Thursday, July 12, 2012

Info at a Glance

I am currently passively obsessed with visual information trackers/notifiers -- tools for giving you information at a glance.

I was fascinated by the Ambient Orb when it first came out.  But it was pricey, and its functionality seemed limited (I think it started as a stock market or weather indicator).  The company has evolved its devices, with the original Ambient Orb now an Energy Orb that tracks and displays the price of energy.  You can also have it track other kinds of information, but what the Orb can display is still tied to what's available on the Ambient network.  The restriction limits its usefulness to me.

Enter blink(1) over on Kickstarter.  I especially like the fact that it will work with, another thing I've been passively obsessed with.  I just pledged for one.

I am slowly gathering together pieces of some kind of fun DIY kit, thanks to Kickstarter (TeagueduinoTwine, MaKey there a pattern here?)  For what?  Still TBD.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Add It Up! Add It Up!

A brilliantly simple idea:

Can incrementalism make a difference?

Afterthought: I just realized, thanks to the wikipedia entry, that my work/writing style falls squarely and unfortunately in the category of revolutionism. That has kind of a cool ring to it, but it's really not a good thing, not in this context.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Ali surprised me with the coolest present about a month ago: my very own p8tch, which is basically a velcro patch with a unique QR Code that can be linked to the URL of your choosing. Here's mine, attached to the shoulder strap of my bag:

I am tickled by this present for a number of reasons: first, it is incredibly geeky. The p8tch site itself refers to these as
Second, I had never heard of these, or QR Codes, before! And for someone who is so on-line and as much of a consumer of geeky things as I am, that was no small accomplishment on Ali's part. Third, I am fond of patches. And this one, with its unique QR code, is all my own.

So, what are these things good for, and how do you use them? The p8tch site suggests thinking of them as wearable TinyURLs. The QR Codes themselves, 2D cellphone-readable barcodes, are being used for things like Semapedia tagging. But you can tag and link to anything with a QR Code. There are plenty of QR Code generators out there, making it easy for you to make your own. (The p8tch is simply a nice vehicle for a QR Code, plus it includes access to a server that maintains the redirect from the p8tch QR Code to the user-definable, and re-definable, URL.)

My first (and so far, only) QR Code sighting was on a sign for the Games, Learning, and Society Conference 5.0 which took place in Madison earlier this month. I was so excited! A real-world sighting! I felt like I was on an impromptu treasure hunt, waiting to see what the QR Code that I scanned would link to. Hmm. A webpage for comments. Kind of like a guest book. I was guest #2. Well, it was only the first day of the conference, maybe others would join in...yeah, you'd think that at a conference dedicated to interactive learning, specifically using digital media and videogames, that more attendees would be clued in to something like this. Huh. I checked again just a little while ago, and there are still only two posts...

I came across a blog entry, pretty dated now, which tries to argue that "Mainstream America is Ready for Bar Codes." You need to know two things when reading this. First, the writer, David Harper, is founder and CEO of Second, when he quotes August 2005 survey results regarding awareness and usage of QR Codes, he is--and I am assuming this, but believe that I am assuming correctly--talking about results of a survey conducted IN JAPAN. I don't know if he left this detail out on purpose. Regardless of the intent behind it, it's sloppy writing. Yes, trends (like texting) that first took off elsewhere have made their way here to be fully embraced. But that doesn't always apply. Vending machines that serve ice-cold beer, for example, are still absent here in the US.

I don't know if QR Codes will catch on here. I do know that the tipping point, for QR Code awareness and usage, has NOT been reached yet. Harper's blog entry is from March 2006. Here's another interesting WinkSite reference in a Dave Winer blog post from May 2007. (I am learning so much as a result of talking about my p8tch! For example, Dave Winer's blog, Scripting News, is one of the oldest webblogs around!) Note the mention of both WinkSite and Twitter in the same post. Before I started down the rabbit hole opened up by my p8tch [if I neglected to say this, Thanks for my p8tch, Ali!], even before I wrote my first blog entry [see previous entry], I had heard of Twitter. But WinkSite?

The difference in--is it consumer awareness? not sure of the term I want here--between Twitter and WinkSite provides a neat little illustrative test case for a tool recently launched by yet another startup, YouNoodle. They've created a global startup tracking system that provides a YouNoodle Score (0-100) for a startup company based on "a startup's impact and importance based on its traction, activity, and buzz." Here's how WinkSite and Twitter compare:

At this point, QR Codes have very little to do with the discussion. As far as I can tell, QR Codes are a very handy way in, but are not central or essential to what WinkSite is trying to do.

What are the crucial differences between the two? Why are there articles like this one about Twitter, but not about WinkSite? Is it just a timing issue or is it something more intrinsic?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Planned Obsolescence...not

One of my favorite things, the spork produced by Light My Fire, is now being made in a titanium version.  

My first thought is that this is even better than the plastic versions, because titanium is sexy, and tougher, but there's something to be said for the lower-end models.  Sometimes it's nice not to have to worry about scraping your teeth on metal.  

That said,  I will add one to my collection one of these days.