Reverse Engineering ADD

The following are offered as actions to take to offset attention problems:

  • Externalize important information at key points of
    performance
  • Externalize time and time periods related to tasks
    and important deadlines
  • Break up lengthy tasks or ones spanning long
    periods of time into many small steps
  • Externalize sources of motivation
  • Externalize mental problem-solving
  • Replenish the SR Resource Pool (Willpower)

JSTOR’s [Research Basics][] “contains 3 modules. Each module has 3 lessons. Lessons are made up of video lectures followed by practice activities. After completing all 3 lessons in a module, students may take a quiz, get feedback and a score, and earn a badge on completion of the module.”

If you’re student of mine, do it.

[Research Basics]: http://researchbasics.jstor.org

Girl Games

I am working on a “girl games camp” as a possible summer activity. I was drawn to it both because I am interested in coding myself and I want to get my own child interested in coding and because I have been disappointed by the relative indifference her school has had in engaging girls in general on the topic of coding.

So I can complain or I can do something. I choose *do*.

For those interested, I had planned a larger project that included each person building their own Raspberry Pi computer and then loading it with a Linux distro and working with plain text files, but, as you might have guessed, that seemed a little overly ambitious as well as, in some fashion, putting the cart before the horse. I want to get participants interested in coding, not necessarily getting them coding — and I think setting someone the task of editing config files in Linux is the wrong place to start. (I know, I once tried to start that way myself.)

The overall idea for this camp/experience is to get participants to design and develop their own text adventure game. I confess I am inspired by a wide range of recent games that, it seems to me, don’t stray too far from the early text-only games but use either very simple graphics, like Kentucky Route Zero, or use audio for immersion. I am especially blown away by the live-action game, [Door in the Dark][], which hoods participants who then walk through, quite literally, a sound stage.

One of the things I would like to be foundational to the experience is to have participants working on the same file at the same time — the *wow* factor here is pretty intense and I think it really emphasizes the power of collaboration. The simplest approach seems to be [Stypi][]. It looks like I could sign up and then simply provide a URL for participants to use. There’s also FlooBits, but they appear only to offer public spaces with the free plan, and while I’m fairly certain that would be just fine, I don’t know that I want to subject these particular participants to any externalities.

What I want them working on, of course, is code for a text adventure game. Everyone seems to agree that [Inform][] is the way to go, which describes itself thusly: “Inform is a design system for interactive fiction based on natural language. It is a radical reinvention of the way interactive fiction is designed, guided by contemporary work in semantics and by the practical experience of some of the world’s best-known writers of IF.” So, not text adventure but interactive fiction.

Some things I have noted for this project:

* [The Verge][] has a story on some of the early interactive games on CD-ROM focusing on some runaway hits made by women developers that have been lost to the larger history of “computer/video games” — I wish I knew the proper name for this genre.
* On the topic of games, especially alternative games, Zoe Quinn has a post on BoingBoing on [Punk Games][].

[Door in the Dark]: http://www.theverge.com/2015/4/23/8477893/door-into-the-dark-anagram-interactive-art-tribeca-film-festival
[Stypi]: https://code.stypi.com/
[Inform]: http://inform7.com
[The Verge]: http://www.theverge.com/2015/4/17/8436439/theresa-duncan-chop-suey-cd-rom-preservation
[Punk Games]: http://boingboing.net/2015/03/16/punk-games.html

How to Learn

A paper published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest has evaluated ten techniques for improving learning, ranging from mnemonics to highlighting and offers some conclusions. [BigThink’s coverage](http://bigthink.com/neurobonkers/assessing-the-evidence-for-the-one-thing-you-never-get-taught-in-school-how-to-learn).