I read a good piece recently about how the mobile internet would ensure three students couldn’t get lost in the woods  a la The Blair Witch Project resulting in some kind of horrific doom.

The use of GPS mapping or even basic telephony (to phone for help…) would be eliminated by your handset.

To be honest this was at least partially true at the time the movie was released back in 1999. I had a mobile at the time the film came out (and had had for over two years at that time) and while it didnt have gps or mapping (it could barely text) it could have been used to call for help.

The film was set several years before it was released (back in 99 i was certain the non contemporary element was due to spreading use of the mobile phone).

What was good about The Blair Witch Project was the low budget horror (shoestring) which managed to go global based on its online marketing strategy (the first movie web strategy I was ever aware of) and I recall the frustration of waiting for the video clips to play on the iMacs we had at the educational establishment I attended at the time – I am fairly certain this was my first interaction with online video. In those innocent days of the web some people in my class even believed the claims (hype) it was a real video found in the woods (the web was really, really, big on conspiracy theory sites back then – only just outweighed by the number of porn sites) altho it soon became clear this was part of the marketing.

While the analysis of 12 years later can say this would never happen again, I still stick with what I said the first time I saw it – after they lost the map and thought they were hopelessly lost, if the three weren’t bright enough to use the rewind button on the video camera they still used throughout despite their fear to go back to the point at which they filmed the map it its entirety, they deserved everything they got from the Blair Witch.

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Asimo is 11 today

October 31, 2011

Asimo is 11 years old today. Hurrah!

There is a cool new video on the Honda website about the project.

They seem happy with the movement and are now working on the AI. So perhaps soon, that commercially availble Asimo will be winging its way to my house.

Something I have been observing for a while, and continue to find interesting, is the really long-term marketing program for the Asimo. It is pretty clear in this video Honda realises the bad press robots have had since forever from sci fi has given them a real marketing problem for the Asimo.

They have been dragging the prototypes all over the planet to show off the friendly robot – and as I have mentioned before, they appear as if already they are everyday objects already in Honda’s main advertising.

While the cause of making sure everyone is happy with robots in their house (think of Will Smith in I, Robot, very loosely based on Asimov‘s work) is a noble one, which I support – to ensure it is not associated with nightmare machines such as the Terminator – they could have chosen a better birth date for the Asimo than Hallo’ween

This news feature discusses the movement towards digital text books and learning in the developing world and the United States.

Cost could be a major driver here – when it is cheaper to give a child a tablet /laptop (whatever) than it is to provide them with text books, exercise books, pens, then the move willl become widespread and the days of paper’s dominance in schools will go the way of the blackboard and chalk…

Imperial Bedrooms

October 4, 2011

I was sceptical about a sequel to Less Than Zero, the scorching debut novel by Brett Easton Ellis written in the 80s while he was still at college. (Having written my uni dissertation on American Psycho, his take on the human cost of American capitalism, I have a bit of an interest in the work of Ellis)

If you can forgive the need to make the sequel also take place in a short period over Christmas in LA, when the protagonist has just returned from a period of time on the east coast, it is actually a reasonable read.

We find the characters of the first novel now middle aged and jaded. (This theme has resonance for me as I have recently made the mortifying discovery I am middle aged, and not the person I was at 22) The opening of the book casts Ellis as a friend of the group who wrote down what happened to them in the first novel. This is mentioned to explain how they all ended up at the premiere of the film version of the first novel, watching brat pack era movie stars play them. And unlike in the novel, one of them is killed off. Apparently the ‘real’ character was mortified to discover he was killed off.

The examination of what the Less Than Zero characters became is interesting, particularly for those who have followed the career of Ellis. The novel is really readable (unlike Glamarama, which I have still never finished). At some point (the vanishing point?) I would like to read Less Than Zero again, quickly followed by Imperial Bedrooms, as I think that would show just how good the first novel is and give an exact measurement of whether the sequel stands real comparison to the debut novel, which was one of the best fiction written in the 1980s.

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