It finally happened… Perceptive Media and more specifically Perceptive Radio got a mention on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours today. Now to be fair this isn’t the first time its been mentioned on the BBC but to have futurebroadcasts.com mentioned live on air, should increase the sample size for feedback which is critical for our research into Perceptive Media.
I wrote about the idea of Perceptive Media at a theme park a while ago and frankly theres some equally fun places it could be used.
Every time I go to London and use the Virgin trains, I laugh inside to myself about the Virgin toilet signs. It reads..
“Please don’t flush Nappies, sanitary towels, paper towels, gum, old phones, unpaid bills, junk mail, you’re ex’s sweater, hopes, dreams or goldfish down this toilet.”
In the bigger toilets the sign-age is spoken aloud, and you’re ex’s sweater is swapped with your *friends sweater. Its always gender specific.
My first thought was that it could be randomly done then maybe every other one it cycles? If it was up to me, I would hook it up to the toilet seat. If the seat is down, play the boyfriend version if the seat is up play the girlfriend version? I assume it wouldn’t be noticed by most, but those who did would think it was great!
A little bit of game-play in real life.
Media relies on the ability to engineer peoples emotions. This can sound pretty bad but all media from romantic comedies made for cinema to the old classics from Shakespeare. The effect of media and ultimately storytelling has always fascinated me and I’m sure its the same for most people. Its hardwired in to us as Jason Silva puts it.
The ability to engineer someone’s emotions is interesting from a story point of view. However if you add broadcast, you can do this to a nation or the whole world. But like the 10% of any audience, which are highly suggestible, how do you reach the others?
A 600,000 person study Facebook and Cornell University did a while back but recently came to light might have a clue about how. However there has been a major push-back on the study for ethical reasons.
Facebook’s controversial study that manipulated users’ newsfeeds was not pre-approved by Cornell University’s ethics board, and Facebook may not have had “implied” user permission to conduct the study as researchers previously claimed.
Starting from a different place is Moment.us.(little disclaimer to say I may be working with this Manchester based startup in the near future, but only because their technology is mind blowing)
Moment.us, tracks and follows the users media habits. It watches as you choose songs (bit like scobbling apps like last.fm) when you pick them and records the context of when. Like certain types of song when your going for a ride to work on a sunny day.
Our proprietary algorithm, contextual database, analytics, understanding of and expertise in media, technology and user behaviour. Highly relevant, hyper-personal, socially integrated, context driven mobile experiences for consumers and unrivalled contextual consumer data for commercial organisations.
A while ago we pitched a project loosely called In Tune at the BBC Radio One Connected Studio which we felt was very credible but unfortunately the judges disagreed. Maybe it was the way we pitched it but there was a lot of doubt we had the data to do what we planning to do.
I have seen first hand the data points and been amazed at what patterns of activity our music listening can reveal about ourselves. Imagine what you could do if you were have access to that data and could engineer the music and therefore the experience?
Interestingly Google is getting in on the idea as they recently bought Songza.
This week just passed and I got to say it wasn’t half as bad as it seemed on paper or at least my calendar.
Sheffield documentary festival
I headed across to Sheffield on Sunday to give a talk with Tony Churnside at the Sheffield international documentary festival about Perceptive Media. It very went well and I kind of wished I stayed over so I could keep some of the conversations going and there was plenty else going on which I wanted to check out.
The festival seems to take over the whole city and the weather was great on the Sunday and Wednesday. Wednesday I didn’t talk but rather supported some collages who showed an early preview of the variable length documentary.
Next year I hope we will have a lot more to show, and next year I hope to spend more time at the rest of the festival.
Best of British / Primeconf
This conference which started out on kickstarter and became a real conference arranged by long time friend Thayer Prime. It was a bit of a crazy idea but the result was something worthwhile and maybe the start of something new and interesting.
The speakers were as you can imagine by the title, British speakers.
It really was something special, and it was a joy to be a small part of the whole event.
I gave a shorter version of the dating, lies and algorithms talk I have been wanting to give. So look out it may be back sooner or later as a more involved talk. It went down well although I certainly did take out all the personal stuff and non PG-13 stuff to fit with the code of conduct. Something which sadly later in the day seemed to have got forgotten, with swearing and a questionable slide.
