Datama’s project blog is being to take shape and the lovely domain hack (data.ma) has been cleared.

Now on with the real work:- imagineering, prototyping and community building. If anyone wants to get involved, just go and check out the site. Make datama part of your life…

The screen grab above was taken using a prototype I built using vvvv. Details about the prototype are posted here.

If you’ve not come across vvvv before, it’s “a toolkit for real time video synthesis”, produced by the clever folk at meso.net.

The work that has been produced using vvvv is simply quite stunning. Their Gallery has a listing of all the interactive projects that have been completed with this versatile tool.

4laughs

After much team work, the first few pages of 4Laughs has gone live!

I’ve been working on this project since last November and there is loads more functionality to roll out yet. With the aim of “setting you comedy free” – this teaser site encourages users to sumbit their comedy ideas, with the best ones being filmed and produced by Steve Coogan’s and Henry Normal’s production company Baby Cow with All3Media‘s digital arm Conker Media. There’s also 250 quid for the creators of the chosen sketch ideas…

comedy soup

The BBC launched Comedy Soup earlier in the year – which seems to be a very different animal to the Channel 4 offering. Both sites are likely to generate some of the future’s finest comic moments.

Cory

On the 17 June 2004, Cory presented to Microsoft the pitfalls of DRM (Digital Rights Management). The transcript has been available since then, but the video presentation has been released today by researchchannel.org.

The overview is:-

1. That DRM systems don’t work

2. That DRM systems are bad for society

3. That DRM systems are bad for business

4. That DRM systems are bad for artists

5. That DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT

Not only is the presentation entertaining, but it clearly explains why DRM is pointless. If you’re a content maker, technologist, artist or an entrepeneur, you really need to watch or read this. In classic Microsoft style, you’ll need Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player to watch the video…

More recently Sony Chief Executive Officer Howard Stringer though a CBS interview, announced that Sony had made mistakes using DRM. What impact this has on the next gerneration DVD and gaming consoles from both Microsoft and Sony, is still in debate.

Cory writes for the superb Boing Boing – essential daily viewing and covers the Sony DRM fiasco from last year.

The coffee societies

July 10, 2006

I’ve been involved with brands and social software since I left University over a decade ago, but recently I’ve taken a huge interest in how the communication industries are working with social media, such as Authentic Media. Possibly because of the work I do for my current employer, but actually it’s more about the similarity in the themes of Nicolas Bourriaud’s notion of relational aesthetics [PDF link], that I was interested a decade ago, and the current web2.0 concepts that have caught my attention.

Recently, I stumbled across the brilliant Blog by Russell Davies, who was talking about the value of social media from an non-technology perspective, particularly it’s value to brands. When he posted a suggestion of having a coffee morning at the excellent Breakfast Club cafe, for anyone interested is anything, so that he could take his virtual conversations into the real world, I went along. And again the following week. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to stick around long enough to meet the other attendees due to the imminent launch of our new project.

Russell’s idea reminded me about how Lloyd’s of London originated from coffee shop chats, and the above image on the right is a screen grab from a project, produced by Okupi (who I used to work for back in the day ) – It’s a VRML application of Rogers’ Lloyds of London building where users could interact in 3D with avatar based cashiers and advisers. The project is no longer on line, to be fair VRML was never stable enough to be commercial offering, but it was born at a time when ‘Being Digital‘ was started to be explained. Negroponte‘s book is still relevant to this day – the development and management of a community seems key to the communication industry managing the relationship between brands and the consumers requirements.

Hopefully the coffee mornings continue, allowing for short stop conversations and connections to be made between interested parties. It beats reading Blogs and the hassle of a conference, and could well be the ‘insurance’ that online communities need to ensure that the thinking that supports them is done in a social community and not an office.

Endtroducing Friends

July 9, 2006

Friendster, the social network software company, has won a patent for their application. Congrats! It’s always nice to win something.

Red Herring comments on this, hinting that it may have an impact on Friendsters rivals, namely LinkedIn and social networks Bebo, Tribe.net, and Tagged, but the following line from the patent opens up a more curious concern about the benifits of these so called social network sites:-

“A user of the system can determine the optimal relationship path (i.e., contact pathway) to reach desired individuals.”

Uhuh..

The days when users have to rely upon optimising their relationships are almost behind us. Real life, face to face networking is exactly that – you getting out there to meet people – making your own pathways. Our Internet is about a system that enables an optimised connectivity of data – data finds it’s own pathways. Blogging is good at helping this. Wherever the information is, the network will have access to it, it’s just a matter of how that information is indexed, by whom, and how you want that information visualised.

