BBC to track a shipping container around the world: The Box

This Post was reposted from here

Gedeeld door Jemimus

This is so cool, I love this kinda stuff. 🙂

The BBC is sticking a GPS in a shipping container and sending it around the world in order to reveal the secret lives of these giant steel packets:

We have painted and branded a BBC container and bolted on a GPS transmitter so you can follow its progress all year round as it criss-crosses the globe. The Box will hopefully reach the US, Asia, the Middle East , Europe and Africa and when it does BBC correspondents will be there to report on who’s producing goods and who’s consuming them…

Surprisingly, this project will not be costing the BBC much over and above the coverage costs for the editorial content.

Whilst we have paid a little for the branding of the box and some technical costs the fact this is a working container means it will be earning its own keep.

We are keeping our fingers crossed the Box does not fall overboard (it happens) and that it gives us a better understanding of what ties countries and continents together.

The Box takes off on global journey

(via Futurismic)

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MMORPG Gamers and Social Media Junkies More Alike Than You’d Think

Gedeeld door Jemimus

I definitely recognize the gaming element in social networking. I don’t think I would really map it feature-to-feature, but there are certainly parallels that keep me up all hours with this kind stuff.

world-of-warcraftThere are two major pursuits that lead people to plant their butts in front of computer screens and pound on keyboards for hours without pay. One group of people loves social media in all forms, shapes, and sizes: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, FriendFeed, blogging, etc. The other group loves to play around in massively multiplayer fantasy worlds based in magic and technology. These two groups are more alike than unlike, with one key difference. The second group usually realizes that they are playing a game; the first group usually doesn’t.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) are a popular pastime where people immerse themselves in fantasy worlds. Players spend many hours in games like World of Warcraft (WoW), amassing gold, experience, and property while making an uber-powerful character. Other online games like Everquest, Entropia Universe, and EVE Online project the same allure as WoW, while simpler brethren like Kingdom of Loathing, Gothador, and Adventure Quest have their own loyal players. This isn’t a new phenomenon either: MUDs (Multi-User Dimensions) and MOOs (MUD Object Oriented), earlier forms of online games with a heavy reliance on text have been around since the late 1970’s.

It’s pretty clear that you’re in a different world when you’re playing a MMORPG. You can explore that world on your own, but it’s often profitable to partner with other players to help beat down your foes and become stronger. Sometimes your foes are just products of the game. In other cases you battle other players like yourself in order earn wealth, fame, and bragging rights.

Do you see some parallels with social media?

avatarsSocial media sites are normally grounded in reality (The Sims and Second Life straddle both pursuits), but everyone’s playing a character when they join these communities. Most of the time people try to be themselves, but they may use an alias or avatar to represent themselves. Goal attainment can be a big part of social media as it is part of MMORPGs. Socialization and communities flourish, in different forms, in games and social media.

Let’s compare these two pursuits:

Friends/Contacts vs. Allies – some social media users have army-size followings. A number of social media users have attracted thousands of followers, particularly on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed. Similarly, MMORPG players try to build alliances with some of their fellow players. The more famous players may gain followings similar in size to Twitter followings. They’re fan clubs by other names. The likelihood of direct interaction with someone with that many followers: minute, unless you already have some kind of connection to them.

Stats and Skills/Experience – MMORPG players want to make their characters stronger, smarter, tougher, and faster, so they play often to gain skills, while using equipment and performance enhancing stuff to make themselves even stronger. The social media user works on increasing comparable stats. If they are a blogger, they want to increase page views, subscribers, comments, and inbound links. They want to get recommendations and endorsements, get added to blogrolls, or otherwise gain social proof. Followers in social networking is another statistic that seems to show one’s strength.

Quests/Deeds vs. Accomplishments – games often require characters to complete a series of tasks in order to win some prize, e.g. go kill fifty goblins to get a pouch of gold, a potion, and a new sword. Similarly, social media users may participate in contests to win social credibility by doing things like:

* Hitting the front page of social news and bookmarking sites
* Winning awards from peers or authority figures
* Compete against other social media users for recognition

Property/Territory vs. Publications – some people like to personalize their stomping grounds in MMORPGs to show ownership. They buy land, put dwellings up, and add distinctive furnishings. Similarly, websites, books, eBooks, articles, online courses, consulting gigs, and more are the ways that social media users can make a more lasting mark on the Web.

