Olympic legacy, what next? Daley Thomson’s Decathalon 2?

So the first part of the Olympic experience is complete. Next up the paralympics. we were lucky enough to get some tickets in the fiasco that was the Visa only powered ticketing ballot/raffle and we went and saw the Gymnasts do their thing at the North Greenwich Arena (a.k.a. O2, a.k.a Millenium Dome).
It was really interesting to see the event as a whole.
We all hope of course that more people will get into sporting activity and generally keep the sociable atmosphere that we have all enjoyed at the friendly games as they have come to be known.
I have no doubt many kids will at least try and take up sport, and the government will apply the right funding and not let all schools sell off all their fields.
The predlets have been amazed by it all, Predlet 1.0 wants to continue her gymnastics, but it also now joining predlet 2.0 and I in Choi Kwang Do. So I suspect that will be mirrored across the country providing the clubs can cope with the demand.
It has also led ( in hour house) to some competitive gaming with the “official 2012 game” on the Xbox. Whilst it does have some flaws it is quite a collection of button bashing angle selecting frustration inducing game play, but it does make everyone have to accept whether they are faster, or better at that instant in time and it does reward practice.
We have of course been there before with sports games. The original arcade Track and Field was a masterpiece of gaming cabinet action.

This then managed to be sort of cloned πŸ˜‰ and placed in our homes with the then new machines of the C64 and Spectrum with Daley Thompson’s Decathalon Using our GB hero as the lead character and something that is talked about much more fondly than the arcade game.
So will there be a new rash of TeamGB star games? Will that be part of the legacy? Being able to emulate one of the stars of the games will continue to inspire kids, some of whom will take up the sport because they also get to play it and understand a bit about it and get a thirst for winning not just levelling up for ever as many games seem to rely on now.
A more important legacy, and this is wishful thinking, is that the next games understands and embraces the way we choose to communicate online, not trying to stifle it or blame it for branding transgressions.
(I have to say for all the official branding fuss the actual event we went to seemed almost completely free of in your face advertising).
I also hope the next Olympics will take the sort of wonderful digital coverage the BBC provided, and still provides with archives and extends it to give us things we can interact with, 3d spatial data we can learn from and maybe even use in the games experiences I already mentioned. I noticed at the gynastics they had a matrix style camera on the vaulting horse. It was only used a few times in replays but it generated an image from the front and panned 90 degrees to the side filling in the gaps and looked brilliant. Imagine being able to choose to view that sort of replay in any event from any angle just as we can right now with multiplayer online game replays.
Yes I am still talking about the sort of thing we built in ’06 for Wimbledon in Second Life, years ahead of its time it would appear! but lets hope Rio brings a new look at the technology. Even if it is the simplest of e-commerce ticketing applications being done correctly !
So, I loved the Olympics, the team delivering the actual event, and the athletes efforts were brilliant. Well done to them. It was also astoundingly good for TeamGB πŸ™‚ well done all.

Virtual worlds getting a fashionable boost

I was honoured to be asked to write a piece on Virtual Worlds for this great online magazine Flush the Fashion. There is lots to see in the magazine but if you notice pages 98-101 I have explored the adoption path form Moshi Monsters and Binweevils to Opensim and alike via Minecraft. It looks great and they have done an awesome job πŸ™‚ See what you think πŸ™‚

Here is a direct link to the article

Also thank you for the opensim photos – The others images are all from my accounts.

Per Erikson from Lost Castle

Pathfinders Hypergrid tours

and last but not least tidalblog

Advertising vs Chasing – Finding Customers and Investors

In all the Facebook IPO to and fro there has been a lot of discussion about advertising and whether it is viable as a way of keeping an advertising provider afloat and if it is worthwhile for those advertising in the first place.
That got me thinking about what I do to advertise myself and Feeding Edge and where that is going to go in the future.
Up until now most pieces of work have come via reputation and contacts, or responding to other shouts for help on social media. i.e. monitoring and going with the flow of serendipity. I much prefer this for the sort of work I do, as that after all is what this is all about. However not every person in every industry knows what I do do they?
So along with all the various startup pieces of work (of which there is a lot) I also try and keep my CV out there in case there is an interesting opportunity that fits well. That includes full time roles with companies too. I try and keep an open mind.

In the TV space I have, as I may have mentioned, attempted to get an Agent. That however seems even harder than just going to get a job. In a world full of celebrity, and willing first timers it seems that a moderate amount of experience with 3 series of TV doesn’t float that much interest from TV agent types. That pretty much is the same for headhunting agencies when they see my CV and the weird diversity of things I do to so I do understand πŸ™‚
So, whilst my general business of consulting and developing I leave to a more ad hoc presence advertising, being here and there on line, helping as many people as possible and doing lots of conference speaking I decided to pay a little to list myself on a site for TV presenters. The “basic” account only lets you use text and mention you website and or agent, you have to pay more for links and video. However as I am a tech company I have my own site and links to the video so it seems odd to pay extra for hosting what is actually normal web. Also I am not sure how much traffic the listing gets as that is not easily verifiable. Still if you need me I am on I am not sure if that is going to work out, and it seemed odd to be paying to list as everything else, linkedin, twitter, Facebook , speakerfile (though not paying means no public profile!) and even the cv sites like Reed are all free as a basic account ( though in Reed I can’t just add a sharable link to my profile/CV it seems) . I figure that my activity on them and my willingness to share and engage is payment enough, after all that is the main business model. Being places online, lots of them, engaging in activity and experimenting with how that works all adds to my base of knowledge to share with people, and lets people also know who I am and what I do as a whole. This seems much more relevant than a single page CV, though I have that too!

So we shall see if that yields anything. It is actually easier to advertise as a TV presenter in Tech and games, or any other subject as it is an easily identifiable role. It is less easy to point out that much of what I do is production and research too to create the items. General TV presenting can be turn up and read the scripts and provide some pazazz and personality. I can do that too, as I like talking and enthusing.

As for the other stuff…. building, sharing, writing, exploring and helping are a very flexible “product” but a little harder to pin down, but as that is who I am am and what this business is “Taking a bite out of technology so you don’t have to” that’s how it has to be πŸ™‚ I don’t think I will be taking out a Facebook advert to prop up the sure price just yet πŸ™‚

I was described way back as a gun for hire, that makes it sound very simple doesn’t it!

Update – In a weird quirk of serendipity it seems I was writing this post as a lot of people I follow on Twitter are at The world employment conference 2012 check out the hashtag #ceitt2012, I guess that’s another conference I should have gone to speak at!

Nokia Lumia – Massive 3d projection

The launch of the new Nokia phone in a fight back against all the iphone/droids etc hit London with this very impressive and massive 3d projection on Millbank Towers in london. Which presumably has the right aspect ratio as a building to show the smartphone in a good light.

This on building projection is getting really popular and is really a giant augmented reality application that requires no headsets. Projecting onto the real world in any form makes it a good shared experience and the project technology is precise enough now to allow for the surfaces of building to be taken into account.
According to the youtube information “Each of the 120 metre high building’s 800 windows were covered with vinyl as 16 powerful projectors, stationed 300 metres away on the other side of the river, beamed 3D images onto the structure”
I hope the phone is as good as the advert!

He has done it again! Telepresence this time

This guy Johnny Chung Lee, now “rapid evaluator” at Google, is amazing and I love how he approaches things. Way back he did the wiimote hacks that made 3d motion control out of wearing the sensor bar and keeping the wiimotes steady. As Feeding Edge’s tag line is “Taking a bite out of technology so you don’t have to” you can see why I have an affinity for his work!
This time he has hacked together a $500 telepresence robot. These things seem to keep popping up so he is definitely “bang on trend”. They are a weird combination of a physical avatar used to navigate physical space and “be” somewhere. Like all new ideas they may seem daft, and I did have a “that’s stupid” fleeting momentary thought. However, as I have mentioned before, when I see something and think that I know I have to look further into the idea, especially when serendipity subconsciously shouts out about the subject
I bumped into this because I was looking at these more commercial telepresence robots from vgocom. This version though uses the IRobot Create (Roomba)

They had featured a telepresence ER/A&E robot on BBC Horizon and combined with a piece we filmed on wednesday for The Cool Stuff Collective where I was trapped in a video box it all started to link up. Further re-enforced by a conversation about driving robots from a virtual world that started the very same afternoon!
This has a nice circular element to it in that you will notice from the great Johnny Chung Lee’s blog featuring this quick build is called Procrastineering and the tag line, which is something I live by is “giving in to productive distractions”. It brilliantly sums up the flow of serendipity and the combination of tech and art and ideas mixed with human conversation that seems to lead in a positive direction. I know it is not for everyone and it is a seat of the pants existence but for me it feels right.

A lot of places to talk.

Very often there seems to be an assumption that we all live, talk or work in one place online and offline. That is of course not true. All these places whether text, image or virtual worlds are collection of places and venues that suit certain people at certain times. The brilliant infographic has just surfaced showing a whole load of places and why we use them.

The image is from
If you relate this to the physical world, to offices and shops, houses, rooms in houses you will see that it really does not fit the human condition to have one and only one place to communicate, or one mode.
This may scare people, how do I learn all these places and ways of working, but in reality it is no different to learning that a grocers sell and works differently to a barbershop.

Things I have tried since Develop – Danger, Toys and Zombies

As everyone always says “I don’t have time for x,y,z”. However when it comes to games, virtual worlds, emerging trends and technology I find I have to interact with things and try them out in order to put them in context. Some of the things were just sitting there in some queue, hijacked by other pieces of work. The Develop conference inspired me to go and look at a few things.

1. Bejeweled Blitz on iphone (and other platforms). I find PopCap games brilliantly done, very addictive, but I don’t really want to play them that much. They tend to have the overwhelming feeling they will never end, like a Terminator they will just keep coming. My wife loves them though, and she is rather good at them. Going to the PopCap presentation about Blitz I thought I best have a go on my iphone before the competition to win an iPad. How cool is that, play Bejeweled Blitz for 1 minute (as thats the time limit on the game) highest score wins an iPad. I didn’t win as I am not up to speed on the thing. What blitz does though it make me want to play a bit more. First its only 1 minute at a time, second it publishes the top scores each week amongst your friend on Facebook. So it has some of that asynchronous social gaming in a casual form. So I find myself drawn to it and feel that competition, even though I know I am not up to speed yet i have a target.

1b. Plants Vs Zombies. I put this as related to Blitz as it is a PopCap game. It is another that I had avoided but thought I should give a try after hearing PopCap’s back story. It is a resource management meets space invaders game somewhat like the castle defence genre. It manages to be very addictive and engaging (though has no social component yet). I liked it though, placing plant weapons on a lawn to stop an advancing army of cartoon zombies is suitably mad that it was worth a bit of time playing πŸ™‚

2. Kahoots on PS3 Minis. This is a puzzle platformer out of the Lemmings mould. Also though it is on the PS3 but one of the games that you can drop onto your PSP. So I did. I found myself again compelled to figure out the levels. You know the solution is in there somewhere but with its almost Portal style screen wrap around sometimes the solution is to fall off, which is great.

3. Joe Danger on PS3. Hello Games first foray, a brilliant look to a cartoon style side on bike game. Fluid controls, lots of stunts and combos. It turns out the predlets love it too. It gets a bit tricky but the head to head racing really got them going. Again solving the puzzles, a lot of repeat play make this one cracker of a game. I had seen about it but avoided the PS3 as I was busy on the Xbox. However both Kahoots and Joe Danger sparked my interest in PS3 again.

4. PS3 Home. I had not been in Home for a while again, as I thought there was nothing new to check out. Having talked with a Home developer at one lunchtime session I thought I should go back and check it out. Most of my gamer contacts being on XBL some of the shared spaces I have are not that interesting solo. However I sparked it up, patched it etc and found myself getting the Toy Story 3 “Andy’s Room”. Again this was to see what the predlets thought as much as my interest in how this form of interactive advertising was going to work.
It was somewhat magical to be wandering around, with the added out of context avatar of the predator.
Toy story 3 PS3 Home space

Yes these activities ate into some time, but only a few hours spread over a few days and shared with the family. Seeing how these things engage us socially, become part of our lives is as intriguing as the joy of the various games.

What is not in doubt is the connected nature of these experiences. They are not dumbed down nor less entertaining than a full on AAA hardcore gaming experience. They fit into small slices of time in lifestyles but enhance human bonds.

Living in a social Blur – AAA games heading the right way

I usually dive straight into car and driving games as they are possibly my favourite type and style of game. Somewhere in the Red Dead Redemption and holiday interruptions I missed getting Blur
. That is now rectified, and in no small part thanks to Jay “Springwatch” Dykes (also Wimbledon behind the scenes) for having reminded me and giving it the thumbs up.
Blur is from Bizzare creations who have created some of the most innovative racing and visuals over the years. Metropolis Street Racer on the Dreamcast which morphed into Project Gotham 4 on the 360. They were probably the first to bother modelling real places in intricate detail. The clever element to the racing genre for those games was Kudos, the ability to race with style, lots of sliding basically adding an element over and above pure speed. So it was not a simulation, but was set in a real location. I wrote before how it actually helped me hook some pieces of London together
Blur is a very arcade style racing game, as a driving experience, with kart style weapons and power-ups it is very different to PGR4. So it is good, though in gaming terms not overly innovative, but very well executed.
What is different though is the integration they have put in on all the platforms with places outside of the game console. You are able to link both twitter and facebook accounts to share various elements of the game, whilst still in it. A few others have done things with microsites for the game to be able to upload and share photos etc. This though is a little further down the line in injecting itself into existing social networking platforms.
So I am able to take a photo in world like this
Brighton blur style
Share that to facebook, and in this case take that and put it on flickr myself.
Each of the social media messaging systems add a predefined piece of information onto them. This is both clever and potentially annoying in the same measure. Though does break out of the the xbox or ps3 only style communications we have. Not quite cross platform integration but close. Rockstar’s Social Club for GTA and RDR is probably the most advanced in linking the platforms together and providing more than a micro site.
If I tweet a message I can edit my part of it but will be forced to have something appended to it such as “I’m playing #blurthegame”. That is a little too game specific I think. yes its great to have a helping hand with hashtags and proforma tweets for certain achievements, but it gets spammy very quickly.
Other interesting features, once that is also in the xbox arcade titles now, is that of creating a challenge for a friend.
Something that Bizzare have kept is modelling real world locations. In this case both above and below there are pictures from Brighton.
Brighton Blur
This is where many people from the games industry (including me) will be next month at the Develop conference at the very hotel in the top photo if I am not mistaken !
So it looks like the game industry is not going to ignore social media (they have all just been a little slow) maybe next the tentacles will extend out into virtual worlds and richer web and mobile experiences.
For me, seeing AAA games as well as social games letting you share your achievements and set new goals is an important step that fits into the gaming startup that I am working on. More on that as we go forward. The good thing is things are panning out as I said they would πŸ™‚

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays one and all

Merry Christmas to everyone from Feeding Edge and epredator (one and the same thing at the moment :))
It has been an amazing year and I have to say a great big thankyou for all your support. To all the people I have worked with, and for, advising, building, directing in whatever capacity. To all the people who have offered to help, mentoring, contacts and to share ideas that created new opportunities thankyou too. It feels many of us are part of one big club.
feedingedgelogo xmas
Having very much helped spark this wave of the virtual world industry via Second Life and the other platforms, going from the apparent safety of a long term corporate job to a faster moving freer thinking world of entrepreneurs in this fascinating space has been quite a blast. Virtual worlds, social media, games and augmented reality with a smidge of 3d printing thrown in for good measure offer some amazing avenues of exploration. It has of course been a huge financial challenge, not least because of having to pursue and stick to my principles and honour system. I never do anything the easy way do I! There will be more on that journey as I sort the book out over the coming months. In some ways I have been waiting on a particular process to complete one way or another but enough is enough I think. Too many people have shown an interest in the journey to this point so far and what really happened the last few years. I had some great advice that much of what I talk about is so positive and with an attitude of “come on we can do it” that it would be strange to write a book targetted at the bad an negative actions of others. I think that is right. So whilst there are some things that need to be resolved I will no doubt work into the book that positive effect of others negative actions. It will of course be as press worthy when I do πŸ™‚
I have had some great collaboration conversations the last few weeks in particular and having just had a patent filed on an idea that has been brewing for a good few months there is an exciting business avenue to start 2010 with.
I will of course have to do a predictions post later, but this is really a merry christmas one and a great excuse to abuse my logo a bit more. I checked with my branding guidelines, and I agreed with myself that this was within those πŸ™‚
Have a great holiday, stay safe.

Digital Britain – Let free happen?

I have been listening and nodding away in agreement at Chris Anderson’s Free and reading Don Tapscott’s position on Digital Britain. In particular it was interesting to hear the history of the music industry and how is has shifted since the 1930’s. Each step challenged by the incumbent powerhouse, though the industry flourishing and growing despite that.
I paraphrase part of chapter 3 of
Free: The Future of a Radical Price: The Economics of Abundance and Why Zero Pricing Is Changing the Face of Business

In the 1930’s radio emerged.
Artists were paid for a single live performance, though this seemed unfair when compared to a concert hall of ticket paying audience when in fact it was broadcast to millions.
ASCAP insisted on royalties based on gross advertising revenue of the station at a high rate.
They wanted to raise the rate in 1940 when contract expired, which caused the radio stations a problem.
Whilst negotiations were on more stations started to use recordings as the technology had evolved and now had a use.
The record industry responded by stamping β€œnot licenced for radio broadcast” on records.
Th US Supreme Court ruled if the station bought a record it could play it.
ASCAP persuaded major artists to stop producing records, hence cutting the content flow to the radio stations.
Stations were faced with either crippling royalties, or no content.
So they self organized their own agency BMI
This became a focal point for those niche artists and styles previously ignored by ASCAP.
Country & Western and R&B etc.
These β€œniche” musicians just wanted exposure so let the music be played for free
Radio then became a prime marketing channel for music not a direct revenue engine
Artists made money from records sales and concert sales and it moved back to live performance again.
With a combination of a smaller royalty formula and the rise of the Disc Jockey the top 40 era emerged. The music industry grew because of this.
Now the industry is about merchandise and live performance in concerts and still thriving.

Now of course we have the ability to both buy digital music at relatively cheap prices, and also for people to share them with one another for free. The powerhouses will say that this will kill music. It will if no one ever pays of course. However then no one will have any music and the human need for that will drive the creation of music. Live performance however still needs to be live, the tech will improve to allow the experience to get closer to the real thing as we see with virtual worlds. It then becomes about being at the event, being part of the event not just being broadcast too. The artists get to perform and get the adrenalin payoff for delivering to a crowd. Money will change hands, people will make a living.
The sands will shift, new patterns will emerge?

Of course piracy is a constant conversation and battle, but if something is good some people will show their appreciation , either by paying, donating, or spreading the word and acting as a salesperson to reach the people who will pay.

I am writing this as a someone who seeks to get paid for what I do, those things are very often about live performance of some sort. Generating ideas, inspiring people, explaining. Equally though lots of people expect that turning up to talk and generate ideas should be free, but they may pay for a “deliverable” some code, documents etc. Likewise much of what I share here is obviously giving away some ideas. Something that traditionally has been regarded (before the ability to share so widely) as something you keep close to your chest. Now blogs and twitter are my radio station playing my records that I create myself in order to help people know what I do, what I think and how I can come and perform for them and build their ideas in emerging tech and virtual worlds.
The various conversations about Digital Britain and clamping down on people worry me greatly. They have elements of the ASCAP example above, though I suppose this sort of restricted practice is needed in order for the industry to flow around it and grow. Having an threat or an enemy brings great resourcefulness. The danger is that the powers that be manage to crack down so much that we set the business innovation back too much.