I was reading a review of some new music composition software for Linux when I found a link to Planet CCRMA. Planet CCRMA provides packaged versions of what seems to be a vast collection of audio and video software. I’ve been interested in electronic music composition for a long time, but I have no music background at all. I’ve never happened across software that either inherently made sense to me, or which came with the kind of docs I apparently require in order to get clued in. Planet CCRMA provides some nice high level overviews of the applications it provides, which should hopefully help out some. Will it be enough? I have no idea, but hopefully I can take the time to find out. Something that caught my eye after reading through the list of sound applications was the prevalence of Lisp and Lisp based interfaces. Maybe my current stretch into Scheme programming will end up proving useful sooner than I had expected.
Interface Culture has been sitting on my bookshelf at home forever, but I never tried it. I grabbed it to take on a trip with me, and I’ve been pretty happy with what I’ve read so far. The reviews on Amazon I mostly agree with, the book is a bit wordy and flowery where it doesn’t really need to be, but I do think some good points are raised. Very close to the start of the book the author begins describing the accellerated rate of media change, and the rise of spoofing and meta-commentary forms of media. He uses examples like Popup Video and Mystery Science Theatre as examples of new creations which are mostly based on spoofing or commenting on existing content. After having heard Lessig speak about sampling and the necessity of existing content to be available for remixing, this part of the book is very interesting. If I had read it before I attended the Digital Vision presentation, I don’t think I would have been impressed at all. But now that I’m already in the mindset of thinking about sampling and remixing, description from Interface Culture which I would have dismissed two weeks ago is now much more interesting. I recommend reading up a bit on the Creative Commons in general (sampling and remixing in particular) and then picking up a copy of the book.
I’m done with my Austin trip, but I’m back in the airport waiting for a plane to Kansas City. Just over 24 hours at home. Enough to wash some clothes, rifle through all the equiptment and figure out what I need for the trip, nap, eat, shower, and leave. It’s been a really hectic couple of weeks. I’ve been in Palo Alto, New York, Austin, and now Kansas City. That’s why the updates here have been eratic at best. That will probably be true for the next week or so, I’ll be on site with a customer and probably quite busy. But I’m now involved with a couple of really cool new projects that should be pulling me into some unexplored areas (unexplored for me at least). Hopefully that will result in a few interesting blog updates if nothing else.
Russell Beattie posted a bit of a rant about mobile video, which contrasts somewhat with what I said in a previous blogging life. Or at least it seems to disagree at first, but I think we actually said the same things for the most part. I agree with his points about video clips being a dead end, except in the case of someone like MyCasa Network which delivers a 30 second clip of someone entering the front door of your house. That 30 seconds of video is pretty interesting. And I’m sure just about all of Italy would like to get messaged the video of the last goal scored by their favorite soccer team if they aren’t able to make the game. But in general, I think the 30 second clips of news and other programming are pretty lame. However, Russell also says that streaming TV is cool. I disagree. I don’t think services like MobiTV really have a strong appeal. I think his other applications are perfect, and quite insightful. True video streaming capability on handsets will change the ways that people interact, and will push the traditional boundaries of the services and networks. Many of these video applications will be cool. But streaming TV to a handset just sounds like shoehorning old media into a new format, and without a very good reason.
There’s a discussion of Creative Commons and some arguments against it that Lessig wrote about in his blog. The discussion about Creative Commons itself is interesting. I come down very strongly on the “CC is good” side of the discussion. Some of the cypherpunks seem to be arguing that CC is bad because it encourages people to be ignorant of copyright law. I think this argument is completely flawed. As brought up in the dicussions there, reusing a license is comparable to reusing a cryptosystem. It is nice when people userstand what they’re working with. But just because people should understand how their computer works we don’t recommend they write their own operating system and then use it regularly, nor do we expect them to reimplement SSL every time they have an online transaction to carry out online. Why should they learn copyright law and licensing in order to release something to the public?
Tom Peters has some points about offshoring up on his site. I agree with a lot of the points there. One of the ones that I like the most:
I’m visiting with some friends down in Austin. They’re big gamers, and into MMORPG in general. MMORPG stands for Massively Muliplayer Online Role Playing Game, and games like Ultima Online, The Sims, and Asheron’s Call fall into this category. They’re games which allow many people to participate in a shared space at the same time, creating what I consider to be a real virtual world. Something they showed me is a bot style system which keeps your character logged in performing simple tasks, such as casting beneficial spells on friends. I think it’s very cool, and in general a good sign for the MMORPG market in general. I know that many people have issues with bots because they’re frequently used to cheat. Many people consider the use of bots to be an unfair advantage, and that they ruin the spirit of the game. I think it’s much more important that people have crossed of the line from being just simple users to being developers. They’re looking for ways to extend and enhance the system, and they’re willing to put their own time into realizing their vision. In terms of system development, this is a good thing. When your users see new potential in your system, and see how to turn it into something more. I think it would be great if some of these games provided ways for the users to hack within the official framework. I think allowing users to hack would lead to a completely different game. Something I think would probably be a great advance.
Last night I went to a presentation by Gordon Bell at PARC. The topic of the presentation was a project called MyLifeBits, which aims to be an implementation of the Memex system originally conceived by Vannevar Bush decades ago. It certainly seems like an interesting project, despite being run under the Microsoft Research umbrella. It actually sounds like a project I was involved in a number of years ago. The project we worked on didn’t make it very far. It was just too ambitious for the resources we had, and I don’t think the team did a good job of understanding the direction the founder had (myself included). Seeing a project like this starting to take form has made me review some of the stuff we worked on. A lot of new technologies for funneling data into the system, like cheap digital cameras and GPS for location info, have changed certain aspects of the system in favor of easy use. But a lot of the issues we ran into, like rapid and reliable organization and searching methods, still seem to remain.
I just got done witnessing my first presentation by Larry Lessig. That was really quite interesting. Not only was the topic engaging, and the commentary insightful, but the format of his presentation was great. I had seen posts about the “Lessig Style” of presentation before, but hearing about it is nothing like seeing it. If you get a chance to go to one of his talks, even if you’re not that interested in the topic, it could be worth it just to see the way he presents. But on to the topic of the presentation.
I ran across the blog LEMONODOR, which has lots of info about the Lisp programming lanauge. Most of it is stuff I imagine I would never run across otherwise, and I have been trying to learn Scheme well enough that I can use LispME on my Palm to do small experiements while out and about. For someone with imperative programming so deeply ingrained in their unconscious, it’s really hard to pick up other styles. My inability to pick up the new style is indicative of me having fallen into a kind of rut in terms of my programming, so now I’m doubly resolved to be able to program effortlessly in Lisp or Scheme.
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