The Giant Beach Ball
The Ghost Keyboard
Various Cube Messes
Answer: All of the below.
Maxis is bursting at the seams with creative people. Usually, that creativity is spent making awesome Sims games. Sometimes, it is channeled into art projects or landscaping or fine cuisine. Or, occasionally, that creativity gets diverted into mischief. I remember a lot of that mischief fondly, so I'd like to share just a few of the occasions when it found its way into someone's cube.
The Giant Beach Ball
Meet Manu! Manu made the mistake of being away from his office for a while during the middle of The Sims 3 expansion packs. Naturally, we filled his office with small beach balls. And a gargantuan, 12-foot-diameter ball.
And here's Manu, clearly able to work super-effectively with his new office arrangement. (I'm not sure, but I think he lost his office mate in the back somewhere.)
The Ghost Keyboard
Look closely at this setup...
This was our Art Director's desk on The Sims 3 World Adventures (now Art Director on League of Legends... Hi Adam!). He was rather minimalist with his desk, so one night I took it a step further for him by removing all the keys from his keyboard, and replacing his Wacom tablet with a photocopy.
Adam came in the next day, sat down, and tried to log into his computer. He "splashed" his keys across his desk and onto the floor (in his words), and then his brain had to understand what had just happened.
Various Cube Messes
Here are a few more random pranks:
Question: What do you get when you cross six Sims 2 Object Engineers with six large rolls of aluminum foil?
Answer: All of the below.
Pranks like this encourage creativity, and they make the office an even more fun place to work. Speaking of fun place to work, here's a picture of Grant doing the sort of thing that makes people laugh.
This was an important moment for me because it’s when I got used to putting pen to paper not because someone told me to, but because I enjoyed it, because there were words in me that needed to be on a page.
I decided to write The Day Eight Series because I had a deep desire to share an engaging story with readers, but also to share ideas – ideas that might have the power to alter the way readers think about their world.
Ruty: What was your inspiration? And, how long did it take you to write it?
Ray: In college, I took an artificial intelligence class called “Cognitive Science.” I remember learning about an array of approaches to A.I., and thinking, “None of these approaches will ever create real intelligence.” They were like trying to recreate our world by painting it on a flat canvas. So I asked myself, “How would I go about creating true artificial intelligence? A.I. that is actually smart?” And that was the foundation for my story. (I have a longer blog post about it here, but it has spoilers.)
That was back in about 2000 when I had the idea. I started writing in November, 2005, for the NaNoWriMo. That got me 34,000 words into the story – enough that my wife could read it and tell me that I should keep writing when I’d been doubting myself (interestingly, she had been expecting not to like it). The entire series is over 186,000 words. It took me 5 years to write the full first draft, then another 18 months to get feedback, edit, and revise. It took me so long to write because I had to juggle it with my full time job (as a video game designer on The Sims games) and also because I was learning how to organize and write a compelling novel at the same time.
Ruty: Why did you decided to divide the story into three parts? (A great decision if you ask me.)
Ray: I’d originally written the series as one complete book, Day Eight. At 186K words, Day Eight was long – just slightly longer than Dickens’ Great Expectations. So the first reason I decided to break it up was to make it a more casual read, something that felt like it was moving quickly, and on Kindle the progress bar would tick-up fast. And the paperbacks are easier to hold.
The second reason was price. This let me charge very little for each part – especially the first part, which is $0.99, but also which I’ve given away for free on many occasions (over 10,000 people have downloaded it free, and it was the #1 Free Amazon Kindle Technothriller during Labor Day weekend). I want to be able to suck in as many readers as possible.
Ruty: Was it easy to imagine the kind of technology and resources that exist in the books?
Ray: It wasn’t easy, but it was fun! The technology is grounded in reality. Most of it stemmed from research I’d read about (like optical & quantum computers), current physics knowledge (string theory, Planck’s constant), or just cool/scary technology that already exists (MKVs or eavesdropping by listening to interference from key presses on keyboards). Other aspects, like how Ezra’s world functioned and how she was able to manipulate it, or the bio-neural connectors – that was more pure imagination and daydreaming, sometimes me lying on my couch thinking for half an hour. Thinking about the bio-neural connectors and what it would be like for Nicole, the hit-woman, to experience super-fast brain activity – that was a delightful thought experiment.
