Archive for the ‘2010’ Category

TRON – In Defense of the TRON Legacy Story

December 27, 2010

Made with TRONON

Here is a synopsis of TRON Legacy for those that did not understand it or perhaps to give those who thought the story too shallow a chance to reconsider.  There are spoilers but it might not really matter.

TRON Legacy is a continuation of the original Tron but you really don’t need that story to get what is going on.   Suffice it to say, computer user Kevin Flynn rigged a laser to zap himself into a computer and ended up saving the computer world  with the help of a security program called Tron who was modeled after his programmer, Alan Bradly.

In the latest movie we find out that Kevin, now a huge computer mogul (ala Bill Gates / Steve Jobs), has had a kid – our new hero Sam Flynn but on Sam’s 12th birthday (or whatever) Kevin disappears.

Sam grows up troubled (his mother had died prior to the disappearance)  and only Alan believes that his father would not have run away because “Flynn was on to something big”.  The audience at this point would expect Flynn to be in the computer and the question is – what happened to him there that he would not come back out to the son he loved.

Flynn’s company, ENCOM (or whatever), is now being run by “bad” guys and Alan, who is on the board,  desperately wishes Sam would show interest in the company – Sam owns most of the shares but to show his disdain, has taken to yearly hacking or pranking the company in fairly exciting ways judging by the endeavor at the start of the movie – pretty exciting.

This all changes when Alan receives a page from Flynn’s old number at the arcade.  Sam goes to check it out and gets zapped into the computer world.

Rather than tell the story as it unfolds I am now going to just explain.

Flynn had built a second computer environment (or grid).  This time it was more a virtual world rather than a world of computer parts like the first TRON movie.  He made a program called CLU to help him create the world and CLU looked just like him.  Their goal was to make a perfect world.

As it happened, an unexpected intelligence formed out of their system that was self healing, peaceful and wise – called the ISO (equal).  This was the miracle that Flynn had discovered just before he disappeared.  This type of emergence will probably happen in artificial intelligences running inside quantum computers as far as I am concerned – I am writing sci-fi stories about it – but also hope to actually partake in making it happen.

CLU got jealous because he thought he was supposed to make the perfect world so he destroyed them, abducted/converted TRON to his side and trapped Flynn in computer world.

A few things to note:

  1. There is a portal that Flynn comes in and goes out on – an uplink or whatever and it can’t stay open for long due to energy and it can’t be opened from inside the computer.
  2. Blue neon energy represents the good side and red represents the bad side.  The good side is the users or the real people and the bad side is the computer or artificial people.  This is a generalization but they follow it in the movie.  So when Tron gets converted you see his blue energy turn red.
  3. Time appears to pass much faster inside the computer – this again is at the heart of my sci-fi stories where eons go by in nano civilizations in seconds of our time.

So… Flynn is stuck in the computer and after many years he has come to the conclusion that doing nothing is how to beat CLU.  CLU had been just feeding on any rebellion and Flynn now just meditates and waits for rebellion to come from within or perhaps help to come from outside the system.  CLU in the meanwhile has built a huge regime of organized warriors in a watched civilization.

There is a game of cat and mouse that has been going on.  CLU wants Flynn’s memory disk.  The disks are mounted to the back of all computer people and holds their memories and data.  Flynn’s holds information about the uplink and the user’s world which CLU wants because CLU wants to continue his reign by taking over the human world and making it “more perfect”.  CLU has been building a secret army for this purpose.

In a move to shake up things, CLU pages Alan in the real world.  CLU hopes that Alan will open the portal and indeed the message gets to Sam and Sam opens the portal.

This is the background in which the bulk of the movie takes place.  It is an adventure of escaping the evil regime and it is absolutely visually spectacular and elegant.  So much so you just keep thinking, wow – how beautiful – I want to be here…

But then the amazing message kicks in as the hero escapes back to our world.  The message has been there in all that Flynn has come to realize. Perfection is not being perfect.  Perfection is all the freedom and individuality found in our world every day in every ordinary way – with every sunset and emotion that we just take for granted.  It is an amazing message – deep and true.

And critics somehow call TRON shallow and I hear people leaving the theatre saying they did not understand it.  This on both sides seems crazy to me and I am sure would seem crazy to the creators.  It is currently, a very hard world to please.  So blasé on one side and so pandered on the other.

