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the LATEST news about me worth mentioning

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Heartbreaking Spam of Staggering Genius  
Some years back I wrote an essay on the accidental poetry that can emerge from the machinery of Babelfish and other automatic-translation programs. Subsequently the notion has become old-hat, particularly as spammers have taken up the habit of lacing their emails with the radar-busting chaff of random sentence fragments, resulting in a corpus of nonsense that a small army of connoisseurs has taken to harvesting for moments of lyrical surrealism. Yesterday, however, thanks to a serendipitous Google vanity search, I stumbled on a cache of spam-driven word salad so richly lunatic that I am once again returned to my initial state of wonder at the Underweb's capacity for coughing up hairballs of stochastic eloquence. In it, I am described, notably, as "a causative editor for Stiffened depot" (transformed, presumably, from "contributing editor for Wired magazine"), but you need a lengthier sample to get the full flavor:

“It’s eminently doable,” says Prince Castronova, an link academic at Indiana Lincoln and author of Synthetical Worlds: The Activity and Culture of Online Games. “If a being in Snatch can live on a greenback a day, they can achieve their living playacting recording games.”

The upshot, Dibbell says, is that as solon users perceive construction to distort dollars out of gold pieces, games equal Experience of Warcraft prepare sophisticated economies, with measurable GDPs and reverse rates.

“There are fill making six figures,” Dibbell says. “One-man operations, essentially, doing vii figures. It’s not solid to pee money doing this.”

I thought at first that this must be a piece of Babelfishery -- the result of the original text's having been auto-translated from English to Chinese/French/Malay/whatever and back a few times. But if you look more closely it's clearly some program that is working with an English-only thesaurus, simply replacing random nouns and adjectives with randomly selected synonyms. Honestly, if I spent all my days studying the spammers and SEO gamers, I think I still would never quite understand what in the name of Jesus they are up to with stuff like this. But in this case at least it's clear that they are essentially playing Mad Libs for a living. Ludocapitalism marches on!

And also let me emphasize: By no means is it solid to pee money doing this.

11:46 AM

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Night I Met the Lich King  

I know some of you World of Warcraft fanbois and -grrls think you're hardcore because you were first in line when the Wrath of the Lich King expansion went on sale at midnight last night. Well, to you I say: /golfclap. Because last night, at midnight Paris time, while the rest of you were still trying to decide which lawnchair to take down to the Best Buy, I came face to face with the Lich King himself.

Or as they say around these parts: Le Roi-Liche, il même.

4:37 AM

Friday, November 07, 2008

My Personal Assessment of the Current State of National and World Politics:  


(I'm sure I'm not the first person to have put it quite this way, and I'm definitely not the best photoshopper for the job, but if your feelings are similar and you can't find this anywhere else, feel free to copy and paste.)

9:41 AM

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Best of Technology Writing 2008  
There are only four words capable of expressing how it feels to be selected two years in a row -- first by tech journalism's big kahuna Steven Levy and now by its enfant terrible Clive Thompson -- for inclusion in the University of Michigan Press's indispensable Best of Technology Writing anthology:

I. Am. Not. Worthy.

False modesty or objective fact? You be the judge. This year, my New York Times Magazine article on Chinese gold farmers shares the pages with variously deep, delightful, and illuminating pieces by Emily Nussbaum, Caleb Crain, Cory Doctorow, and others, and once again, I'm offering a free, autographed copy to each of the first four readers who sends e-mail asking for it.

1:39 PM

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Virtual Economies! Ludocapitalism! Bullets! (A Q2 FY'08 Update)  
It's been a busy few months, not that you'd know it from the pace of updates around here.

Or maybe you would. I suppose, after all, that if the Internet has left standing even one detectable difference between the professional writer and the "amateur," it's that the professional writers' blogs reliably go dead when they actually have work to do -- procrastination being the mother of 99 percent of blog writing, and more writing being typically the working writer's least favorite form of procrastination.

But I digress, which is also typical, and also partly why I'm loath to check in here when the workload gets heavy. I mean, one minute I'm logged into Blogger bent on dashing off a quick, three-line announcement of my latest low-profit side project, and next thing you know I've spent an even lower-profit week unwinding the four-year narrative behind said project.

Perhaps the lesson is that there'd be more profit all around if I were to save the narratives for paying gigs and approach this blog thing here as more of a never-ending bullet list. In which spirit I present herewith, and without apology the accumulated bullet points of my fiscal year to date:

Bullets, baby.

11:11 AM

Thursday, May 08, 2008

To Lake County, With Love  
Today I honor the people of Gary, Indiana, and their heroic stand against the forces of quite possibly irredeemable jackassery in Tuesday's primary election. I honor them with a juliandibbell.com first: A poem of my own composition, entitled Indiana Toll-Road Freestyle (.pdf) and written a couple years back, mostly during the reveries of my twice weekly commute between South Bend and Chicago. (Heartfelt apologies to Rakim, Eminem, and other rappers whose flow I seem to have had the nerve to think I could textually approximate. Much love to Lake County.)

12:49 PM

Friday, April 25, 2008

Clay Shirky's "Here Comes Everybody"  
Regular readers of the Daily Telegraph's book-reviews section may already be aware of my feelings on the matter, but I don't mind saying it again: Clay Shirky's new book kicks some serious Web 2.0-punditry butt.

1:58 PM

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