Jan 05

2014 – Week 1

It’s a New Year! 2014 is here and has done its best to make its mark with the weather.

Reading

  • How to run the perfect marathon by Beer Belly Running. I’m going to be reading a lot more like this as I have no idea what to expect (pain, I know there’ll be pain, but what else? :-) ) It’s 14 weeks today. I have a lot of miles to get through.
  • Facebook reveals mobile growth by country. (TechCrunch) One thing about being a public company is Facebook has to give information to investors that it would not have normally made public. This is interesting reading about how it is spreading, especially with the rise of the messenger plus the deals it is putting in place to make Facebook use ‘free data’ with certain carriers.
  • How the content industry almost killed the Blockbuster and Netflix. (TechCrunch). A look back on the entertainment industry and its continued inability to understand the disruption that keeps hitting it.
  • LOL My Thesis. A tumblr with one line definitions of academics study. A lot of fun reading.
  • Paul Dacre – the man who hates liberal Britain. A New Statesman study of the editor of the Daily Mail

Doing

  • Visited the Bank Of England Museum. A fascinating little place in the City, showing the history of the bank and of money and banking in the UK. Shows how banknotes came to replace money, the rise of the cheque and how, in England, this bank became the only one that could issue money. Well worth a visit – especially to handle the HUGE gold bar they have.
  • Appeared on Al Jazeera TV on Inside Talk, talking about social media, viral videos, fakes and journalism. How should journalists verify video that appears on the web. Making these programme is weird as the main studio is in Doha, so you’re in a dark studio, facing lights, you can’t see the camera so hope you hope you’re looking at the right place and you can’t see the videos they are talking about. This was the first long discussion I have done, it’s normally been small slots in news programmes but this was a 30min show. Enjoyed it (and apparently did OK). Also, more telly makeup so took picture that is becoming my new avatar.
  • Did a London Treasure hunt through In the Hidden City. A brilliant idea that uses text messages to send you clues for places around London. Do it fast, you can get prizes, but the real prize is taking the opportunity to see places about London you may never have been before. This one took us from the National Gallery, through St James, Soho and up to Marylebone.
  • Updated my CV and applied for jobs. Cost cuts are work meant re-structuring and me no longer having a job :-( So after getting through the holidays, I’ve now taken stock and am busy getting my details out there! Anyone need a digital thinker/social media strategist/project manager? You can see what I have done on my About Page/LinkedIn.

Training

The training picks up hard now, with 42 miles in the plan

  • 8mile steady with 10 100m strides. These are fast sprints where you push yourself hard
  • 10miles to and from a New Year’s day parkrun, with the 5k fast in the middle. Well, not that fast. I usually do my parkruns on a flat course, this was in Richmond park and there are hills!
  • 10miles steady. It was a lovely run until 6miles in when the heaven opened, hailstones poured down and there was thunder and lightening. I got very wet and it was horrible for 2 miles. Then there were blue skies!
  • 15 miles steady, again round Richmond Park. No deer seen today

Nov 05

Playful: Bennett Foddy and confusion and frustration in games

Live Blogged – mistakes are mine

Foddy’s plan is to talk about suffering in making games. Starts with a lesson from the Olympics. It is one of the only events with billions of viewers. Competing in the games is nothing like playing a video game. it’s about suffering. Running is hard, athletics is hard. You suffer. But this does not happen in games now. In older games, you had to press buttons really hard until it hurts. Why has this changed. Why has frustration and pain been engineered out of the games? Games have become comfortable in a way. We are losing this dimension of pain.

Why suffer in games? There are ways in which suffering makes a game better. Suffering makes failure matter. Games use frustration, loss of progress, often. If you know that failure will make you frustrated or bored, you try harder. It also makes success better; if you’ve worked harder, then it feels better. There is also this idea of challenge. There is a glory of taking a challenge on in itself.

But what about games that just make you suffer for it’s own sake. How about games that actually cause you pain. How about Slapsies – (the hand slapping game). Pain in games is for everyone. How about games that give you a horrible experience. The Cinnamon challenge – eating a big spoon of cinnamon. Pain is not the penalty, there is no way to win this without pain. Pain is the entire game.

Frustration is another area. Games used to be hard and difficult, frustrating to finish but got easier to play throughout as they moved into the living room. But if a game is too easy and you don’t have failure, then do you appreciate it. Frustration built in as part of the game play can make the game better.

Let’s talk about confusion. In game play, people can like getting lost, getting confused. Mazes are an environment you can get lost in, older than video games. It is a great human state. Confusion can be intriguing. Humiliation in games. They are often built in, eg Halo, or Mortal Kombat,.

But why can confusion or humiliation be good. Because they represent the engineer playing with the player. Is the developer a teacher, a tour guide. But is this the right relationship. When you have a single player game, the developer is standing in for player 2. They play. You thwart, play with, inflict pain, confuse him. In many times, play is just violence with a strong set of complaints. It can be tricking the player, or is it that the developer pays attention to what the player is doing and provides responses.

We often get too focused on fun as video game developers. But not all play is fun. You can design games that are more like long distance running. hard and humiliating. But still worth it

Jan 06

Signing up for Pinterest

A twitter friend sent me an invite to Pinterest, as I’m interested in what it does. However, do far, all it has done is annoy me!

Clicking the link from the email, the first thing it offered was the ability to sign in with Facebook or Twitter. There was no alternative way of creating an account. This is a personal issue of mine, I don’t want to have things connected by default, I want the choice. I know for many, having this option makes it easy; for the company it also reduces spam and provides a in-built platform for spreading the message about the product, but I beleive the alternative should be offered.

