Tuesday, 29 April 2008

This my patch

In the World of Warcraft, patches are huge. They go far beyond simple tweaks to the game's infuriatingly addictive reward mechanisms. Often revamping or creating entire new areas, sufficiently original enough that they could warrant release as stand alone expansion packs.

Each patch gets the cinematic trailer treatment, ensuring there's enough geek hype upon its release. Why not give the fan boys and girls what they want? For the sake of sanity, it’s a good thing that some people don't take the WoW Lore too seriously:

Douglas Rushkoff for life

Thanks to Richard for the link. I remember reading Douglas Rushkoff when I was about twelve or so. A lot of it went over my head at the time but I do remember going around calling myself a 'child of chaos.' That didn't help my social standing much. Enjoy:

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


Apologies for the lack of blogage, I've been silly busy and due to this unheard of level of busyness my inefficient immune system has let me down. I have THE plague. Still, its not as virulent as the WoW plague:

Monday, 21 April 2008

Digital Dynasty

Check out Richard's 'Change This' manifesto:

"It is a common theory that successful people live their lives like a project plan, so we struggle to shape our lives along a pre-determined path. Instead, Oliver asserts that that the majority of people, many of them very successful, make it up as they go along. This smart manifesto offers a convincing and well-researched argument encouraging us to do a little drifting."

We Think, therefore we am?

Damn you IKEA, damn you!

I've tangled with IKEA before, here. I thought there was an armistice. I felt safe knowing their malfeasance was limited to the physical boundaries of each shop. But now, they're particular brand of evil is on the move. IKEA have infiltrated the Kobe train in Japan! Check mate.

Search and ye shall plant

Hmm, take old plastic bags to be reused at Sainsbury's, check. Remember to turn off all appliances when leaving a room, check. Baths are made for two, check.

What other eco practices can I incorporate into my everyday? Well, I search. I search for the truth. I search for information. I search for stupid things to send to people so that they can LOL and therefore associate me with their laughing. But now this egomania can be offset with knowing I've done something selfless for no effort at all.

Ecocho is a search engine that will plant two trees for every 1000 searches made. It uses 70% of its income for the tree planting! Search it up tree huggers.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Living in a Luddite revolution

Wow, no updates for two days! You must think the title of this blog is a bold faced lie. Well, to all the haters, I’m not dead but merely injured, technologically speaking. The Old Gods (or Virgin Media) have seen fit to take away both cable TV and broadband goodness. I don’t know what I could have done to offend them, except maybe skip on the virgin sacrifice a couple of times.

It’s difficult to comprehend how much I’ve come to rely on the interweb. For most of my life its always been there, like a benevolent deity granting me the power to plan journeys, check the latest televisial messages, stay connected to friends thousands of miles apart. You are everything interweb, so say we all.

If there ever were a Luddite revolution I’d have to go guerrilla partisan on their collective asses. Forgive them interweb God, for they know not what they do.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Comparison radar 5

The latest 'we've finished the game but need to keep reminding you about it' video from Rockstar, satirises gun control in the fictional, Liberty City. It reminded me of a viral Amnesty International did about the same subject. How much of the intended GTA4 target audience will clock the satirical tone is debatable and in terms of raising 'hype' for the game, moot. Ratatatat.

Correlations in Chronos

My dad's always going on about Chronos vs Kairos, and no, that's not a reference to a Greek God grudge match. I was reminded by this obsession, that no doubt was the inspiration and influence for Memex Trails, by the Muji Chronotebook:

"The Chronotebook allows you to plot your day as a series of tasks that radiate outward from a circle that's sort of like an analog clock. Each set of pages start with two circles representing AM and PM, and users are invited to draw in their events as they see fit."

It might well replace the default Moleskine diary as the new media person's notebook of choice.

Digital Nomad a go-go

Friday, 11 April 2008

Brands and the yoot

We the young people are incapable of thinking for ourselves, often times falling flat on our collective greasy faces at the first hurdle of peer pressure. We really do need to be told what to aspire to. Sometimes, if you throw enough buzz words and slang, that's getting a bit too ripe, you might just fool us into buying into whatever you've got to sell.

I’m constantly amazed by the ‘down with the yoot’ campaigns out there which are so convulsion inducing in their wrongness, to wit, lack of understanding of that audience, that I’m surprised no one has said, wait, that dude over there has no clothes on.

Something from a youth community (old but annoyingly gold):

Once the advertisers got to it:

If you want to know what the young people are thinking, ask one. Actually, ask one who can articulate why something works rather than simply fire off a series of slang and or grunts.

