Schrödinger’s Movie

April 24, 2008

Let’s play a game to demonstrate that the future of movies is dead.

First, pick you favourite movie.

I’ll wait… I know it’s a tricky question

OK, Good choice.

Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.

Ok, What’s you second favourite Movie?

Ah! Crafty one.

Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.

Right, third (and final) favourite movie choice.

Heh, ok.. I see what you did there.

Ok, you know the score, Imagine you have it on DVD, and you ripp it to your laptop as a 5 Gigabyte file.

You now have three movie files on your laptop, all 5Gb in size.

We wont mention this to the copyright authorities. It’s between you and me.

The thing is, you only need the one file for all three movies. The data for each movie has been conformed to the same size, it’s the sequence of the data that enables the viewing of the movie – through the player that understands the codec.

You see, any movie that has ever been made also exists within the single 5Gb file.

Still with me?

The data file is just noise, it’s how you tune out the movie you want is the trick.

But the fact that every movie that has ever been made is held within that data file also means that every film that will ever be made is within that file.

[Pause for thought - I know you're thinking at this point.]

Think of it like radio, you have to tune to the right sequence of the data to get the movie you want or the movie you can imagine you would like to see.

Now, for the technical reader, I know you’re snarling at this – yes – it’s a question of retrieval and we don’t have the technology nor the methodology to tackle this puzzle.

But it does indicate a finite number of movies that can be made. It’s a huge number – but it’s finite.

Look at it from an single image perspective.

If you have a jpg file, 800pixels x 600pixels, the limitation of the dimensions, that is, the number of pixels multiplied by the colour depth is the limitation of the format of the image.

As screen/image performance ‘increases’, the colour depth improves and thus more variation can occur, but there is a limit somewhere. 32bit colour depth is probably what you have your monitor set to. Hi Def Tv blows this away, but the visual plane of us creatures is limited to a spectrum. We can only see so deep.

But back to the movie puzzle.

Schrödinger set a thought puzzle back in 1935,

He proposed a scenario with a cat in a sealed box, where the cat’s life or death was dependent on the state of a subatomic particle. According to Schrödinger, the Copenhagen interpretation implies that the cat remains both alive and dead until the box is opened.

You can read the whole cat debacle on Wikipedia.

If you have a 5Gb of data, the movie you want is in there if you can perceive it.

Now, there’s an alternative view of this puzzle from proposed in 1987 by Hans Moravec and in 1988 by Bruno Marchal. Their experiment essentially involves looking at the Schrödinger’s cat experiment from the point of view of the cat. It’s called the Quantum Suicide.

Which makes me think what will power does a movie that has never been made have, to fight it’s way out of the 5Gb of noise, sitting on your desktop?

What ‘will power’ do characters and scenes of movies that, don’t exist, have?

This question shows how our minds project emotive responses towards fictions, how we project our own sensibilities onto formats of existence. Narratives act as vehicles for our own perceptions, but do they have a magnetism to the needs of conversation between ourselves?

It makes no sense to reference movies that don’t exist because they are not a shared point of understanding – we tend to use the past as a reference, not the future. But as the sum total of all possibilities of movies can be formulated if we understand how language informs communication, then reference points remove any notion of authored time – that is, what will be and what has has no hierarchy – that is, the past is no more informative than the future.

But I digress.

If every movie can exist within 1 file, have a look at Amazon, Blockbusters, netflix and youtube. That’s a lot of duplication, a lot of technology used to propel unit sales where instead we should be looking at the solution of movie automata – growing movies – so that we are freed up, to move on to something else.

If you’re in marketing, especially planning, and tuned into the digital storytelling scene (ahem), you’ll know about Faris’s Transmedia Planning essay. You’ll probably know that it comes from Henry Jenkins notions of Convergence Culture, and you might know that he took it from Nicholas Negroponte, Director of MIT, book called Being Digital, where he talks about Bit Streaming. Bitstreaming is where the point of production which becomes the point of consumption (basically – think about Lifestreaming, User Generated Content and Conversation On-line). Your doing is the act of consumption. To use is to learn.

