Friday, November 28, 2008

The Eyes Have It

A little over a week ago, I was in a two day workshop on Instructional Coaching. One of the conversations drifted to video recording the coach and/or the partner teacher to deconstruct lessons. The facilitator raised questions about how comfortable people would be with being recorded and there were many nodding heads. But just that morning, I had seen the Playskool dance cam advertised on TV.

Then, while skimming news feeds during the session, I came across this article on boingboing about a woman who lost an eye in an accident and would like it replaced with a webcam. Is camera shy becoming a generation gap issue? There are cameras everywhere; people are always taking pictures. Video is close behind. We have already seen early uses and abuses of this.

Trend Watch and the Mutation of Preference has announced Flu Trend. This highly altruistic example of the power of mass aggregation of data must have all sorts of people salivating. Imagine being able to sort through all the signal noise and accurately predict an emerging trend. High tech cool hunting.

Researchers in Sweden have been working with little robots that emit patterns of light. When the person interacting with the robots sees a pleasing pattern, she gives the robot a shake. Robot A then goes out into the crowd of robots; when Robot A makes contact with Robot B, the pattern is passed on. Only the pattern is not static. Robot B had its own pattern, so when Robot A’s pattern is acquired it doesn’t so much replace Robot B’s pattern as alter it. Call it recombinant, or even mutated.

Assembly Required

So, cameras are everywhere; robots recognize the patterns we prefer and communicate those patterns to other robots; like a game of genetically-enhanced telephone, the patterns mutate; before anyone is even fully aware of what is happening, Google assembles the larger patterns that emerge from our expression of preferences and predicts any number of behavioral trends--traffic patterns, fashion trends, criminal activity.


Photo credits
Playskool Dance Cam
Flu Trends graph
Woman holding eyeball

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