After reading about and working with "RESTful" web applications for years, I figured I should go back to the source and read Roy Fielding's dissertatiAfter reading about and working with "RESTful" web applications for years, I figured I should go back to the source and read Roy Fielding's dissertation where he defined the Representational State Transfer (REST) architecture. It wasn't really what I expected; it's largely about semi-formally defining the concept of a (software) "architectural style", with REST as the main example defined in Chapter 5. The definition of REST is rather abstract and nebulous; the definitions of "resource" and "representation" are good and useful, but I was expecting to see more about "hypermedia as the engine of application state" (HATEOAS)-- there's really just one vague paragraph about it here. He goes into more detail in a blog post, with some concrete examples and discussion in the comments....more
Four stars not because I have any real complaints about the book, just because it seems weird to give five stars to what is essentially just a souveniFour stars not because I have any real complaints about the book, just because it seems weird to give five stars to what is essentially just a souvenir of a museum exhibit. Well, I could complain about the smell of the book, which hasn't seemed to fade after a couple weeks now...
Aside from a collection of short essays about each of Jason Rohrer's 17 published videogames, there are a few essays about his work as a whole, plus interviews with a high-scoring player of his games and with Rohrer himself. There are interesting insights sprinkled all throughout these essays and interviews, though I imagine it might be less relatable if you haven't played the games yourself (which, by the way, you can do if you happen to be in the Boston area in the near future: the exhibit is running at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College until the end of June, 2016).
Rohrer's stated quest is to create a videogame that is deep in both an artistic/emotional sense and in a gameplay sense: something that can be played, replayed, and studied as much as Go or Poker. I think so far he has come much closer to the former goal than the latter, as most of his games are more "interesting" to play than "fun". His abstract puzzle game Primrose comes the closest to being a compellingly playable game for me, but it's also nearly devoid of artistic resonance, other than being moderately aesthetically pleasing in appearance. (The gameplay is elegant too but it mostly piggybacks onto the elegance of Go.)
In addition to its contents, the book is an interesting physical artifact: every page is an uncut pair of pages, and on the inside of each pair is an abstract, blocky smear of shapes and colors. I'm told that there's some hidden meaning to these semi-hidden images (perhaps they fit together to make one big image?), but so far I'm not willing to cut them all apart in order to puzzle it out.
The most interesting part of the museum exhibit is the elaborate physical structures that have been built (out of wood and glass and lights) to contain, complement, and augment the machines running the games. It would have been nice to have some photos from the exhibit in this book but perhaps the publishing schedule didn't make that feasible. In any case, I'm glad I have this as a memento of the exhibit, and I hope it helps encourage more exhibits of its kind to be put on in the future....more
I see from my review of The Confusion that I expected to read this book about 5 years ago... Better late than never! I ended up liking this the best oI see from my review of The Confusion that I expected to read this book about 5 years ago... Better late than never! I ended up liking this the best of the trilogy: rather than being another somewhat aimless picaresque, it's set almost entirely in London, with the plot taking the form of a mystery and a caper, or rather several mysteries and several capers. This gives it a more solid direction, and it moves steadily in that direction the whole way through. It also benefits from sticking mostly with Daniel as the perspective character, with Jack only showing up about 2/3 of the way into the book, and Eliza staying mostly on the sidelines. I still found it difficult to read more than 5-10 pages at a time, but that's probably more the fault of my atrophied attention span.
My main complaint is that I would have liked to see more of Eliza; there are hints that she is machinating behind the scenes, but I wasn't able to piece together much that could be attributed to her, and her motives were mostly opaque. But Daniel is fun to spend the lion's share of the time with, an aging introverted Puritan Natural-Philosopher become a reluctant sleuth, conspirator, and intrigant. The portrayal of Isaac Newton is also entertaining, as an eccentric/autistic Sherlockian genius whose obsession with Alchemy blinds him to more mundane activities going on under his nose.
Stephenson is known for not being able to write a good ending, but the conclusion here was pretty satisfying. Ultimately the 2500+ pages of this trilogy are about the grand bargain we make with technology, that brings all its progress and wealth along with upheaval and existential danger. Not to mention all the forces arrayed against technology: it's something of a miracle that anything ever works at all....more