Talent is universal, but opportunity is not

Tanitoluwa Adewumi

I do love the story of Tanitoluwa Adewumi and the New York times has it right on the button – Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.

In a homeless shelter in Manhattan, an 8-year-old boy is walking to his room, carrying an awkward load in his arms, unfazed by screams from a troubled resident. The boy is a Nigerian refugee with an uncertain future, but he is beaming.

He can’t stop grinning because the awkward load is a huge trophy, almost as big as he is. This homeless third grader has just won his category at the New York State chess championship.

“It’s an inspiring example of how life’s challenges do not define a person,” said Jane Hsu, the principal of P.S. 116, which held a pep rally to celebrate Tani’s victory. Hsu noted that while Tani lacks a home, he has enormously supportive parents dedicated to seeing him succeed.

Tani’s mom can’t play chess but takes him every Saturday to a three-hour free practice session in Harlem, and she attends his tournaments. His dad lets Tani use his laptop each evening to practice. And although religion is extremely important to the family, the parents let Tani miss church when necessary to attend a tournament.

Theres a silverlineing to Tanitoluwa Adewumi’s success too.

 

Undressed and 36 questions later…

Remember those 36 questions? The ones I referred to in the stop following stupid dating steps, get some advice blog post a while ago. Mandy Len Catron’s essay, has spun out a lot of takes but recently a friend pointed me towards a experiment involving the exact same 36 questions.

Here’s the complete list.

  1. If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would it be?
  2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
  3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
  4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
  5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
  6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30 year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
  7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
  8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
  9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
  10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
  11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
  12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
  13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
  14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
  15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
  16. What do you value most in a friendship?
  17. What is your most treasured memory?
  18. What is your most terrible memory?
  19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
  20. What does friendship mean to you?
  21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
  22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
  23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
  24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
  25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … ”
  26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … ”
  27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
  28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
  29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
  30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
  31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
  32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
  33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
  34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
  35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
  36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

Then…  you have to look into your partner’s eyes for four minutes. In silence, just like the eye contact experiment.

So I’m thinking especially since being involved in the eye contact experiment and a few other things. Maybe it could be fancinating to do, but all the stuff I’ve seen is more for giggles and jokes, hence my reludance about the whole thing. What it sounds like you need, is something on the line?

Enter… Undressed a new show idea by RDF media.

TLC, the pay TV entertainment channel has commissioned UNDRESSED, an innovative and experimental dating show that sees two perfect strangers undress each other and climb into bed on a first date in an exciting new series that accelerates intimacy and explores the accepted rules of attraction.

Guess who decided to sign up?!?

Following Lumbs law“If there’s an opportunity to experience something which will make a great story and it won’t put you or somebody else in danger… you should do it

Yeah I know!

To be fair when I applied, I thought about it long and hard, especially with my previous experiences. But didn’t really take into consideration the fact of being half naked on TV. I hadn’t looked it up till now. The Italian version is on youtube

Its very intimate, but my worries about it being trashy is slightly relaxed at least. Althought the press have had a field day with it all.

The couple have 30 minutes alone together wearing nothing but their underwear, during which they will be given “probing” questions via a screen and tasks “designed to rapidly foster relationships”. Blimey – it makes First Dates look like the Antiques Roadshow

The Guardian

The unique dating show has already been a hit in Italy, where the contestants were often seen to be embarrassed when told to strip before throwing off their inhibitions along with their clothes.

Daily Mail

In my TedX Manchester orginal slide deck, I had a bit about accelerate intimacy. Well this is certainly accelarated! 30mins at Mach 1…

What happens when your dog is no longer serviceable?

Aibo meets Nabaztag: first meeting

The Aibo went the way of the Nabaztag

When Rob told me about Sony shutting down the last one of its service centre for Aibo robotic dogs, I instantly thought about the consequences of a locked down iot device. This is going to be bad

Back in 1999, Sony released a robotic dog called Aibo, a canine companion that didn’t crap everywhere and only ate electricity. It sold pretty well — 150,000 units, despite the $2,000 price tag. Some owners became remarkably attached, which makes it even more sad that Sony has stopped repairing Aibo. Slowly but surely, they’re all dying.

