Dec 1 Idea Dump

More damn ideas, with more meta-self-analysis.

Where my mind tends to go, and where else I should explore.


  • Nothing To Hide: This isn't a new project, but for the first time in a long time, it feels new to me. After reading the works of danah boyd, I realize what NTH's purpose is - to make privacy feel personal. Too often we think of privacy as abstract, but no, it's what makes us human. And NTH can get us all to really grasp that on an intuitive level. And maybe get techies (its inevitable audience) to learn some damn humanities, like us.
  • Take A Seat: A game based off this xkcd. Also to try out our idea of social-relationships-as-game-mechanic. (just like how anna anthropy's Triad pulls it off, in its mechanics saying that everyone needs to take care of each others' needs.)
  • You, You, and You: Multiple identities you construct, through a lego-like character creation interface. You walk through life, multiple contexts, exploring your alt selves. At the end, you disassemble, going back into the lego box. Super Passage-like.
  • Fan Club: The human side of remixing. A fan becomes a creator. The antagonist is the system - the uncaring, kafka-esque system of copyright, DRM, and lock-in, which all hurt both fans & creators. Use a cut-and-paste image mechanic.
  • Domesticate Thyself: Loosely based off Jonathan Heidt's thoughts on our inner intuitive beasts vs our ego. Each beast you have has its own AI - you have to shape the environment to make sure they don't hurt themselves or others. And, just maybe, you can train them to help you. Moral: don't suppress your inner beasts, channel them towards something greater.
  • The American Dream: A game that promises to have fair rules & punishments, and if you follow them, you'll succeed. It's a lie. It's all broken. The only way to get by is to break the fourth wall - and play these alternate games that are under the main game. Alt games like selling weed, or prostitution, or shoplifting. Moral: "criminals" break rules because the rules are already broken.
  • Armor: Sometimes, I just want to stop feeling for others. Being too sensitive, too empathetic, can drive you mad. Now, make this a game or something, I dunno, with health points and armor and hm yeah this uses too much game-lingo.
  • File Not Found: Same as MEM_ALLOC from the previous idea dump, but simplified. The UI is a normal filesystem GUI, with only a little bar showing how much memory is used, and how much remains. Live in the moment, or hang on to your cherished memories? Ending: Your memory will live on, LOL.
  • Context Collapse: A pet game, where your pets are aspects of you. You decide what audiences to expose your pets to, which hurts or helps them, and peeps upvote/downvote 'em. This is a human story about privacy, mixed with a mockery of social media UI. Or something, I don't have this figured out at all.
  • You Could Have Been Them: A choose-your-own-life game, where each time you play, you meet a past version of yourself. A different economic status, a different race/gender/sexuality, a different mindset. Empathy!

Meta-notes: Oh good, almost all of these have a bigger message + human emotion + merging game with story. Also, system-stories are a far better way of putting it than "videogames". My faves right now are, in order: Nothing To Hide, File Not Found, The American Dream.

Playable Pedagogy

  • From Alice To Bob: Playable Post. The high-level concept of how encryption works to protect private messages in public, and from a spy named Clyde. Have some PostSecret-esque human story in the background, between Alice & Bob.
  • The Active Art: Identification with character or system. Player's character growth. Personality test. The video part of videogames. Forms are merely genres. Cause & effect storytelling. Non-character players. Systems/AI with personality.
  • Playtest: A game that teaches level design, by having you design levels. Then, an AI plays through your game, and you "see" what the AI learns, and their flow level, etc. By the end, you have a full game of your own.
  • Polisci Playable Posts: Gerrymandering. Benevolent dictators. Social choice theory. Two-part system. All the zillions of problems with democracy, we're too complacent.
  • Sounds: Playable Post on sound and math and fourier analysis. Because I'd like to learn about audio and music, but I don't know jack squat.
  • Analysis > Data: Big Data's fatal flaw - more data can lead to worse interpretations, given a wrong system. Our lack of access to some data was what was making our systems work. Examples: racial profiling, spurious correlations, filter bubble, NSA keywords.
  • Game as Socratic Dialogue: Remember, "yes, and..." persuasion. Games can be a dialogue. First figure out where a person is coming from, taking their core values and showing games can and should do it too, then wrapping up. Socrates' dialogues also had specifically crafted directions, should research up on those.
  • Dissecting Evil: It's scary how our systems, environments, and society can turn normal people criminal or evil. "Free Will" is a lazy cop-out.

Meta-notes: Would be great to sneak more human stories into these, like Mindful Violence and From Alice To Bob. At the least, our own personality. I'm liking Make Privacy Personal as a recurring theme through our playable posts & system stories. I'm feeling less strongly about The Active Art since I wanna move away from games? (but I do like me some system stories...)


