Monday, July 18, 2011

The religion of Chain World

from Slashdot (and Wired):

A story at Wired charts the course of Chain World, a video game designed by Jason Rohrer to be different from any game that came before it. Quoting: "It would exist on [a USB flash drive] and nowhere else. According to a set of rules defined by Rohrer, only one person on earth could play the game at a time. The player would modify the game’s environment as they moved through it. Then, after the player died in the game, they would pass the memory stick to the next person, who would play in the digital terrain altered by their predecessor—and on and on for years, decades, generations, epochs. In Rohrer’s mind, his game would share many qualities with religion—a holy ark, a set of commandments, a sense of secrecy and mortality and mystical anticipation. This was the idea, anyway, before things started to get weird."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Are games the future of journalism ?

From New Scientist's CultureLab, a post by Ian Bogost  :

Video games can be more than just entertainment - they may be the future of journalism
PICTURE a bunch of journalists. What do they look like? What stories do they tell? The beat reporter records events from afar, bringing the world to your recliner. The sleuth uncovers injustice, revealing the corruption of the crooked and the greedy. The television personality summarises off-the-cuff remarks about local issues from people on the street.
All of these stories focus on people, places and events. They take complicated issues and package them in manageable chunks with identifiable characters. They cover what every student learns about journalism: who, what, where, when, why and how.
Now think of a video game. You might imagine the gory carnage of Doom, the cute characters of Wii Sports or the colourful polyominoes of Tetris. Games may seem like a distraction or a leisure activity. But much like print and television, games are a medium capable of many uses - some of which we are just discovering.
Video games simulate rather than describe the world. They replace the tale of the crooked official or the sound bite about a local parade with interactive experiences of the political, social and economic circumstances that produce those events in the first place.
At the Georgia Institute of Technology's Digital Media Program, we are researching newsgames, the application of games to journalism. Newsgames reinvent journalistic principles through their design, using current events, infographics, puzzles, community action and more.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Dagaz project " : meditation with the neurosky helmet

from "the quantified self" blog :

From the Amsterdam QS Show&Tell Meetup group: Beer van Geer (aka Universal Media Man) shows his award-winning Dagaz Project. His application uses the Neurosky EEG headset to quantify brainwaves during meditation on Mandala symbols. As you meditate you can see your progress in real-time. Watch his mind-blowing talk below.

Beer van Geer - Project Dagaz from Quantified Self Amsterdam on Vimeo.

Friday, November 5, 2010

BBC documentary about Austin Osman Spare

A really interesting short movie about Austin Osman Spare, one of the the weirdest artists/magicians of the XX° century. With the participation of Alan Moore !


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Benjamin Lee Whorf is back in town

From Science Daily :
The language we speak may influence not only our thoughts, but our implicit preferences as well. That's the finding of a study by psychologists at Harvard University, who found that bilingual individuals' opinions of different ethnic groups were affected by the language in which they took a test examining their biases and predilections.

The paper appears in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
"Charlemagne is reputed to have said that to speak another language is to possess another soul," says co-author Oludamini Ogunnaike, a graduate student at Harvard. "This study suggests that language is much more than a medium for expressing thoughts and feelings. Our work hints that language creates and shapes our thoughts and feelings as well."
Implicit attitudes, positive or negative associations people may be unaware they possess, have been shown to predict behavior towards members of social groups. Recent research has shown that these attitudes are quite malleable, susceptible to factors such as the weather, popular culture -- or, now, by the language people speak.
 Continued on Science Daily

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bloody Mary Bloody Mary Bloody Mary

from Mind Hacks:
An intriguing article has just been published in the journal Perception about a never-before-described visual illusion where your own reflection in the mirror seems to become distorted and shifts identity.
To trigger the illusion you need to stare at your own reflection in a dimly lit room. The author, Italian psychologist Giovanni Caputo, describes his set up which seems to reliably trigger the illusion: you need a room lit only by a dim lamp (he suggests a 25W bulb) that is placed behind the sitter, while the participant stares into a large mirror placed about 40 cm in front.
The participant just has to gaze at his or her reflected face within the mirror and usually “after less than a minute, the observer began to perceive the strange-face illusion”.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How to write the next great alien language

from the excellent io9 :
"Constructing an entire alien language is the most challenging task in all of speculative fiction, and there are two examples that tower above the rest: J.R.R. Tolkien's Elvish and Marc Okrand's Klingon. We'll show you how to outdo even them.
When it comes to world-building, there's no finer way to capture an alien culture than to give it a language that seems utterly strange to human ears. It's obviously a challenging task, and one that requires a decent working knowledge of linguistics. So while we have to leave the nitty-gritty of language construction to a textbook, what we can do is examine the very different overarching approaches used in constructing the two most iconic alien languages - Elvish and Klingon - and then explain how you could create a language that combines the best of both. So let's look at each one a time..."

