Thursday, August 25, 2011

Join us at Maker Faire

OLPC-NYC will have a booth at Maker Faire on September 17-18. This is the second time ever that New York hosts this gathering of artists, inventors, hackers, kids, and robots.
The last one was amazing, so I jumped at the chance to be part of it this year. We're going to show the XO, DIY sensors, the 3d-printed XO viewfinders, and photos from around the world.Also check out Super Awesome Silvia's video from the San Francisco one in 2010:

We could use some volunteers to stop by and help out on Saturday or Sunday. Let us know this week and we may have discounted tickets!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Plants and Printers

I recently subscribed to Thingiverse, a website for sharing blueprints of 3D objects. Anyone with a desktop 3d printer (and the number who do is growing) can print out an octopus, a Lego part, a figurine, a replacement part for a dishwasher... In an appearance on the Colbert Report, Bre Pettis showed off a couple of Colbert/octopus hybrids.

Watch on

So I was thinking of Thingiverse as 3d clip art when I first subscribed. Then I saw an ever-so-simple innovation that'd just been uploaded to the Thingiverse: a plant tag, one of those labels greenhouses use to make sure you buy the right petunia.

Thingiverse Page

So then I'm thinking what it'd be like for a greenhouse to print their own tags. Each greenhouse could have their own custom shape, style, not limited by the shipper's easiest packing or a factory's minimum sale. Why not have special tags for holidays, and birthdays? And while we're at it, why not make your own planters (the little plastic things people hang and plant their plants in)? You could have star shapes, or wavy patterns custom-designed by landscapers. Computer-assisted design changed architecture forever - you can now have buildings made up of thousands of panels, all with slightly different shapes. 3D printing puts that in the pocket of any small business.

These printers are rare now, but the number of open source hardware businesses and hackerspaces using them is growing.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Singularity Kids

Latitude has a great presentation of kids' answers to " draw what would you like your computer to do that it can't do now"

The points I'm taking from this:
  • Researchers: Kids are either players or makers, in that some ideas were new types of games and experiences, and others were tools for creating or doing something
  • They interviewed kids on all six major continents, including classes in South Africa, India, Argentina, and Colombia. None of the drawings in the presentation seemed biased to one region. When asked about regional differences, the researchers say India had more "maker" than "player" ideas.
  • "Nearly 40%" of ideas connect the virtual and physical worlds. Great news for the Map, Measure, and Memorize with Sensors activities. Huge motivation for us to continue in this direction, especially if someone can figure out haptics (touch)
  • A third of ideas "expanded the student's knowledge or creativity". They show XO laptops for this slide. Many of the "maker" students want to paint and touch their work on screen, and have it in real life. The life-size interactive storybook they showed from MIT looks beautiful.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Final Project Report

Introducing FollowFrost

      The FollowFrost platform focuses innovative techniques in the open web, realtime media, and interactive video on the presentation of online interviews. This report includes a workflow video, innovation overview, and a working web app.

      Instead of a traditional one-on-one interview or a chaotic social media chat, FollowFrost uses a short traditional interview to introduce a person and a story to your audience. Interactive elements in sync with the video can show photos, social media, or other context (e.g. a sidebar explaining 'carbon sequestration'). When you publish, the interview continues through crowdsourced questions to and video replies from your interview subject. This Q&A is seamlessly attached to the video, and follow-up questions come attached to the same profiles that you created in the original video.

      In a preview of this platform, members of the Knight-Mozilla Learning Lab emphasized ease of content-creation for journalists. Connecting profiles to specific times within videos is greatly simplified. There is no delay between inviting a person to answer questions on the site and seeing their profile and interactive video responses. Not one line of code is seen while creating these interactive pages.

Screencast and Workflow

Try the Web App

Viewer – Make: Live at Maker Faire Detroit 2011

      Maker Faire is an event for hackers, builders, and artists which has taken root in San Francisco, New York, Kenya, and now Detroit. Participants include hobbyists making robots, small businesses selling electronics, and welders converting old cars into dragons.

Recommend you view in Chrome or Firefox 4+. Double-click on timeline or use social navigation below video:

Editor A simple tool to add profiles by Twitter usernames. Drag and drop tags to indicate when people enter and leave your video:

If the app fails to open, click images for larger screenshots.

Open Innovation Overview

      The Knight-Mozilla News Partnership strives to create new experiences that apply and integrate open web technology. Many tools used to build FollowFrost are just now becoming widespread to users and publishers, and fall in the categories of “HTML5” or “the semantic web”.

      Mozilla's Popcorn.js project uses HTML5 video to connect interactive content to events in a single video. From my experience building, extending, and teaching Popcorn.js on, creating professional mash-ups involves time-consuming annotation and programming. FollowFrost takes on the role of websites' content-management systems (CMS) by writing the code, synchronized add-ons, and semantic context automatically. FollowFrost also addresses limits in the Popcorn.js platform with a server-side network, allowing you to string multiple videos into one stream, re-use profiles, and automatically tag incoming video responses from interviewers and interview subjects.

      The user interface includes HTML5 tools for viewers and journalists. As the viewer watches a video, they see a colorful ribbon instead of a drab timeline. The ribbon extracts colors from the video, making it possible to visually distinguish points on the timeline. This saves time and avoids an unnatural organization by chapters. Clicking the pause button uses the History API to add time directly to your URL. When editing, instead of declaring each entrance and exit of a person along with their details, you add people by Twitter names, and use HTML5 drag-and-drop to move their tags in and out of the video deck. This handles all Popcorn.js annotation and profile presentation code for publishing your mash-up.

Including Open Technology in your Business

      The internet as we know it would be impossible without open technologies. Developing a website with open platforms means that your project continues to evolve with the rest of the web, that your content will work on social networks now and in the future, and that innovative experiences built anywhere can be adopted by your organization. Time and time again, even in businesses where openness seems counter-intuitive, companies which embrace open technology develop richer connections with loyal customers, innovators in the technology community, and collaborators across networks. For this reason, I gladly opened this project as I have opened previous projects. I believe that I can benefit from the continuing evolution of Popcorn.js, while offering a substantially more complete alternative that can respond to brand new technologies such as Mozilla and Google's Web Intents.

      Although FollowFrost can make any interview more engaging, it is particularly useful for including experts in realtime news updates and follow-ups. The TED conference often stores speakers' talks for months or years before release at opportune times. Several pandemic-themed talks were released during the swine flu panic, with e-mail interviews printed to update their information. In FollowFrost, video follow-ups can be added to present an archived interview, or to add updates to a developing story in realtime, with the same profiles present on every video from your expert.

Sunday edit: now works in Firefox, added web intents, enabled social navigation.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FollowFrost front-end

My project from the #MozNewsLab is taking shape tonight, as I've committed to hacking it together and showing it off tomorrow.

This is what the "above the fold", pre-comments part looks like:

Everyone in the lab is interested in demonstrating that open web technologies make these projects possible, so I'll take a few moments to go over what's being used:

  • The video is using an open <video> tag or the equivalent, so that the rest of the page knows the time, url, and visual content of the video

  • The timeline is drawn live using a <canvas> element to display unique colors from the video itself. Instead of meticulous annotations of when segments begin and end, follow the colors. If you skip around the video, areas that you haven't watched yet will be blank.

  • You see presenters' profiles and Twitter feeds, so you can follow them or ask questions. I'm working on the journalist's interface, where you add people by their Twitter username and then drag and drop them (HTML5!) in and out of the cue when they enter and leave the video.

  • Your questions can be answered by videos, and these responses are added to the cue and automatically paired with the responder's information.

  • "On Deck" section (to be added) lets you jump ahead in the video. These sections will be easy to create and easy to link through the HTML5 History API.