Remarkable is nothing.

Viral ideals divide.

You are what you left.

Private Snaufu was a collaboration between Frank “It’s A Wonderful Life” Capra, Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, Directors such as Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, and Mel “Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Barney Rubble, Mr. Cosmo “You’re Fired!” Spacely” Blanc and the genius Frank “funny bone” Tashlin.

My Factoid Trivium

June 10, 2008

Toxi published some images from his fiducial generator project; making keys for a reactivision setup (I guess…)

Reactavision, in action, can be seen here, rocking out with Bjork, no less.

You see the blocks they are using on the table? The underside has an image, which is a key, which connects to other objects in predefined ways – programmed as the image.

But the images,they’re great fun, just as images. They all have a MutantTeddyBearNess to them.

I couldn’t …resists…meddling.

Bit of context with warm sunny light.

Mocking something up on a side of something, gives context of sorts.

Viscousy and silk-screening; tacky pop.

TV themed, in a poltergeist kind of way.

And something you’d find on a techno album cover.

They kinda got darker as I went along, into the night, Gimping. I sucjk at photoshop.

Now, as they (the images) are ‘keys’, and he says they need only be binary (black and white), so colour has no impact on their function (their geometry gives the uniqueness, thus there can be maaaaaaany of them.), therefore, I guess they will still work, even if hacked with some poor ‘photoshopping‘ gimping.

Exploring the idea of keys having personalities, to the point where you don’t need the physical ‘key’.

Kind of like the ‘book people’ in Fahrenheit 451.

QR codes don’t really do it for me. They need to have more ‘personality’. Though I do like the term paper storage. Did you know you could get video encoded into coloured QR codes? You can, you know. Not available yet though.

As much as I liked pixelated animations, it takes some extremes to work in a (full functioning) QR code.

I picked up a book called Meet Mr.Product whilst in Dusseldorf, visiting the exhibition Tim Keil suggested over the twitterwaves.

Here’s some photos.

What a wonderworld that must be, if they could all live in a Truman show kind of thing.

Clear characters, with purpose in life, looking for friends, happy to help and eternally young.

It could be a world where brands could bred freely.

Could a multi-branded version of Spore, the new eagerly awaited game from EA, be educational or really annoying? (<- use this link if the video below has given up the game.)

See, a platform like reactivision, affords many, many, maaaaaaaaaany clear characters to exist, with purpose in life, looking for friends, happy to help and eternally young.

Platforms inspire a million characters, if they have a clear purpose within the context.

But, these characters are roles, if they have purpose. Roles are agents conspiring to bring conformation through differentiation; the fiducial teddy bears are the affordance of the platform; conformed in geometry logic, diversified through irrationalities.

The benefit to this: transmission.

Finding friction free, high capacity storage ‘objects’, needs for one thing – be able to transmit.

Technology is a real time story, looking to make objects that transmit.

Objects, that receive is not a request of technology, or any facate of craft, but a burden of language.

Language doesn’t learn to be better, users adjust it to work within changing frameworks.

To store changes, we have to extend language to work as containers, to which we can place ‘understandings’.

We create languages to store objects that relate; sub-languages such as slang, is used within peer groups, who want to describe ‘understandings’ in their social-economic contexts.

The relationship between language and object, is technology – the crafting – the act of transmission is a scribe within the objects construct. Technology gives us a timestamp to decode the relationships between objects, but cant itself create languages. Technology may give us daily, monthly, yearly, new parameters for ‘creating’, but the ability to create ‘storage’ objects comes from the limitations of expression within time.

Could it be possible to make zillions of boxes, and automate the storage of things as they ‘appear’ to us?

Without an understanding of surface, a complete understanding or the properties of the perception plane, the answer is no. The translation of ‘insight’ to the ‘physical’ requires a mapping of time to material – unless we can find ways of making things outside a linear production model. Open Source, which you may not consider a linear production model, is just that. Although all the tributaries flowing into a single build, the linearity occurs at the ‘gateway’.

It’s because things are not divisible by things. Everything is estimate; precision lies.

Although storage is amenable to the most awkward items, it handle infinite variants very well.

Gursky

Another Gursky.

As soon as a wrapper is applied to an object, the immediate context changes and thus invokes the story of the relationship between the storage and the contents.

This relationship is the root of the factoid, the point where fabrication and digestion of the narrative’s objects commences, unleashing it’s trivium. Because you apply a language to something, you are creating the relationship.

Thomas Ruff.

Another Thomas Ruff.

Note the jaggy jpg compression tearing (the pixelation), that’s intended. These are huge digital prints, made up of recursive colouring of the pixels. Here’s some more, so you get the idea. (I saw these in NYC last November, and feeling blown away by them.)

Both these artists studied under the Bechers , who did lots of this:-

Classic.

Comic.

It’s why this campaign is more than an advert. It’s demonstrating personalised recursive storage. The creative multiples the storage of the media space. Spaces within spaces within spaces, all ‘humanised’.

Check out the London underground carriage posters – they all have 3 ‘hidden’ smiles. Brilliant recursive design.

Using anthropomorphic storage platforms enables us to see ‘things’ as people and relationships.

We can engage in these relationships as we would people – on our own terms, our own language systems, our own arguments attended to.

A world of relationships, seen not as things.

A technology of stateless storage, recursively designing, producing and distributing relationships, for personal gain.

Which takes us into the uncanny valley.

An anthropomorphic system that responds with authenticity, requires a depth of experience that equates, not betters, the human relationship. Importantly, feedback time is critical to authenticity. The space of time that something is not doing something indicates factors of the transmissions.

The pauses between our spoke words are just as important as the words themselves.

This is a form of error handling for the transmission. Packets of data are sequenced with silence. Like music…

Scripting Artificial Intelligence will lend itself to one benefit: building a system to judge and attempt- it’s why they are so popular in gaming systems – A good AI is judged on the array of faults you can exploit, not the definition of it’s persona. In fact, the array of faults constructs the personality based upon your Factoid Trivium. Any faults in comprehension remains in the design of the key properties.

