Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Greetings from Chicago

:: pycon 2009 @ hyatt, o'hare ::

I'm here representing the Portland-based Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy at a Python conference, having some key meetings with MVPs.

Some of our Wanderers have been taking another look at ecological economics recently (thanks again Trevor). If people asked how I got here, I could say "by surfing the solar gradient", but it's less whimsical to just say Alaska Airlines.

CSN is about "right sharing of world resources" as Quakers say. Each shop is a semi-autonomous "world game engine" for positive change, steered by its customers in cahoots with its vendors. Intelligent steering requires buzz, conversation, in addition to times alone.

Also while in Chicago, I'm planning to visit Starting with the Universe, the Bucky Fuller retrospective that started at NYC's Whitney Museum of American Art last year. It's now at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

I've studied the trains map again, see a close-by station. I was here last year for this same conference, with my two daughters. Then we rented a GPS-car and drove to Pennsylvania, to remember Dawn with her family. I often think back to that trip. Tara appreciated the small town of Indiana.

Where to go next with this project? Our customers might like to hear more of the history. We could invite faculty to lead some discussions. Tell us what you're thinking about? Help us steer?

I also like the idea of offering travel opportunities to those wanting to rotate among shops. One way to add to the buzz, make it more cosmopolitan, is through a staff exchange program.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Proprietary Games

If you were following on the PPUG @ CubeSpace list, you might have seen where I suggested the games might be delivered by armored car direct from skunkworks, and loaded to DVD juke boxes, no copies made, binaries only, bootable on shop VMs (customers don't wait for bootup, if the game is already cached in the queue someplace, as more popular games will be).

This isn't to say all the CSN flagships even have a DVD juke box, nor have I anything against open source games (on the contrary). It's just that if a shop such as Valve, of HalfLife 2 fame, wants to bootstrap as closed source, you won't hear me grumping in the background.

In the ideal shop, every game could work with every bonus packet from every vendor, and for any worthy cause on the menu. Every permutation of vendor, game, cause would be equally accessible.

At least that's ideal in a simplistic sense.

In practice, some games will exploit a vendor's mythos (namespace), trademarked characters or whatever (e.g. Keebler Elves... Tony the Tiger), and you'll get to play if you buy the right mechandise to get started.

Check current vendor websites for more examples (usually minus the socially responsible piece, CSN still in the early stages).

Even with the bonus packet coming from the vendor through the point of sale, the donation to worthy causes is by the individual, the customer player, not the vendor, at least up to a point where you're considered a branded hero for that vendor, going the last mile for Mars, General Mills, Starbucks or whatever -- get a trophy for your collection? Some of those games are pretty hard to beat at the hardest levels [I suck at a lot of 'em -- CMO].

In practice, fine tuning the alchemy will be an ongoing challenge, as vendors map their stipulations, and game authors mandate their choice of outlet (much as artists might choose an exhibiting venue).

In terms of providing a trademark level of transparency, we think getting to view the circuits, how packets are switching and by what rules, should be somewhat open to customer inspection. The shop itself is a game engine of sorts, with a public API in addition to the more private ones available to authorized personnel.

Aggregate views need not be in real time, nor is anonymity at risk where promised in any well designed social networking framework.

Coffee shops needn't pander to every paranoia, but security and confidentiality remain legitimate concerns, worthy of ongoing focus and open source solutions.

The GNU environment wisely provides a lot of security-minded features, does not rely entirely on some "honor system" among hackers with skills, although ethics certainly matter.

Proprietary games may run in this context, but the plan is to keep such "black boxes" embedded within a more public commons, a shared space. Hiding all the internal workings simply "because we can" is not in and of itself a good reason for doing so. Customer loyalty stems from trust in the model, seeing it working.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Serving Buzz

Coffee shops share a constructivist heritage in that here is where people congregate to compare notes and weave memes.

After WW1 in Paris, a kind of existentialism took root, as the devastated and war torn tried to reboot. The movie Jarhead makes a lot of allusions to this literature, which was insufficient to keep WW2 from happening. WW3 was at least colder in some dimensions.

If you're fortunate, your shop will have some networking pros, including on staff, Romany Marie types such as some of our CSN co-founders here (others more grumpy and back office).

"Meme weaving" or "dream weaving" or "day dreaming" (as in conversation, or as in just doodling and noodling) connotes politics. In Portland that means projects like DemocracyLab or the operations of PDC, Metro, PPS, the City Council... lots of players, takes time to surf the blogs, sample the buzz, before chiming in, starting to build a constituency.

Putting too many conversations into one space, plus doing some gaming, sounds like a recipe for pure hubbub, like Laughing Planet on steroids. But of course I'm assuming there's a virtual aspect to all this, that personnel touch base in the shops, through smalltalk or whatever, and then follow up over time, perhaps moving among the shops.

Larger and more programmed events are occurring off camera in this scenario, often in rented facilities, meeting rooms, at facilities such as CubeSpace on SE Grand, or at Lucky Lab on SE Hawthorne.

