Someday all content will be made this way…

Lego Bricks

This is adapted from the BBC R&D blog post, but I felt it was important enough to repost on my own blog.

Object-based media (OBM) is something that BBC R&D has been working on for quite some-time. OBM underpins many media experiences including the one I keep banging on about, perceptive media.

I’ve spoken to thousands of producers, creators and developers across Europe about object-based work and the experiences. Through those discussions it’s become clear that people have many questions, there has been confusion about what OBM is, and other people would like to know how to get involved themselves.

So because of this… BBC R&D started a community of practice because we really do believe “Someday all content will be made this way.”

A community of practice brings together people and companies who are already working in the adaptive narrative field. BBC R&D do believe that the object-based approach is the key to content creation of the future, one which uses the attributes of the internet to let us all make more personal, interactive, responsive content and by learning together we can turn it into something which powers media beyond the scope of the BBC.

There are three big aims for the community of practice…

  • Awareness: Seek out people and organisations already interested in or working on adaptive narratives through talks, workshops and conferences
  • Advocacy: demonstrating best practice in our work and methods as we explore object-based media and connecting people through networks like the Storytellers United slack channel and helping share perspectives and knowledge..
  • Access: Early access to emerging software tools, to trial and shape the new technology together.

These aims are hugely important for the success and progress of object-based media.

As a start, we’re running a few events around the UK, because conferences are great but sometimes you just want to ask questions to someone and get a better sense of what and why. Our current plan is linked on the BBC R&D post which is being update by myself everytime a new event is made live.

Liverpool Life talking about Perceptive Media

I have recently spent a quite a bit of time in Liverpool, mainly for work but also slightly for pleasure . There were a few lectures/talks at FACT and Liverpool John Moores University.

Most of the presentations are on slideshare, as per usual but I also had joy of being interviewed as part of a podcast talking about object based media.

Of course most was edited out but there’s a big chunk of the interview, mainly focused on the experience of perceptive media, which sits right on top of object based media.. They described it as on the verge of a revolution, no less.

You can listen to the whole thing online at the Liverpool life audioboom channel from Feb 24th.

Nostalgia is the enemy of progress?

Nostalgia: Nostalgia Shelf

I first heard this on the psytech podcast, as I’ve been thinking about the reasoning behind family members decision to leave the EU. As you’d expect its been said many times before and it seems Steve Jobs certainly wasn’t a fan.

Don’t get me wrong nostalgia has its place, but starting to wonder if its has a lot to blame for a lot of the ills of the world? Without saying so, I realise my argument following the study of how men prefer women who are not smarter than themselves; is entwined with this.

I understand, it’s very comfortable and it clearly makes people feel better in a forever changing world; conjuring up positive memory and providing that boost of positivity.

participants who were induced to feel nostalgic also expressed more optimism of the future.  This optimism is related to two other factors.  First, nostalgia makes people feel more socially connected to others.  This social connection boosts people’s positive feelings about themselves.  That increase in self-esteem then increases feelings of optimism.

This set of studies suggests that nostalgia can play a beneficial role in people’s lives.  When times are tough, it may seem as though things may never get better.  By focusing on positive times from the past, though, people may help themselves to be more connected to others, which can give them the resources to be more optimistic about the future.

Later on we go on to find the numbers not so great and context had a lot to play in this all.

But back to the question, is nostalgia getting in the way of progress? It seems maybe depending on too many factors.

My father likes watching old rerun shows. If it wasn’t for flicking between the news at 6pm and my mother’s enjoyment of soap operas, the TV might stay on ITV3 all the time (for those outside the UK, wikipedia describes ITV3 as a channel mainly aimed at the over-35 audience, and much of its output consists of reruns of older ITV drama series and sitcoms). It does wind and worry me a little. But I understand the nostalgia factor.

However I catch myself doing the same too. How many times have I watched Inception, Trance, Interstellar, etc? It’s not much different really, is it? or is it?

For all the films I do re watch, there’s a ton of films/tv I try to watch. Heck I have given some dog horrible films a try including sextape, tapped outthe do over, pressed, taking stock (although I did find it slightly funny and the stunning Kelly Brook stars in it)… I’ll have to check trakt.tv but the percentage of new to re-watches is quite high, from some rough and bad spreadsheet messing for 30mins on a train…

Out of a pool of 1540 films (going back to 2011!) I watched 1749 films. The average seems to be 0.6666666667? I very much realise my maths skills are pretty rubbish for this stuff, but if I was watching the same thing over and over again, it would be a much higher number. I was actually surprised at the high numbers of new vs re-watched.

Yes this is just media and I guess you could run the same thing with places I go to drink, work in the northern quarter, have brunch, etc, etc… Although most of us think of this as familiarity rather than nostalgia?

Nostalgia creeps in with culture of course. I already wrote about my feelings spending time in Japanese society and many thoughts Sherry Turkle has about the influence of technology in our lives. Its far too easy to say…

Well we use to easier… to get a job for life in the past”

You use to be able to… leave your front door open”

I prefered it when… you could smoke while you worked”

Is this toxic? Its hard to say. But I certainly try to stop myself or caveat what I’m about to say, when I feel it coming up.

But I’m drawn because I’m also very aware we should also look to history to stop making the same mistakes again and again. Remember what a divided europe use to look like?

Join us in exploring object-based media making tools


Like visual perceptive media? Like the concept of perceptive radio, like the javascript libraries we have put out in a open and public way? We want you to come on board and join us…!

We (BBC R&D) have been exploring the new reality of creating object based media through a range of prototypes. I have been exploring the implicit uses of data and sensors to change the objects; or as we started calling it a while ago Perceptive Media.

The big issue is to realisticily create and author these new types of stories, requires a lot of technical knowledge and doesn’t easily seat in the standard content creation workflow, or does it? We want to bring together people in a workshop format to explore the potential of creating accessible tools for authors and producers. Ultimately seeding a community of practice, through open experimentation learning from each other.

The core of the workshop will focus on the question…

Is it desirable and feasible for the community of technical developers and media explorers to build an open set of tools for use by storytellers and producers?

During the backdrop of the International Sheffield Documentary Festival the workshop on Monday 13th June will bring together, and are putting out a call for interested parties to work together with the aim of understanding how to develop tools which can benefit storytellers, designers, producers and developers.

We are calling for people, universities, startups, hackers and companies with a serious interest in opening up this area; to reach out and join us. Apply for a ticket and we will be in touch.

Speaking at Bucharest technology week

Bucharest - Dâmbovița River

This week Thursday (26th May 2016), I’ll be speaking at Enterprise-IT Summit during Bucharest Technology Week, a celebration of the positive impact technology can have on our personal and professional lives. Its going to be at the Athénée Palace Hilton, in Bucharest.

I’ll be talking on the future of contextual and adaptive media. Something we are really understanding along with others, as you can see in this call for participation for a workshop on Monday 13th June.

You can browse the event agenda and full speaker line-up on the website.

I have never been to Romania or eastern europe till I went to Poland last year. but I am really looking forward to meeting all the great people involved in the digital & tech scene out there. Will be fun to testing their creative thinking in a little workshop following my talk on the same subject.

Data & stats from Plex Mediaserver

A while ago I wrote about having so much bandwidth from hyperoptic gigabit broadband, means I can now share my media collection with friends.

Its great but its interesting looking at the data my friends are generating through their use of my sever. But it’s not all super smooth, mainly due to my poor single core AMD Sempron 2800 processor doing transcoding on the fly. The biggest problem is the Xbox Plex client, which we discovered doesn’t support x.264 at all, meaning transcoding the whole thing is the only way to view anything. My poor CPU maxes out at 100% during the whole thing. This seems to be a massive bug bear for many people out there… I dread to think what happens with H.265 encoded media.

I installed PlexPy a while ago and decided it was time to have a look.

plexpy Screenshot from 2016-04-042

The Chromecast isn’t anywhere as bad but still triggers transcoding, but to be fair I’ve not really played with the settings but I think theres a way to force the chromecast to play directly (Directstream). Some Smart TVs seem quite happy to take the direct stream putting absolutely no strain on my CPU.

plexpy Screenshot from 2016-04-041

Because of the strain on my CPU, I’m considering changing my CPU to something better. I mean even a quad core or six core processor would be ideal.

Although part of me is thinking maybe I should block all client which require transcoding, or maybe just block the Xbox Plex client. This doesn’t seem to be a problem with the Sony Playstation, from first tests. But I also wonder about DTS, MKV and h.265?

plexpy Screenshot from 2016-04-045

I mean its not like its heavily used anyway. Sure my one friend will like that (smile). The Chromecast is far and away the biggest client and we tried the Xbox 360 once just to see if it was any better (which it wasn’t)

plexpy Screenshot from 2016-04-044

The other stats generated are quite interesting to look at…
For example when most of my friends watch my media by hour of the day and which day.

plexpy Screenshot from 2016-04-043

Theres much more interesting stats but of course privacy of my friends is the up most importance. Maybe I should craft a EULA (End User Licence Agreement)?

