Saturday, January 09, 2010

Creativity & Ownership

It's a week until the start of my new adventure, and suddenly I'm feeling more creative than I have in many months! Perhaps it's just the impending change of scenery, but it's causing me to muse about one of the great creativity drains I found at Microsoft: the fact that they own all of your ideas.

Your employee agreement clearly states that the company owns everything you dream up on the job, but nowhere does it say that they have to do anything with it. It's like an idea black hole; you lose your ability to pursue the ideas, and in all likelihood the company won't bother. So you start to not share ideas you don't think have a good chance of making it, and eventually you stop having those ideas, until you just stop having ideas at all.

What if, instead, the company you worked for had "right of first refusal" to all of your ideas? If they utilize your idea, then it's all theirs. If they don't do anything with it within a certain time period, it's yours to pursue as you please. The company gets happier employees and the pick of the litter of a greater outpouring of ideas -- everybody wins!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Automobile Apocalypse

In the last century, cars have made incredible progress at taking over our livable spaces. The public commons, once the cradle of human community, have been largely usurped by the automobile. It happened slowly, so it's easy to forget that there might be another option. The tide is turning, though, with more cities creating pedestrian-only zones, rejoining places like Venice who never left the pedestrian world.

Then there are places like Detroit, epicenter of America's car culture. Symbolic of humanity's domination by automobile is the Michigan Theater, once a golden-age movie palace, now a parking structure, its grand sculpture playing to a crowd of metal boxes with wheels.

Makes me want to do a series of art pieces of human places taken over by cars. Not anthropomorphized cars, mind you, but full-size impersonal hunks of metal, parked in a restaurant, a public restroom, a playground, your living room. Either that or take still frames from Pixar's Cars and insert reminders that people once lived there, before they were inexplicably eradicated; perhaps some human skeletons, or a baby doll with tire tracks over its mutilated torso.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Viewing the World through Etymologically-Colored Glasses

Today's random project idea: a text reader that color-codes each word by some etymological factor, such as country of origin or how old the word is.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fade Away

I've just discovered Shoo Apps and Spirited Away, both of which hide background applications on your Mac to cut down clutter. I dig things like that; simple, thoughtful niceties. Here's my feature request: rather than blinking out of existence, I want the apps to slowly fade away.


Sunday, April 01, 2007


This year I hope to finally get around to some of the projects I've had on my back burner for a while now (wait - have I said this before?). This includes starting an open source update of Seize the Day, redoing some of the Heaven & Earth puzzles as a website where people can create new ones, expanding Thoughtsam into a community site, developing a Micropatronage aggregator, and spreading the ideas behind the Langley Community Forum to additional neighborhoods.

Wish me luck!

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Movie Tagging

So, while watching the video stream on FireAnt I ran across this version of the original Planet of the Apes with everything cut out except Charlton Heston talking. Turns out that makes the movie only 15 minutes long, an interesting snapshot of a classic film I'd heard plenty about but never actually seen. As a bonus, now I know where the quotes in Transglobal Underground's "Thousand Year Heat" come from.

Anyway, it got me to thinking it would be neat to be able to do that with any movie - zero in on a particular actor or type of content. It would be easy enough to make a movie player that could do so, given the right data. All we need is a file format (presumably XML-based) that allows one to attach tags to times and specify what movie it's for. Create a database for these files and let people have at it, Wikipedia-style. In addition to chopping movies up, these new data tracks could be used for all sorts of things: subtitles, trivia, where-to-buy information for all that darn product placement, etc. It's like the whole DIY movie commentary thing but, like, more so.

Now we just need someone to build it.