Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To-Do List

Sterling Advice From ARE:

What are you doing? Think of yourselves as the worlds first pure play experience designers. Whose reality needs to be augmented? Is it the hardcore geeks? Are they the people who need you the most? Whose experiences really need to be redesigned?

The blind. Foreigners in a new reality. Confused, mentally troubled people.

Why do the wealthy need it? What is my $ doing to the world? Think of yourselves as the torch that lights our steps. Without vision the people perish. We could really use a good honest Internet tech boom right now, but you'd better take tactical steps. Get out of the hot bath, get dressed, have a coffee and make a solid to-do list. I'll be watching.

Bath was quite nice, thought about things for awhile. Coffee is brewing. To-Do list reads like this:

1. Fund AR by selling it to as many people as humanly possible. Build fun, attention-grabbing experiences where possible.

2. Take video games, photoshop and blender outside . Help visionaries show the world in ways it COULD be.

3. Provide goal structures (games?) that make this worth people's time. Utilitarian quests. Constructive mechanics. Foster local tribal respect for territory preservation + beautification. Minimize real violence.

5. Write a book about what goes wrong.

6. Tap out.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mobile Marketing, Coincidence Farming and Artificial Intelligence: AR predictions for 2011:

2011 = more people doing more things in more places with their smartphones. Buying things. Finding things. All of these actions will be recorded, analyzed. Used to build what we at metaio will call “coincidences”.

Placetracking applications like foursquare, gowalla, junaio and facebook places will have amassed pools of user data (where, when, how and with whom their users do things) large enough to begin making intelligent suggestions that change the course of our daily lives in different ways. "Go check out this gallery opening," or, "Visit Wal-Mart for 75% off Fishsticks and earn 10 points!" It’s our responsibility to keep these suggestions as “positive” as possible.

Good luck defining “positive”.

As this mobile advice gets better and better, we will listen to it more and more, responding in increasingly complicated ways. Thus the pooling of our intelligence (checkins, user ratings, maps) will begin to respond intelligently itself in real time, to us. Some will call this “artificial intelligence” and fear it, missing the point altogether. See, in 2011 we will begin to take the intelligences we have pooled within the internet and deploy them over the real world as an augmented, living structure which we can read, manipulate and continually improve; Inhabitable, architected structures which process the world in real time.

In 2011 we will begin to develop The Intelligent Edifice.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Concept Art

Can be really, really, really imporant.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

6th Grade Singularity

"We all have a place for improvement in our minds
from the dark corner where the fear waits to be called upon and the machinelike chain of
ideas ever going around.. around so swiftly so swiftly yet slowly.
and the memory in the middle which no one understands until the last moment, slowly
dripping away farther to the back of the mind where all finished thoughts eventually go.
yet the room is only half lit for one side has not yet been born and sits there waiting for

evolution to occur."

I remember how pornographic these words had felt, furiously typed on the family PC late one night. 5th grade? 6th? Printed it out so I'd always have a copy, hid it in my cabinet so it would never be read.

Well there you go: the post-human ____ of a kid on a computer in 1994*. I wonder what the kids are worried about now that the singularity is a such given.

Maybe they aren't as convinced that we'll improve.


Monday, October 18, 2010

What are some ways to tap into compulsion circuits in social game design?

Xianhang Zhang, I design for social interaction
  • Intermittent reward
  • Occasional oversized payouts - Quora does this really well. Occasionally, an answer you write will "blow up" and get a disproportionate amount of upvotes. You start to get addicted to discovering the process that caused it to happen but, since the process is essentially random, you continually answer in order to chase that original high.
  • Steady stream of accomplishments
  • Constant action required
  • Appointment mechanics

Probably the best places to look are casino design and advertising design respectively.

Those are actually methods for tapping into compulsion circuits, but doesn't identify the circuits themselves. I've changed the question to fit your answer :)

Seb PaquetSep 23, 2010

What do you mean by "appointment mechanics"?