Its really interesting to think about the ethics of data when you are the provider.

Advantages of 1gig broadband: Plex media server

Plex Py

The advantage of having 1gig broadband (hyperfast) is the change of behaviour. Yes you can consume more and very quickly but its the symmetric nature which makes it interesting.

I have been running Plex media server for a while mainly to keep a track of my media, as I’m still running Kodi as the front ends.

One feature of plex media server is the ability to stream media to friends. Sitting on 1gig, I can share with a few close friends without even noticing. Its pretty seamless too, as long as they are using plex as a client. Luckily there are clients for many operating systems and devices including the xbox, playstation, firetv,  chromecast, etc.

Plex media server share

Its good, I once had 4 different friends watching media from my single core celeron server one evening. Did I notice? Nope, except when I noticed the activity indicator was lit up.

This got me thinking theres got be a way to visualise this stuff? Of course others have thought about the same and I installed Plex py.

Plex Py

Pretty cool eh?

The only downside right now is my single core server with 5400rpm drives (helps with the cooling) is rubbish at transcoding full HD content, especially burning in subtitles. Maybe its time for a server upgrade?

I’m also not certain about running everything through Plex, wondering what other solutions there might be which can work in a similar way.

Sharing is caring…

TV shows worth watching

I have been watching quite a few new TV shows recently.. Most are American. I won’t go into the details of how to watch them but let’s just say they are available if you look. This adds to Supergirl, Gotham, Limitless, The Flash, Better call Saul, First dates, etc…

Mel also blogged about a few shows which I’ll be honest most I disagree with (sense8 yes and Mr Robot yes – the rest I watched and wasn’t impressed with).

Lucifer

Lucifer crew

Suw pretty much covers Lucifer in a blog post (beware it contains spoliers!). I’ve been enjoying the series since I saw the pilot last year. I am worried it might go formulaic but so far, theres been enough variety to keep things ticking over. I’m expecting things to heat up soon, and Suw confirms this.

Suits (season 5)

Suits

Suits I’ve liked for a while but its not been anything to shout about. Its been ticking along for a while in mid-level drama mode. But this series finally Mike is on trial and the tension is back up again including lots of bits across the previous series. I would almost say skip to season 5 but you will miss all the references which is a shame.

Man seeking woman

Man Seeking Woman

I’m sure I’ve covered this before but it always makes me laugh. I was planning on using a part in my TEDxManchester talk but had to remove it due to time constrains. Its funny, short and quite smart about its points of references.

Master of none

Master of none

This recommendation came form Sarah who I recommended Man seeing woman too. Its actually similar in off the wall style as man seeking woman. One episode starts one way and then the very next one is totally different. I almost once restarted playing it, as I wasn’t sure it was correct. All from the mastermind of Aziz Ansari, the co-author of the excellent and funny modern romance. Can’t wait for season 2.

11.22.63

11.22.63

This came from my cousin, said I should check it out and I thought what on earth is this? After watching the first episode I was hooked… I replied saying its a cross between Looper, The Lost room and Vantage Point. I’m a sucker for time travel but what I also like is the focus on that era of time. The racism and sexism is all there and shocking through the lens of now, which pretty our man character is. This also confirms what I think when people say they would travel back in time and I say heck no…

How I learned the player was cancelled

Screenshot of my linux desktop

I have been watching quite a few new American TV shows and one of them was the Player with Wesley Snipes. But in the usual way, some turn into duds which I stop watching (minority report), some are hits and I can’t get enough of (limitless) and some just get cancelled before I can really make a decision either way (the player).

The weird thing was how I learned the player was cancelled.

I use Trakt.tv to quantify my media usage and it also tells me how far behind I am (handy if you have friends who like to spoil things for you or use social media a lot). I decided a while ago this kind of ambient information could make up my desktop as a picture via Wallch which grabs a url (in this case my trakt.tv’s progress page) pipes it to a image which makes up my background.

When the screen is locked, the background is un-obscured and I noticed the other day, the text surrounding the the player saying the show had ended. Ended I thought? Looked it up and yes the end, no conclusion or answers to the mysteries. Just gone.

