Sam Wan comments that “the coolest toys are the ones that give users the freedom to find their own uses for that toy.”

In Vygotsky’s Mind in Society, he notes that “play is the realm of spontaneity and freedom.” However, in his studies of imaginative play in children, he observes that children will subordinate their own wants to the greater pleasure of following the rules. He concludes that “the essential attribute of play is a rule that has become a desire.”

Rules provide freedom. The really fun toys give you just enough constraints to inspire creativity and make it easy to create great stuff.

I just posted a new header graphic on this site: the artist’s interpretation of an ultrasaurus. Actually, it is a SWF. It will tell you if someone is also viewing the site. Try it with your friends (or you can cheat and open two browser windows).

It’s a work in progress. It’s not so much fun knowing someone is there if you can’t talk to them. As is, it seems spooky, or maybe just frustrating.

I was intrigued by the discussions of Microsoft’s new project,
and in particular by Michael Gartenberg’s observation that this software targets "a behavioral demographic not just an age demographic."

I never thought of it that way. I used to think that if we create compelling
experiences for people on the internet — virtual places that give back more
than people put into them, then this real-time online stuff would finally prove
useful to the general population. Over time I’ve recognized that a lot of change
needs to happen before any sufficiently new technology catches on. Email was
around for decades, but it was the web which drove most people to
hook up their PCs to the Internet.

Instant Messaging has emerged as the killer
app in this category of connected applications. The buddy list and its expression
of presence
fundamentally changed the nature
of chat. I find it interesting to think in terms of a behavioral demographic.
If you don’t spend much of your time sitting in front of a connected
PC, then Instant Messaging certainly loses its appeal.

[Update: the end of this post seems to have been lost in the mists of time, along with my observation that the icons looked like little ducks, which provides a little context for Sam’s comment]