Friday, December 25, 2009

A Quaker View

My ideas for philanthropic gaming, making casinos a funding source for worthy causes, is not so far off in the case of native American casinos, which have been committing receipts to youth programs, salmon habitat restoration, scholarships for tribal members. Given my Quaker affiliations and this sect's historical alliance with original Americans, I'm more of a regional casino booster than some of my Christian peers.

However, the CSN design is rather different from the traditional gambling casino's. It lets players exercise choice when committing funds through these computer systems and uses a portion of vendor profits (donated back to charity) as a funding source.

The traditional gambler is directing winnings to himself or herself, with losings going to the house (as house winnings). The socially responsible gamer is committing a vendor-provided payload to a worthy program and building a track record. The vendor receives various metrics regarding giving patterns, sharing glory with the players.

Well designed games have the potential to build brand loyalty and repeat patronage.

The Oregon Lottery is another example of funding going from bars and taverns across the land into state coffers. Players have no control over what happens to those funds, as they're considered "lost" (no longer under patron control).

As of 2009, many misanthropic gaming systems still serve as recruiting tools for purveyors of anti-social, violent lifestyles. The idea of using games as recruiting tools is worth keeping, even if we switch focus to philanthropic engineering.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Economic Theory

Left over from "artificial persons" days, when corporations worked for us, and not the other way around, the more profitable engines would plow surplus back into the community under the assets column of "building good will". These assets could offset some liabilities, thereby contributing to net worth.

One way of building good will was to simply donate to charity. Keeping good jobs available in a local community is another way to earn loyalty for one's brand. If a company earmarked some profit for charity, this could be claimed on tax forms as an alternative to government spending i.e. the artificial person could do its own earmarking.

Flash forward to the present day and you have ways to track nickles and dimes to the micro level. Charitable giving might be packaged to ride with a sale item as part of the payload, feeding a point of sale game system that encourages customer participation in charitable giving.

The company may pre-select targets in board meetings. Customers have a choice of games (as well as products) plus the option to let the charitable donation funnel to a default cause or charity.

Given this is turning into another description of the CSN business model, let's raise the objection that all of the above could be accomplished from the comfort of one's own dorm room i.e. purchasing on-line and getting to donate a portion of the profit to charity shouldn't require leaving one's chair (I've been getting that objection lately).

Answer: this is correct however it's not either/or. The CSN framework is suitable for use in a coffee shop setting, is geared for a kind of study hall environment (various degrees of freedom pertain, per other sketches). Some people are not looking for more time home alone and would welcome observing others at play.

Back to theory: we have "anonymous giving" in our model, however when it comes to building good will, both companies and individuals tend to want some way to make a link in the public mindset, thereby building brand loyalty and/or individual reputation. Having one's heroics as a game player on record is somewhat the athletic model, with sports champions role modeling their dedication to a walk and a talk.

Thanks to advances in record keeping, giving customers a way to scroll their play records for world-readable display is not an impossible undertaking, as it would have been just decades ago. These displays then become a part of the social networking currency, as parties seek each other out based on mutuality and/or complementary agendas and objectives. New companies form by this process.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Study Hall

This work/study track means plowing through the Laughing Horse collection at a high rate. It's an opportunity, a window. 4D Studios, connected in my own mind to the Portland Knowledge Lab (a collection, an archive, for more studios than just mine) has only so much time to compare notes.

Today it's The Times of Harvey Milk, the documentary, not the recent movie. I've seen this before but a long time ago and I forget where. Also Crisis, by ABC TV, about the breakdown of apartheid in Alabama under pressure from Kennedy brothers.

This latter has a lot of amazingly good and candid material, a testament to the professionalism of the film makers, who obviously had the trust of the an inner circle cast of political players, including the Alabama governor George Wallace.

The two students were perfect for their roles I thought. The guy's quip that he'd like to be governor someday as in "yes, I'm your worst nightmare" was good humored and smart (what I don't know right now is how long ABC kept this film in the can).

The former is of course a landmark, award winning film. The scene where people are smashing into a building while the sound track shouts "no more violence!" was worth a rewind and review.

My local time zone has become less important given the realities of Cyberia. Sometimes I need to be awake at the same time as someone in the Middle or Far East.

Math 2.0, using Web 2.0 tools, puts emphasis on synchronous, not just asynchronous communications.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Every philosophy blog should have one. Click here for more info.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Meetup on Games

I had a meeting with the CIO yesterday @ Bagdad, talked about a specific multi-user computer game that encourages raiding one's neighbors for stores, kind of old school. For the first time in his life, he was feeling underhanded, like a cad. The game was providing this experience.

So how would a philanthropy game look? You'd have cities needing to thrive and there'd be competition with other programs and ideologies. If they lob bombs to keep you in the Stone Age, to make themselves look better by comparison, that'd be noticed by the other players.

The US Army spent millions on a recuriting game that teaches teamwork and a hunger for army life. This is world game in a nutshell, though hell bent in some dimensions. Similar games serve to recruit others from their matrix, such as Uru, Second Life and Spore.

If wanting a reputation as a philanthropist, you might consider funding game development. Coffee Shops Network (CSN) is about supplying an ambience in which such games get played. One need not sit solo in one's office or den. One needn't be secretive nor furtive when helping humanity, although aspects of game play, e.g. outsmarting misanthropists, will have their sneakier aspects. Hackers have their ways and means.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kudos or Karma?

Whereas our little partnership DWA used to book keep for ISEPP, I'm no longer privy to many details (nor was I then, as Dawn did all the bookkeeping).

If you know of a company wanting to position at the intellectual forefront, inheriting through the Linus Pauling lineage, the campus on Hawthorne remains a golden investment opportunity.

I'm not a direct beneficiary except I do use the facility for meetings and accept ISEPP lecture tickets as my one perk for being on the board, thanks Terry.

I've always suggested Unilever
as a partner, as in my own mythology that's like a benign EU conglomerate, a bigger Ben & Jerry's, plus I like those tetrahedral teabags, long story (by Lipton).

