Machinima and more evidence that amateurs can create quality content

The long tail blog talks about Machinima, “The Codex” series. Machinima is basically people using 3D games as an acting platform, as most games allow you to change the camera angle and move the players around. So the video games becomes a movie set of sorts. This allows amateurs to make quality content for cheap.

At a glance, it seems like “The Codex” has really stuck a chord with people that watched it, so I’ll prolly spend the bulk of this weekend downloading and watching it. The classic is Red vs. Blue, which is an absolutely hilarious comedy about bored space marines, and you can buy their DVD in gaming stores now. Also in an article in the new york times. Well, you know if the papers got wind of it, it’s pretty old news already. I didn’t catch on to Red vs. Blue until pretty late in the game, like ep 42 or so, and I got it through Rux. Good call Rux.

To me, this is one of the many pieces of gathering evidence that amateurs can create quality content, as most people can attest to right now. I think the vision that people have about video and TV is that they will eventually merge. I’m hoping that the concept of ‘flipping through channels’ will be outdated, and rather, you subscribe to RSS feeds of shows that you want to watch, and there will be links and recommendations to other quality amateur video content down the long tail. On Demand needs to meet Amazon. And I’m thinking that people are moving in this direction. This way, people can not only watch high budget shows, but also see what low budget ones are doing that’s edgy and innovative. I look forward to this transformation of visual media.

Django and TurboGears – web app frameworks for Python

As usual, the feeds let me hear about something, and then I go to wikipedia, or technorati to see what people have been saying about it. I’ve been one of the many that have been using Ruby on Rails for the past 3 weeks now. I have to say that it’s been fairly easy to get things up and running, with the exception of having to deal with many to many relations.

Despite the hype that Ruby on Rails is getting, there’s also other web application frameworks that you might want to check out, such as Django and TurboGears for Python programmers. Here’s a little history on Turbogears. There’s also Seaside for Smalltalk programmers. I haven’t looked at any of the demos so far, but it seems like people like it so far.

Isolation and Technology

The isolation and self containment that technology has inflicted on society at large. Ppl are more and more detached from thier surroundings and more linked into typing/talking into thier phones or scrolling through thier mp3 library.
I saw a woman walk into another pedestrian b/c she was so intent on Texting someone while perambulating. We are quite literally in our personal Pods.

I read this from Keimay, and I have to admit, at first it seems like technology is bearing its claws down on us once again. With cell phones, iPod, and other personal communcation devices, it seems like people are isolating themselves by paying attention to their devices, rather than their physical surroundings.

However, I really beg to differ on this point. Technology really HASN’T made you do anything. It has only given you the option to isolate yourself. And it’s only certain technologies that do that, and some of them, before the iPod and cell phones came out.

As a citizen of a first world country, if not a semi-urbanite, we’re constantly surrounded by people we don’t know, and advertisers throwing sensory simulation on us to pursuade us to buy things. Until the latter half of the 90’s, most people had no choice in what they were surrounded by (people or otherwise), other than to change their physical surroundings. Presence only had the physical context to it.

Come cell phones and IM on personal devices. Presence no longer has only a physical context. One can be connected to friends and family; even if they aren’t in the physical vicinity. With these communcation personal devices, one can create a virtual vicinity of friends and family layered on top of the strangers in the physical vicinity. OF COURSE, nothing yet replaces face-to-face interaction, but sometimes one would rather talk to friends and family than with strangers next to you.

“But there are plenty of interesting people around! You just have to talk to them,” one might argue. Sure, some of us are more privy to talking to strangers to a pleasing effect, but not all of us are by nature gregarious. Given the culture of certain areas of the country (east coast), it was hard to talk to strangers without iPods or cell phones in the first place. And again, the fact that you have a cell phones doesn’t mean that you can’t try talking to strangers either.

And finally, there are technologies that Keimay was born with, but I wonder if he’s ever thought of it as isolating. Cars, for example. People use to socialize on their way to the corner market store, because they had to walk there. But with cars, you don’t really need to talk to anyone you don’t know. Television, one can argue, makes kids sit inside instead of playing outside with each other.

Honestly, I hate television while eating with people. It takes the socialization out of eating meals. But that’s not to say that technology can’t be made to create social contexts. Cars drive you to places where your friends are. Superbowl party with a 60″ TV is where you share moments. Sharing iPod music between people. Trading junk and treasure on Craigslist. Meeting up with people of the same interests with meetup.com And for cell phones, try dodgeball.com.

