Sunday, 30 April 2006

What Al did next

One from Wired. As they bill it, He invented the Internet (sort of). He became President (almost). Now Al Gore has found his true calling: using the power of technology to save the world.

But, while Wired 14.05: The Ressurection of Al Gore is an interesting read in itself, elsewhere in the same issue you can see the shape that US environmentalism is now taking. The Next Green Revolution is subtitled How technology is leading environmentalism out of the anti-business, anti-consumer wilderness.. This is probably fair enough, once tech gets to a certain level it makes sense to engage with it rather that slavishly adopt the policy of protest at all levels.

What worries me is the whiff of the dead hand of neo-conservatism about all this. There's also a table in the same issue which looks at the Pros and Cons of what it refers to as the 'old guard' environmentalists. Under cons for Friends of the Earth is listed: "Suspicious of nuclear power, carbon-trading markets, and free trade."

Free market environmentalism is an oxymoron and then some. Looks like the US might be going its own way again.

Thursday, 27 April 2006

Destabilising the moral fabric of society

Well, we all have a go at it at some point.

Latest target in the US Senate seems to be videogames, which no doubt will drag the children of the US down into the moral mire of degeneracy from whence they shall not escape. So Wired has put together this handy little list or morally destablising pasttimes through the ages it refers to as The Culture War.

Thus we have movies demonised:

"This new form of entertainment has gone far to blast maidenhood ... Depraved adults with candies and pennies beguile children with the inevitable result. The Society has prosecuted many for leading girls astray through these picture shows, but GOD alone knows how many are leading dissolute lives begun at the 'moving pictures.'"
- The Annual Report of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1909

And (my favourite), that evil canker eating at the heart of society, the waltz.

"The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced ... at the English Court on Friday last ... It is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous inter­twining of the limbs, and close com­pressure of the bodies ... to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was con­fined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is ... forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion."
- The Times of London, 1816

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

On public service gaming

A fairly long but thoughtful essay posted on the ever-wonderful Wonderland on the subject of public service gaming. Okay, so there's always a US angle to this where PBS is seen as a fairly minority concept rather than being the backbone of our national broadcast service as it is over here that has to be taken into account, and as the games industry is primarily US led, that leaches through. Good stuff though. A samplette:

Public Service Media probably suffers too much from being tagged as 'worthy' for it ever to have a public persona. Public service media should be like cod liver oil pills: life-enhancing and good for you, as long as you can't taste it. A public service game can range from a quality web-based bit of fun to a multi-million-pound commercial co-production for the expensive stuff (much like Rome, a BBC & HBO co-pro TV show), but must have a primary focus on quality and integrity, not just a fast buck.

Monday, 24 April 2006

Meanwhile in Kathmandu...

Nepalese photo blog is blogging pictures of the ongoing situation in Kathmandu, which I post myself a) in the interestes of spreading what they're doing and b) in the increasingly forlorn hope that I'll get out there any time soon.

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Sony Ericsson hitches to bandwagon shock

Sony Ericsson! Sees market for! TV on phones soon! - Yahoo! News

But they're not quite as optimistic as everyone else who'll be tub0thumping at NAB this week, saying '07 or '08 are theyears when it will break through. Also, this interesting little snippetette:

The head of wireless equipment giant Ericsson said earlier this week that operators were also taking a look at MBMS as being more user-friendly and allowing more on-demand services. The group has done a trial of MBMS in Stockholm.

MediaGuardian: Sales surge for Brit TV | Broadcast | Sales surge for Brit TV

The revenue generated by the export of British television programmes including Jamie's School Dinners and Midsomer Murders leapt by 21% in 2005 to £632m.

UK television export figures, which cover sales of programmes, formats and related DVD, video and merchandising, show a marked increase on the 2004 figure of £524m with particular growth last year in revenues from Germany, Spain and the US.

Wednesday, 12 April 2006

Developing - the future

Good one from The Escapist on the problems of modern day game developing written by Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association.