Regardless, I learned a number of things including Priya is behind changify.org (something which we tried to do ages ago in the form of wedreamthecity) and could be helpful with gentrification and communities. Some other stand out presentations include Pete Duncanson, Chris Thorpe, Herb Kim, Dr Tom Crick, Amy Mather and a special mention of Mazz Mosley’s super low budget style of presentation. Love it! Good to finally meet her too.
Is Thayer going to do it again? I certainly think she should… I’m actually thinking Herb and Thayer could create something which is special? The venue was great (Royal Institution, yes the one they do the Royal Christmas lectures from!) and a good turn out.
Both events were well worth effort of attending and speaking at… For such a packed week going to London twice and Sheffield twice, I actually feel ok. Just a shame my treat of going to Thorpe Park wasn’t anything like when going in March/April.
Love this story from Ars Technica, When the restaurant you Googled Googles you back.
The maitre d’ in question, Justin Roller, says he tries to ascertain things like whether a couple is coming to the restaurant for an anniversary, and if so, which anniversary that is. If it’s a birthday, for instance, he wants to wish them “Happy Birthday” when they arrive. He’ll scan for photos of the guests in chef’s whites or posed with wine glasses, which suggest they might be chefs or sommeliers themselves.
It goes deeper: if a particular guest appears to hail from Montana, Roller will try to pair up the table with a server who is from Montana. “Same goes for guests who own jazz clubs, who can be paired with a sommelier that happens to be into jazz,” writes Grub Street.
Ok I can see why people would be freaked out about it. It does remind me when a member of staff in an American dinner, read the full name of my then mother-in-law off her credit card. And then started calling her by her first name. He over stepped the mark…
But on the other hand. If they don’t over step the mark it can be quite nice. FYG use to tweet me quite a bit and the owners use to know quite a bit about me. I didn’t see it as a problem because thats just the kind of person I am. It was kind of nice, although it would have been nicer to know which one of the two owners and 4 possible staff was actually tweeting me.
You will have to take it from me but North Tea Power a coffee shop in the northern quarter. Rocked someones world with a personal message on a sign, from looking at someones twitter stream.
Unfortunately the service which wrote it up is no longer, but I can promise you it was pretty epic and well done. Link now lives here. (cheers Martinrue)
Like most things, theres bad use and theres good uses. Those who identify the good ones will win massive loyal fans, those who don’t and try automate stuff will fail and loose out. Cluetrain rules…
As part of my investigations into Perceptive Media, myself and other colleagues are deconstructing storytelling down to its most logical parts. Part of this is understanding the history of storytelling and other aspects of storytelling which are outside the mainstream consciousness.
In this hour, TED speakers explore the art of storytelling — and how good stories have the power to transform our perceptions of the world.
The one which struck a chord with me was Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk on the dangers of the single story. Chimamanda gives a great example to start.
So I grew up in a small university town in Nigeria, and started reading quite early. And I read a lot of British children’s books, which was not unusual. This was the norm for children like me. And so when I started to write, I was writing exactly those stories. All my characters were white and blue-eyed. They played in the snow, they ate apples, and they talked a lot about the weather – how lovely it was that the sun had come out. Now this, despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria, I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather because there was no need to. My characters also drank a lot of ginger beer, never mind that I had no idea what ginger beer was. And for many years afterwards, I would have a desperate desire to taste ginger beer.
What this demonstrates, I think, is how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children. Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books, by their very nature, had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify.
The power of the story is that powerful. And I conclude listening to her talk and the other TED talks on the show. Mass publishing/broadcasting is partly to blame for this.
Of course in my usual way, I wonder could Perceptive Media could/would make this situation better? I believe so, but how?
In this case, personalisation could be a good thing. Yes the fears of echo chambers and filter bubbles, have to be wary of but on the other hand a well written story is adaptable to almost any culture. Its the inflexibility of the medium which is causing African women to grow up thinking white blue eyed ginger beer drinking kids are part and parcel of the medium. Yes you can point the finger at globalization but its deeper than that. Its inherent to the medium of publishing and broadcasting… in my honest opinion.
If Perceptive Media can remove or even dislodge the dangers of the single story, I would be very happy. As Chimamanda finishes her talk saying…
Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.
I enjoyed Jon Udell’s thoughts on Filter Failure.
