Art as artifacts of identity

Back to the Future fanart present

Laura Sharpe my new girlfriend (yes I’m off the dating market now) made me this for a Christmas present. She was worried I wouldn’t like it but I think its flipping great. For me Back to the Future was the Starwars of the 80’s and is the definitive film of my generation and will always be. So very apt Laura picked it and what a great piece of Fan art to represent the greatest trilogy there has been? Honestly the only thing Laura could have done in addition, is added attribution to who ever’s work it is

She really picked up on my drive to replace all my commercial art work with fan art.

I’ve been thinking for a long while about using FabLab for something but wasn’t sure what exactly. Well now I’m wondering if I could create more custom type things like this?

Up till now I’ve been mainly thinking about picture frames but maybe theres something more I could do? Always good to have someone to inspire you to think differently…

One of the projects I’m hoping to get off the ground is in the Creative Exchange cluster around making the digital Physical in a similar slant.

Transforming the digital space trapped inside screens and devices into physical experiences in the real world. In particular moving beyond the primarily visual experiences of flat screens towards ones that can engage all our senses so that the digital public space can also be felt, heard, tasted, smelt, or even worn. Drawing inspiration from research in areas such as: tangible and natural interfaces; perceptive and ambient media; augmented reality/virtuality; hacking and 3D printing the projects will explore how to create innovative prototypes that turn digital spaces into lived experiences.

Perceptive Media in Wired UK’s Top Tech for 2013

Perceptive Media in Wired Magazine

Someone from the BBC’s Future Media PR pointed out to me that I was in the latest issue of Wired UK. The whole thing isn’t online yet but I’ve made a manual copy (thanks to Laura Sharpe for buying the ipad version on my behalf)… Till its up online

Advertising Displays, Television and consoles are hooking up with recognition software to second-guess our hidden desires. By Ed White

Televisions, computers and retail displays are increasingly watching us as much as we’re watching them. They are likely to be the catalyst for a shift from mass to personalised media. Broadcastsers, game developers and tech companies have long dreamt of knowing who’s watching, and then making content relevant to each viewer.

Cheap cameras and sensors are making “perceptive media” a reality. First was Microsoft, whose Xbox gaming peripheral Kinect, launched in 2010, has put a perceptive-media device into more that 18 million homes worldwide. By linking people to their Xbox Live identity using facial recognition, it has made the gaming experience more tailored. But perceptive media is wider than gaming. Over two years, Japan Railways’ East Japan Water Business has installed about 500 intelligent vending machines that recognise customers’ age and gender via sensors and suggest drinks accordingly. Intel’s Audience Impression Metrics suite (Aim) users data captured by cameras on displays in shops to suggest products. Kraft and Adidas are early adopters. The software will also monitor responses to improve brands’ marketing.

But the real winner will be the entertainment industry. Samsung and Lenovo announced at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show that their new TVs will recognise a viewer by using a camera incorporated into the set, and bring up their favourite programmes; Intel is working on a set-top box with similar  capabilities. Face tracking software is also making our screens more intuitive. Japanese broadcaster NHK is experimenting with emotion-recongnition software which can suggest, say a more exciting TV show if it detects boredom. But where perceptive media gets really exciting is in using viewer data to change narratives in real time. US-based video game company Valve software is experimenting with biofeedback systems, measuring physiological signals such as heart rate and pupil dilation in players of Portal 2 and Alien Swarm. If the zombies aren’t making you sweat, the AI director can send in more. And television may follow, believes Ian Forrester senior producer at BBC R&D. Sensors in your TV would pick up who’s in the room and subtly change the programmes’s details, live: for example the soundtrack could be based on your Spotify favorites.

If that sounds Big Brother-ish, that’s because it is. Perceptive media’s biggest hurdle will be privacy. But advocates such as Daniel Stein, founder CEO of San Francisco based digital agency EVB, say that if brands can prove the value of data sharing, they’ll win people over. Here’s looking at you.