Restricting self-optimising sytems with user intervention is a commercial, not an engineering solution. Patents are no protection to these types of invention – if anything they are fantastic catalysts for innovation – as any Perl coder will tell you – “There’s more than one way to do it.”

But this only going to be possible if ‘users’ leave information out for others to find them. Again, Blogging is good for this, but an open licence to enable other systems to collate and match-make you and other ‘users’ is fundamental.

Take DJ Shaddow’s seminal album, Entroducing… , b000005dqr01_aa240_sclzzzzzzz_.jpg

Josh Davies collated and matched a dozens of audio samples to produce a coherent pathway of audio (ahem, something normally called a tune!). Clearance of all this material must have been a headache, but consider if all the source samples were offered by the original artists as open licence material, then the clearance process would have been non-existent, original artists would have been name checked (and possibly inspiring a new audience to check out their back catalogue) – and everyone would have been happy.

How does this relate to the Friendster patent? Well – I don’t think we need to get permission to engage with another persons data/samples etc. Users need that information to be collected so that they can connect to other users FREELY. If a meaningful relationship is there, the 2 parties can take advantage of this. Preventing this connection, by restricting the process to force users to ‘optimise’ the connecting pathways offers few gains to the community or the ‘user’. If anything, this encourages over protection of data that users think is part of their identity. Data is designed to be shared, and if you think it’s part of your identity – then you need to see that it’s is exactly this inherent overlap in each users life that enables an open creative collaboration which supports creativity and trust. Markets are just conversations, anything preventing this is bad business.

Secondly, the arrangement of Entroducing is based upon aesthetics, the groove and beats are to Davies’ taste and support of the Hip Hop genre. This human intervention to optimise a pathway (erm, tune) made up of samples was based upon a vast knowledge of records, yet the relational aesthetics determine the neighbouring samples. At present there is no computer system that can juxtapose media assets/patterns together and determine the emotion/meaning of the composition, so there is a role for ‘users’ to create pathways: it’s that the pathways should not be predetermined by users.

Datama! v0.1 is live

July 9, 2006

I’ve just hacked together the first lines of code for Datama! It feels good..

datama v0.1

Here’s a RSS feed for Brand Vs. Brand to keep track of the most recently added brands.

Nings API services are insanely vast, but they need to make it supa-simple for anyone to add functionality. I’m talking drag and drop, not code-hacking. Once consumers, erm, ‘prosumers’ have the ability to produce web services as simply as programming their TIVO, we’ll see interaction playing a base role in peoples lives, not an extension to the way we live now.

I sense this is the future Ning.com want to service – and they’ve been nudged by the ever-critical over-sponsored Mike Arlington (TechCrunch) in the past about this. How they achieve this will be through stunning User Interface design. Too much emphasis is placed on the current User Experience (UX) and how AJAX can deliver real-time interaction and response. They really need a hefty paradigm shift…

Native Instruments, the audio software development house, have spent the past decade exploring this exact issue. Music production has always involved many interfaces: the guitar, the mixing desk, recording devices and translating these to the digital platforms has been a troublesome process. Recently, they delivered Kore to enable the variety of devices they offer to be used through a uniform user interface whilst maintaining integration with the host software systems such as Steinberg’s Cubase and Apple’s Logic. The effort and pride of their interface design is evident in their (over the top) promo vids:-

Cubase video
Logic video

If I get more time this week – I’ll build an RSS feed to keep track of the most favourite brands. You know you want it.

Still River

July 7, 2006

Still River is the working title to a new project that I’ve initiated with the art critic, JJ Charlesworth and artist Rob Myers.

We’ll be working up the details over the next few weeks, but the framework seems to be about the institutionalisation and distribution of ‘ideas’. The project in itself aims to to be an inquiry into the relationship of code and language, how ideas transfer from object to object and where the network relationships are.

Datama!

July 7, 2006

You heard it here first.

Plans are in motion to start a very open project to develop an application platform service, actually, let’s just call it a code base. The project title is Datama!

Datama! as the name suggests aims to present the abundance of data as a cinematic experience, using the vast array of networked media resources available. All very web2.0 and with a very non-zero-sum strategy.

Everything from the UML, visualisations, code and apps will be publically available. Collaboration will be encourged.

Sound interesting? I’ll be tracking the progress from here. Subscribe to the Datama! RSS to keep an eye on what happens..

Animator vs. Animation

July 7, 2006

Animator vs. Animation

Damn sweet animation.

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