The problem isn’t information overload, Clay Shirky famously said, it’s filter failure. Lately, though, I’m more worried about filter success. Increasingly my filters are being defined for me by systems that watch my behavior and suggest More Like This. More things to read, people to follow, songs to hear. These filters do a great job of hiding things that are dissimilar and surprising. But that’s the very definition of information! Formally it’s the one thing that’s not like the others, the one that surprises you.
A filter bubble is a result state in which a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user (such as location, past click behaviour and search history) and, as a result, users become separated from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles. Prime examples are Google‘s personalised search results and Facebook‘s personalised news stream. The term was coined by internet activist Eli Pariser in his book by the same name; according to Pariser, users get less exposure to conflicting viewpoints and are isolated intellectually in their own informational bubble.
The filter bubble is still being heavily debated to if its real or not but the idea of filters which get things wrong to add a level of serendipity sounds good. But I do wonder if people will be happy with a level of fuzziness in the algorithms they become dependable on?
I’m always on the lookout for ways to defeat the filters and see things through lenses other than my own. On Facebook, for example, I stay connected to people with whom I profoundly disagree. As a tourist of other people’s echo chambers I gain perspective on my native echo chamber. Facebook doesn’t discourage this tourism, but it doesn’t actively encourage it either.
The way Jon Udell is defeating the filters, he retains some kind of control. Its a nice way to get a balance, but as someone who only follows 200ish people on Twitter and don’t look at Facebook much, I actively like to remove the noise from my bubble.
As I think back on the evolution of social media I recall a few moments when my filters did “fail” in ways that delivered the kinds of surprises I value. Napster was the first. When you found a tune on Napster you could also explore the library of the person who shared that tune. That person had no idea who I was or what I’d like. By way of a tune we randomly shared in common I found many delightful surprises. I don’t have that experience on Pandora today.
Likewise the early blogosophere. I built my echo chamber there by following people whose lenses on the world complemented mine. For us the common thread was Net tech. But anything could and did appear in the feeds we shared directly with one another. Again there were many delightful surprises.
Oh yes I remember spending hours in Easy Everything internet cafes after work or going out checking out users library’s, not really recognizing the name and listening to see if I liked it. Jon may not admit it but I found the dark net provides some very interesting parallels with this. Looking through what else someone shared can be a real delight when you strike upon something unheard of.
And likewise the blogosphere can lead you down some interesting paths. Take my blog for example, some people read it because of my interest in Technology, but the next post may be something to do with dating or life experience.
I do want some filter failure but I want to be in control of when really… And I think thats the point Jon is getting at…
I want my filters to fail, and I want dials that control the degrees and kinds of failures.
Where that statement leaves the concept of pure Perceptive Media, who knows…? But its certainly something I’ve been considering for a long while.
Reminds me of that old saying… Its not a bug, its a feature…
For the last few Wednesdays I have been watching the Future of StoryTelling hangouts online. I first heard about them from Matt Locke and Frank Rose last year when I gatecrashed a planned hangout with Perceptive Radio.
The Future of StoryTelling speaker Hangout series continues on Wednesday, January 15th, with a discussion about interactive gaming, and how great entertainment can transport you from your daily life and immerse you in another world.
You can watch the whole thing here on youtube. and last weeks with Google creative labs Robert Wong. This weeks Including my question which is based off my noticing, interaction and narrative keeps getting thrown around together when they are quite different things.
The guest this week was Microsoft’s Shannon Loftis, General Manager at Xbox Entertainment Studios. She said a lot of things I agreed with but switching narrative for interactive, paused me to think about the origins of Perceptive Media.
I’m not going to say Games and interactive experiences are not storytelling. I would be very wrong, but what I’m surprised at is Microsoft have this amazing device with cutting edge sensors and they sound like they are doing some perception. But they are only using it for Games? Shannon even talks about the golden age of Television then slides off into Games again.
Anyway there was a question asking about what this all can mean for children. Most of the guests give some answers which I couldn’t disagree with but Charles Melcher (founder of future of storytelling) jumps in with something quite profound.
I clipped it and put it on Archive.org but its something I’ve been thinking about since the early days of perceptive media.
The beauty of media which adapts, responds or as I prefer preconceives the audience and the context. Is it can unfold one way and unfold another way for someone else. Like Charles, I’m dyslexic and sometimes just can’t get my head around learning resources which are written for a majority of people.
I understand why its been that way. The cost of creating multiple versions of a learning resource is going to be a bad idea from a resourcing idea. But that only applies if you build your resources in a solid non-flexible way (like a blob) your going to run into the same problem described. However if you have something more fluid (generative) or object based you can change aspects on the fly.
