motd.co: TWO SHOES WEEKEND 2: THE SHOESENING

MARK YOUR CALENDARS, START YOUR ENGINES, DUST OFF YOUR MECHANICAL GIRAFFES

Last spring, I spent a weekend working with a computer program that makes it simple to make creative and interesting interactive experiences that you can share with people you know. The toolkit is called Shoes and the weekend was called the Two Shoes Weekend. On November 11-13, the Two Shoes Weekend is making a comeback.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE (DRY, SERIOUS)

The purpose of Two Shoes Weekend is to build two programs using Shoes over a specific weekend. That’s it. Pretty simple! If that’s good enough for you, go get ready! Go! Get out of here!

…still here, huh? You must be one of those rules-questioners. Well, I’ve got some rules-answerers lined up, so let’s match you two up so you can stay with your buddy. Yep, it’s all buddy system around here, pal. All pal system, buddy.

DOES IT HAVE TO BE TWO PROGRAMS?

Yes! I’ll go ahead and reveal my sneaky secret up front: forcing you to make two things is the whole key to the Two Shoes Weekend. When you sit down to start your weekend, you’ll probably already have an idea that you’ve been thinking about. It occurred to you weeks ago, and you’ve been looking forward to watching it spring to life. Yes, soon that picture of Alan Alda will become animated and sing along with Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. But when Saturday afternoon rolls around and you’re watching your work satisfactorily loop over and over again on your screen, it’ll be time for you to set that aside and start the next thing. The next thing can be born out of desperation. The next thing can be a flash of insight. The next thing will come from somewhere deep in your skull where a tiny voice will explain to you that what the world needs now is a calculator that uses D’ni numerals. And while Jolene Alda is certainly a gift, the D’ni calculators of the world are what I’m looking to sift out from an event like this, because this second thing you made didn’t come from weeks of traffic jam boredom and showertime brainstorming. It came from a very strange part of your consciousness, and it’s those things that always take you by surprise and make you laugh or cry or stroke your chin weeks later when you look back at what you made.

MUST I USE SHOES?

Well, okay, so this one is negotiable. The spirit of the Two Shoes weekend is one of computer programming-based creative expression, a spirit that is inspired by the original creator of Shoes, an internet so-and-so called ‘why the lucky stiff’. Since I’m the one who’s interpreting his ideals, I’m going to go ahead and say that he would be happy for people to be engaged with the Two Shoes Weekend if they’re making things on the computer with anything. You could make a game in Flixel or Inform if those are in your wheelhouse. Prefer to create trivia games in node.js? Quiz on, quizmaster! It’s hard to make two things in a weekend, and if you have a mahogany, satin-lined toolbox that will make this whole thing easier and more fun for you, then I say go for it.

If you’re in for the spirit of adventure or are already familiar with Shoes, though, then you’re welcome to join in on the fun as a community gathers around the use of Shoes. A group of crack Shoesers will be gathering in the Freenode #shoes IRC channel to help you figure out how to make your shady trenchcoat-wearing watch salesman animate his way across the screen only to get carried away by a giant falcon when you press the “F” key (for falcon).

CAN IT ONLY BE OVER THE WEEKEND?

Well, uh… yes. Yeah, sorry. I mean, I’d love to bend on this one, because I know that you’re busy. I’m familiar with opportunity cost, Friendo, and I know that by locking yourself in your computer-pod all weekend, you’ll miss out on a marching band reunion, free tickets to the wax museum, the serendipitous discovery of a traveling gang of sword-swallowers, and all manner of sock-hops, galas, and jamborees. But you could always take your computer OUT of its special sensory deprivation chamber, join up with some friends and computer-programming rivals (you’ve got some computer-programming rivals, right? Everyone should have a couple. I’m looking at you, Jake, and I’m shaking my fist), and program the night away in a nearby apartment, coffee shop, or abandoned roller rink.

The fact of the matter is that it’d just be awkward to call it “Two Shoes Weekend Plus Some Other Days Because Rachel Was Too Busy Being Popular And Cool So She’ll Do Hers Next Tuesday”. You see what I mean? So the Two Shoes Weekend is for the weekend, and I would love it if you felt inspired to do something similar some other time, but the weekend timing is just a thing we need for this to work. I hate to leave you out, Rachel. I’ll make it up to you next time.

OKAY, IT’S MONDAY NOVEMBER 14, I DID THE THING, WHAT NOW?

Wait, really? You did it? You made two things? Oh! Uh… I wasn’t really prepared for this!

Um…

Just a second.

Okay, right, that was it: email me to tell me what you did and I’ll post about your projects in a big roundup with all of the people who made two things. You get bonus points (which will not be tabulated and don’t get recorded anywhere) if you write a blog post (with pictures!) and give me a link AND/OR post the source code to your projects on the internet (Github is an attractive internet website, but anywhere public will do).

OH GOD WHY IS THIS STILL HAPPENING

No, it’s okay, that’s just about it. If you need something else to read before November 11 rolls around, you could read about the last Two Shoes Weekend, which I announced on Friday afternoon and yet somehow convinced two other people to join in on, or you could read my mushy feelings about why the lucky stiff, who wrote Shoes in the first place and inspired me to do this.

If you need to learn about Shoes to get started, you could try these helpful things:

  • Nobody Knows Shoes, simultaneously an in-depth guide to Shoes and the frightening scribblings of a raving lunatic;
  • The Shoes Tutorials, a short guide to writing your first Shoes programs; or
  • The Shoes Manual, a comprehensive handbook to the built-in gadgets and gizmos provided to you by the people who make Shoes work.

But if you’ve done all that, maybe you should go sit down, have a glass of water, or take a nap and get ready for November 11-13, a weekend of fun and mystery and PRIZES (NOTE: YOU MUST PROVIDE YOUR OWN PRIZES).