Trakt shot end of the player

Of course American TV networks have a long standing for just killing shows. The most famous being Firefly or course. So surprised minority report was canned ages ago.

Marching to the beat of my own drum

Time To Walk Like A Rebel

I had a read of Thought Catalog over breakfast in Vivid Lounge and came across this post which I certainly could identify with.

10 Signs You March To The Beat Of Your Own Drum

  1. You have a strong distaste for the status quo.
    Its less of a distaste, more a lack of interest in a system which rejects and marginalizes people because they are different.
  2. You lack respect for authority figures.
    I’m more skeptical and wary of authority. Partly down to previous experience but it can also be an advantage in compliance and social engineering scams.
  3. You can objectively look at both sides of an issue.
    Yep its a bit strange, as I can always play the devils advocate. It tends to frustrate.
  4. You’re passionate about learning
    I’m all about life long learning and admitting I quite enjoy learning.
  5. You’re always up for a good debate.
    This plays right back at the devils advocate things, I won’t lie a good debate is how you learn and refine.
  6. Sometimes people think you’re crazy.
    Indeed…
  7. You’re always refining your ideas.
    Through debate, discussion and collaboration.
  8. You limit the amount of media you consume.
    This one is something I find interesting. People always wonder why I haven’t heard about this and that. I mean how could I not know about this and that? Interestingly the Freakonomics covered something similar a few weeks ago in a podcast.I do limit how media I consume, by limiting the number of time I spend looking at Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’m also a chooser, so I don’t just put the Radio/TV on and watch whats on. Likewise I’m choosy on what and where I spend my attention.
  9. You fear being average.
    Doesn’t everybody? I do wonder if most people think about this?
  10. You’re never bored.
    Indeed, theres so much that can and should be done. Be it physically, mentally or elsewhere. Life’s too exciting to be bored…!

Great stuff… and I leave you with this… Thanks Chris

Films you may have missed in 2014/15

There has been some great films recently… including Kingsmen, Selma, Interstellar, Citizen four, The intimidation game, Theory of everything, etc.

But heres a bunch you may have missed…

71
71

71 is a movie that I usually wouldn’t enjoy but unlike unbroken (which started well but pulled too many heartstrings). The 71 tells a story about the conflict in northern Ireland. Its got a few small twists and turns but takes you in for a good ride.

I Origins
I Origins

This one is a interesting tale which hinges on the balance of science and spiritual belief. Like Lost Its hard to describe but its a heros journey as the man of science tries to grapple with things which directly conflict with what he can prove. I like the style of the the film as most scenes look simply gorgeous and the focus on the human eye was always going to be a winner from a photography point of view.

Faults
Faults

This reminds me of the Martha Marcy May Marlene. Its all about mind manipulation, brainwashing and deprogramming, its pretty wrong. It also reminds me of Suicide Kings, but faults goes much deeper. Watch and be shocked… Reminds me I need to read the back story for this.

Whiplash
Whiplash

Everytime I watch this, I side with one side or the other. I keep thinking who wound whom up and when they could have stopped. But honestly the ending is excellent and will have you punching the sky. If you missed it in the cinema, get it in DTS and play it loud!

Kill the messenger
Kill the messenger

Very good film which surprised me as I knew nothing about it. Then as it unfolds you realise this is actually a true story not just the stuff you heard about. I understand why I didn’t get much attention but it deserves so much more.

Predestination
Predestination

Time travel! You know how much I love time travel films. Predestination is good but its not quite a Donnie Darko. Its more of looper I would say but worthy of a good watch a few times over to understand what is going on.

time lapse
Time lapse

This movie is a surprisingly good time travelling film. It feels on the lower end of the budget, but not a primer style budget. Its a good story told but certainly doesn’t have the depth of primer. Its quite constrained and I guess compared to Predestination, its slightly less confusing.

Project Alamnc

Continuing with the time travel theme. Project Alamnc feels like a cross between Primer, Timelapse and Chronicle in filming style. Its a MTV film, so its full of teenagers partying and usual music stuff. Even with all that, its quite a solid movie with the ups and downs. The ending is a let down but if you compare it to other teenager films it stands its ground well.