Monday, March 29, 2010

DIY biology is coming

Two years ago, Freeman Dyson wrote in Our Biotech Future :

Domesticated biotechnology, once it gets into the hands of housewives and children, will give us an explosion of diversity of new living creatures, rather than the monoculture crops that the big corporations prefer. New lineages will proliferate to replace those that monoculture farming and deforestation have destroyed. Designing genomes will be a personal thing, a new art form as creative as painting or sculpture.
Few of the new creations will be masterpieces, but a great many will bring joy to their creators and variety to our fauna and flora. The final step in the domestication of biotechnology will be biotech games, designed like computer games for children down to kindergarten age but played with real eggs and seeds rather than with images on a screen. Playing such games, kids will acquire an intimate feeling for the organisms that they are growing. The winner could be the kid whose seed grows the prickliest cactus, or the kid whose egg hatches the cutest dinosaur.

And now, Kevin Kelly presents us the DIY Garage Biotech:
One day, we knew, biotech would become so easy and so cheap that two guys in a garage could hack life in the way kids hack code. That day is now here. Exhibit A is this biohacking lab in a garage in Silicon Valley. Assembled from used equipment the kit includes two clean cell-culture hoods, an incubator, two robot sequencers, and lots of software packed into a suburban garage. The guys are screening antic-cancer compounds.
Via InternetActu

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

John Robb on capitalism, part 2

John Robb elaborates on the ideas presented in the preceding post:

If you built a massively multiplayer game called Capitalism (you could even throw in Democracy), based on the way it runs today, would anyone play it?
NOTE: here's a quick response to those that maintain that the system we have today is a perversion of Capitalism and not Capitalism itself.  The implication is that the term is being misused in the question above.  Some thoughts:

  • What makes Capitalism so weak, as a system, that it is so easily and horribly misused and/or perverted?

  • Any theory that relies on a tightly bound set of  theoretical assumptions and lofty preconditions in order to perform effectively sounds very similar to an ideology.  

  • It's unlikely that any existing economic system, including Capitalism, is the best of all possible systems (we aren't Panglossian here).   So, if the technology is available to compete with it (it is), why don't we?  May the best system win.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

John Robb : how online games can REALLY change the world.

John Robb is quite critical about Jane McGonigal's project of using the players' collective intelligence to solve real problems. For him, this is not the right way to harness MMO's power:
"So the really big idea isn’t figuring out how to USE online gamers for real world purposes (as in the dirty word: crowdsourcing — the act of other people to do work for you for FREE — blech!). Instead, it’s about finding a way to use online games to make real life better for the gamers. In short, turn games into economic darknets that work in parallel and better than the broken status quo systems. As in: economic games that connect effort with reward. Economic games with transparent rules that tangibly improve the lives of all of the players in the REAL WORLD.
This isn't tech utopian. It's reality.  The global electronic marketplace and the political system that currently dominates our lives is at root a game but with hidden rule sets.  As a result, it's a game that being run for the benefit of the game designers to the detriment of the players.  The reason we keep playing is that we don't have any choice.  Let's invent something better and compete with it.  Let's provide people with a choice. "
(via Technoccult)

In a subsequent post, he adds:
Cultural entrepreneurs need to use every possible advantage when building systems that can outcompete a powerful, corrupt and dominant status quo.  For me, one advantage includes using game tech/design as a means of radically improving economic interaction over networks (which can serve as a source of economic power and generate rapid rates of innovation for resilient communities).   Sure, the idea is hard, novel, and difficult to wrap your head around, but frankly, if you automatically reject entire vistas of options because of some vague personal bias (or worse: ideological blather), you are doomed to failure.