Thursday, 17 May 2007

User Created Content is Key for 3D worlds

"Counter Strike", still the most played FPS today, was develop as a "half-life" video game mod by two college students...

This demonstrate the incredible value and creativity that amateurs can produce if they are given the right tools (often called a SDK "Software Development Kit" which come with some games).

Not surprising that "Valve Software's Doug Lombardi has stated his strong belief that user created content is a very important part of games in the near future"

See the slashdot news and article.

I would add that in the 3D world it goes now far beyond videogames.
"Second Life" popularity come in good part of the objects the users can create (and even sell). Also Google Earth and Sketchup enable individuals to easily become 3D architects who then add a new "dimension" to Google Earth (see 3D Warehouse).

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Open Access to research

Internet law professor Michael Geist takes a look at a fundamental shift in the way research journals become available to the public

" Last month five leading European research institutions launched a petition that called on the European Commission to establish a new policy that would require all government-funded research to be made available to the public shortly after publication. [...]

Read more of this very interesting article on the BBC website.

EDIT: Slashdot has also now a news about it:

Several readers wrote in with news of the momentum gathering behind free access to government-funded research. A petition "to create a freely available virtual scientific library available to the entire globe" garnered more than 20,000 signatures, including several Nobel prize winners and 750 education, research, and cultural organizations from around the world. The European Commission responded by committing more than $100 million towards support for open access journals and for the building of infrastructure needed to house institutional repositories able to store the millions of academic articles written each year.

Monday, 12 February 2007

News agency and citizen journalism

AP partners with citizen journalism site

The Associated Press has partnered with a citizen journalism site,, to integrate user-generated content into the wires. AP bureaus will work with NowPublic communities in selected locations on ways to enhance regional news coverage, and national AP news desks also may tap the network in breaking news situations where citizen contributors may capture critical information and images.

More informations here (

(The Associated Press, or AP, is an American news agency, the world's largest such organization.)

Also, "CNN to boost citizen journalism initiative"

Monday, 5 February 2007

Amateurs brain power to the rescue

This post is about the disappearance at sea and search of James Gray (a computer scientist who received the Turing Award in 1998)

From the wikipedia article:

After a short solo sailing trip to the Farallon Islands near San Francisco to scatter his mother's ashes, his 40-foot yacht was reported missing on Sunday, January 28, 2007. The Coast Guard searched for four days using a C-130 plane, helicopter and patrol boats but found no sign of the vessel.

On February 1, 2007, the DigitalGlobe satellite did a scan of the area, generating thousands of images.The images were posted to Amazon Mechanical Turk in order to distribute the work of searching through them, in hopes of spotting his boat. View the HITs for more details.

What I find interesting here is the use of amateurs and web users to scan through huge amounts of pictures.

It's well known the computer can't match the brain for shapes recognition. I find the initiative of this "HIT" (Human Intelligence Task) very interesting since you don't need to be a professional to actually contribute to an important research task.

The HIT page for the search of James Gray (unfortunately the search area was partly clouded)

The HIT of Amazon (mechanical turk) Home page with others projects: and a wikipedia article about it.

EDIT 8 Feb 07:

The Blog Smart Mobs has now an interesting article on the subject.

Collective intelligence and satellite technology in the search for Jim Gray

"Flickr User Becomes Pro for Microsoft"

Flickr user Hamad Darwish is one of a small group of flickr users who were approached by Microsoft for either use of their photos or commissioned to to create new images for the desktop backgrounds that are included in the new Windows Vista operating system.

This is an interesting example of the line blurring between professional photographers and amateurs/enthusiasts. Hamad, whose photos are indeed lovely, is not a pro nor does he intend to become one. Photo sharing sites like flickr make visible the photographs of amateurs in an unprecedented way. It is no longer only professionals whose work is exposed to photo buyers.

Read more of this story here:
Flickr User Becomes Pro for Microsoft

Thursday, 1 February 2007

"The world is flat" ... and you.

I've just finished chapter 1 of the "The World is flat" from Thomas L. Friedman.