Amal DoraiOct 7, 2010

Are these truly the "best" places to look, Xianhang? Casinos ruin lives and advertisements manipulate. Play should be a freeing experience.
Those of us who have the resources to design "for" social interaction must acknowledge our responsibility to cultivate healthy psychological states. Anything else is black magic.

Dr.Cosmos Delete11:15am

Friday, October 15, 2010

The State of the Art

"For whatever failings or false starts the pundits may heap on augmented reality, it’s just too useful to be left behind. We want to see the world for what it is, rich with data & paths & affinities & memory."

"When architecting augmented reality platforms it should be paramount that the open internet is the core model. AR is simply a way to draw the net out on to the phenomenal world. As such it needs a common set of standards."

"The marketing money will dry up so it’s imperative that the young platform companies collaborate to coordinate the standards under the hood, freeing them up to differentiate by the unique experiences & services they build on top. This may seem inevitable (or impossible, depending on your half-cup disposition) but look at virtual worlds – another technology that might be stronger if there were common standards & open movement across experiences."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mediated Holograms

I am now working for a company that sells software tools which allow artists/architects/computer wielding humans to build applications in which a viewer to led to see 3D illusions in their world. The objects are not really there, but people react to them as though they are.

(Granted, computer code exists while it's running, never say that it doesn't or your grandchildren will call you the 2050 equivalent of a racist)

But now, in order to sustain himself, Dr. Cosmos must explain why perfectly decent people need to use "Augmented Reality" to make money. This involves personally influencing marketers to invest in their own ability to digitally steer human emotions around events, experiences or brands.

Pretty cool!
But this web-log has traditionally been a forum for my disagreements with the misuse of media towards purposes of persuasion and control! I cannot say for certain that AR will make the world any better.

But it might.

It could allow us to share our thoughts in a more harmonious way. To create levels of cognitive balance unexperienced since the creation of the spoken word by providing our race with a better way to share the hallucinations/machinations of its respective personalities through time.

Wait okay hold up. So then why should advertisers be allowed to deploy AR-powered mass mobilizations? Why would we give them the tools to create reality-fortified propaganda?

Because thats what they get for their donation. Their patronage. Through their support of this essential experiment in human communication, corporate creative is helping to save the world one project at a time.

Buy it.


Monday, August 23, 2010


I wish there was a website where I could go and experience the pure informational sensation of the internet condensed into one place. A blended flashing smoothie of video game trailers, emails from valued people, videos of uncanny events... every node of stimulus out there packed into a clickable KABLAM. Satisfaction.

Then, with the click of a button, I could relay my recent experience out to every person in the world, all at once. The sensation i sent out would then be so wonderful and affective that everyone in the world would click their "like" buttons and trigger holographic lucky charm marshmallows to rain over me and my computer.

But... I can't shake the feeling that I'd grow tired of their marshmallows. I'd probably start searching for better ways to display my torrent of social affirmation such that it was "cooler", and thus more likely to inspire further likes. Heck, I'd probably get tired of the KABLAM site itself after awhile and be left with a longing desire for more... a feeling that the internet had let me down.

Is this it?

I'm growing tired of my knee-jerk search for affirmation from the internet. Every idea I encounter becomes valuable only in its ability to be spread out to the masses. Is this the nature of memes? Of ideas? Must they exist only to be communicated?

Perhaps thought has always been tailored to attract the reward of a few "likes".

Do me a favor? Don't click the like button, don't forward the link. Don't quantize me this time.

Because that's what we do, what we've always done: categorize ourselves, the world and the way we see it into ways that are measurable, improvable and thoroughly fictitious.