  • Make Privacy Personal: 1) To err is human. 2) Privacy is not binary. 3) Culture change. Those are the three core tenets on the new NTH, and maybe a whole buncha other playable posts & writings.
  • Irrationality is Rational: Jonathan Heidt's book showed us that our irrational group reciprocity & punishment was evolved for rational reasons. It cuts the Gordian knot, of all the free-rider problems that come with Homo Economicus. Morality, tribalism, social status, signals, etc. They're features, not flaws. (under the right circumstances)
  • How to Write White Right: A satirical article on how to write about white people, if you're a PoC. But it'd actually have some great lessons that are obvious when you're talking about the majority group, such as they're not a homogenous group. Also, mosaic > melting pot, because of anomie from diversity?
  • Sky Burial: A short story about a tribe becoming Westernized, and the upsides and downsides of it. Also, a beautiful gruesome sky burial.
  • My Works Shall Live On: A short story about a scientist who creates a chemical that induces hyper-hypnosis, letting you learn anything instantly. From this, she created a video of her life, which lets anyone watching it while drinking the chemical, to become her. She is become immortal.
  • Art & Audience: My thoughts on audiences. 1) I'm not making art for myself, I do care about the audience. 2) Better audiences (and critics) mean better art (and future creators) 3) Help the audience with their drama, or becoming better people. What we wanna do: HUMAN + HELPFUL + NOVEL.

Meta-notes: There's a couple short stories in this list. I think we should write more short stories more often. Not necessarily text form, but text is the quickest. Also, this is pretty much blogging. We got tonnes more ideas we didn't write up there.


  • Remix Store: A lil' storefront where I link to the best remixes, mods, and merchandise made by fans. Even better if X% of the profits go to the original creator. Use Nina Paley's Creator-Endorsed Mark. Maybe also sell a bundle of mods & remixes?
  • Ad-preciation: Instead of some third-party business paying you for banner ads on your site, your own viewers can donate to place an ad of appreciation on your site.
  • Post-Mortem eBooks: I should give these as lil' digital rewards to supporters. Plus, it'd be fun to look back at a work, what professional/personal lessons were learnt.

Meta-notes: This sure is a short section. We need to work on the biggest skills outside our comfort zone: Selling. Hiring. Commissioning. Marketing. Sales. Creating a team, dammit. Them's the real biz skills we needs. But also, combining activism with entrepreneurship sure is cool. Can we do this with beyond just free culture? Privacy? Social justice? Education? Supporting the underprivileged?

Other Media

  • ESCAPE: An animation about VR, in VR. It will be about a kid and his poor family getting these cheap VR devices, so they can escape their daily terrible lives. The kid plays through a VR game, occasionally taking off the headset to check on their family, and notices that they're all getting isolated. No. This is not what art is for. We should enrich our lives, not escape them. The kid stops his family's VR sims, and gets them to all play the game with them. Art that connects us, not isolates us.
  • Minder: The Tinder interface, but applied to the Implicit Association Test. Subconscious racism ahoyyyyyy.
  • Make Love To Your Touchscreen: All the sensuality, consent, and exploration of a positive sex experience, but instead of genitals, it's all standard UI elements like sliders and buttons and scrolling. (But then peeps told me about Luxuria Superbia which prolly does this much better)
  • Stop Drawing Dead Fish: Based off Bret Victor's work. Maybe digital puppets, or machinima, or something.
  • System Sketcher: Our medium affects how we think. We think differently when sketching or typing or talking or all in our head. Can we extend our thinking abilities by having a simplistic system-sketcher? Like Ken Perlin's magical blackboard.
  • Art-ups: Satirical startups. Dream Job, where you lend out your dreams to work on problems. This Is Clara, a crowdsourced single celebrity. Self-Destruct, an ephemeral startup that removes itself in a year.
  • Hardware: LittleBits is cool. VR is cool. Haptics are cool. Bring some hardware I/O into our life?
  • Active Comics: Short super-episodic games like a webcomic. Choose-your-own-comic through appearing panels. Visual-novel-style animations that you click through. VR horizontal comic.

Meta-notes: Gosh, I really like ESCAPE, and perhaps a whole new genre of you-control-the-camera VR animations. I can combine this with Stop Drawing Dead Fish, to speed up the anim-making process. Art-ups is pretty funny, too. Explore new mediums, forms are merely genres, so go wild, you pioneer!

Human + Helpful + New

Those are currently my three big criteria when it comes to deciding the value of a project. Because, yeah, I've always loved directly helping people, experimenting with new stuff, and human feels. (Anti Criteria: Fame, Money, Prestige)

Which ones, on both this idea dump and last month's, fit the above criteria the best? Also, should be doable in a week. Explore these as one-week side projects. (Nothing To Hide is still the main project, coz now, it is super human + helpful + new)

  2. Mindful Violence
  3. Crossdressing Is A Drag
  4. Moody Mechanics (make it more human...)
  5. Make Privacy Personal

Yeah that doesn't really help me decide what to do next.