Ed White is a senior writer and consultant at contagious communications, a London-based marketing consultancy

 

Perceptive media in wired magazine

UK Pirates Are Big Box Office Spenders

Been a bit of noise about the UK darknet from a survey OFCOM did recently, a lot of the findings Musicmatch already highlighted in their study previously…

Pirates Are Big Box Office Spenders

the comprehensive study suggests that many pirates spend as much as 300 per cent more on media than a person that doesn’t download.

The information was retrieved as part of a survey of just under 4,500 internet users, aged 12 and older. In conclusion, the researchers found that of the 16 per cent that said they downloaded, the majority were termed, “hybrids,” because they also paid for movies, music, concerts and such like. Ultimately it was found that these hybrids, could spend much, much more than those that didn’t pirate at all. In a three month test period, 100 per cent legal movie fans spend around £35. Comparatively, the hybrid pirates – which are sounding more and more like something out of Davy Jones fish-head crew – spent almost £60 in the same period.

Torrent Freak goes into much more detail, even the RIAA agrees with some of the higher level results.

What I want to know is, will this change the TV ecosystem in anyway? I unfortunately don’t think so…

Another head in the sand moment…?

Rules of watching a movie

Another thing I saw from Hugh Garry which got me thinking

Switching ‘on’ your phone during a movie is something that the film industry is going to have to get used to. It’s a new rule of cinema – people like to share their lives and that includes capturing screen shots of the film they are watching – it’s happening and it’s creating spreadable media.

I use to be a usher at a couple of cinemas in the past including the Odeon chain.

As a usher, your meant to make sure everything is ok in the screens. Things like people talking too loud and people talking on their phones is a reject-able offense in a cinema (although its worth noting they can pretty much throw you out for anything). Of course its quite sometime since I’ve done ushering in a cinema and are shocked by how slack some ushers have got with there duties… However things have changed, rather than people talking on the phone, there texting, tweeting and generally doing stuff on the phone.

This doesn’t cause such a distraction but most smartphones have a crazy backlights which can literally light up a small cinema. So when your tweeting in the dark, everything is lit up for a short while. This is painful…

However saying all this… I’m seriously wondering how much better the experience of the cinema would be if you could pull your phone our and tweet for example. I generally tweet at the end while the credits are rolling up and the house lights have dimmed up.

Yes I understand the fear of people recording parts with there phones and the like but seriously? I wonder about the actual damage of people sharing photos of parts of the film with there friends. As someone once said all publicity is good publicity… If someones tweeting to their friends, there doing because they feel the need to share with friends or the world. Pay attention, the intent is critical… Go with it!

A tale or two about piracy

Speeding car

I really wanted to work with Musicmetric to do something like they have now done. Gain some real insight into what media habits people really are and highlight the very interesting innovation happening on the dark/undernet.

Interestingly Manchester was named the biggest UK city for piracy.

The research said there were more illegal downloads per person in the city than any other in the country, followed by Nottingham and Southampton. The statistics, from monitoring service Musicmetric, conclude that in the first half of 2012, UK users illegally shared over 40 million albums and singles.

Well I never… Whats that quote again?

Manchester does today what the rest of the world does tomorrow?

Looking at actual downloads is also interesting. Even Armin Van Buuren gets a high rating… of course I wouldn’t know anything about this…

Outside of this massive amount of music piracy data, it would be great to do the same for TV and Films.

In related news… I saw this in a few places (BBC) and (torrentfreak)… How the pirate bay got started.

By the end of 2004, a year after the site launched, the tracker was tracking a million peers and over 60,000 torrent files. Around the same time the founders also noticed that it was not only Scandinavians developing interested in their site.

In fact, by now 80% of their users came from other parts of the world. Because of increasing worldwide popularity The Pirate Bay team completely redesigned the site, which became available in several languages in July 2005.

For me personally I remember going to Sweden to visit Anna, a friend of Sarah’s. Anna’s boyfriend and me got talking about computers and he showed me the crazy speed available to them in 2004. I remember plugging into his network switch and be shocked to find a real IP (non-Nat). Then he showed me a site with a pirate ship. It didn’t say Piratebay but something like it in Swedish (maybe Piratbyrån). At the time SuperNova was all the rage and I did scoff at the idea. He then showed me how fast he could download a ISO of Debian. The speeds were not only shocking but earth shattering to me on my 512k ADSL line. 10meg/sec download in 2004 was unreal.

