gift game


(play this sound)


when i sat down to write this, i was planning to tell a story about some kind of media-cult;
maybe science fiction;
maybe set in the far future.

i was thinking-
the archive only grows

maybe i'll write a story about having so much history, so many little pieces, that the looking becomes more important than the making

i was thinking about the curation of ‘perfect’ objects-

a digging through and surfacing of

corners of buildings

how those ideas all flatten out in digital space and become a ‘file’, a lateral object. it all gets jumbled together here

how they’re mutable now, as seen through a filesystem


i mean to say-

the important part is the recognition of the objects themselves-

that there is a self-containedness in them, in these perfect examples of a door, a dog, a story.

that this dog, this door, this story is important

(this is after all why i love asset stores, flat games, projects made using constructive tools

things made quickly, and out of the curation of so much already extant care and labor,

the assembly of all that lived life into something new)


when i was still thinking that this would be a science fiction story, i was going to write about a community that was interested in sorting these bits out.

like they’d cut these objects out of the jumble of remembrance, and stitch them back together by particular rules

i wanted to talk about sorting as game-like

this is my favorite kind of game-- the organization fantasy

which is a power fantasy of rigor


but this supposes so much about that future -

digital systems that still run (on what power?),

storage mediums that are stable (what doesn’t rot?)

it just feels wrong, also - i realized this once i began.

a community that is oriented towards organizational rigor is not a utopia

it isn't even somewhere i want to live

i wanted to write about perfect objects as flattened out together, where they could be rearranged like letters in a word on a desk top.

but i started to write instead about a culture - which is silly, because this feeling is personal, you chase it for yourself

or maybe for someone you really, truly know

(that is to say, someone you could find a perfect thing for)

i guess i'm saying that curation for the world is a job description

but curation for one person is a gift


i think about local games.

i think about the games of my grade-school classroom,

playground rules passed from older siblings to younger ones, discussed at the park and family gatherings.

i think about bootleg calculator games

traded from one TI-89 to another, slowly shifting as they are edited, hacked, perfected, deleted, remade from memory, altered again

i think about their imposed constraints:

rules that can be learned in 30 minutes of recess
files that can be traded in the hallway

how the process of circulation itself designs them:
how they smooth their own edges, becoming more and more themselves

like a round stone worried in a pocket.

i think about el paquete semanal, the internet distributed by hard drive in Cuba.

how, when circulation is risky,
the body is a secure network


and that, in the end

our internet of networked buildings is just a toll road


i think instead about an internet built like a playground game
where circulation is personal
economy is local
and files are mutable

where bandwidth is limited,
and this is a strength

how a circulation of trust would mean that this little piece of hypertext would not be a security risk

as it streams the sounds of an oak tree in the wind from a hosting provider in spain

(how it would not be a security risk
and it would not be streaming)

here is how i would like use my computer:

i want to save a file for you
i’ll hold onto it until i see you

it is perfect for you,
and i know this because i know you

once you have this file, you may keep it
or pass it along
or delete it
it is yours now

there is no mass archive to sort through, no central space that needs organizing
the work of sorting is not the work

the recordings, websites, letters, drawings, sounds, corners of buildings, sentences, games

they do all flatten out, and are jumbled together
they are permissive in their assembly because they are trusted

a peer to peer network is made of gifts
being given

i want my computer to hold only gifts

made for speculation jam, 2020

everest pipkin

links to everything that was embedded, by order of appearance:


for my students