So where can character driven arrays take us if sequencing is initiated by investigation?

More likely to be this…

A Cup of Bricks

January 4, 2008

If you haven’t watch ‘2 girls and a cup’, then don’t.

If you have, you know you wish you hadn’t.

There’s a whole series of video responses to that video and they show something really good. Media lubricates conversation; it produces a shared moment. We love to spectate another persons response to the unpalatable because a truth reveals itself in the moment of realisation. And these are rare moments.

We used have the water cooler moment when TV was great. Now there is Facebook trying to make every moment a water cooler moment. But it doesn’t. The noise to value ratio is far far too low to retain attention. And why didn’t the applications retain interest? Because they lack depth of affordance due to the paltry information that all users supply about themselves. FB came out of closed beta status far too early to ensure longevity.

Media, episodes, any motion graphics need not be series based now that TV has lost a temporal audience. Timeshifting has broken the habit of watching without intent. Media producers have lost the confidence to make a point; instead aesthetics (post production) is the cliff hanger than destroys the reason for a narrative.

Allegory fell out of art when the minimalists explored formalism; audiences, mass audiences, still stare at Carl Andres ‘Equivalent VIII‘ with horror, in so much that they fail to realise that meaning is something that has been so tightly spun as a moral.

Equally, audiences appreciation of mastery, comes of concern to any media producer. From film to software, what has come of the mastery of manufacturing?

american-gangster.jpg

I watched American Gangster the other evening – a production of the highest values as one would expect from Ridley Scott, but the story? Based upon the ‘true strory’ of Frank Lucas, we follow 2 narratives obviously needing to collide. The tale of the honest, but domestically troubled detective and the tale of Lucas, his rise in wealth, capture and ultimately grass on every bent copper in the NYC drugs divisions.

Both come out heroes and the moral vanishes into a plume of heroin smoke.

The first weekend’s box office takings were around $46m. Lucas was reported making $1m a day from ‘Blue Magic’ back in 1970. The profits from moral-less activities go undetected when the lure of aesthetics is promised but without the gloss an audience demand meaning.

Why is this so?

I think it’s because we don’t know the ‘form of truth’, because the values of truth are always migrating away from experience. No one can handle the truth because we want the truth to belong to a notion of ‘Other‘, located across the way in a greener field.

Religion has used the notion of truth to gain a following; centering belief structures within folk allegories. Unfortunately, this power has been duplicated in mass communications. Truth and Sex are equivalents when stripped of any aesthetics – and so our psychological drugs need dressing to bring acceptability to our morals.

Like ‘Blue Magic’, we rate purity higher than a hybrid cocktail. Just like in the movie, Lucas bitches about one of his dealers cutting his ‘pure’ brand with impurities, comparing it to Trademark infringement. You can catch part of the scene at the end of Jay-Z’s inspired track..

You may have spotted the Hirst spin painting behind da man. It’s of no surprise – Hirst’s life’s work celebrates this connection between man’s beliefs and ultimate reality. His aestheticisation of aesthetics, making the palatable digestible; when parodied, it becomes a numbing truth.

I still cant find the answer to why the gloss of aesthetics is so needed; why do we as creatures of such diverse communications require stimulants? As creatures of activity, they make even less sense. Perhaps we cant consume, use or value without pedagogical fears. What could be worse than that?

May all your Tuesdays be productive. 

I thought I’d post about a system that I’ve been using and evolving, basically, to get some feedback from you lovely readers.

As business requests come thick and fast for online projects I’ve needed to formulate a way to match clients needs with users needs. Too many times I get the request that a client wants x, y and z to appear on their website and had to explain the people using the site (customers and potential customers) are the ones who should be asked what they need from the site. It’s the transferal of image based thinking of the old school marketing minds to the knowledge based economy of the nu wave tinterweb school of communications. (Nod to John Grant.)

It’ll be of value if you look at the Creation Plane too, as the number one rule is putting the user at the centre of the experience, not the project sponsor.

The next step, like any good planner will confess, is that the proposition needs a narrative. Under the terms of interactive media, narratives are non-linear, there for you can use the ‘beginning, middle and end’ scope of a movie. For interactive design, pathways are a better concept than narratives, as we want the user to find their way through the work, using the media as they see fit in order for them to achieve their goal. Remember, folks are coming to your website in their terms, not yours. Consumerscapes and demographics are all very well for editorial tone, but they are friggin’ useless when you have no idea what they want from editorial (The times I’ve ransacked Flickr for visual metaphors stands testament to this point.) And users want to engage; use your media, add to your media, participate in your media. Broadcast media fails here but interactive excels if you get it right.

If the user comes to your website to achieve a goal, and you don’t deliver, don’t expect a return visit. Websites are software, emotional data that must be useful, not just entertaining. Software is for repeatability not a single fleeting exchange.

So, we have, what I call, The 4 Humble Demands (of the Prosumer) . The Buddhists and medically inclined might twitch at this point. The title is ripped from Buddhas teachings: The Four Noble Truths (the eight fold pathways don’t factor here, in fact I think they are a bit of red herring in the teachings, but that’s another story).

The Four Noble Truths are:

1. Identify Suffering
2. Understand the cause of the suffering
3. Identifying the cure to the suffering
4. Applying the cure

Many western medical councils use the same 4 steps in diagnosis, prognosis, cure and treatment.

The Four Humble Demands draws attention to the participation of the audience to the service provider, that is, identifying the physiological stages in a user pathway to achieve their goal – whatever it may be. So, I call the four stages:

1. Inspiration
2. Aspiration
3. Insight
4. Acquisition

Let me explain.

Inspiration

You need to attract the user to your service, and once they have discovered you, how are you making yourself and your message attractive. The user needs to admit, “this is looking like this place can help me.” Which is all very well, but if you are addressing an infinite consumerscape, you need to help them refine their questions/quest so that you can help them achieve their goal. This is where Aspiration comes in.