The sort of insight you’ll gleam by holding a focus group or asking someone in the office who has a young person at home will often lead to misinterpretation or just plain lies. I remember doing a piece for a channel 4 programme called Zeitgeist (really, like, err, cool name yeah, real cutting edge and that). I collected some of my primary school chums and we were interviewed individually and as part of a group. “What’s cool, what clothes are you wearing, why do you like them, is TV still cool?”

We wore the same clothes because we wanted to feel like we belonged, we played game x because we knew everyone else was. The change between these early years and not too long ago while I was still studying, was cross over.

Whereas before if you were a ‘road man’ no, not someone with a penchant for pneumatic drills but a lover of hip-hop, graffiti, grime, baggy clothes etc that’s all you could be. Now you can do what you like, why not like Grime and Abba too. Mix flash mobs with EMO isolation, why not?

In the same way you can have ‘creative generalists’ you can have mashed, evolving identities that change daily. Friends who are still at university see this as a way of life but we’ll see what happens when they finish their studies and have to engage in daily soul destroying tedium. As for me, I’m off to have a ‘street war’ lets hope my flash mob enabled ipod doesn’t get wet.

Anyway, Rachel (she’s real puurtey) Newsome talks about brands:

“To say that brands have somehow replaced religion, actually represents both a nostalgic view of the past and a feeling that life nowadays is somehow less meaningful and more superficial than it used to be. To claim that brands are a new religion is to express a fear of change…

…For example, 'Playstation gives you power', is a very powerful brand message. But its meaning only comes alive in a dialogue between the brand, the culture it was created in and the individual user. On its own it is impotent. It is only because young people in their twenties already feel disenfranchised and need a means of escape that they can relate to that idea. So, really the success of brands is about how they respond to values and aspirations rather than about how they shape them.”

Drink Robo

When I was younger I used to love going to Yo Sushi. The Yo Sushi in Soho had a drink-serving robot, reminiscent of R2-D2 on Jabba da Hut’s sand cruiser. It was insultingly exciting. The restaurant of tomorrow, today! Or so my juvenile mind thought.

Waving your hand in front of ‘drink robo’ would make it stop on its circuit round the restaurant. If someone was foolish enough to block its path it’d say, ‘get out the way’ in a synthesized voice that was electro music to my ears. Yo Sushi have since abandoned ‘drink robo’ probably because he demanded a pay rise or possibly attempted to form a robo union with his fellow drink dispensers. I love you drink robo.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The Million Word Project

I once had this idea to make a website for fictional stories like Flickr is to photos and YouTube is to videos. The main objective of the ‘Million-Word Project’ was to enable the creation of one thousand stories in one thousand words.

The stories themselves could be of any genre as long as they contained one thousand words exactly. I tried writing a couple stories just to see what the difficulty would be like. Hard, basically.

The rating system for the MWP would be known as ‘championing.’ A user would have the option to champion a story, which would then appear on their user page as a badge or symbol (like a dug on Digg or thumbs up on StumbleUpon).

The badge would be created/submitted by the author of each story (hopefully you’d build up a network of fans who might design one for you). If the author could obtain ten champions (start small) for their story, it would be submitted to the Library of Fame (this is all starting to sound a bit too RPG land).

The author could then see which users had championed their story and read their comments and feedback (a bit like your Digg or StumbleUpon page), while users who had championed a story would be able to interact with other fans and the author too (duh). I didn’t know about things like Twitter back then but there’s no reason you couldn’t have a ‘writers process’ feed or something.

Partnerships with the BBC, British Library, NESTA, the Arts Council and other organizations would have been a good source of initial financing and medium to communicate to an already established audience(s). You could throw in regular workshops both physical and online to help establish an understanding and enjoyment for writing fiction too. Oh well, it never happened.

Monday, 7 April 2008


What a bizarre Sunday. I woke up to the BBC’s live coverage of the Olympic torch marathon. Images of Konnie Huq being accosted coupled with her own disembodied commentary of what was happening.

I had intended to go down and protest somewhere along the route but feeling ridiculously comfy in bed, I was warming, both in body and mind, to the idea of pouring my outrage, joy, hunger and cat attack updates via Twitter.

I felt capable of doing as good a job as the current BBC reporter who was essentially mouthing what appeared on their auto-cue. I was moved to attend.

From seeing the Spartan-esque formation of torchbearer, the blue circle of torch supervisors, ring of yellow police and larger ring of black ninja suited police on my TV screen, I found them suddenly in front of me.

The protests from the South Bank onwards turned into a game of ‘bulldog’ (a game played across UK schools). The game cycle would go: multi-coloured group of torch protectors run for a bit, a shout comes for them to form up. The protestors then encircle them. The police would push back and breakthrough, run for it and the whole thing would start over.

It’s a strange sensation to see something that feels distant and almost unreal via a screen and then be in the thick of it.