It was bad in my mind but then I watched the NYtimes video and remembered how the Japanese think of most things having a soul/spirit of some kind.

The New York Times has recorded the plight of current-day Aibo owners in a completely heartbreaking video. They interviewed a series of owners, whose Aibos are a central part of their lives, but are slowly having to come to the fact that their dogs have a life expectancy.

What you are left with is something which is kind of heart breaking to watch. Seriously, especially having experience the culture first hand, I can just imagine. I liked my Aibo but nothing like the Japanese love theirs.

Still remember the first time I saw a Aibo in real life. It was at the ICA in London and some guy kicked it off the stage to the outrage of half the audience. Just to make a point about humans attaching human emotion to artificial objects or robots. Fascinating in the face of UK remake of Humans on Channel4.

Where Storytelling and Internet of Things cross over

If you know anything about the kind of work I’ve been researching for R&D. You may know Perceptive Media is big deal in my world and as my motto seems to be, my world is not mainstream yet. However this world crosses over with a couple other areas. Internet of Things, Quantified Self and Object media are a few of the obvious ones, which come to mind.

Tomorrow I’m fortunate enough to take part in another one of the Future of Storytelling weekly hangouts. I took part in one a while ago but I regularly watch on Wednesdays (1730 GMT) before heading to Volleyball. Make sure you tune into the hangout

 join us this Wednesday, March 12, as we explore “the story of things” with Alexis Lloyd, the Creative Director of the New York Times’s Research and Development Lab. The “Internet of Things,” has ushered us into an age where physical objects have the potential to talk to us – and each other – in a way that rapidly transforms our most basic understanding of what gadgets are.  Llloyd, informed in part by her background designing immersive and exploratory experiences, believes these “enchanted objects” have within them a world of narrative and poetic potential: The R+D lab exists as a laboratory for the staff of the “Grey Lady” to study the implications of these emerging technologies and behaviors on news-media and print. In the hangout she, alongside an audience of industry experts, will explore the storytelling potential of tools and devices as unassuming as a simple bathroom mirror.

The video sums it up well and gets right into the depths of storytelling and the Internet of things. It begs the question, what would objects around you say if they could talk?

Love what Alexis is doing and who knows what might happen in the future? Sure Perceptive Publishing would be right up their avenue? And some of the guys from the NYtimes office came to Hackday and Mashed back in the day… I wonder what they would make of some more of the object things were up to?

The rainforrest will dry out if you don’t let it grow into the open

The Apple iPad

Everyone is talking about Steven Johnson piece in the New York Times titled Rethinking a Gospel of the Web. Steven Johnson a very good author of some fine books and clever guy generally, is starting to question if open platforms is not a technological-utopianism.

FOR about a decade now, ever since it became clear that the jungle of the World Wide Web would triumph over the walled gardens of CompuServe, AOL and MSN, a general consensus has solidified among the otherwise fractious population of People Who Think Big Thoughts About the Internet.

That unifying creed is this: Open platforms promote innovation and diversity more effectively than proprietary ones.

In the words of one of the Web’s brightest theorists, Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard, the Web displays the “generative” power of a platform where you don’t have to ask permission to create and share new ideas. If you want democratic media, where small, innovative start-ups can compete with giant multinationals, open platforms are the way to go.

I’ve long considered myself a believer in this gospel and have probably written a hundred pages of book chapters, essays and blog posts spreading the word. Believing in open platforms is not simple techno-utopianism. Open platforms come with undeniable costs. The Web is rife with pornography and vitriol for the very same reasons it’s so consistently ingenious. It’s not that the Web is perfect, by any means, but as an engine of innovation and democratization, its supremacy has been undeniable.