One of the experiences I used from my own life was an interview I had with the NSA in college. I was interviewing for a computer science position. They told me, “People don’t work for us because of the salaries. They work for us because of the technology. Our computers are 10 years ahead of the industry.” That idea alone got me imagining what else might be out there already, and you’ll remember a similar line from near the end of Part 1, The Reborn.
Ruty: Did you find it hard to find the words to make it easy for the readers to understand the laws of physics and all the technological argument in the story?
Ray: I was already picky about my wording of normal phrases. I was even more careful explaining the details of technology and physics. Sometimes a single, short paragraph would take me an hour to write, rearrange, and ultimately craft into what’s there now. One of my goals for The Day Eight Series was to introduce The Technological Singularity to the mass market. I wanted the average reader to have fun with these concepts of physics, computers, and AI without having to be a science geek (like me) or a Sci-Fi fan.
Some of the heaviest revision after getting draft readers was focused on the longer technical sections. I revised a lot and cut large chunks that went too deep into detail. And I mostly pulled it off – I’ve had readers telling me they never knew they’d like this kind of story. But the few pages where Ezra creates a bubble in her universe that begins to break down physics… that is still too detailed for some readers, but I was too in love with that section to chop it, and it makes the story and world much deeper for those who follow it.
Ruty: What was it like creating Ezra? How was the process of creating a super-intelligent being?
Ray: Creating Ezra was one of the aspects of Day Eight where I was most uncomfortable with my abilities as a writer. I mean, how do you write dialog for a being who’s 1000x smarter than anyone else? And how does she feel about being in a computer? And how does it feel to be at the mercy of us? What gave me hope was that she was ultimately human, and I wanted this human side to come through so that we could all relate to her and feel for her.
I liked imagining how someone would live if they had total control over their environment and could change it with their mind – how would they have fun? What would they aspire to? And what would they think of us?
I also wanted to foreshadow Ezra’s eventual fate so that reading Day Eight a second time would be enjoyable in new ways as readers picked up on some her layers. For example, even her very first line of dialog in the prologue is significant.
As I was piloting a heat-shielded helicopter around an electromagnetic ash cloud and into the caldera of a reawakening volcano (well, as I was daydreaming about it), I was thinking about how wonderful a thing it is when someone you don't know decides to set aside time from their life to write a review for you!
Yesterday, The Reborn found itself with 3 more reviews from readers I've never met. They are 3 of the 8,500+ who discovered The Day Eight Series during a 3-day promotion and downloaded The Reborn for free (another reason the 3 free days were a success).
None of these recent reviewers have many reviews under their belts. So why did they choose to review The Reborn? Perhaps they read the acknowledgements at the end of my books; there I ask for readers to leave honest reviews on Amazon. Or perhaps they wanted to share their thoughts. Or maybe they were moved by the story.
Regardless, it is a wonderful thing. To all of you who have left reviews or will leave me reviews: thank you! Thank you for taking time out of your day to do this! Every review helps.
Now I would like to thank these 3 most recent reviewers individually and share some of their words:
Thank you illreadanything, who "...finished the Day Eight series after devouring it in just a few days," and who appreciated the "insightful read and journey."
Thank you Maaike, who says, "I spent two late nights reading this book as I could not put it down. This to me is the best praise I can give, a book I cannot put down means it has a great and captivating story."
And thank you to jennyj, who "...immediately purchased the other two [parts of the series] upon completion," because she was "riveted," and enjoyed "the lessons we can learn about human emotion from attempting to create an emotive program."
Lastly, of course, thank you to all my readers who have taken a chance by picking up The Day Eight Series. The words in this world have no meaning without you.
