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Archive for February 2013

Endocrine Squish

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It is like being on auto-pilot, watching ideas emerge.

Occasionally, and often when designing a new widget, my brain passes a threshold of excitation. A particular number of signals fire in succession, a precise amount of cells move into an altered state, or a particular alignment of neurons forms some new and unique network whose cells collectively squish an incredible chemical cocktail into my tank. Senses raised, I step aside inside and marvel at the very fabric of time being woven around in space, pushed and bent far enough outward that it reaches back inside again.

I am addicted.

This also happens in unexpected, random moments. If I am out and about, I will usually look around to see who else is paying attention.

A week ago, I was reading a blog when a question posed by its author caught my attention. Previously isolated ideas swirled and collided, distinct elements in a gaseous state, until saturation occurred and that airy moment condensed into solid realization.

Apparent problem, meet possible solution.

I was sitting under my laptop with no one nearby; no need to look around. The only person that might share this was the blog’s author.

Minutes later, I had a short message drafted relating my conjecture to the stated problem. One last, lingering thought; a bit of reflexive evaluation to indulge itself in consideration…then click; I press the “Submit Comment” button and the whole event passes into calm, quiet release.

Fleeting, but intense.

Yes, it was brief. But you can’t judge creative moments. That is what I have learned…because it did reach out into space and time. Days later my hair fairly bristled as I read the email sent in response.

Thank you, this is great!!!!!!

Verification. Resolution. Validation. I had forgotten about the comment I submitted, completely. Who knows where serendipity takes us? Any brief moment, when shared, might lead to new realizations spawning bigger ideas; especially possible in this case, given the nature of that person on the other end of the message.

Such rare, creative moments must be where we are closest to perfection. No matter what I am right now, I am doing my best when random notions gather momentum and propel my thoughts beyond control; because then I just step aside and this world sorts itself out, one problem at a time.

And my grey matter squirts a bit of endorphin, perhaps reinforcement.


Written by azwaldo

February 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Posted in narrative

Tagged with , , ,

Media Cafe is BYOB

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Survey Says…

I have visited at least two dozen virtual coffee shops; locations in SecondLife™ that use “coffee” in their name or description. I have so many mugs they get their own folder.

About a third of those places have no music, at all. Most have audio streaming, several even have a radio or other device (such as a phonograph); but, only one gives media access to vagabonds. Not one presented shared or parcel media.

image of modern design virtual world coffee shop

Coffee Shop at TSTC commons
Nice furnishings, no music.
(Click image to view full size.)

Granted, I may have overlooked radio buttons here or there; and, a space like Texas State Technical College’s  (image above; SLurl)—a location designed primarily for a small community—is not designed to attract traffic. Still, you want me coming back? Feed me some content. Give me some options, at least…a bit of control over the space.

It is a simple thing to let users select an audio feed. The scripts are easily found, and there are hundreds of streams if you know how to find the URLs. Or, you can just check out the list of Music Streams at the SL wiki.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bepop)

The Media Cafe project is not just about interactivity, though. It is sticking virtual toes into the cool water of user-generated content.

image of virtual world scene with an object that looks like an old radio

Not just any radio will work in the Media Cafe…

Quite a few issues to be sorted. Is a chat-driven menu better for this than blue dialog boxes? You can choose the soundscape at your favorite hangouts from a list; but, can you load a new URL into the radio? Streams can be submitted via chat, after all. If you knew you could submit a stream URL, would you bother?

You could allow any user to load a new stream, or restrict this to members of a group. Parcel media even lets us provide different audio content to different users. If you are not using parcel media for video, why not make a self-serve, unique audio selection available to every visitor?

Everyone gets their own iPod.

If we want the synergy of sharing socially, we all have to generate some content. So, if you visit the Media Cafe

bring your own bebop.

(It’s a Fair Exchange.)

Written by azwaldo

February 25, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Fist Full of Cloud

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March should find me attending a virtual classroom for A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior, a MOOC for a study of behavioral economics. To learn the knobs and dials prior to that class, I decided to sign on for Introduction to Philosophy.

On looking at the site layout, resources and class syllabus, it seemed a good idea to join one of the hundreds of groups assembling via the site’s forum. (Knowing that over ninety-thousand users have registered for the course, my estimate of “hundreds” might be off…by an order of magnitude.)

One user suggested a study group that “includes mindfulness and Buddhism.”

The mere idea of such a study group presented a challenge. Even with only casual exposure to Buddhism, my impression is that it is actually quite different from the study of philosophy. However, I figured that participating would lead me to learn more about each, as they both hold my interest.

The class began this week, and I joined the group.

Dr. Ward starts us off explaining that doing philosophy well is asking “What is the right way to think about a problem?” So, regarding a potential problem in the distinction between a study of philosophy and Buddhism…

What is the right question to ask?

That proved to be a constructive move. So, you see—at least for me—this course is already paying off.

If the “mindful” study group seeks to examine the Coursera lessons’ content through a lens of Buddhist principles, we might do well to consider how a study of philosophy is similar to Buddhist discipline(s), and also how they are different. Seeing Buddha’s teaching as philosophical requires little effort; but, to effectively contrast—while adequately respecting—philosophy and Buddhism during our study with Coursera, it seems necessary to reach some understanding around one question:

How do they differ?

Searching content available online led to many hours of thoughtful reading and reflection, all from a small number of sites. Still, I had not satisfied my need to distinguish one field from the other. It felt like I was clutching at vapor.

Finally, upon discovery of this blog post, I knew I had glimpsed the nature of the problem.

“Because his primary task was to inspire in his listeners the will to follow the path, the Buddha adopted an approach as a teacher that was more rhetorical than logically dialectical. In other words, instead of presenting his teaching as a body of knowledge derived logically from a foundation of first principles, he focused on the impact his words would have on his listeners: getting them not only to acquiesce to his teachings but also to act on them.”

Excerpt from Skill in Questions by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

It seems that compassion dictates action—and sometimes, interaction—while philosophy can float between words.

Written by azwaldo

February 2, 2013 at 7:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Think Banana

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I have spent the last hour trying to describe something. What a mess I made…

Select > All


I had been stuck all day. A friend pointed out a flaw in my Media Cafe design project: Nobody needs to be in a virtual world to read the news or surf the Internet. The fun just fizzled right out of it. I needed to find something that I had lost. I needed to get back on track.

The deleted mess was me trying to explain the process; but, I will simply say:

Lateral thinking did it.

Media Cafe is not about designing a re-purposed virtual coffee shop. It is about what I would like to see in every virtual coffee shop I have visited. I should not be trying to get someone to come. They are going already.

So, if we are there anyway, let’s make it worth the visit, eh?

The Inkwell in Bonaire region (slurl).Click to see full image.

The Inkwell Coffee Shop in Bonaire region (slurl).
Click image to see full size.

Written by azwaldo

February 1, 2013 at 8:35 am

Posted in design, media cafe

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