Simple example, a Book (any book) vs a Ereader (like a Kindle). I’m sure I’ve talked about this before but line lengths is a common issue with people who are dyslexic. We tend to loose what line we’re on for a split second.
I can reshape the lines lengths to make it more readable for myself (thats interactive). An Ereader with sensors could follow my eyes patterns and reshape the line lengths and fonts to give me the best reading experience (now thats perceptive). This all works because the text is digital and therefore an object which can be manipulated.
Back to Charles, a resource which can be manipulated by a person is good but one which can be manipulated by a process of data and sensors is even better (if they are working to aid you). Combining/aggregating resources together gets you to a position where you can weave a story together. I won’t bore you with my campfire == perceptive media equals and this is what humans do thoughts. But I do feel this is the future of storytelling. Charles vision is achievable and its something I’d love to talk to BBC Learning about in more depth.
I’ll be honest and say not only has this one got me writing but I also started writing after hearing Robert Wong talking last week about leadership and inspiring people.
Again and again I hear people ask the question. What is the moon shot?
Usually its related to a project idea, and they are asking for the trajectory target?
Well with the lens on Perceptive Media, which I believe is the future of storytelling. The kinds of storytelling which touches and engages at such a deep level. Canus said life should be lived to the edge of tears (I assume happy & sad).
The moon shot is the lucid dream…
“Immersive works of art or entertainment are increasingly not content to simply produce a new range of sensations. Instead, they often function as portals into “other worlds.” Erik Davis
There is an example of Perceptive Media which I like to use. Its a bit of a messy example because I’m usually trying to avoid spoiling the plot of Vanilla Sky or Open your eyes. I used it at TedXBristol, to explain why perceptive media can be so incredible. Of course there is spoilers below.
I remember when I watched Vanilla Sky for the first time, there was a scene which seemed to give me chills or something like a deja vu. I felt like I knew the scene so well, like I’d been there or seen it before. How is this possible? A film I’ve never seen before and a place I’ve never been before? Well in the film you are led to believe they are using parts of Tom Cruises memory to make him feel comfortable with whats going on.
One such scene is a image from his memory. An image of the Bob Dylan album – Free wheelin.
That image comes from flicking through my fathers LP collection when young. I’m not even sure if he still has it or not but something somewhere in my brain is that image. When I saw that image again build up in a similar way, something triggered my brains pulses to say you have seen this before. I call it a deja vu but I’m not certain what it is. Something pulled that image out of my memory and front and center in my mind.
There is something about Vanilla Sky and ultimately Open your eyes which seems to trigger memories beyond just mine.
Great storyteller can do amazing things.
They craft magic, the surreal and the impossible in our minds through simply words, images or sound. They weave a world which is for a brief moment believable.
Its a little bit of cold reading, great communication skills, excellent storytelling and a number of other things. Perceptive Media enables the great storytellers to do what they do best but on a broadcast sized audience.
Thanks Anna, Phil, etc…
Although doesn’t use the physiological effect I mention in Perceptive Media or even count as Perceptive media. Its pretty cool and somewhat memorizing. Nice…
How ironic that there is an article suggesting we should stop trying to make the TV smart.
From friends on Facebook, it seems clear LG smart TVs are spying on their owners.
I found a rather creepy corporate video advertising their data collection practices to potential advertisers. It’s quite long but a sample of their claims are as follows:LG Smart Ad analyses users favourite programs, online behaviour, search keywords and other information to offer relevant ads to target audiences. For example, LG Smart Ad can feature sharp suits to men, or alluring cosmetics and fragrances to women.Furthermore, LG Smart Ad offers useful and various advertising performance reports. That live broadcasting ads cannot. To accurately identify actual advertising effectiveness.
In fact, there is an option in the system settings called “Collection of watching info:” which is set ON by default. This setting requires the user to scroll down to see it and, unlike most other settings, contains no “balloon help” to describe what it does.
At this point, I decided to do some traffic analysis to see what was being sent. It turns out that viewing information appears to be being sent regardless of whether this option is set to On or Off.