Today was the final day of a 3 day promotion where The Reborn – the first part of my technothriller novel series – was free on Amazon. After fantastic results on Day 1, then declining (yet still pleasing) results on Day 2, I expected Day 3 to continue the waning trend. But that’s not what happened.
Here are final numbers from the end of each day, with some sales and rank comparisons to just before The Reborn went free. Note that none of the books were ranked in any lists before the promo, aside from the all-inclusive “Kindle Store” rank.
*Green numbers mean they are significantly better stats than the previous day.
Total Copies Purchased During 3-Day Promo
The Reborn: 8,553 (free)
Of Mice and Hitmen: 114 (includes 3 lending library borrows)
The Spiritual Singularity: 52
Day 3 Was an Uptick
Rather than slowing down, Day 3 was a minor uptick. Day 2 and 3 combined did slightly better than Day 1 by itself. And since Day 1 went great, I see Days 2 and 3 as a success. I’m glad to have chosen a 3-day promo rather than cutting it off after Day 2.
So what changed? Why did Day 3 go better than expected? Here’s my speculation:
Key Points about the Promotion Stats
I’m writing this at 11:00 PM the night after the promotion ended, so I’ve been able to observe its short term after-effects, which have been good. Rather than fading back to obscurity, sales and discovery remained solid.
Here are the numbers:
The Reborn sold more copies in a single post-promo day than it had sold in the past two months combined, it gained spots in the regular best seller lists for technothrillers (as opposed to the free best seller lists), and borrows from the lending library rose. Also, sales of the sequels remained bolstered.
All in all, these free book days have been fantastic. I'm supremely happy with the results.
Looking forward, there’s clearly plenty of room for growth. When will I be (more) satisfied? I’m not sure, but it involves a lot more people reading and enjoying The Day Eight Series. (And maybe an, “I told you so,” when the story in the books comes true ; )
I’m wrapping up Day 2 of a 3 day promotion where The Reborn – the first part of my technothriller novel series – is free on Amazon. Today, I’ll compare the results of Day 1 with Day 2.
Overall, Day 1 was roughly 2x as successful as Day 2, but Day 2 started with a bang (see the brag-sheet I made above... sorry, I got excited, you'll have to forgive me). Let’s look at some numbers.
Day 1 exceeded all my expectations, with over 4000 downloads, plus a #1 and #2 ranking on two Best Seller lists, and a detectable ripple effect to books 2 & 3. (For the full details about Day 1 and running the promotion, see my previous post.)
I first checked Day 2 stats at 9:00 am, and it was the strongest position yet:
In the late hours between Midnight and 9:00 am Pacific Time, The Reborn had jumped from #49 to #34 on the Kindle free Best Seller list, and hit the #1 slot for free Kindle Technothrillers. Yet it did this with slower sales – roughly 78 sales/hour early on Day 2 versus an average of 173 sales/hour across Day 1. This points to a momentum that Amazon calculates behind the scenes to slow movement in these lists. That’s a good thing – so books take many hours to traverse the lists rather than bouncing all over due to hourly whims of the market, which would create an unintelligible mess (a 7-year-old’s Christmas list comes to mind, where it happens to be composed of everything he saw a commercial for in the past 200 seconds).
The ranks of Of Mice and Hitmen (book 2) and The Spiritual Singularity (book 3) had similarly continued to climb in their paid categories of Technothriller.
After 9:00 am, the momentum began reflecting the slower sales rate. Here are the numbers from the end of Day 2:
In total over 2 days, The Reborn has been downloaded nearly 6200 times. I’m incredibly pleased with these numbers, though I’d be happier if the sales numbers were swapped between Day 1 and Day 2. It’s funny how the mind works – the results would be exactly the same, but who wouldn’t prefer to be on an upward trend rather than downward?
I question the slowdown because tribal wisdom has said “2-3 days works best,” usually because Day 1 is a ramp-up to faster sales on subsequent days. Here are my speculations why Day 2 was slower in this case:
It’s probably a combination. Let’s see how tomorrow, the final day, goes.