If only I had understood what a force this site would become… Specially when I came back in 2010 to find my flatmate (tim) and a bunch of people (loz and others) surrounded by boxes and boxes of 50k of pirate party flyers!

Perceptive Media Launch at Social Media Cafe Manchester

If you’ve not experienced Perceptive Media yet, stop reading and go to futurebroadcasts.com to listen to the Breaking Out audioplay.

We’ve been sitting on Breaking Out for months slowly improving it as the browsers caught up with what we were trying to get them to do (WebAudioAPI is very topical at the moment). When we first started there was no way it was going to work in anything but the latest chrome. However things are starting to change…

Anyhow because of the wait to get things working correctly, we picked a date to release much later than expected. That date slotted right in between the end of the Euro 2012 and The 2012 Olympics. That date co-insided with SMC_MCR’s July event, the event where I first talked about Perceptive Media openly for the first time.

Elliot Woods

The event hosted at the excellent Cornerhouse Cinema was great. First up was Elliot Wood discussing the process behind his most recent digital art installation in Korea with studio Kimchi and Chips. Really interesting as there were some key points which matched some of our thinking. Mainly around openness and generative/organic systems.

Tony looking nervious

After the break came some announcements and then Perceptive Media with me and Tony.

We quickly ran through our reformatted presentation from the EBU in April, to lay the context for those who were not at the SMC event in February. Afterwards we went into a live demo of Breaking Out the audioplay.

Listening to Perceptive Media

The audience enjoyed the play and seemed to respond well to part of the play I’m not going talk about now.

After hearing the audioplay we switched to a panel discussion with me, Tony Churnside, Henry Swindell (from the BBC Writers room) and Sarah Glenister (the writer of the script from the BBC Writers room). We also had Mark Boas and Mark Panaghiston (from Happyworm, the developers) on Skype just in case.

The questions were coming thick and fast, at one point I counted about 20 hands up of the 60 strong audience. Lots of questions about the idea of Perceptive Media and quite a few about the storyline. It was great having Henry there because he laid it out from the writers point of view. Sarah jumped in and gave her point of view writing the script, something she just published on the BBC Writers room blog.

Sarah at SMC_MCR eventMartin hard at work

The event was a big success for ourselves, SMC and everyone involved. The feedback we got was great and we did record the event for the purposes of research.

Following on from the launch. We’ve watched the prototype spread to quite a few places.

The BBC unveils its first perceptive media experiment and you can try it now – Martin wrote this pretty much live from the event and its gone a few places. And it appeared on Techmeme for a couple of days.

The BBC opens up its first perceptive media experiment and you can try it out right now

BBC demonstrates revolutionary perceptive media – Nice

BBC perceptive media brings the next big thing in tv and radio

Angie chan who did the illustrations talks about the project

Metafilter goes off on Perceptive Media – Would love to join this debate but alas I’m not going to get involved in the debate.

Google+ also has a few comments

A Perceptive on storytelling

As most of you know BBC R&D have a demo of Perceptive Media which we’ve shown a few places including the EBU in Copenhagen. Its been a hidden gem for a long while and its been amazing to see what people have had to say about the concept of perceptive media. Specially liked the two Brits sitting on the sofa talking about it.

We’re really hoping as many people will enjoy it and give their honest feedback to us (good and bad). But its not just the individual  feedback we would like to research, its the interconnected stories of how people tell others about it and how they explain it to each other…

How memes spread has always been high on my list of loves and to be honest should be high on the BBC’s research lists (if its not already?) In actual fact there is something about how memes spread and attribution which I think is very interesting and could be a new business model into the future.

Anyway… expect much more about Perceptive Media on the BBC R&D blog this month. In actual fact if you want to be first hear it and respond directly to people behind it like myself, the script writer, actress, coders, etc… Then you should make your way to the next Social Media Manchester.