I kind of thought this kind of thing was going to happen. Although LG’s response is frankly shameful. Having a always on LAN connection is just too tempting for these big companies. With my Toshiba smart TV, I had to read a long EULA before I could use the TV, I had a read of most of it and there was some parts about relaying information back to Toshiba. The TV channel viewing I don’t really care too much about because 90% of the time I’m watching XBMC not live TV. What is worrying however is sending the details of a USB or mass storage device’s details.
I made an even more disturbing find within the packet data dumps. I noticed filenames were being posted to LG’s servers and that these filenames were ones stored on my external USB hard drive. To demonstrate this, I created a mock avi file and copied it to a USB stick.
This is out of order and got to be an invasion of privacy…
With that in mind, would you trust them with cameras and microphones?
Bottomline: The TV ecosystem is waiting to be created. But consumer electronics companies won’t be the ones to create it.
This will take more than hardware expertise. It will require a service that controls the consumer device. Most importantly, it will require mutually beneficial relationships and data exchange between the service provider and content providers to enable a new business model for video distribution.
I certainly agree with the first part… consumer electronics don’t get it, and this LG spying story proves this.
Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.
Thanks to Documentally for the picture
Thinking Digital 2013 for me started on Monday with a lovely dinner with a number of other people in Newcastle. I find its always worth booking in and getting to Newcastle/Gateshead a day early so your not flapping around and carrying luggage. But this time I specially need the time to make sure Perceptive Radio was fine. Anyway at the dinner I met quite a few people including Aral, Aza and others.
The next day I spent most of the morning making sure Perceptive Media was working as it should. Surprisingly it everything worked as it should and brushed up on my presentation before heading to the Thinking Digital workshop Harnessing the power of story
Great leaders beginning with the Alexander the Great, have long known the emotional power of story in helping engage people behind a cause or a company. Today more than ever in our chaotic world of information overload, facts are not enough. We want something that’s meaningful, a message that is compelling and memorable. Similarly, understanding our own story helps us to relate to others and the world around us, to understand how we can contribute and what drives us beyond a paycheque.
The course was fully booked and seemed to be filling up with even more people.
Mari talked about the hero’s journey in some depth and at the end split the group up into 3. Those wanting to exploit stories in presentations, those who wanted to use stories to get a better grip of there careers anwent for the d those wanting to better their lives. I originally signed up for the first and through the process of the hero’s story decided actually I’d like to see how this could help my career but by the decision point decided actually I’ll see what if anything this could do for my life.
I found the whole thing really interesting but the details I’m not going to reveal in my blog sorry… There was something very strange about the instructor. She seemed to know everything about me, I couldn’t work it out. Had she gleamed all this from our brief chat on the phone and by googling me? If so I’ve been far too public
Later it turns out that I did know her but hadn’t recognised her till she wore her glasses… I say this because it slightly freaked me out. But only slightly… By Wednesday I was running on adrenaline and you needed to be for the 7am start.
I love Thinking digital except this time I missed most of Wednesday preparing for my time on stage with manager Adrian. If it was just 5min talk it would be fine but doing a couple of workshops in lunch with something your not certain will work as expected was scary.
You know how they say don’t work with young children or animals? Can I add robots and machines to the mix. The biggest problem I had was the wifi which required you to press I accept to get online. How do you do this on a device which has no screen at all? On top of that each client was isolated on the network, so you couldn’t ssh, rdp, vnc, or anything into another machine. This made setting up the radio for the environment very tricky (to be honest I was tearing my hair out by 9:30pm)
Anyway I solved the problem and I decided the wifi leases were maybe long enough to allow me to take the radio offline. So I did and during the talk on stage I did the grand reveal of the perceptive radio. After the grand reveal and Adrian finishing up, I didn’t have the heart to grab it in the middle of Maggie Philbins talk, so shes got it on the counter while she talks about Tomorrows World. Ironic don’t you see…
After the talks, I took the Radio downstairs for the public demos. There were only meant to be 2 but due to demand we stretched it to 3. Anyway I can happily say they all went extremely well, with me showing some of the basic functionality and of course playing the whole Breaking Out play. Questions were well received and lots were new to do with the radio. Just enough adrenaline to do an audioboo with Documentally.
I won’t lie, once my commitments were fore-filled and alittlebit had gotten me a very lunch (bless her motherhen reactions), I crashed as the last of the adrenaline left my body. The live lounge was my paradise for the next 20mins (dark with a projection of what was happening next door) while I caught up with some nap time. Kate assure me I wasn’t making a sound, so thats great. That power nap really did something to me and I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference.