Archive for the ‘1996’ Category

Inventing for the Internet the Early Years

June 24, 2010

Inventing for the Internet

Over on the Inventor Blog, I have just posted on Inventing for the Internet – the Early Years. Below is a brief synopsis but please see the post for the examples.


Here is a look at inventing for the Internet written in 2005 looking back over the ten year period from 1995 up to 2005. In general, the focus was on making new use of the medium:

  1. People can interact to make content not just view content
  2. People can communicate with each other
  3. A computer mediates to enforce rules of a game or environment
  4. Production and distribution of virtual objects are free

Other inventive focus was the relation between story and game play. Sometimes a story would suggest game play but usually a relevant story was created for a given game play.

Here are the comments about inventing features for the Internet in the early years. Many of these ideas would have relevance being redone in today’s social media aware world – because we were socially aware in the past but perhaps did not quite have the platforms and sharing systems worked out.

Inventions for 2005 – 2010 will be the focus of the next posting.

Enjoy – Dan Zen – Full Post

Gorgolon – Underwater Civilization RPG

December 9, 2005

Perhaps one of Dan Zen’s most elaborate games, Gorgolon is a sci-fi role playing spot-the-artificial-intelligence group-writing adventure. Here is the background in a nutshell:

The planet was experiencing polar melting and had to come to terms with living under water. They set up computer systems to determine the best way to start anew. Origin 5 was chosen which said to mine a vast pool of glass between the ocean floor and the molten core and live in glass bubbles. They were to run connected air towers up and down and heat the up tower with the furnaces to create circulation and create a large gorgle sound – welcome to Gorgolon.

This turns out well and there is more story in the help section. But, every day at 12 noon, a fire ivy, nurtured by static charge, grows up the towers to the surface where it discharges and causes a static storm which garbles signals between saucer fliers and Origin 5. The fliers, must identify which signal is Origin 5 or else their saucer will crash.

The game can be joined at any time (see the help section to become a Gorgolonian) and you will report to Origin 5 to help it monitor the progress of the civilization by answering a series of questions. It turns out that the leaders of the game get to read all the answers to the questions as a reward for their valor. There are over 5,000 lines of communal sci-fi from over 1,000 Gorgolonians.

But, the actual game play happens at 12 noon where anyone that is flying a saucer gets to see multiple channels. For a period of two minutes, they can talk to the others and try to pick which other channel is Origin 5 or the artificial intelligence as opposed to another player.

The game is a Turing test. But a complex environment has been woven around it. An environment that was inspired by a Dan Zen Space Rock concept album (with Thee Gnostics). Two apparently different concepts were brought together and a story was told as to how they relate. This is the same technique for creativity that is discussed in the Tower of Babel.

Dan Zen Stones

December 9, 2005

For an offline marketing campaign, Dan Zen collected hundreds of lake stones and stamped on them. These were distributed around campuses, streets, shops, homes, etc. Online ads in Shift Magazine site said, “whenever you see a stone, think Dan Zen”. This type of association can lead to fairly long-term life.

Samples can be seen here.

When distributing a bucket of stones around Sheridan College, it was discovered that the Sheridan pathways are lined with these types of stones. The distribution was halted as it would appear that someone had just gone around stamping their stones. Ten years later, Dan Zen teaches at Sheridan in the Interactive Multimedia program.

Dan Zen – Signature Coincidence

December 9, 2005

The Dan Zen site officially launched with a launch party. To see the online invitation, click here.

The site featured an animated gif intro that explained the metaphor of the site. The intro was based on a coincidence where a simple psychology-type test yielded the same pattern as the Dan Zen signature.

The elements of the test were used as the main sections – creative (content), self (about Dan Zen), philosophy (about the games) and materialism (purchase).

The games were for sale through an early secure server in two ways – for home play and for site play. The home play offered set content like ten lists of items to anagram. The site play offered updateable content so the Webmaster could change what words were in a list to anagram. It was soon determined that charging money for community type games like Salamander and Gorgolon would not work. Up-sells were provided, etc. but in the online world where so many alternatives are free, sales were hard to come by.

In 1998 Dan Zen took the site down to focus all interests on one game at a time.

Salamander – Master of Disguise

December 9, 2005

Salamander was first played as an offline game where a number of Dan Zen’s 80 hats and various accessories were dispersed around the house. Under each was a clue and party goers went around trying to match their clues to player’s disguises.

The online game works well because it just keeps going. As soon as the Salamander is caught, he slips away and the park builds again. The Salamander has been caught 230 times with over 11,000 players.

The online game also provides for light role playing and multiuser feel.

Strategies are available to catch the Salamander – two hints: watch the dots and sit on the stones.

YesUmNo – The Voting Game

December 9, 2005

YesUmNo is a voting game where you click on the logo to vote yes, um or no. Polls or voting is one of the most basic forms of communication.

Many find the collapsing menu to be odd and the interface is a little exploratory. But it can be played – just type in a question and then everyone takes turns clicking their opinion and finally hit the equals sign to tally the votes.

This game harkens to board games played with family or friends. To accommodate multiple players around the computer, multiple mouses are envisioned. The mouses plug into a hub which then goes to the regular mouse port. The person moving the mouse has control until the mouse is stationary and then the next person to move gets control.

The hub would of course take the form of Swiss Cheese with the holes being where the cords plug in. Mind you, infrared would probably make more sense.

An off-line version of YesUmNo has been made with three pouches in an apron. Beads, buttons or pennies are used as the voting chips at a party. This version is depicted by the Kirputnik Cam

Interactive Advertising

December 9, 2005

In 1996 Dan Zen prototyped a series of interactive advertising games available to view at Hypno. Dan Zen coined the term Interactive Advertising and did a Web Crawler search. The term was nonexistent.

Samples included the Dial-a-Dell game – long before Dell sold computers online and people ordered by phone. The slogan was “See how fast you can Dial Dell and that’s how fast you can get a great computer” You would then punch in Dell’s telephone number onto an interactive phone and your time would be recorded. Dan Zen had all the technicians remembering Dell’s telephone number!

The EGOscope let you inflate EGO Entertainment’s logo and patch it as it sprung holes. Turning the advertiser’s message and brand into content is the key. This type of relevance is often missing even in today’s campaigns.

Web Ouija

December 9, 2005

Web Ouija makes use of an interesting property in Shockwave – the Macromedia Director plugin. That is, the mouse can be tracked even when not over the application. So it can be tracked around the rest of the Browser window and even on the desktop. For instance, you can hover over your garbage can and Web Ouija will always give you the same message.

People can make their own lists of links and put Web Ouija on their page somewhere and their visitors will be able to roll over the links and have the Web Ouija profess its wisdom.

The wisdom is of course provided for by the Webmaster but the answer is provided by the mysterious forces of randomness.

Teleporters – Travel the Web in Style

December 9, 2005

Teleporters were invented before JavaScript (although now use JavaScript). Using early Shockwave, they quite probably were the first example of roll-through technology on the Web.

Roll-through technology is when as you rollover something, it takes you through to another page. Like a “click-through” but a “roll-through”.

This is inherently patentable technology as the prior art points away from it being successful. Nobody in their right mind would expect this interface fiasco to be useful.

But, done with the right message, it is quite a plausible means of advertising. Picture an ad for a vacuum cleaner or a magnetic personality or a black hole, etc. Match the message to the technology and you have relevance.

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