I was reading about the domino effect on my Kindle via Instapaper the other day on the London Tube prompted after reading this tearjerker story. This bit really got into stuck in my throat, further proving that I’m just a sucker and massive romantic…

At the end was this bit…

Here’s the power of a story: someone hands me one, like a gift (I imagine it wrapped in shiny paper with the bow, the handmade letterpress card, the whole nine yards), and in that gift, I find parts of myself that have been missing, parts of our world that I never imagined, and aspects of this life that I’m challenged to further examine. Then—and this is the important part, the money shot, if you will—I take that gift and share it. In my own writing, sure, but the kind of sharing I’m talking about here is the domino effect: how I hear/watch/read a story, and then tell everybody and their mother about it, and then they tell everybody and their mother, and somewhere in that long line of people is someone who, at this exact point in their life, needed its message more than we’ll ever know.

The power of a story indeed…

You could look at this as a example of why Perceptive media isn’t going to work but actually I disagree. Someone (out there) has written a story which perfectly suits the medium but they don’t know it yet.

Kevin Rose interviews Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram

I assume this was recorded during or just before Facebook decided to buy Instagram?

Very interesting interview like most of the Foundation interviews.

Kevin Rose and Instagram founder Kevin Systrom sit down to chat about Systrom’s growing up with computers, his time spent at Stanford, and landing an internship at a startup destined to be worth billions. This ultimately led to launching his own startup which is now 15 million users strong and one of the fastest growing social networks on the planet!

The weight or attention of media

Talking to Adrian late last night… He mentioned something to do with weight and video.

Then today, I started thinking wouldn’t it be interesting to apply a weight model to films/media based on their attention required?

For example: Tinker tailor soldier spy

I have this ready to watch at a touch of a button but everytime I see it pop up, I think well I’m busy doing all this other stuff, I can’t really spare the attention right now. This is also the same for most of the subtitled media I own.

I actually had decided to watch it on my Tablet on the way into work but I’m still busy reading kindle most times.

So attention is actually the metric but its displayed in a form of weight. I know there will be a debate about the weighting of certainly films for example is Donnie Darko a heavy weight or actually quite light? I remember having debates with Sarah about the depth of the film. She couldn’t understand where me and Dave were getting all this additional detail from but sitting down and watching it again and pointing out certain parts got the points across.

Another perfect example is Primer. You could watch the film and think, oh interesting but not all that. Then someone clues you into the Primer Timeline (spoiler alert!) So how would you weight that film? Very heavy or medium? I guess the same would apply to Fight Club?

I’m assuming something like the crowd based rating system would solve the problem, plus its only a guide. The weighting could also clue you into the fact theres more to a film than you may have first spotted. But likewise the opposite is true?

Once again, you heard it hear first, go use but attribution back here please.

Media ahead of the curve: Welcometothescene

Welcome to the scene series 2 ep 19

Does anyone remember welcometothescene by Jun Group?

I wrote about it a while back here and here.

For me this was way too early for a lot of reasons but in a world where hackers are dominating the headlines and endless war against piracy this series could actually work very well now. The style is also being duplicated by the likes of some recorded google hangouts I’ve seen recently.

The drama slowly unfolds and although I’ve not seen series 2, I expect the risky move to do very slow drama has been reconsidered. It wasn’t gripping but intriguing enough…

The method of distribution at the time was very radical, creative commons licensed and freely shared on bit torrent (and even e-donkey, geez do you remember that?). Even created in sharing friendly formats like Divx, Xvid, etc… Although quite a obvious move now… back in the day this was pretty amazing and people lapped it up as soon as they could get there hands on it.

Yes Welcome to the scene deserves a place in my ahead of the curve series.

Escaping to alternative media ecosystems

Google play and DRM

@tdobson asked me on twitter what I thought of the above problem with Google Play/Marketplace.

This tally’s with a post I was going to write about how DRM only hurts people doing the right thing and how a generation are feeling the pain of moving out of media ecosystems. Theres a excellent letter on Framerate highlighting this exact problem, (clipped below, hoping it won’t get taken down but just in case you can hear it here about 10mins in).

So what do I mean? (just incase you don’t know)

Imagine you’ve bought into music from Microsoft’s playsforsure a long time ago and then recently you got rid of your Zune (because MPeg3 players are so over girlfriend…) in favor of a iPhone? It might be possible to move your music over but with some difficulty. But imagine if you swap audio for video?

