Archive for the ‘Technology and Software’ Category

Avatars, Microformats and OpenID

so, duncan pointed me to their work on items and another wiki with information on non-human profiles. good stuff, all of it. the non-human profile stuff seems to be following my general schema — inherit things from hcard and add stats/gear/etc.

tho, there seems to be a push to port openid to fictional characters. i’m not so sure i buy into that.

we’re really talking about 2 kinds of avatars: a made up one that represents you (your icon in a forum post, for example) and the character in a game/virtual world you play (your wow character).

you don’t need an openid for the first one, as it’s you. that’s the whole “agent” relationship thing — and we already have openid for people.

and, in the second one — the reason openid exists is because there’s no consistent, authoritative source for information about people. there is, however, a source for games and virtual worlds. (or books or movies or anything else) it’s the game itself. the very nature of a game avatar is that it’s tied to that game.

however, i absolutely do agree that we need a “portable identity” for game avatars, but, we do not need a primary authority. and, as portable identity basically IS what microformats are for, well… there you go.


Google Maps and Microformats

well. i guess ask, and you shall receive. i was railing on about microformats and how cool they were and then google goes ahead and implements hcard for google maps.

hmmm… i wonder if there’s a “player” microformat. my friend duncan working over on the pmog project has created an item microformat. we need an avatar based one too, methinks.

how about this:

<div class="avatar">
	<span class="fn">m3mnoch</span>, 
	<span class="profession">Wiz</span>
	<div class="vcard" rel="user">
	 <a class="url fn" href="">Christopher D. Chapman</a>
	<a href="" class="org">Hypefighter</a>
	<dl class="attributes">
		<dt rel="ability">Strength</dt>
		<dt rel="skill">Melee Combat</dt>
		<dt rel="property">Height</dt>
		<dd>6' 2"</dd>
	<ul class="gear">
		<li class="equipment">Pickaxe</li>

that should start us off, eh?


Facebook, Pownce, MySpace, Twitter, Technorati, LastFM, WordPress…

two words: digital schizophrenia.

for god’s sake, people!  can we please consolidate some of this crap?

okay.  maybe that’s a little harsh.  but, it’s not just me.

it’s not like i’m asking for some kind of social network rpc solution.  (tho, that would be really cool!)  really, all i want is a mix of microformats and openid and a people search engine.

there are some profile aggregators and reputation management things out there, but, really, they’re just solving part of the problem.  i need something that follows along behind and cleans up after me. 

it’s not like it’s THAT hard.  it’s not like you have to be google and crawl 16 billion websites or something.  all you need are the top few thousand.  or even just the top few hundred social sites.

c’mon, mark, how hard is that?

i’ll even make is easy.  here’s the simple, 3-step pathway to world domination (i’d do it myself, but, dammit, i’m already taking over the world with other projects):

STEP 1: Data Collection

like i said, all you have to do is crawl the top 100 social/web 2.0 sites — to get the bulk of your information.  when people sign up, just ask them for their “handle,” name and email.  then crawl away.  (make sure you go grab all of their contacts too — very important in the next step.)  between blog search, facebook, orkut, friendster, bebo, linkedin and myspace, you should be able to build a pretty complete profile.

besides, you can always let them go back in and add their own profile links.

STEP 2: Relationships

now that you have their data, wrap this around their identity with openid.  now, you’ve got all of their links and contacts, you can start drawing the core relationship lines of a social network.  both bob and joe link to pages about sarah therefore, she’s a shared contact.

now, you have bob’s openid and sarah’s openid related to each other.  the power!

STEP 3: Reinforcement

there’s this cool philosophy/methodology/standard called microformats.  publish your data in every conceivable format (html, web services, gadgets and widgets, rss feeds, everything) and build it with microformats in mind.

become the information standard.  reward sites that use microformats with better search rankings.  build the larger network through cross-linked quantity (sheer bulk of profile data a site has) as well as quality (how detailed their microformat information is).


sell it all to yahoo or google or microsoft.  sit by the beach.  have a cocktail.  maybe even buy me one.

the key takeaway here is to crawl the web (and some highly targeted sites) with people in mind rather than content.

that’s really the difference in a content search engine and a people search engine.  you probably don’t care about edge cases or brochureware or anonymity.  you go to where the people are.  you care more about large forum sites than something content-rich like wikipedia.

to be honest, there are some sites on the cusp of figuring this all out.  technorati is really my personal favorite.  it just has two downfalls.  it’s terribly slow and all they care about is blogs and not other web content.

sigh…  there’s a lot more data out there other than some blog trackback, guys.


