The Couch Dialogues
I spent some time talking to the Unshelved guys in the airport after the convention, mostly about Lois McMaster Bujold and Gene Wolfe, who are people I have very little opportunity to discuss in the space of a day. When I meet a person who wants to discuss books at length, I’m sure they can sense my desperation. They may even be able to smell it. My first thought is to cripple them, so they can’t escape.
I told Gabriel that I thought one of them was still a librarian, and after a pause of indeterminate length we had the following conversation. Seriously, in one go. This is a transcript.
We had other librarians approach us during the convention as well, presenting robust plans for maintaining the relevance of the public library in a time when you can know almost anything in the space of a minute. I have a soft spot for such places, having retreated to them as a young man, and also having serviced instructional technology professionally before I hung it up to devote myself to this ridiculous adventure. The librarians that approached us seemed to believe that digital culture was the answer, the alchemical social aspects of gaming. I doubt these rogues have the support of the infrastructure, but it’s exciting to imagine the institution transformed.
I’ve been able to put that 360 Chatpad accessory (thing) through its paces, and it’s damn near perfect. They should have included Zork, of course - with achievements. Upon this point I must hold firm. But outside of this fantasy scenario, they’ve managed to put together something that works very well in the real world.
The usual forum response is that they’re happy to tap away on their full USB keyboard, and I’m glad that their set-up allows for that. No doubt they are also content to roast their mastodon over a stone pit, or style their tangled manes with sap. I’m almost morally opposed to having a full keyboard on my couch - there is something deeply incongruous about it, like stirring your coffee with an oar. The civilized alternative is to snap on a thumbboard that has a meaty click to the keys, an attachment that feels as though it was planned from the start. It looks like something you would buy whole. The backlight is welcome. The device does cover up the existing microphone port, but the included microphone is identical to the old one - save for a kind of lapel clip that they moved the muting function to.
Long term, I imagine it’s to make MMO style games a more reasonable proposition. Their own Marvel MMO would probably be significantly improved by it. In every other case (naming saves, your ‘Hounds, your Halo 3 videos, responding to messages) it takes a decent experience and makes it great.
Harmonix wanted to know if they could store their Rock Band instruments and software here at the office before PAX. We agreed, perhaps too quickly.