Home Info Theatre

IM with Kai Turner, ace infomation architect and bon vivant who I had the pleasure of working with at Sapient:

AIM IM with kaiganism

kaiganism : Do you think there will be a convergence of things like Flickr, Bloglines, Blogger, Friendster (yuck) — ? Or is the beauty of these services that they can stay singular in their focus?

BBJ01: i think it’s not an either/or
you get conFUSION though web services and information exchange formats
then you get some super converged super easy for consumers

kaiganism : mmm.. so give it time, you say

BBJ01: so – people who love the quality will have ‘hifi separates’
all joined by standard interfaces
‘home info theatre’

kaiganism : that’s a nice analogy.. hadn’t thought of it that way.

BBJ01: others will have converged boomboxes
with only a couple of knobs, but pretty lights!

kaiganism : you can be the geek buying all the components, or go straight to dixons… but dixons will wait until the standards have settled down and you have an audio-DVD format, for example.

BBJ01: yeah i guess… although perhaps i am labouring the metaphor!

kaiganism : no — it’s nice. you should blog that
instead of confusing us with ilovebees.com
down here at the consumer-edge of the spectrum.
or maybe i’ll do that… i can turn my blog into blackbeltjones for the masses. Like Scientific American mag.

BBJ01: heh. explaining matt jones since 1999

kaiganism : hahaha

Kai is now producing Design on DVD, a series of DVD monograms on design legends, starting with Saul Bass… Go buy it

Architecture and use

Peter Lindberg has posted a nicely considered piece on computer architecture and it’s relationship to the general meaning of architecture, including this definition by Fred Brooks whom he entered into correspondence with on the topic:

“Computer architecture, like other architecture, is the art of determining the needs of the user of a structure and then designing to meet those needs as effectively as possible within economic and technological constraints. Architecture must include engineering considerations, so that the design will be economical and feasible; but the emphasis in architecture is on the needs of the user, whereas in engineering the emphasis is on the needs of the fabricator.”

I would contend that great architecture has it’s emphasis on the end-user – at least, on the end-user alone.

The emphasis is on the needs of the culture it is to embed itself within; via the consideration of site, place, history, context, ecology, arcology, archeology, climate (interacting with climate both to modify it for it’s inhabitants and it’s immediate external context) and the aesthetic / symbolic impact it may have. Also, the consideration of the end-user’s needs (in architectural terminlogy, the programme of the space) is done with this cultural-embedding in mind. How does the programme mesh with it’s surroundings? Do the end-users of the space feel part of a continuum, whether rural or urban; or isolated and hermetically-sealed off from their surroundings.

Can this extend into software? Clay’s situated-software meme scratches the surface of the above – it’s throwaway in most cases: coop-himmelblau or archigramesque digital urban intervention, not digital architecture or digital urbanism.

What would computer and software architecture that was truly analagous to architecture be like?

Takeover, Two


“Beep-beep, beep-beep, YEAH!” BBC Radio1 is having another day of techno-assisted musical democracy -the 10hr takeover; and they’ve published a friendly guide to the tech involved here, featuring helpful illustrations like that above.

For a more in-depth look, Matt Biddulph wrote up his and others work on the takeover-tech back when they launched it.

Checking the tracklisting is, again, revealing of a nation’s psyche – the good (Superstition, Stevie Wonder), the bad (We built this city, Starship), the ugly (Ace of Spades, Motorhead {not the antimega remix}) and the just plain wigged-out (Dangermouse theme…)

Great to see the nation’s favourite audioscrobbling the nation… Well done the R&Mi squad!!! And look… you can join them!!!

Best blog blurb evah?

My favourite group blog, 3 Quarks Daily got a ‘blurb’ from Stephen Pinker!

“I couldn’t tear myself away [from 3 Quarks Daily], to the point of neglecting my work. I’ve already bookmarked it for times when I don’t want to work. Congratulations on this superb site. Best wishes.”

—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Blank Slate, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules, and The Language Instinct.”


Top of the world, ma!

Last week, Tyler Brule spoke at Nokia. One of the suggestions he made for societal trends to watch was that of an informal, ‘top-of-the-world’ cultural confederation forming; knitting Vladivostock, Sapporo, Vancouver, Rekyjavik, Helsinki and Beijing, and points between, somehow.

It seemed a bold claim, but I thought there might be something in it – already Helsinki Vantaa airport is a major stopover hub for flights between Europe and China / Japan.

Later the same week I read a story in the Economist [Subscription required, sorry] about one of the consquences of global warming being that the Northwest Passage would de-ice and become a viable route for shipping all year round.

Such a route would shave something like 4000 kilometres off the existing Panama Canal route between Europe and Asia. The story left me a little dumbstruck, as for one thing, it pictured global warming not as catastrophy (which it undoubtedly will lead to many of) but as a matter-of-fact that will reconfigure human geographies, commerce and culture.

Trade routes, until the advent of telecommunications, had enormous influence on culture. In the age of the internet, would a top-of-the-world commerce result in a top-of-the-world cultural continuum as suggested by Tyler Brule?


Gene points out that the first spacetime coordinate of the whole ‘ilovebees.com’ alternate-reality thing is today, in Silicon Valley…

Update at ARGN:

“While many were expecting Halo 2 demo disks, what they got instead was one of the largest, most complicated distributed interactions in ARG [Alternate Reality Gaming] history. Hundreds of people around the country descended upon over 200 locales, working as a team to answer phone calls correctly, in order to unlock a series of audio clues.”

Organizr launches

Organizr launches today, which builds on the Flickr API to give photo-management tools approaching those you’d get on a desktop app. It’s very nice indeed, with some lovely info/interaction design touches, although I don’t have enough “in” Flickr to make it worthwhile just yet.

One niggling thing I’d suggest is that the “sets” that you build get a larger ‘stack’ icon, the more images you place in them.

This isn’t that important as a cue (you’d go click on the set entitled “my best naked pictures of celebrities ever” regardless of the size of the icon, if you pardon the double-entendre) but it would be a nice-to-have nonetheless, fitting in with a UI-style that it big on visual cues, humour and ease-of-use.

One of the best touches are the size-bars that are shown under the dates on the timeline interface of Organizr, indicating the number of pictures uploaded that day.


Of course, Organizr is built on the Flickr API, so if I had a ounce of talent I could do it myself, but alas it’s not the case.

Anyway, hearty congratulations to the Ludicorp crew – now go lie down somewhere and relax for a while!

S.H.I.E.L.D. gets support in Edinburgh

S.H.I.E.L.D. gets support in Edinburgh
Originally uploaded by blackbeltjones.

On the Grassmarket in Edinburgh, where I was staying last week, some wag had been chalking slogans of support for S.H.I.E.L.D. – the UNCLE/NATO-alike global security organisation in the Marvel Universe.

More curiously, they also seemed to have a thing for Solomon Kane, the dour puritan-swordsman hero of Robert E. Howard‘s pen.

On visiting wikipedia to find that REH link, I spy that today is the anniversary of Virginia Dare’s birthday and hence also the disappearance of the Roanoke colony…