You’ve gotten rid of your DVD collection and replaced it with downloads from the Apple itunes store because your so cool and everything just works. Then you buy a new TV without a Apple TV and it supports this thing called DLNA. You start wondering maybe theres more to media than Apple’s dream. Of course you can swap Apple for Google, Microsoft, etc…

Anyway the point is, piracy wins here. Currently the only way to effortlessly switch between ecosystems is to either buy physical products or pirate them (I challenge people to find a 3rd option without buying the same content more that once). Once again not condoning this but there is a problem here and no one seems to want to fix it! Mainly because forcing you to follow one route is so much easier and they can make money that way too.

So whats this got to do with a rooted phone? Well its the assumption that if you have root, that you will subvert the DRM and make a mockery of there ecosystem. I get it, Google, Apple and others said to right holders they will protect the content in there flawless systems and they will do all they can to honor that but what a house of cards this agreement was made on.

Change needs to come from both sides, the content makers and the content consumers. This is why I love and support Creative Commons.

This is our culture not theres and we don’t just want it back we demand it back! Whos with me?

Very early stage thinking around Perceptive Media

Some people may have heard me mention Perceptive Media in conversation before but it wasn’t till yesterday than most people hasn’t ever heard of it. At Social Media Cafe Manchester (now named #SMC_MCR after the hashtag) it was revealed to the web native audience what Perceptive Media was.

Martin has written up the presentation on the Next Web. But I wanted to clarify a few things.

Perceptive Media isn’t a BBC project (as such), its the result of watching hackers and early adopters during the BBC Backstage days and spotting where trends may be heading. Its a BBC R&D idea which been kicked around quite a bit by me and finally started to grow some legs in BBC R&D as a really interesting body of work, as a result of the questions it raises. So its actually very early days and if you talk to most BBC departments they will have no idea what you mean. Actually lots of people get confused between Perceptive, Personalised and Pervasive. I guess both have the ability to transform our media landscape…

But in this case we’re talking Perceptive media… So what is Perceptive Media?

“It takes narrative back to something more aligned to a storyteller and a audience around a campfire using Internet technologies and sensibility to create something closer to a personal theater experience in your living room…”

Of course this would be of interest to the BBC because we have many storytellers/narrative writers who would love to be able to tell stories like they were around a campfire. But its got to be clear this is my thoughts and not the view of the BBC. And with that I wanted to clarify a few other things…

Here’s how it would work – a TV signal would be sent, as normal, to your set-top box or TV. However, the hardware in your living room would be able to modify that signal with information about you, to create a subtly different version of what you were watching, personalised for you.

Its not Personalised TV… At SMC, I talked about how a storyteller has a sense of where there going and can make slight changes for the audience (around the campfire remember) not a single individual. I mean who wants to sit around listening to a story written for a friend? TV consumption is usually done in groups not as individuals and Perceptive Media is meant for this. Although later Martin says…

There are many challenges for Perceptive Media right now – for example, if five people with varying backgrounds and tastes were watching together, how would the software know the best way of showing the programme to suit them all? Forrester said that it would take all viewers into consideration and display something that suited them all – but would that really work?

This is exactly why were researching to see if it would be possible. Its a brilliant research question and such a great one for storywriters…

While the BBC’s experiments are at an early stage, it’s easy to see how other parts of the media would be attracted to Perceptive Media. Imagine the fun advertisers could have, tailoring ads to your circumstances and tastes.

At the subject of what others (such as advertisers) would do with such technology if it existed was discussed at great length. I did show a clip from Black Mirror ep2. Mainly to discuss what others (aka non BBC) may be thinking in this area. This caused much outcry as you can see on the #smc_mcr hashtag. Maria said this which sums up the privacy side of perceptive media.

#SMC_MCR: the Black Mirror episode ’15 Million Credits’ hints at the future of perceptive media <– VERY SCARY & UNACCEPTABLE

The questioning was actually very good and I wished I’d recorded some of it as some real valid points were raised but there were a lot of questions which I had raised myself for research questioning already.

