The Myth of Obsolescence

One prediction of the future that we make all the time, concerning just about anything, is regarding a particular thing’s demise. We think of a certain object as being on life support at the verge of being pulled. However, 9 times out of 10 (after all 3 out of 4 experts say a made up stat is as good as a real one), we are dead wrong (no pun intended). Rather, that object lingers like a zombie, or like a 80′s horror villain that keeps coming back to life in another sequel.

As can be seen in the cartoon to my left, two of those objects are the broom (even though the vacuum was invented decades ago) and the book (still also managing despite the explosive success of e-books).

Not only are books hard to kill, but paper in general. There is a company known as Xerox PARC (now just PARC), that was the research and development division of Xerox, founded in 1970.

The major motivation behind much of PARC’s research was Xerox’s paranoia that computers were going to put an end to paper, which Xerox’s business relied upon.

We have them to thank for some of the most awesome innovations in computer technology that we enjoy today such as laser printing, Ethernet, Graphical User Interfaces (including the invention of the mouse), and something know as object oriented programming that you need a computer science background to appreciate, but is still highly significant.

Now back to the point. Fast forward to the year 2014 and paper is plenty alive and well, raining down upon us relentlessly. Our cars, which don’t fly by the way, are still fueled by gasoline. Downloadable and streaming media are still a far cry from killing optical disks (largely due to licensing stubbornness of the big six media companies, but that’s another can of worms for another day). We still use shovels and also what we now call “dumb phones”. Three seashells will never replace toilet paper (for those who know that reference). Some predict that desktop machines are doomed, because of mobile devices, but I think they’ll stay around, due to the advantages a static and stationary machine “serve” (if you catch my drift). There’s all kinds of examples of these “undead” objects lurking.

Part of what led my interest to wane in the Jubex Cube game that I was developing was that I found myself agreeing with the comments on Steam Greenlight that say, “Meh, I’ll stick with a real cube.” Throughout the development of the game, any time I felt like playing with puzzle cubes, did I turn to my game? The so called high tech version? No, but rather I preferred holding the actual physical object in my hand. This is part of the reason physical books persist in being live and well in defiance of convenient e-books.

So is it necessarily a bad thing that old tech is hard to kill? No, but rather whatever that serves us the best should be what prevails. Therefore, not only is obsolescence a myth, but also futurism, overall.

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How Love Turns People Into Nerds

…that is, nerd in the cool since of the word. In the past, I’ve pondered on a strange phenomenon in Utah and its LDS culture. Bear with me and I’ll eventually get to how any of this has to do with love.

First, what is the phenomenon? Uncanny numbers of big names in Science Fiction and Fantasy come from this culture. Names like Orson Scott Card, Brandon Sanderson, Stephanie Myers, Tracy Hickman, Dave Wolverton, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, and Kevin J. Anderson. It was a Mormon who invented the primary concepts behind the force in the original Star Wars (as opposed to those apostate midichlorians). The original Battle Star Galactica of the 80′s was written by a Mormon. In fact, a new Utahn indie fantasy movie studio, Arrowstorm Entertainment, is making waves among fans around the world. Their special effects are astonishing for the low budget of their films.

Signs of this phenomenon were especially prevalent last September when Salt Lake City had their very first Comic Con with a record breaking attendance. An avalanche of fans swarmed the Salt Palace which they weren’t prepared for, causing the crew their to be in a disorganized panic. Not only that, but nearly half of the attendees were in costume. On average, Comic Cons only have 10% of attendees wearing costumes.

So that’s the phenomenon. So what’s going on here? In the past, I’ve formulated a few different hypotheses, tying this phenomenon to the nature of LDS theology. The LDS church teaches doctrine on epic proportions that truly capture the imagination. Doctrine, in which, I want to be careful how I discuss here, since we’re talking about the particular points that have stirred the most controversy in the world, regarding our eternal destiny. But it is the most epic, most awesome thing that one could possibly imagine.

