Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another perspective on Chris Anderson's "free"

Wired editor Chris Anderson is making the rounds to promote his book "free," this time on The Colbert Report. It's an interesting argument to make.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Chris Anderson
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"Base Ball" at the Fort

Local filmmaker Mark Dodd recently shot and edited this clip of me playing "base ball" as part of a historic reenactment at the Fort Vancouver National Site in Vancouver, Wash. Thanks for sending it this way, Mark!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wired's Chris Anderson talking about "free"

Fascinating interview with Wired's editor, on Charlie Rose show (Free is here to stay; But what's the pet for our penguin?):

U.S. Debt Clock

This is mesmerizing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More advances in digital holograms

I'm trying not to get too sidetracked on these, but the development of this technology is a fascinating realm of augmented reality. Here are a couple of projects by a grad student from Japan, named Julien Pilet, doing work at the EPFL labs in Switzerland:

And this one:

Jeff Watson presentation on locative media and responsive environments

Stumbled upon this slideshow of a recent Jeff Watson lecture that had some interesting factoids about locative media:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Combining augmented reality and social networking

Found this application (and video) that supports the concept:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Topps 3D Live - Another AR example

This takes the digital hologram past the model and display phase and into simple manipulation of the hologram, augmented reality for a mass market. This has to be one of the earliest commercial ventures into this realm. If you know of any others, please post them.

Digital holograms via Flash

I have no idea what I could do with something like this in a practical sense, but it will be fun to think of possibilities:

IBM Seer at Wimbledon 2009

American giant IBM gets into the augmented reality game at Wimbledon:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mobile storytelling project at Fort Vancouver National Site

I'm working on a new mobile storytelling project in the vicinity of the Fort Vancouver National Site in the Portland, Ore., area, where the Oregon Trail ended for many settlers.

As part of this, I'm conducting a survey of the potential audience and trying to determine what will work best, including the technology to use, the format of the content and the core narrative structure that will have the biggest impact and leave the most flexibility in terms of artistic expression.

In preparation of the survey, I interviewed a neighbor, Dave Griffith, who has an iPhone 3G and an interest in local history. He graciously is allowing me to put a summary of his responses on the blog as well, in case it might provide insights to anyone else working on mobile storytelling projects.

To begin with, he noted, the iPhone doesn't allow applications to run in the background, which means a potential audience member would have to have the appropriate program loaded on the right device and have it ready to go to even start engaging with an interactive mobile presentation. Those are a lot of obstacles to overcome, including trying to create a universal medium when standards are evolving and shifting and each mobile device right now has different applications to do different things.

Let's say, though, that we can create a mobile presentation that can be accessed by the majority of the devices -- including the iPhone, the G1, the Palm Pre and the BlackBerry Storm -- and that they all, or most of them, can use the material in the same basic ways. Griffith's point extends to the idea that somehow these people are going to need to know to have the specific application loaded and ready to go, and any technical glitches between the application and the material will be negligible. How would this mobile story be publicized, especially at the location? How can this material be accessed by the most people, in the easiest way? Those are important questions.

If he could access such a piece, Griffith said he would like that to be a multimedia blend of text, images and video, not just a chunk of text, or a photo or a video. He was intrigued by ideas I floated about following in the footsteps of history while a nonfiction anecdote played itself out, or by interactive mysteries or games, that could be broadly labeled as historical fiction. But when I brought up the possibilities of social networking as part of that, including interacting with other participants as they followed along with the story as well, he said he did not have an interest in taking the idea that far and that he likely wouldn't use such a feature.

In terms of specific content that would interest him, he leaned toward contextual enrichment via real maps, photos of artifacts and journal entries, plus other information that provided details of the ways in which people, especially famous or quirky people, lived in the mid-19th century, when Fort Vancouver was at its apex in history. Yet he thought it also would be fun to experience that kind of material as part of a game, or mystery, or tour, particularly one that was family-oriented and would include children in the process.

All good fodder to keep in mind for later steps.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Born Digital

Just finished "Born Digital" by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, which addresses the idea that people born after 1980, when computers emerged, dubbed "digital natives," haven't known anything but digital technology, so they therefore live differently than those born before 1980. The World Wide Web, by the way, didn't appear until 1991, even though it seems now like it's been part of our lives forever.

I read somewhere recently, too, that the gap between generations right now is the greatest since the Vietnam war era, with the country having a distinct split on the direction it should follow.

The "Born Digital" book covers many of the issues and ideas that have emerged from this fissure -- related to such topics as privacy, quality of information, pirating, learning and innovation -- in layman terms. Even though it was written by a couple of attorneys, and it's about a technical field, the writing style and language clearly were aimed at a mainstream audience. Sometimes, I found that tedious, in terms of repetition and unneeded context. But I suspect those who haven't read much in this field would need that framework to understand the points.

That said, here are a few excerpts from the book I found interesting:

* In 2006, Tower Records liquidated, and by 2008, iTunes was the largest music retailer in the U.S.

* If you are not a digital native, you still can be a "digital settler," helping to shape this new world, even though you weren't born into it.

* If the VCR didn't ruin the movie business, why will digital file sharing kill the music industry?

* "I think the reason why print magazines are still very popular is because you kind of have the feeling, okay, this is like one issue, and this is what happened this week. And on the Internet ... there's no beginning and no end. -- An 18-year-old Harvard student."

* In 2007 alone, 161 billion gigabytes of digital content was created, or 3 million times the amount of information in all of the books ever written. Experts predict in 2010, the world will produce nearly a trillion gigabytes of digital content.

* A person's short term memory can only hold seven items at once.

* When people are overloaded with information, they tend to respond with simpler and shorter messages. Hmmm, Twitter?

The chapters on digital dossiers and information overload were the most striking to me, making me rethink some of my views on sharing information online as well as the ways in which I handle the glut of knowledge. The authors use the metaphor of a tattoo as a way to think of something a young person might leave in cyberspace that will haunt them the rest of their lives.

Much of this confirms my mantra on web design: simple, straightfoward and clean. As I work on building into that vision, and transform it for mobile screens, (and the more I use mobile apps on my G1), I'm getting convinced that the less complexity, the better.

- Brett