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Mashups January 31, 2009

Posted by jmoran21 in Big Brother, Humor, Law, Perception, Tech.
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Tuesday was the first meet of New Media 2, and a sizable chunk of time was devoted to Twitter. My opinions haven’t changed much since my first exposure (useless to me, but a potential goldmine). Apparently others feel the same, if its estimated worth is any indication.

On its own, Twitter is just another Stalk-Lite tool of Web 2.0. It’s appealing as a broad ranging, persistent text message, appealing for all the same reasons. Text lets us put in more thought and personality, better conveying our chosen web personae. Lots of Twitter mashups exist that attempt to make some sense of the chaos- Tweet News and twittermap jump to mind.

My ideas for the killer twitter app:

Twitterbell: a flash animated Tinkerbell on an accumulator. The accumulator tracks the number of unique tweets that say “I don’t believe in fairies.” and “Clap!” If the “don’t”s ever outpace the claps by more than, lets say, 500, Tinkerbell dies a gruesome cartoon death.

Twittercraft: a pan-realm twitter client integrated with Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. It would be filterable based on realm, allegiance, clan, and topic, but carry over the foreign language barriers of the main game. The key stone would be a filter for “role-playing” tweets. Imagine, a torrent of harvestable info on the races of Azeroth. Finally, a way for the major corporations of today to make major inroads into the tricky “Male Orcs Age 18-24” demographic!

ETRS (Emergency Twitter Response Service): It’s only a matter of time before common practice grants toddlers a cell phone with texting priveledges before they master vocal communication. Before long, typing onto a mini qwerty keyboard will be our primary, fastest means of communication, and to better prepare for that day, its important we get the groundwork laid now. ETRS will monitor tweets from people in distress and will then promptly dispatch the proper authorities.

America’s Most Twittered: Similar idea, in reverse. Enlist the Twitter public in helping track down fugitives, stolen goods, and missing children. How simple would it be to at least add Twitter to the Amber Alert system?

Twittered and Found: Organize all tweets regarding lost and found items, goods, and even pets. If you see a stray, just tweet the word out with a description and its whereabouts.

Plenty more ideas where those came from, although to be honest some of those ideas might already exist and I’m just too nearsighted to find them.

Renting Music December 11, 2007

Posted by jmoran21 in Morality, music, Perception, Tech, TV.
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As previously stated, I have a short, circular kind of attention span. Games come and go for me in an arc, which starts with mild curiosity, builds to an earth shaking hunger, then blazes into triumphant addiction for varying lengths of time, before sputtering out into ash and disdain 75% of the way through. Thus, a huge collection is not necessary for me, but getting ripped off by high-end pawn shops isn’t an appealing alternative. Gamefly (or any forthcoming competitor for that matter) is a great solution, because I get to play any game I want, basically when I want. I adopt a similar philosophy for music.

As someone who digitally came of age in the golden years of Napster and Kazaa, well, let’s just say we all did things we weren’t proud of back then. They were simpler times, what can I say? Now, I’m legit, though still short on means. The middle ground is a subscription to what I think of as music on demand, in the form of Rhapsody. I’ve used iTunes, of course, hasn’t everyone? But still, a dollar a song is pretty steep, regardless of what Doug Morris says. Anybody can do the math to see that for the 15 songs you buy in one month you could have gotten (mostly) unlimited downloads from any of the current competitor music stores, with the caveat that you don’t explicitly own the song. This is pretty much the future of entertainment, however, as most major networks have followed this model for their most popular shows (ad-supported rather than subscription based.) When bandwidth undergoes another paradigm shift over the next 10 years, and the line between computer and TV is blurred by the invention of new set-top boxes, consoles, and designer desktops, we’ll be getting all of our media this way.

Crime and Punishment November 19, 2007

Posted by jmoran21 in Games, Law, Morality, Perception, Tech.
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A politely incredulous anchor read this story on last Thursday’s Morning Edition:

Morning Edition, November 15, 2007 · A teenager faces charges of stealing furniture that doesn’t exist. The youth in the Netherlands was on one of those Web sites where you create virtual people to wander around virtual buildings spending what amounts to real money. You pay cash for credits to spend online. The 17-year-old allegedly stole $5,800 worth of imaginary furniture. Real police arrested him. They suspect other teens of receiving the stolen goods.

