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Month: December 2006

Christmas Snow – Shoots @ Lupe Gallery

Well, another fun session at Seamus Ryan’s Lupe Gallery just off Columbia Road.

Many moons ago I posted about the ‘Sunday Shoots’ that Seamus used to run – in our case we caught his “windswept” session. These were a real laugh and very inventive.

Much to my upset Lupe has stopped opening on Sundays (coinciding with the Columbia Road Flower Market) and has returned to being predominantly a working studio. While the footfall in the gallery/studio space was always very healthy I can understand that it may not have converted well enough into sales.

Still, in a combination of community spirit, humour and ongoing project work, Seamus opens the gallery on an approximately monthly basis for his “Sunday Shoots”. These take a theme and are open to all-comers to pose (or should I say “participate”.

The “Snow” shoot took the form of a converted PhotoMe booth, replete with the obligatory wind machine (which Manon just LOVES), blobs of cotton-wool snow and strings of snow-like cotton wool, blowing in the breeze. A rather nice medium format camera (with very fast, sharp digital back – a new acquisition? 😉 ) was in place of the usual camera and the results were near-instantly available outside the booth to see.

Have a look at some of the other images – we’re in “Snow Booth 2” on the Sunday Shoots website. You can see a lovely one of Caroline, lovely neighbour, with Alice; Manon posing alone; me and Manon and then this of Manon, Alice and me.

Oh – note that this image and all the other are (c) Seamus Ryan.

Oh#2 – we’re all shouting “SNOW”, by the way, rather than yo-ho-ho-ing.

SECOND LIFE: A story too good to check – Valleywag

I’ve been mentioning SecondLife a lot recently: not because I’m a fan (too old, too time-poor, and I prefer wandering aimlessly through real cities), but because it’s a useful, tangible on-screen activity that serves to make people pause and consider current 2-D screen experiences and the nature of “selling”, “doing” and “interacting”.

Friends comment time and again that “it’s like a MUD” etc and of course I agree – it’s just that a) many of my clients never used MUDs and b) MUDs aren’t easy to demo.

Still, there’s a certain reservation about adding to the 2L hype and this piece by Clay Shirky looks behind the numbers, statements and claims to give a credible, pragmatic reason why the 2L frenzy should be taken with a pinch of virtual salt. More importantly though this piece doesn’t simply dismiss 2L but places it in perspective – both in terms of MUDs and other 3-D past lives, and in the context of how fads are adopted.

The browser becomes the Operating System – Socialtext Launches Unplugging Capability

One of the characteristics of Web3.0 (enough of the numerical increments already!) is the rise of the browser’s gradual replacement of the operating system.

What do I mean by this? Until recently the browser simply ‘reflected’ the design and functionality of the website it was pointed at. Increasingly, these websites are providing desktop-replacement activities (software-as-service applications from; Writely; Google Docs; blogging software…). Reflecting on a busy day at the keyboard and I realise that most of my life is spent in multiple browser windows rather than in desktop applications or using the OS in an obvious way.

I could, conceivably, operate pretty well on a machine (any OS) with just Firefox and some local storage.

The issue that holds back the browser’s dominance is that it requires connectivity. Sounds trivial, but until we have ubiquitous (and I’m talking about while on the move, in the wilds and on clients’ locked-down LANs) the inability to work locally, off-line is a killer non-feature.

In the past the solution was heavy, complicated and resource-heavy “synchronising” applications: Lotus Notes (gorblessit), MS Exchange offline working, or other such systems. Groove made an attempt at an online/offline world, but all of these offerings were expensive, slow and resource heavy. They were also closed in nature, confining your activity to their realm.

The crop of new applications and services that use a local ‘cache’ to store “offline” activity, or indeed as an ongoing data store (eg Zotero) is growing.

This announcement from Socialtext will not only increase the attractiveness and usefulness of wikis, but will accelerate the browser’s ascendancy.

“Sweatshop software”?

TechCrunch UK � Blog Archive � Virtual Worlds, Real Potential – Imaginary Numbers?

Mike Butcher’s doing an excellent job with TechCrunchUK – now one of the most readable and interesting places to keep abreast of the UK’s web2.0 scene. In fact Mike’s has moved away from the “look – shiny things!” simpering coverage of much of Web2.0 and has turned TCUK (is there a t-shirt there? “Who gives a TCUK?”) into a technology and entrepreneurship news service.

Typical of his coverage is this little nugget of commentary (in a story on Virtual Worlds and their real-world economic imapct):

Anshe Chung (the first 2nd Life real life (R/L) millionairess) uses 50 people in China to build habitats (is this sweatshop software?), and over 10,000 people are making real money trading on the site.

This is an insight with which to conjure. It shows the frictionless, boundary-less nature of digital skills, the speed with which one can outsource and the rapidity with which a service model can be developed and deployed.

On a day that the UK Government’s Small Business Service their exhortations to industry to make “design” part of their competitive strategy one has to wonder how grounded is their thinking. One “creative designer” can develop a service and have that in production and on sale in a literal blink of an eye. Whether this is virtual services to remote users in an invented world; writing software; providing support; researching and subediting or – perish the thought – taking industrial designs and manufacturing them elsewhere. Anywhere. Maybe not even ‘in real life’.

Swivel – a web2.0 home for statistic junkies

Cute site for addicts of statistics and charts, weird correlations and factoid-addicts. This is a social (user content, community, sharing, rating etc) site where people can either dump their favourite charts from their powerpoint, or can indulge in their love for data points…

Currently it’s a bit hit and miss, but a combination of a good search engine and user ratings should get to a decent balance of relevance, quality and humour. I’ll be watching.

In the meantime it’s like the strapline says:

Swivel is a place where curious people explore all kinds of data.
As a preview it’s rough around the edges. May your love for data guide you.

Love indeed.

Card Bawdy. Card is a four letter word.

Glorious site!

I’ve already posted about the origami envelop from the good folk at Flying Pig. Their recent newsletter mentioning the Christmas models for you to cut out and make (ideal for entertaining the kids).

The newsletter also mentioned, tongue in cheek, that the owner, Rob Ives, has “been forced” to remove links to the ‘naughty’ card creations – CardBawdy (as in ‘cardboad-y’, I assume. Heh). You can see the delightfully British ‘bonking bunnies’ above.

It’s a cute piece of marketing since – unsurprisingly – Rob’s the person behind CardBawdy too.

At £2.95 for the rabbits though it’s hardly any more expensive that a posh birthday card, yet way more fun.

Pass me the scissors, please!

Annotating the Planet – Jon Udell: A Google Maps walking tour of Keene, NH

This is a rather fetching screencast from Jon Udell showing how he’s converted a winter’s walk (with GPS device and digital camera) into a mapped ‘walk’ – where each waypoint links to photos, movies and other information.

Looking to a future where we’ll all have GPS chips in our cameraphones, it’s easy to see that ‘personal geo-experience’ maps could take their share of the limelight alongside (written) blogs and (filmed) YouTube files as part of the human testament of experience.

Best of all about this thought is that it moves the emphasis away from the “literary” dominance of the web (ie typing, words, keyboards, written exchanges and discourse), and from ‘filmic’ interlopers and onto a level of recorded, actual movement and experience _in_ our world, and not just _about_ our world.

More “met ya” than “meta”. Interesting.