Here are my Day 2 notes below for the Accelerating Change Conference 2004. My brain is totally overwhelmed by late morning (and sleep deprivation plays into it) and undoubtedly I probably don't do justice to the quality of the presentations.
Day 1 notes are here.
Day 2: Accelerating Change Conference 2004
Theme: Physical Space, Virtual Space, and Interface
Keynote: Will Wright, Electronic Arts/Maxis, Sculpting Possibility Space
Intro: Mark Finnern, co-producer of conference, is saying that he has seen the future and it is Second Life. One day Second Life will allow you to 3D print what you created in Second Life; even something as large as a house.
Will Wright, creator of SimCity and Sims, co-founder of Maxis. Topic: Sculpting Possibility Space is the first keynote. [It's much too early in the morning.]
A lot of people consider games related to story. You can put story on one end and game-play on other end of spectrum. Story games like Myst have a branching structure topology.
In a story format, the topology is linear and the game developer creates narrative. In interactive format, the topology is dense and the player creates the narrative. Thus the appeal is empathy in story-games, and agency in games.
You could look at a game as a possibility space, a landscape. You want to have a wide set of options. Showing a 3D terrain graph and there are peaks and cliffs and the players want to move "uphill" in achieving the challenges.
Sims there are material, social 3D terrain and success is highest summits in this 3D landscape.
There is also issue of language - it's a different language than designers are using. If you come across a dog, you might parse out the following: Noun- dog - me Verb - bite - run or (more complex) Purpose - Companionship Safety
And advectives. Big or small tank.
Most games have primary metaphor or primary verb. And it's KILL.
They used a shopping catalog to give choices of nouns and verbs in the game. Shopping catalog gives description and gives impression of limited resources and trade offs.
Models. Communication is a process of constructing models. Science is a process to build models. Science is moving away from analytic models like calculus and more into simulation. This parallels game play trend.
These possibility spaces become scaffolding for the imagination of the player.
Dynamics. I think about the raw material we use to build these virtual worlds... How do these things interact over time (the behaviors)? What are the paradigms (network theory, cellular automata, system dynamics (Jay Forrester), cybernetics, chaos theory, complex adaptive systems, adaptive landscape )?
Wright is showing a complex 3-D model of this "raw material" or game elements. The three dimensions are: Agents/Networks/Layers; Paradigms; Dynamics.
Dynamics could include: Propagation, grouping, allocation (gambling, shopping), mapping (matching), specialization
Interesting thing about games is the nested feedback loops. There are short cycles like 10 sec - each level has success and failure.
In SimCity (or Sims?), there is nested success/failure levels progressing from Basic Control -> Needs -> Job/Skills Economy -> Social-Friends -> (missed this last one). The game designers spend a lot of time on the failure scenarios. Find that players spend more time here and that they don't mind failing if they know why they failed and it's fleshed out in details and interesting.
The future is usually highly extrapolated. When skyscrapers just came out everyone envisioned Metropolis.
Cybernetics is about feedback structures - and by chaining these together you can have elaborate structures.
Cellular automata is the first that allowed for emergence.
SimCity is combination of paradigms of system dynamics and cellular automata.
CAS have internal rules systems (neural networks, genetic algorithms fall into this area). An offshot of AI.
Actually what biologist calls fitness landscape influenced the idea of having 3D terrain maps to represent "possibility space."
Especially interested in scale-free social networks. People could define friends and enemies in Sims.
All of these are not reality - they are just trying to explain - they are models.
Relativity theory and quantum mechanics - but neither can explain the reality of a duck.
Other elements in the game toolkit: Disordered<-> Ordered, Local<-> Global, Cooperate <-> Compete
Just finished The Sims 2. In 1984, one person created SimCity and in 2004, took 130 people on the Sim2 project. If you extrapolate we'll need 2.5M people not too far in future.
Content teams are growing faster than rest of the project team. So how can we get players involved with creating content?
Maxis created 500 characters, 800 objects. And the fans created 16,530 characters and 10,600 objects.
In The Sims 2, players can also cast their characters into movies and shows and film them. This is something they call "derivative content."
A whole online community around games formed. Comprised of: Collectors, storytellers, webmasters, content artists, casual players, browsers.
Metrics. We can formally measure everything you do. We can build profiles on what the player tends to do and compare to other players. We can see what they buy. We can look at relationships they develop. We can even see how they are traversing through the possibility space of the game. We can do things with that data - perhaps introduce them to other players, what content they might want to use. You see this happening in TiVo (at a much slower feedback loop). The computer could see where player is going in the possibility space and dynamically alter the possibility space (for instance, if you just met a new girl, your ex girlfriend could show back up in the picture).
Second Life players are more advanced than our audience. Sims audience is 55% female and most of them have never played another computer game. Both are very open-ended. (Also Sims mostly offline game.) If you have more women on your developer team it's like falling off a log - you don't have to do focus groups on how to reach women's market.
We found for our players biggest barrier to online game is business model - many (and I don't) want to pay $15/month. I like the computer understand what I'm trying to play and it starts evolving around me. It knows I'm doing a scary movie or if it's a sit-com suggests appropriate music. Your version of game and mine end up different after a month.
We see our players as co-developers. We spend a lot of time with the people who run the websites, etc. We ask them at Sim University (a gathering/conference) about what they think of microtransactions. Experimenting with microtransactions for allowing users to sell their content. We don't have digital rights management; so you could change a few pixels.
Question on if you could have avatars move between two worlds - i.e. Sims and Second Life. Not now but it's theoretically/technically possible with Sims 2 characters.
Cleaned up version blogged: http://www.futuresalon.org/2004/11/will_wright_kic.html
Real Money in Virtual Economies: The Future of User-Created Content Debate became a Panel
[Didn't catch new additional panelist's names or companies. I'll indicate by [guy in pirate hat] and [black T]. Being a total non-gamer doesn't help. I think [guy in pirate hat] may be from a game company call Three Kings (or similar) and [black T] has developed a "very innovative game" according to moderator Cory Ondrejka, VP of Product Dev, at Linden Lab (Second Life) called something similiar to Puzzle Parts. But obviously according to Google I must have heard completely wrong.]
Q: How do you work around restrictive terms of services by game companies and outright bans?
[Gaming Open Market] It's interesting to see what is going on Asia where it's at. You see the market approaching 1:1 in Asia (in Korea there is $440 million in trading alone).
We took a look at eBay and decided it wasn't an efficient way of trading "currencies" [exchanging in-game currency to real-world currency] - you can't see depth and breadth of the market, rates, and other things that resembles a stock market. We provide an escrow service, so not actually doing the selling and buying.
Trade becomes a meta-game. We sent a note to game developers about our service and showing the value...but it's often not accepted.
Q: Do you think the agreements players agree to restrict their trading?
[didn't capture panelist]If the provider wants to stop this. We can design out eBay elements out of the game - but how fun is the game for adults - becomes too restrictive.
[guy in pirate hat] Some players feel that the game is stacked against them because people are using real-world currency to buy better chances of success. It's like going to bank and using your own money to buy up more Monopoly money while you're playing Monopoly. Only way to stop it is to not have any in-game currency.
Q: Does it ruin the game? Besides currency, what about utilizing social capital ("twinking") to bypass the game designer's intentions?
[IGE] People behave the same way in virtual worlds as they do in the real world. And that includes political structures, commerce, and taking time to improve the quality of their life.
There are four main interests to games:
- commerce and crafting
The most successful games use elements of all four. I've personally only used currency to purchase something only once - and it was to have a castle instead of a mansion. It gives me great pleasure to drive up to that castle.
[Gaming Open Market] As long as their are those needs - upgrading from cottage - there is going to be trading. In Asia, there are often a "small business" (group of players) camped around a dragon 24/7 because they are defending their business and its margins. If this blocks other players from normal game-play - you can't get to dragon because this is their "business" - the game designer needs to worry about those types of situations.
[guy in black T] If you took a long time to build up the resources to buy a castle in the game, there are always players that are upset that someone else whipped out a credit card to buy a castle. And they will complain to the game developer.
