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Posts from October 2007

Interesting Snippets


The lovely Lynette has possibly the coolest job in the business - Director of Futures for Google UK.

As Alan Kay said, the best way to predict the future is to invent it and Google is one of the few companies that can lay claim to actually doing so.

Lynette has been sharing her Interesting Snippets via Flickr for a year or so now - they are basically ready made slides to steal looking at the impact of digital - and she's compiled the first year into a book via Lulu, the proceeds of which are being donated to the Battery Hen Welfare Trust.

Ideal stocking filler for that special planner in your life.

Homo Ludens


My plugged in Antipodean mate Anne put me on to the London Games Festival, which kicked off this week.

It looks awesome - especially tonight's BAFTA Annual Lecture with Will Wright.

[If you don't know much about Will Wright go and watch this where he talks about his new, much anticipated, much delayed, potentially game changing game Spore.]

The topic, chosen by Will, is "Interactive Entertainment - The Oldest Art Form" and it's on at 6pm tonight at BAFTA headquarters on Piccadilly in Central London and tickets are free from the website.

[Before you start wondering - they haven't tapped me up for a plug. I include all the details because I can't make it and I would really love to hear what he's got to say so - can someone PLEASE go and then blog about it?]

We need to play.

Man has been described as Homo Ludens - man the player - because play seems to be a necessary [although not sufficient] condition of the generation of culture.

Thinking of computer games as a discrete, stand alone medium you probably don't need to concern yourself with is an error in a transmedia age.

[Actually, thinking of any medium as discrete is an error - digitisation renders the delineation meaningless. Digital content happily flows across platforms, bits are bits, so there are only different types of content - delivery mechanism is increasingly irrelevant.]

Our desire to exert control over our media experiences will inevitably drive the expansion of gaming and gaming behaviours.

As transmedia properties develop, gaming elements will be built into other media forms to satisfy the desire to be involved, to be active.

Check the Heroes ARG for how it works at the moment.

Aren't you already jealous of your grandchildren? Think of the progression from Pong to Spore in your lifetime, project that forward 20 or so years at a hugely accelerated rate, and marvel at what they will call games.

Watch an Alien on your Narwahl


Slingbox is a set top box web service that allows you to watch [and control] your television at home over any internet enabled device.

This is the dude on the website that explains how it works [and the title of this post].

[Did you know the Narwahl can grow a tusk up to 3 metres long? It looks a bit like a fishy unicorn, but its name is actually derived from the old Norse word for corpse because of its necrotic hue.]

It's a great use of comedy to deliver a potentially confusing / boring technology message. A spoonful of sugar and all that.

Calling All Design Ninjas


Ninja Zoo is a new kind of t-shirt design site that I've mentioned before.

They are about to launch their public beta and are looking for a few good design ninjas to be featured artists when the site goes live.

I've seen some of the stuff they are working on - the platform looks pretty awesome. The front end has been designed by TADO.

If you're interested, send a few samples of your work to artists [at] ninjazoo [dot] com

Pascal's New Wager

Blaise Pascal was a C17th mathematician and philosopher most famous for his application of decision theory to the belief in God.

What Pascal said was, it makes logical sense to believe in God, in the absence of certainty, because it's a better bet to do so.

If God doesn't exist and you don't believe in him, you saved yourself a bit of bother: if he doesn't exist and you do believe, you spend a lot of your Sundays in church and there are some rules you are needlessly following.

If God does exist and you don't believe in him,  you incur infinite loss: eternal damnation and hellfire and whatnot. If you do you incur infinite gain: eternal salvation and heaven and that.

Since you don't know whether he exists, the logical option is to believe: minor down side if you wrong, infinite upside. Whereas the alternative has minor upside and infinite burning and pitchforks in the bottom.

The smart chap in the video above, sent to me by the lovely Ed, has applied Pascal's Wager to global warming, and it's remarkably compelling.

It also ends with a different statement of belief, one of the foundations of the information age: that spreading information is action.

Another Sky - Neo-Patronage


So I posted about book sampling, which led me to Cooking with Booze, which led Neil to point me at Daisy Bennett's' unpublished manuscript, which she is trying to get published by crowd sourcing on facebook and blogging and that.

But, as Neil points out in his post, there are loads of interesting experiments in publishing happening at the moment, one of which my mate Carlos showed me today.

Another Sky is a new kind of publishing company:

At Another Sky Press we do things a little differently. In addition to making our books available for free online, copies of our books are sold at cost plus optional contribution. 100% of contributions go directly to the individuals involved in the project. If you dig us, please spread the word.

They call this neo-patronage: you decide how much something is worth after you've experienced it and if you can't afford it, that's fine:

Art should be for all, not for those who can afford it. Contribute when you can, if you can. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t contribute to every artist who you’ve enjoyed. Instead, be proud to contribute at a level that is comfortable to you both ethically and financially.

[Don't you just want to give them money?]

A model recently mainstreamed by Radiohead.

Inevitably with this model you encounter a version of the free rider problem, but I'd like to believe that kindness and decency that lies beneath this distributed patronage isn't a fallacy:

Everyone that puts out a project via Another Sky Press believes in you. We want to share what we create with you and with everyone. With your support we believe we can make the world a better place - one in which art defies commerce yet still manages to put some food in the belly of the artist.

We want everybody to win.

George's Favourite Commercial

I've been reading George Parker's Madscam on and off for a while now [since he very kindly gave me a copy following an impromptu beersphere with Charles, Hugh and Ruby.]

[Btw - the next Beersphere is scheduled for 8th Nov - keep the date and that. I'm just trying to decide on a venue. Any suggestions, please drop me a line.]

It's excellent stuff - as vitriolic about the Big Dumb Agencies [BDAs] as George always is on his blog AdScam - but also full of useful, practical stuff gleaned from many decades as a creative and consultant, delivered in a way that doesn't patronise the entrepreneurs it's aimed at.

And it's hella funny.

Anyway, in it George mentions in passing that the best commercial ever is this spot for VW from DDB:

Think about it. Why would you want to say anything more? You have captured the viewer's attention with the drama of the opening....The announcer's resolution of the mystery is perfect.

So George - this one's for you.