All entries for July 2008

July 29, 2008

Monkey post

D’oh – after two days of waiting for the BBC to send me a confirmation email for the blog, I gave up and tried again. To be fair I probably missed the email in amongst all the spam. The reason I wanted to sign up? To comment on their Monkey trailer for the Olympics. The post’s now at 285 though, rather than near the top, so I doubt anyone will read it. So I’ll put it here instead.


What a disappointment! When I saw the animation I thought “Excellent. Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn’s opera was ripe for adaptation, and now someone’s going to do it.” I sat through really loving the way it had blended Western and Eastern animation styles and music – and then confusingly they end up at an olympic stadium. Then I realised – this is just a trailer for that ultimate snorefest – the olympics.

It seems even more of an insult to all the fans of Monkey (remember how many times it got ditched for yet another snooker tournament) and Jamie Hewlett (Deadline came and went with no mention from the BBC) to have our cultural icons appropriated in this way, just because they’re finally “credible” due to the Opera.

I think we’re owed a TV series. Maybe you could divert some of the money spent drearily covering all those people playing around in China to give us something a bit more enduring – and a lot more fun.

Just to prove my point about more enduring. Monkey the TV series was made in 1978 and still sells on DVD. Most of the people my age can recite the introduction. “In the time before Monkey primal chaos reigned. ” and so on. Can you remember anything about the 1980 Olympics – apart from the US boycott?

July 28, 2008

cuil v google

Just autocuiled and autogoogled to test out the new search engine.

Here’s the results

Cuil – first 22 hits – I was at number 1, 3, 4, 18,

Bizarrely my picture appears next to hits that are nothing to do with me, and other people’s pics appear next to my hits. I think that works worst for the others than for me. At 21 is some website called spoke that is selling access to another Mark Childs through their online business directory, and there’s a picture of me grinning like a loon handing over some cheque at a conference.

Incidentally the Mark Childs who has been accused of a burglary spree in Roseville is not me. I was never there officer.

Google first 20 hits – I was at 1,2,3,4,7, 15,16,20 with no confusing photos associated with the hits (and no references to burglaries). And a nice array of pictures on the image search.

All in all about 8 – 2 to Google. Cuil not so cool then.

maybe it's a breakthrough

Here’s a sign that I’m on the right track. Adapting the thesis to fit the new model has meant me losing about 1000 words, without losing any meaning to what I’m writing, in fact I think it’s clearer. That’s got to be a good sign.

Although the vertices aren’t the same distance apart. That would be impossible since a lot of the triangles are right-angled. Which explains why my 3d model in second life looks very wrong – I was adding identical tetrahedrons to the central tetrahedron and trying to make a cube that way. What a waste of an hour.

July 27, 2008

Breakthrough or BS?

The basis of my PhD is a structural framework to synthesise all the various bits of literature I’ve come across (I’ve been using stuff from all over the place – computer-mediated communication, robotics, theatre studies, serious gaming, anthropology, psychology, sociology and education) and bit by bit put the separate things into categories, mediated presence, identity, learning activities, characteristics of the environment, characteristics of the learner and errm that’s it.

What I didn’t have was an overview of how these might interact with each other. And then I discovered activity theory. Or rather a colleague lent me a paper on it, since I’d mentioned I’d had it explained to me and not understood it. This one made it clear to me (I think I’d thought it was more complicated than it was). Most of the categories I’d got mapped to the categories in activity theory, but I was missing two – the community (although I’d been aware that that was missing from the model) and the division of roles and effort (guess I’ve not read enough Marx).

Two categories left over were the idea of mediated presence, the way different forms of presence are constructed within a mediated environment, and identity, since identity can be formed and reformed within a mediated environment (at the drag of a mouse it seems).

Activity theory is represented as a set of six points forming four triangles on a plane like this:

adding a point above and below forms two tetrahedra with points on like this mermatv1

Not cool though, since it emphasises one point over another. What you’ve got in essence though is a tetrahedron with a tetrahedron stuck to each face. Moving the vertices around so that they’re the same distance apart creates this:

MERMAT with diagonal connections

Which is actually nothing more complicated than a cube. Now does that like it could be useful or have I just lost the plot with all these diagrams?

July 17, 2008

Lively seems a bit deadly

Just gave Lively another go. It’s been touted as another rival to the immersive virtual worlds out there, but frankly I can’t see it. The load time is incredibly long – and there is very little choice as far as avatar looks are concerned – perhaps they want to shorten the period between taking your first look and deciding to hand over some dosh to make yourself a bit more individuated. But that’s a policy that will backfire if people get bored before they get hooked, which they will.

Other things that seem very weird. People just stand around, or sit around doing nothing. You occasionally get a bit of chat (usually moronic – not the platform’s fault but maybe it’s just not encouraging people to interact more deeply). I got a “hellooooooo” and a “do any girls in here have webcams”. Deeply sad (and that’s from someone who spent around 12 hours in SL over the last weekend.

In order to move your av you have to click on it – it then zips all over the place – there seems to be no weight to anything, or resistance. Environmental kinesics is the key to making these things feel right. I read that in this month’s Xbox magazine so it must be true.

But the weirdest thing is that all of the arrows move the camera in the opposite direction, hit the right arrow key and the camera moves to the left, hit the forward key and it moves backward. Who would design something that works back-to-front – unless theyre having a laugh at our expense.

Still one good thing is that it shows that Google arent as smart as they think they are. Good! All these billionaires in their twenties were making me feel inadequate.

Talking of inadequacy – just time to get to that beach party in SL ….

July 2008

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