[pirate hat] Even cosmetic things like castle makes an impact on game-play. When you offer a flat-rate pricing to play a game, everyone expects the same level of play.
[IGE] 78% of Korean players that like the secondary market believe that the items created are the player's property. Of those, 17% thought it should belong to the avatars.
Q: User creation exists in all these games. They are creating fan sites, social guilds, making movies in Sims 2. Should these players be rewarded for these 'external' activities? (btw, Electronic Arts owns the rights to these Sims 2 "movies".)
[IGE] Players feel they emotionally "own" the game. (Gave example of a hacker taking over his password and then stealing everything from the castle while he was on a conference panel like this no less; he was fairly upset.)
Anyone that can make $40-50K by playing a game ought to have that right.
[pirate hat] Probably just better to have a market within the game. Can you EVER get to the level playing field of Monopoly?
[black T ] We do reward those community members (i.e. free monthly membership) that add value.
Q: What about when game developer offers an extra item with game throwing in an extra sword perhaps as sign-up incentive?
[pirate] I'm trying to create a fun game. If this is allowed [legally] and it probably is in Korea then you will see designers selling and bundling items as part of their business model.
[black T] If designers want to do this, they'll have to offer escrow and dispute resolution, etc. It's going back to the game developer's lap if the trade goes bad....so how do we incorporate the secondary market into the game?
[IGE] [On argument of it's unfair to other gamers] Even having an extra sword won't help you in a competitive environment. If you're not a good gamer, you'll still get killed.
My guildmates like to buy high-level accounts (they already have high-level accounts, but don't want spend weeks to go through the drudgery treadmill again enforced by game designer for a new avatar). And I bought the castle because I didn't want to kill that many rats. [Basically sounds like circumventing parts that aren't fun for them, but game design confines.]
I hear Mike Korns, Las Vegas Futurists Salon, ask if you could incorporate this trading into the game and instead of squelching it you could "tax" it. Seems that this is exactly what Cory at Second Life suggested yesterday in his keynote talk.
Keynote: Doug Engelbart, Bootstrap Institute (and inventor of the computer mouse), Large-Scale Collective IQ: Facilitating its Evolution
I moved out to Bay Area in 1948. He's telling us story of his engagement to his wife. He was full of excitement about building a family. And then had a life-changing epiphany at 25. It really hit me that I didn't have any goals in my career.
Let me design a professional goal that would help mankind. His lifetime goal emerged: "As much as possible, to boost mankind's collective capability for coping with complex, urgent problems."
Decided on a computer career and went to Berkeley for grad school.
I still believe this goal is relevant, we really need to get collectively smarter.
Consider a community's collective IQ as its relative capability for dealing with complex, urgent problems. (Includes: to understand them thoroughly as possible, unearth best candidate possibilities, etc.)
Collective IQ emerged as primary strategic focus. He uses acronym CODIAK - Concurring Developing, Integrating and Applying Knowledge. A dynamic knowledge repository.
"Capabilities" become a key, central consideration. Humans' capabilities depend upon their augmentation system.
Human System: paradigm, organization, procedures, customs, methods, language, attitudes. Tool Systems: media, portrayal, views, study, manipulation, retreive compute, communicate. Basic Human Capabilities - Sensory, Perceptual, Mental, Motor. This interface between these is much more significant than "HCI" (human-computer interface).
How does a society adapt to where the future is going? If we are farther and farther behind in our paradigms than our options for the future, then ....
This augmentation model for collective IQ is valid over huge scale: from Individual/Human -> Community of Practice -> complete country -> the world. (There's a whole science around dimensional scaling.)
Knowledge repositories must be concurrent.
The best thing is to try to faciliate the co-evolution; out of that comes ideas of dynamic knowledge repositories. But it also comes to socio-political-business as well - all needs to be evolving.
I was calling a concept I came up with the Open Hybrid System before I know about Open Source. The means to train and manipulate objects must be open. "Run up to the bathroom and my bottle of whatever next to the mirror" and a six-year-old understands that. Need that kind of flexibility in dealing with the objects in the computer. Thinking about a new way to read faster by parsing language and indicating different words, etc. with colors, etc.
Doug Engelbart will be speaking at next Friday's Future Salon as Mark Finnern anticipated this AC2004 talk wouldn't be enough time today.
Keynote: Richard Marks, Manager, Special Projects, Sony Entertainment, Topic: You Are Player One
eyeToy has sold 4M units.
Interface is one of the limits on how people enjoy games. What would be the ultimate interface? Some people say realism. But really that's not the ultimate. The focus is on fun. Fun is #1. Then properties of: Intuitive, interactive, enabling (to do new things), and flexible.
He watched his younger son playing a driving game and he noticed he moved to the left four feet when he was turning and jumped up in the air over bumps. His older brother (or friend?) said that wasn't necessary to play. So he stopped doing it... but he doesn't have the same grin on his face.
Shows PlayStation 9 commercial. The PS9 commercial shows what people "THINK" is futuristic. [Ad plays to their expectations of "future".] It's perception of where people think future is. Includes: Blurring of reality and virtuosity. People think future is sensory enhancement. Most of the features described in the commercial around the interface.
Accelerating rate of adoption for the PlayStation (in million of units) is much higher than other consumer electonics, etc. [showing chart QUICKLY with against DVDs, PCs, etc.]
He works within PlayStation R&D for Sony Computer Entertainment. Our job really is to improve existing experience and enable new experiences. Most of that is through interface. We don't make games in our group at all - but we give the game developers tools to use for the creation of their games. We might prototype games.
Our researchers are also developers and they swap roles back and forth. They are expected to deliver libraries to the game developers. That is really different than other R&D groups.
- Push: [When no one is "asking" for it. Really this has been Sony's model for long time, no one asked for Walkman either.] No one asked for EyeToy - that's how revolutions happen - with push.
- Pull: What game developers are asking for.
- Stockpile: Everything else...
Games now, pretty constrained stuff. We want to provide more capabilities for the users in the future.
Voice Input: A lot of games are starting to use voice commands. Used in NFL GameDay, NCAA Gamebreaker, NBA Shootout. Far-microphone voice input in noisy environments. Speaker identification.
- Video as input: joystick replacement (not focus to get rid of joystick), user does not see video it's just used by the computer. The user must get feedback on what's happening since they don't see the video.
- Enhanced Reality (or augmented reality). Like adding movie-like special effects, new entertainment genre
EyeToy. We made progress because we had limited resources such as a TV, and a camera. Shows a demo showing his son using a ball to interact with a CGI character dragon or with some butterflies by looking into a TV screen.
Design goals: Make it accessible and affordable for everyone; easy to use; and the camera needs to be small and unobtrusive. It could be multi-purpose. It's not just an interface but can be used for other things too (after all it is a camera, video input device).
EyeToy: From research to product. He worked with London game team for 3 months to learn about their world and for them to absorb R&D's ideas and thinking about the uses for EyeToy.
EyeToy: Easy to jump in and play, not too serious, very social, and has amazing demographics (weren't expecting grandparents to play).
Among features are motion detection, pattern tracking, simple compositing. Newer features: Freeform mouse-like input (i.e. Minority Report), real-time face tracking.
Another demo: He says he likes myth and fantasy type games, like Harry Potter themes. He waves his hand over the "wand" (a ball). He casts spells (making circle, square, or triangle motions) to create rain effect, or fire surging out of the wand, etc.
Shows a "keypad" on the TV over to the side sort of like Minority Report. He "clicks" by squeezing a item in his hand and aligned over key in the keypad. In another game demo, he shows how can lean over to see around the corner of a building in a shoot-em-up situation and then quickly duck back behind the building by physically leaning.
A lot more possibilities with mobile systems soon. Mix a camera with a mobile platform. PSP + Camera. PSP is your window to an enhanced world.
New research. Using video with Z-buffer to mix video and graphics together. It's not just drawn over the TV screen, but looks like it is within the environment as well. First instance, the butterflies could be flying behind him as well. (There is no collision detection as yet, so the butterflies can fly through him.
Punching bag demo. Using real-time motion capture. Doesn't seem to matter that there is no force feedback. You can use audio to replace the effect of force feedback.
Basically EyeToy is a video tracking system for input device.