I venture to say that no matter what technologies comes to fruitition, people will be social animals for a long time to come. What context and the form of the social interaction might change, but people will always long for each other.

Anil Dash: Well, don’t *not* be not evil….

This post was talking about google’s “Don’t be Evil” mantra, and then talked about Bill Gate’s reaction to Google’s motto. Anil quoted:

Q:So that would be the philosophical difference between Microsoft and what Google is up to at this point?

Gates: Well, we don’t know everything they are up to, but we do know their slogan and we disagree with that.

Which is misleading, because if you actually read the article, Bill Gates was actually talking about Google’s other motto, “Organize the world’s information”, which was stated in the previous paragraph

So Google is not offering development capabilities yet. Of course, I expect they will. But they’re not in that game at all today. In fact, they have this slogan that they are going to organize the world’s information. Our slogan is that we are going to give people tools to let them organize the world’s information. It’s a slightly different approach, based on the platformization of all of our capabilities and not thinking of ourselves as the organizer.

Media, where ever it comes from, can sometimes bend things, intentionally, or unintentionally. Better check your facts. I’m afraid that the same thing always happens during the elections.

The significance of the number 43

As some of you know, there’s a folksonomy web application called 43things. It’s a web site that lets you make goals and see the other people that also have the same goal. It’s a goal setting website, and you can see what everyone else sets their goals as.

Now why 43? It seems to roll off the tongue pretty well, but I just ran across it today. 43 Folders | Oh, yeah…the name explains that in comes from the number of folders in a Tickler Filing system, where you have 12 month folders and 31 day folders, for a total of 43. Clever.

We need a car development platform

While I don’t know if Anil (and Co.) is right about web trends, since predicting the future is always…well, one should always be wary of those that say they know the future.

Upon saying that, I’d like to bring up what I think there is a future for. I think there is a potential market of electronically customizable cars. If there was a car company that made a car that had a programming platform that provided access (in forms of drivers or APIs) to non-critical components of the car, I think developers would be all over it. While it would be a niche market at first, it would be something that developers and hackers would find interest in playing around with. And in playing around with it, they will build tools for it. If they build something that the average consumer will like, then there will be more of a drive to buy the cars that run the software.

This is mostly the usual platform vs. developers dilemma, much like the chicken and egg. Why write a platform if there are no applications for it? And you can’t write applications where there’s no platform.

The parts that are required for this to take off are almost there. Wireless access to the internet is becoming more prevelant with Wifi and also 3G, and mapping software is becoming more readily available with google earth. When that happens, and a platform is built, perhaps the price of positioning systems will go down, and other applications be developed for them.

del.icio.us tab completion and the replacement of the pulldown menu

Alright, I’ve converted. From spurl to del.icio.us. The interface is so much more FUN to use and visually simple. Spurl’s bookmark isn’t as RESPONSIVE as deli.cio.us, and because when I’m browsing, I want to bookmark and be on my way.

But the thing that won me over was tab completition and suggestions of popular tags. Of course! Folksonomy would work much better if there was a convergence of names for things. Some things are easy to name, but articles and webpages are multifaceted and talk about various things. And sometimes, what they are do not get mentioned in the article. Del.icio.us does that, and Spurl does not. And this cuts down on my bookmarking time, and lets me get back to web browsing.

And while this is not the catalyst, but I had been thinking about a ‘new’ widget, a command line w/ tab completion widget, where there is a textbox, and an icon or text window below. It would work much like del.icio.us’s tab completion or linux’s command line tab completion.

Essentially, this is a replacement for the pulldown menu, which I never found particularly fun to use, since you have to aim more carefully to select options, and usually, when you’re filling out forms, your hand are by the keyboard filling out text fields anyway.

It would be more fun, I think, if the tab completions showed icons or pictures tagged a certain thing, so if you were looking for a searching functionality, typing ‘search’ would bring up all icons related to searching tools, and while you’re typing ‘sear’, it would bring up all icons related to functions that start with ‘sear-‘.

Buttons that afford to be pushed

the mouseover on the map of local yahoo gets you a bigger map. I’m not sure how this is done, other than javascript, but it might be a way to make it easier for small tool icons to be clicked on, in say, a menu tool bar, as long as those tool icons don’t move when one of them gets bigger due to a mouseover, or the tool icons don’t overlap.