Social Ripping

so, i’ve said it before — i hate the riaa.

i’m firmly in the camp of “they are dinosaurs in their death throes.” and, when i read something like this:

The “social” ripping and burning of CDs among friends — which takes place offline and almost entirely out of reach of industry policing efforts — accounted for 37 percent of all music consumption, more than file-sharing, NPD said.

it just makes me fume! of course that’s the way it works! people are looking for new music. who do they go to? people they trust! people who like the same types of music.

here’s an equation for the riaa: lastfm + allofmp3 + affiliate programs – drm = phat lewt.

it’s so. goddamn. easy. help people discover new friends who have the same tastes in music and add an easy-to-use payment system. $0.15 per song. a nickel for the artist. a eight cents for the riaa and the site expenses. three cents for the friend that you downloaded from.

incentivize the legal transaction between friends — both old and newly discovered.

money will rain down from the heavens.


UPDATE: er.  math ftw.  two cents for your buddy — not three.  been doing too much trig lately.  it’s affecting my basic math….

Web-based MMOG Imagineering

i’ve been doing a lot of imagineering (man, i love that word) lately when it comes to web-based mmogs. lots of stuff running the gamut from super-secret ideas i can’t tell anyone about right now to general wonderings and observations.

well. i think i’ll just dump some of them out right here so i have them collected somewhere.

subscription fees are choice inhibiting.
paying those subscription fees certainly add up. i know you can say “well, just pay them for the 3 months you play and then get rid of them.”

no. it doesn’t work like that.

the thing with a subscription fee is that it represents commitment. there’s a high switching cost involved. and, since not very many people can afford to pay subscriptions for, oh, 15 games over the course of two years, you tend not to move on to those newer games. we basically have the wow effect where everyone is really only in a few games.

it really moves buying games into parallel with buying cars. you really like different models and styles, but, you have to make an informed decision about one — and only one — you’ll enjoy and use enough to make its acquisition worth it.

with non-subscription games, they are more like traditional media. more like movies or music. you just pop it in and play it whenever you want. you know that from purchase so there is no “will i use this in the future?” or “will i like this better than everquest?” or “will something better come along?”  the only factor is the “now” factor. how does buying it impact you right now?

non-subscription games are very much more pickup-putdown with no real switching cost. that lets you consume more game media.

web servers are more conducive to a persistent online world.
this one is tricky and i’m not going to try not to get too awful web-geeky on it.

the gist is that, for example, has millions of concurrent users — all of whom can be on the exact same page at the exact same time. that is absolutely no different performance-wise than all of those million people being on a million separate pages.

not only performance, but the web is better at information dissemination than a graphical, high-visual client.

for example, if these million players were all in one place on a wow server (assuming of course the server wouldn’t go chernobyl on the situation) you wouldn’t really be able to pick out any one particular player to attack or inspect or what-have-you. with something like the singular, you can just ask them how many users per page you want to see?

i mean, has anyone ever seen how many google results come up for the word “page?”

oh sure, you say, but there’s an immersive, graphical richness that can’t be achieved with this silly text and lightweight graphical environment called the web. to that, i say, use the best-of-breed parts of both. use the data layout of a web page and the graphically rich aspects of flash for your deeper spatial relation needs.

the future of mmogs is going to be about ajax-enabled rest applications.

event-based feedback consumable in sub-5 minute increments.
as you may know, signing on and logging into wow may take you a while. hell, it takes 5 minutes on a good day to get logged into something you can actually “play.”

contrast that with 3 or 4 seconds to get to a play screen with travian. your login credentials are cached so all you really need is a bookmark to your village overview.

now, with that same 5 minutes you’re logging into wow, i can check guild messages, send appropriate reinforcements, build a new building, train some additional troops and send out a spy mission — and still have time left over.

that’s a lot of gameplay compacted into a short amount of time.

and, that’s the kind of stuff you just can’t do in a 3d world.

by the time you wander over to the auction house, i’ve already hit the marketplace, scanned the available trades, accepted a trade, sent merchants and moved on to planning my next action. and that’s only if you happen to be close to the auction house when we start.

now that we’ve decided that gameplay interaction is faster with a web-based mmog, what can we do with it?

well. what makes gameplay addictive? incremental goals and achieving them, right? well. now, we can have more. more incremental goals and they can be closer together. it’s called instant gratification and it’s a goddamn drug.

and, what quality makes a game permeate throughout your life? being able to get in and get out of the world instantly. how easy is it to check your inbox for new messages? how easy is it to check the box score of the game last night? how easy is it to check what google’s stock closed at today? how easy is it to see if your reinforcements got attacked in your alliance?

answer: super-easy. mere seconds even.

that turns playing a game into a “walk-by” experience. busy working around the house? on an excel document? writing an email? tv commercialing?

multi-task gaming. pop-in. pop-out. top of mind.

and, we haven’t even touched the portability aspect.  connected to the same game on your treo 650?  yep, you sure are.

the web is the single most efficient content distribution channel in history.  mmogs, at their core, are just specialized, interactive content distribution in need of a super-efficient channel.


Encyclopedia of Video Game Knowledge

hmmm…  no.  this isn’t a link to one.  but, i think i can use hypefighter to kind of create one.  no, really.  hear me out.

so, hypefighter, aside from being a game, is basically a vertical implementation of digg (the recruiting) or (your bookmarks are your army) focusing on video games.  meaning, where those sites collect links that cover broad topics of information, hypefighter just aggregates information (news and bits) about video games.

for example, if there’s an article about water on hypefighter, well, it’s probably about rendering water in a game.  not say… the movie or the drink or the atoms involved.

so, we’re focused on video game information.  not only that, but collecting the “best” video game information as determined by our users.

so, here’s a thought:  anyone ever used google co-op’s custom search engine?

*bing*  i just saw andrew’s light bulb go on!

yep.  so, i can integrate the sites submitted to hypefighter into a custom search engine courtesy of the folks at google.  that means we can build a searchable aggregate of the best (not according to spammers or google or anyone other than us) video game information on the planet.

can i get a “word!”  going vertical kicks ass.

i totally know what i’m going to do tonight….


DVD Consumer Confusion

consumer 1:
“you want blu-ray to go with your new tv!”

consumer 2, as he’s hooking up his home theatre:
“what’s a blue ray?”

consumer 1:
“it’s a high definition dvd for your hdtv.”

consumer 2:
“ok. cool. so, i can just ask for an hd dvd player?”

consumer 1:
“no, no, no. hd dvd is something different. the two formats are incompatible. you want blu-ray. it’s named after it’s blue laser.”

consumer 2:
“ah. got it. so, what color is the laser on an hd dvd player?”

consumer 1:
“um…. blue.”

consumer 2, muffled behind his receiver, plugging in cables:
“so. wait. what do i want to get again? the hd dvd format with the blue laser? or the blue ray format that’s not a high defintion dvd?”

consumer 1:

consumer 2, gets his progressive scan dvd player hooked up:
“oh, hey! check this out! look at how good my dvds look in hd now on my new hdtv! man, i love this high definition dvd stuff!”

consumer 1:


HypeFighter Article Feed

you may have noticed that i added a cool hypefighter article feed over on the right.

right now, it’s just the newest articles for the whole site.  eventually, the goal is to be able to add a feed for popular stories, my stories recruited or stories i’ve submitted.  that way, when, you know, a bazillion people are using it, you will still get a fresh feed of what i think is cool.  not some 12-year old laotian boy who likes pokemon.

ben.  you’ll want to subscribe if you’re to keep up that retardedly huge army of yours.


Fun with Words

so.  some of you may have seen that text analysis done on the recent ces/macworld keynotes.  i’ll tell you what, that text analysis tool is pretty damn cool.

so, here’s what i did:  i just quickly dug up some justifiably breathy text from myself, raph koster, tycho and that famous nwn flower-power ngj review mashed them up and barfed them through the analysis.

the results?


Total Word Count: 1575
Total Unique Words: 637
Number of Sentences: 71
Average Words per Sentence: 22.24
Hard Words: 122 (7.75%) (what’s this?)
Lexical Density: 40.44% (what’s this?)
Fog Index: 11.97 (what’s this?)


Total Word Count: 657
Total Unique Words: 360
Number of Sentences: 34
Average Words per Sentence: 19.34
Hard Words: 51 (7.76%) (what’s this?)
Lexical Density: 54.79% (what’s this?)
Fog Index: 10.83 (what’s this?)


Total Word Count: 983
Total Unique Words: 409
Number of Sentences: 117
Average Words per Sentence: 8.43
Hard Words: 82 (8.34%) (what’s this?)
Lexical Density: 41.61% (what’s this?)
Fog Index: 6.70 (what’s this?)


Total Word Count: 737
Total Unique Words: 399
Number of Sentences: 26
Average Words per Sentence: 28.34
Hard Words: 66 (8.96%) (what’s this?)
Lexical Density: 54.14% (what’s this?)
Fog Index: 14.92 (what’s this?)

what does any of that mean?  well.  the fog index slays me.  heh.  or, rather, it means i’m easy to understand.

ha!  hardly.

it just means that all those short, staccato sentences i keep peppering my prose with are hurty my average sentence length.  i mean, really?  119 sentences?  whew.  (ha!  that was three right there!)

not that i care much about sentence length.  i enjoy controlling the ebs and flows of my text.

now, if only i’d figure out where the damn shift key is….


Rumor Alert: Blu-Ray Diodes

so, it comes from an “insider” over at

Firstly, the success rate of the diodes is said to be 30% right now – a frighteningly shite percentage, considering a million are supposed to be out by the year’s end.

and this:

And let’s just say that those in charge of a certain key exclusives (ones I can’t name explicitly by pain of death) are moving their wares to both machines as a result of this.

sounds pretty much like poo i’ve been flinging for about a year now.


if only people would just listen to me and do what i say instead of making their own opinions, the world would be a much better place.  heh.

[in my best white goodman impression] i’m just joking, of course.  (okay, not really…)  no really!  (nope — not really.)