Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Interactive Media – Digido

October 31, 2014

I have been making digital interactive media works for almost twenty years now.  I have a museum of approximately one hundred works at http://danzen.com.  There is a problem.  I do not know what to call them and I do not know what to call me, the maker.  This matters as it hampers our advancement in culture.

Unlike other creations like Songs, Videos, Sculptures, Paintings, Photographs, etc. we have no name.  We are stuck with generic names for what we make – projects, features, works.  These describe many types of creations.

Unlike other creators like Musicians, Videogrophers, Sculptors, Painters, Photographers, etc. we have no title.  We are perhaps Developers, Designers, Producers, Makers, Creators – but these are titles used in many fields.

I have struggled with this issue all my career and have attempted to come up with an answer a number of times.  You can see a poll that I put on Tapoll – a poll application where you predict the results as you vote:  http://www.tapoll.com/poll/id/413790478.  My recommendations at the time can be seen there – please take the poll.

WHAT DO WE MAKE?

We make digital interactive environments.  Firstly, we cannot just say interactive environments as our world is an interactive environment.  Digital, these days, means in the computer, so that is fine.  Things like songs and films have transcended analog and moved into the digital space – but are not interactive.  Some of the things we make have transcended as well such as games.  Games are an excellent example of digital interactive environments and certainly would be a subset of what we make.

Applications are also an excellent example of what we make.  An applications is software that lets people do things.  Traditionally we have had word processors, spreadsheets, paint programs, etc.  Applications are certainly digital interactive environments.  Social media, where people communicate through posting, sharing, rating, filtering is also a digital interactive environment and can also be thought of as a subset of applications.  Gadgets are small applications and we make those – Wavy – wave your mobile device and make sounds, etc.  Along the same lines, we make simulations where we recreate experiences in life often for educational or training purposes.

We also make art – which is neither games nor applications but for the most part, interactive experiences.  We have to be careful, because many experiences, are not interactive. Videos and Music would not be considered interactive works. You can experience art but it most art is not considered interactive however, there certainly is interactive art experiences and it is an exciting and thriving medium – installation art, etc. and we make that.

I do not consider an information site an interactive environment.  Navigation, in my mind, is the weakest form of interactivity and is already found in older media.  For instance, you navigate to what channel you want to watch or what book on the shelf and which page to read.  Please see my Interactivity Scale.

OPTIONS

Digital Interactive Experience is just too long.  What options do we have…

In our industry – the Interactive Media industry, it is common to have Interactive departments.  This is an indication that interactive is a good word to use.  We have even started to use the term as a noun – “have you seen the interactive?” but I would call this fairly rare – an indication that it is not quite the right word as it has had all the opportunity to catch on and has not.

The “inter” prefix of interactive is not terribly important.  Most people (even most people in our industry) see the inter part of interaction as being between the user and the computer. They completely forget the true or more powerful meaning behind inter.  They forget, that this can mean to interact with people – through the computer.

Act is the key word – whether alone or with others.  Activity would be an ideal name.  We make activities.  Unfortunately, that word has been taken by kindergarten teachers ;-).   Also… we would have to add that we make digital activities.  But you see how activity fits games, puzzles, applications and for the most part any art form where the user takes part and does something.  In the end… “digital activities” is probably not marketable.

In the sense that an activity is a noun (something to do) we could use interactivity as a noun in a similar way.  Therefore, we would make an interactivity.  You would play an interactivity or partake in an interactivity, etc.  I like that.  We can then be Interactivists.  It is a little tongue and cheek, though, with a play on an activist.  Maybe Interactivators ;-).  A problem is that interactivity is used most commonly as a qualifier of our product – it has interactivity.  It is also not a stand-alone, unique word for our work.  Think song, photograph, etc.

We do have the term media but this has been taken by… the media.  Media (plural) or a medium (singular) is a great word – it basically means the same as an environment.  It is something that sits between.  Hot, cold and medium – spiritual medium, etc.  In our case, a medium sits between the creator and the creation – like in art – clay, and paint, etc.  We are have a very special talent and task.  We make mediums.  For instance – the Flute is a medium – we would have made the flute.  We empower people to make content in our environments.  In my philosophy of Nodism I would say we make context in which others can make content.  Anyway – slightly digressing – back to it…

Along the lines of video and audio we could construct another such as actio, doeo, interactio etc.  I like doeo but it sounds quite silly – probably because of Dewey and our association with Huey, Dewey and Louie – or whatever.  Silly is not necessarily a bad thing – and I was using doeo for a while – but I just did not believe in it.