I decided to use Facebook, as that was the site that was promoted the strongest, with messages that it won’t do anything with your account. Click once, click twice and it tells you what it’s going to do with the account – add posts and access when you’re not logged in. Facebook now allows you to deny permission, so too no’s and it lets me skip this stage. To a account creation page asking for username, email and password. So the option is there, just not shown on sign up screen.

The next screen it asked me what I was interested in; a few clicks, a few choices made; my thougth at this point was that it would provide me some options to follow, or a general stream of content around those images. No, instead it automatically follows a number of people I have never heard of. Multiple unfollows later, I’m left with a blank page, ready to do things with.

But remember I got an invite from someone. One thing it has not done is provided me a way to follow that person. Back to the original email, find their account names, click through, click follow.

So 4 things:

  • Not providing me an alternative to a SNS sign up
  • When I refused to play sharing game, then making do an alternative sign up
  • Auto-Following people I have never heard of
  • making it hard to follow the person who shared the product with me

My final issue is actually with the whole premise of the product. It’s all about making scrapbooks of images you like on the internet and sharing them, a visual list of book marks. But it appears to have no regard for copyright at all, eg it allows you to repost all images regardless of rights. It also does not always attribute the image correctly, a link to the top level domain not even the page the image is on. And when that TLD is Google, that’s even worse. Now, there’s a lot of things wrong with copyright, but the fundamentals are correct – the person who owns an image decides what can be done with it. Although the copy and share behaviour is common, why should this service encourage it without even trying to atrribute images to the owners or original posts.

So Pinterest may be current darling of the tech world and having massive growth, but I’m not happy with it…

Sep 15

The Games Maker Application Process

I applied to be a Games Maker for the 2012 Olympics this morning and had to struggle through the application form. Not too bad, but some annoying design and validation issues that just make it hard…

  • They do their best to put you off by asking all sorts of personal questions first. What’s your Passport details, have you passed an Child Protection assessment, telling you there’s going to be background checks and just a very formal first form. All the lead up to the application is friendly and informative and them you’re just hit between the eyes with this stuff with no warning. I know why they are asking, but from a experience point of view, I think it would be better if they asked later, let me tell you lots of good stuff first!
  • For your experience, they have a maximum of 80 characters – far less than a tweet. Then it’s set in a big text box with no character count. So you type something and then have to keep editing and validating, editing and validating to get it right (or take it elsewhere to write and count characters)
    • Games Maker Form

      Games Maker Form

  • Validation sucks. Some fields validate on the page. Others are only checked once the whole form is submitted and it takes you back through multiple forms to complete fields that looked like they could just be left alone. So some testing has been overlooked.

Overall, it’s a good form, jsst with a annoying elements that don’t feel finished!

May 13

Twitter Censors

I woke up today to find that Twitter has decided to break itself and started to censor what it shows me. Before today, when I decided to follow someone, I saw all of their public tweets, all of their replies, no matter to whom they were replying. This was a setting in the system, allowing me to see everything. However, by default, it was turned off. Given that few people never change the default, most people did not use this setting, which could be part of the reason why they never quite get it, why there is such a drop off rate. This means of finding out who is interesting, who is involved in conversations with people you follow, is one of the key features that allows you to enjoy the serendipity of finding new people.

BUt now it’s gone. Removed as an option. The Twitter blog says:

Based on usage patterns and feedback, we’ve learned most people want to see when someone they follow replies to another person they follow—it’s a good way to stay in the loop. However, receiving one-sided fragments via replies sent to folks you don’t follow in your timeline is undesirable. Today’s update removes this undesirable and confusing option.

So now they’re controlling what I can see, they’ve removed the choice. They’re censoring what I can hear. It’s the equivalent of being in a pub with a few friends and a bunch of new people and not hearing any of the conversation between everyone else. I’m not the only one who sees it this way, just search for the hashtag #fixreplies

Twitter Fix Replies (screenshot from site)

Twitter Fix Replies (screenshot from site)

Twitter, this needs to go back. I make a choice to follow people and I make a choice to follow everything they see. Don’t strip out content, just let me see it all.

Apr 07

Twitter Frustrations

I’m getting really frustrated with Twitter at the moment and it has nothing to do with the service itself but to the explosion in use. Since the start of the month I’ve received 50 new followers, very few of whom I’ve followed back. Some of it, I’m sure, is because I’ve been on the service a long time and am often on the front page of the followers list due to my ‘membership number’. I’m pretty much on my limit of people I’m following, the limit of how useful the tool is. For me, it is not a broadcast tool, it’s not a popularity tool, it’s a way to connect with friends and ‘friends’ (those online acquaintances who I know virtually, or want to know or find interesting). So here’s some of the reasons I will and won’t follow you. Everyone has different reasons – which is why I don’t feel aggrieved if someone does not follow me, if I don’t fit into their reasons for use, why would they?

