A week ago, I complained that too many so-called "exploration" games were actually about collecting doodads and less about the joy of progressively uncovering and understanding more of ...
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25 January 2012 in Transliteracy
Danah Boyd: Battle for the internet: Social media in particular has inexorably changed the world, driving openness and fear – but it is not beyond our control...
Most technology designers engage in their trade to make the world a better place. Technologists love to celebrate the amazing things that people can do with technology – bridge geography, connect communities and transform societies. Meanwhile, plenty of naysayers bemoan the changes brought on by technology, highlighting issues of distraction and attention for example. Unfortunately, this results in a battle between those with utopian and dystopian viewpoints, over who can have a more extreme perspective on technology. So where's the middle ground?
One of my favourite maxims about the role of technology in society is called Kranzberg's first law. He argues that "technology is neither good nor bad – nor is it neutral". It's irresponsible to assume that the tools being built just wander out into the world with only positive effects. Technology doesn't determine practice, but how a system is designed does matter. How systems are used also matters, even if those uses aren't what designers intended. For example, as social media has gone mainstream, some fascinating shifts have emerged that require reflection. Yet, even as the conversation becomes more important to have, it's often hard to talk in a nuanced way about the role that technology is playing in shifts that are already underway.
With this complexity in mind, I would like to introduce a question that I have been struggling with for the past few years: what role does social media play in generating or spreading societal fear?
This question is grounded in three foundational claims:
1. We live in a culture of fear
2. The attention economy provides fertile ground for the culture of fear
3. Social media is magnifying the attention economy...
I am collaborating with Robert Scoble on a new book, The Age of Context. It is about the next phase of technology's relentless advance.
Our opening chapter deals with five converging forces:  social media,  really smart mobile devices,  sensors,  Big Data and  mapping. We argue that the confluence of these five forces creates a perfect storm whose sum is far greater than any one of the parts.
Following is an extract from the book. It is an extremely brief history of social media, plus a look at what it has become in an amazingly brief period:
“Social media …has been the most disruptive of our five forces. It is also the youngest. In 2005, when we started researching an earlier book extolling its virtues, there were less than 4 million people using it and many business people dismissed it as a passing fad. By 2012, there were nearly 1.5 billion people using social networks on a regular basis....
Inserting a robot that gets things wrong into a classroom environment may sound counterintuitive, but according to a new Japanese study, it's something that helps children learn.
If you believe that the best way to learn is through simple trial and error, you’ll be happy to know that – despite numerous impressive advances in technology that have seen the introduction of not only computers, but also tablets, into the classroom – the educational establishment still agrees with you. It’s just that the failures that teach children belong to robots now, apparently.
A story in New Scientist explains that Japanese children are learning to speak English faster than before thanks to a new robot that tries to teach them, but gets things wrong. The discovery comes after Shizuko Matsuzoe and Fumihide Tanaka, two scientists at the University of Tsukuba, studied nineteen children aged between four and eight years old interacted with a humanoid robot known as Nao as it tried to teach them simple English words for shapes such as “circle,” “square” or “heart.”...
Early next year the results of a unique collaboration between the SyFy Channel and the developer Trion will be released.
In entertainment, few groups are as desperate and downtrodden as fans of films and TV shows adapted from video games. They are a loyal and passionate bunch who have continually been disappointed, and yet still retain a joyfully naïve optimism based on the recent success of similar source materials, like comic books, as well as the rich and immersive content from the video games themselves that the films are taken from. Perhaps it is the movie industry that doesn’t fully understand video games, or perhaps games themselves are just inherently difficult to adapt. Whatever the excuse for films like Alone in the Dark and Double Dragon is, it seems like a new approach is in order. If nothing else, NBC and Trion’s upcoming game and companion TV show, Defiance, is unique.
There is still a stigma associated with many video game movies (and, by extension, the handful of TV shows also based on games) and it is one that is well deserved. There have been a few that could be considered decent, but from the epically bad Super Mario Bros. movie that ended the career of Rocky Morton (one of the film’s two directors) and did its absolute best to do the same for the entire cast, to the entire library of Uwe Boll’s impressively awful gaming flicks, fans have been burned so often that they are understandably wary of properties adapted from games. And yet again and again, the majority of the fanbase keeps hoping that the next film, the next adapted property, will be the one that gets it right.
But perhaps it isn’t fair to group Defiance in with other adapted video game properties. The definition of an adaptation is changing one thing to make it suitable for something else, and that is not the case with the upcoming Defiance – it is something original....