What I’m most curious to see is how the trends for Of Mice and Hitmen and The Spiritual Singularity move. How many of the 6200+ downloaders will read The Reborn? How many will even open it? And then how many will finish it and like it enough to get Of Mice and Hitmen? How long will that take? How long will the next books feel the influence of this giveaway? I had 42 combined purchases of Of Mice and Hitmen and The Spiritual Singularity today, and I can’t help thinking that a handful of those purchases were from readers who had already finished The Reborn from yesterday.
But most importantly… how many readers will smile, be excited, or wonder about the world and the universe because they’ve read these books?
Time will tell.
Read about Day 3 here.
The Reborn hit #2 in free Kindle Technothrillers!
Today – Friday, August 31st – is the first day of a 3-day free promotion for The Reborn, the first novel in my technothriller series about raising super-intelligent simulated humans in computers. (You can get it here.)
This is the first time I’ve used Amazon’s free promotional days, and I’ve gotten some great results. I’d like to share what I’ve learned along with some numbers.
(Quick history: In April, I published a 3-part novel series which I had been working on for a handful of years. It’s called The Day Eight Series. Read about it here.)
Using Amazon "Free Days" Promotions
I had no idea these free day promotions existed until recently, because they’re a bit hidden. For any book enrolled in KDP Select, you get 5 free promotion days every 90 days.
In your bookshelf, you need to check the box next to your book, then click on Actions:
Most great novels have a message – some feeling or idea for the reader to take away. Great novels perform inception, changing the reader by the turn of the final page.
Setting goals for your novel helps you explore your novel’s message. And I believe that sharing these with your readers will help you find your audience more quickly.
Writing Goals Helps you Focus
I design video games for a living. When I write a game design, the first thing I do is list out my goals by answering these questions: What am I trying to accomplish with this design? What problems does it solve? How do I want the player to feel?
Because I was used to this, and because it works well, listing my goals was the first thing I did when I gathered all my brainstorm notes for The Day Eight Series and sat down to start outlining.
Goals for The Day Eight Series
Here were my first goals:
You need goals because without the constant reminder of what you’re setting out to achieve, you will meander and write a story with less meaning. (I also recommend learning about Controlling Ideas, a concept Robert McKee explores in his incredible book, Story.)
My list of goals grew and evolved as I wrote, because I would find new, stronger purpose as I drove toward the existing ones. I also began writing goals for each chapter. Inevitably, they became more specific, taking the form of discrete realizations and feelings I wanted readers to have. For example, a chapter with Nicole, the hitwoman, had this as one of its goals:
Give the reader a vivid understanding of what it
would be like to think one thousand times faster.
Choosing Books to Read
Sometimes, when I’m browsing novels, I’m just looking for a fun or exciting story. But there are other times when I want more than that. I want a deeper experience from a great novel. The problem is, when I want a deeper experience, there is little indication of such promise when grabbing a book from the shelf.
To get even a hint of a sense about it, I need to dive in and read for twenty minutes. But there are well over 100,000 books published every year in the US alone. That’s a lot of twenty-minute trials.
To help, authors could share their goals just like they share a description of their novel. Non-fiction books do this all the time! For example, my favorite game design book, The Art of Game Design, says in its description: …this book gives the reader… one hundred sets of insightful questions to ask yourself that will help make your game better.
A Promise: The Author’s Statement of Purpose
Sharing your goals is like making a promise to the reader. “I promise that if you grant me your valuable time, I will change you in this way…”
This promise can be made easily digestible by condensing your list of goals down into a summary sentence. I’m calling this the Author’s Statement of Purpose. For The Day Eight Series, it would be:
To explain The Singularity to non-sci-fi readers and to propose a theory of God,
existence, and the origin of the universe, and to do this all in an exciting story.
My fear is that telling this to the reader outright may remove some of the meaning because they don’t have to do as much work to figure it out on their own. It dampens the great feelings surrounding epiphanies from the story. But the tradeoff is that you will get readers who wouldn’t have given your book a shot in the first place, and these readers are more likely to be in-tune with your writing.
