The Mongoliad is live! This is the collaborative, participatory shared-world project from Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, and pals. It's an epic fantasy novel about the Mongol conquest, told in installment form, with lots of supplementary material (video, stills, short fiction, etc), and a strong audience participation component in the form of a Wikipedia-style concordance, fanfic, etc. You can read the free samples without registration, but you need an account to edit the "Pedia."
For $5.99 you get a six-month subscription to the main body of fiction; $9.99 gets you a year (you retain access to the fiction after your subscription expires, but don't get any new material until you renew, which is a major plus in my view -- much fairer than most online "subscriptions" that lock you out once you let your sub lapse).
The first (paid) chapter went up yesterday, and I've just read it. The word here is epic, a swashbuckling swordplay novel with the sweep, charm and verve of the major Stephenson epics, such as System of the World. A very strong start and well worth the price of admission. This is a great experiment in new fiction business-models that welcome audience participation and work in a way that is native to the net.
These men were likely knights of the Shield Brethren--the ones she had been instructed to find.
If there was anything to their reputation, they would have responded within days to the Khan's
unlikely invitation. The Shield Brethren were scattered all about, but their closest branch was in
Petraathen, an ancient crag-fort in the mountains south of Kraków, just a few days journey from
here. Their instinct--the reverse of the Mongols--was to camp in the woods, and their scouts had
spied this old monastery, long since abandoned. To her, it had the look of a converted pagan
temple--perhaps Mithraic. Long ago, many of her people had been Mithraic. Now, it was an
impromptu chapter house, a sanctuary where they could wait and train, while they reconnoitered
the territory around the blood-soaked battlefield of Legnica and the great, stinking tent city that
Onghwe had built there.
A horseman emerged from behind the graveyard wall riding a big blue roan stallion. Cnán
flinched at the sight of a Mongol-style bow, striped and jointed like the leg of an insect, held out
in the man's hands. But this was no Mongol: his hair was brown, long and full, and below his
sharp nose drooped a luxuriant moustache. He pivoted his mount and galloped along the curve
of outbuildings, then pivoted again and rode back and forth through the grass. His apparently
aimless movements made no sense until she understood that he was practicing archery. When his
eye fell on something that looked like it might serve as a target, he loosed an arrow from the
bow, sometimes galloping past, sometimes away, or jerking his horse up short and shooting from
She did not know these knights other than by reputation, but she saw the rider as one who had
suffered under the power of the Mongols and had learned from them, adopting and adapting their
I first started writing about the remarkable Joi Ito in 2002, and over the decade and a half since, I’ve marvelled at his polymath abilities — running international Creative Commons, starting and investing in remarkable tech businesses, getting Timothy Leary’s ashes shot into space, backing Mondo 2000, using a sprawling Warcraft raiding guild to experiment with leadership and team structures, and now, running MIT’s storied Media Lab — and I’ve watched with excitement as he’s distilled his seemingly impossible-to-characterize approach to life in a set of 9 compact principles, which he and Jeff Howe have turned into Whiplash, a voraciously readable, extremely exciting, and eminently sensible book.
In Does The Online Card Payment Landscape Unwittingly Facilitate Fraud?, a new paper in IEEE Security & Privacy, researchers from the University of Newcastle demonstrate a technique for guessing secruity details for credit-card numbers in six seconds — attackers spread their guesses out across many websites at once, so no website gets enough bad guesses […]
Michael Geist writes, “The global music industry has spent two decades lobbying for restrictive DMCA-style restrictions on digital locks. These so-called “anti-circumvention rules” have been actively opposed by many groups, but the copyright lobby claims that they are needed to comply with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Internet treaties. Now the head of the RIAA […]
Holiday shopping is in full swing, and the Striiv Touch is one of the best gift ideas I’ve landed on. Its simple design works for females and males, and its wide range of features makes it suitable for even the non-fitness enthusiasts in your life.Unlike traditional fitness trackers, the Striiv Touch also acts as a smartwatch. It […]
The Pocket Tripod PRO had massive Kickstarter success in 2013, raising almost $85,000 in a single month. But this isn’t just another case of pre-release product hype. This ingenious little device folds out from a credit-card-shaped plastic slab into a sturdy stand with a surprisingly wide range of motion. In portrait orientation, your phone slides […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]