  • I follow you if I know you personally – and know you have a Twitter account. Recently I’ve not gone out and tried to discover accounts of everyone I know; I’ll come across them eventually
  • I follow you if I know you virtually, having had interactions online with you
  • I follow you if I’m met you and you mentioned Twitter, or your twittering about an event we’re both at. (for example, I started following a few new people after Over the Air.) I tend to review these after a while to see if we still have shared interests
  • I follow you if someone I already follow starts to refer to to you and your tweets look interesting. Again reviewed after a while
  • If you start following me, I rarely return the favour if I look at your numbers and seeing you are following 100’s or 1000’s and very few following you. You’re either promoting yourself or just started on the service and think that is the way to do it. If I don’t know you, I won’t follow.
  • However, of you start following me, it looks like you are trying to learn how to use the system and you are following connected people, then I’ll see what you have to say
  • I have blocked 2 kinds of accounts. Obvious promotion accounts for things I don’t like and people who I feel are creepy (that’s usually men who are following nothing but loads of women – they write in a certain way)
  • I won’t follow promotion accounts in general, nor politicians, etc

There’s my list, that’s the sort of thinking I go through when I look at an account. It has to fit with what I can cope with and what I am interested in. If I don’t follow you after you connect with me, it’s not necessarily you, it’s probably me ;)

Mar 16

BarCampBrighton and SL connections

Aleks Krotoski talking about the social graph.

  • [missed the start] A social psychologist, trying to examine connections
  • Pathways can be mapped across friends and people.
  • Mass friending…impact the data and how the network connects.
  • there are certain relationships and strengths of relationships. You can technological measure strength but difficult as you get to semantics.
  • Adding arrows to the graph starts adding information. You can add lots of information, but then it all gets mushy in the middle.  Fuzzy and gooey and technologiest don’t like that. Then I come into the mix and go oooh psychology.
  • So how do you measure strength…

    • I asked the social psy questions. list friends and rating of them..
  • Based study on actual connection on a virtual world, on the qualitative assessment of relationships

    • Second half of study was looking at getting behavioural shortcuts for this
    • some evidence about how interactions acorss various channels indicates trust.  ie talking in public, IM in SL, outside of SL via email.
  • Once you have all the information, all the messy stuff. I was looking at interconnected, closely related groups of people.  I’m interested in them…as they know each other. In the mess, many people, but don’t know others, they identify as something.  Look at a self-decared group to see if they are differently connected.  I did an island analysis, pulled out 4 groups of people who are extremely closely connected to each other.  There’s a lot of trust between each other.
  • The point: There are social relationships which have psychologies that can;t ey be articualted through technolgy.  There are social flocking/network effects in these spaces – people move to where their friends are.   Whatever is happening…they’re capturing a lot of data about us.
  • The data they are capturing is going to be a key discussion coming up

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Mar 16

BarcampBrighton and Cloud Computing

Jeff Barr, from Amazon, was at BarcampBrighton as part of a long European tour, talking up cloud computing.

  • apologised for going to be a little more commercial than others….but taken out the prices so it’s not a sales pitch!
  • been at Amazon for 6 years.   Saw real potential, the first catalog service.  they started sending me out to conferences, I was good at it so they made me the evangelist and that’s what we do, me and 3 others. we have a wiki that people can request us.
  • FOr the last 5 years we have been opening up the infrastructure – the product catalog, alexa and now infrastructure services. putting APIs out there, charging models around them. we try and make it really simple to get started. Sign up and away you go
  • we offer access in a number of ways. a lot of what we have had to do over the years has to do with scale, have the infrastructures.  we offer that out to developers.   The developers can focus on the innovative and creativity part..we do the hardware.
  • we rely a lot of input and feedback from developers. let me know what you like and don’t like. we write a trip report everyday to get the feedback to the company.
  • Cloud computing- emerging trend. you look to the cloud to do stuff for you. You can treat it as infinite capacity, scale on demand.  With cloud computing, what were fixed costs turn into variable costs, where you pay for what you need.  You get possibly better staff to keep it up, get economies of scale.
  • It can reduce your time to get things up and running,
  • We have 6 different services – Queue, storage, elastic compute cloud, flexible payments,
  • S3: object based storage…1b-5GB. private or public, redundant and dispersed. storage. US and Eu locations. (Ireland). EU added due to latency and data legal issues. We dynamically manage the copies of the data.   We are redundant enough. 99.99% availability goal. Can organise in buckets/ each bucket is a flat storage model. Can use it as a bit torrent seed. Complete API around it.  We have libraries for a number of different languages, that we have built or other developers.
  • Elastic Compute Cloud: (not the ZX81): use Xen, take lots of machines, slice into small components, using a indi OS. when you have an instance it is yours while you pay. you get root level, elastic capacity,. There’s a lot of apps built on top as well for you to use. you get to scale in minutes.  Up and down control. We have 3 different instance types – small, Large and XL.  You have an Amazon Machine Image – which is your’s.  You put this in S3, then roll it out to the servers you need as you scale.  Full API into the cloud, you can start machines with one call.  Used in lots of scientific research. MapReduce and Hadoop, for engineering and science calculations.   For Fortune 500 companies, often for high impact, short term projects, as a dev host.  One example is the NYT archive, When it was a closed service, they re-rendered PDF from TIFF every time. They decided to use EC2 with Hadoop to pre-render everything.  They tested it..then ran it over 24 hours over 100 instances. Far better than having to do internally.  Some one has built EC2 Firefox UI – a browser addon that allows you to control the instances

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Mar 16

BarCampBrighton and Stories and Games

Adrian Hon from Six to Start talks about Games and Stories

  • Creative Director at Six to Start, make ARGs, but not what I’m going to talk about it
  • ARGs are games that use multiple media or media in interesting ways to tell a story. Email, twitter, newspapers, IM, GPS etc.
  •  What I want to talk about is stories. A lot of the work I have been doing recently has been about telling stories in different ways.
  • Interactive stories, a few ways of doing it.

