January 26, 2006

Social networking - the next generation

Alex writes:

Find all those Social Network Sites like MySpace,Tribe and Friendster a little limiting in terms of interactivity? Well here's a couple of slightly more progressive sites based on the idea of fusing The Sims with Social Networking to create a full-scale virtual world for you to inhabit and play around in, rather than just jumping from one Profile Page to another ad nauseum.

Wootanga: All registered Wootangian citizens are invited to explore a web-based world which merges advanced social networking with the immersion of a complete alien society. You will be rewarded with Participation Points and items for your personal usage by interacting with others. By becoming a full Wootangian citizen you'll also be able to engage in a player-driven storyline and change the outcome of the world by taking part in epic community-wide quests.


Second Life : (not to be confused with 'Half-Life') is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by nearly 100,000 people from around the globe. 'The Marketplace' currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions. This commerce is handled with the in-world currency, the Linden dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at several thriving online currency exchanges.


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January 24, 2006

Dragon Slayers or Tax Evaders?

It had to happen. Now that virtual economies are big business in the real world , the question arises - will you be taxed on your online possessions? Under US law it seems that the answer is yes. That treasure horde in WoW may be less valuable that you think, and an admin nightmare...

Legal Affairs

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January 23, 2006

Teen content creators

57% of online teens in the US are content creators, says a report by the American Life Project.

Pew Internet & American Life Project Report: Teen Content Creators and Consumers

It goes on to say that 40% of urban teens are re-mixing online content into their own creations.

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January 17, 2006

retrievr - search by sketching

retrievr is a rather interface to flickr which searches the online photo system using your scribbling as a reference. Colour and shapes form a refreshing break from keyword tags.

My tests didn't immediately spring back with relevent responses. It was more like the first round of playing Pictionary with strangers but the idea is brilliant and you can see how this could be refined over to time to be highly accurage. I read about something similar for furniture a few years ago via the SIGGRAPH conference and was struck by how useful this process is for a more uniform collection of images (e.g. tables and chairs).

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January 12, 2006

Participant Productions

The last line in the credits of Syriana is a URL - . An activist call to arms at the end of a Warner Bros movie? I had to investigate further...

The site appears to be a portal for community activism stemming from feature film releases. Founded by ebay president, Jeff Skoll, Participant Productions is in the business of producing political movies.

"Participant believes in the power of media to create great social change. Our goal is to deliver compelling entertainment that will inspire audiences to get involved in the issues that affect us all."

What is most interesting is that the films to-date, Syriana, North Country, Murderball, Goodnight and Good Luck are not simply grassroots productions but heavy-hitting Hollywood productions with A-list stars like George Clooney and Charlize Theron. What happens when the majority of film productions, regardless of country of origin, make this much effort to establish a social context outside of the cinema. The medium evolves.

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January 11, 2006

Newsnight in Second Life

Missed this one. BBC journalists Jeremy Paxman and Paul Mason broadcast part of the Newsnight programme from within the MMORPG Second Life.

Newsnig8t: I go head to head with a virtual Paxman

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January 04, 2006

Australia Day celebrations through Flickr

The National Library of Australia is inviting Flickr members to add their Australia Day images to a new group as part of the PictureAustralia collaborative image service it manages. The library has aranged to download metadata and thumbnails from the social media goliath on a weekly basis to enrich its collection.

Flickr: PictureAustralia: Australia Day

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Disney and iTunes

The Mouse House has expanded its offerings on iTunes dramatically in what Variety predicts will be a familiar refrain this year. The offerings mainly consist of TV content but two feature films from the 1930s, Three Little Pigs and The Tortoise and The Hare are also being released.

Variety.com - Disney expands downloads

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January 03, 2006

Alternative ending DVDs

Scrounging for scraps or producing interactivity? You decide.

"Universal Studios Home Entertainment recently surveyed consumers and found alternate endings are their favorite bonus features"

DVD producers hunt for novelties - Yahoo! News

Non-liner narrative, especially alternative endings, is a tricky subject for storytellers. On one hand audiences expect more choice yet providing one (let alone several) compelling storylines is often hard enough. Where do you draw the line?

As usual, the studio endorsements expressed here come after years of cautious experimentation and considerable money burnt by independents. What have we learnt? The innate appeal of a non-linear storyilne for its own sake is limited but offering a wider pool of assets is often appreciated by the audience. The appeal of peeking "inside the box" to see how movies are made is not to be underestimated, especially by jaded ("seen it all before") professionals.

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