Imaging Interactive Media

Beauty in clip art

Amazing and beautiful animation sequence made entirely with royalty-free Clip Art from Oliver Laric who has some other interesting art projects on his site

Web 2.0 Young people & museums

When you try to emulate teen trends you end up looking foolish

Some reporting from Advertising Age on the new Wal-Mart ‘social networking’ and viral marketing campaign.

No doubt leery of all the problems with, Wal-Mart’s site disqualifies any video with “materials that are profane, disruptive, unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, vulgar, obscene, hateful, or racially or ethnically-motivated, or otherwise objectionable.” That’s why “pending approval” notes dominate pages already created and content is limited to a headline, a fashion quiz and a favorite song. Wal-Mart also plans to e-mail the parents of every registered teen, giving them the discretion to pull a submission.

Moreover, the retailer reserves the right to edit the commercial created with the winning video, obviously hoping to avoid the fate of Chevrolet’s Tahoe, which allowed consumers to create their own video spots unchecked and ended up with some unflattering results.

So a subversive, ironic ad by a savvy teen on how her dad’s hardware shop closed down after the retail goliath rolled into town would likely be “otherwise objectionable” to Wal-Mart.

The tight controls will work against Wal-Mart’s goal to make the site more edgy and will instead cement the retailer’s image as a conformist brand, said Tim Stock, a researcher with New York-based Scenario DNA, a research firm devoted to studying Gen Y.

“The second you try to create boundaries and draw a line around content and put a box around content, it becomes something else. Teens aren’t searching for what a company deems relevant, but what they deem relevant,” Mr. Stock said. “You can’t own it. When anyone tries to own it too much, then it becomes a problem. That’s the impression I get on this site.”

The ‘necessary’ lockdown/controls reminds me of the equally ‘necessary’ lockdown in ACMI’s ACMIparks priject as discussed earlier.

Interactive Media Mobile

Orlowski on why there aren’t any smartphones

Given that I am in the market for a new phone I’ve been bitterly disappointed by the lack of truly ‘converged’ devices out here on the market. The most ‘feature rich’ have usability problems when it comes to making phone calls (touchscreen dialing! why?), and those that have really usable decent sized phone/numeric keypads force you to use SMS or predictive keystrokes for your email. Don’t get me started on the camera features.

The always enetrtaining and rather cynical Andrew Orlowski explores why there aren’t any real smartphones – or truly ‘coverged’ devices – available.

t one time, the future of mobiles looked simple. The smartphone was a new kind of gadget that was subsuming the pager, the camera, the PDA, the Walkman, and almost every other iece of technology you could carry – and offering it in volume at an irresistible price. Often free. Over time, every phone would become a smartphone.
Expectations were sky high.

Worthwhile reading.

I’m surprised Orlowski didn’t mention the 6th excuse . . . . that of device manufacturers having an economic disincentive to creating the uber-device. If customers are happily (or unhappily) buying existing products then why create a product that destroys the market for the rest of your range? Or one that threatens the manufacturer’s relationship with the networks it relies on – and thus forces any emerging device to be seriously crippled (the iPodPhone for example)?

Interactive Media

Stylus Magazine’s top 100 music videos

Trumping the earlier picks from Pitchfork are another 100 selections of the most creative/interesting music videos from Stylus Magazine.

Social networking Web 2.0

Stutzman on Metcalfe’s Law and social networking

Some very interesting thoughts from Fred Stutzman looking at how Metcalfe’s Law is too simplistic when applied to social networking.

This notion of “full value” makes the mathematics of network value calculation quite appealing. If everyone on the network gets the same value from using the technology (everyone has the same options – i.e. call or not call on the phone), then valuing the network is absolutely possible. When using Metcalfe (or Reed, or Odlyzoko and Tilly’s refinement) to value a network, the core assumption is that the value we derive from the network is binary – this works for things like ethernet and telephony, but the mathematics prove to be overly crude when applied to social network technologies.

Therefore, the fundamental flaw in applying Metcalfe to social technology is its inherent lack of nuance and granularity. When people join the network, they are given more options than simply connecting; the network is worth the sum of associations and actions that are allowed in the network. We must instead think of network value in terms of a network effect multiplier, as the actual value a network adds to an application is under the direct control of the application designers.

Interactive Media Web 2.0

DHMTL/AJAX timeline creator

Fantastic open source timeline creator from MIT.

Web 2.0

Sydney Observatory astronomy blog launched

The Sydney Observatory’s new astronomy-related news blog is now live.

Maintained by Nick Lomb, Melissa Hulbert, Geoff Wyatt, Toner Stevenson and Martin Anderson and contributed to by their keenest casual staff and astronomers, the blog is intended to operate as a way of allowing the Observatory to quickly respond to current events in astronomy and the night sky as well as new discoveries by local amateur groups and affiliated societies.

The blog will also assist the Observatory in building a reputation as an aggregator and filter of important astronomy related news for this part of the world leading to more interest in visiting the physical site. It offers very low barriers to participation for Observatory staff and volunteers and greatly increases their ability to publish and comment on current astronomical and night sky happennings.

The blog is based on the success of other astronomy blogs, both professional and amateur, and the success of of other museums and science centres in this area.

The more web-savvy amongst its readers can subscribe to RSS feeds to receive content directly to their newsreaders as it is written.

Interactive Media Young people & museums

Gaming criticism

Great short piece from Clive Thompson, a columnist for Wired which answers the question “Why there’s no Lester Bangs of video games?”

Answer C: Game criticism isn’t economically viable enough to support traditional, professional critics.

Do the math: A serious RPG or first-person shooter or strategy game might take 40 or 50 hours to complete. Even if serious critics don’t have time to finish a game, they ought to spend at least 10 hours to experience its complexity. So ask yourself this question: If movies took 50 hours to watch, would there be any movie critics?

Nope. Newspapers and magazines couldn’t pay enough to compensate that sort of time. And how exactly would a single critic remain authoritative? Pauline Kael watched, like, 10 movies a week. You couldn’t play 10 games all the way through in a week if you tried; there are not enough hours in the day. Any attempt to do this would rupture the space-time continuum and release eldritch forces beyond anyone’s control. To cover the field adequately, a single magazine would need a stable of a dozen game critics or more.

This is another reason why bloggers and layperson enthusiasts will always be the most innovative writers on games. They’re infinite monkeys, and they’ve got the weeks to absorb themselves in a game and generate a brilliant take on it.