Aspiration

You need to ask the user what they are looking for. Now, most websites have a navigation system that ‘guides’ the user in the right direction. An information architect will convert business requirements to navigation elements, may they be global, secondary or page local. Which is fine to a point. But what you should be thinking is what functions help the user ask the question. Search is fine, but retrieval is a better way to think about it. If you understand the semantic web, then you’ll understand why tag clouds are so brilliant. Because they get the user to the Insight phase fast. This is ‘editoral as navigation.’

Insight

Now, as much as I love Jaffe point about insight, I use the word to identify the stuff the user is after, that is editorial. This could be interactive, this could be text, images video, code. It’s the stuff they came to your site for. The better, more useful it is (and that includes being able to use it – and that means using an open licence.) If they can use it, they have achieved a goal. If your audience at this point has a lovely warm fuzzy feeling, a sensation of achievement, you’ve set yourself up for the payoff, that is Acquisition.

Acquisition

So your site visitor has got what they came for. It was quick, easy and fulfilling. Congrats to you pal. But before they go and all you have is some site stats of their visit (w00t!) and possibly some free marketing when they use an image of yours (which has been offered under an open licence), I’d guess you’ll either be a little smug (erm, myopic) or underwhelmed because you have’t sold them your best thingy. What you have to achieve is this transaction. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.

At the very least you need to get the user to work with you in spreading the idea of your service. If they’re ones listening, then they are the ones who will spread the word. Social bookmarking, ‘send 2 a friend’, subscribe to updates. All these functions can be introduced at this point.

Either way – if you have helped them find what they are after, in their terms of engagement, then they are more likely to come back and purchase your ‘wonder product’.

Further, you can make the Acquisition phase become the driving force behind the project’s ecosystem. If your website users are in a mode of co-creation, or at least rating and promoting editorial, this can influence the navigational elements (remember, your editorial is their navigation). Work with your audience, understand their outputs and make them your inputs. Together, your media becomes more relevant to their network.

The Eightfold pathways, if you felt I’m being a little dismissive about Buddha’s elaboration of ‘treatment’ is aligned to functions of Acquisition. The various emotive frameworks of functions dont seem to fit his original manifesto, mainly because of the ‘righteousness’ of the declaration. I think dictating what righteousness is a little overbearing. In principle, yes, ‘be nice’, but I don’t want to be told what is nice and what isn’t. One man’s niceness is another man’s nagging.

So when you’re planning your interactive work, cross reference your content verticals (about us, what we do, who we do it for, why we do it yadda yadda) with these four stages. Then you’ll see where to drop in functions to pages and when not to. You’ll also see the range of functions you need across the site, thus optimising your production schedule.

If you haven’t read TIGS’ Transmedia planning, you might want to after this. The Four Humble Demands is not restrained to online digital communications. If you want to play nicely with the audience, you need them to feel they can take from you.

Happy to elaborate on any of the above, just let me know in the comments section below.

twittin

April 22, 2007

These labeling puns are daft I know. Even more daft is when you spam your linkedin contacts via a twitter invite, which is what I’ve just done. I kind a feel like a twit because it is spam even though it’s an invite to join a conversations. Which is interesting. At what point does spam become a handshake? Getting special offers from a friend via email is one thing, but flagging up a fun service feels like PR. If good ideas spread, are some good ideas just plain stupid, stupid enough to annoy people? What is that blurriness between daft and great?

It’s a tipping point question I know. When a project, product or brand crosses over the line into ubiquity, the chances are it’ll find its buoyancy, its sustainability model, its place in the world. But this equilibrium is also its death. If the function of its success are not designed for evolution, even if it’s an exquisite corpse, equates to a zero sum game. Something that useless comes close to being art.

And here is where the relationship to the individual and the service becomes interesting. The balance between your identity and the service (may this be project, product or brand) is oscillating between a visitor in a non-zero sum play. If a moment exists that the zero sum play materialises, what is it that regenerates a signal to put the service back in play?

In terms of Linkedin – which on the whole is pretty dormant as far as engaging, its a storage of connections. Twitter is a multiplex of signals. As I write this, I can see traffic flowing in from my twitter page. I you’re reading this because of the invite (Hello!) and sorry about the mass mail-out..it really wasn’t an experiment, just idle hands meddling with web services. But it’s lovely that you popped by. I hope to see you twittering! Really – I do.

As we find news ways to share micro portions of emotional engagements, with no central rationale, the loose coupling of fleeting conversations are refining the semantic web, making it stronger, faster and more useful. It’s the bedrock to how media will be produced: upon our relationships, production of content will be come more and more relevant. And if this bedrock crumples, will the relationship based media find it’s own new equilibrium or become the foundation to something we haven’t imagined yet? It’s not a matter of web3.0, but a dynamic media production that lives as the equilibrium between the wire and the breathing domains.

Here’s my twitter page if you want to linkin, so to speak.

It’s not that the world is getting smaller, it’s that we’re coming together in ways that have discouraged in the past.Perhaps discouraged implies that something, politics or economical, has ensured that wide ranging relationships have been difficult to maintain. Geographical and language barriers aside, the reason to connect to many people has never been a personal driver, more a ‘raison d’être’ for brands.

Liberation through nervous anticipation of meeting strangers has been a deep rooted belief of timid creatures; being warily of threats comes from the expectations of our own predatory nature. May this be a hunter gatherer paradigm or just a sensation that comfort is what you know. Regardless, there is a respect to protocol that maintains our ability to decide on how to connect to something we know not of.

greeting.jpg
Adliterate kicked of a enticing thread about ‘what is digital’, which made me think how to explain that by digital he means software. Digital is merely slang for what is not mechanical – and nothing digital runs without software.

Software’s own paradigm has been the abstraction of mechanical engineering, based upon contemporary understanding of physics. Gates, timers, connectors and capacitors are all translated to methods and functions described as code.
Protocol is one of the fundamentals in software design; systems need to talk to each other, may they be local or remote. From an engineering perspective, a protocol is an agreed process for construction – it’s liberating because you don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel..

Back to the Adliterate thread, the raging discussion trying to separate out what is so different about digital communications from (mechanical/analogue) communications doesn’t touch upon that difference of connectivity between people within different ranges of space and time. It would seem digital services will ‘get you’ regardless of where you are is the burning reason to embrace the software revolution of communications – which is a classic mistake in application of new technologies to old thinking. An improper use of technology will always be to accelerate existing processes. The correct or fruitful use of technology is to revisit the existing engineering protocols and use the human ability to abstract the processes to create something more relevant to the needs of the operator.

airscrew.jpg Take for example De Vinci ‘Helicopter’ – a vision into how flight could be achieved. Sure he studied the wings of birds and tried to translate this to flying machines to what we recognise as a plane, of sorts. Perhaps what he saw in a sycamore seed and design the helicopter..who knows.

But what’s interesting was the transference of a mechanic and applied it to a use, not simply try to enhance an existing process through the use of technology. This bought forth a method of communication that was about innovation: depicting the ability of man to achieve a position of commandment. De Vinci was designing machines of war to support his interest in the mechanics of life.

This relationship of combat and tool has been a constant driver in innovation for most of mankind’s communication diversity – an instinct to command rather than desire to listen. I call this the recoil relationship – one that gives a an instant kickback through achieving dominance – you have to be ready for it otherwise it will throw you to the ground.
A recoil relationship is perhaps the tipping point for an on going poor relationship – where you have the regular winner in a non-zero sum situation. One side will become tired, eventually and retaliate, and still not ‘win’. Regardless, the kick back from the victors technique becomes addictive.

A notable moment in cross creed communication was the meeting of Europeans and Southern Americans. Confronted by other humans but with no means to communicate, memisis was employed to gain trust and belief that the two nations could benefit each other. The Europeans had more to gain than the native Americans and thus the relentless desire to acquire the nation resulted in a recoil relationship.

Beyond this, the introduction of tobacco and guns into the common language, have bought us a another example of the recoil relationship. Literally, the desire to put as much power into a gun has increased the adrenaline by those who it.
ak47_montage2.jpg
The AK47 aka the ‘Kalashinkov’ is a stunning piece of design – a synthesis of variety of weapons, designed for combat, open modular design and acts a siren – it’s distinctive ‘ratatattat’ signals that it’s in use. People take cover when they know it’s in use because they know the accuracy sucks. The enemy can retaliate with precision, but the spread of the AK47 means that it normally supports the victor.

It also has a might recoil and although it’s simple design, cheap to manufacture and durability means that it’s the preferred guerrilla weapon, from task forces to terrorists, the product drives up the adrenaline. Amnesty International are more than aware of it’s impact on civilisation, here’s a video they released to raise the concern. And here’s a nice video about the history of the AK47 with a short interview with Dr. Mikhail Kalashinkov.

Designed to used in the sub 300m range, that is – it’s effectiveness by design is not suitable for long range tactics. And this is perhaps the most interesting part of it’s design and it’s illustration of the recoil relationship – the dynamics of the relationship between two parties was the driving force of the AK47.

With tobacco, we have a similar set of dynamics. Smoking a cigarette gives a kick, a hit, a momentary high. It also, like the AK47 has an alleged killing spread of under 300m. Here’s a Quintin Tarrintino vignette from the movie Jackie Brown illustrating recoil relationships,and featuring the AK47. Note Fonda reaches for the cigarette just before the end..

jackiebrown.jpg
To fight the killing done by smoking, The Truth, is an project set up by the anti smoking lobby in the USA. Most anti smoking campaigns have failed – they cant seems to acquire the cool factor that is required to convince smokers that smoking is not ‘cool’. So, the lobby has launch a couple of interesting projects, one is a traditional video spot and the other a clever digital guerrilla tactic..
2.gif
They ask that you leave the website running on public machines, to which it them scroll through a series of messages about the dangers of smoking. But this is not a recoil relationship – but here we have a machine rattling off a series of messages without a care who sees them. It’s effective to the sub 300m range. The instigator may smugly enjoy the prank of setting of the propaganda machine, but would it release the adrenaline? It’s in fact the audience who do the recoiling..
By encouraging this hit and run type of marketing, they are tapping into the aforementioned humans desire to communicate with defense – no one likes to hear people bleat on about the fact that smoking kills – I’ll let Hicks have the last word on that…
The other project from The Truth is a the video spot, here it is.

Again it’s an up close conflict between the communicator and an the audience – again the audience experience the recoil effect – as every line in the song delivers a message, they recoil at the delivery of the message – the horror of the digital voice box cowboy.

This transference of the kickback in the recoil relationship is something particular to digital. The impact of shock has been around since the advent of storytelling, but the ability to automate the communication, that is, without human delivery, to enable an audience to recoil is one of the distinct characteristics of being digital.

The power of this is in fact the mass distribution of effect which create a relationship with an audience. There’s no reason why a human cant step into to replace the automation upon reply of the audience, it’s the instigation that digital enables.

colour-blackberry-above.JPGCommunications on the whole is designed by humans, the ability to synthesise the message and transmit requires craft, and until the rules that define who communication works and thus be abstracted, we are likely to be dealing with recoil communications for quite sometime yet, especially if armed with AK47 of PDAs, aka the Blackberry. What we can do is to avoid building in the recoil effect, not just being cautious about not building it into the devices, but trying to design and construct processes that reply upon zero-sum exchanges not non-zero sum.
Because zero-sum exchanges imply that there is nothing to be gained from the exchange, the ‘funness’ of the exchange becomes a focus to the design of the device.

The best example I can think of effective zero-sum exchanges is sharing. Consider all the examples above, and if the purpose of the exchange was to share, not attain, then we might not be seeing all our mechanical concepts being translated into digital and watching the guardians of possession (copyright lawyers) succeed in curtailing the development of culture. The MCPS is a fine example of the mess communications is in.
moo.jpgDigital, by it’s very nature, that is software based productions, is based upon shared knowledge, it’s agreement of shared protocols, and a desire for people to think creatively about non centric distributed communications, namely communities. Communities don’t require recoil, and as we are seeing communities are becoming aggregated over distance because of the Internet. Only once these communities gather in Real Life, does recoil become pervasive in the handshake, the greeting or the after speech applause – it’s less a protocol more a habit.

