HBR Breakthrough Ideas for 2008: ARG

From the Harvard Business Review’s list of Breakthrough Ideas for 2008:

In the coming decade, many businesses will achieve their greatest breakthroughs by playing games—specifically, alternate reality games, or ARGs. Custom-designed ARGs will enable companies to build powerful collaboration networks, discover solutions to specific business problems, forecast opportunities, and innovate more reliably and quickly.

ARGs are immersive, massively multiplayer experiences that unfold in the course of people’s real lives for days, weeks, or months. ARG designers, known as “puppet masters,” distribute thousands of story pieces, puzzles, and missions via websites, e-mail, mobile messaging, online video, and podcasts. The players who receive these building blocks use wikis, social networking sites, chat rooms, and blogs to analyze clues, debate interpretations, devise mission strategies, predict game events, and ultimately build a common narrative. (Harvard Business Review)

Mariko Takahashi’s Fitness Video

This is a mesmerizing and frightening video. It’s a word-for-word parody of Susan Powter’s first workout video, featuring poodles and a crazy poodle-woman. Absolutely surreal. It was made by Nagi Noda for Panasonic. It was part of 10 films they made for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Reprap: The self-replicating replicator

RepRap will make plastic, ceramic, or metal parts, and is itself made from plastic parts, so it will be able to make copies of itself. It is a three-axis robot that moves several material extruders. These extruders produce fine filaments of their working material with a paste-like consistency. If RepRap were making a plastic cone, it would use its plastic extruder to lay down a quickly-hardening filament of molten plastic, drawing a filled-in disc. It would then raise the plastic extrusion head and draw the next layer (a smaller filled disc) on top of the first, repeating the process until it completed the cone. To make an inverted cone it would also lay down a support material under the overhanging parts. The support would be removed when the cone was complete. Conductors can be intermixed with the plastic to form electronic circuits – in 3D even!

This process is called fused deposition modeling; machines that do this are called 3D printers, rapid prototypers, or fabbers. They are very useful. Unfortunately they are also very expensive – €20,000 or more – and existing models don’t self-replicate. The RepRap build cost will be less than €400 for the bought-in materials, all of which have been selected to be as widely available everywhere in the world as possible. Also, the RepRap software will work on all computer platforms for free. Complete open-source instructions and plans are published on this website for zero cost and available to everyone so, if you want to make one yourself, you can. (reprap.com)

The Trouble With Five

We are all familiar with the simple ways of tiling the plane by equilateral triangles, squares, or hexagons. These are the three regular tilings: each is made up of identical copies of a regular polygon — a shape whose sides all have the same length and angles between them — and adjacent tiles share whole edges, that is, we never have part of a tile’s edge overlapping part of another tile’s edge.

In this collection of tilings by regular polygons the number five is conspicuously absent. Why did I not mention a regular tiling by pentagons? It turns out that no such tiling can exist, and it’s not too hard to see why: a regular pentagon has five interior angles of 108°. If we try to place pentagons around a point, we find that three must leave a gap — because 3 × 108 = 324, which is less than the 360° of the full circle — and four must overlap — because 4 × 108 = 432, which is more than the 360° of the circle (plus.maths.org)

David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — And Megastars


The fact that Radiohead debuted its latest album online and Madonna defected from Warner Bros. to Live Nation, a concert promoter, is held to signal the end of the music business as we know it. Actually, these are just two examples of how musicians are increasingly able to work outside of the traditional label relationship. There is no one single way of doing business these days. There are, in fact, six viable models by my count. That variety is good for artists; it gives them more ways to get paid and make a living. And it’s good for audiences, too, who will have more — and more interesting — music to listen to. Let’s step back and get some perspective. (Wired)


levelHead is a spatial memory game by Julian Oliver. It uses a cube – with an image on each face – as its only interface.

It uses a Sony EyeToy camera to capture the image and a screen to present the computed result.

‘Inside’ the cube are six rooms, each of which are logically connected by a network of doors. By tilting the cube you lead a character around the rooms.

Some doors lead nowhere and will send you back to the beginning. You have just 120 seconds to find the exit of each cube and move to the next.

There are five cubes (levels) in total and just as you imagine, the traps become increasingly difficult to avoid. (julianoliver.com)

Toronto Conflict mod for Half-Life 2

City 7: Toronto Conflict, is an action packed Half-Life 2 mod with a variety of unique levels and game play. Explore what has become of City 7 in areas like Dundas square, Eaton Center , Mel Lastman square, St. Michael’s Hospital and TTC system under the Combine rule. This version features Gordon Freeman as the main character, stuck in Toronto due to a teleporting accident in Kleiner’s lab. Try to escape this war torn city by finding any type of teleporting technology and send him back to City 17. (torontoconflict.com)