Tonight is Ignite, a special event at The Bagdad. I have a guest ticket courtesy of an out of town MVP, one of the speakers (tensegrity & robotics).

Wave to CTO in India, to all my peer Cs (chiefs).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Autobiography Night

An autobiography is a subtype of travelogue, or vice versa if you prefer, and both tend to use the first person, by which I mean: an autobiographer usually assumes the role of the "I" when telling the story, which the listener will presume contains an individual bias, but doesn't begrudge, as we're each entitled to a point of view.

The "objective voice" in contrast, or third person, is more self effacing and authoritative, so is more likely to be challenged or critiqued by those disagreeing with the implied narrator's views. A typical autobiography will contain a mix of both, with the author shifting to more omniscient tones when needing to provide more context.

Not every coffee shop will want to program these circles, but we increasingly have customers prepared with five minute thumbnails about their lives. Onlookers who realize this is an emerging genre will get to work on their own.

The short versions are often distillations of the longer ones.

For example, here's a link to a family history with autobiographical components by Jim Flory. He and I have worked together around several Quaker events and have in common this attribute of growing up in the Philippines, myself as the son in a post-WW2 technical family doing development planning, himself as the son of prisoner of war missionaries (heading for China) in a Japanese internment camp in Baguio (the USA federation had some similar camps for those of Japanese heritage during this same time period).

In a kind of cross-roads coffee shop, with visitors from many corners, you'll get some exotic autobiographies and these will tend to tie together for listeners, as they come to see a common backdrop of history.

Do not underestimate the value of this opportunity, probably worth some energy and work on fine tuning.

If your shop keeps an archive on the web, remember to invite your guests to post links to their web sites. Sometimes a Wiki is the best structure, perhaps a part of the larger web site. Notice how includes a MoinMoin with volunteers tasked with keeping it updated.

Providing every customer with direct access, even via a guest login, may not be the preferred system i.e. a wiki with restricted access is not a contradiction in terms, never mind what others may have told you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

On Wittgenstein's Philo

Sat, Oct 17, 2009 at 8:06 AM, jrstern wrote:

> Especially as Kirby described it, a grammar can
> (or must?!) relate not (just) to words, but to distal
> objects, to the real, or at least intersubjective,
> consensus world. It is not the word "consciousness"
> that has a grammar, it is the actuality in the world
> of "consciousness" that has a grammar. Then, it is
> well if our linguistic grammars, and our use of the
> word "consciousness", correspond to the distal
> facts. Sean speaks of "assertability conditions".
> That may head in some problematic directions, but
> it's the same kind of concept.

I think Sean's use of "languaging" helps move us from noun-sense to verb-sense i.e. to a post nominalist sensibility. It's not that the word 'cat' and the thing (cat) are related as proximal to distal (the word might be on a distant bill board, the real deal in your lap) but that both have semantic value in a grammar.

For suburbanite Americans going to community college, maybe taking philosophy at night school (a prerequisite for foreign service at some levels), I might translate "grammar" as "lifestyle". I think they'd get that, and it's faithful to On Certainty's "form of life". Language games involve moving slabs around (of fat, of whatever), are not just quiescent stare-into-a-book activities. You may feel obligated to draw some line, making "chess pieces" be not language, with "chess notation" as language, but that'd be an artificial line, as in arbitrary, random.

I think most philosophers of language might agree that "pure language" has this "jagged edge" where it connects to real stuff. That's where Wittgenstein grounds his certainties, his arithmetic sensibilities, not in some cerebral "pure logic" we can never see or smell, no matter how hard we think about it. He's more like Nietzsche in this way, in keeping the senses, also vivid imagery, central to the thinking process, not just as sources of "data" (as in "sense data").

:: sources ::

Sun, Nov 8, 2009 at 8:15 PM
[C] [Wittrs] Wittgenstein on Nominalism

From PI ...

"383. We do not analyze a phenomenon (for example, thinking) but a concept (for example, that of thinking), and hence the application of a word. So it may look like what we were doing were nominalism. Nominalists make the mistake of interpreting all the words as NAMES, and so of not really describing their use, but only, so to speak, giving a paper draft of such a description." PI, 4th, p.125.
Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Personal Website:
SSRN papers:
Discussion Group:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lessons Learned

There ain't nuthin' like the real world when it comes to providing reality checks, is what I'm learning.

The coffee shop venue connotes meetings for business, minus tight scheduling, so no matter what time you show up, 24/7 if its staffed for all time zones, you would hope to find a quiet venue for some serious negotiations, no competing sound track, suspenseful or otherwise.

Venues like Good Foot and Back Space to some degree, sequester or segregate (not a bad word in this context).

Maybe there's a loud music venue for those needing to unwind and/or various caves for video game playing etc. (sometimes with headphones). The business class set, on the clock and/or on Skype to the home office, is not at all bothered by all the commotion in some bat cave, out of sight if not mind.

Small venues that don't have the floorspace to accommodate these diverse uses in parallel (simultaneously), may take a more sequential approach (asynchronous), using the LCDs to effectively display when "quiet time" will be over, when karaoke is set to commence. Art galleries may feature loud music only once or twice a month. Libraries may never.

In sum, I'm not about promising free strippers and drugs in every venue (it's not mine to give the blue light in most cases), but in other venues, that's sometimes what's on the menu. Or perhaps you've got bar credits thanks to your stellar world game playing, so technically the goods are more in trade than for free. Your mileage may vary.

Some coffee bars cater to minors, others don't. The TV-rating system applies, not only to the stage magic, but to what goes to the LCDs (if they've got any).

The ambient culture has only a few paradigms (templates, grammars) to blend from. Following Python as a model, an eclectic computer language, we're free to pick and choose ("cherry picking" is a sin when doing statistics, but not when collecting antiques or memorabilia, art works, examples of esoteric crafts).

You've got the tavern, sports bar, coffee shop, video arcade, art gallery, strip club, country club, eating club, gift shop, TV studio, science museum, public eatery, inn, bed & breakfast, back office, library, VIP lounge... Victorian salon.

