Friday, June 20, 2014

Finite and Infinite Games

In many ways the Internet Age feels like hedonism to me. I love to read and have fallen headfirst into the vice of information snacking fed by an endless stream of content sites, RSS feeds, twitter links, and Facebook posts. I enjoy learning about the latest news in science, business, economics, startups, and the tech industry. 

But with all that it's still fun to indulge in old-fashioned books in print. I can't help but buy new books, I'm currently reading Kevin Kelly's "What Technology Wants", Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers." I also just finished Andrew Sorkin's "Too Big to Fail." The modes of interaction with the physical object of a book seem ill-substituted by content on a web browser or even e-book readers. Sitting with a book in hand invites reflection, iteration, and even conversation in ways "e-ink" does not.
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The effect feels more pronounced when you come across such a sweet little philosophical tract like James Carse's Finite and Infinite Games. He has you from the beginning with:

There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.
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The book proceeds from this little definition to elaborate ideas about culture, identity, power, property, title and society with the implicit backdrop that life is really just a series of games. I've always found the notion of a dreaming universe and worlds within worlds extremely romantic. I love movies like Inception and The Matrix and books like Godel Escher Bach. 

I guess I'm come to learn what my niche is. I was surprisingly pleased to learn Kevin Kelly spent a decade penniless walking around shooting photos in China. Now he writes about the inevitable self-organizing movement of technology. I want to be a voice in this new culture where free thought addresses the changes that are drastically shaping our lives.

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