BitSteaming is not Transmedia, something has got lost along the way here. We have to stop thinking in terms of making media; production and distributions are side effects of design, they are not a means to an end.

Design, as an act, infers solution. Design is much better at finding problems than having to abuse creativity to produced polished productions for consumption.

Brilliant things are the messes we are fixated upon. Headlines in the press attract attention, not for the morbid cultural events but for the persuit of reason. A mess is a loose space that we can occupy mentally. There is peace in the eye of the storm. Time stands still in this space.

There has been so much written about this area within marketing, and I think Marcus bagged the best review so far, but it all amounts to avoiding the subject that authorship does not matter. It matters not for an audience nor for the producer, authorship is a channel for communication. Communication, does not need a singular writer to produce media. Films may have a director, but there is almost a countless cast of assistants required to design, produce and distribute.

There’s is also the notion of copyright and licence. That was demonstrated in Where are the Joneses?

You may want to look at Roland Barthes ‘Death of an Author’ or Walter Benjamin’s ‘Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.’ Both have indicated the moral and virtues decline in the notions of authorship. It can be argued that authorship maintains our identity as humans. Crosbie and Doc Searles may debate that synthesis of human authorship is almost upon us. Though Andrea may not agree.

Digtal methodologies, as we have seen within all forms of publishing, does not honour the author as a predicate for future productions. From Markov chains to Bayesian search theory, pattern matching of semantics is beginining to be taken seriously as the direction of technology which will author our future. BookLamp is doing something interesting in this area (Thanks to Ben for the link). We will be experiencing the automaton of narrative far beyond the postmodernism of Baudrillard’s Simulations and Simulacra as seen in those Matrix Movies.

This is why Hollywood is dead wood, tinsletown will burn to the ground.

We’ll be left with an ever present of change, a shifting sifting of values that look more like noise than logic.

The Semantic hope of web3.0, where stuff talks to each other, means that we are the participating audience of a story that we all know even though it has not been written, and constantly trying to escape by retuning the aesthetics back to what makes us feel comfortable. It’s going to harder to be feel secure in the thought that you have a fate, destiny or an objective future when the principles of subjectivity are iterations of a systematic upgrade of general consensus – you belong to your peer’s perceptions.

Narrative may well collapse into pace determined by a rhythm of participation. The story and melody could be perceptive instead of prescriptive.

From storytelling to synthesis, we see performance and identity central to the act of engagement. The human centrality is the primary node within a creation plane, which is pure transaction – an act. It’s how you map the individual the execution of transaction that will make the semantic web, not the alignment of meanings within language. An act is a meaning – a word is a symbol. Signs are conduits between the two.

Life will become a pure dress rehersal because the movie will never be made. Maybe this is the constant betaness. Maybe this is how we should never to be afraid of making mistakes. This sense of ‘incomplete’ or ‘disconectivity’ makes us relate more to each other.

Our patience for this consistant change will be subject to invariants. Just as the notion of interestingness is based upon anomalies; configurations, standards and useful protocols that provide moments of clarity, will become the Greek island oasis that defines peace – and maybe peace of mind. While Advertising hates this, marketing loves this. Disruptions in perception are only useful when you want someone to believe that they are in control – isn’t that so tiger?

But I digress, again.

I’ve no idea on how to retrieve the finite collection of movies within the 5Gb of data, but I’ve started using Twine to collate the ideas and references that made me thinking of this problem called Schrödinger’s Movie . If you’re using Twine, do pop by and have a look, help out, or comment.

Either way – the song remains the same. Open up.

Update [27-04-08] There is now a really interesting thread on Yahoo!Groups about this post.