Branding in this phase space requires serious attention to your market niche, and that means having a clear sense of your clientèle.

You can't be all things to all people, nor should you even set out to please in this direction. If you're attracting young families with children, maybe you want a play area, for kids who wish to escape adult conversation. Portland has its share of brew pubs working this model and doing a good job of it.

Clear markings on the doorway aimed at scaring off the complainers, who won't like what they find, is a proprietor's responsibility, as well as a kindness to customers. People who weren't warned often feel justified in acting offended. Learn your community codes and post the relevant warnings (e.g. no minors permitted), not just enticements. Use eye candy to repel, not just attract.

Don't pretend your welcome mat applies equally to everyone. Be gracious with tourists however, as that's how to increase your fan base, should such be your goal. Establishments with no protocol for serving first timers, customers semi-innocent of a shop's culture, are likely to whither on the vine through attrition. Having too many people packed into a confined space is in itself a disincentive (a turn off), not to mention a red flag for the fire marshal.

It all boils down to truth in advertising. Give a clear sense of what you deliver at your venue, and then deliver it, consistently, whatever your secret sauce (value added). If you attract too large a crowd, don't be shy about throttling back on promotion. There is such a thing as too much advertising (also called over-exposure).

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Traitor Joe's?

[Note: the last time I talked to a Greenpeace spokesman I was told Trader Joe's had complied with Greenpeace requests and no boycott was any longer being encouraged. I'm fine with shopping at Trader Joe's myself these days, after refraining for well over a year -- KTU on Feb 2, 2011]


I've been getting a lot of questions about this, more in the mail today, and my answer is always pretty much the same: as CMO, I don't dictate to shops about sources, about vendors.

I'll state my own preferences and practices, with showcase shops backing up that it works (i.e. I walk my talk), but it's in the spirit of competition i.e. you might show me, against all odds, that your mix of vendors is of CSN caliber. Hats off to ya then! (a willing gesture of admiration and respect -- not edict-enforced by naked emperor types).

On the philosophy circuit, I've been suggesting a Politics of the Organs series of publications, looking at how people have changed their discourse about guts a lot. The brain has become really important since its "air conditioner for the blood" career (some truth in that, however metaphoric). Remember how the pituitary gland used to be core in philosophy? Or was it the neighboring pineal?

Anyway, you get the picture. Phrenology was a harbinger of modern day brain talk, even if only a quack science in large degree (it might have helped spread the use of helmets, some other beneficial side effect, so don't expect a long rant from me against such a dead-already horse -- life is short).

Having a book circle meet in your shop would be excellent, thinking of Laughing Horse here in Portland for example, where some of us go sometimes, also In Other Words on Killingsworth, where I represented as CMO for this network.

If they sit there with Kindles or like devices, toted in tote bags, riding on bicycles, we wouldn't diss them for that. Street youth have smarts sometimes, weren't all just born yesterday even if they look like it sometimes.

Anyway, back to my original point, go ahead and shop at Trader Joe's, without fear of any reprimands from me. I go to Fred Meyer's (a Kroger chain) even where others are boycotting out of principle. I enjoy free spirited debate across these kinds of lines.

That's all Congress is doing, getting paid to do it, professionally. I'm envious.

I often think about public figures with some sense of awe and appreciation, as I would about star NFL players if I were really into NFL (sorry guys -- but I do get it sometimes, like the half time thing (including Ms. Jackson's)). I watch military people too, phasing over into paramilitary. Who can blame me for watching the circus? Isn't that why they call it a theater sometimes?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Graphics Library

A library of a different type (see below) is in software. People don't want to re-invent the wheel at every turn and have a well-developed practice of passing libraries back and forth, value adding, developing a common set of tools.

This doesn't keep our coder girls from competing with one another, just the shared library levels the playing field plus heightens the level of play, so everyone wins, even if sometimes one loses.

The OpenGL type stuff I've been yakking up with my students is capable of driving the 4D video games I've been marketing. 4D in this namespace means "friendly to the enterprising of Bucky Fuller", who tended to brand his work 4D, with sound mathematical reasons for doing so.

My 4D Solutions has developed additional resources in this same area, but mostly in the form of "cave paintings" (defined more on edu-sig at Full scale FOSS libraries develop within communities of co-developers, using tools such as Mercurial and Git. Some of our philanthropic games will derive from this work.

4D IVM and 3D XYZ have a lot in common, with the latter dominating in the 1970s, defining a signature rectilinear look. You'll recognize 4D from its signature space frame, the octahedron-tetrahedron truss (the long winded name for it).

Stacked fruit is a typical hallmark, both triangular and square based. Also watch for Morley's Theorem to crop up here and there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Building a Library

Both Terry Bristol and Allen Taylor have been generous of late. Glenn took me on a tour, showed me the emerging inventory of books and magazines. These aren't your average boring textbooks, although a few in the mix may help with the alloy, by providing contrasting summary information in academe's fave formats.

Nirel, thanks for letting me promote your work through the OS Bridge slides, which I went over again with Wanderers the other morning, glad to have Lindsey to my left, an accomplished CTO type in her own right. HB2U BTW, you and Suzanne are about the same age.

The new owner of the Pauling Campus coffee shop around the corner said OK to my patching in with wireless to blog about Art's talk. It's weak but usable and LPH's higher bandwidth wasn't serving for some reason. Said owner was one of the MVPs at Local Lounge on Friday evening.

Fine Grind is doing a Japanese circle and new art opening. Best wishes on those plans for a deck.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pets as Gifts

:: emperor with no clothes,
Disney character, via Kipling ::

Inquiries about giving out live animals, including with award ceremonies, need not be directed to some nebulous CSN "global hub" as we really care more about local community standards, are more like Ben & Jerry's in that way (Unilever). Pet policies cannot be set from on high, by some emperor with no clothes (see above).

Given the high cost of fuel, running empty is a waste, and lots of salt water aquariums could be heading into Kabul, feeding a growing network of tropical fish huts in that area. If the local coffee shops wanna jump in, who's to stop 'em?

Remember when Keiko got to ride on a military type aircraft, or at least cargo freight? Keiko was the star of Free Willy and needed to see the world, especially Norway. Likewise, staff in the Iraqi version of Sea World might want to move around, rotate. A few hours in a saltwater tank can't be that bad, if done right. "Take her through Manas!" could be the order of the day.

Extracting heavy weapons takes time, so as long as we have "air ships" running both ways, lets stock some shops, get that stimulus happening. Christmas in July is blatantly about civilian gift giving.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Greek Mythology

:: python for teachers, slide 34 ::

Given our transparently big investment in Polyhedra as connotative of both civilization and rational thought, you might assume we're an Apollonian enterprise, whereas the idea of a "philosophy bar" (aka salon) sounds rather Dionysian and therefore oxymoronic.

How will our customers stay focused and rational if they're becoming intoxicated on adult beverages (e.g. Jack Daniels) or whatever?

Before answering that directly, let's remember that Apollonian intelligence was preceded by the older Delphian network, for whom the snake was an emblem. These oracles were rumored to get high (intoxicated) on fumes emanating from the rock itself (or from some tripod). In other words, this was an ancient shamanistic cult of medicine women, spearheaded by Athena.

When Apollo decided a hostile takeover was in order, or at least a rebranding, he chased the "dragon" out of town, killed it or whatever (accounts vary), and later Athenians got used to the idea of this more policed way of life (Apollo was more fascist in some ways, although not exactly another Mars, like in Sparta).

This so-called "she dragon" (a spirit) was named Python and so these good Delphian priestesses were likewise known as Pythians (like Pythonistas). The word "python" traces to the verb "to rot" i.e. the fumes might've been sulfurous or at least nasty-smelling ("a witches brew").

No one ever suggested these were unintelligent or unprofessional women, even though use of intoxicants was a part of their job description. They just weren't Apollonian in outlook, at least at first, so in hindsight it's understandable why the uninitiated might assume a purely Dionysian operation. Hephaestus was more Vulcan though, an engineer really -- talking about Python's dad.

Answering more directly: it's not a given that any particular customer will remain in a proper frame of mind for whatever business is at hand, nor is it the responsibility of poor slobs in management to carefully monitor everyone's intake.

Whereas the entwined snakes of Hermes, or mono snake of Aesculapius, suggest a "heal thyself" philosophy (akin to the Socratic "know thyself" maxim), this is a commitment for each individual customer to undertake, not a job for some Big Brother on steroids, not a job description for some psychiatric nurse Ratched ala One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.

Of course we'll do a lot with the LCDs around these themes, including in our own commercials, but let's not overlook the fun of having real, palpable mythology books on the shelves, so-called "coffee table" tomes (more expensive), along with childrens books, scholarly hardcovers, Marvel comics or whatever.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Carrotmob Helps Merchants

:: carrotmob, summer solstice ::

It's almost happening! Invite everyone! To all guests of Carrotmob storms HOTLIPS Pizza!

The final push has begun! The event is in only 6 days. Put up lots of posters!

If you still want to volunteer, let me know by Wednesday when you can work (which shift, preferably: 9:30-3 or 3-9). We especially need people with trucks for setting up (9:30-11) and tearing down (7 PM onward).

Also, don't forget to invite all your friends to Carrotmob on Sunday!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Race for Justice 2009

:: fundraising for st. andrew's legal clinic ::

CSN thanks "Chuck" Ryan, also Anna from IT, for including me in this charitable fundraiser.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rear View Mirror

:: os bridge, 2009 ::

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

OS Bridge Conference

We're sharing some of our marketing strategies at OS Bridge, a way to promote socially responsible gaming (and Python) as a means of community service i.e. a mode of working (and playing) more women might appreciate (a theme of this slide).

For more context, here's a link to the PDF version of the entire presentation (6.5 MB), where our open source business model figures in passing (we have lots of imitators already).

Followup: so I attended Gabrielle Roth's talk on this very topic of women in FOSS, her local "code 'n splode" giving techy women some venting time to compare notes on various outrages and offenses (men are allowed, but don't get to sit in front). She gave a thumbs up on the "FOSS covens" meme, part of how the witches are beating the priests in the "good works" department these days (sorry Charlie, go whine to the Pope if you have a problem with that).

Interesting group dynamic in that this gay guy in the audience they all knew assumed interrupt privileges, even after all those slides about directly countering such privilege-taking. He tried to hijack the speaker's workflow during the Q&A, an explicit no-no. I shushed him real loud, like "hey, loud guy!" (finger across the neck motion). I might get in trouble for doing that, but hey, I'm a guy, so who cares.

Speaking of group dynamics, apparently some OSCON 2007 BOF on Women in FOSS kind of degenerated, still part of the lore among this inner circle. I wasn't at said BOF, dunno what went down, but do think of OSCON 2008 as a turning point in some ways, in getting us back on track vis-a-vis our core motivation (world domination).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Study Hall

from Ira Flatow's Science Friday: snake locomotion

Some of our more youthful readers are thinking this is just boring old study hall, dressed up with scones and/or Brazilian cheese bread (yum), and they're right in some ways.

In today's world, we somewhat assume you're carrying a personal headset, so if you don't want to buy new or share the communal pair, simply jack in with your very own (like the ones in the seat pocket in front of you, that airlines just give away sometimes (but we lose them, rat pack the garage)).

The overall effect, even with all that frenetic game playing under the surface, winning big time for your teams, is a somewhat hushed environment, meaning you have room for intimate conversation without shouting. There's a buzz. Sometimes there's a didjeridu (and not just on headphones).

However, it's also in error to posit one steady ambiance for all times and seasons, as a shop has a life of its own, its rhythms, and you're not going to see the same Harry Potter types at all times of day (considering "a day" to be "one 24 hour period"). Maybe it's karaoke night and your customers are singing their hearts out.

