ELEVATORS AND BUILDINGS AND GNOMES, OH MY!

This is the true story of one of my very first days at RMIT, a quintessential misadventure, which may have potentially led to the uncovering of my (potential) insanity in the eyes of my fellow media students.

MY QR TAG

One fine day, in what was only my second week at RMIT, I arrived at university relatively early and as I was evaluating in my mind whether I should just go and wait out the front of the lecture theatre or find something else to do with my time, I quite conveniently ran into a new friend, Marianna who was also a media student contemplating the same dilemma! After a bit of discussion we decided, we should just make our way to the lecture, after all we had been warned that sometimes the elevators can take a while occasionally.

So walking and talking we progressed on, to what at the time we did not ever suspect would be a grand misadventure. Right as we arrived outside the elevators the doors conveniently opened, and in we hopped. I went to reach over to press the button of the floor we needed to get to, a perfectly simple task yes? You’d be mistaken! As I reached over I suddenly realised things were about to go horribly wrong! There was no button for floor 13! This made no sense how could we get to a floor that did not exist… So out of the elevator we hopped at floor 11, and decided to make the most of being ever so lost and confused and do a bit of exploring.

Pushing open a bright green door we made our way down an eerily silent corridor, not a person in sight, the walls covered in architectural drawings. Suddenly a silver gleam caught our eyes and as we dwindled closer and closer, we saw them… An army of silver gnomes, yielding shovels as their weapons, an evil smile spread across their faces. Luckily they were trapped behind a glass barrier, but still, even to this very day the image of their shining silver faces haunts me! Contemplating the risk we would be under if the gnomes were to break free of their barrier and attack, we quickly fled the scene! I mean, there was hundreds of them and two of us we stood no chance. So off we ran to find floor thirteen, we went up a series of stairs only to discover the door was locked. I whipped out my swipe card and tried to unlock it, but this only set alarm bells ringing, I did not have authorisation to this door. So off we ran, back past the gnomes, avoiding eye contact and not looking back. We reached the elevator, hopped in and discovered we had been in building eight, the architecture building the whole time!

So down we headed, having a laugh about our stupidity, we recommenced our journey to get to the damned lecture. Into building ten we walked and headed straight over to the elevators. In we hopped, sighing sighs of relief as we realised there was in fact a button to take us to floor thirteen! Up the elevator went, the doors opening at floor thirteen, but something was still not right… This was not the lecture theatre from the last week, it looked different, wrong! Signage on the inside of the elevator quickly revealing we were in building twelve not ten. How did we possibly make the same mistake twice? Back down the elevator we went and in a state of confusion started walking back to… Honestly I don’t even know where we were walking to at this point, but on our way we ran into two other fellow media students obviously making their way over to those elevators to the lecture as well.

Puffing and out of breath (as one generally is after riding elevators…) I managed to quickly stammer “Nooo, elevator… doesn’t work… wrong place…. building eight… silver gnomes.”  Confusion spread across their faces as they contemplated what I had just said struggling to understand how an elevator could go to the wrong place (and undeniably simultaneously questioning my sanity). They quickly informed us that building twelve and building ten were in fact connected so the elevators would have gotten us to the lecture if we had just gotten out! As we made our way over to the lecture for what seemed to be the millionth time, I explained the story of the elusive silver gnomes of building nine; yet I could tell by their faces they did not have faith in their existence at all and had (quite accurately ) concurred that I was insane, I mean I am a media student after all! We did end up making it to the lecture, and I still and probably will forever stand by my statement that the silver gnomes do exist, why? Well that is one mystery that is yet to be solved!

THEY DO EXIST!
My QR Tag Displayed With The Silver Gnomes, Level 11 Building 8

Take That Lollipop (I Dare You!)


When posed with the statement: “Take This Lollipop, I Dare You” on a website, of course my initial instinct is to take it! Not only did it dare me to, but I am one of those people with a seriously sweet tooth who could always do with a lollipop! But this interactive digital story is not exactly of the sweet variety, check it out here… if you dare!

