Cool bananas and wikipedia

This week’s Cool Stuff Collective a.k.a Show 10 is currently airing. I just spoke about the show a little in my panel at Virtual Goods World Europe and had to admit that if people tune in on Saturday on ITV they will only see me as a banana not as a tech geek. However…. that’s just awesome !
Monkey, Donkey and Bananas
The show has some great stuff in it, Monkey wins the lottery (apparently I helped him). The irony of it being the lottery may become apparent in a few weeks time, but I will leave that a mystery.
Sy get to play Harry Potter on the Kinect and does a pretty good job of sorting out the spells.
However in out very own “COOOOOOL NEWS” cue camera shake… The Cool Stuff Collective has made it to Wikipedia. It was already listed with no link as a CITV show but is very much alive and well on there now.
I already had some references too as epredator so I have reached the heady heights of having my very own bio page on there too with lots of references to all the other work I did with virtual worlds and with the media, Newsnight, Business Week, Sky News etc.
The page is is you want to go and contribute any extras for me, as you know we cant edit our own pages, so a big thumbs up to crowdsourcing at work.
I have donated to Wikipedia now too as it needs out support and I use it all the time, so if you have a spare few quid please help it out.
If anyone out there wants to write Sy Thomas’s page he needs one!

Real or Virtual its all the same thing

My friend and (sometime theatrical agent) Scotty pinged me to tell me about a bargain at blades and bows a predator mask for ยฃ20. It seemed to make a great deal of sense to buy this as a prop for some of presentations, as well as out of personal interest.
It has just arrived and it is pretty cool, and very heavy!
Predator Mask
I have taken to using some physical props when I present at conferences, in particular some of the 3d printed items. Something solid and tangible reflected from something in the virtual environment helps break down the barrier between audience, screen and concept.
The predator mask is going to be one such prop. However it feeds directly into the discussion of representation of self online, into reputation and into knowing who someone is.
In SL my epredator avatar wears a predator mask. I often quote that “I wear a mask but don’t hide behind it” and that it indicates a lot more than a digital replica of my actual face in certain contexts.
Saying that with a ppt presentation picture of me in predator gear and leather jacket in Second Life I tend toblend to point out my RL leather jacket and the crossover of personal branding and a willingness to share who I am. The predator mask can be used to then show that there are cultural boundaries and social norms that differ from place to place. Wearing the mask would be seen as a slightly mad act, but showing it and choosing not to wear it in that context I think is a powerful message.
We talk often about real and virtual, there really is no such divide. We experience things, internalize them and try and make sense of them.The recent Horizon programme Seeing is Believing on BBC highlighted this more than ever. Demonstrating the NeuroPlasticity of the human brain and the combination of senses we use to predict what we are seeing. Including things like the McGurk Effect where are brains are unable to stop themselves altering what we hear based on what we see.
The point is virtual environments are real, not a total figment of imagination as they operate, run and we interact with them. A virtual environment tends to be experienced through the little glass window on our laptops which helps us deal with the containment of it. However its real people on the other end doing the same thing. Communicating and interacting with us and the environment. Whilst there is currently a line to be drawn the world around us is full of virtual structures and organizations. Does your company actually exist? Is that organization chart really real?
So I think we have shades of Real, all converted into the virtual experience we call memory.
All that because of a Predator mask? Well yes, though it is just really cool in its own right too ๐Ÿ™‚

Cool Stuff Haptics

Last night show number 2 of The Cool Stuff Collective aired.
Haptic falcon
This was actually the first bit that I ended up recording dues to the magic of television we shot Haptics first then 3d printers.
The predlets watched this with me this time and loved the whole show. Predlet 1.0 in particular like the popcrash grannies. Predlet 2.0 just found it hilarious I was explaining the Falcon device that he has had a go on and could see our one in the room with us whilst it was also on TV.
Predlet 2.0 also found it funny with Sy as the Vicar and they send a toy to toy heaven that it was the Robo Sapien that I also have one.
One of Predlet 1.0’s school friends saw me on the school run and shouted “I saw you on TV” which I think meant he liked the show ๐Ÿ™‚
Tomorrow I am presenting at a venue on the future of the workplace in 2020. It struck me that an obvious lead in to the people I am talking to is that on the show we have shown things that are just coming to affordability and fruition. The 7-12 year old audience will be 17-22 in 2020. So I think I will be using that fact more from now on.

More geek parody songs – Nerdcore evolving

One of the greatest things about the web is that whilst there may be the ability for anyone to share anything that is truly rubbish, there is also the ability to share things that for a niche audience they will appreciate and love. One such thing is this very clever, but very geek related parody of the Katy Perry/Snoop California song.

