Movies vs Games. They’re Not the Same

A remark by Will Wright picked up by Jason Kottke captures why movies and computer games are different, and why we should not think one is going to edge out the other. I would add something else: Computer games allow us to experience emotion, while movies allow us to feel those emotions vicariously. We have no control over those emotions on film, since they’re being manipulated by the director of the movie — sometimes crassly, sometimes brilliantly. But we are passengers. With computer games we are in the driving seat.

clipped from

Notes from Will Wright’s keynote at SXSW 2007. “Movies have these wonderful things called actors, which are like emotional avatars, and you kinda feel what they’re feeling, it’s very effective. Films have a rich emotional palette because they have actors. Games often appeal to the reptilian brain – fear, action – but they have a different emotional palette. There are things you feel in games – like pride, accomplishment, guilt even! – that you’ll never feel in a movie.”

PR Pushes TiddlyWikis

An interesting development, according to Netimperative – The UK PR industry gets online trade body:

Public Relations Online (PRO), a new UK forum designed to promote the role of the Internet in the PR industry, has launched this week. The forum aims to educate the PR industry about the technologies and techniques needed to respond to the challenges of online communications. PRO is being launched by digital PR firms Market Sentinel and immediate future.

They are joined by contributors from Abakus Internet Marketing, Blogging Planet, Brand Energy Research, Creative Virtual, Custom Communications, Internet Reputation Services, Onalytica, Sitelynx and Tiddlywiki.

 Must confess I haven’t heard of any of those, but I love TiddlyWiki (shame they spelt it wrong.) I would love to see that tool go mainstream. If you haven’t checked out what it’s all about, do so. It’s basically a personal database in a single HTML file. There’s a great website dedicated to tips about using TiddlyWikis, a tutorial and a world map of TiddlyWiki users, courtesy of Frappr (I’m on it and I’m pumped to see how many users there are in this corner of the globe, although I still seem to be the only one working out of Indonesia.)

Bruce on Phishing: It’s the Banks, Stupid

Bruce Schneier again talks sense, this time about phishing: Schneier on Security: Phishing

Financial companies have until now avoided taking on phishers in a serious way, because it’s cheaper and simpler to pay the costs of fraud. That’s unacceptable, however, because consumers who fall prey to these scams pay a price that goes beyond financial losses, in inconvenience, stress and, in some cases, blots on their credit reports that are hard to eradicate. As a result, lawmakers need to do more than create new punishments for wrongdoers — they need to create tough new incentives that will effectively force financial companies to change the status quo and improve the way they protect their customers’ assets.

(Here’s the full column at Wired, and here’s a discussion on Slashdot.)

Regular readers of this column will know this is similar to what I’ve been harping on about for a while although this is much better written and argued than anything I’ve said. Banks have got to accept responsibility for the problem, and devise solutions. To be fair, some are: My bank has finally gotten around to issuing SecurID-type number pads, and secondary authorisation for online credit card transactions.


I’m blown away by some of the amazing, but simple, stuff people are doing with tags and Ajax and all these other things I only dimly understand. What’s great is I don’t really need to understand them, I just need to be able to use them and see them as useful.

Here’s yet another candidate: direc.tor: Delivering A High-Performance AJAX Web Service Broker from a guy called Johnvey Hwang: direc.tor is a prototype for an alternative web-based rich UI for It leverages the XML and XSL services of modern browsers to deliver a responsive interface for managing user accounts with a large number of records.

The main features are:

* In-browser handling of bookmarks (tested up to 12,000 records)
* Find-as-you-type searching of all your bookmarks, with basic search operators
* Sort by description, tags, or timestamp
* Ad-hoc tag browser

Simple looking, but it does a neat job of enabling you to look through your tags easily. John explains his plan thus:

I have always been intrigued by the idea of using a client-side application to act as a service broker, integrating various services like Google Maps, Flickr, and Unfortunately, after doing the research, I found that the security blocks in the browser prevent normal untrusted code to poll sites that are not from the same server, so that grand service idea couldn’t be a reality. What I was able to do, though, was provide a service for a single website:

Part research, part appreciation for, direc.tor is a prototype for an alternative web-based rich UI for It leverages the XML and XSL services of modern browsers to deliver a responsive interface for managing user accounts with a large number of records. Try it out, and let me know what you think.


A Directory Of Bookmark Managers

Here’s the beginnings of a directory of social bookmark manager/taglike storage facilities. That’s a mouthful, but the list isn’t:

  • furl: The blurb: Save a personal copy of any page on the Web with a single click. Search the full text of your entire archive in an instant. Share what you find through email, RSS or your own site, automatically. See what others are saving and discover new, useful information. Access your archive from any computer, anywhere. It’s free to sign up, and quick and easy to install
  • The blurb: is a social bookmarks manager. It allows you to easily add sites you like to your personal collection of links, to categorize those sites with keywords, and to share your collection not only between your own browsers and machines, but also with others.
  • Spurl The blurb: is a free on-line bookmarking service and search engine. It allows you to store and quickly access again all the interesting pages you find on the web from any Internet connected computer.
  • Spurlbar The blurb: The spurlbar is an extension for FireFox, which lets you to use bookmarking service easily.
  • flickr The blurb: almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world.
  • Simpy The blurb: social bookmarking and personal search engine
  • StumbleUpon The blurb: a network of people and pages. It is a free tool which helps you browse, review and share webpages while meeting new people.
  • Powermarks The blurb: Bookmark Manager and Personal Search Engine
  • Netvouz
  • FavoritesFinder

As ever, suggestions for more gratefully received.

Directory of MindMapping Software

Bubblus Update, Feb 15 2007. An online mapping tool that’s cute but questionable in its mindmapping credentials: In fairness, it talks more about brainstorming than mindmapping, but I’m surprised that it’s not easy to add branches to all four sides of each little box. You can, apparently, share your work with others, which makes sense, but it’s still a little too rough around the edges for me.

Here’s some mind mapping software for Windows or the Mac. Additions welcome.

Some resources:

News: Six Degrees Reborn

 I think Friendster is probably a more dynamic version of this experiment, but it’s interesting anyway. Duncan J. Watts, author and Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia, has launched an experiment to update the 1967 findings of social psychologist Stanley Milgram who coined the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’ by testing the hypothesis that members of any large social network would be connected to each other through short chains of intermediate acquaintances.
The test is basically to give folk a package and ask them to pass it onto someone who could deliver it by hand to the addressee. They then hand it onto someone they know who may be more likely to know that person, or someone who knows that person, etc etc. As Watts points out, Milgram’s experiment was flawed, and didn’t really prove the hypothesis. So it could be interesting. Sign up if you want to participate.
My tupennies worth: As Malcom Gladwell’s excellent “The Tipping Point” points out not all people are equal. Some folk know no-one (me) and some know everybody (my friends Grainne and Ditta) so in my case I’d just give the package to them.