The dream has become their reality

Inception Mombasa

Imran posted a link to me from Wired magazine around Lucid Dreaming.

I had a good old read and found it very interesting and similar to how I’ve understood the current state of lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreaming has been slowly gaining prominence in recent years. The release of Christopher Nolan’s 2010 science-fiction blockbuster Inception— in which corporate spies sneak into their marks’ dreams to steal their secrets and implant bad ideas — was a landmark moment. (The spies use a top as a tool for reality tests; if it spins indefinitely, then they know they are in the dream state; if it falls, they are awake.) Nolan said that the film was inspired by his own experience of lucid dreaming and that its ambiguous ending—the camera lingers on a spinning top, leaving viewers to wonder whether or not it will fall—should be taken to mean that “perhaps all levels of reality are valid.” Google searches for “lucid dreaming” spiked around the movie’s release and have never returned to pre-2010 levels. And the internet, of course, has helped. A constantly updated Lucid Dreaming forum on Reddit has accumulated more than 190,000 subscribers.

Later in the piece there is some rough and ready double blind experiments with Galantamine in the equivalent Inception’s Mombasa dream den.

The workshops have also provided him with a way to move his own research ahead. They have given him access to a group of people who are willing to participate in his studies, even if they aren’t certified by a lab.

Eames: They come here every day to sleep?

Elderly Bald Man: [towards Cobb] No. They come to be woken up. The dream has become their reality. Who are you to say otherwise?

Extending REM has been a dream (pun intended) for many and Galantamine might be a step towards this. Its been mentioned on a few blogs and forums I’ve seen but never really looked into it. Any notion of a drug to extend this is worrying for me personally but like microdosing each to their own I guess.

Galantamine is not a magic bullet, though; it can trigger nasty side effects like headaches, nausea, and insomnia. And it can work too well—cautionary tales of galantamine-induced nightmares can be found alongside success stories. “It felt like my brain was being drawn and quartered,” one lucid dreamer wrote. “I kept falling back asleep into these bizarre dreams that I can only describe as my head being scraped against the bottom of a submerged iceberg.” “It felt like I was falling through my bed and all these loud screeching sounds and vibrations started happening,” testified another. “It was so scary and I felt paralyzed.”

The wired piece centres around Galantamine and the study of it on Lucid dreaming. The study to date is questionable, but like the quantified self community, its good to see someone trying something. Although I personally would have declared something under competing interests, as Stephen LaBerge did setup the Lucidity Institute.

Regardless its all very interesting and thanks to Imran for the post…

The realm of third-party trackers on Android

Luman android root cert

I was excited to learn about Lumen Privacy Monitor, as I’ve always wondered about the apps I have installed even when I have restricted the permissions wanted from the installed app.

New research co-authored by Mozilla Fellow Rishab Nithyanand explores just this: The opaque realm of third-party trackers and what they know about us. The research is titled “Apps, Trackers, Privacy, and Regulators: A Global Study of the Mobile Tracking Ecosystem,” and is authored by researchers at Stony Brook University, Data & Society, IMDEA Networks, ICSI, Princeton University, Corelight, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“This is the start of a long project to uncover all the hidden data collection and data dissemination practices on the internet,” Nithyanand explains.

“There’s a huge lack of transparency around how mobile applications behave,” adds Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez, a co-author and researcher at ICSI. “People install software, but don’t know what that software is doing.”

The paper’s introduction lays out a troubling scenario: “Third-party services inherit the set of application permissions requested by the host app, allowing them access to a wealth of valuable user data, often beyond what they need to provide the expected service.”

To study this scenario, the researchers used Lumen Privacy Monitor, an Android app they built themselves over a two-year period.

So I installed it just to see what was going on with my Android devices. But there is a problem… Best summed up in this comment from Wcat.

Not open source? TLS interception? Before you install this stop and think about TLS interception. “Those who would trade privacy for security deserve neither.”

Luman asks for permissions to install its own root certificate, and this deeply worries me. TLS inception isn’t a trivial thing to be honest, I know its needed but it had me questioning how I really want to monitor the apps? Also if I remove the app, will the certificate be removed too/how would I know?