Open Windows
Open windows

I don’t quite know what to say about this film except it kind of jumps the shark so many times you have no idea what on earth is going on. Maybe its because I’m not paying too much attention everytime I see it but I’m keep wondering what on earth? The computer screen stuff is hysterical too but reminds me of a higher budget welcometothescene.

I give it a year
I give it a year

Its not usual that I can recommend a rom-com but this one has some hairy balls. Its funny and tragic but even though you know whats going to happen at the end, its interesting to see their marriage break down and the things they do to get it back on track. The premise that some people are simply not suitable for each other is a worth while message throughout.

The Business of Film with Mark Kermode

Mark Kermode and Ray Winstone

I have to give film critic Mark Kermode’s series about  the economic realities of the film industry, a thumbs up. Its in 3 parts and available forever as a podcast. Its well worth listening to if you are a film fan

Ep 1: Development Hell

Mark Kermode charts the cycle of ‘development hell’, where producers turn in scripts, listen to conflicting opinions and resubmit their work hoping for that magical green light.

I especially love the donnie darko reference and I do think Matthew Vaughn has a very good point.

Ep 2: Getting to the Screen

Mark Kermode examines how films get financed and distributed. The challenge, of course, is that nobody knows the ultimate appeal of the film.

I’m really feeling this as I try and put a project I’m working on forward (I’ll explain more in the future).

Ep 3: The Business of Showing

Mark Kermode considers the crucial moment in a film’s life – the opening weekend. Marketing may convince us of a film’s merit but a tweet can ruin even the most inventive campaign.

I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this type of thing many times over this blog but its fascinating to hear regardless.

Remix is the future!

Theres the intenet 1% rule which seems to pop up all the time.

I’ve been thinking recently out of 100 people using social media , 1 person will want to create and upload their own media. However 9 people if the user interface is effortless, smooth and simple, would make slight changes to either reflect their own decisions, point of view, etc.

This is reflected in the 1% rule where 90% are lurkers, 9% are contributors and 1% creators.

Its strikes me that many things are missing the 9%. They miss the fact that the 9% can also contribute to the enjoyment of the 90% and be even more interesting than the 1%.

What makes the 9% even more interesting is the fact they are socially creative, sharing as they go.

Everything is a remix and that includes,

  • Git repo forks which is beautiful way to build upon something you’ve seen or used.
  • Creative Commons which encourages you to remix media
  • The fans who spend their own time building on top of the official works to create fan art at places like Deviant Art
  • The millions of meme created pictures which fill social media feeds,  even I became a meme thanks to Tim and Josh.
  • The insane amount of feeds, webservices, APIs and even headless websites which encourage you to build on top of them.
  • The pinterest fans who collect and arrange their pinboards to indicate there choices and style
  • The many fan fiction stories which take characters out of one world and combine them in others

This is why I feel the DJ hackday could be a start of something extra special .

Shape-shifting politics and the non-linear world

Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events. But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis – leaving us bewildered and disorientated.

And journalism – that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative – now also just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information. Events come and go like waves of a fever. We – and the journalists – live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog – and then disappear again, unexplained.

And the formats – in news and documentaries – have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them.

If you watched Charlie Brooker’s 2014 wipe over the end of last year (One of the only thing I actually looked forward to on TV over the festive holiday period), you would seen a preview of Adam Curtis’ Bitter Lake.

The central theme seems to be around cognitive overloading and distortion, fascinating and can’t wait to watch. Reminds me of the experiencing Adam Curtis vs Massive Attack 2 years ago.

Through the Illusion of the Apple distortion field

iCow Syncing

You got to hand it to Apple, they always have the press eating out their own bowl. You only have to look at the latest apple announcement for the apple watch.  This use to be termed the Steve Jobs distortion field then when Steve died, there was a fear that Apple may not be able to keep things up without their leader.

However this turned out to be not true (to a degree).

How does Apple manipulate the media and press has been a question which many have asked, and very have been brave enough to come forward and explain how. Those who do tend to get put on the blacklist and starved…

Apple can already tell what a review is going to say from [a publication’s] pre-coverage, and they’re not going to give you a review unit if you’re not going to play ball.” In other words, Apple feeds the writers who will do its bidding, and starves the ones who won’t follow its messaging.

One such brave people is Mark Gurman from 9to5mac. Who wrote a super detailed look at the distortion and absolute manipulation Apple roll across the media. 9 indepth pages of stuff everybody kind of guessed or knew but dare not write about? Don’t expect to see Mark at any Apple press events for the next 10 years at least.