I found the story refreshing – it gave the world space.  Disney, is first and foremost a story teller.  Compare the complexity of Pirates of the Caribbean with the simplicity of TRON and you see the breadth of their artistry.







TRONON – Facebook App to Draw Tron-like Cyber Circuits on Your Photos

December 20, 2010

Tronon - cyber drawings like Tron

Try it out!  TronOn lets you add cyber circuits to your facebook pictures.  Please share the news!


BEYOND TRON – Small Stories or Nano Narrative

December 16, 2010

I am not sure what Disney’s TRON will hold.  It is admirable that it continues the story rather than retells.  That must be a pretty good computer to be still going – perhaps they escaped through a network and now they will be on the Internet – that would be pretty cool. BUT… I suspect it will not be the movie we need.

We need a dramatization and visualization of the nano world.  Something more real than people with human bodies in a computer space.  If we do go small and enter a digital substrate maybe it will only ever seem like virtual reality – ala the Matrix, etc.  There is the shrinking concept of the Fantastic Voyage, etc. but I don’t think it will be like that.  I just bought the Fantastic Voyage 2 where they go into the brain and am looking forward to it even though it will be a little out of date.  We need an updated vision.

There have been some sci-fi books that deal secondarily with nano cultures – as in the characters are nano size or live in a digital construct but I have not read one where that is the main setting.  There have been lots with nano-tech but not the characters being there.

At some point we will ditch the bodies. This would help us get ready for aliens too 😉 who would most likely have progressed into the nano world to be beamed as information across galactic distances. Perhaps the realm of Transformers and such would be a closer example to us in some sort of nanobot form.  Of course there is the whole mind and soul issue, etc. to get used to socially, spiritually, and technologically.

Here is a compilation of some stories I have been doing in the nano tech world.  I want to do more, and hook up with local labs working with nanotech… one day.

The nano anti-gravity sci-fi mystery.  This probably goes the furthest in terms of a vision.  I am telling the story through Zen Mixes and sort of got sidetracked on other things the last few years.  At some point I might launch the story in a quicker form.  It also involves anti-gravity which is really just an aside to the main theme of life at smaller sizes and more particularly, an artificial intelligence that seeks this life.

A facebook group game that encourages people to roleplay in the nano world assuming we have some sort of shrinking or remote viewing technology to put is in the world of small.  It did not take off as a game – perhaps people were not interested or maybe they tried to think of what to say and could not.

A Snipisode entry which is the current way I am telling non-interactive stories.  Soup Makers are people who make nano-tech.

A more closer to now Snipisode perhaps bridging the gap to Soup Makers which bridges the gap to META.  In Cosbian Chronicles they use nano tech.


Hummingbird Flash being used for Opartica II

December 3, 2010

Tunnel_0000_Layer 18

Hummingbird is being used to create Opartica II code named Tunnel. Tilator III might also be on the way or perhaps they will merge. The originals are at and

Hummingbird is the Flash Parallax open source ActionScript class. It lets you do those cool 3D looking effects where layers move at different depths. Hummingbird is part of the Flash Feathers Advanced Interfaces at from inventor Dan Zen.

– 2010 –

Inventing for the Internet Part 2

October 20, 2010

Inventing for the Web Part 2
Just posted Inventing for the Web Part 2 (2006-2010) on the Inventor Blog as a continuation to the first part (1995-2015).

Here we look at inventing for a medium (and we define a medium) and see some examples. Topics include:  chat, facebook, social media, mixes and mashes, Tapoll, Focuso, comment activism, parties, aliens, groups, Flash, feathers, interfaces, Snipisode, story telling, playing Touchy, mobile, iphone apps, Nodism, hierarchies, the environment, mediums, and McLuhan. Come on by and have a read!

– 10 –

Touchy is on TV – see the Inventive iPhone App Introduced by Kayla and Alex

September 10, 2010

TouchyTV has launched at with three episodes.  Kayla and Alex commentate on games of Touchy.

Host shows the episodes one after the other with a slight delay or you can roll over the bottom of the video for a navigation.

Touchy is the mobile mediated game where you try and touch other players’ screen but do not let them touch yours.  It is an iPhone/iPod Touch game available on the Apple App Store for $0.99 – look for Touchy by Dan Zen.