Interface is a key element of design.
- blend of technology and psychology (people don't want to wear things that much in the mass market)
- impacted by real-world considerations (absolutes matter; people want a full-size light saber)
[The future.] My 4-year-old walks up to the TV and waves his hand and he expects it to turn on. He's a little confused if it doesn't. He has high expectations. He probably expects in a year that he can talk to it. And soon all this will fit in his pocket.
Q on other applications, i.e. using it for Doug Engelbart's vision of collective IQ.
A: [Focused on entertainment.] But, we getting requests from hospitals that want to use this for physical therapy. We're not supporting other markets with the developer kits, but yes, these ideas can be applied in other scenarios.
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and now Clarium Capital, Virtual Money, Privacy, and Freedom
Strategy should be to allow trading and currency exchange in virtual world and tax it.
Economies: Based on value. Perhaps all the value exists in nature and wild animals. Or in large man-made objects (Marxist world). Or you can say you're productive because of amount of steel you produce. Things that are far more ephemeral could also have more value.
Intellectual property, financial products, ideas - all are more abstract levels.
Three models. That only things of value are physical, concrete. Fundamental building bits now are bits and not just atoms. A Von Neumann model of reality. There is an intermediate version - maybe bits, maybe stuff - but they are autonomous, separate spheres of reality. (1. Stuff, 2. bits, 3. both but separate, discrete worlds.)
A lot of modern philosophy in 20th century. John Locke - we have to move away from nature (opposite of Genesis when we had everything we needed [pre-Fall anyway]); a Hobbesian view.
Science. Descartes, Bacon were skeptics because the problems in the natural world seemed too complex. We could only be masters of our destiny by creating alternative worlds and models.
Historically, that was our reality. We lived in a hunter-gatherer society where everything was based on natural world.
As an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, there is an intellectual question that it does make sense to enable this alternative virtual world. Paper currency is the first example of this. Value doesn't just exist in stuff but there is also value in creating relationships between people whether that is to trade or communicate.
You could look at eBay as not creating any value at all if you look at the economy as just making 'stuff'. It's a zero-sum in that items are just moved around but nothing new is created, some argue. Some would say that it's not creating value then.
From a Liberterian freedom point of view, it is harder for larger political entities to control things in virtual world. If you have server in Bahrain and another in Iceland it's not possible to stop that in practicality. What's true of Napster's decentralization, is true for intellectual property and many other things. More and more of world's wealth exists in offshore havens and jurisdictions [rattles off LONG list of these].
Power is shifting completely from anything that is controlled in a [physically] geographical way.
Real world consisting of nation-states and objects blinds us to what's going on right now in the virtual world. In practice, we haven't completely decoupled.
I built a company [PayPal] around virtual space.
In many ways, we are living in a world that's effectively decoupled. You can't have a worker's revolution that takes over a virtual bank.
Dawkins' view is that humans are like industrial machines and you model them like machines. But post-Dawkins means humans are more like computers.
Q on aren't those offshore havens and other bank accounts still somewhere rely on physical. A: It's not about traceability. It makes difference if your money is held in a place where privacy is upmost and one where it doesn't.
Q on Center for Autonomous Government (Sealand).
Peter Norvig, Director of Search Quality, Google, Topic: Web Search as a Force for Good
The past. References a Woody Allen movie where a guy is pontificating about Marshall McLuhan's theories. Woody grabs Marshall McLuhan live and McLuhan says that "You know nothing about my theory." Woody turns to audience and says "Wouldn't it be great if real life was like that?" (Well now it is closer to that...not McLuhan himself but at least his work.)
So far. Story about kidnappers who captured a journalist and he said he was journalist...they released him because they Googled his name and found he really was a journalist.
Forming a marketplace for information. There is also a marketplace for goods - people can share and transact more quickly. And some of it not so good.
One of the services we've launched is AdSense. If you have a content site you can help pay for it to serve up AdSense ads that are relevant to the content of the site.
One guy was able to quit job because of the ads on his hobby site. Another story of full-time surfer that bought a near-defunct site and AdSense ads make its sustainable so he surfs.
