Archive for the ‘software’ Category

Software: Live at TED
April 5, 2008

When I think about how the Internet has changed my life, the first thing that comes to my mind is to thank this revolution for the incredible access to knowledge that has provided me (and millions around the planet).

And one of the reasons I’m so thankful has to do with TEDTalks. An incredible conference that happens in California every year were great minds get together, not to sell anything, but to share some of their ideas and investigations. And the organization behind TED has made sure these ideas get out there to the general public thanks to their online videos. Each week, I get on my feed a new conference, a new idea, that sparks something inside me.

Today, I saw an incredible performance that has a lot to do with this blog. MIT researcher, Golan Levin, has created an amazing piece of software that transforms his computer into an instrument and a canvas at the same time. And it’s a triumph of the blend between art and science.

I found his performance fascinating. It reminded me of a concert I’ve assisted a month ago about contemporary music. The avant garde musicians of our time are trying to discover new ways of shaping sound by breaking all the established rules we know about rythm, melody and harmony. To many of us, used to the pop sounds replicated in all media, it’s hard to understand how such noise could be considered music.

Yet, this software provides a synesthetic experience that helps us to understand better modern art and it certainly demonstrates how simple and profound creativity can be (and how all things in nature are related).

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Software as Art
January 8, 2008

I usually blog about innovations on the field of gaming that try to unleash new possibilities with interactivity. Probably because games, due to the their intrinsic interactive value, are the most common place to find new styles of interactive design. But games are a subset of a much more broader category: Software.

Today, I want to share with you 2 specific works of computer code that really catched my imagination.

The first one of them is the marvelous We Feel Fine. A clear example of how you can turn the entire web 2.0 feeling into an artistic experience. A duet of coders in New York have created this amazing system that crawls the entire blogosphere trying to find the terms: “I’m feeling…” or “I feel…” and how the sentence continues. With that sentence they try to identify your current feeling and match it to a specific color. The result? An incredible view of the world’s current mood through an amazing interface that will leave you breathless.

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The second piece I would like to mention is the Phillip-K.-Dick-inspired Electric Sheep. When the famous sc-fi authour wrote his novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” he didn’t know that a team of programmers would go and try to actually find out what computers dream about. And they did by developing an astonishing screensaver system that calculates complex fractal animations in a distributed online network and the result is hours of the most beautiful math transformed into dancing designs that will appear on your screen each time your computer feels sleepy.

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I would like to see more stuff like this, because I truly consider digital interactivity the new horizon that art has to play with. Each time that I go to a museum like the MoMA or MALBA, I have this constant thought about what gets exhibited as “modern” art: When Marcel Duchamp put an urinal at an art exhibtion, he definitely was a genius for being the first one having that wild idea. But all the other ones that came after him doing that same thing, are, like the french like to say, pretentiousfucks.

An Update About Playdreamer
December 15, 2007

On March this year at the Game Developers Conference, I gave a talk about the research I’ve been doing on 2006 on how to create interactive stories and showcased some tools that I’ve coded during that time. You can still see the complete session on google video.

Playdreamer was the name I gave to an ideal tool that I wanted to develop to create drama games. During this whole year, each time some interesting idea concerning interactive fiction popped in my mind, I would write it on a nice moleskine notebook that I bought for myself. Some of them are pretty wacky and delusional but anyhow, as ideas deserve to be free, I’m sharing some of those pages on my flickr.

Mockup of Playdreamer app

But Playdreamer wasn’t the only big idea on my mind. As some who are close to me know already, I’ve been working a lot on 2007 to start up a new company that aims to create an innovative piece of technology for the web called Popego. And, as the individual human being that I still am, I want to put all my energies (and passion) on that project. That’s why I’ll be 100% focused on Popego, and the Playdreamer project will have to be in the freezer until the time is right. If you’re curious on interactive fiction, you can still download the source code from my research and do something.

The exciting thing is that with Popego we are building an amazing project with a great team and the best possible partners you can get when it comes to talk about innovation and technology. I’ll be writing a new post to specifically talk about this idea in the future, and if you were interested on my Playdreamer research, I hope you understand the reasons that I’m giving to put it aside for a while. Quite probably, in the future I would like to find links between gaming and education with a tool like Playdreamer. We’ll see…

Jefferson on Software?
August 27, 2007

Two months ago, I was invited as a collaborator on a project to write a book about intellectual property. My task was to study such field from the perspective of software. It was the perfect excuse to get myself some time to completely read the brilliant essay from Lawrence Lessig Code 2.0.

In a particular chapter, Lessig quotes a very interesting thought from Thomas Jefferson that I would like to share on this blog:

If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

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The impact of Free Software (as in freedom) is gigantic. Not until very recently I had consciously realized that almost every single application that goes to the web, has to have a part of its code open for the browser to render the recieved information. I simply was assuming that HTML, CSS or Javascript where interpreted languages, but not fully realizing the virtue of the decission Tim Berners-Lee made when he decided to release his hypertext technologies open and royalty free to the world.

Personal note: I’ve been quite busy lately working on exciting new technology. I apologize for the lack of updates the blog has been having, but I promise I will make it up later.