Over the last two years, however, that story has grown far more complicated, thanks to the runaway success of the iPhone (and now iPad) developers platform — known as the App Store to consumers.

He then lists what he sees as the successes of the appstore, iphone platform.

More than 150,000 applications have been created for it in less than two years, transforming the iPhone into an e-book reader, a flight control deck, a musical instrument, a physician’s companion, a dictation device and countless other things that were impossible just 24 months ago.

Hold on a second, this is also true of other platforms like windows mobile. Yes there hasn’t been 150k of apps but I’ve seen all type of things developers for windows mobile have done.

The decision to route all purchases through a single payment mechanism makes great sense for Apple, which takes 30 percent of all sales, but it has also helped nurture the ecosystem by making it easier for consumers to buy small apps impulsively with one-click ordering.

Agreed but I think a open system could also have benefited some very interesting payment and delivery models. Up till recently Bluetooth transfering of apps and media was huge but with the apps store everything has to go through a central server, how else will apple get there 30%?

And I think this is the point, an open system gives you the freedom to get really creative.

Apple could certainly quiet a lot of its critics by creating some kind of side door that enables developers to bypass the App Store if they wish. An overwhelming majority of developers and consumers would continue to use the store, retaining all the benefits of that closed system, but a secondary market could develop where more experimental ideas could flourish.

But whatever Apple chooses to do with its platform in the coming years, it has made one thing clear: sometimes, if you get the conditions right, a walled garden can turn into a rain forest.

I will be the first to admit Apple have done a good job with the illusion of freedom, its a bit like dark city where people forget there is a daytime and how to get to shell beach. Few people rub against the sides of the rain forrest or the dark city. However this illusion is only sustainable for so long.

Even those who bought ipads and tried to use them on the way home noticed the lack of ability to be used till synced with itunes on a laptop. Theres also something Apple did in there recent announcement about iphone software v4 development. New iPhone Developer Agreement Bans the Use of anything but there own software to build software for the appstore.

Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

So something like Adobe’s Flash-to-iPhone Compiler is completely out the window. As you can imagine this has outraged developers and pissing off developers. This has to be like poking in the eye of each one of the great apes, its just not what you want in a rainforrest, unless you want chaos. Or back to the darkcity analogy, John Smith is working things out. And finally Apple’s idea of one device for everyone is now just a theory,

The fact that the iPhone platform runs exclusively on Apple hardware helps developers innovate, because it means they have a finite number of hardware configurations to surmount. Developers building apps for, say, Windows Mobile have to create programs that work on hundreds of different devices, each with its own set of hardware features. But a developer who wants to build a game that uses an accelerometer for control, for example, knows that every iPhone OS device in the world contains an accelerometer.

The iphone 3GS has different features to the ipod touch 2nd generation. Not only that but some generations will now have the iphone 4th generation software with all those extra apis and older phones wont. Same for the ipod touch, some will some won’t. Throw in a ipad with its already different screen size, cpu, etc then give it different software based on when the upgrade comes out in the world. Yes this is sounding a lot closer to the Windows Mobile world than Steve Jobs would care to admit. From my understanding by Christmas this year, there will be 2 types of iphones running v4 software, ipod wise, 1 v4 and 1 v3. throw in a Ipad and who knows what happens when the Apple TV joins in on the fun? Theres no doubt that Apple will tie the AppleTV to the rainforrest in someway and apps will make it on the platform at some point. Goodness knows what specs and capabilities that device will have, lets alone what software platform?

Nope shame on you Steve Johnson for falling for this trap (its a trap!) Open systems are better, there just unpredictable and when your worried about the stock price, this is would be off putting.

Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard and the book I’ve been shouting about the future of the internet is right, the Web does display the “generative” power of a platform where you don’t have to ask permission to create and share new ideas. If you want democratic media, where small, innovative start-ups can compete with giant multinationals, open platforms are the way to go.