Corey Doctorow is one-of-a-kind, not just a renowed author, a respected blogger and an advocate for Copyright reform; he is also a real doer, someone who makes his Dreams into a reality. One way he does this is by offering all his books under a Creative Commons Copyright- this means that all his books are protected as his property but that anyone who owns a copy has his implicit permission to share, re-imagine or re-mix his work. To aid in this, Doctorow has copies of his books available free on his website, http://craphound.com/.
So why are we brining him up here, under a Sense post? Because Doctorow’s latest book, For The Win, a tale of online gaming, gold farming and economics (available to download here) features one of the most well rendered and easily understood definitions of that Principle. While the excerpt below is understandable on it’s own, this book really should be read in full and I recommend it to anyone.
Without further ado, a selection from Corey Doctorow’s For The Win:
Connor Prikkel had found His People. Technically he was a vice-president, but no one reported to him, except for a PA whose job it was to fish him out of Command Central a couple times a month, steam-clean him in the corporate gym, stick him in the corporate jet, and fire him into crowds of players and press around the world to explain -- with a superior smirk -- just how Coca Cola Games managed to oversee three of the twenty largest economies in the world. The rest of the time, Connor's job was to work on his fingerspitzengefuhl. That was a useful word. It was a German word, of course. The Germans had words foreverything, created by the simple expedient of bashing as many smaller words as you needed together until you got one monster mouth-murderer like fingerspitzengefuhl that exactly and precisely conveyed something no other language could even get close to.Fingerspitzengefuhl means "fingertip feel" -- that feeling you get when you've got the world resting against the thick cushion of nerve-endings on the tips of your fingers. That feeling when you've got a basketball held lightly in your hands, and you know precisely where the next bounce will take it when you let it go. That feeling you get when you're holding onto a baby and you can feel whether she's falling asleep now, or waking up. That feeling you get when your hands are resting lightly on the handlebars of your bike, bouncing down a steep hillside, gentle pressure on the brakes, riding the razor-edged line between doing an end-over and reaching the bottom safely. Proprioception is your ability to sense where your body is in space relative to everything else. It's a sixth sense, and you don't even know you have it until you lose it -- like when you intertwine your fingers and thread your hands through your arms and find that you wiggle your left finger when you mean to move your right; or when you step on a ghost step at the top of a staircase and your foot lands on nothing. Fingerspitzengefuhl is proprioception for the world, an extension of your sixth sense into everything around you. You have fingerspitzengefuhl when you can tell, just by the way the air feels, that your class is in a bad mood, or that your teammate is upcourt and waiting for you to pass the ball. Connor's fingerspitzengefuhl meant that he could feel everything that was happening in the games he ran. He could tell when there was a run on gold in Svartalfaheim Warriors, or when Zombie Mecha's credits take a dive. He could tell when there was a huge raiding guild making a run at Odin's Fortress, six hundred humans embodied in six hundred avs, coordinated by generals and captains and lieutenants. He could tell when there was a traffic jam on the Brooklyn Bridge in Zombie Mecha as too many ronin tried to enter Manhattan to clear out the Flatiron Building and complete the Publishing Quest. All this knowledge came to him through his ever-rotating, ever-changing feeds -- charts, chat-transcripts, server logs, bars representing load and memory and failover and rate of subscriber churn and every other bit of changing information from in the game. They flickered past in a colorful roll, on the display of his monster widescreen laptop, opacity dialled down to 10 percent in the windows that sat over his playscreens in which he ran four avs in both games. Every gamerunner had a different way of attaining fingerspitzengefuhl, as personal as the thought you follow to go to sleep or the reason you fall in love. Some like a lot of screens -- four or five. Some listened to a lot of read-aloud text and eavesdropped gamechat. Some only watched charts, some only logs, some only game-screens. Coca Cola Games had hired some industrial psychologists to try to come and unpick the game-runners' methods, try to create a system for reproducing and refining it. They'd lasted a day before being tossed out of Command Central amid a torrent of abuse and profanities. The game-runners didn't want to be systematized. They didn't want to be studied. To be a game-runner was to attain fingerspitzengefuhl and vice-versa. Game-runners didn't need shrinks to tell them when they had fingerspitzengefuhl. When you had fingerspitzengefuhl, you fell into a warm bath, a kind of hyper-alert coma, in which knowledge flowed in and out of every orifice at maximum speed. Fingerspitzengefuhl needed coffee and energy drinks, junk food and loud goddamned music, grunts of your co-workers. Fingerspitzengefuhl didn't need industrial psychology. Connor's fingerspitzengefuhl was the best. It guided the unconscious dance of his fingers on his laptop, guided him to eavesdrop on the right conversations, to monitor the right action, to spot the Webblies' fight with the Pinkertons as it began. He grunted that special grunt that alerted the rest of his tribe to danger, and stabbed at his screen with a fat finger greased with pizza-oil. The knowledge rippled through the room like a wave, bellies and chins wobbling as the whole tribe tuned into the fight.