Another thought I had in the past is that the LDS church is not dogmatic, but rather encourages open mindedness of its members. It teaches to seek truth wherever truth can be found. In fact, the novel Angels and Demons was intriguing to read coming from an LDS background, having as its theme the conflict of science verses religion. From the perspective of LDS theology, there is no conflict. These are merely two approaches of seeking out the same truths.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe these points are contributing factors to the phenomenon. However, I had an epiphany at church this last Sunday, during a lesson on strengthening the family, on a point that should perhaps have been the most obvious. The point is this, in the words of the promos for the LDS church, “Family, isn’t it about … time?”

So there it is, what love has to do with any of this. Like father like son. If you have a dad that’s completely obsessed with Batman, it will rub off on the child. A family oriented culture is the very best breeding grounds for nerdom. This is not just true with parent-child relationships, but with all family relationships. For instance, I contribute many of my interests in various aspects of geek culture to the great deal of time I spent with cousins growing up.

I don’t have the stats on this, but I would imagine that Salt Lake Comic Con probably had a greater ratio of kids to adults than others in the nation. You’d see a lot of families that would be dressed up for different themes. For instance, a family who’s all wearing Batman costumes. Will those kids be fans for life? I believe so.

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Jubex Cube – My First Indie Game [Update]

Jubex Cover

UPDATE: I’m pulling the plug on this, because I now feel my time would be better spent on bigger ideas now that I have experience with using Unity. This was a good training project.

First off, I’m shifting the focus of this site a bit. In conjunction to being about my writing, it will now also be about games that I develop.

The first of these games is Jubex Cube. I submitted this to Steam’s Greenlight. Check it out below and vote for it to be greenlit.

Here’s the pitch:

When solving Rubik’s Cubes, are you tired of stickers peeling, the cube jamming up, or screwing up your combos past redemption with no undo button?

Interact with and solve the world’s most famous puzzle cube,digitally. Choose from sizes ranging from the simplistic 2x2x2 to the insanely ambitious 10x10x10 (I’d like to see something like that hold together in real life) (turns out real cubes exist that size).

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About Time for a WereDragon Status Update, Eh?

I haven’t mentioned for a while where I’m at on my progress in my WereDragon novel. The first draft is getting close. There’s still a little ways, but its close. But this is not to say that all of the manuscript is in the first draft stage, because earlier parts have been reworked with more than one pass. I’m excited how the story is coming along.

Next week starting Monday, I’ll be attending David Farland’s Writer’s Mastery Camp. If I don’t complete the first draft there, then I should be able to get it together by the end of November. Then it will be time to rewrite until things are ready to go. In the meantime, I’ll plan on posting again at the end of November to report on how this all went.

By the way, on a related note, one of the ideas I’m entertaining for a story module for Sojourer Tales (see my last blog post for explanation) is one that takes place in my WereDragon world. In any case, I’m excited to contribute story modules to this, which I’ll keep you posted on. But first to get this novel out of the way!

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Sojourner Tales

The prolific best selling author and game designer, Tracy Hickman, has come out with Sojourner Tales, which can be thought of as board-gamified choose-your-own-adventure in which e-book story modules can be downloaded that direct the game play. They currently have 8 days left on their kickstarter campaign here.

The reason that I mention this is more that just giving a shout out to Sojourner Tales. I’m interested in contributing modules for it. I was originally thinking of playing around with the choose-your-own-adventure genre, but this is even better. It’ll be fun to create content for Sojourner Tales.

I bought their Creator perk on kickstarter. One of the things it comes with is a D.I.Y. version of the game, until the real one is available coming March. In the meantime, I downloaded, printed, and assembled this temp version and played it with my roommate, using the story module, A Knight’s Wages, that comes with the game. My verdict is that it’s a good and well designed game. Five thumbs up!

I’ll keep ya’ll posted regarding more info on my story modules for the game.

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