How, he asks, can the industry develop to maturity when the average developer's career span is around five years? Interesting point...

Monday, 10 April 2006

Darwin strikes back

Looks like the Royal Society is getting feisty on the creationism 'debate'. Go get 'em, boys.

Next live Webcast: Why creationism is wrong and evolution is right

Webcast commences: 1730GMT / 1830BST Tuesday 11th April

Intro:Many biologists are worried by a recent and unexpected return of an argument based on belief by the certainty, untestable and unsupported by evidence, that life did not evolve but appeared by supernatural means. Worldwide, more people believe in creationism than in evolution.

Why do no biologists agree? Steve Jones will talk about what evolution is, about new evidence that men and chimps are close relatives and about how we are, nevertheless, unique and why creationism does more harm to religion than it does to science.

Got the story off El Reg, whose Google ads service unfortunately automatically slathered the page with ads about how Intelligent Design is the one truth etc. Actually, last time I mentioned Darwin on this site I started getting email from Godbotherers telling me I should open my eyes and look at the evidence for ID (well, one email anyway) so they're quite fearsomely organised. And aren't those opposable thumbs handy for using a keyboard...

Saturday, 8 April 2006


Following the isochronic tube map I blogged about in January (isochronic maps basically have temporal contour lines, so that points further away in travel time are depicted as being further away on the map) here's a neat dynamically-generated map of San Francisco via boingboing.

Cabspotting is a San Francisco Exploratorium (rapidly becoming Holiday Obsession Number Two) project. As they put it in in their description:

Cabspotting traces San Francisco's taxi cabs as they travel throughout the Bay Area. The patterns traced by each cab create a living and always-changing map of city life. This map hints at economic, social, and cultural trends that are otherwise invisible. The Exploratorium has invited artists and researchers to use this information to reveal these "Invisible Dynamics."

Thursday, 6 April 2006

Life Stops May 2

Why? You ask, gentle reader. Because at 22.00 on that day the Programming Witches at Channel 4 have decreed that Series 2 of Lost will start.

All this and Doctor Who too.

Oh, and speaking to someone yesterday who's read the first few scripts of Who spin-off Torchwood, he said (and I quote) "This is the sci-fi TV show that British television deserves."


Microsoft buys Lionhead

BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft snaps up UK games guru

So, Molyneux's gone to the dark side then. The BBC piece mentions the fact that he recently had to lay off a fifth of his staff, about 50 people. Last time I was up there, there was a team of about 15 working on the first Black & White. Guess that shows just what Brobdingagian efforts modern games are becoming.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

A Class Act

Arthur C Clarke photographed recently for something or other. What it is isn't important. What is important is how completely class that t-shirt he's wearing is. a ) Respect! and b) even though I'm not entitled to wear it, I think I want one

Monday, 3 April 2006

April Fool archive

While still trying to get over the April Fool that was Bath managing to beat Leicester Tigers (a heroic result and then some), I came across this gem on Inky Circus.

Seems that the venerable Slashdot decided to redesign for a day to appeal to more female readers. Thus it's usual tagline, 'News for nerds. Stuff that Matters', got changed to 'OMG!!!! Ponies!!!!'. Nicely done.

As the girls say: For a bunch of men whose closest contact with women comes via their Avatars, this was kind of funny. In a tragically obvious way.

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Wired 14.04: Geekonomics

Interesting if a little short piece from Wired on the value of scarcity in online world economies. Wired 14.04: Geekonomics

Now, of course no-one's been able to trust a word any American has written on economic matters since Milton bloody Friedman was a teenager, and as usual it comes with a certain amount of neo-liberal baggage. But it makes a good point about scarcity having to be made explicit in the game world, and there are some interesting egs.

In the early days of Ultima Online, storage space was unlimited. Eventually, a guy decided to hoard 10,000 shirts, utterly borking the market for cloth.

Only thing that worries me a tad: the US already seems to have modeled its foreign policy on Desert Strike, it's not going to start running its economy on Everquest lines is it?