Monthly Archives: September 2003

Today I get a new look for BBJ/work, which will ripple through the rest of the site once I have the time. I broke one of my own rules [which are made to be broken, after all], in that I designed it, but didn’t code it myself – instead my massive thanks goes to Tom for coding up my spiffing new template for kicks, and an Alias boxset.

The design is massively influenced by Jessica Helfand and Bill Drenttel‘s work, specifically the jacket design for Jessica’s book of essays on information and interaction design: “Screen”.

There are a few rough edges, and a few bugs, which will get ironed out in the next few days once I understand what’s going on. Leave bug reports or general brickbats in the comments to this post if you feel like…

Nodes. No point.

  • What does place mean to the connected? [via Chris]

  • Jeff Lash: Soft Skills for the information architect [via Christina]
  • Morlock’s lament:
    “Somewhere, somehow, we told people that everything about computers should be easy and intuitive. That you shouldn’t have to learn anything, or read manuals. That you should be able to grasp everything in ten or fifteen minutes. What nonsense. Some things just aren’t easy. Quantum mechanics. Tensor calculus. Navajo verbs forms. Old Norse. Getting rich.”Mark Bernstein

    I dig those cartoony introduction to quantum mechanics and old norse books however. Via Victor.

  • Punyhumans on Nokia’s 7600 and mankind inventing the tricorder 3 centuries early, except better than those Starfleet commies:

    Punyhuman#1: “what i’ve never been able to figure out is, how come the federation never figured out how to combine their ‘tricorder’ technology with their communicators? and, apparently, they develop something called a PADD around the TNG era. that’s three separate interfaces that we’ve been able to combine into one! what gives with that? star trek is my template for tech development, and it’s starting to piss me off — we’re surpassing them in usability! my illusions are like so totally shattered.”

    Punyhuman#2: “The Federation is run by Communists. Having a tricorder factory, a PADD factory, and a communicator factory lets them keep more proles on the dole. Of course, anyone who asks too many questions gets assigned to the Enterprise and issued a red shirt.”

  • Tom on
  • Alex Wright on Macromedia Central, from March this year

Sunny here. Work now.

Fabio Sergio reprises some favourite themes of his after they were given a Rheingold-remix:

“We all know that most choices are not devoid of strong economical implications, and that the role of any type of currency, especially when social in nature, can make or break the hypothetical ‘freedom’ we are told to be enjoying in the western world. If everyone else will be instantly available, all the time, will it be culturally acceptable not to be? Within certain social circles is it even acceptable today? I can assure you that for most European teen-agers not having a mobile phone is akin to not having a car in the US…”

Worth a read, if you believe discussion of a culture can’t be made without discussion of it’s tools.

Bleakly, tangentially related quote of the day:

“I watch every day what you are doing as a society. While you sit by and watch your Constitution being torn away from you, you willfully eat poisoned food, buy manufactured products no one needs and turn an uncaring eye away from millions of people suffering and dying all around you. Is this the “Universal Law” you subscribe to?

Perhaps I should let you all in on a little secret. No one likes you in the future.”

From the literally fantastic, which Lee pointed me too. That last line has been playing on my mind all day, and probably will for a long while…

Delegates at the UK’s most important TV industry conference voted on scenarios for 2010 and plumped for the end of linear, time-bound TV (3 years earlier than my 2013 stories…)

[scenario] 5 Death of linear TV: Broadband internet and personal video recorders (PVRs) grow rapidly and films and sports become available online causing broadband penetration to reach 35% and undermining pay TV. PVRs in 35% of homes mean that viewers watch 40% of programmes at different times and skip the ads.

How they voted: 39% of the delegates decided that the death of linear TV was the most likely scenario”

» MediaGuardian: The end for who?

Anthony Townsend via Howard Rheingold via via Gizmodo via

“As every person completes more tasks, communicates with more people, coordinates activities among more social networks in the same amount of time, the aggregate effect is an acceleration of the urban metabolism.”