Right now, I’m keeping an eye on the app but haven’t installed the root cert yet.

Inception, distraction and the war for your attention

Inception

Its been hard keeping on track and not being sucked into all the other things around me. Of course the biggest thing has been the Manchester arena bombing which was shocking and of course ever so sad (especially for those involved or lost their lives to this mindless act of violence). But generally the amount of noise/static, peer/social pressure and people telling you to pay attention to their thing is pretty bad.

Of course this also has a massive bearing on the happiness and wellbeing of people too (feel like I should have been writing this a few weeks ago during mental health awareness week). I’ve watched how colleagues & friends have struggled not to stay distraction free from stuff others have pushed their way. I have offered to help and sometimes suggested removing certain apps or changing certain settings. Sometimes its been useful, sometimes its worked for a short while but theres not the motivation or drive to follow it through.

I totally understand why… heck we’re all human!

It’s not easy, heck there’s a whole industry setup to shift your attention/reality into their world. Some of it is the bubble where you are like Silicon Valley, but also the systems/pressures around us as summed up so well by Tristan Harris and Sherry Turkle. It’s really dark patterns stuff but it’s so ubiquitous we don’t question them. It’s like a friend who messaged me and asked if I was in a place because she couldn’t see me on Whatsapp, or the notion that if it’s not on Spotify it can’t/doesn’t exist. Someone seemed a little puzzled when I mentioned Spotify doesn’t have most music (crazy but true)! Or even when I decided I wasn’t going to do the icebucket challenge.

yoga

Once the mind is bought into the system and ultimately their opinionated world, its extremely difficult to leave it. (The book – The confidence game, I’m currently reading which is about cons actually has a bit to say about this all)

Magic Trick

I would actually go as far as to say for all the difficulty of stringing together system and services yourself (like free software/open source/decentralised/federated systems). Its forces you to come up with your own world narrative and thoughts; and I’m very sure independent thinking is critical for wellness, health, self-confidence, resiliency and character!

Its slightly ironic only 9 days ago I was in Sarah Raad’s Gratitude Habit workshop during Thinking Digital Newcastle. I’ve been practicing my gratitudes most days including the Monday night of the Manchester arena bombing. Even been thinking of Tweeting them or Tooing them via Mastodon, because most are not secret or really private. I also want to establish that having a gratitude about places which are not full of nature, noisy and busy is as valid as the typical stuff you imagine when you talk about wellness and health.

yoga sunset

Its the point of independent thought. I’m sure Sarah would say deep down underneath most of this will be common human traits or those of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

La Défense, Paris

I guess the point I’m trying to make is… develop your own mindset and don’t be directed into someone elses. Yes it will be difficult but ever so rewarding in the long run.

Optogenetics the real inception?

Limitless s1ep13

Talking about Limitless from the previous blog, I found Limitless season 1 ep 13 interesting in relation to Inception.

Spoiler alert…!
If you have not seen this episode and interested in watching it, spoiler free. Do not read anymore…

You have been warned…

In limitless s1ep13: Stop Me Before I Hug Again

Brian embarks on his first FBI field assignment when he travels to Quantico to lend his skills to the bureau unit that catches serial killers. However, the trip takes a negative turn when Brian realizes the man he’s working with may have put away an innocent person in the career-making case that made him a renowned profiler. Also, Brian tries to stay one step ahead of Rebecca as she comes closer to discovering Senator Morra’s connection to NZT.

At the end he finds out people are being engineered into commiting murder by optogenetics. At some point I’m sure Brian even suggests this sounds like Inception.

Optogenetics — a radical new technology for controlling brain activity with light. Not as new you may think, by the way.

Its very interesting to think about and conjures up many visions and thoughts including the end of mind alternating drugs? However…

What works in mice and monkeys may not work in humans. There are also open questions regarding immune reactions, how deeply light spreads through brain tissue, and how well opsins will work over time. Optogenetics-derived therapies are far off, and will have to not only face the hurdle of FDA approval, but also prove superior to current treatments like deep brain stimulation.

Wait till the black market gets a hold of this… (this is sounds much closer to inception)

 

Inception as a TV programme?

