Sunday, April 24, 2005

The flying doctors in Stockholm, April

This month’s phd seminar we had in Stockholm, and it was Charlotte Sennerstens turn to give it. We started out with a lunch seminar at DSV in Kista where Charlotte presented the results from her eytracking studies of people playing counter strike. Ingergärd also briefly presented the results from tracking the heart rate of players of the same game. Aesas prototype, social navigationThen we went over to SICS where Mattias Svahn had booked us a conference room. He has got a working space there so it was very convenient. This gave us the chance to hear more about related research going on at SICS. Kristina Höök, Jarmo Laaksolahti, Petra Sundström and Åsa Rudström gave us insight into their projects.
I have been aware of their research for a long time since it is very relevant to my own interests, and was lucky to get a copy of Jarmo’s licentiate thesis (Towards Socio-Emotional Rich Interactive Narrative). Charlotte’s and Ingergerd’s research awakens an old dream of mine – to be able to use physical in-data from player’s and use it as input for the semiautonomous agents, affecting the emotional state of the player characters. Especially since Charlotte’s research is done in a context where several types of physical in data will be tracked. Cooperating with KI and FOI opens up a lot of possibilities.

IMG_2119_pargman Daniel Pargman (who wrote his thesis on mud communities already in 1999) took his son and me for a Sunday walk by the south canal in Stockholm where a new part of city has been build recently. Amazing to see how relatively quickly a city can change, and Daniel’s son Tom was adorable in his new glasses. Daniel has, as usual, been spitting out papers in an uber-human pace, and has started a project with two artists, exploring possibilities of how to use SecondLife as a platform for artistic experiments.

The day after our seminar in Kista we went to a conference organized by students at the media technology department at KTH. Paula Motlidba and her friends made fantastic job organizing, inviting speakers like the always interesting VW/MUD-daddy Richard Bartle and Walter Bender from MIT.

IMG_2154_bartleRichard Bartle presented an utopistic idea, which unlike other utopias might be feasible to create. A distributed system where each computer could be either server or client could make up a network of small scale personal virtual worlds. A kind of MSN/ICQ/IMVU with avatars and objects traversing between worlds. Fictional consistency and technical compatibility would be managed by each server-owner. Richard suggested that a non commercial entity, such as a university, could write the protocol etc. At the evening party he he said that what he is after is the freedom for players to create, to be what they want to be, how they want to be it, in the context that they want to be.

After Richard’s speech Tom Söderlund and I went to check out the exhibition of student’s work.

Tom also showed me the ultimate photo trick.
- Person holding camera activates flash.
- Human target quickly rocks head.
- Push button.
We tried to repeat it with a Polaroid camera at the party in the evening, but these digital ones were much better:

IMG_2163-tom IMG_2161-tom IMG_2162-tom

Walter Bender from MIT spoke about MIT. He said that Negroponte had focused on convergence, but left out expressiveness. He spoke about intimate interfaces (prosthesis) and about that we now have computers in our pockets (ubiquitous computing). He said that MIT invests in passion, not in people, and that a norm system is developed where it is a sin to have an idea and not to prototype it. Then he went on with ”intelligence is in the leaves”, ”viral communications”, ”scalable”, ”incremental”, ”cooperative”, ”wikipedia” and ”flickr”. He was very charismatic.

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