Tag Archives: just thinking about stuff is underated in the technology industry

What is human-robot metacommunication?


Chris Chesher, Unversity of Sydney, describes the conceptual challenges that robotics poses for media and communication studies. While this is still in press and subject to change, I found that this list is something I will want to refer to again! The transition from broadcast media to the internet and mobile media is complicated. Just as some theoretical models have emerged to understand computers, a ‘universal’ medium, the rise of robotics is going to create new layers of differentiation.

a. Robots are explicitly quasi-others, challenging traditional Humanist taboos against the agency and anthropomorphism of objects.

b. Robots have physical particularity, presence and autonomous activity, in contrast to other media such as printed, audio and screen-based media, which tend to be positioned as transparent and standardised and mass-produced media.

c. Robots use multimodal elements (movements, sound, screens, ‘emotion’) that aspire to create meanings that combine several media (facial expressions, movement relative to personal space, speech and so on).

d. Robots work with greater degrees of feedback than traditional computers. Robots perceive and interpret user actions, and modify their behavior within cybernetic loops.

I think that there may need also to be a separation between the metacommunication of robot as human proxy and the very specific and asymmetric human-robot and robot-human communication. Chris Chesher is one of the few theorists I’m aware of who attempts to deconstruct what a robot communication is.

[image of Waseda Talker 2007 – one of a series replicating human vocal production ]

Alarm clock is new internet fridge!

Only being online is probably optional. What I need is a customizable context sensitive alarm clock. Nagware that is aware. Ideal for the iPhone if it could run in the background.

Imagine a gentle awakening at 6 which turns into a suggestion that you go for a walk if you get up before 6.30. Lovely weather for it! And if you’re still lounging about at 6.30 the siren starts.

How about getting a gentle prompt at 8 to finish breakfast for all of the family and pack your bags for the day. Or start music practise.

Naturally not on Saturday. Or Sunday. Or on Wednesday which is early morning at school. And imagine 3 hours of different programming in different rooms as each member of family goes off to sleep!

Creating Passionate Users: Code like a girl


The full text of Kathy Sierra’s seminal piece “Code like a girl” is central to gender art technology discussions.

Hackers and Painters: Paul Graham: TippingPointLabs: YCombinator: YongFook: Egg.Co: SweetCron: LifestreamBlog: Mark Krynsky:

Too much STUFF to read and do. I think I’ll go play football and postpone the where is my blog moving and what is it turning into discussion again.

Dr Georgina Child – surprising science – linked irradiated gourmet pet food to unexplained cat deaths

Dr Georgina Child
BVSc DACVIM (Neorology)

A series of mysterious cat deaths was caused by the government-mandated practice of irradiating imported pet food. The Agriculture Minister, Tony Burke, has ordered the controversial sterilisation process, which has been in place for more than a decade, to cease immediately, following compelling overseas evidence that some cats can suffer fatal neurological damage after eating irradiated dry food. Dogs do not appear to be affected by similarly treated food.

About 90 cats fell ill last year and 30 died before a Sydney vet, Georgina Child, made the link in November between the mystery illness and a brand of Canadian gourmet pet food called Orijen.

The manufacturer, Champion Petfoods, blamed the contaminated food on Australian quarantine regulations, which demand that pet food not cooked over a specified temperature undergo irradiation of 50 kiloGrays upon arrival in the country. Of the 60 countries Champion Petfoods exports to, only Australia makes irradiation compulsory.

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and the company that carries out the process, Steritech, insisted at the time the irradiation process was harmless. A limited range of imported human foods, including dried herbs and some tropical fruits, are also irradiated before landing on store shelves, but at much lower levels than that mandated for pet food. Mr Burke said the inspection service decided to act in response to international reports his department received only late last week. Work was being done in state and federal governments to see how safety standards for pet food could be improved.

This is right up there with the NZ schoolgirls discovering NO Vitamin C in Ribena.