Film references

Following the success of Limitless the TV series, maybe its time for Inception the TV series? I mean its been talked about in many circles, heck there was the motion comic, and even REM which became Awake.

Jonathan Nolan has been behind Person of Interest for quite some time, and even helped out Christopher Nolan (brother) and creator of Inception.

They say TV is the new Cinema, well maybe its time? Christopher? Chris please?

Inception as a TV series?

inception the cobol job

Myself and Chris were talking about a number of things at breakfast in Vivid Lounge as we do. We got talking about the Marvel and DC universe and the state of cinema and TV media.

I mentioned, TV is the new cinema.

Forget what you’ve read about cinema’s dominance over the small screen. Television has plenty to teach the movies about characterisation, storytelling and breaking new talent.

And the differences and experience between Cloud Atlas and Sense 8 for the Wachowskis. TV allows for build up and character building cinema can only dream about. This is especially good when thinking about universes such as the Marvel one.

Chris said he would love to see inception as a TV series? I obviously am in total agreement.

This isn’t anything new but it certainly got me thinking about other films which could be better told in a TV series and heck a game/experience?

It strikes me that any film with plot device like eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, chronicle, etc… could work. Similar to person of interest, where small things happen every episode but theres a over arching plot leading to something much bigger.

An ex-assassin and a wealthy programmer save lives via a surveillance AI that sends them the identities of civilians involved in impending crimes. However, the details of the crimes–including the civilians’ roles–are left a mystery.

I mention person of interest because the director is Jonathan Nolan, who is Christopher ‘Inception’ Nolan’s younger brother.  Who knows maybe a Inception TV series isn’t as far fetched as first thought?

Inception is a metaphor for cinema?

Abandoned Cinema

…One of the coolest ideas behind the film “Inception” is that the entire film was widely reported on the internet to be a metaphor for cinema. Cinema creates an artificial dream world and invites the audience into that dream that we then fill with our subconscious. We already have dream sharing technology. It’s called cinema.I am a story junkie and I am immersion junkie.

The dream is real…? Now that makes sense…

I had never heard this but then again at the build up of Inception, I was kinda of busy. Mind blown!

This was taken from a interview with Jason Silva. It really got me thinking while reading it on my kindle today. I specially love this reply to Why are you so fascinated about what happens to our brains when we watch movies?

Diana Slattery writes that Immersion is a “necessary precursor for any kind of interpersonal persuasion or transformation to occur”..  Janet Murray writes that we “long to be immersed” and that we “actively metabolize belief in story”… because we are effectively narrative beings.

I’m fascinated by the liminal spaces we enter when we are absorbed by cinema: that magical borderland between dreams and reality, the space of archetype, of myth, of madness and ecstasy, the landscape of the imagination, freed from the constraints of time/space/ distance.
Cinema is the realm of subjectivity. The only technology that allows us to enter the mind of another.  Cinema is cartography for the mind.   As Gene Youngblood wrote: “cinema reflects mankind’s historical drive to manifest his consciousness outside of his mind in front of his eyes”
Love it… We long to be immersed, we have always wanted to manifest our consciousness for others to be immersed in…

Who’s dream are we in, Mr Charles

Film references in small cartoons about glasses of water

I don’t know who originally wrote the one on the left but I saw George Takei tweet about it from Josh’s Retweet. Instantly got me thinking about inception (specially since I recently watched it again).

Such a great film and love the scene about Mr Charles. Originally I was going to put “my first thought is: wheres mr charles?” but decided it was too insider baseball. So I must be dreaming won out over mr charles and who’s dream am I in?

Only after watching it the 40+ time did I notice there is no opening credits for Inception

More Fan Art on everything

My plans to slowly replace all the movie posters in my flat has been slow, but here is two more to the collection…

I’ve grown tired of the movie posters. There always too brash in my mind or don’t include the parts which are movie defining.

I got the idea a while ago to blow up Fan Art using Rasterbator and then replace my crappy movie posters with them. It might seem slightly cheeky but if I’m not replacing any of the attribution and I’ll happily point to where I got the art. I know Deviantart do sell poster sizes of some of the art but I quite like the rugged non-descript way Rasterbator makes Fan art.

That iconic first scene from the Dark Knight. Although I was looking at this one too for a while.

