Links For February 27, 2014

The Mundanity of Excellence: An Ethnographic Report on Stratification and Olympic Swimmers (PDF) – Support for my theory that when you say that expert players are “playing a totally different game,” it’s more than just a cliche. But more importantly, success is the result of getting better and better at something until it stops being interesting:

In the pursuit of excellence, maintaining mundanity is the key psychological challenge. In common parlance, winners don’t choke. Faced with what seems to be a tremendous challenge or a strikingly unusual event such as the Olympic Games, the better athletes take it as a normal, managageable situation.... Standard rituals… are ways of importing one’s daily habits into the novel situation, to make it as normal an event as possible.

On Motivation: Beloved Composer Leonard Bernstein on Why We Create

Money is a perfectly valid motivation for art, as much as we’d like not to think so; but since it’s also the chief motivation for selling shoes, or Buicks, or chewing gum, it doesn’t quite explain what motivates art in particular. The same might be said for the other low-down motivating forces, like success, fame, popularity, adulation, and the rest; they are all, undeniably, motivations for the artist, for all artists; but insofar as these ideals also motivate Senators, Beatles, and fan dancers, one cannot say that they are uniquely motivations for art — that useless, most unsenatorial endeavor called Art.

On the other hand, if you hate art but like cheap money, there’s this: App Flipping - How To Make Money With Apps - Turn $1K into a $200K Portfolio

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center has opened a new site around games and learning, to support the growing trend of developers getting into kid’s games: Editor’s Note: Welcome to

Although games have, for decades, made their way into classrooms and informal learning outlets, there are few major sources to inform the development and funding of games with overt or subtle educational components. is a resource to help those producers and funders who want their games to “do good” and to assess their performance.

…and they kick it off with an interview with James Gee in cranky mode: Newsmaker: James Gee on Why the Power of Games to Teach Remains Unrealized

The problem really is we have a society with highest level of inequality ever. We’ve eroded livings wages and jobs that could give people lives where they feel they are contributing to society. And in a society with the level of inequality we have, with a large number of service jobs that don’t really equip people to feel that they are participating in society, then it is advantageous to have schools that don’t make people very deeply smart, right? Because they would call into question a system where so few people really count and where there is so much inequality. Not just for political reasons would they call it into question, but we know from decades of evidence that societies with high levels of inequality sooner or later get a very bad economy. Too few people can consume and participate and your economic livelihood goes down.

Darwin's Children Drew All Over the On The Origin of Species Manuscript

Squarepusher: Music for Robots – Compositions for a 78-fingered, guitar-playing robot.

I have long admired the player piano works of Conlon Nancarrow and Gyorgy Ligeti. Part of the appeal of that music has to do with hearing a familiar instrument being ‘played’ in an unfamiliar fashion. For me there has always been something fascinating about the encounter of the unfamiliar with the familiar. I have long been an advocate of taking fresh approaches to existing instrumentation as much as I am an advocate of trying to develop new instruments, and being able to rethink the way in which, for example, an electric guitar can be used is very exciting.