If you have multiple CSN hangouts, you'll get a roving loyal base, with the quieter types frequenting the less loud locations, nothing to stop the Trappists from doing one.

In terms of Harry Potter, my little Slytherin group comes through only occasionally, in which case the shadows flicker and a film noir track kicks in on the sound system, activated by remote sensor (just jokin' with ya, adds to the tone).

Or more likely, I'm perched in the corner, more like Bob Cratchet, trying to makes sense to this scrooge Uncle Sam. Or am I more Mellville's Bartleby? Or maybe that'd be Matt?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Vendor Promos

pioneer courthouse square (wikimedia)

I was scoping some venues for ISEPP recently, given the grant application on my desk, also wondering about PPUG given USB wants its upper floor back, maybe for investment banking purposes (Grand Avenue location, heart of ToonTown, sweet). Yes, this "tension table" (below) cries out for "weighty decisions" meetings, along with sake.

You may have seen, from archival Carosello reruns (RAI TV), that commercials earn good will for a company orthogonally to the product itself in many cases, i.e. the charm of the story is what left a good taste, not its relevance to actually shaving or sneezing or whatever the good.

Likewise the anime lead in to your promo needn't directly hype your cause, as we presume players usually come armed with foreknowledge. They already know about BFI and its campaigns.

The game is about having fun, R&R, enjoying some alternatives to violence (Quakers Play Quake).

Of course some customers abhor tasteless cartoon violence or first person shooters of any kind, didn't enter a coffeeshop thinking to yuk it up with immature 14-year-olds in some goddamn arcade fer cryin' out loud.

Lets acknowledge these stereotypes exist and take refuge in esoterica. Our hallmark games give you food for thought first and foremost, have their puzzling elements. Many are quite serene, more like Myst or one of those.

These aren't games of pure chance remember. Heroics come at a cost. Nor are all games equally hard, with some winnable in mere seconds (during a pause between sips, of a Red Bull or whatever -- a way to show off).

Others abhor hentai, pokeman, anything Xboxy... the list goes on, mix 'n match.

There's no sense "imposing" tastes, plus as any shop owner knows, you're also steering people away in some businesses.

Your clientele is in some ways your loudest signal as to what your little shop purveys and with CSN that'd be a philosophy talk of a somewhat esoteric, far western variety, one with lots of geometry, maybe hypertoons -- lookin' good on those HD flats.

Board Meetings
:: urban grind, near jantzen bldg ::

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Geometry Toyz

I've talked about "the gift shop" a lot, sometimes in remote locations, high in the Himalayas maybe, in some national park. T-shirts would likely be specific to the region, with some mix of franchise motifs, e.g. Athena and pirates.

Given our brand of esoterica on the flats though, very spatio-geometric, it's the geometry toyz, ala Math 'n Stuff near Seattle, that really give us away as CSN. This presumes something about our clientele: they're philosophical, in the sense that geometry and philosophy have an historic alliance (like, read up on Neoplatonism if wanting to know more).

When you cross geometry with T-shirts, you get M.C. Escher, perhaps also on placemats. Your management has options who to buy from. Some don't stock T-shirts in wild abundance.

So how does the gift shop work with the games? On nearby Belmont we have Avalon, which gives a sense of the setup. Patrons buy an internal currency and their rewards come from behind the counter, based on success at the various games.

Greenpeace might set a business rule that when a patron scores a total of $50 towards that NGO, a free T-shirt gets triggered, perhaps from a catalog selection (visible on-line). Duplicate this arrangement another hundred times and you see where games might promote the flow of souvenir goods.

Given this is a geeks' circus, there's lots of attention to security, in the sense that a child working hard to help the polar bears, wants to know how this funding is used. Strong fund accounting on the business end is what gives patrons the sense of satisfaction, versus a bitter taste, when winning big for the cause.

Greenpeace Decal

Saturday, May 30, 2009


:: project earthala, work in progress ::

Recall the early days of CSN if you will (the time of this writing): a sick and twisted bunch was still bullying stoic Americans into no-win situations while the writings of a decorated cold warrior (Medal of Freedom), inventor and designer (architect, philosopher, cartographer), were kept away from most high schools by a jealous gulag professoriate, leaving us vulnerable to nightmare policymaking by these semi-secret cabals of uber-cowards. Not a pretty time.

As patriots, we fought back through self schooling, got ourselves an education despite all the censorship and refusenik anti-intelligence (idiocratic) biases. We formed our own networks, our own underground, complete with esoterica and lore, and CSN was proudly a part of that, helping rescue a great country from the clutches of the mendacious and unwise.

So yeah, it's OK to display the flag now and then, other patriotic symbols. That "Don't Tread on Me" snake is a favorite, ties in with our Cult of Athena theme (meme), given Athena's protector. Even if you're not an American, you're likely better off now that we're emerging from tyranny, have regained the freedom to teach our own heritage, make our own history.

USA Flag @ PDX

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Local Politics

:: campaign to save cubespace ::

I'm uploading this picture from The Oregonion courtesy of Rick Turoczy's sharing through Twitter, geeks raising $5K in 24 hrs to save their office, upper floor of a bank building, devoted to coworking.

This is apropos CSN as our initial announcement of the 2012 release date took place in this venue, during a PPUG meeting.

This doesn't mean our talent can't be recruited from around other water coolers, but in terms of our story, as getting going in the original home of the Silicon Forest (East Portland), it makes sense to include this piece of it.

I joined a small meeting at Acker & Associates this afternoon, near PSU, got to explain the CSN idea in some detail, though what I was signing was not related. Then we repaired to Bread and Ink, home of the original Hawthorne Fred Meyer's. I was treated to pan fried oysters and two pints of ESB.

I shared more of our plans for world domination, a perennial geek topic, and bragged about my friends, both XX and XY (female and male). That's what marketing is, a lot of the time, plus picking up on hints, little bits of advice.