Entrepreneurism – both MMORPG players and social media experts can sell their skills to help other users with their goals. They often bend the rules while doing this, but there’s as much a market for getting uber-skilled characters and MMORPG wealth as there is to getting Digg front pages and high exposure in other social news and bookmarking sites. Gamers sometimes sell their characters and equipment at a profit while some people sell blogs, websites, and applications to make money.

You might think that these are superficial comparisons that cast both pursuits in negative lights. That’s quite understandable, because I’ve focused on the selfish and materialistic aspects of these games. Both MMORPGs and social media sites do have a number of positive characteristics that they share.

Both pursuits have a social component. They allow people from different cities, countries, ethnic backgrounds, and other demographic categories to interact. You learn a lot by interacting with people, even if it’s over the Web. Good friendships have been made through both pursuits, sometimes culminating in real-life friendships and romantic relationships whether it’s via Facebook, Twitter, or a Ning group – the same can happen in games. Both games and social media sites also allow us to maintain existing relationships when friends move away. Social media sites have a professional networking and career building component. I can’t say for certain that MMORPGs have the same, but who knows? You can also use both types of applications to explore worlds, real or imagined, as a way to satisfy creative, recreational, and social needs.

The bottom line is that MMORPGs and social media site are far more alike than unalike. They can both be used for serious pursuits, but they have a huge recreational component. When taken to competitive extremes, the pursuit of social media goals and MMORPG character power can have damaging effects on the user’s personal life. Moderation is a key survival skill. In both pursuits, if things get too intense or obsessive, it’s best to remember that they are mostly recreational pursuits.

In other words, don’t forget that they are just games.

Mark Dykeman is a former Everquest, Entropia Universe, Kingdom of Loathing, and Gothador player who (mostly) switched his addictions to social media. You can find him building up his social media character at Broadcasting Brain, on Twitter, and at FriendFeed.

Related Articles at Mashable! – The Social Networking Blog:

Save the Date – Social Gaming Summit: June 13, 2008
GamerDNA Platform Launch: Profile Aggregator for Gamers?
GameStrata Launches Online Gaming Community: 250 Invites for Readers
Disney to Launch Social Network for Nintendo Gamers
New GameSpot Application for Facebook
Greystripe iPhone 3G API Lets Game Developers Earn Ad Revenue
Be a Digg Rockstar with Social Media Firefox Extension

Frostmourne Sword from Warcraft – God its so awesome

I left a message for Kit Rae on the Fantasty forum a while ago, after the Replica Frostmourne sword had been announced by Blizzard.

Frostmourne Sword from Warcraft – The Fantasy Forum.

The company behind the design is Epic Weapons and Kit Rae is their director of product design. Being a long-time Kit Rae fan, I was of course exited to hear of his involvement.

Stainless steel replica by Epic Weapons http://www.epicweapons.comFrostmourne in the Lich King's hands

I love his style, and own several weapons that have his hand in them, or come directly from his Swords of the Anchients lineup: Valermos and Valdris, which have that wonderfull organic black design to them that I love.

Its quite notable how serveral design elements from Valermos can be recognised in Frostmourne.

My Valermos:

IMG_0890 by you.
(zoom in)
My Valdris:

IMG_0884 by you.
(zoom in)

I am still keeping my eye out fot the Black Legion Blade, which is similair and I have always wanted to get my hands on that one.

Anyway, I was happy to see that Kit had actually awnsered my post a while ago. I had asked him what his involvement in the Frostmourne sword actually was, he awnsered:

“My part of the project was completed a while back. Epic Weapons started taking pre-orders a few weeks back, and the product is supposed to be shipping soon. The prototype looked good, but I have not see the actual production. I supervised the look of the repro and the CAD/tooling design, and packaging.”

The sword has indeed now started shipping, and it looks awesome and larger than I thought, here is some random lucky guy with it (more pics here):

So I still really want this sword. But it would be unwise to spend the money right now. Also, there is a waiting list.

I have another problem. if I move to the UK next year, am I going to be able to get it delivered there?  In the Netherlands this is rarely a problem, but I hear they are stricter in the UK about this sort of thing.

In any case, it would be a great present to myself when I move.

See 13000 orbiting objects with Google Earth – Live!

Holy Shit! This is amazing!

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Slashdot story here:
KMZ file here: