Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Crisis in Iraq Interactive WSJ
A creative interactive showing the day by day news events out of Iraq, as located on a map.

The calendar is a nice touch; pme little broken thing is that, if you click on the calendar date, the corresponding text element is not highlighted; the reverse does work. And I wish the ethnicities would stay up.

Then one wonders what the next steps should be. Should we be able to show events, say for the past four months in Mosul? Or by ethnic area, or by province? Can we make this tie in with videos? Or stories? How hard would it be to have the captions robot-read?

What should a next-gen story-telling platform looks like?
History On the Summertime Road II - Jamestown 400
We couldn't go to the east shore in 2007 without a stop by Jamestown to mark the 400th anniversary of the settling of the US! The brand-spankin new visitors center was of course open, and settling into normal mode (following visits by the Queen, W, and hosts of world-wide dignitaries). It was a highly pleasant day, no fleas bit, the sun was tolerable, and the archaeologists more than amiable and talkative. The pit they'd begun last summer when we visited is now a completely open area exposing a 10 foot 17th century brick wall face, and what was beginning to look suspiciously like a brick staircase. The digging that afternoon was what they call "recordkeeping": scraping very small bits away to watch for slight changes in soil color, texture, and content. And such a change was emerging, as an ash color appeared slowly out of the more reddish brown substrate.

Meanwhile, unbothered that day on the riverside clay wall face, protruded what is surely a sword hilt.

If you go, get the archaeologists talking. There are also volunteers who act as guides around the digs, who are very informed. Remember, for the past 200 years, we thought all this was lost to river and sea! Yet in the past 10, over 100,000 artifacts have been pulled out! Of course, go to the Archaearium.

As to the visitors center, well, too many PhD's got involved. Rather than tell a good story, they regressed to "Critical Skills" and Multiculturalism" theory, and filled the walls with overwhelming dry expository. The videography of the introductory film was state of the practice, the content focused too much on Multiculturalism and too little on real events and real--flesh, blood, and feelings--people.

Alas, we didn't catch up with Dick Cheatham, or whoever was appearing in character that day--'twas not John Rolfe as we so enjoyed last year. But if you go, do try to fit in a session with the historic interpreter of the day.

Oh, and don't forget to visit the APVA's Jamestown website and Jamestown Rediscovery site. They have two interactives for "You are the Archeologist", a nice html interactive of the Fort James excavation area, and plenty more to plan, follow up on, or substitute for a very pleasant visit! The Park Service operates a separate site.

Finally, we still didn't get to experience Jamestown Settlement, or its brother, Yorktown Victory Center. If you're takin kids, and planning more than a brief pass through, don't forget to budget for these excellent resources!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cyc 101 -- Cycorp, Inc.
Yes, your opportunity to spend three days learning how to make a machine world-smart is just around the corner. ... Maybe. It says in one place Fall '07. Elsewhere is says they planned it for April.

I came to Cyc this morn on perusing mine own resume, which lists me as a follower of Cyc/OpenCyc and the CRL/KRL languages and ontologies which proceeded Cyc. This effort is starting to look like the building of a Gothic cathedral. We knew it would take awhile, but golly gee, fifteen years and they're just up to version 1.0!!

The world has changed enormously since Cyc started - the Internet ran on 9.6kbps modems and was thinking of adding gif images. So what have the Cyc crew been up to all this time? I suspect it has much to do with some folk who work in Langley and Ft. Meade, but...

Anyway, if you ever say, "I wish things would just slow down", why take a gander at CycCorp!
History on the Summertime Road
The human body simply requires an occasional return to the sea, and a UV-filled reminder that we belong outdoors. That objective in aim, we took to the road last week.

The first and best encounter: Horn in the West, the 56th season outdoor drama of Daniel Boone's west and the coming of the Revolution. What an awesome way to spend an evening, and what a tremendous job these summer production companies do for young actors. I'm jealous that we weren't able this summer to similarly work with college developers.

There are side stories of commitment here. How consistent are you? You know that Cal Ripken played 21 seasons, sixteen without missing a game? Glenn Causey played the role of Daniel Boone for 41 seasons without missing a show! Dr. Kermit Hunter, script author, wrote forty other historical dramas, taking up the baton from Paul Green, of our own Trumpet in the Land and the Roanoke (Outer Banks)' Lost Colony.

The story itself of course just leaves more questions. How accurate is it? Why did Daniel disappear just when the war called? Has modern research altered the script? Should it?

And for our own interests, what parts of this can we bring to online, interactive, sound-and-motion storytelling? Are they on Youtube. etc? Can they be?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Building Community
Wondering about the lack of posts lately? The stand-down is deliberate. This site should be a vibrant community; it's been more like a tea party with stuffed toys and dollies. So..we're working at other tacks.

Read below for some good measures of the state of interactive education. We can do much, much netter if we work together. Whether your concern is the poor education of inner cities and minorities, the dearth of humanities education, the loss of connection with Western History and universal values, or just cool art and technology, there's a place here for you.

Call, email, twitter, comment, or carrier-pigeon me. I'd like to hear your thoughts.

(Oh, and its summer. I've been building trails and park, hosting community music/beerfests, and am heading to the mountains. We'll be soon fresh to hit this hard.)