However, if your shop runs some communal LCDs, like at airports, then there's the option to telecast customer "business cards" as commercial shorts, cameos, accepting a fee for the service, perhaps in terms of accrued tokens on the gaming account.

Customers may also stream travelogues, not necessarily at a charge, with the corresponding web page pointing to the scheduled presentation, should such info be semi-public. Portlanders still travel a lot, come back with their stories.

:: portland barcamp @ cubespace ::

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Boot Track

Welcome to the boot track for Coffee Shops Network. Should Starbucks be worried? Maybe Starbucks could join?

We market philosophy, a buzz, and spread by academic citation, by URL, by footnote. One "becomes" CSN simply by talking turkey the way we do, and that includes helping your sister shops come up to speed, both in marketing and in getting those game tables going.

FAQ: "What if I don't want 'game tables' or 'flatscreen TVs'"?

This is more about the philosophy than any specific claptrap. An "all things to all people" approach is not good marketing. Esoterica is not about "safety in numbers".

In terms of buzz, this is a Cult of Athena branch-off, thinking of Nashville as a home in some ways, in terms of music. On the other hand, we're influenced by McMenamins, Backspace, Laughing Planet, Missing Link... Gold Door in Portland, Oregon. The game culture is brought to you by local area casinos, at least in terms of lighting levels and bling, so yes, there's a NavAm component, along with Pacific Northwest.

Visually, we're vested in "Neoplatonist eye candy" by which I mean the new kind of geometry woven in through this boot track. We connect to American Transcendentalism through Bucky and his great aunt Fuller, other co-conspirators (Marshall McLuhan... Barbara Marx Hubbard). We allude to the Apollo Project quite a bit, a tie to the space program. Our kitchens owe plenty to naval submarines.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Featured Artist: Lilymoth

Lilymoth is a grown up goth who cheerfully and professionally trimmed my shaggy gray locks this afternoon, even though, on a spring day such as this, she might rather be in her garden, arranging these tableaus with her doll collection.

Originally from Detroit, she was entranced by Blue Meanies (Yellow Submarine) at an early age.

Her stag beetle tattoo is right at home amidst the foliage, some bones recently added, celebrating her becoming a grandma at 41.

Portland is blessed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Travel Bar

Oldest tea house in Baghdad,
where generations of
artists, writers, and intellectuals
meet to share stories and ideas.
(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

The word "bar" doesn't always connote alcohol as in the term "juice bar" or "candy bar". Likewise, some casinos don't feature gambling.

On the other hand, it derives from "barrier" and lawyers used it as something to get passed, as in "passing the bar".

The word "barrio" is unrelated, although barrio bars (neighborhood watering holes) are commonplace in many cultures, some of which do serve alcohol or other adult beverages.

A CSN franchise will be embedded within a cultural fabric. The choice of games will also vary, as some communities think nothing of vicious on-screen violence, whereas in others, LCDs exhibiting such fare would be considered either in poor taste, or only suitable for some sectioned off area.

Quaker-run bars might permit only twisted cartoon violence of an AVP variety, thought up in various think tanks, such as Pendle Hill's, maybe trade with the Unitarians some (unless this sect has some strictures against game-playing we don't know about yet ).

Open House
shop in pdx (photo by CMO)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Open Source

The screen shot above is from an early simulation, not from any production code base. Study CSN Circuit Diagrams to learn more of the logic (business model).

The customer's purchase includes a bonus towards some game off the DVD juke box, and a worthy cause, both picks off the menu.

The house gets a take off the top, then the worthy cause (e.g. Greenpeace), with the bonus remainder returning to the vendor for potential recycling.

In effect, the vendor is letting the customer invest its charitable donations, thereby giving the customer identity-building ammo, itself an investment in good will (indeed, the customer may designate herself or another customer as a worthy cause, and in some gaming environments -- not just casinos -- this is actively encouraged).

:: FOSS in Vancouver, BC ::

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Photographer's Corner

Office Scene
:: alcove in Portland ::

:: twilight ::

:: multi-faceted ::

:: playground in Oregon ::

featured Photostream

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Regarding Authentication

Astute readers will be thinking how LCD heroics might describe their latest testing experience, in terms of what feats of memory, of problem solving, were called upon.

Yet in a coffee shop ambience we seek more recreational learning, akin to a museum or specialty gift shop; these teach a lot about a culture, especially if geared for tourists, such as at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, or Oregon Coast.

Those pointing out that ETS is still in the dark ages, whereas more colleges could be working in cahoots with the private sector, turning out any number of superior learning experiences, get CSN tokens for having visionary powers. Congratulations!

Even creaky old ETS might get back in the game, once it realizes the demographic potential. Like, who can blame private vendors for wanting a piece of the action. Tying point of sale events to customer identities (even masked, so long as the data is real) is the holy grail of niche marketing, and here we're establishing a collusive relationship between our paying customers and the very vendors who "spy" upon them. Vendor to customer: "we're in this together, in support of worthy causes, creating our track records, building our histories".

