5 Intriguing Things: Wednesday, 2/19

Videogames and the spirit of capitalism, e-cigarette modding, night markets, more tunnels, and media mixing.
Molle Industria

1. Videogames and the Spirit of Capitalism

"We are only learning to speak of immeasurable qualities through videogames. It’s a slow and collective process of hacking accounting machines into expressive machines. Computer games need to learn from their non-digital counterparts to be loose interfaces between people. A new game aesthetic has to be explored: one that revels in problem-making over problem-solving, that celebrates paradoxes and ruptures, that doesn’t eschew broken and dysfunctional systems because the broken and dysfunctional systems governing our lives need to be unpacked and not idealized.

Strategies are to be discovered: poetic wrenches have to be thrown in the works; gears and valves have to grow hair, start pulsing and breathing; algorithms must learn to tell stories and scream in pain."

 

2. Inside the strange world of e-cigarette modding.

"E-cigarettes are fascinating technological objects. Blow past the big names like NJoy and Tru and you’ll discover that e-cigarettes have spawned a 'vaping' subculture. The movement revolves around electronic devices that deliver nicotine but otherwise hardly resemble cigarettes at all.

Devoted users tweak existing e-cigs endlessly. They fiddle with atomizers to control the release of custom-blended juices. They adjust the heated coils to deliver cleaner nicotine 'hits' or maximum clouds of vapor (a practice sometimes called 'fogging'). And in some cases they go pro and produce gorgeous limited-edition objects that sell for hundreds of dollars.

E-cig 'modders' congregate online or at vape-store meetups, showing off their latest 'builds,' like hackers or hot-rod enthusiasts. But this is more than a geeky sideshow to the larger public health debate. These e-cig hackers may just influence how the emerging gadgets are thought of by politicians and policymakers in America."

 

3. The ephemeral night markets of Hong Kong.

"For the first three evenings of the Lunar New Year, the officers of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department get to enjoy a well-earned break from their duties—and the street hawkers of Hong Kong get down to business. From New Year’s Eve until the third day of the new year, various streets throughout the city are transformed into bustling, lively markets with hawkers selling everything from antiques to computers and DVDs and preparing a multitude of cooked snacks; but the festive atmosphere, the rich scents and the laughter in the air, are but a mayfly—dead after just a few short days.

The largest of these fleeting night markets congregates on Sham Shui Po’s Kweilin Street, and has become known as the Kweilin Night Market. This year, the annual phenomena sparked a wave of self-reflection in the local press and social media as to why the people of Hong Kong are denied these simple pleasures on every other day of the year, and what this says about our dwindling public space, our quality of life, and the indifference of our government."

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