Neal Stephenson called them Ractives in Diamond Age with a plot of an interactive storybook.  Racitve is a really cool name and I would support that – it is the last part of interactives.  It sounds cool perhaps because of Raptors – it is unique – so… maybe.  It has potential.  We could then be Ractivators.

Experientials was a thought as for the last 5 years have been using the term “experiences” as what we build.  Again, many experiences are not interactive but rather authoritative – not user generated.  So, really, this is too broad a term – and it might need the term digital as well.  However, since it is a made up word, it might not need the digital qualifier.

Maybe someone who knows more Greek or Latin might come up with some good arrangements.

PROPOSAL

To really make this stick, I think we need a made up name or a “combo” name with roots or short classifiers.

DIGIDO is my current recommendation.  Digido is initially laughable – and undoubtedly you are at least smiling.  Smiling is not a bad thing.  If we really think about the words audio, movie and video we see that they too are quite cute.  People probably chuckled at the start as they did with iPod and iPad and now we are just fine.

I really like the word DO and so does Nike with its Just do it campaign.  Do means to act – to take part – to create – to build and make.  We make environments in which other people create, communicate and play.  They do things.  They do not just watch or consume – they do.  It is also nice and short.

DIGI – from digital or digits – like our fingers – I believe just means a distinction – like 01 – a jump rather than a blend and hence represents the way computers operate and we are making our environments with computers for computers – whether they be stationary or mobile – big or small – connected or not.  The Canadian New Media Awards, of which I have won two, have been renamed to the Digi Awards.  So that is a positive point in the digi direction ;-).

Digido sounds slightly like didgeridoo – an auspicious connection as a didgeridoo is one of the most basic of instruments.

One thing to consider is what this would be like as a field or industry.  What would it be like on job titles, etc.

Hologram – Holography – Holographer
Photograph – Photography – PhotographerSong – Music – Musician
Show – Television – Producer?  Team…
Movie – Film – Film Maker / Videographer
Digido – Interactive Media – Digidoist

CONCLUSION

Without a name, we are misunderstood.  It is slightly more difficult with our industry because we encompass different media – hence our traditional name, multimedia.  Unfortunately, with media being plural, multi was considered redundant.  The multimedia term is seen as old fashioned – sort of from the CD Rom days.  This has left us without a name and at best “interactive media”  which is like using “musical notes” every time we mean a song.  See what I mean?

Thoughts?

Dan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

UPDATED VERSION
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.

DIGITAL CONSTRUCT
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.

DITCH OUR BODIES
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.

META
http://zenvlog.wordpress.com/category/meta-mystery/
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.

NANO RACE
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=16672952605
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.

SOUP MAKERS
http://apps.facebook.com/snipisode/info.php?id=21
A Snipisode entry which is the current way I am telling non-interactive stories.  Soup Makers are people who make nano-tech.

COSBIAN CHRONICLES
http://apps.facebook.com/snipisode/info.php?id=53
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.

-2010-

How We Create Games and Share Data in the Information Age – Isomorphisms of Hierarchy

October 22, 2009

An excerpt from Nodism.org – the Philosophy of Connection.

Hierarchies, Trees, Nesting, Multidimensional Arrays, Drawers

Hierarchies or branches of the single hierarchy 😉 show up when things are organized or categorized. Our folders and files on the computer and indeed Web servers and Web pages are all stored in hierarchies. Any nesting is hierarchy for example: Universe > Galaxy Cluster > Galaxy > Solar System > Planet > Continent > etc. right down to house > room > dresser > drawer > pant > pocket > material > molecule > atom > electron > quark > string. In life we have trees and most if not all things that grow. Time causes us to choose options that branch before us.

Taxonomy in teaching, invention claims in patents, table of contents in books, classification of animals, etc. All these and more are hierarchical.  Hierarchies are at the root of every domain – each called something different and represented in different ways. So if you recognize a hierarchy in your field, please leave a comment.

Isomorphisms of Hierarchies - From Drawers to XML

In programming, the latest paradigm is Object Oriented Programming (OOP) and this is all hierarchy based and levels are accessed via dot syntax: parent.child. This is how all the latest games that model life are created. In XML, the current standard way in the information age to share data between companies and software is hierarchy based with nodes.

OOP and XML is the cumulation of thought from the most logical people in the world en mass modeling life. This is a mass philosophy born out of trial and error and few people if any think of it this way! Nodism is the synthesis and analysis of this phenomena.

Dan Zen

Mixing Interactive Works

March 13, 2008

Much like we have a DJ for audio and a VJ for video, we will have an IJ for mixing interactive works. These interactive mixes will be on our walls within ten years with OLED technology. OLED Walls.

