Archive for November, 2005

Hive Mind Pixelmania

November 29, 2005

Mark Gaved has just tipped me off (via a Slashdot posting) to this 2002 Kevan Davis creation, called ‘The Smaller Picture‘, an example of hive-mind audience emergence (thousands of remote users tweak pixels to create an image). The instruction next to the evolving group-creation on the right says “The collective consciousness is attempting to create a computer. Should the pink pixel be … [Black] or [White]?” Users vote from afar, and the picture evolves accordingly. Numerous other images are under construction in a similar fashion.

This is a little too ‘batch mode’ and ‘group-voting oriented for my taste, but nevertheless a very good stab at audience emergence.

Then there’s ‘Pixelfest’, a more modern variant, worth checking out in this blog posting and the Pixelfest site.

My recollection from when I looked at this years ago is that there is in fact tons of stuff around if you Google for things like ‘web graffiti’ or ‘graffiti wall’.

I’m much more interested in real-time “hive-mind audience emergence”. See my three related earlier postings on GridMania collected here, and also on CitiTag.

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Massively Automated Photo Tagging

November 11, 2005

Riya is the hot buzz around the airwaves right now. Caramba, check out what TechCrunch has to say about one of the first/only hands-on previews:

The process starts with registration and choosing a privacy setting on your pictures. You then download a client application that uploads photos you choose to include in Riya. The actual uploading takes a while – about 4 hours for each GB of photos. Instead of waiting around, Riya will email you when the process is complete.

That’s when the fun starts. In my case about 400 pictures were uploaded. I was presented with a view of facial thumbnails of everyone in my photos. Riya asks that you begin to educate it by telling it who the people are…it then very quickly starts to auto-tag pictures with a surprising level of accuracy.

Riya also recognizes text in photos, and lets you select any area of a photo and tag that as well. For instance, you could select just the Eiffel Tower in a photo and tag it as such. Within moments, everything of importance in all of my photos was tagged. And more importantly, it was searchable.

It’s an easy step to allow friends to also tag and search your photos (if you choose), and even allow full public search.

Linking these two features – massively automated tagging of everything in photos, with search, is compelling to say the least. The folks at Riya call it “tag locally, search globally”.

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Windows Live – Skype-ish, virtual desktop, more

November 3, 2005

Michael Arrington writes (on TechCrunch), Windows Live – More than an AJAX Desktop:

Windows Live is a free, ad-supported AJAX virtual desktop. Most of the functionality could be seen in the Microsoft sandbox project called Start, which we profiled a couple of months ago.

However, Microsoft has added plenty of new features that add a lot of value to the product. Among them are email integration, a new instant messaging client, plaxo-like contact management and skype-like features that allow outgoing calls to normal POTS phones. Windows Live is also extensible via “gadgets”. After what I saw today, I despair for many a silicon valley startup.

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Free community wireless, step 2: OLSR

November 2, 2005

Having installed the firmware upgrade on the Linksys WRT54G as blogged previously, Saul then took us through the configuration steps to create our own WiFi mesh network and distribute it through the top floor of our lab. Cool!

The key resources were at OLSR.ORG, which in turn references IETF.ORG/rfc/rfc3626.txt. From OLSR.ORG:

The OLSR daemon is an implementation of the Optimized Link State Routing protocol. OLSR is a routing protocol for mobile ad-hoc networks. The protocol is pro-active, table driven and utilizes a technique called multipoint relaying for message flooding. Currently the implementation compiles on GNU/Linux, Windows, OS X, FreeBSD and NetBSD systems.
Olsrd is ment to be a well structured and well coded implementation that should be easy to maintain, expand and port to other platforms. The implementation is RFC3626 compliant with respect to both core and auxiliary functioning.

From IETF:

The Optimized Link State Routing Protocol (OLSR) is developed for mobile ad hoc networks. It operates as a table driven, proactive protocol, i.e., exchanges topology information with other nodes of the network regularly. Each node selects a set of its neighbor nodes as “multipoint relays” (MPR). In OLSR, only nodes, selected as such MPRs, are responsible for forwarding control traffic, intended for diffusion into the entire network. MPRs provide an efficient mechanism for flooding control traffic by reducing the number of transmissions required.

Generally speaking, our little hands-on trial worked very well. We had to be careful not to clash with the MKSchools.Net infrastructure that is supported from a wireless transmission point just above where Saul was running our hands-on activities (and which supports about 25,000 school children in Milton Keynes)! But KMi’s Lewis McCann and the OU’s Phil Thomas had earlier agreed on the setup and channels that were safe to use, and all ran pretty smoothly. The handful of laptops we had set up were able to leapfrog across the distributed Linksys boxes and out onto the Internet (when one laptop node was connected appropriately), though overzealous plugging and unplugging of ethernet cables sometimes led to a little confusion as external access came and went.

Thanks to Saul and Jo for some illuminating discussions – we move on to the general brainstorming sessions tomorrow!

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Free community wireless, step 1: hack Linksys WRT54G

November 2, 2005

Here I am attending the Saul Albert and Jo Walsh free local network workshop, which follows on from the seminar I just blogged below… step 1 is to install a firmware upgrade (from to the Linksys WRT54G Wireless Broadband Router… the box itself has recently been altered to disallow this upgrade, so this little song-and-dance depends on the right serial number being on the box!

Looking good thus far…

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Map hacking, semantic web meta-apps, calendaring, communities

November 2, 2005

Woohooo… Jo Walsh, free software hacker and co-author of “Mapping Hacks” (O’Reilly), is in KMi today presenting her work on “nodel: a tiny framework for building semantic web meta-applications” and related work that pulls together aspects of the semantic web, GIS, and wireless networks. Part of a larger gig/hands-on 2-day workshop here that Jo and Saul Albert are running … hey, for this I’m a willing student!

Check out this summary of today’s talk.

See her stuff on mapping, bots, semantic web, and loads more at, openstreetmap, and a spatial wiki at

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