Communication could be far more satisfying if we didn’t have the need for those emotional kicks to indicate a success. Moo have managed to find a lovely way to deal with this with their flickr-to-business card service. In contrast – here’s the ‘business card scene’ from American Pyscho.

Perhaps this is about asymmetrical communications – where the communicator and the receiver no longer have to be present to enable the communication transaction. Perhaps Information Theory has pushed the desire to ensure that the message gets through too much – considering it ushered in DeCSS (DVD content scrambling for copyright protection), we may need to consider that dialogue does not have to be a coherent message at all. Conveyance of meaning, indication or advice is perhaps best acquired through multiple sources, leaving the receiver to find a way to construct their own sense of relevancy. We are already seeing this through content syndication via RSS. As this format of data becomes more common, innovation in the tools for aggregation may become the design of the communicators of today. The tools are likely to be emotionally driven, allowing fluid transformations of information reception. Messages will then be manipulated and remixed by the audience for their own satisfaction. With all interpretation truly at the decoding of the individual – they will be no desire for recoil by the transmitter. We will be communicating without consideration – communication would be free and actively built upon. Our desires to connect to many people yet treat these relationships as if they were in the sub 300m radius offers the opportunity to participate without defenses. This is to treat communications as an ecosystem, to which Darwin made some arguable statements.

From his Diary of the HMS Beagle’s second voyage, he notes the first encounter with the Fuegians:

They are excellent mimics: as often as we coughed or yawned, or made any odd motion, they immediately imitated us. Some of our party began to squint and look awry; but one of the young Fuegians (whose whole face was painted black, excepting a white band across his eyes) succeeded in making far more hideous grimaces. They could repeat with perfect correctness each word in any sentence we addressed them, and they remembered such words for some time. Yet we Europeans all know how difficult it is to distinguish apart the sounds in a foreign language. p217

He describes also their social economic framework:

The perfect equality among the individuals composing the Fuegian tribes must for a long time retard their civilisation. As we see those animals, whose instinct compels them to live in society and obey a chief, are most capable of improvement, so is it with the races of mankind. Whether we look at it as a cause or a consequence, the more civilised always have the most artificial governments. For instance, the inhabitants of Otaheite, who, when first discovered, were governed by hereditary kings, had arrived at a far higher grade than another branch of the same people, the New Zealanders,—who, although benefited by being compelled to turn their attention to agriculture, were republicans in the most absolute sense. In Tierra del Fuego, until some chief shall arise with power sufficient to secure any acquired advantage, such as the domesticated animals, it seems scarcely possible that the political state of the country can be improved. At present, even a piece of cloth given to one is torn into shreds and distributed; and no one individual becomes richer than another. On the other hand, it is difficult to understand how a chief can arise till there is property of some sort by which he might manifest his superiority and increase his power. p242

hms_beagle_by_conrad_marten.jpg
This simple construct of a community with out ruler gave such freedoms, though catastrophically the Europeans passed on the measles and small pox which killed thousands of the natives.

Michael Taussig covers this in his book Mimesis and Alterity, musing over Darwins dismissal of the Fuegians ability to ‘progress’ without a ruler. Tassug points out that Darwins observations (above) regarding their value of the gift economy – a form of mutual exchange – is something that Marcel Mauss called ‘the spirit of gift’ in his book ‘The Gift‘.
He notes: The object that is given carries the identity of the giver, and hence the recipient receives not only the gift but also the association of that object with the identity of the giver.

Gift-giving is thus a critical mechanism for creating social bonds. Mauss describes three obligations:

  • Giving: the first step in building social relationships.
  • Receiving: accepting the social bond.
  • Reciprocating: demonstrating social integrity.

These terms have been disputed by Derrida and more recently by Laidlaw, who describes Jainism - a creed that live of the gifts of others in search of purity. He also notes Derrida’s views on the gift:-

  • There is no reciprocal giving back of a return gift
  • The recipient does not perceive the gift as a gift or him/herself as a recipient
  • The donor must not consider the gift as a gift
  • The gift does not appear as a gift

But Mauss investigation into Potlatch is perhaps where we come full circle. The English term Pot Luck is said to derived from the term used to describe the ritual ceremony of giving away food etc, as a families demonstration of wealth, though actually it seems it’s from Pot Luck..

But the caparison of wild free distribution, may it be a splew of magazines from a AK47, urban spam or gestures, the kickback is arguably residing in the intent of the action.

Mauss concepts of the Gift have influenced the open source software movement – but then again one must look at the intent of ‘giving’ away something. Open Source projects are now established to distribute development and lower costs – this is not the same as handing over source code because the projects is no longer to your benefit.

The above citations on the examples of giving indicate that the recoil relationship is perhaps implicit in all human actions, our rituals and thus expectations are deeply rooted in the notions of reception. For the communications industry this is a fait accompli, leaving only opportunity to work with. As we transfer more and more social and economic support to software, are we to try and program this desire for reception, or can we redefine the handshake. Already we use SOAP/XML and HTTP requests to maintain connectivity and web2.0 is making sure that these are the protocols to use for data verification requests. These are recoil relationships – established for the purpose of deferred acquisition.

Lets look at the Jian school of thought: Which I’m going to bravely distill to ‘Take not Give’, gives them the opportunity to remove desire from their vocabulary. There abstinence for everything from root vegetables to sex also reduces the scope of what to take, but regardless the focus is not on offering to your peers gifts, but securing a community when express permission is not required. Jains are the core service providers for a community – hospitals, schools etc. The Jain style of architecture reflects the ethos of free expression and open availability.

jain_arch.jpg
Our western perspective makes this seem like theft, but acquisition without desire is not theft – remove the intent of personal gain and you have a system of distribution that is pull, not push. This breaks the supply and demand model and heralds a societal movement of living with what your peers produce who require no kickback.
Without the recoil relationship there is no tension of possession; diversity of production is limited to the imagination of peers who in turn are building their existence upon the production of others. There is no need for gifts. Offerings are symbolic, not a basis for exchange.

