Du Pont from the 60s still with its original sticky backing.  2 rolls came yesterday courtesy of the excellent Superbuzzy. Odd to think that this stuff was stored for 40 yrs.  Kennedy was being shot the last time this stuff was being used. 
Wallpaper

A shiny new rattle in a less shiny new office.

Office

The site ain’t right yet but it’s getting there [thanks Paul].  And the offices are super good.  Come visit!


knitting moleskines, originally uploaded by erinscissorhands.

Nice range of recycled notebooks from erinscissorhands. The idea of notebooks as embodying greater permanence in a digital age is at odds with the tech discourse which is about indelible zero’s and one’s. But it’s definitely emerging as a practice evidenced by demand for moleskin type notebooks. As information gets cheaper, our own handcrafted books and knitted words gain greater value perhaps because of their limited transferability?


QR-ed hash brown, originally uploaded by superlocal.

Superlocal finds another piece of Asian goodness, this time in the unlikely [Western] setting of McDonald’s. A QR badge to show fat content!

But surely it’s a post rational design thought, an indulgence which would perhaps get people talking rather than something to inform decision making…?

There are heap of video playouts now.  What I quite like about Hellodeo.com is that it takes the idea of presence further than its peers by hooking into your AV straight away and recording.  It’s a [all too] simple process. And judging from the featured material on the site it produces quite unreflexive, more immediate encounters with fellow global citizens.  This is a mirror.  <Hello foreign man singing>. And it’s all so refreshingly basic which won’t help when it comes to create data that’s social but it makes for a far more pleasant visual experience.  Is anyone else tired of web2.0 publishing ‘features’?  When do these ‘features’ become pretty lame marketing gizmo’s? I mean I understand the appeal of embedding metadata in the web around an object but I also understand the egotistical affordance of button-mania, like badges on the laptop of a die-hard loser.  Like the Groucho Marx quote, being a member of a club that would have me [and the rest of the world] as a member isn’t that enticing. 

In the past I’ve never had a say in what was the most appropriate script to use to build something.  This is mainly because other people have been far better qualified than I to make the decision but also because it’s never really been in my interest to know.  So long as it worked and adhered to the ‘experience’, the features and functionality we specced then like, whatever. Recently though I’ve been developing an idea to form the basis of a service and it has been in my interest to know [because I'm carrying the risk] mainly because it’s near impossible to get an ‘agnostic’ view of the most appropriate language in which to develop.  Key factors for me:

  • development time
  • scalability
  • transferability [i.e. is this stable? how easy is it to maintain? is the language well known or is it like Latin and dying out fast? or even worse like some street vernacular that isn't even documented properly and unknown by all but a handful of very well paid scruffs ;) ]

Yet trying to get a straightforward answer around such criteria without actually doing a full blown tech scope and incurring the cost of that, was and is tough.  Developers and technical project managers are steeped in what they know and that can become obsolete or partial very quickly as languages adapt and change.  It’s a big issue.  I know the BBC  had there architecture pinned down early, were heavily dependent on Perl, all for good reasons, but now find it hard to adapt to web2.0 functionality increasingly expected of the younger audiences they covet.

Hence I’ve had my head in lots of primers over the last 4 months.  Trying to get up-to-speed with languages like PHP, Python, Ruby etc.  It’s helped but it’s not the best use of my time and there has to be a market for people like me looking for a good overview of the foundations of web development both client and server side.  Maybe there already is, but I don’t see it. This is one of the first ‘lay’ views of the language of web 2.0 and their ‘facets’:

Brayintrinsics_copy

Dev time seems to be a straightforward trade-off with scalability and transferability which makes languages like Ruby great for start-ups looking at proof of concept and limited scale.  Presuming once they’ve proven the business model they can invest in re-developing the application or service, underpinning the house and putting the scaffolding up.  I do find it kind of ironic though that in the search for ‘purity’ amongst developers [and they all talk about how 'pure', 'clean' etc. and use of such metaphors is in itself really interesting cf. Mary Douglas' work] the architecture of the web is actually pretty messy despite or perhaps because of the search for such ‘purity’.  And to say that much of our future could depend on that architecture I’m surprised there’s so little discussion of it beyond enterprise level as bodies like W3C concern themselves more with accessibility standards than building regs.   

Link: PHP vs Java vs Ruby.


