The Explorables Jam!

Note: the following was originally posted on my Patreon, in two parts.

Part I: (posted Aug 12)

Hi all! Sorry I didn't update in a while – I forgot to mention I was going on "vacation". I say "vacation" because I ended up working on stuff anyway... including co-organizing an in-person Explorables Jam kickoff event!

On July 28-29, Chris Walker (creator of SineRider) and I hosted a small Explorables hackathon. There was collaboration, lightning talks, mini-presentations, and best of all: food that was NOT pizza.

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(pictured: a few Explorables jammers!)

My favorite part was at the beginning: totally unplanned, on their own, the jammers took a couple whiteboards, and used them to brainstorm dozens of ideas! Then, using sliced post-it notes, they voted on what ideas they liked/could help with. These would help them form their teams. Spontaneous self-organization!

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There were videos recorded of the lightning talks & the mini-presentations at the end. (We'll post these online eventually!)

In the meantime, though, the jam is still going! This was just the in-person kickoff event. The full jam runs for three weeks online, and ends Aug 19, in one week. I'd like to highlight a few in-progress explorables that caught my eye: (at least, those with screenshots posted online)

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(from top-left to bottom-right: cellular automata, honeybee democracy, arithmetic, the mandelbrot set, epicycles, fourier transforms, puzzle design, graphs of functions)

I'm excited to see how all of these turn out! A dozen-plus new educational interactives online, for all to play and learn from. You'll find them all after the jam ends, at: explorabl.es/jam

Thank you to everyone who made the in-person Explorables Jam kickoff a success! ❤️

Part II: (posted Aug 20)

After three weeks of jamming, peeps made 19 new small, playful explorable explanations! Here they are:

🎉 The Entries for the Explorable Explanations Jam! 🎉

There's a few I'd especially like to highlight, for doing something inventive with interactivity... (maybe I'll borrow their ideas for future projects!)

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From Cells To Systems by SpacieCat

All about 1D cellular automata! Definitely more fun to read than Wolfram's 1000+ page tome. The unique thing this explorable does: you can change the simulation's rules by directly manipulating the simulation itself! (In contrast, almost all my sims have you change rules with sliders & buttons) I wanna see more sims designed this way!

Understanding The Mandelbrot Fractal by Paul Butler

Not only is this a good example of how to go up the ladder of abstraction step-by-step, but there's this interaction at the end: you explore the fractal by painting it. It's an effective way to build up the idea of a heatmap! (In hindsight, I'd wish I'd done that for Better Ballot.)

How To Make a Good Puzzle by Tom Hermans

There's comics about crafting comics (Scott McCloud), there's short films about crafting films (Every Frame A Painting), there's writing about crafting writing (Strunk & White)... why are there no games about crafting games? Well, there is now! I like the way this one embeds games inside itself, and contrasts good design & bad design. Also some of the puzzles are genuinely tasty-hard challenges.

Recáman Sequence by Xenia Fedorova

This one's short and sweet, and has a really creative use of sound! In the simulation at the end, not only do you see a visualization of a chaotic number sequence, you hear it as well. You listen to math!

These are just a small sample of all the great stuff peeps have made for this jam. Again, you can play with and learn from all of them, here: explorabl.es/jam Enjoy!

<3,
~ Nicky Case