Watched “Run Lola Run” on tv on Sunday. I’ve always thought RLR was loads of fun, and one of the great bits of city-cinema. Lots of the maguffinalia of RLR wouldn’t stand now: the boyfriend in the phonebox, running to plead with Dad, the incommunicado gangster. Made in 1998, how would it be restructured now? Around smartmobs, camphones, and information-infused cities?

My first thought is Lola broadcast-texting all her low-life mates to shake down every tramp in a two mile radius of her boyfriend’s GPS location… Maybe coaxing a few mobs into life in the city to slow down the hoodlums… Would it be nearly as much fun to watch?

RLR is a pretty short and sweet film as it is. The “accelerated urban metabolism” might mean it was all over in 15 minutes!

[What is this about?]

“I come here to think.

I love this part of the city. I always have.

When I come here, this time of night, it’s perfectly quiet apart from the sweepers. Their little robot bug-eyes just see me as a warm blob and steer clear.

I’m glad. I come here to think, and relax – not quiet ready to go home yet, not quite ready to sleep.

It’s the busiest, brassiest square in the North is Big Market. But it’s quiet now.

Idly, I flip my phone open. Warm blinks researched for the right combination of friendly frequency and companionable colour tell me my friends were here earlier. I gesture my phone in the air like a wizard in a children book, and the blurred drunk pictures they took of themselves just a few hours ago appear.

I remember as a kid watching David Attenborough tell me about Africa – and how the rhinos could smell better than they saw, and so their friends and lovers appeared in their mind’s eye as week-long scent trails, reassuringly ‘there’ even when physically long past.

Here I am, with my phone, seeing the city like Rhinos see. I come here to think.”

GPS, digital cameras and phones will combine to let people annotate the places around them – fixing pictures and information in space and time, and sharing that specific instance of experience with their friends.

[What is this about?]

“I suppose the most useful thing the cat does is bring me my pills when I need them. There’s so many of them it’s a wonder I don’t rattle. She remembers them all though and jumps up onto the arm of the chair and gives me a poke with it’s little metal nose to tell me it’s time. Doesn’t spill anything off it’s little tray – it’s a wonder!

That’s the most useful thing, dear – but my favourite thing is when it reads me the email from my grandchildren, and shows me the pictures on the telly. That’s marvellous that is.

I can reply too, and I felt a bit daft doing that at first – Henry laughed at me. But I said, you used to talk to our old cat – the real one, all the blooming time, so don’t you give me that Henry Jacobs!

We’re getting a dog next. Dogs are a little more expensive apparently, but a lot stronger and can do more around the house. Mrs Eldred around the corner is infirm and has a monkey, which can lift her in and out of bed in the morning, but that’s just daft – who’d want a robot monkey in the house?”

Technology leaders in the far-east are investing heavily into domestic robotics, both for ‘companions’, and human-augmentation, expecting them to become mainstream markets in 10 – 15 years. Sony has adopted the AIBO dog as its corporate mascot, and see robotics as an ‘entertainment and information delivery platform”

As well as companionship for the greater numbers of people living along, there are applications in catering for an aging population in the western world. From Wired:

‘In one scenario, patients with early stage Alzheimer’s might receive prompts from the system when they pause for an extended period while making tea. Reminders to eat, drink and take medicine could be sent through a radio or television.’, ‘Dishman said society has no choice but to aggressively develop such technology as 76 million baby boomers begin to turn 65 in 2011.’

Also from Wired:

“Nursebot , a robot that provides both cognitive and motor support to seniors. Nursing-home residents can lean on Nursebot as the machine walks them down long corridors, responds to their questions and reminds them about appointments.”

“when a robotic kitten named Max arrived, he seemed to melt the hearts of a few robot skeptics. Max, which was built by Omron out of Tokyo, is quite lifelike, with sensors that trigger catlike responses — including 48 different cat sounds — with a touch or voice cue. Omron only built 500 Maxes last year, according to Elena Libin, project director at the Institute of Robotic Psychology and Robotherapy in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The institute studies “robotherapy,” which its website defines as the use of person-to-person interactions “to create new positive experiences.” Libin is studying the mood-altering effects Max has on seniors with dementia.”


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