Mitch Kapor on techno-utopias

I’m currently reading Bruce Sterling’s ‘The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier‘. It’s “Literary Freeware” and can be found online in several forms. I’m a sucker for clean simplicity, so I’m loving the early-90s-HTML version archived at MIT.  I’m learning all sorts of things, including a lot more than I previous knew about the EFF.

Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus, co-founder of EFF, and these days an investor in Second Life, gets a big mention in chapter 4, and these facts really caught my eye too.

  • Apparently his surname is pronounced KAY-por. I’ve been doing that wrong forever. Oops.
  • The name Lotus is a reference to Eastern mysticism, something Mitch had a long-term interest in.
  • Lotus bought VisiCalc and quietly extinguished it. I didn’t know that.

Best of all though is this quote:

“I’m very opposed to techno-utopias. Every time I see one, I either run away, or try to kill it.”

Of Lotus, EFF and Second Life, I have to wonder which he ran away from and which he’s trying to kill 😉

More Eightbar and Hursley Second Life on the TV

BBC Click interviews our extended Eightbar family with Zygmunt Lozinski, an IBM master inventor in Barcelona at the 3GSM conference, about Second Life
The film and interview is about what really got us interested with Second Life in the first place. The ability to communicate out and communicate in.
There is a fly through of the junkyard playpen that is Hursley and IQ in Second Life, with some shots of what is left of Wimbledon, Hammy’s Tower and some of the odd bits and pieces. On the TV the eightbar specialist group name is clearly seen, a little harder on the web version.
It then moves to the public IBM islands where a stand was created to communicate with the real stand at 3GSM through mobile devices.
As Zygmunt points out being connected anytime anywhere should not be restricted to the physical world, but can encompass the virtual.
The programme website is here with a watch now button. When it moves to the archive I will update this article.
The time indexes to catch this are 21:10 to 23:13 on the video.
It fits with many of the things we talk to everyone about, then blend from web 2.0, the connectedness of things. It also makes a change for it not to be me or Roo on the TV 🙂
Sorry again if the BBC usage policies mean that its hard to get to watch this elsewhere.

Web 2.0 and virtual worlds introduction presentation

I’ve uploaded the current version of my usual presentation to SlideShare. It sets virtual worlds in the context of Web 2.0, as well as giving a potted history of my interest in Second Life and current IBM activities in the area.

Click through to the presentation itself for some handy links on many of the slides. Feel free to add your own comments and questions to it as well. On my own blog there’s a fairly detailed overview of what I actually say when giving this presentation which you might enjoy too.

Long tail spam

As you probably know, Eightbar runs on WordPress. Akismet is a pretty good spam filter. Viagra, casinos and all manner of unspeakable nastiness and vile unpleasantness has no chance of getting though. On the other hand, how can I expect it to spot and handle comment spam such as this one we received this morning…

This site contains relevant information about irregular verb french.

Yes, those pesky spammers, realising spam filters are too clever for them, have begun harnessing the power of niche spam. Or, as Tim O’Reilly might nauseatingly put it “monetizing the long tail“.

Today we’ve had all of these make it through Akismet and into the comments:

  • irregular verb french
  • world of jewels category
  • knitting pattern for sweater
  • steam turbine
  • scratching with long nail
  • cochlear implant controversy

some of which are amusingly eclectic and downright odd (I particularly grinned at the first and the last in the list).

Meanwhile, Akismet did manage to catch:

  • transnational bus malaysia
  • rest area usa
  • girlie lake
  • professional resume writing services
  • Reviews on drilling through brick wall
  • Delete this spam!

So there is hope yet. The last one, I think, was not really trying very hard though.

So, my apologies if you see the odd bit of comment spam in Eightbar. I hope it is at least weird enough to make you smile.

Roo is flying high

If you happen to be flying with British Airways this month, look out for their in-flight magazine Business Life. There’s a cover feature and 6 page article on Second Life. Roo is mentioned on the last page, although thanks to a typo they seem to think he’s Metaverse Evangelist at “IMB Labs” (sic).

(I realise it is nearly the end of the month, but I only just found out about this)

Quest for Fame

Several things reminded me of the fun I had with Quest For Fame a game that had IBM all over its packaging way back.
Primarily it was the appearance of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith at the brits then on various radio shows. Quest for Fame in its jazzed up version had Aerosmith songs in it, real ones and the band in cut out film form. QFF was a bemani style guitar game, with a very clever plectrum. The plectrum let you rock on a tennis racket and strum with the music. It made for both the need for real rythm in a guitar context (just you did not need to do the chords) but it also pulled you into the song and made you a part of it.
The other thing that had me thinking about this was Daz and how much he likes guitar hero plus I am looking forward to this making its way to the 360.
With all the inventive Wii control excitement, our diving into virtual worlds Second Life etc and producing chips for all the major games consoles maybe it is time for Quest for Fame to make a comeback?
I need to see if I can find my old plectrums, plug them in and get them pumping data into one of the many cool Second Life instruments.

Kinematics, physical simulation and Brother Lee Love

Over at Rebang there is a post and video of some of the work Lucasarts are doing with their Kinematic and situationally aware character engines. For those of us who are software engineers, gamers and a little bit artistic we appreciate the depth of work that goes into producing systems like this.
Recently we have had several conversation relating to the lack of this sort of physics modelling in Second Life. Many of the more techie of us are busy building little skeletons and physics models that in normal game engines would be part of the middleware.
Now there is some element of intellectual challenge and coding and design art to this. However if we had the middleware for better simulations and physics modelling we could then spend the time on the valuable applications.
One example is a slow burn sideline project sparked by some of my collegues. One of being able to use sign language in Second Life. The basic avatar is not equipped to deal with the subtle movements required. So I have started to build some hands. Of course this then has led to having to start to build a joint structure. Anyone who has used poser of avmitor will know how usefull if is to be able to just position arms and legs allowing for the actual joints, aka kinematics

The hands also can have another use, for those of you who remember kenny everett’s TV

Morphing fun with Avatars

I happened upon a post on mind hacks about morphing an average face from lots of faces. I really like morphing images, even its a very 80’s pop video thing. So naturally it seemed a good idea to see who I was, on average, in Second Life.
This has led to a spate of these, so expect to see some unsual eightbar images in the next few weeks. Roo has some classics in the pipeline. Not all Second Life related.

The set of images on flickr had a comment that led to SqirlzMorph

Another odd chain of events. I have mindhacks RSS feed because Daz said he did not like that sort of thing, this led to a morphing post that caught my eye, to a piece of software used by a flickr user that I then talked to Roo about as we were in the office which led to a hey Second Life avatars that might work, which then got posted on youtube, and blogged here.

I think I am blending a little bit a la Eric Rice

About the book

I am currently enjoying the SL time shift and watching Walker, Catherine, Wagner and Aimee doing an event about the ‘book’
Aimee and I had some fun with the book cover whilst waiting
There were lots of good questions, the odd sim problem that kept us all amused and a good vibe. Plus I like the book so it was a nice addition to be able to hang with the authors and stars and a whole host of ’03’s as well