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  • Dave 7:05 pm on July 3, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Augmented Reality, openFrameworks   

    Augmented Shadow [openFrameworks] 

    Augmented Shadow is a design experiment producing an artificial shadow effect through the use of tangible objects, blocks, on a displayable tabletop interface. The project plays on the fact that shadows present distorted silhouettes depending on the light. Augmented Shadows take the distortion effect into the realm of fantasy. Shadows display below the objects according to the physics of the real world. However, the shadows themselves transform the objects into houses, occupied by shadow creatures. By moving the blocks around the table the user sets off series of reactions within this new fantasy ecosystem.

    For more prototypes of the project, see here and for sketches see here.

    Augmented Shadow was created by Joon Y. Moon, a programmer, designer who is exploring the realm of interaction, generative code and motion design on a basis of visual communication design. The project is a thesis project at the Parsons The New School for Design – Download .doc.

    (Via CreativeApplications.Net.)

  • Dave 6:58 pm on July 3, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Flash, Games, iPhone, Physical   

    The Pirata Boat Race 

    The Pirata Boat Race [iPhone, Flash, Games]:

    The Pirata Boat Race pits two teams against one another to row themselves to victory. With up to ten shipmates split between two vessels, the aim is to propel your boat to the finish line before the other team, using your iPhone as your oars.

    The experience is much closer to console gaming than usually found online. The site itself acts as a hub, allowing multiple people to huddle around the screen, snap the QR code on their iPhones and propel their boat via the built-in accelerometer.

    To play the Boat Race head on over to and download the free app from the App Store.

    Developer: Pirata London Ltd

    (Via CreativeApplications.Net.)

  • Dave 9:06 am on July 20, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: Locative; Broadcast; services; listings; representation   

    Social software’s expanding scope 

    Social software is continually spreading in scope and functionality. Previously we looked at how facebook can be decentralised and it’s functionality owned by individuals; and we outlined a stack of services and upstream RSS and API syndication that can implement this already.

    Our electronic representations are evolving, though; while our first few generations of social software have given us simple social networks and grouping features, they exist in the old internet, the geography-busting utopia of the 90s. As our electronic representations weave increasingly into our offline lives, aspects of our corporeality must feed back into our electronic selves if they are to make any sense. What liberated us with the original web, what gave us Amazon and eBay and communities united by interest not location, are being rediscovered as aspects of our new presences. We are learning again that it would be nice to meet our electronic friends face-to-face, to use our software to help us better socialise in the real world than simply exchange packets.

    To this end, a number of services are appearing which inject location into the social representation stack. Fire Eagle, Yahoo’s location notification service, recently posted a list of services that integrate with their system (as well as emphasising the point that they’re not a first-order social network service, instead choosing to concentrate on providing broad-but-shallow locative services as part of the stack to other social software).


    As my aims are different from Fire Eagle’s, it makes sense for me to replicate their list here; mine will expand to include geographic services which are not necessarily associated with Fire Eagle. I’d like to thank them for a useful starting point.

    Location broadcasting services

    Hybrid location and social networking

    Locative search services

  • Dave 1:18 am on July 13, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: aggregation, , Jorn Barger, linkblogging, RSS, social network, stack, syndication   

    Robot Wisdom auxiliary: Everyone should (link)blog 

    Jorn’s been goaded enough to throw some opinion around. Not just his 5 word opinion, but a really irritated multiple-paragraphs of opinion.

    And so we come full circle. Jorn Barger, coiner of the term ‘blog’, who in retrospect was really writing a linkblog the whole time (though we lacked the context to give it such a relative label), joins the linkblog/linklog fray. Before taking a swipe at boingboing, he rightly points out that the best linklog tool is And having watched Jorn’s site over the years, growing from manual HTML maintenance, to blogger, via third party RSS scrape-and-bake services, his current solution is perfect.

    (More …)

  • Dave 12:17 pm on June 9, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: authenticity, fakes, Google, Google news, Walter Benjamin   

    Good News? 

    It’s the latest version of an old idea.

    The medium is the message: that we are now past the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction and into the question of authenticity in the age of perfect reconstruction.

    Pages and ideas like this have circulated in joke books and humour magazines for years, the creation of a pastiche of an already iconic pages (such as TV Guides, newspapers, et al) but what’s really interesting about this piece is that it’s based on an electronic, web-based original.

    On non-web based media, the source material and the output are inter-related; there is no output without access to the sources. If I want to make a newspaper page, I need newsprint, news inks, access to printing presses and whatever hardware is used these days to transfer the ink onto the page. I need the same tools and software that is used to mark the page up. Without these things, the page will always be an imitation of the original. A copy of the Guardian printed on an inkjet printer, or using comic sans, just isn’t the Guardian, even if it contains the same text as the original.