If this protocol stands a religious practice, a rules based ideology, then it’s ontology can be the basis to a software process. The absence of recoil affords the practice of acquisition without price – thus an ecology of production free of communication for there is no need to define the offering as it’s in the interest of the acquirer to define the purpose of acquisition.

Jain was also the title of a development by Sun Microsystems – a protocol, or rather, a set of APIs for the telecommunications industry to merge their services with web services. It faded of as the industry opted for the Parley specifications instead when Sun tried to enforce their way of working. Instead Parley offered a more open way to create an open system. The idea behind these initiatives to give service carriers greater flexibility in integrating services that resided on the internet rather than on the telecoms systems – multimedia services for example.

Both systems built upon the Advanced Intellegent Network – the system used by telephone operators to separate out switching equipment from service logic. Unfortunately the Parley system is porting the telecoms engineering concepts to the web services interfaces, which is again an acceleration of the process already deployed by the industry. It utilises the http/soap model, so again it’s a forced gift economy resulting in a recoil relationship espcially as phone devices are so very personal to the user.
skype-logo-100h.gifSkype was an attempt to break these models, based upon the Kazaa architecture, when ‘helping yourself’ was the business model, but the communication interface is now back to permission based communication – just like the classic phone systems. The Kazaa architecture was used purely as a communications framework to reduce use costs. I’ve always felt they missed a trick here for progress – but innovations was never their interest – profit was. The giving of software is the gift economy. Listening to podcasts via your cell/mobile phone is an interesting idea.

What I’ve tried to explore here is some understanding of the ways the service providers of communications are woefully letting down the future markets by adhering to non-zero sum methods of services in an era of digital – where connectivity is expected and convergence is an excuse to apply various presentation layers on top of tired exchange mechanisms.

These abstractions as architecture are defined as SOA (Service Oriented Architecture)/ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) – basically brokering systems. What is required is a interface to basic services that the user can construct their own service architecture – every user having their own bespoke service they can control. Billing for such can be as creative as you want – brand support means relationships can be built faster and synchronicity with the audience is maintained. Here the user takes, the service provider goes not ‘gift’, and the game is zero-sum – both parties benefit. No recoil relationship.

modern-monks.jpg
Working digitally doesn’t require that tangible kickback you find in the physical world – software is executing actions conceptually, not physically. The crossover between the realm of software and the real world is where the interesting stuff happens – it’s largely unexplored. This is where the licence schemes fit in: Creative Commons and the GPL. Both systems indicate that Attribution is fundamental; it’s the last thread of connectivity between the conceptual and the tangible. What I’ve been thinking through is the removal of attribution all together as it is the basis of a recoil communications – the guaranteed kickback..

We have to ask ourselves, as producers, what is more important: the ability to create freely or the fame and the glory of our reworkings of the past: we are always going to be making stuff based upon the past. If you think back to the Jain religion – all their attribution is focused on their founder, not a mystical god. This is the same premise as Pop Idol – contestants build their skills based upon classic pop songs – use the myth of the past – and organically create their identity with the assistance of the panel of ‘monks’.

The exception is the young idols want their fame – their kickback.

This is a bold statement, that attribution is actually causing problems with ongoing production – on the whole the creative industries are still struggling with sharing. Until digital became accessible, our mechanical concepts of communication suited the recoil relationship: most media only really needs to be effective within 300 metres. To be effective with digital, the rethinking has to start with the abstraction of production, and attribution makes no sense when you’re trying to connect to everyone. To achieve the broadest and deepest connectivity,the think must change from:-

“Have some of that!” to “Take some of this…”

Neither frameworks of the Fuegians or the Jains are a desirable proposition to a modern day audience, yet their freedom to follow an idol is key to appending some form of attribution. Instead of dictating that the rules of engagement, make them attractive so that they show their appreciation in the their activities.

Once you have enabled the audience to distill meaning for themselves, the communicators role is to assist them in making the most of that meaning.

Digital is this chance to rework culture, building upon human abstraction, not mechanical idealisations.

 

Notes.
Without irony, I’ve lost the links to some of the images in this post. If you spot them as your’s – please let me know and you can have a link though to source.

 

channel4_taxi_ident.jpgAfter almost 4 years at the UK’s best broadcaster Channel 4, I’ve moved on to join Imagination, the brand experience specialists. I’ve highlighted here what I did there – but in short – I managed a host of new media projects based upon video distribution and online communities. The web is now awash with video systems with YouTube leading the traffic flow. YouTube was starting up when I was planning FourDocs, and I knew then that it was game over for broadcasters in this area. Why? Well, it the way the law is stacked. Broadcasters like Channel4, ITV and Five dont own any content and worse the OFCOM regulations for broadcasting restrict the lifeblood out of freedom of speech. It’s a draconian system that doesn’t take into consideration the global, non-geographical nature of the internet – and as the web is the formidable network for all communication distributions, adhering to terrestrial concepts of broadcasting enables online entities to lure a global audience. These in turn lures the advertisers away from the decline broadcaster audience.

Further, the 2003 Communication Act, hands over all copyright control of the media you see on the telebox to the production companies. Thus, the industry starts to examine the role of a broadcaster by asking “Where is the value added?” Meanwhile, the Communications Act, though designed to help all producers, has seen the insanely large growth for Super Inde production Industry, namely All3Media, Endemol and RDF. These guys can operate internationally, whereas C4 cant. You can begin to see the problem…

The recent McTaggart Lecture by Charles Allen, after the acceptance from ITV the industry is in sustainability trouble indicates that there is wide spread disbelief that strong branded broadcasters cant hold onto the audience or advertisers even with CCR deals in place. In fact they cant retain has the knock on effect that there is no opportunity for growth – this being the foremost driver for investment for online commerce. Again, the advertising industry flock to the new growth areas to learn and greet the early adopting audiences.