In which our correspondent travels to Japan in search of the living, purring, singing heart of the online cat-industrial complex...
Oh hai. A cat wearing a short tie plays music on a cat-shaped keyboard ("Pancake Meowsic Video", 188,083 views). A woman performs Sun salutations with a cat on her back ("Cat Loves Yoga", 1,584 views). A man slaps two cats on an ironing board to the beat of "Atmosphere" ("Cat Slap Joy Division", 359,461 views; watch this one). Kittens try to keep up with an accelerating treadmill ("Treadmill Kittens", 3.4 million views). A fat cat walks on an underwater treadmill ("Fat Cat Walking on Underwater Treadmill", 136,922 views). Two cats cuff at a treadmill in perplexed inquisition ("Cats Try to Understand Treadmill", 1.9 million views). Search YouTube for "cat treadmill" and see how many results there are. Or, actually, don't.
Writing that paragraph took more than an hour. To continue the catalogue for an entire page would've taken weeks. But if one has set out to say something definitive about the relationship between cats and the internet, it's important not to allow oneself to be delayed indefinitely by internet cats...
Pulling together the vast mass of Olympics-related updates - blog posts, tweets, pictures, results, and more - in a single app for tablet created a bunch of design challenges.
Here at the Guardian, we think a lot about timelines.
Timelines remain one of the most useful visual mechanics to display sequenced information. They also, as we have been discovering, relate very closely to that other "visual mechanic" of our time - the stream, which, thanks to Facebook and Twitter, is emerging one of the pre-dominant, if not the dominant, metaphors for news distribution in the digital era.
So when the opportunity arose to create a "Second Screen" experience for the Olympics, which would have to display the huge variety of Olympics-related news: from blog posts, to tweets, pictures, and other data-based updates (results, medal tables, and the like), we wondered: was there a way to reimagine the timeline such that it enabled a better navigation of this voluminous stream?
We toyed around a lot with the issue of horizontal versus vertical scrolling. (Chris Pearson, our lead designer, drew more preliminary sketches than he'd care to remember.)...
[itvt] is the most widely read and trusted news source on the medium of interactive multiplatform television. We provide concise, original coverage of industry developments, technologies, content projects, and the people building the business.
[itvt] is pleased to present the latest edition of StoryCentered, our video column from Brian Seth Hurst, CEO of The Opportunity Management Company and former second vice chair of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. StoryCentered focuses on the business, technology and art of interactive storytelling, and highlights new technologies and other industry developments that have the potential to fundamentally change the way we create and interact with stories and narratives--in television and beyond.
This edition of StoryCentered features an interview with Peter de Maegd, story architect and producer of "The Spiral" (http://www.thespiraltheseries.com and http://www.thespiral.eu), a new, interactive/participatory series from Caviar Films that will air across nine European countries next month. The five-part series, which centers on an art heist, invites viewers to play a game in which they help find the stolen art; it also encourages them to participate in online communities and real-world staged events...
In a recent post entitled Networks And The Enterprise, Fred Wilson explains how his firm Union Square Ventures invests in networks. He included this line.
My uber goal of writing this post is to explain that the wired and mobile internet is a global network and it powers all sorts of smaller networks to get built on top of it.
These networks connect people with each other. Each network gains value as more users join and as each user contributes value to the network which in turn becomes available to every other user. As he points out with respect to one of their investments,
Every time a new participant in the ecosystem joins the Return Path data network, their systems and tools get smarter, making the service more valuable for everyone. That’s a classic network effect and it is very powerful....
Spare Change - making a difference with social marketing by Nedra Kline Weinreich...
I've made the case previously for how stories can play a role in your efforts to bring about social change or individual behavior change. One of the best ways to draw people into your story is to provide opportunities for them to participate -- whether they can contribute to building a rich storyworld, or actually have a role in the direction of the narrative. When someone feels like they are part of the story unfolding around them, they can vicariously experience what is happening to the characters. This type of immersion done well can evoke empathy, get an individual to think about how they would respond if they were in a particular situation, and/or frame their conception of how the world should work.
Collaborative storytelling is an experience in which multiple people contribute to the course of a narrative. There are many forms this could take - an exquisite corpse project, in which one person picks up the story where the last person left off; LARPs (Live Action Role Playing) and other role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons; interactive stories where the audience can vote on what action the characters should take next; and shared storyworlds, in which parallel or intertwined story-related content may be created collaboratively by a group of people....