“Take This Lollipop” is a personalised digital story which will inevitably creep you out, so it was probably not the best idea to view it at 11:28 at night in my bedroom alone with the doors closed and the lights all turned off… (or conversely maybe this was the perfect setup!)  The power of the story lies in the personalisation of the piece, so to get the true experience you have to sign into your Facebook account and grant it access. And this is the way in which the story then proceeds to freak you out! Eerie music building up tension, amazing 3D graphics lead you down a dingy hallway to a room where an excessively creepy man sits at a computer, as the visuals turn to display the computer screen you watch as this creepy man logs into Facebook and accesses your very own Facebook account!! Your exact news feed on display post for post, before he clicks onto your profile and ever so creepily stalks through photo after photo, progressing through them as he begins stroking the screen with his fingers. The epitome of the creepiness when the stalker opens up google maps and types in your location, before proceeding to get into his van, a photo of you taped to his dashboard!

The true strengths of the digital story are not only in the graphics and the way it is interactive without too much involvement, but also the way in which it emotes and sets a mood without the use of dialogue but rather,through the use of colouring, excessively creepy musical score and sound effects, the various angles within the animation and the expressions of the stalker character. The viewer becoming well and truly immersed in the story. The only weakness in the piece, I am finding it increasingly difficult to even think of one, it was that well done, would probably be the ambiguity of the piece, if you have no idea what the story is before you ‘take that lollipop” (like me) you have no clue what you are getting yourself into. However, this could aso be quite intentional on the part of the creators. As far as horror stories go, the plot is not overly twisting or complex at all; but it is the whole seeing yourself cast as the victim that really draws you in.

This video whilst extremely creepy, truly for me just shows how far the world of digital story telling  has come and is indicative of all the possibilities for future stories, especially with the increasing progression of technology these days. The way the story becomes personalised for you the viewer, the overall construction and its ability to access your information a truly signifcant development for storytelling online and in general.

Many people in the world having a tendency to underestimate the power of social networks. Short and succinct this viral video also teaches an important lesson about the potential dangers of  online networking, sending a warning about being very careful with privacy, making you think twice about what you share on the internet and how you safe guard this information.

One final quick note for the future: don’t take candy from strangers, online or otherwise!

Changing The World Using Creativity

Everyone wants to be creative! And even more so everyone would like to be able to change  the world. But how do you manage that? Through harnessing your creativity thats’s how! But how does one teach creativity? Is it not something you have or you don’t? You can’t exactly learn it from a book or through endless study can you?

After viewing a number of presentations regarding harnessing cerativity, I will attempt to creatively answer these questions and let you in on the tricks of the trade!

Where do good ideas come from?

For 5 years Steve Johnson has been exploring the intrinsically interesting concept of where good ideas come from. Because well, who doesn’t want to be more creative, have better ideas and have our organisations be more innovative? right? Well, he believes that most  great ideas are born in the method he entitles “the slow hunch”, rather than just your sudden EUREKA! moment. Important ideas  needing time to mature and this is because the come from the collision of smaller hunches combining to create a greater one. Even the World Wide Web took 10 years to come into play from when it was first thought up! Often the missing piece to turn your idea from an okay one to a good one, coming from a different person.

so what did we learn from this?

Good ideas take time, they take planning and alot of trial and effort! So don’t give up on your ideas store them in your mind and wait for them to collide and merge with other ideas and come better. And don’t be afraid to share your ideas with others, for all you know they could just hold that missing piece to your puzzle.

Taking Imagination Seriously

Janet Echelman is truly one who knows about innovation! Taking your simple material of fishnet and now using it to create amazing billowing, flowing, building-sized sculptures. Finding beauty in the littlest of things, not accepting defeat  and compromising; Janet has been able to consistently utilise her creativity and even now combine it with technology and engineering to create spectacular pieces world wide.

so what did we learn from this?

Creativity can be found anywhere and everywhere, even in the something as overlooked as a fishing net. Janet’s story also revealing that creativity is something that is forever growing, and can take a great degree of time and perseverance.

A Lecture on Creativity

John Cleese in this lecture tells his secrets on how to inspire creativity within your self. There are no guarantees that ideas are ever going to be generated he warns, yet there are 5 ways you can get yourself into a creative mindset:

  1. Space- Sealing yourself off, away from all your pressures, where you will not be disturbed!
  2. Time- You need your space for a specific period of time, knowing that at a certain time your normal life will start again; allowing you to truly seal yourself off from the world. You need a good chunk of time too, so that you have enough time to properly think once your mind stops racing, a good amount of time being an hour and a half
  3. Time- The more pondering time, the more creative the solution will be. Give your mind as long as possible.
  4. Confidence- Nothing will stop you from being creative as much as the thought of making a mistake, you can not be playful if you are frightened!
  5. A 22 inch waist Humour- It gets you from the closed mode to the open mode faster than anything, laughter creating relaxation.

so what did we learn?

You need to set boundaries of space and time, so that creativity can happen. Play is only possible when separated from everyday life. Also don’t take the easy way out, make the ‘snap’ decision, the more you ponder an idea the more creative it will be. You have to risk the wrong and illogical, while your being creative nothing is wrong; anything, anything anything could lead to the break through



Creativity is a hard thing to grasp, but if these video presentations have taught me anything is that a major factor in harnessing creativity is time, time, time! As well as not being afraid to make a mistake or to be silly or wrong, because when being creative nothing is wrong. After all as Allan Watts says :

“You can’t be spontaneous within reason.”


The City of 2057…

Have you ever wondered what our world will be like in the year 2057? Okay well maybe not the exact year 2057, but just the future in general?


Discovery channel documentary ‘2057: The City of the Future’ explores their idea of what the future holds for us, supported with a scientific insight.


[image source: http://kandaka.com/tag/madonna/%5D
We are advancing into  a future that is taking a new shape each day. In around 50 years will we have automated cities, flying cars and artificial organs?  With computers not even existence 50 years ago the rapid rate at which technology is developing, who can even begin to estimate what the future holds. Scientists that’s who! The scientists within the documentary creating a virtual world and story line, their impression of the world in 2057.

So what do they think that the world will be like in 2057? 

They think it will be a “network city” a  world with ultra modern architecture, where children will have holographic dolphins that can jump out of their computers and interact with them, with cities all linked together by computers, everyone swimming in gigabytes of data! Not to mention the fact that they believe there would be cars function via auto-drive, our clothes will be constantly processing gigabytes of data and no one will even know what a keyboard and mouse are anymore!!

The plot of the documentary uncovering the fatalities that can come with the introduction of this kind of techology, even in the future computers can crash and networks can fail. A child hacking into the system sending the whole network, the whole city crashing down. A  major downfall of this almost glorified network city.

So what do I think? 

Well after viewing the documentary and extensive, alot, a little bit of research I think, as NBC’s “Deep thinkers see how things will be in 2058”  explores I believe that with medical science progressing in 50b years one of the major achievements will be cures and explanations for  many diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Schizopherenia, Bi-polar and even Cancer. I also do happen to agree that we may have automated cars (which would be quite cool) and hover-boards! ( according to back to the future we should already have them after all)  However, I am not quite sure about the whole. The fact that having such a city all controlled and connected by computers was shown even in the documentary to go so devastatingly wrong so quickly sends great doubts in my mind that whoever is to be running the world/ country/ universe in 50 years would actually allow a system as  extensively connected as the one shown to be put into place.

There are always going to be predictions that are way off, as history has proven! Although back then scientists didn’t understand the law of nature so now the predictions can be more accurate. And I guess whilst there is no point spending too too much time living in the future as the scientist in the documentary states it is “better to walk in a forest with foggy glasses than be totally blind.”

Did they really have it coming?

“Being a movie villain is not easy. Nobody respects your work, everyone loves your sworn enemy, and cheers if he straight up murders your ass”

 Cezary Jan Strusiewicz


An interesting article that I stumbled upon through my RSS feeds was an article on cracked.com entitled  9 Famous Movie Villains Who Were Right All Along. Villains, right? Surely they deserve everything they get! After all they are the bad guys. But as mind blowing as it seems,  when you take a step back and have an objective view, in many of these films its the villain who cops the raw end of the deal…


 Edward Rooney- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

http://villains.wikia.com

Mr. Rooney was the  incredibly mean  Dean of Students who spends the entire movie trying to catch Ferris skipping school while pretending to be sick. What’s his deal anyway? I mean why does he care if one student take the day off?

Think about it, really think about it…..

  • Hmmm, maybe for starters because its his job?
  • He is a teacher who takes his job seriously and actually gives a damn about his students, something teachers within the public system are always criticised for not doing enough!
  • (Whether or not he is an asshole besides the point) – he is paid to make sure kids aren’t behaving the way Ferris did

And you know what? He was right all along!

  • Ferris was skipping school
  • He lied, stole and cause millions in property damage when he destroyed Cameron’s dad’s car

And who loses in the end? Rooney of course! Not only is Ferris never exposed, but he also loses his wallet and is attacked by a Rottweiler. Oh the price of caring!

The Wicked Witch of The West- The Wizard of Oz

http://www.empireonline.com

 Her name says it all doesn’t it? She’s not just any witch of the west, she is the “wicked” witch of the west! And she does enough to earn this title doesn’t she? She kidnaps Dorothy, threatens to drown her dog and attempts to set The Scarecrow on fire; just to get a Dorothy’s ruby slippers. That is some serious evil right there!

But think about it, really think about it…..

  • The Witch sisters are hanging around Oz, minding their own business when some random teenager  casually arrives and crushes the wicked witch of the east to death with a house, killing her instantly. And if that wasn’t enough this  the teenager then goes ahead corpse-loots the victim’s shoes
  • The Wicked Witch of the West was never after world domination or even Dorothy, all she wanted was the damn ruby slippers!

And you know what? She was right all along!

  • According to any inheritance law in the world, those slippers should go to the deceased’s remaining family, in this case the Wicked Witch of the West; making them rightfully hers all along!

All the Wicked Witch of the West ever wanted was her slippers back, she never tries to actually murder Dorothy; but of course this gets her no where and she too is murdered at the hands of the teenager!

Sauron- The Lord of the Rings

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/lord-of-the-rings/

Sauron, surely he is your classic evil overlord! Look at him: he has a flaming eye-ball and a helmet of spikes; and don’t forget the armies of monsters he has. Not to mention all that uhh stuff he did?

Think about it, really think about it…..

  • What did he do? The entire 2000-hour trilogy never mentioning this! Sure he was building an army to advance on middle earth, but who were they and what were they fighting for?
  • Orcs thats who! And this was a world where Orcs were used as target practice among elvish communities, the minorities in each kingdom
  • Sauron could have just been trying to earn a slice of middle earth for him and his followers, petitioning for freedom for the minorities!

And you know what? He was right all along

  • Does everyone not deserve freedom?
  • Sure his methods were excessively violent, but that is the case in any revolution!

Of course Sauron being the ‘villain’ did not win the battle, the Orcs remaining unable to live freely among the elves of Middle Earth.


Mind blown? Well to check out more Villains who were right all along, check out the original post and  read more click here: 9 Famous Movie Villains Who Were Right All Along | Cracked.com http://www.cracked.com/article_18417_9-famous-movie-villains-who-were-right-all-along_p3.html#ixzz26uvJEmRd

Six Degrees of Seperation

“You know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who knows me or well anyone on the entire planet!”

True story, or at least according to the logic of the theory of the six degrees of separation.

Ever heard the saying: “Did you know you’re only six hand shakes away from anyone in the world?” The documentary ‘Six Degrees of Separation’  by Lucy Leveugle, explores the idea that maybe our world is not as unpredictable and full of coincidences as we have always thought.

So what exactly is this 6 degrees of separation theory?

Basically, it is a theory of networks that suggests that everybody in the world can be connected in just a few steps.  Nature having this hidden blue print structure that connects us all, the world much more unexpectedly connected than you ever thought.

A theory that has the potential to change the way we fight terrorism, predict pandemics and combat disease! And who would have thought that this, one of the greatest scientific insights of moder times would have been inspired by the Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon ( yes, the one from Footloose and a lot, a lot, a lot of other movies ).

The six degrees claims that everyone on the planet can be connected to everyone else in just a few steps, all due to networking. So if I know 100 people and one of them knows 100 people in two steps there is already 10000 people, in 3 steps already a million. Although, there could be overlap which makes the whole theory so difficult. We tend to know people very much like ourselves, making our social circles very clustered. A contradiction in itself! How can the world be both large and small at the same time? Solving this paradox the key to understanding the Six Degrees.

The solution?

Well the pattern suggests that the majority of people know only a small amount of people, yet there is a small amount of people with extremely large networks who have come to be known scientifically as ‘hubs’.

Marc Vidal and Steven Strogatz two scientists who began looking into networking, deciding to look into the Hollywood network to try and prove their theory. After all within Hollywood there is a huge network of connections, more than a million actors have worked on more than half a million films. During the mid 90’s college students began playing a game which linked every actor to just one star: Kevin Bacon. This later got turned into a website which would track an actor’s path and find their ‘bacon number’. Seriously try it! Type “bacon number” and then the name of any actor into google. No matter who you type, even the most little known actors they will be traced back to Kevin Bacon in approximately just two steps. Its legitimately insane!

AND is proof that the Hollywood  network supports the Six Degrees theory. It conforms precisely to the theory clustering over a million actors in just a few steps. Kevin Bacon inspring a phenomenon without even realising it, now a cult figure for the Six Degrees of Separation. Even starting his own charity SixDegrees.org, which is all about “using [the six degrees of separation] idea to accomplish something good. It’s social networking with a social conscience.” (sixdegrees.org/about)

From urban myth to math equation to a daring new approach to fighting disease, this the promise of network science a new way of seeing the world Six degrees is not just an urban myth after all. The world truly more interconnected than I could have ever imagined.

I guess it really is a small world after all!

The Battle of The Search Engines

Search engines? 

You mean there are others besides google? Why yes, yes there are. Quite a few at that! Todays post a battle between the classic search engine Google against two newbies (at least in my world) Instagrok and Duck, Duck, GoEntering the identical search term “potato” I shall evaluate the three search engines, naming only one the winner of “The Battle of The Search Engines”.

First up: Duck, Duck, Go..

The interface simple with a search bar and the sites logo, a creepy cute duck just begging you to just begin your search!! The simplicity of the layout quite nice and inviting. Upon entering my search term “potato” the search layout was quite neat and basic presenting a box at the top of the page with the different meanings of  potato – “The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family”; as well as some relating or similar terms such as the definition of sweet potato and informing of Potato- a thai rock band. (Sounds interesting, may have to google “duck, duck, go” them later…) Underneath this, all the search results. However, upon clicking them, I did discover they were all rather basic results; leading me to believe that perhaps Duck Duck Go is more intended for a quick not too in depth search. (This potentially could have something to do with my search topic…) For instance the “I’m Feeling Ducky” function taking you straight to wikipedia, a site which any-one who has ever been to school knows is not always the mos reliable of sources, but perfectly adequate to find out some quick facts. I did also like how there was an option on the side entitled “search suggestions” with topics such as ‘history’ and ‘recipes’ to truly help you logically refine your search and gather the information you were after. One thing I did not like about this search engine was its inability to display images or videos related to the search term, rather taking you to the image searches on Google or Bing…. hmmmm. It does offer very low-spam  search results, which is always a plus.

Overall, Duck Duck Go was quite simple, easy to use, quick  and visually pleasing in terms of a search engine. While it has not won me over entirely it was fairly good earning itself a sold 6/10

Next Up: Instagrok

The initial interface of Instagrok has a lot more going visually as opposed to most other search engines. The page suggesting that the term “grok” is in fact a verb meaning “to understand thoroughly and intuitively”…. hmm is the epitome of a good search engine, the ability to use its name as a verb?? (I’m sensing a pattern here!) Just from the exterior it looks to be an educational type of search engine. I type in my search term “potato” and was presented with a box reading “groking..” as my search loaded; and well, lets just say this the Insta in Instagrok most definitely must not stand for instant!! When my search eventually pops up, wow, visual excitement that’s for sure. I found the graph feature to be quite interesting, a visual flowchart presenting the topic and all things connected to it in a very easy to comprehend way. I also liked the way the sidebar presented easy ways to navigate through key facts, images, videos, websites, books, quizzes and even a glossary. The thing with Instagrok, it only sources from ‘educational’ websites, which is not entirely a bad thing! The only question with that: what counts as educational?

Overall I quite liked the concept of Instagrok and the layout also. And although I will not be starting to use the verb “Grokking” I will probably end up using it for a few assignments in the future! Instagrok you have beat one competitor already, earning a solid 7.5/10

Finally, Google

I don’t think the process of how to search with Google needs much explaining at all, seeing as everyone who has ever used the internet ever has most probably encountered Google and used it with ease. Like each of the search engines before, I typed in “potato” into the search bar and am displayed with an instant a variety of search results are displayed clearly. A box on the right displaying a definition, whilst links to the left and at the top make it easy to navigate through other sources such as images and videos. Google just seems to have it all! Functionality, simplicity and diversity with its results.

Overall I still thoroughly enjoy Google as a search engine, an oldie but goldie that’s for sure!! It earning itself a good 8.5/10

So the overall consensus?? Whilst it was interesting trying out other search engines and will probably use the other two in the future also, for me Google is still the ultimate champion. It truly making searching the internet that much easier!! It shall definitely remain being my default search engine.

THE FINAL TALLY

1- GOOGLE 8.5/10

2- INSTAGROK 7.5/10

3- DUCK, DUCK, GO 6/10