Monday, December 14, 2009

In Search of the Lost Time

Charon and Psyche

I know well that many will disagree about the use of the time of our lives. Who am I to talk about this? There are many ways of visualizing the passage across the Styx, that well respected scenic river that takes us to shores beyond the everlasting fog.

I find this visualization by EA (yes, Electronic Arts, my old employee) rather amusing and interesting. For those of you who are interested in the most popular sport in the world, (no, not baseball nor your mis-called football, the one you play throwing the blimp with your HAND?) but yes, fútbol, football or soccer it is. According to FIFA football is actually played by more than 240 million people in about 200 countries.

Just to set the record straight I would like to mention that when I proposed to design the very first football computer game (for the Commodore 64) at Electronic Arts, they dismissed it as not very commercial. In fact one producer, who shall remain nameless asked me in his infinite cubiculed ignorance, if I could design some more "action" into the game, such as killing or at least maiming other comment.

Well, fast forward to 2010 and here we have the game called FIFA 10 and the visualization I was talking about, called FIFA EARTH. It shows, arguably in real-time how many games are being played and have been played since its release a little over a month ago. So far, as I write this, the counter reads 136, 826, XXX (to fast to pin down, so by the time you check it I am sure it will be a very large number.) That makes for more than 2,000,000 soccer video games played every day! Do you understand my Proustian title now?

This visualizations is quite complex and immense, using streams of data not only from played games but also geo-located Tweets about them, real or virtual, and everything else related to the sport or of interest to fans. Consider for example that last year about 2 billion video game matches were played. How is that for a not very commercial game? LOL! that remark is up there with "I predict only a handful of computers will satisfy the requirements of the world" or something to that effect.

A Tetra Drachma from Athens, 450 B.C.

Not that I had become rich if I had done that first football game (which was completely designed with AI and all), but I think at least I would have one or two silver pieces to pay the price of traversing the by now, very polluted waters of the mythical river.

The Eye Writer


We live in interesting times, no question about that. Plague, famine, kids killing people in remote villages from their drone playstations in Las Vegas, sipping RedBull. It is quite difficult to know how we can provide an ounce of balance to a ton of misery, so that ounce must be something really special to rescue our impossibly damaged spirit.

The influx of very damaged very young humans, the broken byproduct of that biggest business which is war, ends up in the landfills of society, the eternal superfund from which some people pick up the pieces and try to put things back together, albeit in a very different way. A leg here, an arm there, an eye or two, perhaps a brain? Can we pull us back together?
I will call him Luis

While searching for an appropriate picture to help me cut through the fog I had trouble finding one of the millions of miserable children which survive doing such a thing, because Corbis Corporation, the photo "service" owns most of them. I wonder, do those children get a percentage directly deposited to their pig accounts?

I guess you get the point. What triggered all this diatribe was me thinking about what we do on a daily basis, our "job" in other words. Do we really do something useful, something that tips the balance and creates a positive change? I think one of the reasons that the Open Source movement is so important is that it is a sort of groundswell, difficult to perceive because it is so pervasive and widespread.

But this movement, so dangerous to the monopolists of the world will tumble the most arrogant of them. There is no corporation, not even the most technically sophisticated that can evolve as rapidly as thousands or millions of people working together for a common cause.

As a little sample, I offer this movie about such an endeavour, one that ends with a call to hackers all over the world to collaborate, in this and any other way that might become the glue that binds us together again, into our cyborgian future.

The Eyewriter from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

Open Frameworks, F.A.T., Graffiti Research Lab, graffiti legend Tempt1 and of course EyeWriter got together to produce that ounce of energy for each and everyone of us...

Here is the how to and all the good monopoly-breaking stuff for those DIY's among us. Keep on DIYing...!