Open up
Now open up
You lied
You faked
You cheated
You changed the stakes
Magnet toss that pie in the sky
Unrehearsed let the bubbles burst
All in all a three-ring circus
Of unity with parody tragedy or comedy
Probably publicity

Open up
Make room for me
Now open up
Make room for me

Lose myself inside your schemes
Go for the money, honey
Not the screen
Be a movie star Blah, blah, blah
Go the whole hog
Be bigger than God

Burn, Hollywood, burn
Taking down Tinsel Town
Burn Hollywood, burn
Burn down into the ground
Burn, Hollywood, burn
Burn, Hollywood, burn

Take down Tinsel Town
Burn down to the ground
Down into the ground
Burn

P.s. Ask me sometime how I know Peter Andre is responsible for LeftField’s first 2 albums.

Taxing Sparks

November 27, 2006

“The value of the image depends upon the beauty of the spark obtained; it is, consequently, a function of the difference of potential between the two conductors.”

Adam’s been promoting creativity and surealism again, this time at an Internet People event. Roving digitali Jemima Kiss has the write up here. Adam (aka the ArkAngel) has left some further insights into his vision of the creative process in the comments section.

un-chien-andalou_montage.jpg

Adam continues: “The strength of an image or an idea is largely dependent on the potential between two disparate things that you bring together. The further apart they are, if you can make that creative spark leap between them, the stronger the thing you come up with.”

Which nobody can disagree with; it’s how the juxtaposition occurs that matters. The evening seemed to ask where the creativity resides in the UK, especially initiatives such as start ups, webby ones specifically AND if the US is ‘more fruitful’ than Europe. Sigh..

It seems that the desire to make money talk and the BS walk is still the moniker of media commerce. At a time where transactional business models that are based upon peer trust dominates the concept, design and manufacturing of software, there are still the confused to believe there is the need to pursue large cash rewards for being able to do what you want to do.

I wish I could remember where I heard “Profit follows meaning” as it’s the best advice for business pitches I’ve ever heard.

gate_brunel2.jpg

What’s missing from both the observations is the taxation. Copyright, taste ‘n’ decency, geographical restrictions/licences to transmit are relatively new concepts that neither the Surrealists not the forefathers of software commerce had to worry about when executing their projects; Bill Gates used the code that was available – Luis Buñuel shot the scenes he wanted to. Since their free run of ‘invention’ (and patients), the ability to free spark has become elusive; there are just too many legalities that prevent juxtapositions. Or is that too many are trying to clone the recipes of yesterdays successes. Online video services do seem to be suffering from this - and the consumer is less than enthused.

And there lies the debate: what does make sense at the intersection of communications, manufacturing and networks?

As you begin to try and answer this, the creative questions will give birth to commercial solutions.

agedor2.jpg

Back to Adam’s interest with surrealism: Buñuel’s cinema works Un Chien Andalou and L’Âge d’or (Yeah, both link to YouTube – beat them for a find!) both build meaning based upon beliefs that he held – not anyone else – just Buñuel (OK – Dalí had some input..) Regardless, it’s this type of determinism that brings the everyday into a new light and a light that the audience will bath in.

And they will because there is space in the works for them to occupy and make their own meaning. Once the audience gain their own understanding, they would have already entered into an exchange – it’s the strength of the work that retains the ability of the exchange. Both Gates and Buñuel knew this. The ability to execute their work is a tribute to the vision.

Today with the need to include the participation of the audience to ‘complete the work’, execution is a factor that needs to be designed in to the concept. The audience needs to be in position at the intersection of communications, manufacturing and networks. Something that perhaps we used to refer to as the Sweet Spot. Today, the audience have to be the spark, and we have to make that space for them to spark. Legal taxes such as ‘rights’ that prevent us making interesting work for the audience to occupy has to be questioned; equally, we have to ‘tax’ the brains enough for the spark to happen..

Here’s the brilliant Jaffre explaining it in an interesting way..

spindrum.gifA few years ago I was mangaing a Nesta Project called Muzantiks. During this time I booked a developer who was just out of his MA course at Middlesex, the unfortunately name DIM (Design for Interactive Multimedia). Thor had been working with Enrike developing interactive musical instruments and were about to go their own ways back to their native countries. I suggested they formed themselves as a artists group and carry on with the projects- and so ixi-software was born.

Since then they lectured, toured, performed around the world, demonstrating the possibilities of screen based interaction for music.