And now for something completely different, from today's NASA lore on Phantom Torsos (used to compare computer models to reality regarding radiation dangers in space), the piece by Pat Rawlings/SAIC:

:: distant shores ::

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memo from Richmond

:: fine grind and environs, Hawthorne District, Portland ::

Running an art café in Portland takes G&G (guts and genius) of a certain kind, the hard work of sustaining working relationships, with vendors, artists, a staff, your customers, perhaps a back office. Not just anyone is cut out for such work. I'd probably last about a day?

Portland's business community prides itself on weirdness, especially here in 97214 around Hawthorne, the birth place of the Silicon Forest in some ways. We're home to some of the finest coffee shops in Portland: Common Ground, Chance of Rain, Fresh Pot, Pied Cow, a Starbucks and Peet's on opposite corners, plus a spanking new one just around the corner from Linus Pauling House, which I still need to check out (stay tuned).

When you're ready to jump in, I recommend Fine Grind as the perfect place to get the flavor of our homey yet cosmopolitan neck of the woods. I started going there when it was still called Wired, then watched Jody and her staff take it to new heights, then turn it over to this highly qualified (partially overlapping) team.

Keiko hails from São Paolo, loves life in a big city (Santa Barbara too small) and finds Portland fits that description (without the dreary uniformity of Miami say, with mostly chain stores). Yes, she knows about the whale.

Keiko works with Joe, a veteran of the Portland art scene, to bring some stellar, truly collectible pieces into our neighborhood. We are blessed.

Even if you're a professional gallery or sister café, don't feel shy about checking out this hub of activity. Compare notes, pick up some ideas. Help us keep Portland on the map as an art capital, not just a music capital.

From my perspective
, Fine Grind continues to feed the "CSN grid" with memes and dreams, weaving into the mix, adding to our collective joy. It's clearly a philanthropic endeavor, a source of good will, a cornucopia.

If you're wanting to sharpen your Japanese, consider joining their language circle. Richmond school's nearby Japanese immersion program might mean some parents need practice. Keiko writes, of their meeting on May 6:
In this second meeting, as suggested, we will prepare a short introduction about ourselves and home (“katte”) and/or tell a story about a trip (“ryoko”).
Her Portuguese is even stronger than her Japanese, so that's another circle to consider. We need these all over town, in many more languages. Portlanders take lots of trips, have coffee shops to share them in, potentially (Costello's has a travel theme).

Speaking of community, this just in from Kimaster George:
HOTLIPS Pizza has pledged to donate 100% of their revenue for June 21 to energy-saving improvements in their store (hopefully solar panels, if we get enough money).
I presume he means the one on Hawthorne. This is a CarrotMob Project, something coordinated through Facebook. More details to follow.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hypertoons from CSN

If you're not averse to having an LCD running some ambient geometry in the background as a way to jump start your brand, we have some FOSS for ya, but you'll need a geek or two to install it and boot it up, or maybe you're a geek yourself. I'll write as if you were...

Grab and install VPython
from Carnegie-Mellon or one of those, then grab my hypertoons generator, deposited at 4Dsolutions (we're like your memory bank of cool toyz).

If you want a podcast to preview, Synergetics on the Web has an example (narrated), or check YouTube for more.

Hypertoons are looping animation tracks with a network structure, such that you'll segue differently based on Python's pseudo-random number generator.

A hyper-audio track (matching or on its own) would be a logical next feature, feel free to start a project pointing back to its root. This isn't a visualizer, so don't worry about infringement (not a screen saver either -- wouldn't matter if it were).

You'll maybe be able to make your own hypertoons eventually, but for starters this starkly geometric one serves a didactic purpose (teaches philosophy), is family friendly -- is even interactive if your setup allows for controls.

You'll need some way to run Python. Maybe slave an XO to a ceiling mounted computer projector and shoot against some opposite wall?

I've not tried this particular option, am not sure if Vpython runs on an XO-1, plus why waste a perfectly good laptop for such a primitive purpose? Some junker with a gig of RAM oughta do the trick. Free Geek has those by the boat load (thx!).

Note: there's a stereo option but you'll need the special "glasses".

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More on T-Shirts

Remember you're free to sell beer shirts, especially these animal type ones, without having to market the beverage itself (think "gift shop"). Or you might have one brand in a can, packed in by grad students (grateful to be here).

Once you commit to beer, you'll attract a more ornery crowd that wants stuff "on tap" which means casks, refrigeration, a lot of infrastructure. Just point them to the beer joint down the street with a polite "this is a coffee shop sir and/or mam".

On the other hand, we love beer in PDX and if you feel equipped in that regard, don't mind lots of loud people, many of them politicians, then hey, go for it. Just be aware that Coffee Shops Network is not directly competing with sports taverns, as I've previously spelled out. We may also allow water pipes, although maybe not in the United States any time soon.

Yes, I know "more on" rhymes with "moron" -- get over it.

Thx to pirate TC for the images, from his personal collection. We had lunch under the Bagdad marquee, all seats sold out for Tom Robbins, author of Jitterbug Perfume and other favorites. "A smile flickered to her lips like a seagull flying out of a bowl of tomato soup" is one of his I remember.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lunar Coffee Shop

Wake up and smell the coffee -- on the Moon!
Science @ NASA, 2009.5.15

Given the high tech origins of our baked goods especially, it's not surprising we're thinking ahead. Depicted above, an artist's conception of a power source for coffee making (and other activities), designing for the NASA brand.

You'll note in the article that Stirling engines get used for power generation, a project my friend Andrew Frank has been working on right here on Planet Earth.

These are days of hard work for the NASA team by the way, Hubble's last makeover.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rogue Nation Party

Those of you not familiar with Oregon won't know about our Rogue Valley and Rogue Ales, of which we're proud. There's been some talk lately of Rogue Nation as another name for Oregon, playing off our pirate heritage (Portland a FOSS capital, home of the Pirate Festival in St. John's).

In terms of decor, lets go with esoterica, per usual. As an aspect of foreign policy, I'm focused on Washington, D.C.'s role as a money funnel (aren't we all)? The sitting Senate in that distant city (not really a part of the Union?) has just approved $30 million for better air traffic control equipment in one of the "stans" (Kyrgystan). What were they thinking?