He argues the world is now "flat" and he distinguishes three phases in the history of "globalisation". To summarize:

Globalisation 1.0 : Countries

Start: 1492 when Columbus open trade between the Old World and the New World
End: around 1800
World: "the world shrank from a size large to a size medium"
Main actor: Countries
Main need: where does my country fit into global competition and opportunities ?
Main engine: muscles, horsepower, wind power, steam power...

Globalisation 2.0 : Multinational companies

Start: 1800
End: 2000
World: "the world shrank from size medium to size small"
Main actor: Multinational companies
Main need: where does my company fit into global competition and opportunities ?
Main engine: falling of transportation and latter communication costs to give birth to a "global market"

Globalisation 3.0 : Individuals

Start: 2000
End: ? ;)
World: "... from a size small to a size tiny and flattening the playing field in the same time" (the "flat world platform")
Main actor: Individuals
Main need: individuals to collaborate and compete globally for diverse reasons
Main engine: Personal Computers, Fiber optic cable (web, ...) , work flow software ...

I think the wikipedia is a typical example of Globalisation 3.0 (not supported by a country or a multinational but by individuals).

The author gives plenty of example in this first chapter to support his view of a "flat world platform". An interesting read so far. :)

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Geo-localisation boom and future historians

Flickr users broke the 10 millions geotagged photo milestone few days ago.

This is already impressive given the manual process users have to go through (drag and drop the pictures on the map or using Picassa + Google Earth + Flickr upload for example).

As GPS + Bluetooth chips are coming soon for 1$ it is obvious that future mobiles phones and camera will automatically and accurately geotag and date all the pictures we take.

As more and and more people share their pictures on site like Flickr our history will be able for data-mining in a way historians never had before. Also as folksonomy continue to spread the meta-data available improve the usefulness of these data.

For an historian looking at the 21st century it will be much easier to understand how a place changed though time (environment, architecture, wealth, etc.) or find the evolution of particular objects or see any important events through the eyes of their witnesses.

All this is possible thanks to amateurs tagging and geotagging their contents in a public way which can be mutualized by sites and API like Flickr.

Oh by the way ... amateurs can also then access these data to become historians ...

Other links:

Geotagged pictures on Flickr
My geotagged pictures on Flickr

Saturday, 20 January 2007

"Wikipedia and Knowledge Communities"

While assemblying an Ikea shelf ... my ears discovered another interesting presentation which landed on my iPod (my main M-learning tool) :

"Wikipedia and Knowledge Communities" is a presentation of Mitchell Kapor available on Open Source conversations.

Wikipedia is probably one of the most impressive Pro'Am project and there's plenty of interesting thoughts and informations in this presentation.

The Wikipedia is having a dramatic and unexpected impact as an open source-based, community-driven method of creating and disseminating valuable knowledge and information on a global basis. How is a free and open online encyclopedia, entirely written and edited by its users, managing to outstrip conventional media in audience, breadth, and depth? What are the implications for other kinds of content, for publishing, and for information technology, especially open source-based business models in general?

Mitchell Kapor, President of the Open Source Applications Foundation discusses the controversial aspects of the Wikipedia, particularly the fact that anyone can edit any article at any time. He believes that while the user-written model has problems, it can succeed with the right mix of community and peer review. He states that it is not necessary for someone to be in charge. In the end, he says that the Wikipedia can't possibly work... but it does.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

User generated online video boom

According to Sreendigest (a media analyst firm):

London 15th January 2007: The user generated online video market (UGOV) exploded in 2006 and by the end of the year, user generated videos made up 47% of the total online video market in the US. By 2010 more than half (55%) of all the video content consumed online in the US will be user generated, representing 44 billion video streams.

Although accounting for more than half of all online video content consumed – user generated videos will make up just 15% of total revenues. These are the latest findings from Screen Digest, the media analyst firm, which today releases its latest report on the UGOV market.

Source: screendigest

Monday, 15 January 2007

Unsigned band make chart history

Another example of emergent success without the help of the big labels.

Essex rock band Koopa have made chart history by becoming the first unsigned band to land a UK top 40 hit.

Koopa, from Colchester, have been together for seven years in various forms and have built up a fanbase on the internet and on the live circuit.

The BBC article.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

"Amateur Means You Do It For Love"

... is the title of an interesting presentation I found on my iPod (from IT Conversations feed):

The presentation (from Dave Slusher)