Originally, the applications were sampled based tools;’ now they produce interfaces for high powered Open Source audio engines such as MAXMSP, PureData and Supercollider, so incorporating a vast array of synthesis and sampling. The interfaces they design and produce are perhaps best described as non linear composition tools (as seen here with SpinDrum), lending themselves to live performances more than studio based tools. The genius of them, aside from the design of the GUI’s that step away from traditional modes of address when producing music, is that their applications are loosely coupled with the audio engine through a protocol called OSC. Open Sound Control is a way to transfer information, rather much like MIDI, but with the ability to transmit abstracts not literal information. Less about telling a system to play D#, rather play harmonies around D#…

Thor has been talking a lot about affordance recently; Affordance is how something is identified as useful in a certain situation, sometimes outside the expected or designed use of the object. He’s now released a paper as part of his Phd and is a fantastic accumulation of thinking and doing in the realm of interactive media. The paper, titled Affordances and Constraints in Screen-Based Musical Instruments, is available here. Here’s a quick insight on the nature of the paper:-

“As opposed to acoustic instruments, the screen-based digital instruments are not of physical material so all mappings from a GUI element to the sound can be arbitrarily designed. This arbitrariness is even more apparent as there is hardly a tradition for creating such instruments. The metaphors we use in ixi software are new in a musical context and deliberately have no musical reference. (such as depicting keyboards, strings, notes, etc) The decision to exclude metaphors from the world of music comes from the aim to get away from the cultural constraints that are connected to the historical instruments or their parts.”

Faris from Naked Communications has also been talking about Affordance his blog - in relationship to marketing consumer propositions.

I think there is something very potent here that has yet to be factored into the communications industry. Messages are usual so refined so that there is no ambiguity and thus very little affordance. Imagine producing messages that allow a vast array of communications thus extending the value of the work. Brands, when polyphonic, allow such affordance.

Video is the hot subject of internet commerce, yet still it’s a linear model of communications. The use of tagging does open up it’s use and ability to shift context and this model is exemplified in the Chris Andersons book: The LongTail.

As media producers comprehend there is no singular destination for their work: the pda, the laptop, the television, the ipod are all nodes in the communication framework – and so by making not only the portability of the communication part of the production affordance, but also the meaning of the communication to be as affording as possible too.

One way the media industries are looking to expand the affordance of their productions and that is to extract meaning from video streams. This is a buggy workaround to a problem that is best solved through design of the media and not through trying to hack media objects to acquire their affordance. Here’s a short video interview with Suranga Chandratillake of Blinkx. Blinkx as he says in the video was set up to solve the in video search problem, and interestingly he acknowledge this is not a technical solution, but a creative one.

Context advertising thrives on the ‘refindability’ of media – thus the value of the media is squared to the retrieval-ness. If the retrieval-ness was actually driven by downstream usability, that is, the ability to incorporate the communication with other media to expand the value of both communications, the audiences ability to construct relevant narratives latches their desire to engage in dialogue with the publisher.

This is affordance via licence – if media objects have an open licencing or reuse, the value of the message persists.

This brings the attention back to the HCI; the way the audience interacts with media objects such as audio and video. Much of the success of the relentless bombardment of web2.0 applications is based around doing something very simply which in turn give buckets of affordance when you mix these services. I’m referring to web API’s, where by the extraction of data from various sources can be ‘mixed’ to produce new meaning and use of the various data sources. Dapper and SalesForce are examples at either end of the enterprise spectrum. Here’s a trilogy of video clips featuring Jeff Hunter of Electronic Arts talking about their use of SalesForce’s services. Considering, it’s been said to me, that Electronic Arts put the EA in sweatshop (ahem), this is one company that a) understands interactive media b) expects a lot of affordance from the user experience. c) understands talent affords the company it’s ability to develop better products.