Blogger is another way more information is being made available.
Search locally. With SMS messaging interface. Continuing trend towards more localizing, contextualizing within mobile scenarios.
Keyhole - recent acquisition - has access to satellite images and a way of integrating that information. [VERY cool.] You can fly in zoom-in fashion right into local maps and see local information such as restaurants.
Further. Searching for people. LoveGetties are popular in Japan - little handheld devices - you program your interests and preferences. If someone is a good match for you, then your LoveGetty starts beeping when you past them in the street.
One "bad" vision of future is that advertising is everywhere, non-targetted (billboards everywhere), non-contextualized. Already this is not happening.
"In the future search engines should be as useful as HAL in 2001 - but hopefully they won't kill people." - Sergey Brin. But really we've gone past that as it's not centralized as HAL was and the control is in the user's computer.
Learning from Data. Spelling corrections for popular terms, like Britney Spears [I probably misspelled]. It doesn't start from a dictionary. It starts from broader range than the dictionary. We also have proper names etc. not in the dictionary and we also have the context of the word within content.
Banko & Brill, 2001, Effect of Training Corpus Size, Microsoft Research. You take a word like bank - does it mean river bank or the money bank? About 80% accuracy. The research compares Bayesian filter, neural net, decision tree, and many other methods. In the end, it turns out the algorithm didn't matter so much as long as there is a great volume of data thrown at any particular algorithm. It's better to throw more data at the problem.
Personalization. References labs.google.com demo. Google personalized for you - typically Jaguar cars come up first in the search results for "jaguar". But since I have a more technical focus in my profile, the Mac software Jaguar comes up above the car in "my" results.
Semantic understanding. You can break the whole web into sentences. Then, run a part-of-speech algorithm looking for specific patterns and then using that to categorize. For instance, in sentence: "Software companies including Oracle, Microsoft, ...." The word 'including' signals that "software companies" is a category and "Oracle", "Microsoft" are its members.
Machine Translation. Shows examples of 'harder' language translations such as Arabic and Chinese. Opens up more information (even if not perfect, fluent translation) that's not originally in your language.
Q: Why did Google succeed over Yahoo..For years I'd been using Yahoo; now everyone uses Google.
A: Yahoo started and focused with being a directory. So they hired people to categorize. The growth of Web started to outpace this approach; they saw the search engine as secondary. So they subcontracted the search engine to third parties. Only more recently have they seen that it is more strategic.
Q: How about open source?
A: There are already open source engines available. So far I think we have the edge especially in ranking results (they put more effort in crawling, for instance).
Social Software Panel
Panelist: Lada Adamic, HP Labs, Implicit Structure and the Dynamics of Blogspace
Tracking Blogs and the "Epidemiology" of Memes
BlogDex is an early example of indexing blogs. Lets you see which blogs and when linked to a site. They are tracking popularity over time. Microscale Dynamics - tracking 'microbe' epidemics - first it shows up on a blog and then another blogger references and something like audit trail of "oh, I heard about this on this blog." They try to infer if references aren't explicitly there (do they link to same blogs, do they often mention the same things).
Visualization: Zoomgraph tool.
iRank algorithm. Draw a weighted edge for all pairs of blogs that cite the same URL. Higher weight for mentions closer together.
Wired article on their research "Warning: Blogs can be infectious" turns to Slashdot's "Bloggers Plagiarism Scientically Proven." And finally somewhere along the way it devolves to 'blogs kills kittens'....Now, they are thinking they should study how these things [memes] morph.
Findings show: Most well-known blogs aren't the ones that find information first.
Information Dynamics Lab at HP: hpl.hp.com/research/idl
Panelist: Peter Kaminski, SocialText CTO, Enterprising Social Software: Wikis and Weblogs
[He's giving his presentation on something that looks suspiciously like a Wiki rather than strickly Powerpoint. Someone in audience asks about it.] Technical Notes on Slides: Spork - Spork Stands for Slide Presentation (Only really Kwiki). Spork is an HTML slideshow generator.
How can we make getting work done more fun? Augment a group's ability to work together? Accelerate change?