Meta stories and games will be played out through the mixes. Games of follow the leader, quests, mazes, hunts, rallies, chases, tag.

ZEN MIX
Zen Mix (http://www.zenmix.com) is a tool that was specifically built to mix interactive works. In the original Zen Mix it is not so apparent because people are seeing the outcome of creations. But in the tool, the elements of the creation are interactive. So when I am in the Zen Mix tool I put Opartica (the Op Art tool) on top of Zen Picture (sliding picture viewer) then I can operate both of them and even have a video blended with the results. This is the place to be. Not just watching, but doing, exploring and creating.

SCENARIO
The IJ would be responsible for starting people off. Scenario: here’s an oldie from 2001, Opartica, mixed overtop of the latest branching music video from Vincent Morisset. Each branch of the video brings in associated Zen Pan of overlayed backgrounds. Zen Pan pans across pictures and other interactive works such as Zen Picture Zoom.

In the above scenario, people can watch it all happen or they can use Opartica to change the patterns over the video. When their mouse causes the video to branch, Zen Pan comes in which could be operable through transparent parts of Opartica or perhaps Opartica is faded out (prompted by a shared event). When Zen Pan shows Zen Picture, they can zoom in and out on pictures and wave their mouse to go to other pictures. One of the pictures might be a Zen Deck filled with further interactive works. Clicking on one of these might fade out or ZoomExit the prior interactive works and start you in a fresh set of environments. Personal meta navigation will be available to go back.

ZEN MIX 2
The new Zen Mix (Zen Mix 2) will be like a browser with multiple pages stacked. You can go into the pages through transparent areas or areas in applications that open up to more layers of environments. If all goes well, it will be fullscreen (adjustable), optionally available on your desktop so you can incorporate local and remote media, and will publish an FLV for distribution. It will also let you read in YouTube videos which was a limitation of a previous version of Flash.

SHARED COMMON EVENTS
For this to happen, there are some technical issues. Zen Mix and interactive mixers are possible because of Flash and its ability to load in other flash files. There are cross domain issues on occasion and a standard or a policy of how these will be handled will help people mix interactive works. Also, some legacy code while working independently will not work within other files due primarily to using a root reference. This can be fixed quite easily by locking the root in older code but requires editing.

More importantly, there are issues of transparency and event handling. When a user clicks or rolls over an area does the application on top pass the click or roll event through to the next layer. Flash can have transparent areas that will let the click pass through. But there are more than mouse events. Imagine that an animation is finished playing – that is an event. Or the user is increasing the volume of a sound. If your application broadcasts this event then the other interactive applications could subscribe to the event and do something like zoom in on a picture as the sound is increased. Reaching the end of an animation might change a blend mode or launch another application, etc.

So we need a set of guidelines for interactive works so that people can more easily work in layers of different interactive features. This could take on the form of an interface or an API. But rather than concentrating on a data and method API this should be an event API and perhaps more importantly a common event API to handle:

  • Click
  • DoubleClick
  • Timer
  • MouseMove
  • Press
  • Release
  • KeyPress
  • KeyRelease
  • Load
  • Unload
  • Focus
  • Blur
  • Start
    • animation
    • video
    • sound
  • Complete
    • animation
    • video
    • sound
  • Change
    • volume
    • frame
    • motionX
    • motionY
    • motionZ
    • width
    • height
    • depth
    • transparency
    • blend
    • selection

A variety of common states might be good too to handle modal issues, etc.

Then when these interactive works get put into Zen Mix or an interactive mixer, various properties and connections can be set so that triggered events from one application calls a method or sets a property in another application. This could be a one off thing like a load event. Or it could be an event that calls over an interval – like a mouse move or a change event.

THE PAST
Zen Picture (2004) was probably the first application in which I brought in a second interactive tool (Opartica 2001) and realized that mixing these was interesting. I ran into problems as the panning event of Zen Picture and the subsequent zooming within Zen Picture prevented interaction with the inner tool. Since then, I have used Opartica, Zen Picture and Zen Pan (2005) within Zen Mix for various psychedelic dancing as exercise episodes.

THE FUTURE
The designer of an interactive mix might be a story teller, artist or programmer for a story teller or artist (or one in the same person) would then set up stories or modules for stories. These could be like rooms, chapters, tools, tasks, puzzles, games, mazes, presentations, worlds, realities – cyberspace. Of course a prime element of a mix is another mix.

Aspects of Meta can readily be explored leading to more interest in the topics of the philosophy of Nodism. Nodism takes our understanding of XML (the current way to share organized data) and Object Oriented Programming (how we model life in games an simulations) and proposes a single hierarchy that nests us all.


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