The Object Lessons series, edited by Christopher Schaberg and Ian Bogost, comprises small, attractive books on everyday things like dust and silence. I suppose that such movements as “object-oriented philosophy,” “thing theory,” and “no ideas but in things” lurk somewhere in the motivating background. But it’s a pragmatic, exploratory series as far as I can tell from reading one volume: Evan Kindley’s Questionnaire. I should go ahead and disclose that my pitches on the following objects were summarily rejected:
I admit to certain vices. I’ve been on the internet for a very long time. I read science fiction, and not just for my academic work. I was reading usenet in the early 90s, often using a VAX cluster. So many of the stupendous concepts of 2016, ranging from “meme magic” to transhumanism, I’ve seen develop in slow-motion: one shitpost at a time. Probably the purest manifestation of cyberlibertarianism, however, is cryptocurrency.
Like many habitual internet users, I strongly believe that I have never bought anything advertised to me on the web, nor have any of these ads affected my behavior beyond momentary irritation. I sometimes take ad-blocking steps and am well aware of cookies, browser-entropy measures, and the wily IP address. My disdain for the so-called “Flash” plugin is complete. What, then, could a book primarily focused on the marketing models used by data scientists to target consumer behavior on the web tell me?
Michael Clune and I have several things in common: we’re about the same age (I’m a bit older), we’re both English professors, and we played many computer games during our youth, adolescence, graduate education, and perhaps even now. Gamelife: A Memoir is not so much about the games themselves but rather their formative effect on the author. Though I also spent many hours playing The Bard’s Tale II, Suspended, and few other games cognate to the ones Clune writes about (Ultima IV instead of III, Doom instead of Castle Wolfenstein, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri instead of Pirates!