Archive for July, 2007

Innovation in Transportation

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

tireHere’s an opportunity: My bike got stolen again! This is particularly detrimental because I don’t drive (waiting on teleportation, but until then counting on legs of steel!). And normally I would feel violated, but since this was my fourth bike stolen and/or obliterated since January, it’s become a really funny joke. Probably as punishment for riding on the sidewalk when cops aren’t looking.

Anyway, clearly I cannot retain a bike, so this calls for some innovative thinking. I had an electric scooter when I briefly lived in LA. It exploded in an intersection.

I thought long and hard, and the new plan is to get a unicycle. Because who wants to steal a unicycle? At least if they steal it, they will look like an idiot riding it away, or like a bear with a top hat. Additionally, I can bring it into the library/cafe/whatever for extra protection. This plan is bulletproof.

Apparently this is nothing new for the game industry. Other notable game peepz famously ride unicycles and Jesse Schell was a circus performer, not sure about unicycle abilities, but pretty close, and Ron can fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Look out, world!

This is What I Learned About Humans! (interesting stats on Human Brain Cloud)

Monday, July 16th, 2007

kids1.gifMy just-for-fun side project Human Brain Cloud, (online game that gives you a word, you type in the first thing that comes to mind, and it builds a big network of connected words etc) has been up for almost two weeks now, and I’ve noticed some interesting trends. Quick perspective: nearly 800,000 associations have been submitted, connecting a little over 100,000 unique words (or phrases). So given that, here are some interesting stats/trends/etc:

  • The Top 10 Most Submitted Words List. Here are the top 10 most submitted words EVER as of right now:

    Go, sex, go! Woo! If this experiment had an scientific credibility, I’d say humans were more horny than narcissistic or greedy.

  • Phrase Completion. I thought this would be a game just for associating words, but it looks like there is some phrase completion happening too. Some are funny. Some are heartbreaking:
    • “I have…”
      • “…no idea” (3 people)
      • “…a penis” (2 people)
      • “…crabs” (1 person)
      • “…failed” (1 person)
    • “I am a…”
      • “…person” (3 people)
      • “…badger” (2 people)
      • “…miscreant” (1 person)
      • “…hero” (1 person)
  • Numbers. An entire sub-cloud of NUMBERS has popped up. Try this: Start from the number 1 and see how high you can count. I got up to around 30 before the sequence broke down. I guess smallish numbers (<30) are generally seen as counting numbers, where larger numbers are seen more as quantities or have other meaning attached. ie. 1337 -> sp33k, 1984 -> Orwell, etc
  • Marketing Messages in the Public Consciousness, leggo my brain eggo! It is scary how certain words appear to trigger loyal marketing message recitation / product related association or whatever:
    • lego -> my eggo
    • tiger -> tony
    • have it -> your way
    • snap -> crackle pop
    • subway -> eat fresh
    • this is -> SPARTA!
    • (there were a bunch more I’m not remembering – anyone see any good ones?)

    But we sure as hell aren’t gonna be happy about it!

    • “Marketing Campaign…”
      • “…money” (4 people)
      • “…evil” (3 people)
      • “…annoying (2 people)
  • Women Totally PWNd Men. This is the first game I’ve made that I think actually appeals to both women and men. If we look at this game as a battle of the sexes, women have totally dominated in terms of both quantity and especially quality of submitted words. And ok – I don’t actually KNOW who’s a boy and who’s a girl, but browsing some of the names on the leaderboards, it is possible to make some good guesses. ie. Congrats to wandergrrl for being the first person to break 1000 words submitted in a single session (and having some of the highest quality connections too)
  • Racism. Type in just about any racial slur you can think of, and you’re sure to find it. Even the plural spellings. I’ve gotten only one complaint – from someone who found a naughty word connected to his religion of choice – and I’m glad he alerted me to it, because it made me solidify my completely hands-off approach in letting the cloud grow and prune itself.
    People do submit garbage – no question. Luckily, each word has “legitimacy points” attached to it. When a word is flagged by users, it’s legitimacy goes down. As people submit and make connections to and from a word, it’s legitimacy goes up. Racism, sexual insensitivity, etc do tend to go away on their own. I guess I’ll be highbrow here and concede that “just like in the real life Human Brain Cloud of life”, little pockets do keep bubbling up. It reprezents society!

Anyway, on that note, I’ll admit that the number one thing that surprised me right off the bat with this experiment is that people are, in general, overwhelmingly funny, friendly, articulate, and willing to play along. I don’t have a lot of restrictions in place in the game. It would have been very easy to turn Human Brain Cloud into a giant dumping grounds for spam and profanity (and of course there is some), but out of sometimes up to 10 words being submitted per second by players, almost ALL of them are high quality words and connections, firmly in the spirit of the game. So thanks, this experiment has been absolutely worth it, and my cold black heart has thawed just a little. :)