Thursday, 5 November 2009

Toward a Virtual Economy.
And I don't mean it doesn't 'exist' in reality.

Millions of people are spending real money on virtual clothes in online hangouts, digital items in multiplayer games and presents for their friends in social networking sites.
This digitalisation of consumption is an inherent consequence of the increasing involvement of communication technology in everyday social activities, says Helsinki Insititute for Information Technology HIIT Researcher Vili Lehdonvirta. Lehdonvirta's thesis "Virtual Consumption" will be examined on 14th of Dec at Turku School of Economics, Finland.

You don't have to be an Internet addict or live in an online community to appreciate virtual goods. Today, around 10 percent of users in a typical online service are likely to be spending money on microtransactions, such as virtual items and gifts. Much of this spending relates to social activities involving friends and family, says Lehdonvirta.

In public discourse, spending real money on virtual goods is frequently dismissed as an irrational fad or as a result of abusive marketing. But Lehdonvirta's thesis suggests that the fundamental drivers of virtual consumption are found in individuals' social and hedonic motivations.
- People buy virtual goods for the same reasons as they buy material goods. In online spaces, virtual goods can function as markers of status, elements of identity and means towards ends in the same way as material consumer goods do in similarly contrived physical spaces, says Lehdonvirta.

In his doctoral thesis, Lehdonvirta also considers the economic and ecological consequences of the digitalisation of consumption. According to Lehdonvirta, the present economic downturn may turn out to be a boost to virtual consumption, because consumers spend more time at home and favour small purchases over large ones. The ecological sustainability of virtual consumption depends on whether it continues to spur additional computer hardware purchases or whether it substitutes material consumption by providing an alternative use for money.
From a macroeconomic perspective, it does not matter what consumers buy, as long as they keep on spending. Virtual consumption might offer an ecological way out of this consumer society's dilemma, says Lehdonvirta.

According to Lehdonvirta's thesis, people in East Asian countries such as Korea, China and Japan have been quicker to adopt virtual consumption styles.

What is considered as an appropriate way to spend your time and money varies between cultures and changes over time. Perhaps in three years' time, virtual consumption is considered rational in the West, and the rationality of filling your house with expensive objects starts to be questioned, ponders Lehdonvirta.
So my question is: When will the VR Economy become bigger than the physical?

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Desktop Factory Unites with 3D Systems.

Continued effort to find the best financial alternative for Desktop Factory. That search, which put them on the road to a sale of the company, has finally come to an end. What I could not confirm at that time is that their buyer is the leadership brand in the Additive Manufacturing industry, which means that they have the resources and desire to deliver on the promise of a truly low cost, easy to use 3-D printer.

The complete terms of the sale, which closed on August 31, 2009, have not been disclosed. However, 3D Systems Corporation of Rock Hill, South Carolina has acquired the key assets of Desktop Factory including intellectual property, know-how and tools. Recognizing the importance of continuity, the core team of remaining Desktop Factory employees was invited to join 3D Systems, underscoring their intention to move forward with the development of a sub-$5K 3-D printer.
Paula Apsell, NOVA's senior executive producer laments the sad state of science journalism and discusses how NOVA is more essential than ever.
In a world where the public understanding of science is diminishing, she makes a strong case for NOVA's tradition of depth and substance, tackling the most pressing issues in science, in a thoughtful and visually complex manner.

Apsell brings clips from some recent NOVA programs to illustrate the role of television's most prestigious science documentary series in the vast television and web content landscape.

She provides insights into the editorial processes of topic selection, treatment, and production standards. In a world of decreasing attention spans, Apsell considers the challenges of providing meaningful science content, keeping it interesting, while not leaving the audience behind.

Click here to see her talk.
Driver-less car in high-speed rally.

Imagine driving at top speed on a steep, winding mountain pass in the Alps, or the Himalayas, or the Rocky Mountains.

Now, take your hands off the and cover your eyes. Or grab a camera and take some pictures of the snowy mountain peaks. Or send a text message to a friend describing the scenery. You'd skid off the road and plunge into a deep ravine within seconds, right? Not if a group of graduate students at Stanford University can program the car to drive itself.

The mechanical engineering students are creating an autonomous -- or driverless -- car that they plan to race up and down the treacherous Pikes Peak highway in the Rocky Mountains next year. The vehicle is the latest creation of a Stanford team, funded in part by Volkswagen, that in recent years has won awards for speed and manoeuvrability in competitions among unmanned cars.

The students say programming a car to run by itself up a curving mountain road is more than simply an engineering exercise; it's a way of creating and testing safety systems they hope one day will be used in all vehicles.

The`WEDGE' immersive projection theater has been built as an affordable installation for university VR infrastructure in Australia. It achieves a 'semi-immersive' sense of presence without, apparently, giving rise to significant discomfort.

The vertex region of the theater appears to be especially effective in giving a sense of presence.

Note: the paper starts way down the pages!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

DARPA Challenge!

In the interests of investigatng how broad-scope problems can be solved using Internet technologies (and to remind everybody that they invented the Internet 40 years ago), DARPA is offering $40,000 to the first person who can solve the following problem.

On Dec. 5, 2009, for one day, DARPA 1s going to put out a large red weather balloon in each of 10 locations, in plain sight, across the continental U.S. First person to identify the locations of all 10, wins.

Go here!
Ever been homeless?

I expect not!

However, when was the last time you thought positively about someone on the street or living in rusty van?

Becky Blanton has not only a great idea, but an insight gained through experiance.

Click here to view her TED speak!
I 'HOPE'you get it!

Nick's Blog Below has a Rather 'Cleaver' Paper.

You know the parable: 'Pascal's Wager?'
Or Pascal's Gambit is a suggestion posed by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal that even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because so living has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. It was set out in note 233 of his Pensées, a posthumously published collection of notes made by Pascal in his last years as he worked on a treatise on Christian apologetics.

Historically, Pascal's Wager was groundbreaking as it had charted new territory in probability theory, was one of the first attempts to make use of the concept of infinity, marked the first formal use of decision theory, and anticipated the future philosophies of pragmatism and voluntarism.
However! Nick has probably moved it on a good march.

Well click here to read 'Pascal's Mugging.'