    The web is a medium where content is decoupled from it’s physical rendering; we are used to accessing the same web page on a CRT, an LCD, your laptop, or your phone. The colour is slightly different, the resolution changes, but the same site seen on each device will be understood as equivalent. Beyond this, however, it also encapsulates it’s own production process; that is, the document is not a ‘baked’ final version, as a printed page is; the output document can be accessed or viewed as the elements of the mechanism that produced it. “View Source” grants access to this; it’s the only medium I’m aware of that is so self-documenting.

    As a result, authenticity is defenestrated. Authenticity is not an aspect of the final document, nor can it ever be; authenticity is instead implied by source (the URL the page is accessed from, as every paypal scammer knows) or simply the look; unlike television, radio, or the press, there is no feel to the medium itself that separates an amateur from a professional, no cost barriers (such as owning a printing press or radio transmitter and studio) to divide the two.

    This is what is so uncanny about this page; it is an exact reproduction of a page that doesn’t exist, but at the same time (apart from the URL) is sensorially perfect; if Google news generated this page, this is exactly how it would appear, down to the byte. I had never stopped to give pause as to how important domain names were as our only layer of verifiability. Anyone can perfectly imitate anyone else in this medium.

  • Dave 9:48 pm on May 24, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: computer mediated, Director, game, interaction, , Lingo, Shockwave, Space Invaders   

    HCI in games, from the C’s perspective 

    Something of a blast from the past, a little project I threw together during my postgrad days.

    First, it’s written in Director. We had none of that flash back in those days! We were grateful that we could even altavista for imaging lingo snippets (people who remember this will be cringing, the kids these days will be thinking… imaging flash?). Director recently came back from the dead, and you can get the plugin here.

    It’s a quick hack version of space invaders, which, for some reason, I implemented obscure MAME controls to start. You’ll be pressing 5, then 1, to start a game. I know, I know. And yes, there’s no defence blocks; this was to avoid clouding the high concept… (game after the jump)

    (More …)

  • Dave 10:46 am on May 17, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , passwords, sign-on, sign-on sanity, standardisation, transparency   

    Request for sanity in passwords. 

    Passwords, and our need to remember vast quantities of them, are one of the uncomfortable nescessities of modern-day life on the net. To access our bits of the cloud without needing to rely on a single machine to do it from, to provide our credentials, are tasks we have – almost without thinking – entrusted to classic text-mode computer science processes.
    While biometrics (such as fingerprint readers and iris scanners) are showing up on more ‘business’ laptops, they’re still only a local solution – there’s no standardised mechanism to send a fingerprint to a website for authentication, and once you’re sending electronic data, you can’t be sure whether the source was the authentic finger or falsified captured data, leaving you in a no-more secure (but less demanding) position anyway. Should your authentication token – your fingerprint – be compromised, it’s exceedingly difficult to change, but does offer the benefit of not relying on human memory for storage. Other people swear by automated password managers, but these are locked to a piece of hardware, and a battery, both of which will fail when they are needed most.

    While we’re stuck with passwords, we should make them as painless as possible to use. My personal process is to have three passwords, at differing levels of privacy:

    • A ‘public’ password, which I use for accounts I share with friends and do not care about compromising
    • A private password, which I share across a number of services
    • A high-security password, which is super-secret and only used for services which involve money, or present themselves as an authentic me

    Anecdotal experience tells me a lot of people rely on similar schemes. This is a common approach, but did anyone tell security and sign-on developers? Seemingly not because this conflicts hugely with how many websites operate. While humans exist in a world where the aim is to minimise password redundancy (ie, memorising as few as possible), many online accounts aim to maximise password uniqueness: the password must be between 4, 6 or 8 and 8, 10 or 20 characters in length; it cannot or must contain special characters, which may include or preclude any, all, or some of dollar signs, pound signs, punctuation, underscores, accented characters and spaces You can or cannot start the password with a space, if that was a permissible character. They often seem designed to best suit the security or IT manager’s existing password schema, and I imagine there’s a fascinating study out there about this already.
    It’s a wild-west of password requirements, basically, but human ingenuity always finds a way. We trim our passwords to suit the per-site rules, eliminating that now-illegal space, duplicating phrases to reach the minimum letter count. We do all in our power to preserve the spirit of the password, within the constraints of the rules.
    Here’s some of those rules, pulled from a random website.It tells me the rules only after I propose my sign-in password (looks like the other davemee beat me to signing up here too). Ideally, it should have let me know in advance, but at least it tells me. Let’s review the constraints it’s imposing here:

    1. Longer than 6 characters
    2. Less than 12
    3. Contain at least one letter
    4. Contain at least one number
    5. Contain only letters and numbers

    This eliminates at least one of my passwords, the one I’d typically use for the level of security required here. I need to change it to conform.

