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Cabspotting at Exploratorium

SF’s Exploratorium has launched a collaboartive art project called Cabspotting that tracks the movements of San Francisco taxis as they traverse the city, mapping their movemements.

This geo-spatial data is then mapped in real time onscreen and made available for others to manipulate and build their own visualisation projects using an open API.

The Exploratorium is involved in a multi-year project to explore alternate views of the Bay Area’s infrastructure. Entitled Invisible Dynamics, the project hopes to reveal radically surprising and inspiring views of the systems interconnecting the communities of the Bay. We are already familiar with the dominant street-map view of our city. This project will reveal other ways of seeing our environment, such as the view of the sewer infrastructure; the flow of water; the commercial activity of boats, trucks and planes; or the ecological activities of the marshes and wetlands surrounding the bay.

Cabspotting is designed as a living framework to use the activity of commercial cabs as a starting point to explore the economic, social, political and cultural issues that are revealed by the cab traces. Where do cabs go the most? Where do they never turn up? Cab Projects are vehicles for artists, writers, or researchers to explore these issues in the form of a small experiment, investigation or observation. These projects will be included on an ever-growing Cabspotting site to form a continually expanding view of the anthropological record created by this system.

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Redshift/Ontario Science Center podcasts & aggregators

In a post a few days ago I asked, rhetorically, how Ontario Science Center was doing with their weekly podcasts on their RedshiftNow site.

A few hours later, Ken Dickson, from the Ontario Science Center sent me an email with their visitation figures! He has very generously allowed me to share them with you. I also asked him a few follow up questions that reveals more nuanced detail about the figures as well as an insight into the production process of what are very popular museum-style podcasts.

In the month of March, there were 6,655 downloads of the various MP3 files.
In total, since it launched last June, we’ve had 35,264 downloads.

Downloads by month

Downloads by month

All episodes by time

All episodes by time

Last three months by episode

Last three months by episode

Interestingly, OSC reports that the majority of traffic that downloads these reports/podcasts does not come in though their website. Instead 40% comes from iTunes and the rest through XML and other subscriptions. Also, doing a search for the Redshift in Google reveals that the podcasts are quite well linked and appear in other aggregators.

So far in April, Ken reports, “we had 269 visits to the web page about the RedShift Report yet 2,911 downloads of the various episodes”.

Aggregation and smart aggregators are where it is at.

Museums need to be looking seriously at buidling these not just around collection content (many of us do that already – in Australia we have Collections Australia Network formerly AMOL (disclosure – the Powerhouse Museum hosts this)) but around other content as well. The 24hr Museum portal site in the UK – especially their children’s area – is a great example of aggregation – they have very effectively pulled together a ‘best of’ online museum interactives by deep linking to educational games on museum websites.

But their aggregation is manually done – real people, curating the ‘best of’.

In some ways this blog and others like Walker Art Center’s, Ideum’s and many others are also manually curated aggregators of information around museums and particularly web and digital/new media.

So could/should we individually, or collectively build a ‘Google News’ of museums? Is the even possible?

And for those who are wondering how does OSC manage to create a weekly podcast?

You’d have to be really paying attention to get this, but in 2005 the podcast schedule was pretty haphazard. We were playing around. When a question came in and a researcher was available, I’d record one. We changed that for 2006. A bit of background: we’ve got a “current science” space within the Science Centre, and each week one of our researchers is assigned to keep it updated. Nowadays, as part of that “updating”, that same researcher is now also required to record a podcast with me. We meet early in the week, decided between the two of us what it’ll be about, go off and do our research and reconvene later in the week and make the recording.

This integration of new media platform content production into what is very much traditional museum content production seems to have been they key in getting the regularity necessary to make the podcasts a success.

From my earlier post I re-iterate that

podcasts need to be able to have a use value or life outside of the phsyical museum visit – otherwise you are unnecessarily limiting your audience for your podcast to the very small subset of users who happen to be a) internet and podcast savvy, b) own and can operate a mp3 player, and c) actually want to visit your museum – all at once

OSC has managed to create something that through in-cast branding reveals/promotes Redshift and OSC but whose enjoyment is not reliant upon OSC.

Anyone else like to contribute their experiences? Theories?

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Incredible “Realtime-Mind-Music-Video-Re-De-Construction-Machine”

From Germany comes this truly amazing piece of software art called Scrambled Hackz.

What it does, as explained in the video, is match audio input (eg from a microhpone) with video samples taken from music videos in real time and dynamically combine them. This has the effect of creating a realtime live ‘remix’ of the input audio by whatever video is on the music video server.

The possibilities are endless – I can imagine plugging an audio input of one artist’s (X) music into a video collection of other artists’ (Y & Z) music videos . . . . and getting X performed by a mash of Y & Z.

Its probably best to just watch the video and read the site for a proper explanation and demo.

I hope that someone sensible brings Sven out to Australia to perform/demonstrate.

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How to fix big media

Here’s some interesting discussion on audience co-creation, but Haque’s concept of the ‘competence trap’ is perhaps even more interesting in terms of what is going on in the socio-cultural shift that is taking place.

