Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The internet as an operating platform

Web 2.0 claims that instead of comptuer-based operating platforms, new modes of computing and communciation will see the itnernet istelf becoming our platforms of choice are fast becoming a now thing. The latest signpost is a veritable avalanche of online voice-recording, archiving, and sending/mailing functions that are just begging to be played with. These include:

(via Techcrunch)

Now you'll be able to access "Notes to self" from anywhere in the world you get get online.

Well that's just damn interesting...

Dave Winer pointed to a damn interesting blog today that lived up to its name, and then some. Go read it for yourself and see what we mean!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A new breed of readers: beta readers

Online narrative writing practices, especially those associated with fanfic writing have spawned a reading and peer editing process generally referred to as 'beta reading'. Basically, the process involves the author posting a narrative, or a chapter from a more extended narrative, to a relatively private public space like a blog before publishing it in a wider or more formal venue, including as meatspace novels, and asks for reader feedback on work done so far (e.g., the novel, Four and Twenty Blackbirds was written this way). [Edit: This has nothing to do with Diane Duane's latest book describe below--I got it wrong--but the beta reader phenomenon is nonetheless interesting, and we'll follow up at some later stage about this pactice].

Diane Duane, a writer of young adult fiction, is posting online installments of her latest novel, Feline Wizards 3: The Big Meow for readers to review and provide feedback on [For more on the process, see Diane's gracious explanation in the comments section]. Her approach is distinctive in that readers can subscribe to the book itself, and receive new installments before the general public does, and then also receive a copy of the published book when it's done. Duane's approach is a sign of the times, too. She had been contracted to write a trilogy, but the publisher cited poor book sales as the reason for not going ahead with the third and final book, despite fan letters asking for the trilogy to be completed. So after using her blog to poll fans of her Feline Wizards Books 1 and 2, Duane decided to go ahead and publish the book herself, using 'publish on demand' methods. This might well herald a significant sea-change for book publishers in terms of people making more and more use of DIY approaches to publishing that are driven principally by interest and having a story to tell, rather than by profits and sales figures (via BoingBoing).

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cyclone Larry and DIY reporting

Here's some stunningly fierce photos and a video clip from eyewitnesses to the effects of Cyclone Larry in Cairns, Australia. The video brought back all sorts of fearful childhood memories for me to do with hearing the cyclone warning siren on the telly for a number of summers while we were living just north of Brisbane. Today I learned it's a chilling sound at any age.

Although the News.com.au website is part of Rupert Murdoch's news conglomerate, it's one of the few commerical news sites that actively encourages citizen journalism.

We have seen the future, and its name is "Spore"

Everybody's talking about "Spore," a new video game about to be released by Maxis/Electronic Arts and hailed as taking gaming to a whole new level. And it's easy to see why (video, 36 min). A key feature of the game is what the developers refer to as 'procedural language' used within the game's programming architecture that enables users to create their own spores through to highly evolved creatures by tweaking different components, but in keeping within the universe parameters set by the indoskeleton or exoskeleton, mobility functions of different body components in relation with other components, defence and attack features selected for the animal etc. The connection between creature component, shape, ambulation, food, etc. and how that animal behaves in a given environment (from the microscopic to oceanic to lush forest terrains) is mesmerising and certainly beats cause-and-effect flowcharts kids do in science and social studies hands down!! Each 'game' lasts the lifetime of the creature created by the player, and includes mating, procreating, forgaging or hunting for food (depdneing on whether the creature is carnivorous or herbiferous etc.), and tweaking offspring to produce different kinds of creatures etc. (via Phil Jones). We're not doing the complexity of the game justice here in our summary of it. Watch the video. Get the game. It'll forever change how you think about gaming.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Feel-good remixes

We wouldn't call it an epidemic -- yet -- but there's definitely a rash of feel-good movie trailer remixes of horror and gore-fest films going around. It's clearly all about point of view, folks!

And, on the flip side, feel-good movies remixed as horror flick trailers (heh heh heh).

See P.S.260 for more.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bottle Cove via Google Maps

Well, everyone is talking up Google Maps and I must admit, if you live in the US, then the detail is mind-blowing (I could even see my garage where I park my car when in New Jersey!). But for Mexico and Newfoundland, things aren't as exact or detailed. Interesting, kinda. Cool point of view stuff, defintiely.

Anyway, the very round, small cove you can see in this satellite image (on the left-hand side of the isthmus) is Bottle Cove, where our bit of beach land is. Make sure you read the text in the left-hand column, too. Poor ol' Newfoundland!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

And for those periods of anti-sociality

Do you ever get into those places where something like this seems like one of the things you most need?

The FAQs are pretty good too.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Lego modding

I just love, love love Lego mods and this one's currently my favourite: Huitzilopochtli, ancient god of war, adopted by the Aztecs when they arrived in the area where a lot of Mexico City now stands (I believe this particular god originally belonged to the Teotihuacanis -- those folk of giant pyramid fame who were well established not far from where the Aztecs set up their beautiful and elaborate city, but who were also long gone before the Aztecs arrived). (via Ponchorama!!)

And the winners are...

This year's Bloggies were announced today -- and, just like the Oscars, there were some surprise wins among the crowd this year. Here's the round-up for the winners --- go check out the runners-up as well because it was a very strong showing this year and the Bloggie categories are much more diverse and interesting than in the past.