Socialtext is based on a Kwiki core and as a company uses a hybrid open source/proprietary model. The first deployments Jan 2002.
Use cases include: How can 10 people work on the same document? How can I best communicate with the whole team (and send out constant occupational spam)?
How can a team learn from its mistakes? (i.e. How can a team log exceptions so other people can manage next time? Where do we document work-arounds? How can we change process in real-time?)
Wiki was intended to be content-centric instead of author-centric (blogs are more author-centric).
Wiki is like a shared notebook. An information space, network-based/global access. Ward Cunningham (inventor of wikis) prefers to use "CamelCase" (short noun phrases like ShortNounPhrases) and argues they make the best structure.
SocialText has many features not available in free Wikis. SocialText Wikis are private by default. Easy setup of multiple workspaces with different memberships. Directory services integration (with access control). Instead of CamelCase they went with free links (just use brackets) - but the downside is that it doesn't help with name space collision.
Socialtext still need to get to WYSIWIG interface. We have added information panels as most don't know how to navigate this freeform structure. Extras: Email in/out, RSS out.
Panelist: Zack Rosen, CivicSpace Labs, CivicSpace
People are listening to people like Bill O'Reilly every day (1 million people a night). DailyKos.com from Marco Zuniga ($100,000 a year in ads) and 350,000 hits a day. He's [DailyKos.com] earned this authority and he exerts it. It isn't just journalistic authority but he's also raising money (about $600,000 for DNC).
Blogs Have Broken News - examples: Fake memo on CBS (exposed on FreeRepublic.com), Trent Lott (ignored by news media), John Stewart (skewers the host on Crossfire) and news media following Crossfire just portrayed Stewart as a scary, scary guy. Bloggers contributed between 1-5 million downloads of the program (perhaps they had 800,000 viewers that evening).
[Zack was involved with the Dean Campaign and created "DeanSpace" - kind of the origin for CivicSpace].
Dean Campaign - 500,000 volunteers self-organizing in every state. Web real estate spread out over hundreds of mostly unofficial websites. All the good ideas like Meetup came from the bottom up, not the campaign HQ.
Where is this going? See South Korea. South Korea has 4X the penetration of broadband in U.S. The have 2 of the most 5 trafficked websites on the entire internet. Most of the content at OhMyNews is from citizen media - and it is the biggest Internet news source in South Korea. Kuro5hin on crack. Best stories are opposing viewpoints side by side. Their candidate got elected. Then later got impeached by the Congress, then the readers and creators of OhMyNews won back the congress seats and put him back in office.
Republicans have a command and control core and they have tapped very strong existing networks.
Democrats have no core. And their networks are newer.
The blogosphere is Reed's Law at work. The blogosphere is granulated, diffuse, but interconnected. It's a network of ideas.
The progressive movement is granulated and diffuse. It is broken.
CivicSpace helps the network of networks coordinate and collaborate together.
Q: on echo chamber versus diversity of view especially shown by references that Zack cites for origin of breaking news
Zack says tried the best he could to find origins; willing to update [but still doesn't answer question]. Lada Adamic says that she noticed that pro-life sites a few years back were more interlinked than pro-choice sites.
Q: Do wikis require a particular corporate culture and/or change corporate culture?
A: Yes, but it's probably all predicted based on the 'champion' that brings wikis in.
DEBATE: Jaron Lanier, VPL Research vs. Will Wright (Maxis/EA) Finding Humanity in the Interface: Capacity Atrophy or Augmentation?
[Came in late...apparently in discussion around state of education and if technology helps or hinders.] [Doesn't appear that they actually disagree all that much. I'm really starting to totally fade...notes are a bit sketchy.]
??: Teachers aren't knowlegeable about computers and technology; but that will change with kids that grew up with computers become teachers.
Jaron: One problem is the monoculture (i.e. Microsoft).
Will: [Speaking of Maxis titles...] Standardization has made it easier in the PC side.
Jaron: There are ways to have open standards without monoculture.
Q: What can you do to slip in technology without people knowing it?
Jaron: I worked on a project that wasn't as graphically as good as Second Life but had some of those qualities and it was intended to help girls be exposed and gain more interest in computers. Textbook publishers got freaked out. Our success caused a reaction so that education system was pressured to only use their materials in California.
