Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Keys predated locks.

The T-Rex awarded to the Triceratops the key to the city on account of his valor and bravery. The key didn't unlock anything. It was just a big dumb symbol for a big dumb lizard.

Human lock makers made clever use of the symbol.

Sometimes we still hand out useless, dinosaur-sized keys to useful people.

Your assignment for today: render a useless symbol tangible and fashion a very practical purpose for it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Space That Joins Us

We need a new name for Cyberspace. We need a new name for "In Real Life"

What sets virtual space apart is that it has no scale.

Time exists in cyberspace, yet height, length and depth are only abstracts to be simulated or ignored at will.

We exploit the Web's scalelessness to connect people and/or devices across distance.

Cyberspace is the additive space that connects us. I suggest we call it Positive Space.

"The Real world" is the subtractive space that separates us. I suggest we call it Negative Space.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sherlock Holmes and the Solution to "Information Overload"

The greatest fictional mind in literary history had no idea that the earth rotated around the sun. When informed of the Copernican model of our solar system, he replied, "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it."

In Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle's story, A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes went on to say, "I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose."

"A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work...It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones...You say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.""

These days many of us with access to the internet complain of "information overload". We are inundated with so much data that we are familiar with everything, but master of nothing. The knowledge we absorb is crammed so tight inside our skulls that we can't seem to make any meaningful connections out of the mess.

Sherlock had the answer: sort through your every stimulus and only take in that which pertains to your interests. Be selective. There are many tools at your disposal to sift through the web for the information you want, and just as many tools to block out the unwanted.

As my friend Regis Lacher is fond of saying, "It isn't 'information overload' it's 'Filter Failure.'"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Swarms of Cyborgs Upon Thee

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed mind-controlled cyborg insects to replace Micro-Aerial Vehicles for purposes of military surveillance.

"Behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:"

These modified insects will be easier and cheaper to develop in large quantities, than their purely robotic counterparts.

"And they shall cover the face of the earth"

Once perfected, the computerized implants will be fueled by the excess energy lost in the beating of the wings and will not need tiny batteries.

Once installed in an armada of flies and locusts, DARPA will secure their ranking as "go-to" organization for DIY Biblical Plagues.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


The Disney Vault has cracked and out of the fissure has slithered the liquid remnants of Dalvador Dali's melted clocks, mixed with the same ink that painted Mickey Mouse black.

Back in 1943, Walt and Dali began a collaborative animated short. It was to be a surreal love story of Chronos, the embodiment of time, and his ill-fated affair with a mortal woman. It was originally considered for Walt's vision of a constantly evolving version of Fantasia in which new segments would periodically rotate in and out with old favorites, like a symphony altering it's program. The project was abandoned but it's memory persisted, and the unfinished remnants were picked up again by Walt's nephew Roy to be finished in 2003.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Invisible Knots

Automatic Leisure

We fantasize about developing robots to do our work for us, so we can relax and play and leave all the toiling to our mechanized creations. But most jobs cannot, in all practicality, be handled by robots due to their limitations in creative thought. Robots will never be able to replace most decision-making jobs. So why not teach the robots how to have a good time for us instead?

Spend some quality time with your robot so he won't ever feel the need to join a robotic uprising.

Let him take leisurely strolls along the surf while you meet with that difficult client.

Program him to take a dip in your pool and keep your kids company while you are stuck in rush hour traffic.

Program your robot to take pleasure in the little things in life that you just can't seem to get to.

Automate joy or you may never get around to it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Reboot Scootin' Boogie

The film industry is in love with the "reboot". As soon as a popular film franchise starts losing it's luster they just recast the roles and sell us the same story again. This is often criticized as Hollywood's lack of imagination and unwillingness to take storytelling risks on new material.

But retelling stories is in our blood. Any story worth telling is worth re-telling.

For hundreds of thousands of years humans have gathered around the campfire at night to tell tales, and with each new generation a new teller inherits the story. It's only been since the invention of the printing press that one particular storyteller's details and flourishes have survived past his death.

Now information outlives it's creator. Different takes on the same story compete with each other across the divide of time.

William Shatner or Chris Pine?

George Reeve or Christopher Reeves?

More choices mean a greater chance of finding a story that connects to you directly.

The problem with the reboot is that when opposing versions of the same story compete, we lose the illusion of reality. Comparing different director's takes side by side exposes the artificiality of the story and we can no longer suspend disbelief.

We aren't upset by the financial exploitation of our tall tales, we are upset that our heroes no longer seem real to us.