Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Third Eyes

Apologies for the thin-ish layer of dust. In December I had to manage an artificial ice rink at a christmas village during the holiday season, an activity that demanded all my Christmas cheer (and gave me a greater  appreciation for the Santaland Diaries, incidentally). Since the new year I've started up with a bit of researchy work for Duncan/Channon, an awesome advertising agency based out of the Bay Area. 

One of their clients is Blurb, which helps people design and print their own books. Given that we're in a major period of transition for media, we're all doing a fair bit of reading and thinking about futures for the book.  One thing I've run across lately is the results and findings from Portigal Consulting's Reading Ahead project, which really sets the mind abuzz. As part of that project, they did a One-Hour Design challenge with Core77, which had all kinds of cool results. I particularly liked the Booklight from Kicker Studios, which projects ebook text into a (real) blank book of your choosing:

That's pretty cool, and feeds into the greater trend looking toward ubiquitous projectors as a means of overlaying data onto the real world, of which MIT's Sixth Sense is my current favorite. But that system also involves cameras, which is where we get to the other possibility this picture raised in my head: What if you could put a small camera/projector on a print book you already owned? With the right software, you'd get some of the the added functionality of an ebook (sharing, tagging, copy/paste, analytics and so forth), though obviously none of the portability that comes from e-readers. 

If you took it a step further, what if it compared the text it was looking at with a database (like CDDB or Musicbrainz) to identify what you were reading?  You could easily comment on it socially, sync it with your other devices, and effect all manner of extensions to your reading life, with all the wonderful and regrettable things that means.

There could also be issues if this doodad had the capability (either built in or suitably-hacked) to rip books and spare consumers from the vinyl-to-cd-like pain of paying again for something you already own. All in all though, I like the idea. One thing that shouldn't be forgotten in our rush to adopt new forms of text is that the ol' print codex has a pretty long shelf-life, particularly when printed on acid-free paper. There's an opportunity to be had in unlocking extra functions out of the stuff people already have.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cambodian Students Review Hollywood, part I

Most home-grown Cambodian
films involve scary ghosts.
Last year when I was teaching in Cambodia, I decided to start a weekly lending library of sorts for DVDs, since they were cheap (to me) and would provide an additional flow of English to students, not to mention entertainment. Unlike EFL students in more developed countries like Indonesia, students had seen relatively few western films, and were generally unaware of who big movie stars were. (This made the lesson on "Little-known facts of the Stars" a total pain to teach.)

Once a month, I would have them write reviews. I have a good number of these, so it's likely to be an ongoing series. Here goes...

Cambodian Movie Reviews

Fly of the Concord: Germain and Bret are close friends. They are the main characters in the movie. They are kind of funny characters. Every episode they have one or two songs that describe their lives and feeling. In an episode the two friends get hurt because they faile in their love. At first I thought only Bret that have a broken heart, but later in the episode Saly also broked Germain's heart.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today's Bizarre Primary Source

ST. LOUIS, (Missouri Territory,)
NORTH AMERICA, April 10, A. D. 1818.
I declare the earth is hollow and habitable within; containing a number of solid concentrick spheres, one within the other, and that it is open at the poles 12 or 16 degrees; I pledge my life in support of this truth, and am ready to explore the hollow, if the world will support and aid me in the undertaking.
Jno. Cleves Symmes.
Of Ohio, Late Captain of Infantry.
N. B. -- I have ready for the press, a Treatise on the Principles of Matter, wherein I show proofs of the above positions, account for various phenomena, and disclose Doctor Darwin's Golden Secret.
My terms are the patronage of this and the new worlds.
I dedicate to my Wife and her ten Children.
I select Doctor S. L. Mitchill, Sir H. Davy, and Baron Alex. de Humboldt, as my protectors.
I ask one hundred brave companions, well equipped, to start from Siberia in the fall season, with Reindeer and slays, on the ice of the frozen sea: I engage we find a warm and and rich land, stocked with thrifty vegetables and animals if not men, on reaching one degree northward of latitude 82; we will return in the succeeding spring. J. C. S.