    • story as reward. Told through cut scenes, no way to influence. no resemblance to actual gameplay. It’s the last thing you do as a game developer.   A lot of people play the game to get to the fun video. They are trying to hire writers to make these better, put still not brilliant. These are stories on rails. Like a book, completely linear.
    • story as experience. The story is told by gameplay, eg half-life. No cut-scenes..or rather cut-scenes integrated into game.   Story has to be written right from the start – mission design and level design are all tied in. Still on rails.
    • branching narrative. Choose Your Own Adventure. Gives an illusion of choice – often 2 choices, story line joins later.   Involves creating wasted content. Sometimes not subtle..really annoying.
    • PseudoAI. you can completely influence the story within certain parameters. Only example is Facade at the moment.   It got a lot of buzz. Natural language processing and AI, or an enormous amount of scripting (which Facade actually does). It 3-4 years and only lasts 15 minutes. Still a maze just more complex.   Don’t see it happening for a long while, until get really good AI.
    •  make your own story. No set narrative, but maybe a setting. eg Civilisation, the Sims. Sort of cheating.   Civ has a huge community, A lot of players write stories about their game.  A lot of people talk that this is the ultimate way of doing stories in games, The stories can be better than anything pre-written, in a book etc but normally they are not. The design may not be that good or oyu may not be that imaginative.   Requires great games design and not for everyone.
    • DM/PM – somewhat set narrative. D&D, ARGS. you know you are going to hit certain plot points.  There’s a human controlling the story in real time.  You have a group of players, people are guiding the story according to the actions of the players.  An issue is that it requires real-time response. Not really re-playable or scalable for personal experience.  It is sort of on rails.  Somewhere in between writing a game and improv. A different sort of skill set.
  • With Penguin Books, they wanted to do a ARG, but not right for them – budget etc. I as looking at how you could design stories that aren’t games or CYOA, still on rails. But still interactive. We tell Stories. A different way of telling stories.  New ways of tellign stories that are only possible using the internet.  Six different authors and stories and 6 different ways of telling them, Some people have already started doing this…email mysteries.   It is not enough to have a really good idea or even to have a really good story, the writing has to be be really great. You need a story, good design and very well designed interaction and presentation. A graphic novel or a book have had years to be designed.   Working out a way to tell stories online that are still linear, with the authors is something that we are excited it.  One of the first one we are doing is based around Google Maps.  Follow the movements around the places.  I was worried it may be really gimmicky. We worked really hard with Charles Cumming, about where is he, what can he see, what is he thinking about. We animate the map.   Don’t think we have it perfect but we have some cool things.  The last story we are doing with Mohsin Hamid is another I’m really excited.  We are playing around with improvisation on writing.
  • Q: how did the authors react?  One of them found them difficult to deal with, another was really easy, the first thing written was wrong and would not work…we had to rewrite but it was cool. Another was really receptive to feedback.  We’ll just have to see. In general they have been very good to work with. We know how to do the design, they know how to do the writing.

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Mar 15

Jane McGonigal Keynote at SXSW

Jane McGonigal Keynote.

  • The Lost Ring Video played. A call for help. Being going a week – are you in?
  • going to talk yo you about alternate realities. instead of trying to make games more realistic, trying to make the real world more like games.  we need more alt. realities and the real world needs to be changed to function more like a game. it will start on a game designers perspective on the future of happiness. I work at the Institute for the Future. we look at interesting things that are happening today and imagine what the future will be like.
  • Happiness – the last year has seen a lot of growth and attention to happiness. there has been the launch of a new field – positive psychology, to look at brains working well, the good stuff. what makes us happy, what is the best case scenario.  good books, one thing that really interests me, is the parallel between what makes us happy and the core tenants of game design.
  • Last month, book Against Happiness came out. this is not about warm fuzzy feelings, it is about the trying to capture the best experience possible and using research to define it, how to make lives more worth living
  • there are many metrics for measuring, to implement and insert happiness making things in your life. 
  • what i wanted to ask if you think you re in the happiness business.?  I don’t think we are quite yet imaging product as happiness, but you will be in the business very soon.
  • It’s coming faster than we think.
  • Predictions – quality of life becomes a primary metric,. Positive psychology will be used to design tools; communities will form around different visions of a real life worth living.  Value will be defined as a measurable increase in real happiness or well being – the new capital.
  • Happiness is the new capital. you need to be explicitly generating some positive well being for them. happiness does not mean what it used to..the internets has changed. Happiness is not a warm puppy. 
  • researching for a while..so will distill the 4 key principles

    • satisfying work to do
    • the experience of being good at something
    • time spent with people we like
    • the chance to be a part of something bigger.
  • nothing in the world gives you these things better than games,
  • Multi-player games are the ultimate happiness engine.  as the rest of the community starts to catch up, then more of us will be in the business of this happiness venture/
  • Signals for things changing? Some graffiti in my town…’I’m not good at life’. for a lot of gamers their experience of life is that it is not sufficiently designed for them to be good at. we can be really good at them, at games. In real life there is not the collaboration as there is in the games. you get visualisation in WOW of all the data, help that you use ingame.  you don’t gain speaking points for presentations in life. you gain points in game.