So my proposal is this: authors should share their statement of purpose in a way that those who care can find it, but is otherwise hidden to those who don’t. A perfect spot would be under the “About the Author” section on a book’s rear flap.
I am considering adding this next time I update my novels and Amazon description.
I’m curious to hear what you think. Is this useful? Does it give too much away to the reader, or would they appreciate it?
(Where the Idea for my Novel Series Came From)
During my junior year at Colby College, I had been reading towers of papers about approaches to artificial intelligence for my cognitive science class, and I mostly thought, “Wow, we’re so far away from developing any artificial intelligence that is actually… well… intelligent.”
That was 12 years ago. Yes, we had a computer that could beat a human at chess. And we had some algorithms that could learn faces. And even today we have IBM’s Watson, which can beat geniuses at Jeopardy. But… none of these computers are smart. They have no intelligence.
in·tel·li·gence (noun): The ability to learn or understand
or deal with new or trying situations.
— Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Deep Blue can evaluate 200 million chess positions per second, but that doesn’t make it intelligent. Watson is an incredible feat of engineering that captivates me every time I watch it play. Watson can process one million books worth of information per second. But that doesn’t make it smart. In fact, you can’t even call Watson an imbecile, because "imbecile" implies a minor wisp of intelligence, which Watson does not have.
Let’s look at the three factors in the above definition of intelligence.
1. The Ability to Learn
Watson can improve the accuracy of its knowledge through absorbing more information, weighing the accuracy of that information against information it already has, and making connections between that and related information.
Is this learning? Maybe in very loose terms. It’s learning in the same way that Netflix might learn over time that you’ll probably like Inception if you liked both The Matrix and Catch Me If You Can. And it’s only mildly better than my couch “learning” the impression of my rear end and developing a depression over time.
But you can’t give Watson a calculus textbook and say, “Learn this from scratch,” even though it could read the entire book in a one-millionth of a second. Watson would be able to make plenty of assertions about calculus afterwards, but wouldn’t be able to perform calculus unless someone specifically programmed that capacity into it. If Watson could do that, then it would truly be learning.
2. The Ability to Understand
Can Watson, or any computer, grasp the meaning of things? This could be a huge philosophical argument with a maddening chain of tautological reasoning reminiscent of Louis CK’s hilarious comedy skit “Why?”
Instead, let me pose a hypothetical question. Say you told Watson the following: “If you beat my husband on Jeopardy, I’ll be upset at you.” Do you think Watson would grasp the simple meaning of your statement? And do you think Watson would wonder to itself, “Maybe I should consider losing because I don’t want this person to be mad… she might disassemble me.”
3. The Ability to Deal with New or Trying Situations
Assume, for a second, that Watson was Woody-Allen-sized and had a battery pack, but still immobile. If you dropped Watson off outside Grand Central station near a pretzel cart, do you think it would learn to cope with its new situation? Would it figure out how to get someone to recharge it? Would Watson be able to ask for a ride back to IBM, perhaps promising its drivers a monetary reward from IBM?
All of that would require the following logic:
Just in the first two steps, there’s a problem. It requires Watson to link its “knowledge” about the world to knowledge about its own state of being. I’d argue that any computer which lacks sensory input from their immediate surrounds – sight and sound most importantly – wouldn’t even begin to have the tools to reason about the relationship between its existence in the world and its own state.
The broader an environment that an AI can understand and react meaningfully to, the closer it gets to intelligent. A robot might be superb at learning to stack a few blocks, but if that’s all it can do, it’s not intelligent. Humans are the most adaptable. And although we may not be able to adapt to, say, suddenly being pushed off a cliff, we’re intelligent enough to scream on the way down.
The Bottom Line about Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence still doesn’t exist. What we have are artificial creations that appear intelligent under tightly constrained situations in which they have been programmed to excel (and even then, not always). We code algorithms for computers to learn specific tasks, and that’s all they’ll be able to do until we update their algorithms. Just because we have cars that can drive themselves and avoid accidents, it doesn’t mean that we’ve discovered a brilliant new approach to AI. (And if they do hit you, they won’t feel bad about it.) This quote pulled from Wikipedia’s history of AI sums it up nicely:
“These successes were not due to some revolutionary new paradigm,
but mostly on the tedious application of engineering skill and on the
tremendous power of computers today.”
And that’s the crux of it – we need to move past programming algorithms for intelligence. We need machines that can learn to learn. Like humans – we don’t just learn things, we learn how to learn things so we can adapt to our environment and make sense of whichever environment surrounds us. Our brains are malleable.
This TED talk by Henry Markram about building a brain in a supercomputer is the best approach I’ve seen. It doesn’t produce any intelligent results yet, and it’s the type of approach that will feel meandering and vague… until one day when it all comes together and a computer makes a sound of its own accord – not a sound that was programmed into it, but rather a sound born of its electrical signals swimming around in the womb of its malleable mental structure, and that sound may be reminiscent of the crying of a newborn baby.
Why would it make a sound? Not because it was programmed. But because it could.
So how does this relate to my techno-thriller novels? I asked myself, if I had to make an in intelligent computer – a real intelligent computer – how would I do it?
I’d decided that I would grow one.
We don’t know enough about the structure of the brain to model it entirely yet. But why start with the most complex part of human biology? Why not start much simpler? Start with DNA.
DNA is nature’s compression algorithm. If we could just unzip it, we would have all we needed to create true intelligent programs. And guess what? Nature already knows how to unzip DNA into a human. So let’s simulate that.
Let’s build an incredibly detailed simulation of a human egg. Simulate inception, and then… just keep the simulation running. A human will grow. It will have a brain. Given the proper inputs and care, it will be intelligent.
There are myriad reasons why this isn’t possible today… but… what if we were wrong? What would it take? Who could do it? How much would it cost?
Google is about to take over, and not in the way that you might think. It’s not about the web’s most popular search engine, or an advertising behemoth, or hundreds of exaflops of raw computing power. Those things alone won’t let Google grasp the Earth in its silicon hands… and then deliver it to us.
Instead, it comes from something that might be mistaken for a futuristic fashion statement:
high-tech sunglasses. More specifically: “Google Glasses,” due out later this year. (The official page is here, with a concept video.)
The clandestine GoogleX labs are building futuristic shades that will give us augmented reality so we can see information layered over the real world in our daily lives. For example, if you’re house hunting, perhaps you’d be able to drive down the street and see information about availability, pricing, and home layout projected in front of every home. Along with walking distance to the closest Cinnabon (if that's your thing).
The Google Glasses accomplish this with these purported specs:
This would, of course, turn everyone into a terminator, and next time you found yourself wandering naked into a biker bar with your Google Glasses (happens all the time, except with beer goggles), you’d be able to size up every patron to find the one whose wardrobe would make the most sense to steal.
In other words, augmented reality will be freaking awesome. But this post isn’t even really about AR…
So here’s where things get interesting.
If you haven’t noticed, Google likes to digitize things. Whole things. Entire sets of things. Like maps. And books. And the moon. And, of course… the Earth.
Google Earth combines satellite imagery, aerial photography, crowdsourced building models, snapshots from car-mounted cameras, and more into a crude representation of our Earth, its topology, and buildings. But it’s been around for over 10 years. Google Earth is old technology. (BTW, it was originally created by a CIA-funded company that Google purchased.)
So if you want to check out San Francisco, Google Earth can give you a fun 3D view like this:
But zooming in, the limits of the current representation become apparent as cars are squished into the street and fine details get lost:
And if you’re not looking at a city, you lose all height information. Your view becomes a blurry photo-pancake:
Now, here’s where the glasses enter the equation. A New York Times article on the Google Glasses says, Through the built-in camera on the glasses, Google will be able to stream images to its rack computers and return augmented reality information to the person wearing them.
Imagine hundreds of millions of people walking around every day, streaming images back to Google of everything they’re looking at – with built in location data. All across the world. Constantly.
At first, only a trickle of early adopters will be wearing the glasses. But eventually these gadgets will be so pervasive that they’ll probably replace sunglasses and reading glasses, and the video and streaming capabilities will be superb.
The ramifications are so incredible it’s hard to even take it seriously.
Wearing a camera is nothing new. But when you have hundreds of millions of people wearing them and feeding all that data to a central location, paradigm shifts abound.
Google will be able to construct a high-resolution model of the world, down to the coin you stared at but didn’t pick off your lawn this morning because your Labrador ate your change purse only last week. And Google will be able to not just model the outsides of buildings in spit-stain detail, but the insides as well. Anything that someone can look at in the real world could be integrated into the model. And it would be updated in real time.
I call it: “The Mirror Earth.”
Google will own it all. They will own this world and everything amazing it will give us. As the quote from Sneakers goes: What we see and hear, how we work, what we think… it’s all about the information!
If you wanted a 3D model of your house, you could toss on the glasses and walk around, looking at everything until your view had painted it all onto a virtual canvas. Perhaps share it on Facebook. (And submit that to the homeowner’s insurance company instead of listing out all your belongings until you have carpel tunnel.) It’s like Photosynth just took steroids and rode a tornado over the rainbow.
And of course this will be gamified. Wearers will be directed to uncharted territory to capture views of it for community prestige. Extra points if you’re going on safari or somewhere with sparse traffic.
OK. Now pair this with augmented reality. This is when the line begins to blur between humanity and computers, and it will usher in a new technological revolution.
Want to see what’s around the corner without walking around the building? Use AR. Use the Mirror Earth. Look through the building. Google and your glasses know what’s on the other side. And so can you. Or perhaps it’s a public building – an Art Museum – and you want to take a peek inside. Tune your view to 20 feet through the entrance. Instant x-ray vision. If someone has seen it, then Google has seen it – which means you can see it too.
And while you’re checking out the art, your glasses alert you that there are 3 people currently inside with public streams. You switch to one of their views and see what’s actually happening right now. You can see there isn’t much of a crowd. But the guy who’s glasses you’re hitchhiking on seems more interested in the brunette standing next to him than the one in Hammershoi’s paintings. But you like Hammershoi, so you head inside.
I have a lot more to say about this, but I’ll save it for another post. Instead, I’ll just tell you the phrase that’s going through my head:
Buckle up. Shit is about to get real.
Or virtual, rather. Entirely, massively virtual.
PS – If this kind of technology interests you, you need to read Daniel Suarez’s Daemon and Freedom novels. These novels ask the questions, “What if an incredible technology existed today? What if we had AR right now, and a distributed intelligence to guide us through it?”
Suarez plays with this idea in very much the same way my Day Eight series of novels ask the questions, “What if the Technological Singularity were to occur today? How could that happen, and what would be the result?” Check them out here.
This entry is summarized from Buckminster Fuller’s book Critical Path. I’ve also added images and links.
Our flag originated from that of The East India Company, a powerful trading enterprise, whose flag happened to have 13 red and white horizontal stripes with a blue rectangle in its upper left-hand corner:
The blue rectangle bore in red and white the superimposed cross of St. Andrew and cross of St. George:
During the Boston Tea Party, the colonists dressed as Indians, boarded the East India Company's three ships, and threw overboard their entire cargoes of high-tax tea in rebellion of high British taxation (without colonist representation in British lawmaking bodies).
They also swiped the flag from the masthead of the largest ship, the Dartmouth.
When George Washington took command of the U.S. Continental Army under an elm tree in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this was the flag he used. (It was also our unofficial flag on July 4, 1776, our independence day.)
Though it was only coincidence, most of those present thought the thirteen red and white stripes represented the thirteen American colonies, but they complained about superimposed crosses in the blue rectangle that looked like a miniaturized British flag, leading to the first of many redesigns:
You can see the progression of designs for the American Flag here.
Note that the origin of the flag is disputed. Wikipedia doesn’t have a clear origin story, only suggestions. However, this account by Buckminster Fuller holds more sense than any other I’ve read.