Alexander Cockburn in his book Idle Passion: Chess and the Dance of Death published in 1974. With respect to chess and the fact that men outnumber women in its top ranks, Cockburn said that women,

"are happily without the psychological formations or drives that promote an expertise in the game in the first place. One could even add that women have never been allowed the cultural space to foster that lethargic yet zealous commitment to a useless pursuit that has fostered the bizarre careers of the great champions."

I have to wonder if this is what is going on with respect to certain parts of the programming culture - namely, hack-a-thons. Until it's necessary for survival, isn't it smarter to not worry about it? Women don't have time for hack-a-thons. They have lives. Meaning they have so much else to worry about - spouses, children, their homes but even adhering to cultural constructs like what they wear, hair and make-up. When you have to make time for all these things, it definitely reduces your leisure time or time to commit to singular pursuits.

Achievement often requires a unilateral focus that by just being women who must conform to a cultural standard immediately puts us at a disadvantage. Our pursuits are merely narrow aspects of a fuller life while men can be far more linear - their pursuits can be their whole lives.



"Games, he thought. People need distractions during hard times." Stefan Fatsis, Word Freak

A phenomenon often starts with a whimper more than a big bang.

Alfred Butts an architect started working on Scrabble in 1931 and had his first version by 1934 (called Lexico). He tried to interest Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers and Simon & Schuster. They all rejected the game. When he couldn't find a manufacturer he continued to tinker with the game and created his next version Criss-Cross Words. By 1947 he had nearly given up on his game when he heard from James Brunot, a guy looking for a small business to run. It was Brunot that named the new game Scrabble.

After James Brunot acquired the early version of Scrabble from the inventor Butts in 1949, he sold only 2,413 sets of Scrabble. In the next year, 1950, he sold only 1,632 sets. The year after that he sold 4,853 sets and Brunot was still not making money. It took almost four years for the game to take off. In 1953, close to 800,000 sets were sold. Sales today are in the millions.

Gaming, Intimacy and Theater

On the heels of the big Playdom announcement, I found this NY Times article of note. The article points out that audiences, groomed by the gaming culture, require more interactivity. What's ironic to me is that for all that interactivity in gaming and many of our other online pursuits, there is a decided lack of intimacy. So much so that audiences are craving the experience of connection elsewhere - if this theater trend is to be believed.

Or so I must assume if someone is willing to pay to sit in a mock office and experience an appointment. Something one could presumably do simply by being present in any given moment. I do, however, understand the appeal: theater in itself is an appointment with life; time carved out where the focus is directed.

Still, I find it a bit sad that living has become a consumer product as opposed to an experience.

I'm thinking now of setting up shop at La Boulange and charging folks $5 for 15 minutes of conversation with me. The value proposition? I'll talk to anyone. :)