    On the same site, contrast with the login page (pictured below).
    Without recording the site and credentials somewhere, my presumed login would fail here. I know which account I’m likely to have used, but without knowing the constraints imposed by the site, I would never be able to derive the correct password. When I enter my (illegal) credentials, it tells me my login details were wrong, but makes no mention (nor reminder) of the restrictions imposed on the password – I’d only find this out by creating a new account and having the password rejected a second time.

    I’m not singling this site out, whoever they are – lots of sites do this. What disappoints me is this is such standardised, minimum-effort behaviour, which could be turned around with so little work to make the world a better place. We’d have less misleading sign-up figures from the bigger websites, more honest advertising figures, and better preservation of online identity. Sign-up, -in and -on interaction would stop being a hurdle and start being part of a sane, simple transaction.


    I have a few ideas about what could be done here; I propose a SOS (sign-on sanity) group or marque that would guarantee predictability of registration. Minimum requirements would be to

    • Spell out admissible characters for passwords, at both account creation and log-in time (this could be inline in the page, or as a popup display)
    • Make explicit how case is treated, accented and non-latin characters are treated, and minimum/maximum size requirements
    • Not impose back-end details on password choice; for example, banning leading spaces, banning dollar signs, backslashes and other ‘escapable’ characters

    I also propose a full-compliance award, which would involve the above as well as

    • A standardised set of acceptable characters, with a link to the SOS website where the characters would be made explicit
    • Visible feedback (flashes, error highlights) when an inadmissable character is entered into a password field, without stating what that character is (‘the 5th character entered was bad’ rather than ‘% is not a permitted character’), for browsers supporting this functionality.

    With this approach, the guesswork is eliminated from password recall, and the need to rely on external tools, whether paper or software, is greatly diminished. There would be fewer aborted registrations and less overhead from users having password-related issues at sign in, all the while requiring no major infrastructure changes, and only minimum additions to a few pages for site managers and administrators.

  • Dave 4:07 pm on May 15, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: behavioural, GUI, , metrics, naturalistic, UGC, usability, users   

    Passive Metrics 

    I’ve been writing a few (pending) pieces on user interfaces and social networks, and where they seem to be going. There’s been a lot of buzz recently about Schulze & Webb’s Olinda social radio project, which is a online listening software realised in hardware. It takes cues about your interest in a station by looking at volume levels; the idea being that the volume you listen at reflects your interest in that station. started out with a similar concept; listening to the entirety of a song was also a ‘preference’ vote (or that you were away from your computer, how can you tell the difference?), and that skipping a song indicated you didn’t like it. These are quite harsh metrics; there could be other reasons for skipping a song (you’re not in the right mood, you have a twitchy mouse finger) so it’s not necessarily an analogue for voting.

    However, I’m particularly enamoured of two things happening here; user-generated metrics and passive data gathering. User-generated metrics is the idea that users and their behaviour in an electronic space provide very tangible feedback about their relationship to those spaces. The classic example is Amazon’s recommendation engine – people who bought that also bought this – but there are many abstracts ways this information can be gathered, and what it can mean. Passive data gathering is the idea that, like the example above, the way people interact with devices (and interfaces) provide a great deal of extraneous objective information, which could not be gathered should the same information was expressed in explicit terms. ‘Skip this song’ says so much more than a form which assessed your liking of the current song, and whether you’d like to hear it again in a week, month or year. Just skip it; if I skip it again, I don’t want to hear it.

    (More …)

  • Dave 4:55 pm on May 7, 2008 Permalink
    Tags: , pillow graph, spending,   

    Beautiful interactive pillow graph at the NYT 

    The NYT has a lovely pillow graph of how the typical consumer’s spending patterns break down. Take a look!

    Thumbnail of the graph - go see it at I’d seen pillow graphs before (my introduction was SequioaView, the disk-space analysis tool) but I’d never seen them organised into a circle, with such organic structuring – I’m not sure it conveys as much information as the cubic pillow map, but it feels more immediate and natural.

    The addition of colour to convey change adds an extra dimension, particularly with that Tuftesque colour palette, but shows only a relative snapshot in time. It would be nice to see this animated, adding a ‘year’ slider to reallocate space as the year changed and showing absolute percentages, and colour being used to emphasise the relative differences.

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