Best Australian or New Zealand blog
Looby Loo (Not exactly my cup of tea, but a nice blog about everyday life as a mother and professional designer to be sure).

Best Asian blog
Tokyo Girl (an engaging expat blog)

Best African of Middle Eastern blog
Baghdad Burning (a well-deserved win for a grity, often raw, and and always politically savvy account of the occupation of Iraq)

Best European blog
My Boyfriend is a Twat (boy, is this chick funny! And her boyfriend clearly has the patience of a saint.... (grin)

Best British or Irish blog (I'm not quite sure why neither Britain nor Ireland is considered part of 'Europe'. Maybe the categories are currency based... Maybe the Europeans devised the categories.... who knows?)
Girl With a One Track Mind (is on my list of things to read)

Best Latin American blog
Cooking Diva (I voted for Ponchorama!! -- must go and revisit Cooking Diva)

Best Canadian blog
Photojunkie (Hooray! Although, this should've won the picture blogging category and Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century shoulda won this category)

Best American blog
PostSecret (Oh hooray! Kudos all over the place for Frank @ PostSecret; such a cool, cool forum for posting, well... secrets. Reading the secrets sometimes makes me cry, or laugh out loud. Or both at the same time)

Best Tagline
Joshua Ink: 'More love than a bus full of hippies' (No comment needed here--it's just perfect).

Best Podcast of a blog (I believe this category could also be referred to as a 'plog', but saying 'plog' simply sounds like you have a really bad sinus infection, so I'm glad they left it at the rather unwieldy but easier to pronounce without sounding infectious in a bad way, 'Best podcast of a blog')
The Movie Blog (on my list of things to do)

Best Photography of a blog (and here I thought it was pictures of blogs, not pictures in blogs...)
Flickr (deserves to win all sorts of prizes and large shiny trophies)

Best Craft blog
Make: Blog (swoon; if I believed in reincarnation, I would use my remaining years focussing on being reincarnated as a writer for Make; either for the magazine itself, or for the blog. I'm not fussy with my reincarnation particulars)

Best Cooking blog
Vegan Lunch Box (I actually remember the days when I woulda devoured this blog on a daily basis!)

Best Entertainment blog
Go Fug Yourself (Ahh--all is right with the world when one of my favourite blogs walks off with a first prize! 'And', coo U.S.-based Heather and Jessica on their blog, 'We couldn't be more excited about our wins [they also scored first in 'best writing' category] if we had walked away with Best New Zealand Blog, in what would surely have been the biggest upset win in Bloggie history.').

Best weblog about Politics
Wonkette (not nearly global enough in scope for my liking)

Best Gay/Lesbian/Bi-Sexual/Transgendered blog
Queerty (Even it's name is fab!)

Best Teen blog (The 'teen' reference still cracks me up!)
It's Raining Noodles (A bunch of really marvellous writing on this blog)

Most Humorous blog
Overheard in New York (and here I thought Fark was a shoe in for this category!)

Best Writing of a weblog
Go Fug Yourself (Yes! Heather and Jessica are indeed viciously funny to the extreme)

Best Group blog
BoingBoing (No surprise here, and still my first blog stop every morning)

Best Community blog
PostSecret (Nice--a community of deliberately anonymous participants!)

Best designed weblog
Joshua Ink ( I was so hoping he would turn out to be a tattoo artist...)

Best-Kept-Secret blog (I'm not exactly sure how one would go about nominating a blog and then voting in this category)
Need Coffee (No longer all that secret...)

Blog of the Year
PostSecret (and there's even a book out now showcasing the postcards! Must.get.it.).

There are a few sundry other prizes--BoingBoing won a richly deserved Lifetime Achievement award, Blogger won a blog-service related prize and a few others like that. Head on over to the Bloggies site itself and lose a few hours doing happy-inducing things.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Help Sought

One of the things we are working on at present is to generate some activities to include in the new edition of New Literacies. An obvious candidate here is to invite readers to think of bad examples of uses of new technologies, and to explain why they are bad and why they would never do them.

So, for the chapter dealing with wireless applications in learning we have the fabled example of teachers being encouraged to take up wireless palmtop computers to use for keeping the roll. The class list is on the palm and the palm is wireless networked to Commandante HQ. It's so easy and efficient. You just put a mark in the box beside the names of those who are there (or not) -- and the stylus is excellent for this. Then just ping it down the wire. Job done, everyone has the information. Given a good wireless network it will work in the playground too, for those occasions when you see kids skiving off.

We had liked that one a lot until it got topped by a beauty from Texas. We are talking the Texas of No Child Left Standing here, rather more than the Texas of "Texas Instrucments" -- although that demarcation line may be disappeariing.

So, an academic in a northern state posts a request to a listserv: "I am looking for suggestions for software related to Literacy that can be used on PDAs. Any help is greatly appreciated." In no time at all the first response comes in: "In Houston, teachers use a Palm for the administration of Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI) and its Spanish counterpart Tejas LEE. The software comes from Wireless Generation (www.wgen.net)."

No, we didn't forget to make the link 'live'

Now, we know there are scores of other examples out there. All donations greatly appreciated.

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