Giving the presentation at SMC was maybe badly timed because it would be much better to have a clear demo/prototype to get a feel for whats possible and how it could work. Instead, I got carried away with my own excitement of the early idea, maybe? Almost everyone I’ve explained the concept to date, has been as excited as myself. So its maybe easy to see why I pushed forward with it.

So, what exactly does the BBC have cooking in its labs? Forrester wouldn’t say precisely, except that it was aiming for “low-hanging fruit” at first, while he showed a picture of a radio on a slide. Perceptive Audio? It’s a possibility, but we’ll have to wait to see what emerges. Whatever the case, this is an early-stage research project, so don’t expect a big launch for the technology any time soon.

Indeed you won’t see this technology for many years, at least from the BBC but you may see prototypes and demos. Perceptive Audio would be a very interesting concept (hence perceptive media not perceptive tv).

I am writing a paper about Perceptive Media which I hope to maybe one day make it out into the public realm, but I still believe in places like SMC to exchange knowledge and ideas. Thanks to Martin for writing it up, and I hope to give another presentation once we have a better grasp of some of the answers to some of these questions. Till then, there is a public diigo group where we highlight some examples which we think might be interesting…

Host of seraphim, gives me the chills every time

I remember listening to The Host of Seraphim by Dead Can Dance, a while ago but I remember listening to it again soon after coming out of hospital last year. I believe I stopped dead when hearing it again during one of my more introspective times.

Then I heard it again while watching the Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, so I checked out the tune on YouTube, and usually the youtube comments are to be ignored, however this time it was amazing…

kristofolof – still gives me the chills every time i listen to it

jnrivers  – When the weight of the world stops you from feeling, listen to this song with a glass of wine and you will feel alive again. The Host of Seraphim is a masterpiece.

ttsmoke  – if i had one wish i would wish to know everything about everything in this universe.

JakotsuTheOne  – sad, disturbing, soul shaking and beautiful.

Emillysilly – I never cry…but this song makes me weep like a child…

morfridor – my body move by its self… like my soul want to come out from my body.

meatballsNspaghetti  – Overwhelming. Something powerful hit my heart, can’t explain just an incredible feeling.

WauZzeWauzZ – to be honest, i got tears in my eyes…it has been a long time that i had tears in my eyes…but i love it this time.

superknuffi1  – this song is amazing.i don’t know how to describe it.I makes us feel sorrow and happiness at the same time……

TheSCOTCHSOLACE  – Music which transcends this world – music from another plane of existence.

You get the idea… Anyway I bought the original tune and the remastered version from Amazon’s Mpeg3 store.

The end of optical media? Goodbye Blu-ray…

Ben metcalfe has a blog post about Apple’s move to remove all optical drives from there new range of laptops.

You can install an operating system from any external drive – it doesn’t have to be a DVD, it can be a USB disk, external hard drive or even an SD card. But you do need some kind of external disk, in case you can’t boot into the laptop, leaving the OS as the only piece of software that needs to be delivered via physical medium.

You can already download iLife and iWorks via the internet and license them online. And with the announcement of the App Store for Mac, Apple is clearly signaling the end of physical distribution of software.

Tell the truth although I quite like the idea of optical drives, I’ve lived without them for years. I had a Toshiba tablet PC back when I was in university/college and it had no optical drive but lots of flash media slots. I guess now the Mac supports SD its a lot easier to imagine the ability to remove optical drives.

So in one mind, I’m thinking great but something also comes to mind, and ben’s on the money with this.

Finally, if you subscribe to the Steve Jobs way of consuming media, the CD and DVD also dead there too. All the music, tv and films you could ever want are available for download via iTunes – be it to your Mac, iPhone or AppleTV.

Even if you consume your media independently, the Amazon MP3 store, music-on-demand services such Pandora and the continued widespread use of p2p all support the end of the physical distribution of media. NetFlix (probably anticipating this) are about to release a streaming-only service very soon too.

If you subscribe to the Steve Jobs way of thinking. Well I don’t but I’m interesting in the battle between online media and optical drives. Steve Jobs has always seemed to hate Blu-ray and I’m wondering if this strategy will shift to the desktop machines too? I’m sure control over all entertainment media is in Steve Jobs master plan somewhere?