Long story short: I deactivated my facebook account so I could start living again. I'm moving to San Francisco.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

II. Conceptual Obligations: (a.k.a. Dr. Cos' wordy philosophical prescript)

This project's existence will have lasting effects on the future of gaming, art and the human experience. As we aim to shape the future of outdoor gaming and reality manipulation we must remember to grant users as much cognitive freedom as possible within the goal structures we create. The goals we set are made to inspire creative thinking and enjoyment, nothing more. Misuse of design to inspire players to invest their time, thoughts, emotions and labor with us inappropriately could lead to the dangers of addictive escapism, compulsion, manipulation and cognitive control. These dangers should be kept in mind by all those constructing what is essentially a new world for people to live in. That said, the player chooses to participate and not everyone will react positively to what we make. Let us strive to inspire fun and play in the greatest number of participants as we can and to avoid creating unncessecary methods of manipulation and deciet ( or borrowing irresponsible designs from historical political and social goal systems).

Properly addressed, these dangers should not distract us from the task of construction: change is inevitable and we will only learn by doing. Those working on this project have been given an important opportunity to build it well. With that said, let's change the world.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

: |

"This could evolve into a very interesting sub-culture of hardcore gamers."

-things that didn't matter enough to make it into the pitch.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Physics Post #1

There's something off-putting about the flow of activity at this College. Buildings and spaces are so perfect, so manicured here, and yet the activities which take place between them are brimming with anxiety and distraction. It is as if the architecture has been placed as a stoic, orderly damper on the anxiety that pushes us to compete for survival against one another (or for highest gpa, whatever).

Once in a while, when I'm off campus, I can relax to the point where I enjoy words again. Where I am confident in the products of my own thought. I think that things have been designed in the wrong way, but I can't quite figure out how. We need to be more playful.

In short, I have been watching patterns. Trying to verbalize that which I see around me. There is an artificial order which holds us back from the chaos of play, interaction and culture, and it has been placed here at Dartmouth with careful intent.

Anyway... here's a thought on physics I could only safely have once the anxieties of survival were sufficiently addressed and poorly :

Your body has a gravitational field.

Every one of your molecules pulls everything else around it, pulling your body and the rest of the objects around you, towards you. These fields stretch out to the ends of the universe, weakening as distance increases by a factor of 1/r^2. So something a billion light-years away from you, even if to a negligable degree, pulls on every atom in your body.

So given a near-infinite sensitivity to gravity, one may hypothetically "feel" every other atom in the universe from a single location by measuring changes in the intensity of its pull.

Out there... I know. But humanity is growing more and more able to take in information about what's going on around itself with every technological and linguistic hurdle it tackles.

We aren't necessarily perceiving more. We focus on certain things, like work and GPA and driving and food. How often do we pay attention to gravity? To the stars?

They did this study where they put 30 people in motion capture suits and told them to be "angry" "sad" "happy" etcetera while measuring their physical movements. Then another study found that subjects could recognize a given emotion just from watching a single light source move.

So something could be attuned to subtle changes in gravitational effect in such a way so as to perceive the physical movements of every creature on Earth. Through body language and gesture recognition, the feelings of all emotion-wielding objects (beings) within range could also be sensed.

The Buddha felt suffering all around him. If I were attuned to all the forces of gravity pulling on me, could I not identify, out of those forces, a human figure by the way it moved? Could you not recognize the sensations which their movements would make onto you as they... suffered?

Could such a sensation take place inside us without us knowing it?

Could we create a machine that might do this?

Please read this:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Too Stressed For Fun

The "Sun God" walked around Dartmouth in a beautiful carnival mask for two months promoting a LOVE MARCH which went down today. It's intended purpose was to provide students with a forum in which to celebrate the passion that drives their myriad humanitarian initiatives.

And few people showed up. Maybe a dozen. We were all too busy.

Love for the sake of it? Will my 50 minutes return some form of measurable reward? Can I put it on paper? No? Alright... I'll just give you the $5 and keep goin, thanks.

I didn't go to the march. I was doing work. Love doesn't get things done, it's just the reason for why we should.

I hear they have robot rehabilitation centers in the real world.

I can't wait.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Violence Is A Game Mechanic(?)