You will see if you click through ti YouTube Skyway Flyer has put the transcript of the lyrics too, in case anyone who is not so geeky has to look up Flux Capacitor.
I bumped into this one though on Buzzfeed. Yes another service to help us thread and aggregate interesting things.
It was here Buzzfeed (thanks to Rita King and Jerry Paffendorf for pointing me at it) lets you rate and badge content from elsewhere and then spread the word.
I have been dabbling with a few things on there as epredator
It is sort of categorized into LOL and GEEKY etc. For these geek parodies though I suspect they will fill up the feed very quickly ๐Ÿ™‚ If they are as good as this one and the previous New Dork one then I am happy.
Nerdcore as a music form seems to be ever on the increase, creative people who are also tech geeks taking a tongue in cheek look at life and sharing it over the very medium they are spoofing.
Maybe I need to give it a go to. I have a smattering of musicality (though only a smattering), lots of kit and a world audience to find a few people who might like it. If nothing else the ballad of the metaverse may be a better way to share a story than an old school book. Though…. that may have to be a geek opera rather than a youtube short ๐Ÿ™‚

180 ideas by 22 experts

Yesterdays quick brainstorm idea generation session for DotGovLabs was a very interesting session indeed. Ren Reynolds had invited an amazing set of people and I have to thank them all for coming and joining in.
We only had two hours to see what we could all generate from one another’s interactions. Using the tried and tested (but still quite scary) technique of crowd-sourcing with post-it notes around the subject of Games and Government everyone dived right in.
Having (over) 22 people in one session was likely to be too many, but as it turned out once everyone got going things started to flow. The lack of complete structure is not always for everyone, though many people have experienced this free form idea generation before. I had created some themed areas to help focus some thought, but in general we wanted whatever came up to be put on the board.
I was very happy when the brainstorm “rules” I had on a whiteboard that included “Wild and extreme ideas are good” was adjusted to “are fantastic”
The voting section highlighted some interesting points which then led to good round table discussions on the subject too.
There are some report deliverables out of all this which need some work to put all the various other inputs together.
I went through all the 180 ideas and comments this morning grouping and ordering them. I also had a flashback to a whiteboard session in 1998 when I put MMORPG up in a session on where we should go with the web business at the old firm. It was not high on the list of voting, but would have actually generated a lot more revenue if we had engaged with it all at the time ๐Ÿ™‚
Idea generation workshop
One thing I can share at the moment is the result of the warm up exercise.
I suggested that people write down a significant influential gaming moment and put that on the board. As we are dealing with engagement and we were in general a group of gamers it created the following list. See how many resonate with you ๐Ÿ™‚

Playing quake for England
Doom II over a serial cable for the first time
Getting the Babel fish in hitchhikers guide to the galaxy
Getting an Xbox to try and get down with the kids (Failed!)
Meeting Darth Vader in Star Wars Galaxies
Pong in the 1970โ€™s
Choosing to be a vengeful or benign god in Black and White
Discovering I was actually evil in world of warcraft (where I thought I was good)
Galaxian 10p after 10p spent in an afternoon
Swooping in Zagawhateva on flying mount
Capture the flag (in real life)
Having pong arcade game fall on me at youth club circa 197?
Heavy Rain
Seeing the power of narrative in Fahrenheit
Portalโ€™s ending made me cry
T-Rex on original Tomb Raider
Learning to play chess with my dad
Linking 2 BBC B together and playing Elite for days with brother aged 10
Getting 70 on Iphone Scrabble
The death of Aeris on FFVIII
Seeing the facial animations on Half-Life2 on my PC (real time) for the first time
Finding out that โ€˜Huntersโ€™ are really fun in PvP in World of Warcraft
Realizing what Stranglethorl Vale was saying
Completing Myst – No Cheats

Mashing up web and Second Life Viewer 2

We have always (as land owners) had the ability to set video parcels in Second Life. This has of course been a bit of a pain with only one video stream, or web page display allowed per parcel. Now we have new media sharing abilities. This has already been implemented in some of the other platforms, but most of those are less user generated in their content.
I tried a few extensions out to ideas, in particular powered by the fact that SL will play interactive flash now not just flash movies as before. and ย
I used a mind map tool on the web and mashed it with wearing a sphere for a presentation. i.e. you can wear interactive web applications now
I dropped myself into a flash based flocking display where I controlled the direction of the fish.
Finally I popped into Habbo Hotel.
There are of course a few issues and gotchas with interacting with flash. The experience is not totally shared. The browser URL is shared, but not all the interactions. This is only to be expected. I am not complaining, but I know that this will confuse some people. A web interface is inherently single user even if there are multiple users of a system.
Loggin in and personalizing your view of a system is not going to change others views unless the controlling website knows whats going on with this virtual world and multiple users hitting it in context.
There are a lot more things we can do now though, website based HUD’s(I have a transparent twitter hud on right now), textures stored off world (though we are limited to 8 player surfaces at the moment so this could get clunky).
With the combination of SL being able to create HTTP Server objects too we have quite a loop of connectivity.
This is very exciting stuff as many of the projects over the years that I have been involved in move data around and in and out. Things got a whole lot easier I think.

