Play and Development

A few different videos and pages on the role of imaginative play in cognitive development. The idea that children map out their world and its relationships through play, rehearsing their agency on and through these maps. Thinking about “gamespace” through the eyes of a child, and the kinds of elements necessary (i.e. minimal conditions) for imaginative/creative play, as well as potential engagement with childhood development processes.

Two research lab sites here and here.

Plus some vids:



Glass Bead Games

I had the chance to read this great interview of Keller Easterling and Benedict Singleton by the editors of The Glass Bead, a fantastic site in itself, and a great reference for the “mapspace as gamespace” project now in conception – this page in particular is a great articulation of the idea. I am familiar with Easterling and her work on the spatial software of the city, but Singleton was new to me. I will be digging more into his work. His unpacking of plot, plotting, the plot, plot twists, etc. here is great:

If you trace the conceptual history of ‘plot’, you find that before around 1500, the term refers solely to a marked-out site, an area of land. Over the next century or so, the term’s meanings proliferate to the point where their connections are no longer immediately obvious: drawings, narratives, and seditious plans are all called plots. The underlying logic that guided this development illuminates an alternative conception of design in a very striking way.

Plot’s initial, spatial meaning, the demarcation of an area, transferred into the language of the workshop. One plots out a design on paper before acting on other, more expensive materials. So a constructive sense of plot arises, relating to diagrams, maps and charts. And within a few decades, this graphical ‘plotting’ was adopted into the lexicon of the early modern theater, where its artisanal meaning deepened into a narrative sense: plotting as the arrangement of people and things over time, so as to tell a story.

Up to this point, ‘plot’ shares a substantial similarity to ‘plan’. Both words couple the idea of a spatial arrangement with a schedule of unfolding action. Plot’s connection to territory (and the politics of its division), cartography, and stories make it, perhaps, the richer word. But most interesting is that, on the back of its theatrical use, plot acquired a further, specificallysubversive, sense, which planning does not possess: plotting as the subtle orchestrations of an unseen director, manipulating the course of events from behind the scenes.

So ‘plot’ encodes a particular form of creativity, too, which can be glossed as the production of a plot twist. This is the point at which one plot is subverted by another one, just as the routines of the bank, the placement of cameras, the structure of the vault and the peccadilloes of the manager become the raw material of the heist. Put another way, plotting is always re-plotting: discerning the contours of an unfolding situation and locating the opportunities it presents for ‘leverage’–points in space and time at which an action can generate an effect disproportionate to the physical effort put into it. A plot, we might say, is a plan invested with this kind of underdog intelligence.

In a kind of closing of the circle, ‘site’ (the original meaning of plot) remains critical to this idea of the creative twist or what we might call the kick–the moment where one plot is derailed by another. Rather than conjuring an image of how the world should be and then trying to force it into being, plotting takes a site’s particular structure, its fixity or at least predictability, as the platform for new and potentially unlicensed operations. Recovering the full sense of plotting, as an intervention that starts from a point of comparative weakness and proceeds through guile and ingenuity, forges a deep conceptual link between the creation of artifacts and political intrigues, dissident stratagems, and other ruses.

some vids:

Interactive Computing

A nice little rabbit hole here. What happens to Turing incompleteness (and the argument that it renders machine intelligence impossible) once machines start interacting directly with the world? Finite State Machine (and non-determinant FSM’s) also seem quite useful going forward.

From Wikipedia:

The famous Church-Turing thesis attempts to define computation and computability in terms of Turing machines. However the Turing machine model only provides an answer to the question of what computability of functions means and, with interactive tasks not always being reducible to functions, it fails to capture our broader intuition of computation and computability. While this fact was admitted by Alan Turing himself, it was not until recently that the theoretical computer science community realized the necessity to define adequate mathematical models of interactive computation. Among the currently studied mathematical models of computation that attempt to capture interaction are Japaridze’s hard- and easy-play machines elaborated within the framework of computability logic, Goldin’s persistent Turing machines, and Gurevich’sabstract state machines. Peter Wegner has additionally done a great deal of work on this area of computer science.

Douglas Engelbart, father of interactive computing.

Theory of Computation course at Portland State (FSM, etc.):


Demis Hassabis + DeepMind

Some very interesting emerging work from the leader of DeepMind, now part of Google, and its research into AI, Deep Learning. His incredible background goes from chess master at the age of 13, design of the video game Theme Park at 17, a PhD in neuroscience, and finally the founding of DeepMind and its purchase by Google in 2014. DeepMind recently made the news for its AlphaGo program, which beat the European Go champion. A couple recent lectures: