East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The need for secret histories

As I am writing this, huge crowds have gathered in Lucca for what is the largest event in Europe centered on Comics and Games. For the long Halloween weekend, hundreds of thousands of visitors will crowd the narrow alleys of medieval Lucca, prowling the stands of publishers big and small, meeting artists and authors, trying new videogames, ogling cosplayers, and suffering the bad weather, the crowd and the noise.
Then they will come home, will arrange all that they bought on their beds or on their living room floor, and take a picture, that they will post on their socials, showing the world their “loot”.
Which is curious, because looting implies taking without paying, while the merchandise on display in these photographs cost a nice chunk of money – to which one must add the travel expenses, the lodging and food.

But these are the rituals of those that, in my country, call themselves “i nerd che hanno vinto” – the nerds that won.
And this, I think, is revealing – because we had a name, for people crowding conventions, that we used for decades before the nerds won whatever it is they did. We called it the fandom.
The fact that these shopaholics do not identify as fandom, but as a quite different tribe, the nerds that won, is telling.

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Obsolete media

You can’t do a post saying the war is over, that another (local) war starts.

Italian economist and politician Carlo Calenda revealed in an interview that he is not allowing his kids to play videogames, “so they won’t grow up illiterate.”
This was expressed as a personal opinion, and followed by the admission that he is not an expert, and indeed is looking for books to get into the issue and learn more about it.
Which is a rather healthy attitude from a parent, all things considered – I’m not sure, I want to know more, I’m looking for resources on the issue, meanwhile I apply a moratorium.
But the reaction was a blast.
Poor Carlo Calenda would have had it easier had he announced he was favourable to slavery, or that he believes the earth is flat. Or had he simply said he is not allowing his kids to be vaccinated right now, because he’s no expert and he’s looking for books to learn more on the subject before he takes a definitive decision.

And I agree that a politician should be more careful when expressing personal opinions, but it’s not this I want to talk about. Let’s keep politics and economy out of this thing. What I want to talk about is the objection, that some nerdz presented, that of course a gamer would shy away from books – because games are fast and furious and fun, while books are a slow medium.
The implication being, the written word is surpassed and obsolete, its slowness of fruition being a negative factor.

But really, who says that fast is always better than slow?
I’m not so sure. Continue reading