If I’d been cooler and had a web capable phone I might have been able to provide my own, running commentary, uploading pics, videos and messages to Flickr, YouTube and Twitter respectively. My significant udder got some really nice pics though.

Flick book technology FTW

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Attention, attention. May I please have your attention.

Steve Rubel says:

"We are reaching a point where the number of inputs we have as individuals is beginning to exceed what we are capable as humans of managing."

Speak for yourself. With tools like Friend Feed, you can organise and keep track of a veritable plethora of online social interactions. I found it a pain to keep having to log on to Twitter in order to post my madness but using a Twitter client like Twhirl or simply texting when out and about makes it a breeze. Now I can annoy people with my pointless goings on all the time.

Maybe it’s a generational thing. Being brought up interacting with several media devices at the same time, I think, has hardwired my generation with the ability to deal with several streams of, in this case, social media and handle it very well. There is no exertion, its still fun. I was talking to David of Imagination land, about getting people outside of the geekosphere into all this RSS business.

My girlfriend can see the benefit in terms of having a Flickr account so people can see her art works, a Twitter account so those who take an interest in her step by step 'method' can get their fix and maybe her Last fm feed - I mean, don't you want to know what music artists listen to? She's yet to take up the latter two but its only a matter of time and enhanced design.

I think what scares none geeks is the lack of shiny and easily accessible design. If Friend Feed could look more like a Facebook profile page I'm sure it'd be taken up by 'civilians' everywhere.
Anyway, if you have an interest in the 'attention' you generate whilst roaming about das web, check this.

From Virtual Economics:

"...This is not good news for a media industry which is still overwhelmingly monetised via interruptive commercial messages. The least relevant input is surely the unsolicited, interruptive commercial message, so those are the ones we're curtailing first...

...More evidence that the old model is broken and we need a new one. As if we didn't already know. The currency of media is attention."

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Allowing communities access to copyright

I was once tasked to conceive and develop an engaging gaming site for a well-known chip manufacturer to highlight that their processors made games run really, really fast. As part of a ‘community’ building plan they wanted to give away some ‘hardcore gaming rigs’ as you do and will when you generate the GDP of a small country.

We had the idea of hosting a video game mash up competition. However, our site was a new comer to the gaming community and we didn’t have enough dedicated fan boys/girls to make it happen at that early stage.

Gametrailers on the other hand, had and has a massive community that they have built via traditional routes like enabling forums, the ability to comment on videos, exclusives and they often have mash up competitions too.

The creator of a popular mash up video, or rather a series of popular videos, submitted his works outside these competitions, seemingly for the sheer love of it or maybe it was just for the ‘bragging rights’ of his fellow Gametrailerites, which is a bit like trying to get recognition from an ape for inventing Pot Noodle.

Monty Oum (nice name) has created Haloid (a mash up of Halo and Metroid), Dead Fantasy 1 and 2 (a mash up of characters from the Dead or Alive/Final Fantasy series) that combined has in excess of 6 million views and that’s just on Gametrailers.

There is definitely something to be said for allowing a fan community access to copyrighted materials enabling them to create something new that essentially does all the ‘holy crap, that’s cool’ leg work for a brand.

Where's FDR and the New Deal at?

Richard just sent me this:

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Spore studio story

Maxis sounds like a interesting place to work:

Advertising idiocy

When watching anything on surfthechannel you can expect, in the bottom right corner, your typical asinine flash ad. I’d usually avoid having to look at ‘tickle the fat kid till he laughs to win an i-pod’ or ‘dunk cupid’ or some other gank by either shrinking my browser or going for the full screen option.

The problem lies with two other flash ads that randomly reside in the bottom right corner of doom. Said ads make an annoying error noise every few seconds, seemingly to try and draw your attention. This would be fine, well no it wouldn’t, but I could at least understand the peon thinking behind it if it wasn’t overlooking the fatal floor that this is a video site! People come here to watch videos and inherently these include sound, as in people talking, errrrrrr.

So with much irritation and a swift refresh, you pray to land on a flash ad that’s slightly less evil on the roulette wheel of shit.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


I was stumbling the other day when I came across the poetry of Joe Dunthorne. It’s urban and topical in theme and wouldn’t be out of place on say, an episode of Skins but, oh wait, they’re all stage school kids, d’oh. Therefore the most grime they will have seen is under a fingernail.

Apart from the poems, Dunthorne has bizarre sketches littered around his site. The artist is someone called Alastair O’shea. I did a search for O’shea and came up with Fatking Productions. It turns out he designs web games. Its weird how the web works.

You might not be a fan of the poetry or the sketches but I’d challenge anyone to ‘gats’ at dawn if they don’t find this particular puzzle game simultaneously sickeningly cute and finger bleeding addictive.

I like optimization and I cannot lie