[Part 2] [Part 3]

In terms of the use within the communications businesses, lets turn the model around; think less about what you want to say, but what you dont want to say. This is about building in restrictions of the use of the media – some form of protection about who the media cant be missused, missuntersood. This is aligned to the thinking about the role of Digital Rights Management (DRM). This annoys the heck out of most people who want portablity and freedom to use media.

ipod-strip_resize-copy.jpgSo, how do the web2.0 services deal with this affordance. Well, there is the XML-RPC protocol. This enables one service to access meaning from another service without accessing private data. It’s a gateway, not an open door. Rob has done a lovely little write up on this recently.

Consider iTunes|iPod combo – it’s a gateway to the Longtail of music, but it’s not the source of expression as their campaigns may lead you to believe. The itunes|ipod service, indeed the Apple business model is to attach you to their gateway, not for you to be a value added network to their network. By all means promote their services (the ubiqitous white headphones being key), but don’t interfere with the source of expression, namely, sharing their clients copyrighted material. Remain an individual and rock on…
[iPod — Silhouette (Love Train theme by Wolfmother)]

As we see with SalesForce, the concept of the mashable web is about to saturate the enterprise media platforms, under the heading of Service-Oriented Business Applications (SOBAs). Jason Bloomberg, who was to present at this, describes the role of the enterprise mashup as:-

“For a mashup to be an enterprise mashup in that it addresses a particular business problem, tight coupling between provider and consumer software would be a serious concern. Most of today’s mashups, however, care little about loose coupling. Mashups that meet business needs, therefore, will require SOA, and the SOA infrastructure necessary to guarantee loose coupling. Without that loose coupling, mashups are little more than toys from the enterprise perspective. “

So lets think about Service Oriented Media Applications – software solutions that generate media propositions, that afford the user experience to be expressive. If you’re thinking this is User Generated Content, then you’re not imagining hard enough. A SOMA should inherently have a licence to create, and any such creations should be reused, reworked and help other users to experiment and be expressive. A brand that develops SOMA’s, becomes the ‘source of expression’, not the framework of expression – and if you manage the source of a SOMA, you’ll have a loyal user base which starts a whole range of traceable dialogues. These dialogues are markets and the brand becomes a maker of instruments not melodies.
Affordance implies a freedom to experiment, to find expression where none was expected. Where services and communication defer the audience to participate in expression, we can expect to lose their attention – and that’s something you cant afford.

Tagging Time

August 11, 2006

Viddler will be popular..

“The keystone feature here is the ability to add tags and comments tied to particular points in a video. Those tags are then searchable, so if I want to find the particular point in one of my videos that I tagged “touchdown,” that’s easy to do. I can also have a conversation with other users regarding a particular moment in a video and choose to embed the video on another site in it’s entirety or only from a particular point I select.”

“Videos are served as streaming files, so they can’t be downloaded and will thus be preserved from copyright violation.”

[via Techcrunch]

…if the interface is latency free.

Lessig TV

August 5, 2006

I do refer to Lessig’s videos in conversation from time to time, so I thought I’d might as well post them here for easy reference. If you enjoy his movies, you may like his books.

Google print

Google wants to do nothing more to 20,000,000 books than it does to the Internet: it wants to index them, and it offers anyone in the index the right to opt out. If it is illegal to do that with 20,000,000 books, then why is it legal to do it with the Internet? The “authors’” claims, if true, mean Google itself is illegal. Common sense, or better, commons sense, revolts at the idea. And so too should you. [More]

Alternative freedom Trailer

“A cool new documentary brewing about the free software, free culture movement.” Lessig

It’s not by him – he just pops up in it. Read about the movie here. Available now from here.

Who owns culture?

Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford University law professor and cyberspace theorist, is well-known for challenging traditional notions of copyright. A 20-minute video of a recent speech given by Mr. Lessig is making the rounds on some popular blogs. The speech, “Who Owns Culture?,” provides a brief look at how new technologies, starting with the player piano, have challenged traditional models of how copyrighted materials are distributed and how artists are paid. Mr. Lessig says that we’re now in a “remix culture” where people find creative ways to meld existing creative works to make something completely new. He argues that copyright laws need to be reformed to allow such digital creativity to thrive. [via][site]

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.

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