    •  So you have better instructions in games.
    •  Games are giving us better feedback all the time. we know how we are doing.
    • games have better community. shared rules and story give you better time.
  • there is a global mass exodus..started in asia…towards virtual worlds and game worlds. I’m not critical of the mass exodus as I understand it. it is a rational decision to spend time and money in virtual worlds as those environments are set up better for them to succeed. there is a better chance for them to learn.  An MMO players spends 16 hours a week and that is average.
  • we could make better and better online and console games to take what we have learnt from  there and do something in the real world.  for many people, quality of life, virtuality is beating reality.
  • us here are lucky compared to many who play the games we do, real life is not as exciting as virtuality, it does not make them as happy. if I was as good at life as I was in my games, what would it be like.
  • I think games are awesome..it is like we invented the writen word and we only write books. why are the games not in the real world, to use the games to navigate, meet people…
  • ChoreWars  -experience points for housework.  you get to claim XP for chores.
  • zyked – in alpha. exercise is the  target, give points and skills for working out
  • Seriosity – for games at work. an overlay of virtual currency for work. you have to pay people to do things at work.  you can set priorities. it creates flows of virtual currency, you can watch it. you can see who is important, connections.
  • Citizen Logistics – missions to help other people. knows where you are because of GPS etc, people can tell you what to do. mobile co-ordinations.,
  • Good news as some people are trying to make the world into a game.
  • What do they mean? to imagine the future it is important to look backwards at least twice as far as you are looking forward.  the best analogy is soap, in 1931. ‘Soap kills germs’ was a headline. games are like soap..we should install them in every building, in our pockets we are killing boredome….games Kill boredom, alienation, anxiety, depression,
  • AR designers are trying to embed these happiness engines in everyday life.
  • So, AR comes from Science fiction.  the community names it. it is not an alternative, it is an alternate way of experiences this reality, these are immersice experiences in this reality. one of the earliest OED entries for AR is 1978 – another way of experiencing existence.  they sit and exist in your real world, the game is there at the street corner.
  • World Without Oil – won an award at SXSW. we told the players that we had run out of oil and they players had to run real life as this was true. we would give you updates in your area about the gas and process and impact on food etc. levels of chaos, misery etc.  you would know what the fictional parameters and you would document what it was like.  we had a soldier in iraq on LJ about what it would be like it would be like without oil.  people changed trucks, people were interviewing non players. it’s all archived. it lasted 32 weeks, it got really dark at times,  then the players got it together and kind of fixed things.  there;s a lot of info all still there. worldwithoutoil.org. still have people doing it.
  • so how do args amplify happiness., they deliver 10 superhero capabilities to people who play.  10 kinds of happiness that match up with research.

    • mobbability. the ability to collaborate and co-ord really large scales. 
    • cooperation radar – the ability to detect who would make the best collaborator for any given mission.
    • Ping quotient measures ability to reach out and respond to other people in your networks
    • influency – the ability to adapt your persuasive strategies to individuals and media and environments….understand communities require a different motivation.
    • multi-capitalism – understand that people are trading in different capital systems.  so how do you get the different capitals trading?
    • Protovation – big companies get scared of this. rapid innovation, that failing is fun and that is when you are learning the most. fail rapidly and often…
    • Open Authorship – naturally to blogger age. comfort with giving content away and knowing it will be changed. it’s a design skill about creating something that won’t be broke by others changes
    • signal/noise management. he ability to handle noise and know which clue is relevant.
    • longbrading – the ability to think in much bigger systems – the zoom out.
    • emergensight – this is the trickiest. the idea that you can spot patterns as they come up, comfortable with messy complexity.
    • lost ring game is in 8 languages…a lot of content, players will create more. it gets really big, so how do you spot opportunitiy etc.
  • they amplify our tendency towards the optimal human experience doing lots of research.
  • so how can interactive systems amplify happiness?
  • so where to next?

    • twitter is a good place to start, a natural interface.
    • the nike ipod. I love it. want to make a game.
    • planes – comms sytems. would love to play a game on a plane.
    • dogs..need a game to fix it….i feel guilty for playing. how about an MMO when you avatar is your dog. you have to get them all working together.
    • a friedd said – ‘my car is a video game’..a Prius using games
    • trackstick – records GPS every 5 secs and follows you. 
    • neuro detector, hook up to games. an idea for a game about people I don’t like and using my brain to destroy them
  • the Lost Ring is for the Olympics. we are going to give people the opp to have an AR at the Olympics. a game that no one has played for 2000 years. thelostring.com. learn a lost sport and be an olympic champions.
  • The important stuff  –

    • I believe that most of us will be in the happiness business, study it and be ready for when the public demand it
    • game designers have a huge head start. we have been trying to optimise human experience. 
    • AR signal the desire, need and opp for all of us who design interactive systems to redesign reality for real quality of life.
    • jane    at avantgame   com
  • Questions. DOD/war…using gaming language. do games help prevent wars

    •    i would want to differentiate the types. games make soldiers easier to fight. that’s not the best direction for blurring the line between reality and games. it is extremely powerful ..do we design games to draw people to benevolent action.,  i think game devs should be trying to win noble prize by 2032. if we are playing games together than much harder to hate each other.
  • to what extent that gaming etc are substitutes to things that are missing..

    • for some things..blogs can work better than conversation for many people. games work better for some people. not everyone who plays games has a life that needs fixing. I do worry that some gamers do replace, and it is something we should talk about. we need a real conversation
  • interested in the idea we have more forms but a lot less social. ARGS narrative story and not necessarily with people.

