Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 18:15 on 02-11-2012, Ibmiller
Hmm. I don't really mind, since it's somewhat of a fantasy. But that would be an interesting thing to ask both the character and the people in charge of making the show.
at 17:12 on 02-11-2012, Alice
Argh. As of the last episode (the adaptation of the "In vain I have struggled. It will not do." scene), I've reached a tipping point with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries where my "this really doesn't work as a video blog" irritation outweighs the project's other charms.

(Not particularly plot-specific, but marking as spoiler just in case.)

Especially considering the videos are presented as being Lizzie's graduate school thesis project, the apparent* lack of participant consent is completely unethical (and surely there's no way her department would allow it?). But the way the intro to the most recent episode lampshades and then dismisses this ("there have been several moments that we didn't include, so this was not an easy decision to make. But it seems like these videos are bigger than me now. [...] I don't think you guys will ever forgive me if I don't show you what happened after my last video.") really gets up my nose: I don't care how many followers you have or how vocal your fans get, their desire to see a video doesn't trump the video participants' right to a) know they're being filmed for YouTube, and b) decide whether they want the footage put on the internet or not.

*If I remember correctly, Bing Lee is filmed without knowing the footage is destined for YouTube in an early video, and it doesn't look like Darcy's consented to the 'proposal' footage being shown.
at 16:00 on 02-11-2012, Arthur B
A trusted informant passed this on:
A Popular Physics paper submitted to the Cornell University Library.
"In 1928, the late Francis Wayland Thurston published a scandalous
manuscript in purport of warning the world of a global conspiracy of

Tangentially, have done a bit of experimentation in Frog Fractions -
it's possible to uninstall Lock-On Targetting 17 times (most easily
done once you're president) before the text starts looping, and there
is a conversation about waffles, free will and human nature along the
way. The economy appears to be fairly robust, but will sometimes reset
down to 50 million (and can go a bit wrong when the censors buy all of
your *very expensive* porn). Also, i saw it pointed out by a commenter
that typing "Fuck Me" during the text adventure phase first gives you
free points and then admonishes you about the refractory period, while
nothing else in the environment appears to be your "type".
at 07:29 on 02-11-2012, Axiomatic
Re: Aztec Invasion, I'm just surprised that they decided to use it for CK2 and not EU4, where you have the whole world map to play with.

That said, I like it.
at 21:18 on 01-11-2012, Arthur B
They're doing it all wrong. You don't want to do a conventional linear film about Fighting Fantasy, you need to have a bunch of mini-videos with a menu system so that when you finish one video you get to choose one thematically linked video which goes next until finally you get to the end credits in video 400...
at 20:40 on 01-11-2012, Shimmin permalink
at 20:31 on 01-11-2012, Drew C
So CK2 is getting Aztec invasion DLC The forums are basically a flame with rage at the moment due to certain types of history fans not been best pleased by this.

Personally I'm looking forward to the playable Pagans with mechs dlc or the one where the Goa'uld re-invade the planet through Egypt.
at 14:51 on 01-11-2012, Alice
Speaking of the Disney/Lucasfilm thing, I just watched The People vs. George Lucas (thank you, Netflix Instant!) which complemented current events rather nicely. In that it makes me even less surprised that the acquisition's happened: in the documentary, GL comes across as more or less having lost the will to make films at all.

Which is fitting, since I've more or less lost the ability to care about the Star Wars franchise beyond the original trilogy.
at 03:47 on 01-11-2012, Ibmiller
I wish we could write Star Wars in Javascript and break the merger.

Sitting in my corner, feeling sad.
at 22:41 on 31-10-2012, Shimmin
...I wrote you a reply in Javascript.

It broke Playpen.

at 20:14 on 31-10-2012, Fishing in the Mud
After we teach computers to write novels, we can get to teaching people to idly chat to each other in Javascript.
at 19:28 on 31-10-2012, Arthur B
At the end of the day, even if you could make a romance novel formula as tied-down and structured as the formula for, say, sonnets (spoiler: you can't) a computer-generated romance novel would, like those AI poems, basically be a madlibs romance novel.

Actually, a madlibs romance novel sounds really awesome, but only in the same way that a madlibs any-kind-of-novel would be loltastic.
at 19:12 on 31-10-2012, Fishing in the Mud
Of course this will be true only of very formulaic books. Like romance novels.

