Merging personal expression and computational power, "spacial computing" marks a departure from screen-only computing to incorporate bodily movement, another step toward mimicking how we organically interact with the world.
A business school might seem like an unlikely source for this kind of news, but apparently packing up our troublesdoes help us get past unwelcome events, according to research from the Rotman School of Management.
A new study... suggests you might want to stick something
related to your disappointment in a box or envelope if you want to feel
better. In four separate experiments researchers found that the physical
act of enclosing materials related to an unpleasant experience, such as
a written recollection about it, improved people's negative feelings
towards the event and created psychological closure. Enclosing materials
unrelated to the experience did not work as well....
While the market
implications might not be immediately obvious..., the
findings point to new angles on such things as fast pick-up courier
services and pre-paid mortgage deals that relieve people's sense of debt
burden. If people realize that the memory of past events or tasks can
be distracting, perhaps there is a market for products and services that
can enclose or take away memories of that task.
Referencing a Wired UK article on "ultra mapping," Nokia's head of interface design, Adam Greenfield, stakes a claim to some pretty rich epistemological territory. Maps that dynamically pinpoint us render more than another coordinate or elevation. No, they are much more illustrious:
[A]ll those routinely gorgeous renderings of subway ridership or crime or air quality imply something very different when you can either find yourself within their ambit or cannot. At its rawest, the suggestion is this: either these issues affect me, or they do not. And this is true even if what is being mapped is a purely historical event. The implication is there, however faint.
As it turns out, everybody holds a piece to the puzzle.
Building a platform that loosely organized the successful hunt for ten hidden balloons across the United States, Riley Crane recently appeared on Colbert to describe how collective intelligence won a prize offered by DARPA. The agency - no doubt feeling sheepish about its role in bringing the Internet to life - wanted to know forty years later how the Web might be used to solve real problems.
One of the more interesting discussions at Lunch with IF on Friday followed the question, "What is life?"
Surprisingly, the answers aren't that straightforward, especially when the obvious marker of sentient, self-reflective behavior is excluded. Science is still divided over whether a virus, for example, is "alive." We also know of organisms on Earth that live in the crushing heated pressures near deep sea vents, metabolizing what elements are on hand, and microbes that have been trapped for millions of years in glacial ice.
And now that water ice has been confirmed near the surface of Mars, astronomer Pamela Gay put the possibility in context with a pithy quote that I asked her to repeat following Lunch with IF:
If the environment for life has been dramatically expanded, one might suggest that life is what responds in a systematic way to its surroundings.
University of Louisville biology professor Lee Dugatkin, who has studied animal behavioral extensively, discussed how a simple rulebook can lead to complex, even cooperative, behaviors, and pointed out the work being done with synthetic "life" by the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. A little more effort turned up this this video that makes his point.
Thanks to University of Louisville professor and futurist Nat Irvin, who served on our panel as well. There were many other highlights that I and Elle Waters twittered during the discussion and follow up question and answer session. I'm sure we'll be doing more Lunches with IF - and give away more All-Access Passes too.
As GPS and other location technologies (holography, anyone?) substitute virtual referent for physical reality, it raises questions about the role of context to knowledge, and whether, in the process of mapping everything, we add to or subtract from the understanding we get.
The Salon piece was strongly reminiscent of the ongoing debate over the place of books in public life.
Our minds are of course always processing environmental data and coming up with disproportionate responses - the coo of a swaddled baby often triggers those feelings and that sheltering embrace - so this method of taking external information and calculating a logical response is, to me, not unnatural. We've had a very, very long time to come to terms with environmental signals, and given the enormous flood of new data being created every day, the instinctive surface of our skin is as a good a place as any for appointing those previously hidden cues.
Niemeyer began by defining games as a "way for two or more participants to have a conversation in a fictional gamespace," and offered examples such as "Ring around the Rosey" that demonstrate our use of games in early learning.
Games are free, separate from reality, rules-based, limited in time and space. As distinguished from the game as a whole, game outcomes do not produce profit.
Fun, playfulness and the feeling of being in the moment, are powerful outcomes of game play. Like the willing suspension of disbelief while watching a movie, this momentary abandonment can lead to unexpected insight, because, unlike the experience of watching a movie or theatrical play, the game's outcome hangs in the balance and depends on participant interaction. Games are transformative. And yes, this phenomenal effect can be abused just like any other diversion.
Niemeyer has said that games will be the dominant 21st Century medium. If measured by the business revenue of screen-based games, they are ascendant today.
Games cut across many existing disciplines. For example, in anthropology, they might be thought of as "rule-based, participatory, systematic instances of culture." In medicine, the pair offered examples of games in a diagnostic or therapeutic setting.
Because they offer a safe space, games are often played when people are trying to process a societal change.
There were several exchanges on the use of games as a pedagogical device. Niemeyer said that games are not the only answer in learning, but they will reach some people that can't be reached otherwise. Traditional teaching and learning methods combined with games are better than traditional teaching methods alone. "This has been well established in the literature" on the subject, according to Niemeyer.
For a descriptive case study of one well known ARG, read '08 IdeaFestival presenter Jane McGonigal's paper on "I Love Bees" (PDF), in which she explores concepts like distributed intelligence in real world games.
Why can't fun be practical? This video from the same group that brought you the "musical stairs" has three cognitive payoffs. When we think outside the (thumbtack) box, new and better outcomes are possible. Maybe a rubbish bin can be something much more. And maybe a big game set in the real world, Kentucky even, can have beneficial outcomes, as well as be a complete blast.
Working its way from idea to lab to nascent technology, Cymatics is the study of how sound lends shape.
While an unfamiliar idea to most, a very human analog might found in "Born on a Blue Day" author Daniel Tammet, who has written at length on his ability to see numbers as color and shape. He provides a rare first person narrative into how mixed media can lead to creative possibilities and life enhancing technologies alike.
Think about this. Knowing what something might have sounded like based on its physical properties might provide physicists with a 13 billion year old vantage on an event like the Big Bang, as Evan Grant suggests in this TED video. Check out the video below and others linked recently by Emerging Tech blogger Chris Jablonski.