So the embrace of User Generated Content Authentic Media by Channel 4 was a great opportunity for growth. I remember printing of the first releases of Creative Commons licences and leaving them on Commisioners and Editors desks complete with articles about how the business models of open licences opened up a plethora of commercial and creative opportunities that were not available under OFCOM’s rulings. Adam Gee was the first to pick up on this (as the true maverick he is) and we launched the VJ support site Pix ‘n’ Mix and Webit, an education site for kids, using Creative Commons licenced material – material that came from external producers headed up by Dominique Lee and more importantly, TV archives that had been acquired by the ClipBank team. A world first of a broadcaster using Open Licence media – and sadly over looked by the industry.

Fourdocs, which ran alongside the launch More4 was heralded as the Channels foray into Authentic Media. Again, Creative Commons licencing was used, though, much to my frustration, the Non Commercial clause was slapped on the licence. The frustration comes from not being able to explain convince the Executive Producers that: -

1) Channel4 was a commercial entity and using/showing/distributing media under this licence is incorrect as the brand profits from audience retention. This has never been proved in court, though the Adam Curry vs. Weekend case is worth knowing/remembering.

2) A significant reason for people sharing their media is that others can reuse the media, thus spreading the original authors work further. No one really profits from showing video online, it is and will only ever be a leader to sell further services.

Much talk of copyright infringement was had during this project – the backend of the service is a comprehensive system to ensure that copyright is not breached when media hits the site. Remember, the EUCD law is irrelevant if you are a broadcaster as OFCOM will get you first.

My swan song for the firm was 4Laughs, which went live yesterday. I’ve been gone a month and haven’t work on the project for 3. Much of the planning was work of myself and the most excellent Comedy Producer, Russell Barnes. Again, it’s supposed to be an Authentic Media service, and again there is no ability for users to share and develop productions via the site. The legal stuff is really funny. Bold disclaimers that the Channel will use submitted material as it wants to though other users can not. FourDocs used ‘marketing purposes’ as the channels legal reuse fig leaf..

My time at the Channel was a fascinating time, and to honest a privilege. Seeing the workings of a broadcaster from the inside really is living in the belly of the media beast. I remember my father asking me 10 years ago after I left art collage what I was going to do, I said “Something to do with technology and publishing.” I started this blog cautiously whilst at the channel, firstly anonymously as I understood that the voice of Channel4 was impeccably controlled and often didn’t reflect the reality of the business, and thus I found myself not being comfortably blogging about my interests and musings about media, open business processes, licences or marketing. I also knew that hardly anyone there read nor wrote a blog, but all the same, creating ripples just wasn’t worth the effort; I’ve read and watched the ongoing faffing that Robert, Tom, Ben have been through and going through that with the Channel would be unproductive.

Within the organisation I was outspoken about the nature of the online media – I know that that may have raised an eyebrow or two. It came from a sense of responsibility, social (as a consumer of Channel 4 and a managing producer). When you see the global media industries trying to adapt to consumer patterns, actively learning and enthusiastically engaged with new opportunities, whilst yourself is being forced to produce something of a chocolate teapot, you cant not ask what on earth is going on. I’m not a lawyer, but I spent a lot of time reading up on licencing concepts, admittedly inspired by good friend Rob Myers. If you are going to produce good media based products for online communities, understand the rules of engagement comes with this baggage. Ignore the framework and it’s weakness and you’ll find yourself with a huge waste of time to account for.

So all this amounts again asking what is to come of UK broadcasting. No growth, audience and advertisers migration to enabling communities, no ownership of media and spiralling media use licence costs. No advertising income = no programmes. I cant see ITV nor Five being part of the SKY portfolio, as SKY has that audience already. Channel4 has the form of a nice niche brand within Murdoch’s empire. I still think the channel has the brand radiance to engage audiences, to work with them to create what the audience really want..

As Charles Allen pointed out, this is a time for radical thinking. I think he’s wrong. It’s a time for radical listening.
Much of what I’ll now feel comfortable about writing here will be what I’ve been talking about over a coffee with colleagues and friends for the past couple of years: -

“The media object is a catalyst not a destination. Communities are wrapping themselves around communication nodes and in turn are the producers of media. With the support of professional services we will begin to see how language works, and when we do, the need for context advertising, least objectionable TV and search will vanish.”

So as that employment notch is coded into the Linkedin profile, I rejoice in working for Imagination - which seems to be mix of airport departure lounge, technology (software & hardware) media production studios and creative planning. I’m managing the interactive media content in the Samsung Experience Store in New York, whilst being based in London. Alongside that, working on the online strategies, actively exploring open source solutions in commercial environment (think Enterprise Mashups) with the backing of possibly the most interesting IT Director I have ever met..

So I’m running with a job title of Transmission Tactician. It seems to fit the planning and management of communications and projects, for the clients and team…and kills the dreaded uninspiring ‘Project Manager’ title I’ve had for too many years. At last I’ve found the crossroads of media technology, creative planning, online services and open mindedness. Every direction looks good from here.

ze-frank-911-copy.jpg

I knew the man, ze frank, would publish something wonderful for 9/11.

On 7th September he spoke of the expectant hype that the anniversary would bring and reminisces where he was on the day the towers were attached and the unity of the people.

On the anniversary he brought hope to remembrance in a way that mainstream media would hopeless fail at. Although his reach is approximately 250k per day, Hose (Ze Frank) is not daily fodder for everyone , but by producing media like this, he adds the ability to look forward with hope rather than take the opportunity to look back and angst. He sets no agenda, critiques no conspiracy, points no fingers. Importantly, he highlights in the lyrics the flaws of retaliation, the zero-sum of conflict.

Being able to seed minds with a song that assists in the progression of an open society is perhaps one of the most powerful tools to the communication industry. With a song – you fight with non-zero-sum – it’s infectious and it’s empowering. Yes, Coke did this with ‘Teach the World‘. Monty Python with ‘Bright side of Life‘ and of course WK Honda advert ‘Hate something, Change something.’

Why cant more communication move to towards the lyrical structures that we enjoy within music? Perhaps the rolling news broadcasts should experiment in rhyming couplets, documentaries using sonnets, DIY shows in rap. Lyrical formats are a formidable way to guide emotions and they are potentially a copyright free mode of address. With the perceptive rise of new music everywhere, surely these copyrighting skill can be lent to media production as a whole.