A different way of looking at Inception… Another great scene from a film I love, when Arthur leans in for a kiss on Ariadne.

Ariadne: What’s happening?
Arthur: Your subconscious is looking for the dreamer; me. Quick, give me a kiss.
Ariadne: [She kisses him and then looks around]
Ariadne: They’re still looking at us.
Arthur: Yeah, it was worth a shot.

Got to do one for Donnie Darko, Fight Club and Cloud Atlas.

Fan Art on everything…

I love movies and decided a long time ago to hang them in my living room instead of the usual pictures.

However recently I’ve grown tired of the movie posters. There always too brash in my mind or don’t include the parts which are movie defining.

I got the idea a while ago to blow up Fan Art using Rasterbator and then replace my crappy movie posters with them. It might seem slightly cheeky but if I’m not replacing any of the attribution and I’ll happily point to where I got the art. I know Deviantart do sell poster sizes of some of the art but I quite like the rugged non-descript way Rasterbator makes Fan art.

So for my first piece I did one for Inception…

I used PosteRazor which is one of the most ugly linux apps I’ve ever used (but it does the job) and created a A2 sized poster out of some excellent Fan Art. Then bought an Ikea frame.

The result is…

Inception poster

And this is only the start… Not bad for the first attempt, although the line up isn’t right and I’m not so happy with the framing…

Certainly like the idea of changing the art around every once in a while too

The Batman Complex

If only… But what a amazing piece of work by a fan.

And so, as promised, this is the follow up to the teaser. Here we have a full length (well, a bit longer than the norm, but hey, what can you do…hahaha) theatrical trailer that delves a little deeper into the story behind The Batman Complex. As explained in the teaser, the gist of the idea revolves around a few fun topics, mainly the whole “what is real?” train of thought, and also every fans desire, deep down or upfront, to be Batman at least once in their lives. LOL. And so, I tried to craft a story where we see what happens when someone takes their dream of being Batman a little bit too far. An idea, after all, is a truly resilient parasite. 😉

While some of it is still left a bit ambiguous (both unintentionally and intentionally – while there’s only so much that can be strung together, I often like to leave a little bit open so as to see what fellow fans are able to imagine/create), I believe it offers a bit more than the teaser. As you might be able to tell, the theatrical trailer takes on less of a “horror” vibe than the teaser. For this extended look, I wanted to focus more on the character aspects (and a bit of the tragedy as well), and attempt to move past the initial shock of the psychological twist. One aspect I tried to hint at was the paralleling descent of both Bruce and Cobb. As Cobb and the team go deeper into Bruce’s mind, they start to encounter the truly dark issues that his subconscious houses. As a result, Cobb himself gets caught up in the obsession of all that lingers in the mind of a Batman. There are a couple fun things in there that are best left to surprise, but all in all, I’m relatively happy with how it turned out. It’s fairly fast paced and doesn’t leave much room to breath, which helps amplify the tension I think. But that’s just me. I hope it works just as well as the teaser did.

As for the future of the project, I’m not sure what’s next. I don’t think I’ll do a second theatrical trailer. Maybe a couple of TV spots, but other than that, I think I’ll let this one remain as it is. We’ll see. Perhaps I’ll be further inspired by some other ideas that’ll come to me in a dream… 😉

Hollywood is loving the apps

Inception the App

I had multiple people tell me about the Inception App on Apple iOS devices. I think its interesting but not good enough to make me want to rush out and buy a apple device.

Interestingly, Michael Breidenbrücker is one of the guys behind the app. I know Michael from my course at Ravensbourne where he co-founded Last.FM and decided to go off and develop that away from the fingers of the college. Recently… he’s been focusing on RJDJ which is a music generation tool.

Anyway, the idea of Augmented sound isn’t new but its so so interesting. The rest of the app is well a little bit of a wet squid in my view but hey you can’t have it all. The app is pretty expensive but you do get a copy of the film tied to the app. There is a question in my mind if buying the app for 10 pounds and getting the ability to tweet and like sections is actually worth it.

Ether way, you can see Hollywood jumping into the app market in a big way in 2011. Warner brothers already have a Dark knight app too, while the Unstopable app is Fox’s work and runs on Android (the largest platform now).