It’s a safe bet we’re talking about Second Life here. My own appreciation of Second Life has increased a bit since my last comment on the not-a-game, due mostly to a lecture I attended by The Tracer, a Second Life architect. So of course when I heard the wording of this story I was rather appalled by the seemingly “lighter side” slant of the reporting. What listeners will fail to realize, due in part to the sloppiness of the writing, is that “stolen goods” in SL are the valuable products of individuals, and that theft is not a part of gameplay, as a layman might assume from the tone of the story. I’ve heard some cool stuff on NPR about games in the past, but I guess they’re still alright with catering to the non-gamers in order to get a chuckle in between the real news.

MMORPGHS November 5, 2007

Posted by jmoran21 in Comics, Education, Games, Tech.
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second lifeBack in middle school, one of my summer reading books was the autobiography of Ryan White. What I remember most (other than his mother buying him an issue of Playboy) is that at one point during his illness, the school district where he lived patched his home through to a closed-circuit TV system and a two way radio so that he would be given his legally-guaranteed free education, without exposing other children to the Aids virus. Weren’t the 80’s just so enlightened? Being a classic antisocial loner, I thought that this was one of the highlights of having a terminal communicable disease, and it stayed in my mind for a long time.

So this warped but alluring concept meets New Media in, where else, Second Life. While not a citizen myself, I do love hearing about the development and growth of the metaverse, preparing myself for the day when they eventually get a real interface and you can actually begin playing it without a reference manual on your lap. I am told that all kinds of universities, libraries, and the New Media Consortium itself all own or rent property where players can attend lectures and avail themselves of information with real life professionals. But as I previously intimated, this is great for the millions of people who play Second Life world-wide, not so much for the billions who don’t.

I myself have taken a few distance learning classes, but they don’t really feel like class. I have only felt one teacher made up for the lack of personal contact, and this she did by assigning tons of homework. There must be a better way, right? Imagine: a federally funded and maintained virtual environment, available to anyone as an alternative to traditional public education, complete with a fully recognized (grade school/high school) diploma. Specially designed terminals combine with a nationwide high bandwidth network enabling interactions on par with and exceeding anything done in multiplayer gaming today. There are no textbooks, no school lunches, no disruptive students dragging down the process. There is social interaction in common areas, completely absent of physical intimidation, social class discrimination, or personal danger. Just use your imagination and the possibilities for this type of system are endless. There are obvious challenges, but it’s definitely possible even within out current level of technology, if not our current level of technology awareness. Personally I’d be ecstatic if my grandkids had this kind of system available to them.

Ultrahouse3000 September 4, 2007

Posted by jmoran21 in Big Brother, Robots, Tech.
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Performative Ecologies is a bit of a mouthful, but it’s an engaging concept being studied by Ruairi Glynn, found via the New Media Blog. I got the gist of it from the project synopsis, but to get the full effect you need to watch the video of the “dancers” in action. What freaks me out is the way they compete with one another for attention. There’s all kinds of dystopian robo-terror in that concept. It also doesn’t help that they share a resemblance to a certain evil mega computer.

The way the dancers learn to entertain their audience based on both the reactions of the viewer as well as the successes of their peers is a very Darwinian process that I think pretty much every piece of electronics in your house could benefit from.  This may be an essential evolution of the robo-pet, as I believe the main problem with these things is the ability to hold their owners interest. Imagine an OS that reconfigures itself based on how long it takes you to do the tasks you do most often, whether it’s in a PC or a microwave oven. In a bizarre sort of inheritance, your new gizmos can learn what you like most about the stuff you had before them, ensuring you never again hear the phrase “I liked the old one better.” Here’s one idea that could potentially exist already: one of those music visualizers that uses your webcam to read facial expressions, discovering which visuals you like best and when you’ve gotten bored of them. On second thought, people spend too much time staring at those things as it is.