The Touchy site is at  There is also a facebook application to challenge friends to a Touchy Duel – see the facebook page at and go to the Touchy Duel application tab.

Have fun and please help spread the word.  From our testing, Touchy is a transformative game with old friends laughing a new – teens finally finding that social icebreaker – parents getting an update on the old wrestle.  We thank you for being a Touchy Ambassador!

Dan Zen

mad Inventor meets mobile finds peace

Touchy – iPhone iPod Touch App Launches – the First Mobile Mediated Action Game!

March 29, 2010

Touchy is a unique iPhone / iPod Touch game where you wrestle with other people to touch their screen as they try to touch yours.

You and your friends, foes, yoga mates, family, competitors, party goers, etc. press the TOGETHER button at the same time and then try and touch each other’s targets.  The Touch application records how long each target is touched and awards points at the end.  Past scores and win-loss-ties are saved and totaled and an average is calculated.

WARNING – playing Touchy can easily result in minor injuries so play carefully – Dan Zen is not responsible for any damage to yourselves or your devices.

Here are some examples of play:

More can be found on the site.

The first mobile app I created was “phone says” in 2001 where you have to do what the phone says no matter where you are…

This was an early example of a mobile mediated game. Touchy is another where the game is outside the mobile device but the device acts to enforce rules or some aspect of play.

Mediated means to sit in the middle. Like a medium. Mediated reality is made up of augmented reality and diminished reality. Augmented is when we add to reality like adding descriptions to shapes we recognize. Diminished is when we take away from reality such as removing advertisements.

I have been involved in hundreds of mobile prototypes all with the focus of multimedia pioneering to take the extra aspect of location in to account. I cannot recall coming across an application like Touchy. So simple a concept and execution – but very inventive none the less.

The implementation of the “Together” button avoids complex multiuser functionality. It allows for synchronous play much like the starting gun in a race. Yet as far as I can tell, this functionality has not been implemented in a mobile game. If you find an example, please let us know.

Now why not try Touchy – you will need to get some friends involved too!

Inventor, Dan Zen

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Snipisode – Agency Zen Launches First Facebook Status Story Telling Application

February 26, 2010
Snipisode Facebook Status Storytelling App

Snipisode - Facebook Status Storytelling Application

Snipisode lets you schedule status posts as episodes of a story or feature – Snipisodes!

There are status schedulers out there but they are quite tedious to use.  Snipisode lets you type or paste in a whole story and then with a click of a button snip up the story either by line or by periods (? and ! too).  Then you choose a time either daily or every two days and that’s it!

The story will unfold on your status line.  People can click the Full Story link by the status to see all your status posts for the story including comments on one page.

A live Snipisode Post

Snips and schedules!

Here is a YouTube video showing the process in action.  So come on in and try it out!  Please let us know what you think.

Agency Zen has also created The Party and Stick Aliens for facebook.

Party Application on Facebook - see your friends

Stick Aliens on facebook

Dan Zen Site Launches New Tree Blossom Menu

January 30, 2010

Dan Zen Tree Menu

Dan Zen has a new front menu in the form of a tree with animated blossoms and leaves.  A new signature totem logo is at left and the tree grows from the Node Zero logo from Nodism.

This menu was planned about 3 years ago. The previous Deck of Creations from 2005 has been moved to Creations under the Fun branch of the tree.  The deck was designed to accommodate any number of features.  This can sometimes be a bad design as there is less intensive to update.

The new design reveals a shift in focus for Dan Zen over the last 5 years from game and gadget features to a wide range of areas.  The occasional game has been made but the main focus has been on the following topics:

Nodism Philosophy of Connection
Environmental Ideas

Thee Gnostics – Psychedelic Space Rock Band

Focuso – Out of Focus Photography
Flickr site of Dan Zen Photographs

Teaching aspects of Inventor Dan Zen
Tools of Inventor Dan Zen

Dan Zen Facebook Page
YouTube site of Inventor Dan Zen
Twitter Site of Inventor Dan Zen

Dan Zen Blog of Inventions, Games, Gadgets and Communities
Beryea – a Language, a Culture, an Island
Zen Vlog – Video Logs of Inventor Dan Zen
Inventor Stories and Ideas

All the best!

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