Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brighton New London Tesco Road

Every time something changes in Brighton, I get a little more annoyed. I guess I've been naive in confusing "culture" (what us as people do) with "planning" (what them the powers do), but every large development in recent years has been about selling out promises of "community" and "sustainability" to more and bigger stores which we (and/or everyone else in the country) have already got.

So imagine my genuine pleasure upon reading that Tesco are #1 for taking over the old London Road Co-Op. Hurrah and biscuits, popdoodles and zipples. Their "exciting combination of food and comparison goods under one roof" (listed here) fill me with a TescoJoy [tm] to my TescoTeeth[tm].

Some might say this is the perfect antidote to the new Sainsbury's graveyard campus opposite, or to the forthcoming Aldi store just down the lane. More competition! More parking spaces! More coleslaw!

I say this is what's known as "selling Brighton up the duff". Ignore ideas of community on the ground that there's not enough funds to organise it. Get funding from those with too much cash anyway. Bend over. Drop pants.

Some others seem to feel the same way though. Maybe there's something we can do. But what can we do? Object? Protest? Move? (Away from Tesco? How?)

Look, powers-that-be. We don't need that much funding. We do need innovation. Creative ideas. Brave ideas. Ideas that aren't afraid of failure so long as they stuck to some notion of making people happy.

Ideas that aren't just peddled from yet another shopping behemoth.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Live Mesh: You are We, as We are We

Ah, Microsoft. What a strange beast you truly are. Yesterday morning, I checked out your lovely Live Mesh site, and it all looked very interesting. I even installed Silverlight for you. I even cooed a little, eyebrows raised. I thought you were back in the game, so to speak. (And it is all so very, very much a game.)

But what happened while I was sleep? Did that nagging doubt at the back of your mind kick in? You know, the one that means you just can't do something without worrying that someone will steal all your profits away, and show you how you should have done it all along? The one that unites justified parade with the rich kid spirit of showing off what you and your friends (and no one else) have access to?

Why did you have to turn the milk so sour?

And to be honest, I'm a little confused when you come out with things such as:
"We hope people will look at the platform and the capabilities and think about new imaginative ways of building applications that will benefit our customers." (emphasis is mine)
Is that a typo? Do you need an extra 'Y' to add to that oh-so-little "our"? Or do you need it to ask "Y, O Y are we so afraid of interacting with other people, of sharing our balding heads and aging development processes?"

It's not too late to turn this around, you know.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Imagery Magic

Some things I just get too excited about - they pop something open in my mind, like a Grecian Gateway to a whole another world of fun and experience, and so I have to have to have to share them with the world in case anyone else understands. This evening, the gateway is being blown open by two photostreams on Flickr. (Click on photos to go to their Flickr page.)

Jochen Hartmann has been playing with 4x5inch bellows to produce some dreamlike work that takes my breath away, especially this one, this one and this little number (so far).

Elsewhere, but similarly in B&W, forgottenpittsburgh has been doing some fine experimenting with homemade contraptions to come up with some equally amazing images.

This one was created by leaving some photographic paper in a pinhole cam, and waiting for it to track the Sun's path over a couple of days...

The more I think about it, the real problem with digital convenience is not the ease of deletion, nor the USB connectivity, but the genericism of the sensor array. It's too easy to make digital film "too good", giving things a bland, uniform look because all the imperfection around the edges have been removed. It's in the production process, is photographic character. It's in the way the film slides, shuffles, dances. It's in the all-too-human fallibility of something tangible.

Yes, film has a good future.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Socialist Rant

Rock on. The sooner we reward the really useful people in society rather than the people who just want control/money/fame/etc, the better. The depressing thing about all this is that there are probably plenty of people (not all of whom are uninvolved in coming to a negotiation) who see "Striking = Slacking". Bollocks to them. Taking cash away from those who are already under-appreciated is not a good way of controlling a FUBAR economy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

WiiBiiCii: Televisual Future?

As far as I'm concerned, the news that Flickr now does video is dwarfed by the announcement that the BBC iPlayer will appear on the Wii. Sure, that's a UK-centric perspective, but the forces at play here are gigantic, especially when placed next to Flickr's news.

To compare: Flickr has always done a fairly decent job of integrating photos with social networks (alongside others such as Deviant Art, I'd argue). Introducing videos - or rather, "long photos" as the Flickr blog puts it - is only big compared to what Flickr already does. (Personally, I love the idea of a 90-second limit. Others have likened this to the deliberate terseness of Twitter. And I think it makes sense. I'll be intrigued to see how my contacts list in Flickr changes as videos get rolled in.

But let's look at what the Beeb are doing. Their iPlayer is gathering momentum, and following the recent publicity around flying penguins, now seems a fantastic time to make the Wii-hookup announcement. People know what Wiis are (they've played one, or they've seen those adverts that do a great job of showing you how they work). People know what the BBC is. People don't necessarily know what Flickr is - it's one of those things that you have to experience, really, to understand what it might mean to you.

So the iPlayer is doing OK. But people are still really not into watching TV on their PCs (or their mobiles, but that's another thread). So we buy recorders, HDMI-capable devices, and ever-larger TV screens instead. The TV, take note, is still King.

Which is where the Wii comes in. It ties together the above two themes nicely - internet access on the one hand, and TV playback on the other. It bridges the 2 without knowing it, plus it throws in the most important bit here - user-friendliness. Not only is it aimed at all the family, no matter what the age, but the Wii also introduces possibly the only hardware interface that makes more sense than ever-more-complex remote-controls: true point-and-click. (And this is what sets it apart from the other consoles, which are still stuck with their "button" metaphors.)

The holy trinity. Connectivity, Content, Usability.

Whether others follow the Beeb's line is the crux point, the thing to watch. Either the BBC are going to be stuck out on their own again (although doing something, I imagine, that's still very successful - but not game-changing), or we can expect to see a swarm to the Wii by other similar content providers. Nintendo must be grinning like Mario at this point - even cheap imitators would need to do what Apple hope to do, and tie together hardware, social awareness and content deals.

It's a nice day here, but the geek in me is about to hook a borrowed Wii up to the net to work out just what else is going on here.

Addendum: The Register reports that a PS3 Hack is out. That's 2 out of 3.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Looking Back

I tend to just tag things up if I think they're cool, rather than blog them, but there's something about this Rocketboom video that makes me want to flag it higher.

(via Laughing Squid)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Musica Robotica Yellowa

Totally loving the Yellow Drum Machine robot.

(Is it wrong to use Twitter refs in blog posts? If not, then @interstar will love this...)