POSTED BY NOAH J NELSON ON JULY 2, 2012
We’re taking a little well earned R&R this week, but we’re still thinking about you, loyal reader. So we’ve gathered some of our favorite posts from the past year into these handy-dandy Best of Turnstyle News pages. One for every day this week.
Transmedia. A word both loved and loathed by Hollywood executives and Madison Avenue marketers. The art and science, if you will, of making all our disparate media technologies work together to articulate an over-arching vision. Well, when it’s done right at any rate.
What excites us most about transmedia here at Turnstyle is that it is a new frontier. A still uncharted territory that is constantly evolving in practice, content and theory. Even the definition is constantly morphing. Yet that is probably the least interesting thing about transmedia. It’s the work and the people who are doing it that are the most exciting. Here’s some of the highlights from the year so far:
New Media Breaks Through: Fourth Wall Studio Launches RIDES– The Culver City based Fourth Wall Studios is on the cutting edge of transmedia. This report, which was turned into a Marketplace piece, peeks behind the curtain of the studio to show how the creators of the Alternate Reality Game genre are looking to use their storytelling mojo to reach a broader audience...
Top 10 Choose Your Own Adventure Style Interactive YouTube Videos...
One of the hidden treasures of YouTube that a lot of viewers aren’t aware of is the fact that it is full of exciting Choose Your Own Adventure style videos. Thanks to YouTube Annotations, creators are able to insert links allowing viewers to click and choose the direction they want the story to take. We’ve compiled a list of ten of the most exciting YouTube interactive adventures for your interactive viewing pleasure, so sit back and get ready to choose your own adventure!...
Game writing struggles with the contradictions of storytelling because the approach is wrong. The right approach is storysensing, not storytelling....
Dramaturgy (What Stories Are)
Here’s the crib of my 140#conf NYC talk, given on June 15th at the 92nd st Y:
I’m here to talk to you about my work on digital audiences, with a focus on information flows. I’m sure that to this crowd I don’t have to stress the potential that social media is unlocking. Whether you’re a brand, knitting circle or just an individual surfing the web, social media is an invaluable medium to seek and disseminate important information in realtime.
We are all part of the emerging information economy, building and using applications that create overflowing streams of information. Social network sites create compelling spaces, where social interactions act as lubricants, accelerating the flow of information. Users are encouraged to respond, add to, consume and redirect content. As information flows by, some may grab a piece when it is most relevant, valuable, entertaining or insightful, and at times, choose to pass it onwards.
Attention = Power
While the threshold to publishing nears zero, attention has become the bottleneck. One cannot demand attention anymore, or expect to have it at certain times of the day. We all need to understand the preferences and behavior of our respective audiences, and adapt our own behavior in order to attract the attention of others. The ability to attract attention is power, and in this 140-character economy, understanding how people manage their attention is incredibly powerful....
Faculty members and students at the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard are trying to create films that reflect the messiness of life.
TUCKED within the syllabus for a class that the filmmaker and anthropologist Lucien Castaing-Taylor teaches at Harvard is a rhetorical question that sums up his view of nonfiction film: “If life is messy and unpredictable, and documentary is a reflection of life, should it not be digressive and open-ended too?”
Straddling academia and the art house, Mr. Castaing-Taylor and his associates and students at the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard have been responsible for some of the most daring and significant documentaries of recent years, works that — not incidentally — challenge the conventions of both ethnographic film and documentary in general.
Documentary, as practiced in this country today, is a largely informational genre, driven by causes or personalities. The ethnographic film, traditionally the province of anthropologists investigating the cultures of others, is in some ways even more rigid, charged with analyzing data and advancing arguments. In both cases the emphasis is on content over form. What tends to get lost is the simple awareness that film, unlike a pamphlet or an academic paper, is a medium ideally suited to capturing the flux of lived experience....
Gamification: that involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification has been called one of the most important trends in technology by several industry experts. Gamification is a strategy which has its precursors from the Soviet Union’s involvement of workers at work with games and experiments and USA’s various management approaches, with a sense of childhood’s play, to weaken the split between work and play. Such strategies have also been widely used in the design of multi-media games for entertainment, which engage the game players with “playfulness” and fun.
Gamification sounds novel to education, and has not been widely applied as yet. However, if we treat education as a business entity, then why can’t education be gamified.
The magical bullet with gamification relates to:
1. Turning grade into fun – with game levels
2. Using agency in game – to provide choice
3. Leverage external motivators – with game, and Alternate Reality Game....
Back in June, The Last Story’s lead designer, Takuya Matsumoto, revealed that Mistwalker were interested in the idea of developing role-playing games for the Wii U. Matsumoto, who works at Marvelous AQL, collaborated with Hironobu Sakaguchi and Mistwalker on the game.
