(2014-04-01) Hon Episode Fifty Cities Snow Crashing5 More Television

Dan Hon: Episode Fifty: Cities; Snow Crashing 5; More Television

Cities

One of the things I referenced was this idea of a playable city, something Bristol's made a good start with through the work done at their Watershed[1], and last year's project, Hello, Lamppost[2]. Now, I make no illusions to having properly-formed opinions or relevant thoughts about cities. For that kind of stuff, I direct you toward Matt Jones' The City Is A Battlesuit For Surviving The Future[3], a fantastic essay on io9 which if you haven't read already, you should do, and then you should just feel inadequate and dumb for not having the kind of thoughts Matt does. And then you should read the referenced Adam Greenfield and Hill essays, and you should also read Kieron Gillen's run at Iron Man.

There is something about making otherwise inert objects in a city interrogable

to even put that type of infrastructure into place you have, like something like Hello, Lamppost, you need to have enough open-ish data. So there's a prerequisite, almost some sort of Civ-type tech tree (ha!) that a city needs to implement before it can become Playable.

One of the projects I was lucky to work on at W+K's London office was the second iteration of Nike Grid, something that turned the ubiquitous red phonebox into a piece of infrastructure for a running game, a persistent reminder that the city could be something else that could be toyed with. There have been numerous branded attempts to try to get us to reconsider and recontextualise urban space: Nike likes to think of devices like their Fuelband making the city a playground, for example

The thing about play for me, and it's a super high-level thing, is that it's a safe context for experimentation

Our cities now are such regulated places, and the encroachment of the private onto the public is just a matter of another footnote of documentation these days. Where's a safe place for experimentation in a place like London, blanketted with CCTV cameras?

The Naming Of Things

Cortana is the name of the assistant built into Windows Phone[1]. We've all been there: the codename that stuck. But here's the thing about Cortana: she's another example of our SFnal future echoing back in time to our present-day. For those playing along at home, Cortana is the name of your AI companion in Bungie/Microsoft's HALO series, and in that toy universe, as in most of the ones we've collectively dreamt up, AIs eventually go mad.

More Television (TV)

the user-experience, especially in the US, sucks. Period. As yet, there is still no way to search across competing video providers - only the Tivo comes close, allowing you to search amongst YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and your cable provider's video-on-demand platform but not even allowing you to search through your iTunes library, I don't think. There's no sign that Amazon's newly-announced FireTV does a better job, either. And Evans makes a good point: it's the content - the shows - that people care about, not the networks.

The user experience bit is easy in principle and it's here where I admit to falling into the same trap as Gassée - in principle, you just need to execute user experience well. But you also need the rights and the APIs and the cross-licensing deals to offer a service that at the moment we only think audiences want.

it's exactly this kind of bullshit and protection of misguided moats that leads to stuff like the Veronica Mars movie being released through Ultraviolet, a crappy user-experience but one that makes absolute sense if you own a studio, instead of a similarly DRMed but actually-useable service like iTunes.


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