Magazine Inaugural Issue Released!
D. Cooper Stevenson
I wanted a better way to deliver Go. I wanted to give authors a better way to communicate their ideas to their readers. Students and professionals, I thought, deserved an intuitive way to increase their learning and enjoyment of the game. I wanted both the author and reader to think about ideas, not mechanics.
My thoughts started simply enough as I visualized what the medium might look like. A communication gap lay between the players and the authors…how could I satisfy the needs of both?
Breaking down the problem wasn't particularly difficult—the basic conditions seemed the same as they nearly always are when thinking about developing better ways of delivering ideas; it's a matter of putting yourself in another's position. On one end of the spectrum, Go requires a highly developed sense of visualization to see the relationships between the stones. On the other end we need to make it easy for instructors (or commentators) to express ideas the game is trying to put across. That meant that a) we should create visual representations of the board that aren't immediately obvious to the reader (i.e. territory), and b) the system should also automatically parse a commented game created by the instructor, including the author's comments, board markings, variations, etc. This gives the player an intuitive sense of the concepts and the ability to step through each move as much as he likes.
You may see a sample of my results in this issue's featured game between Go Seigen and Kitani Minoru. The game's board diagrams, markings, and comments are created exclusively from an SGF created by Jim Z. Yu's translation of the book ”Detailed Analysis of Wu's Famous Games.”
Writing the system to create the visualizations was a milestone but I had traveled only halfway. I needed now to deliver the medium to where the reader was. The presentation needed to be intuitive and scale to whatever device he may be using. Also, articles themselves need to be reproducable. By this I mean that with the system the author should have the ability to publish hundreds of games nearly as easy as the first. Once I was in, there was no way out but through every modern electronic device in the world.
“A communication gap lay between the players and the authors…how could I satisfy the needs of both?”
For the technically inclined I carefully crafted the system to comply with the W3C standard and built the diagrams using Scalable Vector Graphics. The medium's design is responsive; you may read Formation on devices ranging from your phone to your widescreen.
There's more; the information must look right. Like an Olympic gymnast who makes their performance look easy, the site too must flow—it should “get out of the way” and let the message through. I placed a high priority on correct typography. I confess, I gave typography a high priority for personal reasons; I feel that my fellow technologists have, until recently, (with a notable exception) taken the last three hundred years of design knowlege and thown it out the window with the advent of the Internet.
I would like to think of Formation Magazine as an in-depth news magazine for the Go world. I designed the work as a read you might enjoy in your easy chair or over the board.
If you have comments, suggestions or would article submissions feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, bundle up, relax, and enjoy the world of Go.