“I feel that the Wii U’s interface, as with other tablet devices, works best for browsing and arranging information,” Matsumoto told Siliconera.
Via Gary Hayes
A short-form series following the lives of five budding musical stars, Totally Amp’d works across TV, online and on mobile devices. Innovative interactive features include the possibility to remix selected songs, and to direct your own music videos.
The brainchild of Micho Marquis-Rose, one of MIPTV 2012′s “New Producers to Watch”, this French-language drama is totally interactive, in that viewers can influence plotlines’ outcomes.
A Swedish start-up named Tunaspot has built a Spotify app which lets you tag playlists to a specific location and allow other people to discover them.
The app lets users put together a playlist and then place it on a map -- at a festival, perhaps, or in a coffee shop or club. Other users can then browse a map of playlists to discover music related in some way to their location.
Each playlist, which is referred to as a "tuna", is given a popularity ranking on the service, which reflects how many times that it's been shared and subscribed-to ("caught" in Tunaspot parlance). The most popular will show as a "hot spot" in certain areas....
Torontoist is about Toronto and everything that happens in it...
The first thing that captured everyone’s attention this morning, as journalists and artists gathered at the Gardiner Museum to learn about this year’s Nuit Blanche, was not the posters and not the press kits, but a robotic chair in pieces on a low platform, busily going about the process of rebuilding itself. The piece, created by Max Dean, Raffaello D’Andrea, and Matt Donovan, will be on display at the Gardiner for the full 12 hours of Nuit Blanche, taking itself apart and putting itself back together again. Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre), chair of city council’s economic development committee, later commented that he wished his body “could put itself back together so easily after it fell apart.”...
Nearly two years before Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun shook up educational institutions with their massive open online course on artificial intelligence, using videos, blogs, wikis, and online tests, photography educators Jonathan Worth, Matt Johnston, and Jonathan Shaw at Coventry University organized online classes for thousands of students in hundreds of cities, using blogs, podcasts, RSSfeeds, a Flickr group, an iPhone app, a Soundcloud group, and a Vimeo group, and hashtags (#phonar and #picbod).
Phonar, the course on photography and narrative, and Picbod, the course on photography and the body, were open to third year Coventry University undergraduates and free to anybody online....
The story of Hansel and Gretel is one that we all have heard at somepoint in our lives. This iconic fairy-tale of german origin was first published in 1812 and has been read to children for decades. Two siblings, who find themselves far from home, out wit a cannibalistic witch who lures them into her home with sweets & dreams. Its very simple to summarize this epic tale having heard it many times. However; what if this story was looked at from a different perspective? From a deeper, more mature, more thought-provoking perspective?
The Hunger is a project by Uncanny House, a collective of artists, and is directed by Margaret Krawecka & choreographed by Malgorzata Nowacka. It is an adaptation of Hansel & Gretel into a unique theatrical experience. It uses one key element of the original story – the act of luring – as a means to discuss a common topic of the modern day: mass consumption. It wishes to explore – with the help of video projections, sound & movement – the overwhelming affects that the media has to make us consume more and more what seems to be an infinite choice of things.The original story wasn’t soft & cuddly. The talk of cannibalism & burning alive a witch are all mature themes. The Hunger taps into the mature theme of the original, tying in the political discussion of mass consumption...
Kevin McMahon, Special to National Post | May 5, 2012 2:30 PM
The last few weeks were bad for documentary filmmakers in Canada, what with the federal government slicing the budgets of the CBC, Telefilm and the NFB. My colleagues in Montreal were so distressed they staged a sit-in outside the Board’s office. In English Canada, we mostly expressed our outrage by whining under our breath (though there was a brief protest in Toronto on Friday).
But this week has been another story. We’re gathered in Toronto to feel great about documentaries because Hot Docs is on and, this year, in its new home, the dazzlingly refurbished Bloor Cinema. Every year the documentary festival sets new attendance records, proving Toronto is a city that loves docs. In fact, all Canadians do. How do we know? Because (being doc makers) we checked: A 2011 report by the Documentary Organization of Canada found that we consume many thousands of hours of docs every year on television, the majority of them Canadian productions. In the couple of years since the NFB put its films online, more than three million people have viewed them. Since 2007, attendance at documentary festivals — Hot Docs and its cousins Doxa in Vancouver and Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal — has risen an incredible 77%...