Sunday, September 8, 2013

Things Not Done Before Edgar A. Guest


The things that haven't been done before,

Those are the things to try;

Columbus dreamed of an unknown shore

At the rim of the far-flung sky,

And his heart was bold and his faith was strong

As he ventured in dangers new,

And he paid no heed to the jeering throng

Or the fears of the doubting crew.


The many will follow the beaten track

With guideposts on the way,

They live and have lived for ages back

With a chart for every day.

Someone has told them it's safe to go

On the road he has traveled o'er,

And all that they ever strive to know

Are the things that were known before.




A few strike out, without map or chart,

Where never a man has been,

From the beaten paths they draw apart

To see what no man has seen.

There are deeds they hunger alone to do;

Though battered and bruised and sore,

They blaze the path for the many,

Who do nothing not done before.


The things that haven't been done before

Are the tasks worthwhile to-day;

Are you one of the flock that follows,

Or are you one that shall lead the way?

Are you one of the timid souls that quail

At the jeers of a doubting crew,

Or dare you, whether you win or fail,

Strike out for a goal that's new

An Architecture of Play


Everybody plays games, but I would argue that virtually every individual – at one point or another – has designed games as well. If you’ve ever negotiated the time limit for a round of charades, added house rules to your family’s favorite card game, or established a first-down marker in a pickup game of touch football, then you’ve done some game design.


Can Video Games Alter Society.. in a Good Way?


When I'm talking to people about why video games matter, I like to quote one of Woody Allen's finest pieces of advice: "Eighty percent of life is showing up." More than almost anything else, showing up matters. You can't find your talent for football if you never touch a ball. You can't make friends if you avoid other people. You can't get the job if you don't apply. You'll never write that screenplay if you don't start typing.


Games are about everyone showing up. In classrooms full of students who range from brilliant to sullen disaffection, it's games -- and often games alone -- that I've seen engage every single person in the room. For some, the right kind of play can spell the difference between becoming part of something, and the lifelong feeling that they're not meant to take part.


Why is this? Video games are a special kind of play, but at root they're about the same things as other games: embracing particular rules and restrictions in order to develop skills and experience rewards.


Kindness: A New Documentary Is Spreading the Word

Huffington Post

Good Virus: Kindness Is Contagious, by documentary filmmaker, David Gaz explores the idea of kindness as an emotional contagion, and a force for good in the world.

Narrated by the bestselling author of Pay It Forward, Catherine Ryan Hyde, the movie shows how the kindness virus spreads, multiplying through society -- individual by individual. When just one person in a given situation feels an emotion, and then acts upon that feeling to make a difference in someone's life -- it winds up spreading to everyone that person's connected to.

"A genuine act of kindness makes me feel like I really am where you cut underneath anything external, and you become what a human being can really be. It's like coming home when you give kindness. Kindness changes us, as human beings." -- Catherine Ryan Hyde, Bestselling Author

Good Virus speaks to our capacity to fully understand quality of life situations and scenarios, by offering multiple perspectives -- from human behavior scientists to people on the street. Bringing in the perspective of a community conscious roller derby team to present the differences between acting aggressively in a sport as opposed to being an aggressive human being is a stoke of genius.


Cambridge Mill Road Chalk Graffiti Charts Scientists' Community Data


Computer scientists at University College London (UCL) are engaging the public by mixing technology with artwork. UCL's Lisa Koeman and Vaiva Kalnikaite are collecting community data and presenting it as chalk graffiti on a Cambridge street. They have installed electronic keypads in businesses along Mill Road, and invite shoppers every other day to answer questions about themselves and the local area. For example, a question such as "How are you feeling today?" can be answered by using three smiley face buttons on the keypad. The buttons represent a positive, neutral, and negative response. "With the aggregated data we produce graphs in the different colors of the buttons," Koeman reports. The Visualizing Mill Road project will end shortly, and a summary graph will appear on a railway bridge that divides both ends of the street. "We will compare one community with the other, as residents have a strong identity with the part of the road they are from," Koeman notes.


VideoConferencing Eye Contact Finally Possible

ETH Life

A software prototype from ETH Zurich's Computer Graphics Laboratory could make videoconferencing more realistic for home users. The lack of eye contact is believed to be a key reason why videoconferencing does not have the feel of a real conversation, as speakers mainly look at their counterpart's picture instead of the camera. Large companies have the resources to pursue solutions to this problem, essentially creating artificial eye contact during videoconferences by investing in technology that uses complex mirror systems or several cameras and special software. ETH Zurich's Claudia Kuster and colleagues have designed software to recognize the face in the video and rotate it so that the person appears to be looking at the camera. Using a Kinect camera, the system creates a depth map calculated from image information and a program that recognizes faces in real time. The software can handle changing light conditions and even two faces at the same time. The team wants the software to work for mobile devices with standard webcams and to develop a Skype plugin.


Mystery of the Missing Women in Science

New York Times

Although test scores prove that girls have science and math aptitude equal to that of boys, many girls choose not to pursue these fields. Average math scores for girls worldwide are equal to those of boys, and girls in U.S. high schools have higher grade point averages in math and science, with a 2.76 GPA compared with 2.56 for boys. Male and female ninth graders rated boys and girls equally competent in science and math in a 2009 study of more than 21,000 U.S. students by the University of Alabama's Anthony Derriso. The study also found that boys and girls were equally confident in their own math and science skills, and were equally likely to feel engaged in math and science and to feel supported by teachers, parents, and peers. However, among the 11 percent of students saying they were likely to pursue a scientific career, 61 percent were male. Boys with high scores on the math SAT express interest in majoring in the physical sciences, engineering, or computers, while their high-scoring female counterparts prefer economics, political science, or medicine, research shows. Women account for nearly 60 percent of bachelor’s degrees overall, but only 20 percent of computer science degrees, 20 percent of physics degrees, and 18 percent of engineering degrees


Carnegie Mellon Developing Driverless Car of the Future Now

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Engineers at the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) are developing an experimental autonomous vehicle they hope will be capable of driving on highways more safely than humans. "Humans are extremely smart but can be rather stupid as well," says CMU professor and co-director of the autonomous driving research lab Raj Rajkumar. "If we can take the basic human emotional and physical problems out of the [driving] equation, we expect injuries and fatalities will go down." In addition to safety benefits, autonomous vehicles will increase mobility for elderly and disabled people and enable passengers to be more productive during the time they spend sitting in traffic, Rajkumar says. The autonomous 2011 Cadillac SRX has the appearance of a typical vehicle, but is equipped with six lasers and six radars providing 360-degree views around the vehicle. The car also has cameras in the front and back, and four computers in a compartment beneath the cargo area to process information. The computers have 500,000 lines of code and can make calculations in 10 milliseconds to safely control the vehicle's speed and direction of travel, and to determine lane markings, traffic light status, and speed and location of other vehicles.


The NBA Will Now Track Every Player's Movements


The National Basketball Association yesterday announced a contract with sports information company Stats to install player-tracking camera systems in every arena beginning next season. (The news confirms previous reporting by Zach Lowe of The Stats technology, called SportVU, uses six cameras to capture the positions of every player and the ball 25 times per second. Fifteen teams, half of the league, already had the cameras as of last season. Now, instead of team-by-team contracts, Stats has a multiyear deal with NBA for an undisclosed sum.

Player tracking and motion capture are at the vanguard of the now ubiquitous use of data analytics in sports. With SportVU, the NBA becomes the first major U.S. league to invest in a uniform system. “It’s enormously important because of its accuracy and the depth of the detail of the information,” says Steve Hellmuth, the NBAs vice president in charge of operations and technology. “It’s an essential tool for getting a deeper understanding of the sport.”

Beginning next season, all 30 NBA teams will get complete SportVU data from every game. Stats will provide the raw X-Y coordinate logs as well as reports that integrate the data with play-by-play information. “While the data itself can be very complicated, and there is a lot of power in it,” says Stats Vice President Brian Kopp, “the output could be as simple as looking at a report at halftime to see how many times did a player touch [the ball] in a certain area.” (For a fuller sense of what the tracking data can reveal, read this deep dive from’s Lowe.)


Database Of Creative Lecture Series Rivals TED Talks

PSFK   and CreativeMornings

Tina Roth Eisenberg – the mind behind Swissmiss – wanted to create an ongoing and accessible event for the creative community in New York, and thus CreativeMornings was born.


Since its inception in 2008, the lecture series offers delicious breakfasts and insightful talks for creative types.  The initiative has grown into a 57 chapter-strong global organization, with free monthly events held in cities from Chicago to Barcelona.


Nike inspires Londoners with the NikeFuel Map


Nike is encouraging Londoners to move more with the NikeFuel Map, designed to inspire people in London to get off the Tube and explore the city above ground.  

With the NikeFuel Map, Londoners can find easy ways to be more active by walking between Zone 1 Tube stations and tracking NikeFuel– a metric that measures athletic activity. 'Urbanist', researcher and keen walker John Bingham-Hall walked the routes - adding scenic diversions to ensure Londoners were able to see the best of their city - and clocked up the NikeFuel points earned. Bingham-Hall's routes were then transcribed into a mathematical and accurate map format by the Centre for Advanced Spacial Analysis, part of University College London. The results were then handed to designer and 'visualizer' David Luepschen to turn into a graphically impactful map.