Ad funded music is a dull form of commerce, Leapmusic (75% owned by BBH) have ‘spawn 9 No1 hits in the UK’, but of course, this and the above are all copyright protected productions; what you want as a media producer is to seed this tune into the vocabulary of the audience – for them to use and rework, spreading your meme, or rhyme..

Just as we need more openness in the field of international politics, perhaps the way forward should be lead by openness in music production. Imagine the cultural diversity achievable by spending the war chest treasures on opening music rights instead of closing down international relationships.

I’d be very interested in seeing the graph showing the production & consumption of music (or any cultural production in fact) in relationship with times of war. In times of crisis, people come together, yet do we make the most of the unity to work together and create the tipping point that elevates creativity above destruction?

The lyrics from Ze Franks modestly iconic requiem of hope…

Chorus:
Pump, pump, pump that area,
Pump, pump, pump that area,
Pump, pump, pump that area,
But don’t give in to the hysteria.
Do you remember that September?
I remember that September.
You remember that September, that September this September.
If you prick me, I will bleed, if you prick me, I will bleed.
If you prick me, I will bleed, I will bleed, I will bleed,
If you prick me, I will bleed,
But I have lots of blood to bleed.
Chorus
If you mug me, I won’t run, I won’t run to get my gun
I won’t run to get my gun
‘Cause if I do then you’ll have won
Do you remember that September?
I remember that September.
You remember that September, that September this September.

Explains pretty succinctly the concept of the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ / ‘crowd sourcing’ / ‘collaborative projects’.

It’s been difficult trying to sum up the problems with this sharing dynamic, because on the surface it’s a great way of achieving solutions to problems that computers can’t solve. What is clear, without the scaffolding of professional services that support the needs of the community, the community becomes free labour.

Cambrian House and Google Image Labeler are good examples of massaging the talents of an audience in return for value lower than the goals the service provider acquires. With Cambrian House, the goal is to build libraries of code in exchange for shares in prototypes. Google Image Labeler, invented by Luis von Ahn, is a ‘game’ in exchange for adding (valuable) meta-data to the indexing services. Do check out his video presentation about the games.

Meanwhile, Amazons mechanical Turk is far more transparent, as the sheep market demonstrates…

480.jpg

Thanks Rob for provoking me to make the comparison between tLoB and WotC (and for not being an individual, but unique.)

Bonfire on the Brands

September 1, 2006

bonfire.jpg“For every new status symbol I acquire, for every new extension to my identity that I buy, I lose a piece of myself to the brands.” Says Neil Boorman, the 31 year old who will burn all his branded goods on the 17 September 2006.

Complete with a BBC interview, Neil is blogging the project with Blogger here and the book will be published by Canongate. (I thinks it’s worth putting the brands in italics)
The target of the project doesn’t seem to be brands, but the identity that he thinks the manufacturers promised through the labeled goods. Schmuck.

Identity, is not a birth right, it’s something that is developed through your environment. You are born with human instincts and you’ll try and seek out what matters to you. Thinking that destroying your possessions will free you of being influenced by your environment is frankly naive, but also, ignoring the fact that brands seek to innovate at the core, thus producing tools, such as communications, is playground thinking, as he says:-http://www.artangel.org.uk/pages/press/images/i_breakdown.htm

“Once I had nagged my parents to the point of buying me the shoes I was duly accepted at school, and I became much happier as a result. As long as my parents continued to buy me the brands, life was more fun. Now, at the age of 31, I still behave according to playground law. #

Michael Landy produced an artwork called Breakdown (right) in 2001 around the notion of western mentality of possessions, whilst the No Logo ‘manual’ by Naomi Klein tried to tackle the prospects of the global economy fueled with brands.

What is called for is a way to integrate the economic power of brands, their desire to voice values and the cultures that people actually want. This occurs through dialogue (branded or otherwise), not by burning your bra trainers. If the media want to run with the story (and I expect they will with the kids going back to school soon) – then perhaps the hope is that brands get the opportunity to rework their model of audience participation with consumer partnership rather than consumer attention.

Super Taggers

August 12, 2006


Just as there are always heroes in folk stories, there are ‘Super Taggers’ in Folksonomy.

An excellent round in the ‘The best of del.icio.us’ with a list who is taking tagging to the next level are listed here.

James Melzer’s own collection of del.icio.us examples are here: http://del.icio.us/jamesmelzer/folksonomy

But who has the time to tidy up their tag bundles? There must be a better for natural grouping. I’d rather train a system than design my own ontology of a tag library.

James tagged Decentralization Writer/Consultant, Clay Shirkys Etech 2005 lecture “Ontology is Overrated”, which is available here as an audio recording [text version here], where he rants his way through a jazz-bookended lecture on link structures. The key point he makes is that folksonomies are the same mode of thinking as taxonomy – a danger he sees as rewriting the library systems of today.

Meanwhile Banksy makes his observations about juxtaposition of objects with equal angst and more clarity.

Both comment on Individual motivation with group value, and more importantly “Does the world make sense or do we make sense of the world?”

Shriky explains this is “beating semantics into submission” whilst noting semantics are in the user not the system, and the context of the user is key to understanding the world around us. Banksy just shows us.

“The Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) is posting “Computer Musings,” lectures given by renowned Professor Donald E. Knuth, Stanford University’s Professor Emeritus of the Art of Computer Programming. SCPD is digitizing about one hundred tapes of Knuth’s musings, lectures and selected classes and posting them here. They are available to the public free of charge.” [more]

This is a truly amazing resource of lectures by the renowned computer scientist, while acknowledging his contributions to the field, Knuth comments only that “some people seem to be interested in what I have to say.”

Knuth is famed for his contributions to Literate Programming – code that is readable by humans not just machines. As code and content get closer together with the rise of community video websites, his work is amazing relevant today.
The Aha! sessions are worth a watch to see the man in ‘action’.

His homepage is here.

Fan T-shirts are available here.

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]

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.

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