I do find it intriguing that Inception isn’t available on Android, I wonder if the lack of content protection mechanism (or plainly put DRM) might be the problem for Warner Brothers? No problem for Fox or even Sony though…

Films you should have seen last year

Inception

I seriously don’t get it. There is no doubt Inception was one of the high lights of last year but the golden globes seemed to skip over inception.

Anyway, this is my list of films you should have seen (or look out for in 2011) in 2010,

  • Inception
    Need I say more?
  • The Social Network
    Didn’t really want to like it, but after seeing it I really liked it. Its certainly one of the best internet/tech to movie translations I’ve witnessed. The tone is just right throughout.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs the world
    This film is simply nuts. A whirlwind of modern film techniques wrapped up in a fantastic coming of age plot with like-able multi faceted characters.
  • Cash
    Simple plot with devastating results. A very heart felt to the characters who end up on the wrong side of this psychopath.
  • Takers
    Stylish heist movie in the vein of Inside man and Lucky number Sleven. Reminds me of Guy Richie’s Revolver crossed with Heat. Tasty stuff.
  • Catfish
    What on earth is going on with this movie? All I can say is its intriguing true or false.
  • Exit through the gift shop
    Like Catfish, a documentary style which could be true or false, don’t really care its just a intriguing tale.
  • Freakonomics: The Movie
    The film based on a few chapters from the famous and popular Freakonomics book. Well worth watching as a introduction to the books.
  • Flipped
    2 children growing up together and learning from each other how life can or should be. Each bit is told from each point of view which makes for a interesting story.
  • Monsters
    Imagine Cloverfield happened 5 years ago, Monsters is what would the future be like after a alien invasion. It is like District 9 in scenario but this is a very slow burning storyline which will lose lots of people expecting more
  • 4,3,2,1
    4 girls different storylines which over lap in places. Noel Clarke has once again outdone himself with this stylish and sometimes quite gritty drama
  • 127 hours
    I wanted to put in both 127hours and buried. But choose 127 hours because although there quite similar, 127 hours isn’t so focused on one scene. The flashbacks are a good break from what was going on.

It still shocks me when I hear people say they haven’t seen inception. I mean I can understand it if you haven’t because of time but the reason I usually hear is because they have heard its a bit of a mind screw.

In actual fact, its actually not that much of a mind screw. Yes you do have to pay attention and quite a lot does indeed happen but its not any more difficult to understand that Twelve monkeys. Put it this way, its nothing like Primer. and that crazy timeline of the film.

For goodness sake if you’ve not seen Inception, go rent it today!

The bechdel movie test

Scott Pilgrim vs The world (2010)

Zoe Margolis sent me a link to her review of the new Tron Legacy on Screen Jabber. Although I was thankful for her review because Cristiano and Melinda had also seen it and said some pretty bad things about it, I saw a link to the Bechdel Test.

It’s also annoying that all the female characters in the film are wearing high-heels, as if all women in the digital future are – or should be – obsessed by looking as sexy as possible, rather than wearing something more practical and fitting for the dystopian environment. TRON: Legacy certainly doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.

So I had a look at the Bechdel Test, and found the rules.

  1. It has to have at least two women in it
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something besides a man

Wow this has got to go in future Geeks talk sexy conversations! I had no idea such a thing existed but boy oh boy are they interesting. Inception barely passes the test with a dubious mark.

Marina writes

Yeah, I think I’d go beyond "dubious" and say it fails–both because Marion Cotillard’s "character" is actually part of a male character’s subconscious and because the (<10-second) conversation she has with Ellen Page’s character is at least subtextually about the male character.

However Scott Pilgrim vs the World also bearly passes with a dubious mark too.

Danny writes:

I’d call it dubious. Knives and Tamara talk about how much Knives hates Ramona, and how Knives is dying her hair. It’s dubious because both conversations are really about Scott.

Knives does talk to Kim about the band, but it’s not really a "conversation" so much as three lines of dialouge ("Are you a drummer?" "…Yes" "That’s so cool!". I still think it counts, though.

This is fantastic but also its sad that so many films stereotype woman into stupid roles.