Posting from Second Life Viewer 2

As we were all given access to Second Life viewer 2 just now (not sure why I missed out on the closed beta, but no matter) I thought I would try the full web page on a prim.
This picture I took from within world of me tweeting on the side of a prim whilst also browsing this blog
Postcard from Second Life.
In fact I wrote this post on the side of a prim. So it works(I posted it live from a normal webpage, it should have worked but just dropped into draft ๐Ÿ™‚ nothings perfect)
# slviewer2 is very exciting stuff once you get past the chat window moving around!
**Update I also sparked up habbo hotel on a prim and that worked fine (as its just flash). Its a pity Metaplace isn’t there as we would have had some interesting cross media experiences there too.
It has made the interacting with existing content very very easy. Whiteboards, brainstorm tools, videos, etc. All very powerful.

Talking Tech with Dogear Nation

I was invited onto the 101st Dogear Nation show this week. The premise is simple, we discuss what is going on out on the web, in particular in virtual worlds and game related areas through the medium of the shared URL. i.e. if you take things on delicious with the tag dogear-nation then they form the selection for the running order of the show.
It is always a blast doing this show and this week was no exception.
Check it out, it will be up on itunes very soon too.
Michael Rowe had also done this advert video for dogear nation this week ๐Ÿ™‚

My own TV show?

Aside from the comparisons in some of my attitudes to Jeremy Clarkson, or my passion for sharing information with people and making then feel involved I have only really ever done on stage presentations, unscripted, face to face meetings, the odd podcast, TV appearance and a stack of virtual world gatherings in Second Life.
I recently came across something Dassualt Systemes have put together that enables us to edit up virtual TV shows mixing simple content and interesting camera movements. Its calledย
It also lets you do the 2 photo facial avatar creation which for a first attempt on my part seemed to work quite well I think. (Not really done much with my hair).

You have to currently do this all on IE due to the plugin wanting to be the uploader for content from your machine, and they have not put in an easy to find player (to let you just see my first attempts), and Fraps cant capture it on my machine as the colour palette gets messup. However, apart from that it shows great promise as something very simple to use.ย 


I basically laid down 1 minute timeline, 2 shots form a keynote pitch, picked some camera pans, closeups the odd gesture and then recorded a voice over to go with it. If I can get the content out as easy as I put it in I will do my most recent pitch all in this as an advert for what I do here at Feeding Edge.

The various panning camera movements and simplicity to string them together was very impressive. No real fighting the interface or trying to sort out a dolly for a camera to move across.ย 

This is not a live performance tool (yet) and is a single user, but it does show some of the simplicity of interface and user functions that lets us just get on with the content.

Of course having got a a real rush from all the presenting I do and the enthusing I do, if I now get a taste for a TV studio….. Well I am open to offers, failing that I will just create my own show.

Live on Metanomics, a first interview for Feeding Edge

The first in the title is done with a hint of irony at all the firsts we used to hear about and claim in virtual worlds over the last few years. However I am delighted to have been asked to appear on Metanomics this coming monday representing Feeding Edge and myself. It is the first interview or public conversation I have had since starting Feeding Edge a whole week ago (just to put it into context it is still very early days).
I am intrigued as to where the conversation and the questions may go. I have of course the things that make up what I intend to be doing with Feeding Edge.

  1. The history of creating a movement like eightbar and mass adoption via social media of an idea within the constraints of a corporate environment, dare I say the birth of enterprise 2.0.
  2. Metaverses and virtual worlds themselves. What have we done so far and what can we do next. What are the sorts of applications we can expect to see layered on top of the experiences we already have today. The recession, corporate activity, open source platforms etc.
  3. Where are we going now? The future of Augmented Reality,Rapid Fabrication/3d printers, merging with the games industries etc.

Any of you who have heard me speak before know that I am more than willing to go off topic. I find in those off topic areas is where both inspiration and serendipity reside.
I am also looking forward to being amongst a knowledgeable audience, it is nice to mix evangelizing about this to people who have yet to fully appreciate the enormity of what is happening, with those that we don’t need that onramp conversation and can challenge points based on experience.
So feel free to come along the Metanomics site has a multitude of ways to interact.
This should be fun and challenging all in one tasty virtual package.
The link to the video is here