[written a month ago]
As I stand in a room with my two aging grandmothers, I find that I haven't cared to listen to their discussion of family events for the last 30 seconds. I verbalize the source of my attentive apathy with tactless honestly:

Cos: Yeah... I've been killing people for eight hours.
Grandma1: ...
Grandma2: what?
Cos: I spent all night on my computer trying to kill other people.
Grandma2: [My name], don't do that, it'll get into your blood.
Cos: It already has.

*A woman in the early stages of Alzheimer's seems to look at me for the first time in awhile*

Cos: I was playing computer games. [I explain Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2]
Grandma2: It'll make you want to kill people!
Cos: I don't want to really kill people, I just want to... I dunno. I guess it's in my blood.
Grandma1: I hope you can keep those games separate from reality...
Cos: I think I can... at least see it happening. Most guys playing don't.

A buddy's "squad" (team of 5 or 6) showed me around Call of Duty last night. They are very good, very angry and play a lot. Hours.

Sounds silly if you haven't been there, but our society needs an outlet for aggression, for conflict. We find it fun, compelling, intoxicating.

I want to play!

Nighthawk: Hey, what are you doing?
Cos: trying to blog about why I want to play this goddamn game.
Nighthawk: That should be easy.

Myst and Math Blaster don't get in my blood like killing does. Yeah, I said it. The first person perspective, the near-realistic atmosphere of violence...

Here's a guess: It's impossible to design a nonviolent game that is compellingly "fun" in the same way this is. Yes, it's is a huge problem that I'm wired to enjoy the mechanics of combat.

Is nonviolence possible, or is a simulation the safest place we can keep killing?

Let's see if I can get a post a day before I let myself blow up.


[forgot to post it]

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ignorance of Their Law

Today I got a ticket for parking on the street past 12am.

On weekdays you can park there till 2am, when the library closes.

It takes a certain kind of stupid to raze my nerves, and I'm straight up infuriated by the concept that "ignorance of the law is no excuse." Of course its an excuse, you just have to enforce your law regardless or enforcement would fail completely.

If you want me to play along with your system of arbitrarily selected rules, update me. Inform me. Who in their right mind would willingly choose to be ignorant?

Maybe a lot of people.

In court, ignorance of fact IS usually treated as an excuse. They only really cite the IOTL rule in regard to criminal offenses (I swear I didn't know I couldn't burn you!). The difference between criminal and non-criminal is one of degree... whatever.

I just want the day to come when the parking space I use can alert me to it's limits just like any other well designed machine or application. A parking spot is a piece of social technology; I shouldn't have to pay a fine just to be handed its instruction manual.

(the parking schedule was printed on the ticket. thanks guys.)

I would like to be informed of the law before I act, and AR might help dynamically prevent "ignorance of the law" in future situations. This guy has the right idea. (Concerning bad ideas)

Two things, tho:

1) Giving law enforcement info-tracking tech in the real world could lead to some serious privacy issues and eliminate those instances when we can harmlessly break rules.

2)All of this really boils down to the fact that the Officer waited till 12:05 to give me the ticket. I'm outside a college library, you know what I'm doing. C'mon.

Is his ignorance of the library's hours an excuse?

Everybody's got their rule-book. If we every human was aware of everyone else's rules we wouldn't need to have language.

Perhaps creativity is just a crutch for ignorance.


3D Adrenaline Makes It Hard To Remember.

From: Dr. Pepper
To: Dr. Cosmos
Subject: Avatar

Is awesome because that technology will make virtual experiences more visually and imaginatively pleasurable than real life and will keep getting better. And the movie could be all about affirming the imaginary or fictional world because the guy chooses pandora over humanity, and the pandoran world is depicted as being so much better. So, we should embrace upcoming virtual realities? But they can't last indefinitely because humans will come back?? So its better but not??? Cos??? What's it all mean??!? ahhhagdvbhd I've been $#@%%^$ all day. miss everyone, movie was good

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

From: Dr. Cos
To: Dr. Pepper
Subject: Re: Avatar

I'm sorry I didn't get back to you sooner man; but you're dead on. There's quite a lot going on in Avatar. In the end the marine chooses to stay in his Pandora game-world and live a life of avatar-pleasure rather than remain faithful to his physical human past... So it seems like they're saying "HEY, VIDEO GAMES ARE BETTER THAN REALITY!, WORLD OF WARCRAFT FOREVER!"