“That is because most companies undergoing massive disruptions in their industries fall into what Haque calls a “competence trap.” They keep trying to do what they do best and insisting that it is still valuable, even though the changing environment calls for a new set of skills. A company suffering from a competence trap is like a fish trying to swim on land by flapping its fins in the air, when what it should be doing is trying to use its fins to drag itself through the mud.”

From How To Fix Time Warner:

The competence trap Time Warner must avoid is the notion that media content is something that is made by professionals, instead of a catalyst for the creation of more content by the amateurs in the audience. Comparing the quality of this consumer-generated content to the content made by the professionals is beside the point. The value of content is increasingly coming from the fact that it allows people to express themselves and create relationships with other like-minded spirits. Rather than resist this emerging consumer behavior, Time Warner should embrace it and encourage it.

Beyond that, Time Warner should give the army of amateur video directors out there access to sophisticated Web-based video editing tools to help raise the bar (and potential audience) of all the amateur video out there. The best stuff could be repackaged as regular DVDs or streamed over the Web with ads, with the amateur directors getting a cut of the revenues. One good thing about the audience creating its own content is that the production costs all but disappear.

Any media executive reading this might be scratching his head right now and wondering how he is supposed to charge for his content if he is going to give it away for free. But that kind of thinking just leads to another competence trap. It is the old product mentality coming through. Remember, this is now a relationship business, and relationships are usually two-way things. What that means is that increasingly, the content itself will have less value than what people can do with it. “In the very near future,” predicts Haque, “the content will only be valuable if it can be bundled in new ways.”

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Massive Passives

IBM’s Saul Berman on the Massive Passives -> read his article at IBM.

The most clever description of how to describe the varying levels of the adoption of new technology by consumers came from Saul Berman, Partner, Media & Entertainment, IBM Business Consulting :

Massive Passives: The majority of the public is still very slow to accept new technologies into their lives that’s why broadcast television isn’t going away as we know it anytime soon.

Gadegtiers: These are the early adopters, the folks who run out and constantly buy the latest gadgets (myself included). While they only make up 5 to 10% of the public, they are just disruptive enough to put a dent in traditional media models. Generally this group is highly educated, affluent, male, and young . . . the most desirable advertising demographic. As they say, PVRs don’t need to be in 90% of homes, just 10% to have dramatic affect on the broadcast business model. In case you are keeping track, PVRs are at about that 10% threshold right now (of course this will vary from market to market).

Kool Kids: This group is obviously the younger generations who have never known what it is like to live in a “scheduled” media environment. I would estimate that anyone under the age of 25 possesses very strong “on-demand” media habits. As they grow older, these new media habits will grow more pervasive throughout society.

(summary from Beyond TV)

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Enough already! More Brokeback mashups

Here’s over 30 more Brokeback mashups. Even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and He-Man get a run!

Some appropriate commentary on the phenonmenon from If:Book.

Some spoofs work better than others. The more successful trailers establish the parallels between the loner hero archetype of film and the outsider qualities of gay life. For example, as noted by Heffernana, Brokeback Heat, with limited extra editing, transforms Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro from a detective and criminal into lovers, who wax philosophically on the intrinsic nature of their lives and their lack of desire to live another way. Or in Top Gun 2: Brokeback Squadron, Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer exist in their own hyper-masculine reality outside of the understanding of others, in particular their female romantic counterparts. In Back to the Future, the relationship of mentor and hero is reinterpreted as a cross generational romance. Lord of the Rings: Brokeback Mount Doom successfully captures the analogy between the perilous journey of the hero and the experience of the disenfranchised. Here, the quest of Sam and Frodo is inverted into the quest to find the love that dares not speak its name. The p2p/ mashup community had come to the same conclusion (to, at times, great comic effect) that the gay community arrived at long ago, that male bonding (and its Hollywood representation) has a homoerotic subtext.

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More movie trailer mashups

Brokeback Mountain vs Back To The Future


Toy Story 2 vs Requiem For A Dream

These are variations on a theme posted earlier


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Cylinder Audio Archive

Cylinder recordings, the first commercially produced sound recordings, are a snapshot of musical and popular culture in the decades around the turn of the 20th century. They have long held the fascination of collectors and have presented challenges for playback and preservation by archives and collectors alike.

With funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the UCSB Libraries have created a digital collection of over 5,000 cylinder recordings held by the Department of Special Collections. In an effort to bring these recordings to a wider audience, they can be freely downloaded or streamed online.

We need more public domain digitisation projects like this.

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Fantastic presentation on gaming and story writing from Kim Plowright one the BBC’s producers.

Some excellent commentary and links to videos to illustrate points.

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Mobile Cinema

Australias favourite son of electronic music video art has embraced the mobile revolution producing and repurposing a collection of Severed Heads music videos, along with other special friends, for viewing on PSP, Ipod Video and 3G phones.

Still in beta i think we can look forward to some very intersting stuff here.