An Opus to AR – It Begins

Here it goes. The first entry of my grand opus on Augmented Reality, and why I think it will be the most impacting new media form we have had since the rise of the Internet. I will serialise a total of 10,000 words, hyperlinked where appropriate, and with illustrations where possible. The title of this work is as follows:

Assessing an Augmented Future: What is Augmented Reality, What are its Potential Applications in the Entertainment Industry, and What Will its Emergence Mean for the User in Society?

Series Order:

  1. Contents
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. What is AR and what is it capable of?
  5. Gameware: A Case Study in AR Development
  6. Constructing a methodology
  7. Reverse Engineering: Locating AR within its wider context
    1. Virtual Reality
    2. The Internet
    3. Mobile Telephone
    4. Summary
  8. Deconstructing AR: assessing it’s socio-cultural impact
    1. Applying McLuhan
    2. Applying Baudrillard
    3. Applying Benjamin
  9. Conclusion
  10. Bibliography
    1. References
    2. Further Reading

Please stick with me, I plan to release each element over a the next few weeks beginning today with Part 2, my research abstract. Grab an RSS feed and please chip in with your contributions.

Daft Punk – Pop Oracles?

As you’ll see from my Last.fm profile, I’ve been listening to a lot of Daft Punk lately. For those who haven’t heard their stuff, this track in particular is the one I think best sums them up:

Buy it, use it, break it, fix it,
Trash it, change it, mail, upgrade it,
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it,
Snap it, work it, quick erase it,
Write it, cut it, paste it, save it,
Load it, check it, quick rewrite it,
Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it,
Drag it, drop it, zip, unzip it,
Lock it, fill it, call it, find it,
View it, code it, jam, unlock it,
Surf it, scroll it, pose it, click it,
Cross it, crack it, switch, update it,
Name it, read it, tune it, print it,
Scan it, send it, fax, rename it,
Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it,
Turn it, leave it, start, format it,

Sound familiar? Thought so – it’s the soundtrack to our modern lives.
And it begs the question: are we slaves to our media or is the media subject to us?

Digital Media (as referred to in the above) is the most pliable of all forms, possibly all materials. But do we lose anything by acting as their conduit? Do we define their being by the act of using them?

By way of answer, Marshall McLuhan states that:

Physiologically, man in the normal use of technology […] is perpetually modified by it and in turn finds ever new ways of modifying his technology. Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee to the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms.

(Understanding Media, 1967:56)

Punchy stuff indeed, and his point rings truer now than in 1967 when it was first written (for more McLuhanism check out The MemeStream, an older academic blog of mine). The relationship between Man and Machine is blurred in Daft Punk’s own appearance – they are never seen in public without their robot masks.

As I see it, Daft Punk have tapped into the zeitgeist of a world growing ever-reliant on our technologies, without much thought of how these forms may be exploiting us. It’s a beat-heavy warning to the masses to stay human, and not to be  anyone’s “sex organ”.

So what do we think? Are these French electro-popsters oracles for a future world? Answers on a postcard please, or in the comments box below.

The Conversation Prism

Cool new representational artwork by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas:

The Conversation Prism shows all social media services and how they interrelate. Though very simple in it’s approach they’ve managed to classify near-all types of platform and their constitient IPs.

Not sure how the centre of the prism is used, but damn, don’t it look pretty?
Think I’ll be ordering one for the wall in the new MBA division.

Web Discoveries for April 7th

These are my del.icio.us links for April 7th

Emotional Search in Web 3.0

I urge you to go and check out We Feel Fine, a flash applet that scours the Interwebs  not for keywords you’ve chosen, but from a huge array of predefined emotions.

The result is a staggering visualisation of current states-of-mind across various social media sources, from feeling ‘angsty’ to ‘fine’ (of course) and through to ‘zealous’. Seriously, one cannot underplay the significance I feel this holds, as the way it comes across in its black and #ff005d imagery places monumental power behind the little dots and abstract shapes, each representing a different feeling, and crucially a different person. Allow me to elucidate…

Logging on you’ll start in an ocean of multicoloured shapes and colours. Mousing over will freeze the surrounding area allowing you to pick out a certain point  – a label appears signifying the attached emotion. A click on that point shows the sentence or image that the target emotion is connected to. A further click takes you away to that content’s permalink somewhere on the web. Immediately, at least to me, the significance of web browsing via emotional state is felt for the first time.

Jonathan Harris, digital artist behind WeFeelFine along with information architect Sep Kamvar,  has set upon a series of projects intended to exploit our increasing hyperconnectivity, and present back to us the visual representation of our online ongoings. Check out this video from coolhunting on the etymology of the project below:

As a member of the ad industry, I am excited by the potential to target users by their emotional state via WeFeelFine, or by Adrian Veidt-style trendspotting via Universe.

Conversely, as a member of the Open Web culture I know that this is art and should remain so. Let’s not sully this by exploiting human weakness, rather use it as a reminder of those core abilities the web and our hyperconnectivity to it can show us, and what we can learn from it.

That’s the true definition of good art, in my opinion.