Networks Take Nature’s Pulse – an article in Christian Science Monitor about sensor networks. Makezine pointed out that hobbyists are building low-cost versions with Arduinos. Sensor networks are part of the “Web meets World” change we’re in, where the Web ceases to be something you sit down to interact with. Instead, our everyday life will inform and be informed by the Web in ways we won’t realize.
  2. Interactive Fiction Goes to Market – a company, Textfyre is readying new text adventure games (“interactive fiction”) for the iPhone market. I dream of a day when the text adventure world becomes lucrative again (the tools like Inform are divine) but I can’t help think that the iPhone is the wrong platform. The make-believe keyboard makes text entry such a chore that it would seem to count against text adventures. I hope and wish that I am proven wrong and some day the CEO of Textfyre buys the house next to me just so he can build a huge mansion and paint on the walls “Nat Torkington thought the iPhone was the wrong platform for text adventures”.
  3. You Know It’s a Recession When More People Search for Coupons Than Britney Spears – interesting tidbit from Bo Cowgill, who runs Google’s internal prediction market. His blog is full of fascinating pointers to prediction market research. Between him and David Pennock, my prediction market cup runneth over.
  4. How To Write a Book – Steven Johnson writes, on BoingBoing, how he uses DevonThink to gather and organize his book thoughts and structure before actually sitting down to produce the words. I love reading about the act of literary creation (I have a long shelf of “how to write mystery novel” books that I can almost quote chapter and verse), the way it’s so different for every author yet so the output is so similar.
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  • Roger Weeks

    Nat, I use my iPhone for a lot of text entry, and I don’t find it problematic at all. I’ve tried blackberry keyboards and they’re too small.

    I take the light rail to work in San Jose every day and I spend a good bit of that time hanging out with friends in IRC channels on my iPhone. I don’t see how a text adventure would require more typing than IRC…

    Give me an Infocom emulator for the iPhone and I’ll happily be eaten by a grue.


  • Roger, Frotz for iPhone should help you find your nearest grue.

    Android users will want Twisty.

  • Thx for the link to Steven Johnson’s article on How to Write a Book. I, too, am fascinated by the creative process and have more than my share of how-to-write-a-mystery-novel books. My favorite is Stephen King’s (although it’s not strictly about mysteries); second favorite is William G. Tapply’s book.

    In addition to Johnson’s recommendation of DEVONthink, some of the commenters also recommended Scrivener, which I plan to check out:

    Thx again,

  • whiteshark0121

    I love writing and reading books. I love the notion that people can make things up in their mind and then make them real on a page, for the pleasure or utility of someone else. One of my favorite mentor on learning how to write a book is Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul.