Reiko's Ramblings and Writings

What I'm reading and writing about lately.

“Get Lamp” documentary event

Posted by Reiko on October 22, 2010

Yesterday I traveled for over five hours to get to this event. Granted, at least an hour of that was the result of having missed almost every train I tried to catch, due to parking, train delays, or fare card issues. I only caught the final planned train, the 8:40 out of the city, because I ran like crazy for half an hour from the Google building back to Union Station, making it with four minutes to spare. I live in the suburbs, so this sort of thing is exactly why I don’t go downtown very often.

Despite all that, I’m glad I went. It was very inspiring to see the genesis and growth from the earliest machines that could respond to typed commands all the way to modern IF and the annual competition. Plus it was the first time I’d ever been in the same room with any of the people involved in this crazy hobby other than my father, who had been one of those avid players endlessly drawing maps and beating his head against the puzzles until he cracked them. Not that I actually got to meet anybody per se, but I was handed a flyer by I think David C himself.

And the chance to visit the Google building was itself something I didn’t want to pass up. The final inbound stage of the trip from standing outside the Google building to settling down to watch the documentary felt like being in an IF. A sample transcript of my experience might look like this:

Outside the Google Building
The building looms high above to the north, with the dark street extending off to the east and west.


Reception Area
A huge reception area stretches all around, taking up nearly the whole ground floor of the building. A small desk with two receptionists sits along the north wall. The elevator bays can be seen in a hallway to the north.


One of the receptionists stops you as you head toward the elevators. “Where are you going?”

>tell receptionist about documentary

“I’m here to see the documentary,” you explain, gesturing vaguely at the sign posted near the elevators.

She looks at you blankly. “The what now?”

>tell her about get lamp

“I’m here for the Get Lamp event,” you try to clarify.

At that her expression clears. “You want the eighth floor.”


You pass through to the elevator bay.

Elevators line this narrower area on both sides, each one with a call button.

>press button

You pick a button and press it to call the elevator, which you ride to the eighth floor.

This elevator vestibule is about the same size as the hallway on the ground floor, but it is capped at each end by a set of glass doors.

>x south door

Through the glass you see a cubicle area. A sign warns about having badges visible at all times.

>x north door

Through the glass you see a cubicle area that also looks playful somehow, with colorful decorations.

(opening the door first)

You stand in a maze of cubicles, with exits northwest and northeast and a glass door to the south. The walls are colorfully decorated.


You hear voices faintly to the northeast.


You round a corner and enter a breakroom area, beyond which is a darkened area with rows of seating. Colorful chairs are scattered all around small tables.

>take chair. ne. drop chair. sit on chair

You pick up a blue chair.

Projector Room
The room is lit only by the glow of the video being projected on the east wall and the light spilling from the breakroom area. Pizza boxes cover the tables at the back. One wall displays “google” in large letters arranged in two haphazard vertical lines. The rows of chairs contain a few dozen people all intent on the video.

On the screen, the discussion is still about the earliest sorts of machines capable of responding to text. Maybe you haven’t missed much.

You quietly put down the chair at the back of the room to avoid blocking or distracting anyone.

Settling yourself on the chair, you begin watching the video along with everyone else.

*** You have won. ***


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