But I think that Cameron was going for something different. In the last moment of the movie the hero opens his eyes in a new avatar body and the lights in the theater flash on. After hallucinating for 2.5 hours, anyone really watching that movie feels a shock, a jarring sensation of being thrown back into their human bodies. I personally believe that my reality is fictitious to a degree (I'm the author), and so any subjective perception of "reality" is by definition just as invented as Avatar 3D was.

Thing is, when you get thrown back into your physical body at the end of the movie, your world is a bit different because you've been subtly handed a new set of shiny goal structures within which to live (/play):

Hi, I'm James Cameron. Uhh, Spirituality, conservationism and harmony with nature, you know? Down with capitalism, $#@% Iraq and long live collectivism! Don't pirate movies.

No? There are some very seriously confusing messages about how we should return to earth following this movie. Sure every film/game/novel/dream has its messages. Problem here is: this pamphlet is making a billion dollars cash. It is itself the greatest mass-exodus of escapist citizens ever executed within our capitalist system, and they pull it off by deriding the very system that pays for it! The popcorn bags used to watch this thing worldwide probably leveled half the trees in New Guinea.

Our way of dealing with scarcity is very confused right now; it seems to be commenting on itself by selling a simulation of its opposite, ie, "Pandora." Avatar: 3D Technology allows a top media tycoon to show you a world where technology helps a public servant enter a media-free paradise and defeat technology-wielding mineral tycoons by blowing up their technology with technology.

We're confused. We can't decide whether or not to embrace virtual reality (technology-enhanced-existence) or live in a tree. I say: Embrace the alternate realities that are presented to you with every moment, sure, but there's an underlooked aspect of Avatars' hero: he was crippled. His avatar grants him the ability to move again and escape suffering.

By entering nature. Ready for some high theory? Deep breath.

Nature is change over time, dynamism. Self-aware (intelligent) systems that are forced to stagnate (not-change), experience suffering. Humanity, given the ability to remember, experiences suffering in the preservation of one personality throughout a lifetime of change. Because nature is in a constant state of change, and we are not, we revere it. It is everything our hard-drives are not. Computers and archives and facebook pages attempt to protect our fictions against the onslaughts of time and change. At the same time, we are afraid of getting stuck on a planet that has "killed its mother," forgotten all reverence to change and fully embraced mechanization as g_d.

An intelligence fully stuck is the saddest thing in the world. Don't leave your computer on.

Anyway.... those of us playing Halo, World of Warcraft and all the other immersive virtual realities we have today cripple ourselves in order to escape to our avatars. We can't move or walk or smell or make out with our fictional worlds, yet. We play because we're handed systems of challenges that we know we can accomplish and enjoy the visual and social rewards that have been meticulously created to seem more attractive than those we would receive with equal effort in the real world. Blizzard makes 80 million dollars a month through subscriptions to their desktop-pandora, and everyone plays it sitting down.

Games don't change unless you let them.

So Cameron is telling us to get out of the movie theater and rediscover mobility, nature, change, whatever(?) Whether we can get the same awesome visuals and subject-enhancing super-powers that you'd find in Pandora laid over our comparatively drab WalMart landscape is really... the question. The future is gonna be whacky.

Pepper, once we can step away from the desktop/Imax theater and get the same visual gusto in a fully mobile, 3D glasses-type mobile device, the question will indeed be : "should we embrace it?"

But by that point I think we already will have done so. We want to be entertained, and whatever makes people happy, in the end, is what they will/should(?) do.

I've seen avatar a few times. Half of the planet shares a secret existence with me in that world. We've all mind melded that Na'vii princess.

And we want to go back.