Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Ideas That Happened... Not Because Of Me

Years and years and years ago I wanted to do this really interesting piece of performance art. Basically get a bunch of people in Auckland who, upon hearing a certain piece of music in town on a particular day, would suddenly stop, do the Charleston (in whatever form that may be), then when the music stopped, also stop and continue on as if nothing had happened.

The idea would be to have a few people walking around with backpacks on - those backpacks would contain audio equipment and a way to receive signals to turn that equipment on and off.

So over a few hours, there would be this really strange thing happening. People would suddenly stop and dance and then carry on with their lives leaving everyone around them wondering what the hell was going on. And hopefully, random people would just join in figuring it looked like fun.

Basically I had come up with the flash mob. Sure, the wireless communications was different than what I was thinking. And I still like my distributed scale a lot more than one very set area. Oh and the fact that the dance didn't have to be synchronized - instead it could be an individual's interpretation of a dance (Yes, I did think about it to this level). But yeah... basically a flash mob. (Anyone interested in living my dream of it? 50 odd people of so...).

It turns out I kind of had a concept of the single board computer... Wait... back up. A single board computer.... like Raspberry Pi, the MK802's, ODROID, Parallella etc. Basically nerd (or should that be "NURD"?) toys. What can you do with them? Well to me they represent a hacking culture. They're not really designed for anything in particular. Well okay... they all kind of have their aims but then, those aims only really achieve anything with people and their imaginations.

I'm thinking of turning a Raspberry Pi into a DVD player for example. Why? Because then I'd have control of it! It'd be the software I chose in the configuration I want it to be in. That's the power of these boards.

I'm making a very tenuous link between an idea I had and these things. I was looking at the ODROID today and realised that they were doing something very similar to what I was thinking. You see, with MP3 players, you'd kind of stuck with a vendor's configuration. What if you could make it completely modular?

So you could upgrade your decoder chip to support not only mp3's but also ogg. You could change the processor for a bit more grunt to do things like video - which might also require an upgrade to the screen. You could be a complete audiophile and get an expensive DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter) which could then reproduce FLAC files more faithfully etc. Basically be able to start off with something really amazingly cheap, and upgrade it, pimp it, make it beastier than thou to your hearts content. You could change the software to add things like graphical equalizers and the like.

That leaves the user with the decisions around price, functionality, quality etc. Okay, the link is very tenuous.. Though it's almost exactly the same thing. You're in control. It's a computing device that you decide how much you want to spend and that mostly relates to how good it is (though the value may be more in the community than the hardware itself). You know what it is you're buying.

I've long had this idea (which as far as I can see has never been done successfully) around hospitality. A directory of hospitality places - places to go for coffee, a drink, a kebab (my food of choice when at conferences) - all on the one easily searchable website and have reviews, essentially make up homepages (and hopefully include menus and photographs of the place) etc. you could be charging the places something like... $10 a month.... The value add is being able to search the damn thing based on an area (a map...), being able to pick a food type (vegetarian, vegan, gluton free, Indian, Chinese etc.) and perhaps even being able to find a hotel... Advertising is no longer about road side advertising but rather, you can find that reasonably priced hole in the wall with the most amazing food... So if anyone wants to take that and run with it... be my quest. If you do succeed... perhaps you could take me out for a coffee or a drink or something...

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