    • a lot of the press for args are online…but they have a real history of real life stuff. ie SF0. all mission in real world. a lot of stuff going that way
  • args..successful ones are productions, narratively intense. they are temp and they go away how do you…when do have continues things

    • business model needs to get fixed. it was seen as marketing and budgets fixed. tried as pay to play, lots of people trying to figure out new models.  it has to happen, i want my nike+ to run for my life
  • I’m interested in the whole business model things….Macdonalds is one of the sponsor for lost ring..how do you reconcile that with the game considering the relationship with mcdonalds

    • we don’t actually have a sponsor, we had a group of people who wanted to get involved..IOC, McD, AKQA. it’s a different model, it’s like P&G when they invented soap. I’m thrilled to be working with orgs that are big enough to get the game in may places. it’s going to be tricky to walk the line…where do you get the money,.it is moving more to TV…it is the ecosystem…
  • i played the game to reclassify books.and when i go to bookshops I do the same things. is it changing how people look at the world (ministry of reshelving)

    • its one of the most powerful things…we had 40k people doing this.  I love Tombstone Holdem, we designed games that allowed people to play serious with tombstones…
  • SF0 does a geat job of balancing creativity and real life..how do you script vs openness

    • it’s a combination. if you are trying to solve world problems, you need a bit of a harder top down approach at the beginning
    • The x2 project, with scientists, playing games about future of research and science. we use real world science scenarios. our players inhabit the AR. we guide it with a story, we are interested in a particular reality. do research first, get people to solve the problem, then let them figure out of you are right or wrong.
  • The Game – pick up artists…evolutionary pyschology…people are gaming each other in life…

    • it is important to define the game you are playing. any game is collaborative as you are playing the same rules. in real life is they do not know there is a game playing then a problem. AR announce them selves as a game, it is better. rules are explicit.

Jane’s post on the speech, also Slides on Slideshare

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Mar 15

BarCampBrighton – Slorpedo

This is about Slorpedo – a mixed reality game in Second Life

  • based on an Icehouse game Torpedo. Difficult to play in real world, due to complex rules. so fits well with a virtual world
  • built at HackDay London, uses reacTIVision
  • How it used to work – runs on laptop (server), interacts with SL, via some kind of HTTP, something inbetween – which as written in Processing.
  • Source code lost….URL was hard coded, they did not know the magic numbers.  Tried to re-write it Python yesterday. Approx 60 linrd, in Amazon S3 data,
  • Now – webcam : reactivision : PythonScript : Amazon : SL scrip : game in SL
  • Interesting intersection of technologies.
  • You put your pieces on the board in real life.  Using one hand. aim the subs at the other subs. First one on with all on board, yells stop. Then it switches to SL, where the subs fire all their torpedoes to see who wins, the one with the most subs left wins.
  • Q?; could you play across countries?   Yes, but you’d have to have projector…and how do you say stop?

A rally fun session with people slapping down fake submarines in real life to have them translated into fake submarines in Second Life

Bar Camp Brighton

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Mar 15

BarcampBrighton – Portable Information

A group panel about portable data and information

  • Jeremy Keith
  • Microformats – semantic web
  • hCard is probably the most popular. there is an existing format called vCard. hCard is a 1:2:1 mapping of vCard. Use of vCard info on a web page. same details as in your address book/phone.
  • the idea behind microformats is not that you publish new data, but you have existing stuff in a format that adds semantic fidelity.
  • there are converters out there, eg that take hCard and change to VCard for desktop stuff
  • xfn is another one – a proto-microformat. Tantek Celik/Matt Mullenweg etc. they looked at what was existing and made aformat around it. It was about links and blog rolls. to add more data to that list. It used the ‘rel’ attribute. There are about 14 different values defined. It’s always current relationship.
  • It’s simple to publish. A chicken/egg cycle – to get tools to use/parse you need to get people publishing it, to publish it you need tools to use. So making it really simple gets over the problem as there’s no hardship in publishing.
  • The most important Rel value may be rel="me" to link to all your own bits across the web and back to your bits.
  • Chris Heilman
  • Google Social Graph API allows you to track the relationships. Yahoo is also starting to analyse the hCards etc
  • With companies starting to index microformats, other companies, enterprise systems etc, will start to add things.
  • On the publishing side, if you have a database, contacts etc, put this stuff in and get ready. This is what we have done in Yahoo for the last 2 years.
  • one challenge is if you write lots of things with microformats, is that the data is ‘proprietary’ and publishing in microformats inpacts the commercial viability as the data can easily be scraped. It reduces buy in from the management, so you have to think aobut how you do it.
  • Anything that helps search engines mans people will try and game it to get better results. So use of microformats by mainstream search engines have to consider this, the problems of spammer etc. It’s nice to publish but there are a lot of problems in consuming that need to be fixed.
  • JK challenged that it is a problem of microformats that you can’t establish trust – that it is a problem of the web as a whole, not the format. It’s the problem for any publishing format. There are secure protocols…saying the format is a problem is wrong. If you want to establish truth and trust..then the techs you need to look at are OpenID and SSL etc.
  • Aral xfn – expresses relations in present tense but we publish it. so it may go out of date. There is a temporal dimension to relations. how do we takle dynamic relationships?
  • JK: it is publishing in general – what you wrote a year ago you may not believe it anymore.
  • Aral – xfn and microformats are one aspect of the social network. other things are OpenID, OAuth etc
  • Tom Morris – FOAF
  • FOAF is an RDF vocabulary. built back in 2000.
  • Allows you to describe relationships between people, sites, documents, orgs etc
  • Available on lots of networks, such as LiveJournal
  • There is one relationship property -‘knows’. it used to be knows, knows well and friend, but it caused problems. got rid of the other 2
  • It can be parsed as XML and reuse. You can parse it as RDF as well.
  • But most people don’t write in that sysntax, they can do html. But GRDDL allows you to describe in RDF things that you are already doing on a web page. It automates the process of reading what you have published.
  • Quite widely implemented, and getting easier to parse. Most programming languages have a way to to this and there are tools being built on top of it.
  • Trying to make it easy…a mesh up..getting data and putting it together in one place and ask questions of it.
  • ARal so whe do I use XFN and when use FOAF?
  • TM: use XFN as much as you can. Why use FOAF, if you were representing some data was unique, which no one else uses it. Use html as well.
  • Aral – so why are people here? Why are you interested in portable social network?
  • OpenID: a way of identifying people. Passwords that have to change every week are a weak link. OpenID means that you are an URL.
  • One of the issues – usability is a problem. We’re probably OK entering an URL but it is not very intuitive for the general user. You enter the ID, it redirects to the OpenID server, you add usename and password (which you have to remember). And that is the problem.
  • ClickPass is something from Peter Nixey that hopes to make it simple. You create an account and you can log into the web.
  • It creates a page to let you login into all your places – eg a homeplace to go to first. It uses Open ID to manage it. It happens in the background – you don’t get a change of context, which as a user is important. There is no jarring change of context if logged in clickpass.
  • JK: all of these things are solving small problems, they add to each other and don’t ness tread on each others toes.
  • But what about situations where you want to import a SN, or want to see which of your friends are on a SN. A lot of people do this, others freak. If you do this, part of the reason is you are teaching people to be fished….the other reason is you give something to your accounts as you. That is far more dangerous – allow themselves to be logged in by someone else is bad. It is better to reduce access. So OAuth is a technology that aims to reduce this.
  • There are a lot of SN that do not expose your information on a public site but you need to be logged in, eg email contacts. There are a few solutions to the problem..every big web company came up with their own solution. Google has their option, as does Yahoo etc etc.
  • OAuth is the way to try and standardise the way this is done. Any new website should be doing this standard API that can talk to most of the SN without asking for your password. (showed FireEagle example)
  • Aral – so how nimble is it, how does it impact user?
  • At the moment it is ridiculously complicated to implement APIS for every network, I have to do the main ones. So if we can agree on the standard it makes it a lot easier for developers
  • Alex – my interest is from a social networking POV. people connecting is pretty important for every one. the context and others brings people to a space and keeps them there. So why is portability important? I have a theory that online games, those are forms of networks.
  • In some of the situated social networks, like WOW, then there is a move to look at these things, looking at OpenID, etc, where there is no straightforward way of stating relationships, people want to take skills and bling and relationships to the next space etc.
Mar 15

BarCampBrighton – the morning so far

I decided last night to come down to BarCamp Brighton, when I saw there were some tickets made available.  A friend was travelling down so I got a lift straight to the campus and arrived just as it was kicking off.  The usual introductions were made and everyone did the traditional standup and give three tags – it seemed about 40% of the attendees had never been to a barcamp before.

My intention here is to attend stuff I know nothing about, avoiding any marketing or social media sessions.  So far, I’ve suceeded.

  • Session 1: Flash and Particles  A badly prepared session that started off poorly, with ramblings about the company website.  It got better as it went through, with some interesting details abut the maths behind the particles and how to apply them which I could have heard a lot more about if time had not run out.
  • Session 2: RDF for beginners Tom Morris gave a revised presentaiton from his original from Semantic Camp.  I enjoyed this as it was clear about how to use RDF, with some concrete examples of the code.  I’m still unsure about the why though, later Tom admitted that use cases still need to be developed.  A list of resources are available at http://icanhaz/swtutorial

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Mar 08

SXSW – ARGS and Games

Dan Hon, Tony Walsh and Dee Cook

  • DH: ARGS are a new way of telling stories, using all forms. People consume lots of different kinds of medium, there is a different kind of narrative and gameplay experience that you can give people. You don’t have to learn a different control scheme. Interactions are typically the same things you would do in everyday life. you use text and emails.
  • DC: There are no rules about what an ARG is, it’s like playing a murder mystery dinner theatre, for weeks and months, online, in person, on the telephone etc
  • TW: the players can be extremely voracious, hungry for content and always coming up with things that designers may not have expected, coming up with the new story lines.
  • Q: who are the players?
  • DH: the demo data (Perplex City) was 12-80 year old, 50/50 male/female. Live events were surprising, families, etc, the typical audience is not the hardcore gamer.
  • TW: there are different elements that appeal to different types.
  • DC: skillsets can be different for each game,
  • DH: they are a form of entertainment, so the broad questions can be answered in many ways – a broad classification
  • TW: videogame players are very different to ARGs…args can be research based
  • DH: there are differences between the types of gameplay.  ARGS can be more predominately storyline based, punctuated by game-like play.
  • TW: so what are they looking for in an ARG that they are not getting in a videogame.
  • DH: a lot of the successful ones have been toed in with deep brands, deep stories.  Halo 2 (with I Love Bees) can be looked at as a FPS or as part of a real deep story, really good world building. For those that buy into the world, they get passionate about finding out anything about it.
  • DC: In ARGs, people feel they can affect the game world, they can interact with a ‘real’ person. An ARG is often a one shot, have memories and history.
  • DH: WOW as a single player is a very boring game, but playing with friends is a completely different experience. ARGs is similar – large groups, social gameplaying mechanic.
  • TW: so can we talk about some early ARGS
  • DC: Majestic – EA, they started to advertise the game that played you, how it was going to become part of your real life, shut down
  • DH: the Beast – from Microsoft. tied into AI the spielberg movie. it set some principles which some people still think control what an ARG is. It did not say it was a marketing campaign.  The game created a universe online.  In terms of gameplay, there was not really any traditional gameplay mechanic in there. There’s puzzles and collaboration,.  the gameplay that tends to emerge is very social based, than conventional console games. 
  • DC: a big community builder.  
  • TW: the form is always evolving.
  • DH: ILovebees was more of a radioplay, that seemed to be the intention of the writers. it was an audiodrama.
  • TW: a promotion for Halo2. MS did try to do something with Halo3,
  • TW: there’s a huge grassroots community that produce their own games.  barrier to entry is a lot lower than computer and videogame development.
  • Q: what’s the reach and success of ARGS. What are the business models.
  • DH: a lot of the examples have been marketing for brands.  Majestic was a subscription model. Perplex City had a series of collectible cards, which would have clues etc.   I think that everyone is still trying to work it out, there is a lot of scope for brand sponsored content.  In terms of self-sustaining independent it is something that we are working on
  • DC: we still run into the internet should be free idea, so subscription based anything on the web is a dicey problem.
  • DH: it is possible to do so when people spend a lot of time.
  • TW: a lot of teens are looking at free to play games, that can be a model, say in Korean.
  • Q: is what teens expecting in terms of free to play, is paralleled by people wanting to find themselves in a game, eg Lonely girl
  • DH: it did not start out as an ARG, the whole suspense was ‘was to real’. the follow up is Kate Modern on Bebo. the back and forth of setting up tasks, and responding can add a lot of value to the entertainment.    Viral marketing will not get you your mass audience, you have to push people there [RC: it’s my understanding the ARG was started by a fan and then adopted by the creators]
  • Q: How are they useful
  • DH: with channel 4 we are doing an educational game, for 14-16 yos, around online identity and privacy. they can learn important skills.
  • Q: I research storytelling; I look at what is going on with ARGs, what concerns me, is the freakiness of ‘stalking’. blending reality with fiction you get into sueable area.  there is a huge community of susceptible people
  • TW: this question comes up everytime. there is are fine line.  It’s up to the game designers to think about how the game mechanics work. you can’t control, you also need lawyers.  It’s what insurance is for,
  • DC: you can’t anticipate everything, but you can be prepared to react.
  • TW: in videogames you can predict, but the more massive MMO become then less controllable. 

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Sep 24

Advertising or Subscription

I just twittered that I was off to the IAB MIXX conference today and Tom Morris responded, (only partly tongue-in-cheek) that he thought they’d been replaced by Ad Block. Which leads me to my question. If, hypothetically, we all had Ad Block so that no ads were served how much would you pay for your services, starting from Google Search, Gmail and other services, including Yahoo and 1000s’ of other small services that are ad supported. As a starting point, I pay $25/year for Flickr, for additional services and no ads. I’d probably pay the same for Gmail – but is search worth more or less?

Aug 27

Wikipedia Edits

Many news organisations are busy reporting on how various institutions are editing their own entties, or stuff to improve their standing in others. (here’s the latest from the BBC about the Australian Prime Minister’s office). But the Scottish Sun is hitting the local demographic and is reporting on how Local Firm fans, Celtic and Rangers, are busy defacing the other team’s entry.

Aug 08

Clipmarks and Forbes

Do I believe what it says in the blogs? This time I hope so – Venture Beat is reporting that Clipmarks is being bought by Forbes.

The New York-based startup lets you select text, photos or videos on web pages, then use Clipmark’s bookmarking feature to save the URL and your selected information to your Clipmarks folder. From there, you can share your “clips” with friends and colleagues and even search to find the most popular clips on the Clipmarks site.

As Forbes people have popped up in the comments to the article stating that it is essentially true but premature, with the deal not yet closed. Roger MacNamee says:

First, the story is premature, but only by a little. Second, Forbes is committed to transforming business journalism so that our audience gets more insight about business and investing in a lot less time. We think Clipmarks will play a really key role in this.

So I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the deal to go through and for Eric Skiff, a good friend who works with the site, as a Community Evangelist. Eric was one of the few people I knew when I moved to New York last year, having met him randomly at parties at SXSW – we kept bumping into each other at the same places. He went out of his way to welcome me and introduce me to more great people in the city, so I’m hoping all goes well for him and the rest of the company.

Jul 26

New uStream Interface

The new uStream interface was launched yesterday and has a few new toys. It allows you to ‘clap’ the presenter, with a rating meeting – the more people who click the higher your rating. But most interesting to me is the instant poll – the stream owner can create instant polls and get a response from their audience. That immediate interaction is fun. As far as I can see there are no further changes from a viewer POV in the palyer, except it looks more shiny and curvy ;-)

uStream player

Jul 19

Twitter friends

Twitter Numbers

Why is that Twitter usually has the numbers on the Left hand side of the image and then when I press refresh, or update a message, the ‘people’ changes to ‘Followers’ and the number changes?

Update: And a few hours after I write this, they update the interface and it’s no longer wonky. We no longer have friends – we just follow or are followed.