Continuing to dump fuel and equipment into that region with no stated goal other than to violate Pakistan's territorial integrity (another invasion!) and suppress religious freedom, while looking for handouts on the international lending circuit seems unsustainable, but that's why this is fun: let's watch all the clowning around, now that the spotlight is on 'em.

What will the pundits say?

There's not even a Coalition of the Willing this time, just a few scattered think tanks with funny faux thinkers (this should be good). Remember all that hoopla about Georgia?

I've seen the "drone piñatas" and think those will work. I suggest superhero literature scattered around, some Iron Man comics especially. Popcorn. Rogue Ales.

Rogue Booth

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More About LCDs

:: swwmc fireside shop & exhibits ::

Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) already play a huge roll in our lives, with some science minded, such as Laurie Anderson (of Big Science fame) thinking we maybe have too many or too much of that already.

"I like paper, it's easier on my eyes" is what you will hear. "I like paper too, but with so much pressure on forests, I'm thankful we don't rely on wood pulp for the written word at every turn" might be a long winded answer. Plus when you get to animations, wood pulp falls apart.

Southwestern Washington Medical Center
, world renowned for top of the line cardiology, other longevity services, has its Fireside shop LCDs quite literally set in stone. As one would expect in a hospital setting, the loop advertises the expertise available, reassuring to both patients and prospective patients (which includes staff). One wouldn't expect a sudden dissolve into esoteric geometry cartoons, unless perhaps featuring some of the other art in the building, which tends to be somewhat Far Western.

In the scene below (from a different shop in Oregon), the LCD is on a post at the corner of the counter. The default display is "instrument panel" e.g. note the mounting cost of having troops in Iraq (you'd think they'd get it by now and get out, but that's not how they think). You could dissolve to travelogue teasers, previews of what's on the larger screens in back rooms, but that's more the Backspace model (gaming), or Living Room Theaters, where we show documentaries, algebra prep movies, stuff for biology majors. People will book these venues in advance, sometimes with a comm link to the home office, more like at Kinko's or one of those.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Self Promotion

An aspect of our "church bingo" model people sometimes object to is they think overtly taking credit for one's heroics is in itself rather self-indulgent and objectionable, is transparent self promotion (a bad thing, in their books).

My response is you're free to make your donations anonymously on occasion, but when building a semi-public track record, it's more about taking a stand, advertising the work of your target teams in the field more than just drawing unearned attention to yourself eating scones, geeking out in some way.

For example, a paradigm customer might be some 15 year old girl hell bent on making life difficult for salmon farmers off the coast of North America. She's seen some well made documentaries and is persuaded that these are "freak fish" that don't deserve our business. There's a special interest working this angle, some needle in a hay stack. No other customer is tracking this issue. In glancing over her record, the barista learns something about what kids today are into. Multiply this story many times, and you see how a useful buzz might develop, with philosophical debates and investigations at its core.

A behavior customers would be much more cynical about is posing as favoring this or that, but only to impress a potential date, while meanwhile, in some other shop, ten blocks away, there's a whole different track record on file, lots of mutually inconsistent heroics, all because in that venue it was someone else and so on. Nothing holds this character together, in terms of standing for principles, other than the "I need to impress someone" principle. This kind of behavior often rubs people the wrong way.

The CSN is more of a playground than a set of scripts. In providing the tools, setting some high standards, the games get to be engaging, worthwhile. But beyond that, how you manage your own identity is your business.

Speaking of which, I maybe made a mistake wearing the T-shirt below to the supermarket and bank yesterday. First, because this'd been my pajama top owing to a pre-dawn trip to the airport on chauffeur duty and second because it triggered lots of snarky comments, some overtly expressed, like that shopping cart couple I dodged on the sidewalk, said I didn't really listen at all.

Turning to popular culture and other stuff that I care about: a kind Friend phoned during commercial break to let me know Michael J. Fox was just about to visit Bhutan on channel 2. I dashed up three floors and with the help of an assistant, was able to catch that segment. Michael was in good form and yes, that's the Bhutan I remember, was happy in. Also: thanks to Facebook I'm able to be a Katie Couric fan from a distance. I don't know exactly where this helmet picture was taken, however I appreciate her as a constructive player and a pro (my friends are used to hearing me rave about various people I look up to -- that's just something I do). So what's up with Sri Lanka? Is India planning something? I've seen Windows7 in action, but haven't seen the new Star Trek yet (I'm planning on doing that though).

from Facebook

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Cartoon Room

Some brewpubs in our area have discovered that having a "children at play" zone attracts the young family clientèle they seek. Of course not every shop serves the same demographic or zip code so read no further if under-age means not through the door.

Once in, you needn't imagine a passive viewing studio, kids glued to a big screen. In some toys, the LCD is no larger than a postage stamp, with MPEGs in firmware. Calling it a "cartoon room" isn't meant to inspire panic among the "kill your television" crowd. If you want your Lincoln Logs to actually be non-virtual, we have a special set in the back (just don't let her swallow any).

Again, it all depends on the shop, plus screens might be turned off during "quiet time" (e.g. Cubespace has "quiet cubes").

To change the subject slightly, we went to some "macaroni palace" downtown, very suave decor, but they had these huge wooden beams apparently supporting no weight, just suspended by metal cable from the ceiling, the walls supporting each end. What's up with that? If you need "big wood", at least make sure it stays busy, serves a real purpose. Or were they keeping the walls from falling inward?

If self schooling is the focus (is this an "edu-mall" of some kind?) then your toyz might be robots, the cartoons more like event driving GUIs i.e. instrumentation atop some device-level API. Add a Python instructor and you've got the beginnings of a kick ass school.

But then testing gets more controlled and in coffee shops we tend to shy away from severity. We define a safe hang out between visits to the dentist as it were.