[Back to the software] You can become the dinosaur, the molecule, or whatever you are learning.
Will: Seven-year-olds know exactly what they want and they tell their parents, whom don't even know much about what it is. We sell much more directly than through schools. [Basically the kids know more about the computing tools than teachers.] Play and learning has become disconnected, but they go hand-in-hand.
Q: On the business of virtual worlds - aren't they essentially "company towns"?
Will: When you open a piece of software you implicitly agree to its terms. As far as I.P. that's created...It's not so different in that people own the stuff they create on Photoshop.
Jaron: The thing that bugs me is that it isn't as creative and imaginative as you would think. For instance, all the female characters are all cliche vixen. The narrowness of archetype is sad.
Will: The government in real-world still decides on zoning, and otherwise dictates its uses.
Q: What new things will be created? What skillsets are losing in virtual words?
Will: In modern world there is no separation between subjects. We teach outdated information even in math courses (might have been useful when we had pen and paper, but not computers available). Kids are being raised in information-rich universe - equivalent of the Library of Congress at everyone's desktop. Most of the battle is in the motivation side.
Jaron: In a manmade world it's not as complex as nature and infinite subtleity of reality. To play sports you have to do that.
Will: The computer has been an extension of our perceptual senses and our imagination.
Jaron: You have library of congress but you are once removed. You aren't at The Alamo. There was an argument about whether microscope were needed in a school lab anymore - you can get all the stuff on the Internet.
Will: Yeah, something about seeing it myself in telescope is different and I know look at Hobble photographs on the Internet. But I still get a thrill from seeing it in the telescope.
Jaron: [Along the lines of and you get a better understanding of HOW the Hobble photographs are gathered by doing it yourself.]
Q: [missed question, really tired, but appears to be about 'relationships' in virtual worlds]
Jaron: Why aren't there more women at these things? Ted Williams in another panel another conference said something before on this. The more time you spend with bits the more you lose touch with reality. Live music is thriving today - the real experience. People long for real contact with real people.
Will: There are a lot of people that came into The Sims that were shy. And they developed more social skills as they were accepted for who they were and they took those skills to real life.
Q: Give us a meme to change education?
Jaron: Dark thing to say but there is research that shows there is a strong correlation that the more uniform a race is the more they care about education. [Something to do with "they are like me".] I really think all of Richard Dawkin's metaphors suck. The U.S. is veering more towards a white majority for the first time. The prioritizaiton of education and stratification of it is going to create a uniform education. There is all of this talk of the "elites" and thus a huge distrust therefore of educated people. We scare them, 'heartlanders', when we talk about things like singularity. (Doesn't buy into singularity himself....long spiel why) What was talked about in "Future Shock" is coming true - people are worried about the future.
Q: What about those that play these games for 60 hours +?
Will: Addiction can happen with anything. In 1700s, it happened with books. People were surprised that they'd come into a room and the person didn't notice their presence - they were so absorbed in reading their book. I think there needs to be more of a social solution - others will nudge, Hey why are you online all the time?
Jaron: My feeling is that I want to turn the question around. I feel the best thing for any kid to achieve high-performance is that they be have a positive obsession about something. Is the thing you're doing productive? (There are finite and infinite games.) If it's an open system where you are growing, then maybe that won't be called addiction.
Q: But many of these kids and adults are unskilled when it comes to socialization, arts, culture, etc.?
Will: That's one of the reasons I went into the game industry. One of the best people we're hiring are those that have a balanced curriculum - arts and technology. [Comment on that those that were primarily art students seem to strike balance better than tech students.]
Jaron: This has to do with monoculture topic again. The less diversity there is culturally and educationally then...[problem with microphone]. One of the problems in arts to the idea of a canon and it's kind of oppressive too. I think there is a lot of energy around creativity. The mainstream of it is kind of dull right now.
John Smart, President of Institute of the Study of Accelerating Change (i.e. conference organizers), Closing
Lots of thanks. [Just jotting down what's new to me.]
Accelaware: Thriving in a world of accelerating change
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