Yeah, we can't expect a computer to be Shakespeare, but Mills and Boon should be no problem. It's not that computers have no way of processing or understanding human language, it's that they're just kind of dull and lacking in real creativity.
at 18:07 on 31-10-2012, Melanie
In case you thought the man was joking about people preferring AI poetry to Shakespeare

It does have a vaguely Carrollian quality, except instead of nonsense words it's nonsense meaning. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people did prefer something novel to something they'd heard or heard quoted a million times.
at 16:34 on 31-10-2012, Dan H
Computers may soon write novels, says bloke. This raises important questions such as 'is it really literature?', 'oh god who cares?', and 'but can they go on the chat-show circuit and tell us which characters are gay?'

I'm not 100% certain but I'm pretty sure that the first guy in that articles just has a computer program which, in essence, plagiarises bits of the internet (and last I checked, books written by those programs are borderline scams - see this Language Log post here). They're not actually computer-generated books, they're computer-generated reams of meaningless unedited text which pretend to be books.

Then they go from there to confidently predicting that "algorithms" ("algorithms" is bad science journalism speak for "computer magic") will be able to produce novels inside blah years. Of course this will be true only of very formulaic books. Like romance novels. Which all know are stupid books for stupid women.

Color me skeptical.
at 15:22 on 31-10-2012, Wardog
"A rotting goldfish never oils a brain"

at 14:47 on 31-10-2012, Fishing in the Mud
In case you thought the man was joking about people preferring AI poetry to Shakespeare:

Shall I compare thee to a noxious bed?
Thou art more like a graceful squalid egg:
For none will ever warmly call thee red
Until, my elk, they see us choke a leg.

at 14:21 on 31-10-2012, Sonia Mitchell
Computers may soon write novels, says bloke. This raises important questions such as 'is it really literature?', 'oh god who cares?', and 'but can they go on the chat-show circuit and tell us which characters are gay?'

Hey, if The Great Automatic Grammatizator has actually been invented, I care. As long as they actually call it that.
at 13:43 on 31-10-2012, Arthur B
I'd have thought "Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas" would more than qualify as enthusiasm.
at 12:39 on 31-10-2012, Robinson L
Arthur: If anything, it'd be more disturbing if he suddenly decided he was a creative visionary and started outlining bold new plans for the Star Wars universe.

Fair enough, but I don't think it would be inconsistent or bad business sense to enthuse a little about the creative side, even if he only sees his role as facilitating the creators to do their work. Then again, I'm not CEO of an obscenely rich media empire, thank the Force, so I suppose I wouldn't know.
at 12:15 on 31-10-2012, Arthur B
Thinking about it, unless true AI is created then all computers will be able to do is apply a formulaic approach to writing in which any interesting characterisation or themes or ideas which aren't the utter cliches arise only through happy accident, rather than representing genuinely original thoughts or perspectives on the part of the writer.

In other words, Black Library will be able to fire almost all their authors.
at 12:10 on 31-10-2012, Shimmin
Best line in that article: "But if neither Beryl Bainbridge nor Martin Amis can win the Booker Prize, what chance does a machine really have?"

Fingers crossed, the inevitable horde of authorbots won't have any interest in winning it, and will instead write some good books.
at 11:45 on 31-10-2012, Arthur B
I think in the position he's in, nobody wants Iger to be anything other than a stuffed shirt and he's never claimed to be anything else. The shareholders want the CEO to oversee the business and make sure it turns a profit, they know he's not an auteur like Walt was and don't expect him to be.

When he came in as Disney CEO he shut down their central strategic planning decision and devolved a lot of decision-making power to the individual business units so he clearly believes his role is to let the creative visionaries have their heads and make sure the business infrastructure there is to support them (particularly with outfits like Pixar and Marvel and Lucasfilm which have distinctive creative voices). Letting other people do the creative thing whilst he addresses the business side of things is entirely consistent with what he's about. If anything, it'd be more disturbing if he suddenly decided he was a creative visionary and started outlining bold new plans for the Star Wars universe.
at 11:00 on 31-10-2012, Robinson L
Oh, I guess I figured because it was posted on the official Star Wars fan site it was more of a public press release than an industry one, although on closer inspection I do see a lot of industry buzzwords and catch phrases. I do still find it a bit striking though that those clinical business lines of Iger's immediately follow Lucas' more sentimental quotes about what this will do for the artistic future of the saga. (Granted, that juxtaposition is the work of whoever wrote the press release, not Iger.)

I wasn't thinking this was likely to hurt Iger's bottom line, I was just a little surprised and bemused he apparently doesn't mind coming across sounding like a stuffed shirt.