Fembot Sends Stats Soaring

A great feature that Flickr added recently was Flickr stats. With it, you can not only see how many views your pictures are getting but you can see how much traffic an individual picture is coming from – and where that traffic is coming from.

On Sunday, I went to the “Japan! Culture + Hyperculture” exhibit at the Kennedy Center. I had seen pictures of the art and robots on Flickr (of course) and wanted to see the exhibit for myself.

The first thing I encountered at the Kennedy Center was the Actroid DER2 robot. She looked like a geisha and was responding in a somewhat lifelike manner to questions posed to her by freaked-out looking kids in the audience. They didn’t know what to make of her, to the amusement of their parents. The robot didn’t always understand the questions and answered with scripted replies. While it was interesting how lifelike she looked (except for the hands), the performance seemed to occupy a space between creepy and lame, IMHO.

I thought these cubes were much cooler. And the robot dog was cute.

Female androids are just not my thing (not that there’s anything wrong with it). But, evidently, they are someone’s thing, as the screen capture below demonstrates:

flickr stats detail

Flickr stats detail

Traffic for my pic of the Actroid DER2 has gone through the roof thanks to a link from a fembotcentral.com message board. It’s increased from 121 views to 134 in the time it’s taken to write this post.

I thought this pic was a real throw-away kind of shot, like a picture of mannequin. Its bizarre popularity demonstrates two rules of the web.

First, you never know what strange thing is going to be popular.

Second, you can’t predict which odd corner of the internet will send traffic to your site.

Note: By saying “odd corner” or “strange thing”, I do not intend to demean our robotic cousins or the men that admire them.

After the Gold Rush is 2008 BlueCat Lab Semi Finalist

My screenplay, After the Gold Rush, has been selected as a Semi Finalist for the 2008 BlueCat Screenwriting Lab.

The BlueCat Screenwriting Lab is a really interesting project. Founded by Gordy Hoffman (brother of Phillip Seymour Hoffman), BlueCat has become one of the best screenwriting contests in the country. What distinguishes them from other contests is that Gordy is a writer and tries to further development of screenwriting as a craft. If I’m a finalist, I’ll receive an all-expenses paid trip to LA to attend one week of screenplay mentoring (including a staged reading of my script) at the BlueCat Screenwriting Lab.

What’s my screenplay about? After the Gold Rush is about a dotcom failure, washed up at the age of 24, who goes abroad to end it all. But he can’t escape the sensual pull of Italy…

I wrote it in the wake of the dotcom crash, inspired by my own work on web sites and a couple of “research” visits to Europe. I was interested in how people regain their creativity after crushing defeat.

Read the first five pages of After the Gold Rush. And, if you want to read more, let me know and I’ll send you a PDF of the complete script.

What's Government Doing with Wikis?

A wiki is an excellent tool for government to collect and process information.  With a good chunk of the fed workforce eligible for retirement in the next few years, it’s vital to capture some of their years of experience before they walk out the door.  The Office of Management and Budget, an agency that’s known more for mandates than innovation, has surprisingly taken the lead with a wiki on earmarks.

Handmade Correspondence in the Twenty-First Century

screenshotRose is the daughter of a couple friends of mine. She was in my photo “Rose Runs” that was in the DCist Exposed show and has appeared in the local paper a couple times.

And now a picture I took of her was used to illustrate an article on handmade correspondence. When you’re six, all your correspondence is handmade.

What's the Government Doing in Second Life?

SL seminar pic
Virtual and real worlds collide in this screenshot from the conference.

The Federal Consortium for Second Life is a newly formed group of federal government employees and contractors interested in exploring the use of virtual worlds in government, sharing best practices and policies, creating shared repositories, and networking.

They met recently and their event presentations and slides are available online. The government is interested in Second Life (SL) as an outreach and education tool. For example, my colleague Eric Hackathorn is developing a virtual island for NOAA, that contains a red tide simulation, a really cool weather map and an auditorium for presentations. NASA has a robust Second Life home where you can experience a dust storm on Mars. The Centers for Disease Control is looking at the platform as a way to educate the public on health. A survey revealed that SL users are interested in catching virtual diseases, just for fun.

A friend of mine described Second Life as being all about “sex and shopping.” There’s certainly that, just like there was in the early days of the internet.

Like the internet, however, SL is destined to develop well beyond hedonic activities. It’s great to see that government is thinking ahead to what the public will want from virtual worlds.

Migrating Flickr Pics to SmugMug

I do love Flickr.  But I don’t like their prints, finding them to be really washed out and disappointing.  However, I like SmugMug’s prints but didn’t want to go to the trouble of downloading all my Flickr pics and then uploading them to SmugMug.

Enter SmuggLr, a  Firefox extension that promises:

Photo migration from flickr, ImageStation or PhotoSite to Smugmug with an easy to use wizard.

I was skeptical.  The term “wizard” conjured up memories of Microsoft applications that papered over their complexity and poor usability with “wizards” that inevitably left one frustrated.

However, this is one “wizard” that really is a Merlin.  I let SmuggLr do its magic and, over the course of a couple hours, it migrated 1,510 of my photos in 48 galleries from Flickr to SmugMug.  And it kept all my galleries together, along with my captions and exif data.  Brilliant!