Samuel L. Jackson, in text. Big text.

Discovered this video via a post on the 37signals blog Signal vs. Noise.

(Warning: It’s a scene from “Pulp Fiction”, a Tarantino movie, so some of the language will make bikers blush)

It’s an amazing example of Visual Thinking at work even though there isn’t a single picture used in it. Brilliant.

For the curious, VizThink, went extremely well – full post will be coming over the weekend. It’s just been one of those weeks.

Where do I buy one? Amazing Touch Screen technology in action…

Came across this on the CrapHammer blog:

Some of amazing stuff from the guys at Perceptive Pixel. Reminds me a lot of the BumpTop stuff I saw demoed last year at DemoCamp – they share a lot of similar functions when it comes to photo interactions but I think the BumpTop physics engine was a lot better.

I love their examples here of how they use it to interact with information though. I can imagine it’d be a lot of fun to do mental model exercises in a system like that. Throw up the nodes, then start making links and dragging the around, too fun!

Blogtv.ca launches

Last night I had the pleasure of going to the launch party for Blogtv.ca – it was held in Kensington Market at little place called Supermarket.

In a nutshell Blogtv.ca is YouTube with live video. Create an account, plug in your webcam and start “broadcasting”. Viewers can login, watch the live broadcasts and participate via chat.

The Event
The launch party itself was a good time – good mix of people, healthy TorCamp turnout and some good conversation. The High Road team always seems to put together fun events and this one was no exception.

The Site
There’s some interesting features like co-hosting – which allows two separate people to broadcast on the same channel. The interface is nice enough and it seems intuitive and easy to use. Ironically enough when I logged in earlier this evening the only person in the “Live Now” section was Peter Dawson, another local TorCamper. It was handy though, as it let us mess around a bit as broadcaster/viewer.

Where’s the Beef?
At the end of the day I can think of a handful of applications where it could be useful but…

blogtv1

Nothing is happening! I think there’s a couple of issues right now that are going to make it really hard to get the traction they need.

1. Talking Heads – The challenge with limiting people to webcams is you’re pretty much stuck with the typical “talking head” framing. Which generally means not very compelling imagery so the speaker/host/presenter has to be pretty compelling.

2. The white-noise tv’s – Nice effect but the problem with it is it SCREAMS “Nothing to see here”. Basically the site is wrapped around one premise and the first thing the homepage does right now is tell the user “we’re not going to deliver on that”.

3. Maintaining interest while momentum builds – When I started this blog I went in knowing that for at least the first month or two, aside from me, my wife and maybe a couple of friends, no one would be reading it. With writing it’s not a big deal, no one’s watching while I write, so it’s not an immediate motivator. With video though, it’s completely different. Sitting at the computer having a conversation of one would be pretty difficult. Imagine getting on the site 2-3 times a week and sitting for 20 minutes talking to yourself/your computer while it confirms to you that no one is, in fact, watching you. Getting people to maintain interest long enough to get to the point of truly having viewers will be a real challenge.

Planting Seeds
I was out at lunch the other day with Will Pate and Mark Kuznicki and the conversation turned to community growth and cultivation. Without going into too much detail Will likened the process of community development to gardening – and I think that sums up the challenge with Blogtv.ca.

In essence, they’ve got a good, fertile garden in what they’ve built – the challenge is nothing has been planted. Judging by the party, swag bag and quality of the site they’ve got some money behind them. If it were my site I’d make sure that I took some of that cash and invested it in nailing down a few well known or emerging video bloggers to ensure that during the peak times across Canada there was always a couple of people live and broadcasting on the system. I’d want them to be good conversation starters, if not a little edgy on any of the political/belief systems out there. Find some people with a traffic halo and try and get them on the site and contributing. Ensure there’s a somewhere for users to end up so they start to interact and even debate. People will start to respond to the seed content, make contacts and the conversations should spill out into the rest of the site.

It’s critical though that anyone brought into the mix to help seed the conversations be authentic. They have to be compelling beyond the format and genuinely believe what they’re trying to share.

For the most part, all the bits are there, it just needs a little bump start.

Disclosure: As with most of these events, there was free booze and some swag given out.

Every Two Weeks A Language Dies

For a while now I’ve been watching the “TEDTalks” series via the TEDBlog.

As part of their update today they included the video of photographer Phil Borges. I admittedly had never heard of him before but with my renewed interest in photography I was keen to see what his talk had to offer, especially with the description of the videos contents:

Photographer Phil Borges displays his remarkable portraits, documenting the world’s disappearing cultures, from persecuted monks in Tibet to embattled tribes in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Almost right off the bat he dropped an interesting pair of tidbits about the demise of languages in the world that actually surprised me. Paraphrasing linguist, Ken Hayle, he said that 6,000 languages spoken on earth today, 3,000 of them aren’t spoken by the children. essentially, in a single generation we run the risk of losing roughly half the number of languages actively spoken in the world.

He added that every two weeks “an elder goes to the grave carrying the last spoken word of that culture”.

Chilling.

In this day and age is there really any excuse for losing a language?

While he doesn’t dwell on the language component he speaks a lot about heritage and culture – an interesting 12 or so minutes if you have the time:

I’d highly recommend checking the TEDBlog out – It’s Intriguing, often inspiring and at the very least interesting. http://tedblog.typepad.com

– Ryan