Live from SxSW:Geolocation in games and Online

I am at SxSW for a week and the introduction of this session was so incredible I thought I would live blog it and share my notes:

SxSW using geolocation in games and online (03/08/2008)
11:48 So here I am at SwSW at the second session I’ve hit for the day. and So far this is a blast
11:49 This session doesn’t apply to my job directly but it is incredibly high on the geek coolness factor
11:50 I started describing old school geocaching from 2000 talking about how you used GPS to go and find “treasures” out in the woods
11:52 But there is now all sorts of cool stuff going on. Like zork based games where you get to a location and your phone/device/whatever gets messages saying “In front of you is an old man searching though a basket” when you get to the right location
11:54 They have also been covering things like vertical games where in a big city you have ppl up in a tall building guiding your team mate through a maze down on the city street.
11:56 Now there are also competions going on with things like Nike Plus which has run tracking, mileage and geolocation built into the shoe and ppl are competing with others for how far they go etc
11:57 So why can’t you do things with points as you are going. A little transmitter at different locations indicates that you get a power up or get extra points for the run.
11:57 This technology is really fascinating.
11:58 The idea of bringing movement into games has taken off with the wii and Dance Dance revolution

11:58 This brings things into a new level as it turns the real world into a game
11:59 New term I am “Geo Curious”

12:00 They are talking about how the iphone doesn’t have true gps right now
12:01 I am really glad that I flashed the leaked GPS enabled ROM to my Verizon Titan right now. I just wish I could pick up more satelites. I’m waiting for them to ask who has GPS on their phone 🙂
12:02 The fuzzyness of GPSa is causing difficulty in creating Zork based games
12:03 GPSa is where your phone determines location based upon the cell towers that you are talking too.
12:03 So right now rooms when you are making a phone playable game has to be 100mx100m

12:04 However with TRUE GPS you can have a game that is within 2ft
12:05 “Conquest” was a game that divided a city into 8 zones and as soon asa team was within a zone and then the could shoot the “semicodes”? (Zombies?)

12:05 However they players who knew more could cheat if they knew where the edges would be.
12:07 These games can be done by ppl txting a certain codes that are available only at certain places. I think they said “crossroads” did that.
12:07 The maze game I talked about before that was done from building looking down at a maze was actually called “pac-man(hattan)”

12:08 ppl were dressed in pacman suits and they were guided by their partners with their cell phones.
12:09 Lower tech games just had you call and say things like “I am the king of spain” but the one panelist dialed the wrong number and really freaked someone out.
12:10 So the terms are “Relative Location” “Definate Location” and “Fuzzy Location”
12:13 “Crossroads” used GPS and you were looking at the map on your phone. and using that on a virtual map to guide you around an artificial environment as you are working around the real world.
12:14 I totally love the idea of this walking over the goal that you have and suddenly your phone buzzes in your pocket and gives you your next goal
12:15 However as with many things the technology is not QUITE there yet.
12:15 We are sooooooo close to very exciting things.
12:16 ppl with the Titan/Mogal/XV6800 can get to within 2 ft and that is wondererful

12:16 But atm I am off the ivory coast since I can’t get any sats.
12:17 There are also other issues beyond technology
12:17 There is a social aspect that has to be considered.
12:18 In even just geocaching, while burying an ammo box in the woods is OK, using it as a geocache in timesquare is not smart. Neither is a metal pipe.

12:19 This also CAN be dangerous. in a game in a city ppl walking out into traffic with their heads down is a REAL possiblity.

12:19 Playing games in the street can be a real danger.
12:20 Some one from the Discovery channel is in the audience asking a question (OK someone lolkatz that)

12:20 She is discussing Shark tracking and other similar technology to improve this type of game “Shark Hunters” was the show they did on this…
12:22 BTW for those that don’t know is a great site.
12:25 Another question is about using this in the news media. Obviously tagging photos is one idea but if all published media had was tagged with a location the possiblty is incredible
12:26 Google and other search tools would bring news really directly to you things that really directly affect your world.
12:26 In the blogging world there is of course
12:27 There is also a website that I can’t think of right now that is designed to show the whole world in photo format with geo location as well. The never metioned it today but I’ve been to the site. It is @jeremywright’s twitter feed.
12:29 There is a question about whether a city planner or ski results person came to one of the panelist how would they respond. Could you work together to create an official map.
12:30 RFID is actually an tech that would work better for this sort of thing. It could be used to create a more persistant game board in a city. The idea is brilliant. Seatle shoudl do that to bring ppl in.
12:31 This would be a similar idea to the “Skateboarding in the city” movement

12:31 platform for creating your own games
12:32 (spelling?)
12:33 And that wraps up this session. That was really neat.
12:41 This Live Blog has now ended.

CoveritLive is a 2008 CNET Finalist!
Vote for CoveritLive

On Image Use and Death of the Mouse Plus 70

I was involved in an email discussion this morning and once again I realized that I’ve transferred my creative energies from writing new and interesting blog articles over to email discussions and forum posts.  So I’m sharing this with you and will hit post instead of send.  (Oh and btw make sure to save as a draft in Windows Live Writer before pasting from an HTML email.  Some formatting causes WLW to go into an infinite loop.  As a result you have to rewrite your brilliant and concisely worded opening paragraphs again.  And they are just never as good the second or third time through and your daughter will get upset because you told her you would do her swimming lesson at 11am and that is already well passed.)

At b5media, Inc. we no longer allow the use of copyrighted images unless the blogger has obtained permission from the copyright owner or a representative thereof.  The use of copyright images is not something that most Bloggers bother to think about.  If you see a neat wilderness photo you want to share, you post it.  If you see a picture of an actor doing something… unusual, you might just toss it up on your blog.  If you write an article about Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, of course you’ll want a head shot above their name.  If an image is used on another website, it is considered polite to copy the image locally to your account so that you are not stealing bandwidth.  Most people certainly want to respect the rights of a photographer and want photographers to be paid, but those thoughts usually don’t enter our mindset.

Well for a blogging network of well over 300 blogs, image concerns are amplified.  Respecting creative rights and intellectual property is extremely important to us.  Heck, we make our living from IP too.  OK and yes, admittedly the $20K fine for each image in violation of the law could add up to a sum that would leave anyone weak at the knees.  So, liability is of course a concern.  If b5 takes a hit, that could affect the livelihood of hundreds of Bloggers.   So this is matter we take very seriously.  We have to. 

There’s been some discussion by our Bloggers and Channel Editors this morning on the subject of image use and here is my contribution:

COMMON SENSE DISCAIMER: Everything in this email/post is only the personal opinion of a geek and is not said in my capacity as a b5media employee. It may or may not be the opinion of the powers that be in b5media, inc. Therefore, nothing in this email has any relation to b5media, Inc. policies. Anything that you believe says or implies otherwise should be ignored. 

“creator’s date of death plus 70 years”

BTW you can thank Disney for that stupid law. It irks me because it means that rare recordings of things like the Danny Kaye performances I like cannot legally be shared and so they become rarer and rarer parts of collections and eventually parts of our culture are lost. Why should a 65 year old scratchy recording of someone reading a story about an inchworm be unsharable? It’s all so that we don’t send around copies of a horrible black and white cartoon of a poorly drawn mouse driving a steam boat and so that stores on the beachfront in Miami can’t airbrush said mouse onto a shirt (or wait does that happen already?). The law in Austrailia is a generous 50 years and the US is trying to push the Ozz to move to 70 years as well.  We have made other countries do this already. And 70 is just a “Magic Number” anyway and one should always avoid “Magic Numbers”.  (A principle I was taught early on in my coding carreer.) 

Yes this is a hot-button issue for me J


An interesting article on the 2002 case that extended this law.

WikiPedia’s discussion on the various “free license” differences out there. It will be helpful for those put their own pictures on the various hosting services out there. 

The relevant part is here:

For image creators:

If you are the creator of an image, you can choose any acceptable free license. You can multi-license your image under different licenses, if you prefer. The license must not prevent commercial reuse or derivative works.

clip_image001 GNU Free Documentation LicenseGFDL-self – Written by the Free Software Foundation. People are required to attribute the work to you, and if they make changes or incorporate your work in their work, they are required to share their changes or work under the same license.

clip_image001[1] Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike – cc-by-sa-3.0|Attribution details – This is one of several CC licenses. This version permits free use, including commercial use; requires that you be attributed as the creator; and requires that any derivative creator or redistributor of your work use the same license. The desired attribution text should be included as a parameter in the template.

clip_image001[2] Creative Commons: Attribution – cc-by-3.0|Attribution details – Similar to the above, but does not require that derivative works use the same license.

clip_image001[3] Free Art licenseFAL – A copyleft license for artwork; modification and commercial use are allowed, provided derivative works carry the same license.

clip_image001[4] AttributionAttribution – The copyright holder allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed.

clip_image001[5] Copyrighted Free Use – CopyrightedFreeUse-Link|[ Your website] – Same as above, but attribution is not required. However, as a courtesy, you would appreciate a link back to Your website.

clip_image001[6] Public domainPD-self – The creator permanently relinquishes all rights to the work.


NOTE (TO B5 READERS): b5media does not fall into the same business category as Wikipedia. Should you see “fair use” stuff on various Wikipedia pages, just be aware that various points may directly contradict our policy. I personally wouldn’t try to argue using Wikipedia’s “fair use” policy after violating b5media’s image use policies.  That’s why I didn’t like to their policy. ‘nuff said. 😉

Also the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) always has interesting reads (like this ) and advocate changing the laws rather than breaking them. I don’t always agree with what I read there, but it is always interesting.