Tag: Facebook

PICNIC ’08, part three: Social network fatigue and visual asset collections

argnetpicnic2008.jpgEditor’s Note: Daniël van Gool, an administrator at the Unfiction forums, was on the scene at PICNIC ’08 on behalf of ARGNet. We were impressed with Daniël’s work covering PICNIC ’07 and, as media partners of the annual cross-media festival, were invited to a number of special events in addition to the speaker sessions. This is the third part of Daniël’s comprehensive look at this year’s event, still focused on the first day of conference speakers (the first part is here and the second part here). All pictures are courtesy of Daniël as well.

Next up on the first day’s schedule was Stefan Agamanolis, formerly of MIT, now working at Distance Lab, devising creative ways to deal with distance, giving a talk called Duelling the Distance. His rather bizarre but interesting address concerned itself with the communication analogy of fast-food versus slow-food: it’s efficiency versus quality, generic versus personalized, and so on. A mobile phone has the same ‘design mentality’ as fast food, meaning it facilitates ‘anywhere, anytime’ versus specific communication, it’s generic, and it’s the same device for any type of situation.

So Stefan and his colleagues had been thinking about what ‘slow communication’ would be like and tried to build a system based on those design principles. It would have to be free of distractions, like the concept of a phone booth pushed to an extreme.

What they ended up with were two people, submerged in two different swimming pools, each one’s head encased in a helmet that completely blocked their vision, taste and smell, while the water they floated in diminished their sense of touch. At the same time, their helmet, fitted with ultra-high-quality speakers and a microphone so the two test-subjects could communicate, was attached to three flotation devices so that they wouldn’t have to put effort into staying afloat. They called this concept the iso-phone. The experiment resulted in a lot of gestures under water by people who completely lost track of time.

This is a rather non-practical concept, of course, but it does provide insight into different aspects of the fast vs. slow analogy. We use the same communication device to call our lover as we do to talk to our lawyer or the pizza delivery guy, and this brings up the topic of intimacy. Another setup devised by Distance Lab tried to tackle this topic: a subject wears a ring on their finger that is detected by an overhead camera, which makes you able to draw in the air. The drawings are then communicated through projections of colored light onto someone else, creating an intimate way of communicating. Check out more about this project, dubbed Mutsogoto, on Distance Lab’s website.

Another few less intriguing objects were discussed before Agamanolis finished with a project called Remote Impact, which was described as a ‘boxing interface’ that lets you hit a mattress that’s mounted on a wall, where a silhouette of your opponent (potentially across the world) is projected. This setup proved especially popular on several games-related conferences over the past few months.

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Alice is Lost — We Hear Rumors She Fell Down Some Sort Of Hole, Made By A Rabbit Or Something

argnicon.jpgAs if the ARG world just can’t get enough of Alice in Wonderland lingo (rabbit holes, curtains, puppet masters), a teaser was made public on June 1st for an upcoming project from Eric Harshbarger of Perplex City fame, called Alice Is Lost. Eric first made it known at Perplexorum that he had opened the website www.aliceislost.com.

Eric released news of the project hot on the heels of the abrupt and unexpected end of Perplex City, knowing that the countless dedicated fans and followers of PXC would be pining for puzzles and mysteries to solve. Eric makes it clear, however, that this is not PXC II: “This is a side project of mine. While I am still at Mind Candy as a Puzzle Designer, this is not a Mind Candy affiliated project.” He expects to launch “the search,” which he’s been working on for nearly a year, to begin this fall.

Fans have already jumped in excitedly, and even created a Facebook group to rally people and keep everyone updated. The group attracted Eric, who decided to come out from behind the curtain and share a bit about his project in the group’s discussion. He described it as having “some ARG elements to it; there will be a story to some extent, but mainly it will be about PUZZLES. Lots of puzzles.” There will be puzzle cards, he says, but they will not be physical. Instead, they’ll be distributed via the website, and only ‘registered’ users will be able to submit solutions and gain points. That raises another significant point: the registration fee. He continues, “There will be a registration fee, yes; but it will be a one-time thing (not a subscription), and it will be pretty small (not more than the cost of a typical boardgame probably.” He estimates the fee will be around $25USD, but is open to suggestions. Registration will most likely also include additional privileges for the player.

“The best way I can think to describe this,” Eric states, “is a massive ‘Puzzle Party‘ like I’ve hosted in the past, but it will be available to everyone on the web.” He also expects the project to run for over a year, although he doubts it will extend as long as two years. That’s nearly a potential twenty-four months filled to the brim with puzzles galore, but the main mystery ultimately will still be How do I find Alice?

So mark Fall 2007 on your calendar. Also, keep an eye on the unfiction thread, or the perplexorum topic, or even the facebook group. But, most importantly, visit aliceislost.com and sign up to receive updates.