That being said, you could still have a friendly coach, like at OMSI, and a gift shop, selling some of these same toyz, ka-ching (and a big bonus for some worthy cause, would you like a table sir?).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Art @ Fine Grind

Excellent all-woman show, lots of to die for art, I'll see if they let me stream any of it to ya, be right back... Yay, got lucky, here's a morning blend. Keiko did a more complete slide show (click here).

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gift Shop Ideas

:: duck typing ::
Our troupe met in a favorite Westmoreland HQS, over Philadelphia (aka Quaker City) style steak sandwiches and red style beers.

Nancy Ankcorn
regaled us with stories of being slythe and alone in Las Vegas that time, hit on left and right by predatory XYs, flattering but also hair-raising (mammals may be dangerous).

Our conversation meandered to casinos from many angles, Jon, a musician, having worked in one on the Utah-Nevada border, some town with a line down Main Street, gambling on the one side only. He enjoyed the experience (great carpet, flashy slots).

A problem in Oregon today: the legislature has properly banned the under-aged from dancing in strip joints by amending the law to say if alcohol is served then minors can't be on stage in any performance capacity, immediately killing the symphony and ballet, where many of the stars are well under 21. That's politics for ya, as smart as a Laplace's mechanical duck (OK, Vaucanson's) and his bogus brief for deterministic reductionism (thinking back to Terry's slides for Stu Kauffman (got me thinking of The Turk beating Napoleon that time)).

Given social networking practices, subversive subcultures will likely take pride in flaunting their patronage register i.e. it's not a "dirty little secret" that you've enjoyed practicing philanthropy at a CSN branch. On the contrary, that's street cred. "Smart people shop here" is how we look at it, not unlike the BFI gift shop's attitude (see right margin).

In other news, I'm curious which venue Ewa suggested for the Django conference in September. She's doing recon for CTE. I've started work on my OS Bridge slides, outlining some EduPycon track concepts. A conference goal: have the presentation machine running Jaunty Jackalope, meaning I need to upgrade from Hardy Heron through Intrepid Ibex. I'm working on this over the weekend.

portland barcamp 2008
legion of tech
(may 1,2 in 2009)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Targeting 2012

"Is CSN a cloud computing application?" people want to know. Until recently, I might have said yes, but upon reading up in the blogosphere, catching some Pycon talks, I'm thinking we're also looking at open source hardware.

In my Py3K talk at Cubespace, a baptism for Jody, the model was "free if you want bare bones, extra if you want preloaded with vendors" where the latter are mostly local, at least half of them into organic gardening.

Jody was ahead of the curve in working with a community gardener, gave us the back story when celebrating John Lennon's birthday, a family event.

This was before my bidding on FoodHub (thinking Django) and Michelle Obama's strong forays in this direction. We're in an even stronger position today, in terms of promising home grown delicacies and healthier foods in school (and hospital) cafeterias.

More to the point: our students are becoming more aware of the full life cycle, developing more relevant life skills as a result. Home economics is making a come back... as a high technology field (you can't beat nature, when it comes to high tech).

As I've mentioned before, Fine Grind (previously Wired) is more a bakery disguised as a coffee shop, is also an art gallery. This doesn't mean it's lying about what it is, but that coffee shops may have a deeper side, especially in Portland, a city of esoteric back spaces, missing links, underground comix and geocaching, not to mention lots of old bookstores.

Some shops in Old Town may still connect to the tunnel system, from whence new salts were recruited. The "Chinese navy" needed a few good men now and then, where the verb "to shanghai" comes from.

In a more contemporary Portland, we still have our talent scouts and head hunters, and more often than not it's at meetups over coffee that some real deals get made (or over beers in some cases -- some people stay sharp sipping whatever's on tap, whereas others lose acumen even on ice water).

My DemocracyLab meetings, also that one with Mosaic, were at Common Ground on Hawthorne, well known for its fine rack o 'zines, stellar baked goods, with a real theater around back.

Sam Lanahan met me in Fine Grind, although he more recently joined us at the Portland Fish House, a few doors down from Linus Pauling House which he also frequents when not sailing the ocean blue (another captain, like Barry and Don).

I'm also quite fond of Costello's and Chance of Rain, as well as the two at 37th and Hawthorne: the Peets and the Starbucks, with Oasis and Bagdad for beer and/or pizza.

Uncle Bill and I go to Hawthorne Ale House, where we went with Carla and Sam, other close relatives.

Many of my turning point decisions were made in such establishments, can't say I'm complaining. I've recently added Coney Island to my repertoire (had a Paranoid beer), am planning to do a lot more with the new Fred Meyer's.

Back to CSN: the more ambitious prototypes need TV studio development with lots of designers present. I've got ideas about decor, as one would hope from a CMO, but I'm not the only stakeholder.

I've already tipped my hat to some of my influences, just to give a heads up: we like Tlingit and Chinook, look to family-friendly places like Kaneetah (Warm Springs) for clues. It's a two way street of course, or at least we hope it is.

Obviously, given Google App Engine and Python, I'm thinking in terms of developing a look and feel by that means, immediately solving the ISP problem.

However that doesn't entail any given local shop can't host a lot of its own code on some rickety old toaster farm. Customers like the smell of authentic geek aracana, which you won't have if you outsource everything to Canada.

My attitude: if they're wanting to talk to our API out the back, they'll do so, and in whatever language (XML-RPC? -- maybe just a standard DBI). Python on the server doesn't entail Python on the client, so go ahead and write and run Perl, have tables set aside for Perl divers wanting to show how it's done why not?

A lot of the games will be shipping in binary looks like, so we won't always know what tools were used to create 'em, nor do we need to know. Sysadmins have control over ports so games needing to chat with the outside world may need to accommodate modest CSN sandbox requirements.

We don't provide the Internet to just any random binary that comes down the pipe, plus we're monitoring the psychometrics ourselves, partly why vendors agree to supply a bonus with each payload (plus we're usually good for their image).

Like don't go to a CSN affiliate expecting to load all your own games, familiar from the "home alone" context. Many of our games will be exclusive to CSN. That's part of how we support our client shops, by following the Grateful Dead model: go ahead and copy, but remember, you heard it here first.