This is one of my favourite ads. ‘Ad’ doesn’t really do it justice.  It’s one minute of film. One of the reasons I think it works is because they’ve actually folded the perceived negative aspects of gaming such as violence and sex into positive virtues of life, experience and learning.  In other words it ain’t the media so much as what we do with it that matters; how we interpret, play, create.  And the other reason is because it’s so moving because it’s about imagination and the power of dreams :) And it reminds me that we have such a janus-faced view of technological culture.  We see it as contrasts, either as liberating or repressive, bad or good, enlightening or ‘shrinking’.  When of course it’s all of these things and none of them depending on  how we relate to it.  A progressive critique wouldn’t talk of morals but of effects which is inherently messier but far more interesting and personal.  This ad kind of embodies that approach for me: dubious virtue.

Lynetter keeps up the good work finding that 3 accounts for 20% of all UK digital music sales, second only behind iTunes.  Considering 3 is one of half a dozen mobile service providers [others being Orange, Vodaphone, O2, T-Mobile, Virgin], I’d say that’s a hell of a lot of 18-24 3 users buying downloads.  Students perhaps without a broadband connection in rented accommodation using mobile to mange their music collection? Odd, Interesting. 

Do people not mind having their music ‘stuck’ [getting tracks off the 3 network phone isn't easy - I've tried]?  How is the experience shared, if at all?  What are the cues for buying if, as she says they’re travelling when most of the downloads are bought at around 10pm: public radio, noise, boredom, communications [txts from mates, referrals]? And it points the way for 3 to design a service that exposes some of this mobile consumption data for friends, buddies etc. to create systems around, or perhaps create an app that ties into lastfm and work with them to create playouts for music trial or ping friends with 30sec promo tunes [30 sec are deemed to be promos and you don;t pay royalties, which in this instance is a nice way to kick of short almost synchronous comms]. 

Moreover, if 18-24 audiences are you audience on public transport, then that offers some great opportunities for the brand to communicate… perhaps by exposing most popular downloads in a given area or in another area – i.e. give it a geographical dimension to push navigation into the 500+ tracks; have a location based system of tracks ["you've just entered ** service area and the recommended tune is **** based on what others have downloaded here"] which would be great if, as we’re led to believe downloads are on public transport routes – nodes of music consumption.  The route to Chelsea vs the route to Holloway?

Dscf2543

Came across this  Thames and Hudson sketchbook  or doodlebook in Foyles.  I like the
tacit  understanding that it’s hard to know where to start  to sketch,
that a blank canvas requires you  think not unlike the paradox of choice
when faced with near unlimited possibilities to consume.  But sometimes
you just want to be given a brief, a task, a defined thing to do [crossword puzzle etc.], a
curated set of things from which to choose or work from. From there creative things can happen. Anyway, a simple way to redefine a practice and a product by simply changing the proposition from a noun to a verb, from a description to an instruction.

Dscf2544

Went to the games exhibition at the Science Museum yesterday.  Tremendous stuff.  Aside from making me nostalgic for the nascent gameplay of Pong and Space Invaders I discovered the art of Ocean Quigley, designer of The Sims aesthetic who had some really moving pieces that reminded me of some of the artwork around existentialism and the novels influenced by that movement, where the bodies were often ‘blank’, bodies as vessels and yet more moving and affecting because there was nothing else to the form.  Freaky.  Odd.

Dscf2521

The other was the work of  Koichi Sugiyama who unbeknown to me introduced classical music into gameplay.  Listening to some of his work was wonderful and you can see how some of the more ambient soundscapes in new games is influenced by this work.  Compare that to Roy Hubbard’s Warhawk for the N64, a brilliant early piece of new wave in games [see this top ten games tunes from the time].  I’d never thought much about the importance of audio in gameplay but hearing the history and then playing some of the games on display made me realise how utterly central it is to the experience, it sets the whole tone for how you interact, your mood. So, well worth going for these two things alone. 

But then tucked away at the end of the exhibition is a great piece on the making of GTA IV, complete with Post-Its representing different narrative threads interspersed with sketches of pimps and their cars.  Wonderful stuff.  Didn’t have time to see what the different colours represented and how the post-its mapped out to my knowledge of the game which would have been good.  Haven’t seen anything like this since the Pixar exhibition, again at the Science Museum, and the making of amongst other things, Toy Story and the characterisation and storyboarding behind that which was so full of insight around the way in which the toys themselves would ‘behave’, how their materiality affected their character.  No such character craft in GTA where the  effort and thought seems to reside in the ‘environmental’ factors and geography where the action is played out.

Dscf2525

The geography is just fab… so envious.  I’d love to try and create some sort of psychogeography of GTA, mapping our navigation, movement, the cues we use from abstracted navigational signifiers [roads, signposts, the 'map' in game itself!] etc. loosely based as they are around Miami, San Fransisco or New York and our experience of navigating the space through our senses.  Someone must have tried to do that already… or at the very least done work on the geography of gaming ‘environments’?

Gtamap