Given the relatively relaxed atmosphere at your average coffee shop, if junior wants to perform a miracle and snag a big bonus for a worthy cause, then turn around and credit that score to a friend or relative, that's not a problem. The software might have ways of "crediting to" (a kind of flag) but in general we're not so concerned about "cheating", don't bend over backwards to "verify identity" at every turn.

People know going in that our chaordic network is on average somewhat rough and tumble, a mirror for other "game playing" that might be more verified and button down (games for money, academic credit, other cred). Facebook provides a good analogy. You have the ability to wipe clean and start over, or tend multiple aliases.

On the other hand, some tucked away shop in an Alaskan fishing community, attended by regulars, might settle into semi-strict patterns, with identities kept intact over the long haul. These behaviors emerge organically. Back office programming is not the determining factor. Shops develop in their own way without a lot of top-down supervision.

Schools running the same or similar games and/or simulations motivate more practice in a friendly self schooling atmosphere, with more controlled testing environments implemented in these other venues. Stricter authentication tests will then apply.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Franchise Motifs

Your paradigm coffee shop in our Coffee Shops Network is run by a bevy of networking types, our icon being Romany Marie from those long ago days in Greenwich Village. Fine Grind was and is paradigmatic.

Another thread is the large well-equipped bakery, lots of stainless steel, with the mythology that this comes from shipboard, from the naval tradition, those fast food kitchens being the "dumbed down" landlubber versions of the really good kitchens at sea ("think ney").

Add in the pirate motif, quite important, and you get female sea captains piloting our prototypes, helping steer computer science in productive directions, per our socially responsible business model.

Keeping the philosophy high caliber is part of the formula for success, and that expresses in branding and marketing. "What's a Princeton philosophy degree good for?" you ask. "Selling Arabica beans, Sumatran, Columbian..." and of course we keep a hand in the tea business as well.

Rumors that Bob Dobbs is our CEO are intriguing. Looking into it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Res Extensa

:: karl menger, dimension theorist ::

If you click on the title you'll go to the Math Forum, where I'm explaining to a pre-college audience about their non-Euclidean geometry options.

Sure, you're welcome to fiddle with the 5th postulate to get other self-consistent vistas, likewise suitable for exploration and discovery.

Those bothered by "dimensionless points" and/or perhaps more drawn to the "atoms" of Democritus, will be happy to learn of our "geometry of lumps" under development since at least the 1940s (the histories will vary on this point).

Karl Menger's proposal segues nicely with later explorations, and our practice of calling all shapes "4D" in res cogitans, 4D++ in res extensa (which latter we've associated with "energy" ever since Einstein (energy has shape)).

The key paper was in an anthology on Einstein's relativity: 'Modern Geometry and the Theory of Relativity', in Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist , The Library of Living Philosophers VII, edited by P. A. Schilpp, Evanston, Illinois, pp. 459-474.

For further reading:

About Karl Menger (Illinois Institute of Technology)
Small World (Grain of Sand, Aug 11, 2007)
Claymation Station (Grain of Sand, Oct 3, 2008)
Re: 4D vs. 4D vs. 4D (Coffee Shops Network, Feb 7, 2009)
Proposal Re: Dimension (Grain of Sand, Jan 12, 2009)
Egoistic Writing on 4D (Synergeo, Nov 27, 2010)
Marketing CSN @ Math Forum (math-teach, Dec 23, 2010)
STEM and Euclid's Geometry (math-teach, Dec 26, 2011)
Re: A Question about Straight Lines (math-teach, Jan 27, 2014)

Monday, March 2, 2009

CSN Circuits

The vendor contributes a payload plus bonus, where the payload is some good (such as tea), and the bonus is towards an LCD game, soliciting patron heroics (a challenge to perform, per some system for scoring).

The default is for the entire bonus to return to the vendor, but a typical game will reward the house (shop) simply for loading the game, like that free 200 on your SAT, just for getting your name right.

The next few levels feed your chosen worthy cause, picked from the coffee shop's list of available beneficiaries (or vendor's list as the case may be). "Like church bingo" said Glenn. "Bingo!" said I.

And right up against the ceiling, the points are to you, the player, a reward for having served your cause.

At this point, the logic gets dicey, as true monetary rewards, as in "walk away with cash" would make this more a casino, where strict rules apply.

Or, the rewards to self could be good towards supplies in the neighboring gift store (maybe a microscope, over time?). Or toward more payloads with game time.

In the "edu-mall" hybrid, your supply stores and education stations are in close proximity. You could spend the day here and come away both more informed and more well endowed -- a cool kind of school, with age-appropriate vending.

An important aspect of this circuitry is we give patrons the option of registering their successes (high scores) in conjunction with their identity records. You'll develop a track record.

Altering the model just a little turns these good scores into academic credits, transferable in ways we might negotiate.

These blueprints have a futuristic flavor. I've been talking about 2012 as a target date for some of the services coming on-line.

Other services have already started.

You just need the right equipment and, to identify as a part of the network, the right decals and decor. Chaordic principles apply. We seek organic growth.