GioCities

blogs by Gio

Recommendations

Recommendations for all sorts of things that don’t cleanly fit in a blog article or a Related Reading section.

In the spirit of trying to be useful, I won’t include extremely well-known items on this list. You don’t need me to tell you to play Half-Life or read GEB, but you might appreciate a nudge towards Superliminal or T.C. MITS. This is meant to be stuff you might not have heard of, not a drop-in replacement for top charts.

I’ll also try to avoid superlatives. Just know that if it made this page, I like it. In a similar spirit of concision, I’ll avoid recommending projects I’m personally involved in. Check the ol’ portfolio for that.

(Work in progress)

Articles

“Link In Bio” is a slow knife | Anil Dash, 2019
A really great opinion piece about how modern web “apps” try to maintain walled gardens at users’ expense.

Privacy and Power: Computer Databases and Metaphors for Information Privacy | Daniel J. Solove, GW Law, 2001
This is a relatively thick academic paper that essentially makes the argument that Kafka’s The Trial is a better metaphor for modern internet privacy issues than Big Brother.

Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop | Anonymous, 2020
This article written from the point of view of an ex-cop explains the systematic issues that encourage abusive behavior among police officers and how the structural corruption makes questions about the motives of individual officers less relevant than they would like you to believe.

Nintendo Conducted Invasive Surveillance Operation Against Homebrew Hacker | Andy Maxwell, 2020
A good overview on the shockingly dystopic Nintendo anti-modding campaign and the terrifying, personal war they waged on prominent researchers.

Books

The Education of T.C. MITS: An truly unique book published in 1942. A treatise on the scientific and mathematical thinking written in something akin to free verse. It is a study in mathematics, an analysis of society, a defense of science, and a scaffolding of philosophy all at once. I own multiple copies of this to lend people.

Videos

Why Electronic Voting Is Still A Bad Idea | Tom Scott, 2019
A short, simple video that clearly and effectively explains the basic reasons why electronic voting systems are inherently dangerous, despite whatever the latest technical innovation/fad might be.

YouTube’s Copyright System Isn’t Broken. The World’s Is. | Tom Scott, 2020
A long, interesting, in-depth about the reality of modern copyright law and the strange and often counter-intuitive way it intersects with internet culture and modern entertainment. (I also recommend many of his other videos!)

CO-VIDs: the gandhi trap | Ian Danskin, 2020
A short video essay about the optics of brutal state violence against peaceful protesters — Bob Altemeyer’s “Gandhi trap” — and the use of intentional disinformation campaigns to manipulate them. (I also recommend many of his other videos!)

The Death Penalty feat. PragerU | shaun, 2020
A long video essay about the political debate over the death penalty, the various factions pushing on both the issue, and their arguments. (I also recommend many of his other videos!)

CTRL+ALT+DEL | SLA:3 | hbomberguy, 2018
This is an exploration of CAD (and other weird gamer webcomics in general), but it also makes the key point that fiction can offer perspective into how the author sees the world, especially when seemingly distorted and out-of-touch with reality without meaning to invoke camp. (I also recommend many of his other videos!)

The Strange World of YouTube’s Corporate Propaganda | Big Joel, 2020
A video essay about YouTube and modern content platforms in general. Makes the excellent point that YouTube’s business model depends on it seeming like an invisible, natural force, when in fact it actively engages in relationships very similar to employer/employee, but with fewer protections.

Let’s go whaling: Tricks for monetising mobile game players with free-to-play | Torulf Jernström, 2016
A talk from a mobile game development conference that explores the “dark pattern” design techniques to make addictive video games that extract as much money from the public as possible. Dark stuff.

Software

Vivaldi: A web browser based on Chromium. Extremely customizable with lots of quality-of-life features and full support for Chrome extensions. Akin to what Opera used to be.

Greenshot: Excellent screenshot software. Low overhead with hotkeys for capturing a window, screen, or arbitrary region. FOSS.

ScreenToGif: Speaking of screenshots, ScreenToGif is an casual screen recorder for capturing quick clips or interactions. Has a very nice built-in gif editor too. Not a replacement for OBS, but much better for quick jobs. FOSS.

PowerToys: Remember PowerToys from Windows XP? Microsoft brought the name back for a set of Windows 10 utilities. Includes a colour picker, SVG previewer, and power tools for renaming and managing files in explorer. FOSS.

Wiztree: A windows-optimized disk usage visualizer (in the vein of k4dirstat) with special optimizations for NTFS drives with a readable MFT. Freeware with a donate nag button (I paid for mine)

Games

(Links omitted, as games are often available on your platform of choice.)

OneShot, 2016: An RPG maker adventure game. Mixture of Undertale and OFF vibes. Great story, great characters, incredible gameplay mechanics.

Hack n’ Slash, 2014: A combination hacking/adventure game where you get in-game tools to modify aspects of the game’s actual code. From DoubleFine, the developer of Psychonauts.

The Stanley Parable demo, 2013: Did you know The Stanley Parable has a free demo? Did you know it’s completely original content? Go play that sucker.

Hypnospace Outlaw, 2019: 90s internet simulator in an alternate history. Explore a network of terrible geocities template sites and find out a plot along the way.

Glittermitten Grove, 2016: A game with secrets in.

2064: Read Only Memories, 2015: A Snatcher-like adventure game. It’s got a robot friend!

The Turing Test, 2016: A Portal-like from Square Enix. Talos Principle and Portal vibes.

The Beginner’s Guide, 2015: From Davey Wreden, the creator of The Stanley Parable. “The story of a person struggling to deal with something they do not understand.” An incredible experience.

Gunpoint, 2013: A break from all the high-concept stuff. A stealth puzzle platformer set in a noir conspiracy plot.

Superliminal, 2020: A 3D non-euclidean puzzle game that uses forced perspective and strange loops to explore dreamscapes. I remember seeing the first tech demos for this online!

Antichamber, 2013: A 3D non-euclidean puzzle game that uses an upgradable cube gun to solve a very wide array of lateral thinking puzzles.

Mobile

Device 6, 2013: Very interesting experimental storytelling that leverages the mobile platform. Good story, good puzzles, worth a buy. iPhone

Nier: Automata, 2017: Okay, I said I wouldn’t include the obvious stuff on this list, but Nier Automata is so incredibly good I can’t not recommend it. Possibly the best video game.

Services

pCloud: Cloud file hosting. Extremely feature-complete, with cross-platform file sync, selective folders, shared folders, and public file links. You can even send someone a link that lets them send you a file. Can be pricey though, unless you get the lifetime option on sale. Referral link, free month ($5)

DigitalOcean: Good web hosting with very affordable plans for low-intensity use cases. Referral link, $100 credit

Music

I dunno I’m really into electroswing lately

Michael Bowman: Indie rock(?), very good. https://bowman.bandcamp.com

Metric: Alt-rock, wrote that one song from that one thing. https://www.ilovemetric.com

Cement City: Mostly fandom/club mix music. https://cementcity1.bandcamp.com

Owl City: Electronic music project. Did Fireflies. Owl City

Casual Sunday: for my homestuck fans out there. https://casualsunday.bandcamp.com

Unsorted

Thrilling adventure hour 2011-2020: A stage show set in the style of old-time radio dramas. Previously a live show at Largo, now ended with occasional much-worse studio recordings. Distribution seems to be in a very odd place right now, but the full back-catalogue is available on their Patreon (as lousy as I find that practice to be.) (Edit: full backlog of the removed podcast available here)

Homestuck 2009-2016: Homestuck! It’s a thing. A lot of archive content is unreadable on the public site right now, so I recommend using The Unofficial Homestuck Collection for the best reading experience.

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