LIFT08: Robin Hunicke (Game Design) [en]

*steph-note: live blogged notes, may be incomplete, etc.*

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Computers aren’t really fun. Frustrating. Games and AI, on the other hand, are.

Building and sharing is better than just building by your self.

A little bit of vocabulary to think about how games work, now.

Fun is a problematic word. Means different things to different people.

System: MDA

– Mechanics = rules as system, any game has rules
– Dynamics = what happens when the player interacts with the rules, without a player a game is just a set of rules
– Aesthetics = resulting experience, what comes from all these things together

Why kill books to make digital books? Why kill games to make digital games?

Games we played:

– dolls
– fort/army
– charades
– tag
– spin the bottle
– 4 square
– soccer

What is true about all these is that they involve groups of people. People are fun. Competition, mock violence, lies, hidden information, misinformation, love, family…

Power is hard to simulate. Magic circle.

What about digital games? Here’s what you might do in a game.

Start somewhere, do an activity, and when you’re good enough at it, you get a star. Progress! You get to upgrade: more weapons, cooler pants, more friends. Over and over again. (Scary!)

Not unlike going to work every day until you get a promotion, or going on dates until you get engaged.

Some popular aesthetics:

– I am a surgeon in a soap opera emergency room (Trauma Center)
– I am a girl discovering her past, which is strangely haunted (Trace Memory)
– I am an attorney solving odd crimes and protecting the innocent (Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney)
– I am a warrior in a war-torn land (…)

There is a reason these aesthetics get explored in games.

What are we learning?

Making things we get out of games seem more and more real: hard work! The aesthetics can override the mechanics: ex, the Wii.

Take the power of something that’s pretty complex, simplify it into a smaller form, you get something magical. The market is saying they want more of that.

Facebook is a game. One of the most compelling social applications out there.

– chatty
– social
– automatic
– selective
– fast
– repetitive
– rewarding

Adding friends, chatting, adding, chatting, adding, chatting…

It’s a huge franchise from a games perspective.


– more friends
– graffiti
– gifts
– hugs
– laughter
– wins
– pictures

Work and rewards

It lets me decide how to use it. Lets me decide what the game is about. I don’t have to have the hugs application. Facebook is about me the human being, about the people who use it.

Aesthetic on Facebook: I am a person living a fun life… 🙂 I am loved.

Do you give hugs?

LIFT08 155 Robin Hunicke

Flickr, Dopplr. Not giving people actual points, but giving them space to create and play.

– I vote
– I invest
– …

Small steps: mobile, creative, communicative, always almost now.

House of the future. Aesthetics that are available to me. Game design is literacy. All apps can do this. Smile more.

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LIFT08: Zentrale Intelligenz Agentur (Holm Friebe & Philipp Albers) [en]

*Very incomplete notes. [What these guys are doing]( seems really exciting.*

Quality and nature of work changing. Lots of people from our generation are discontent with the opportunities they find in organizations, career opportunities.

The Hedonistic Company. How do you integrate the new generation into companies?

LIFT08 143

7 NOs:

– no office
– no employees
– no fixed costs
– no pitches
– no exclusivity
– no working hours
– no bullshit

*steph-note: guys, we need to talk about [Going Solo](! Gah, computer crash… rebooting*

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LIFT08: Kevin Warwick, the "Cyborg" [en]

*steph-note: live blogged notes, may be incomplete, etc. Kevin is exploring where the machine starts and the human stops.*

Two things:

– chips in humans
– rat brains in robots

LIFT08 139

Working with Parkinson’s disease — deep brain scans to try to detect the illness before the tremors begin.

Research partly to help people, partly for enhancement. Eg. man who lost his arm to cancer, and has a robotic hand, but must use his exiting hand to control the robot arm. A bit silly! Would be better if he could control it directly — that would require an interface between the arm and the brain/neural system.

Increase sensory range.

Kevin has a chip with 100 electrodes implanted (fired!) in the nervous system of his left arm. 4mm in diameter.

*steph-note: wondering if that hurt?*

For three months had his nervous system partly out of his body. (Had to be careful to not short-circuit it when taking a shower). Part of this was to experiment stuff to help people with disabilities.

*steph-note: not sure I quite understood what the thing sticking out of his arm was — something to link him to the computer — and also if the chip was removed after three months or not.*

When Kevin was connected to the internet, if you had known the IP address of his nervous system… But what they did is not tell anybody what they were doing until they had done it. Careful not to get your nervous system spammed or hacked!

Highlights from the experiment. Output from the sensors fed to his nervous system (fancy thing on his wrist).

LIFT08 141

When an object came closer, his brain received and increased frequency of ultrasounds (?). So basically with a blindfold on, Kevin was able to move around and detect objects pretty accurately. Not what they were, but where they were.

“It felt like something was coming close to me.” Extended the sensory range. Like “what does it feel like to see something”?

LIFT08 142

*steph-note: showing a short video clip. It makes Kevin sound like Terminator! Will add link if somebody gives it to me.*

Experiment with his wife: when his wife moved her hand, he felt it. He could actually feel her movements.

*steph-note: Daleks in the video!!! I find it hilarious — the angle this video takes.*

Jewellery his wife wears, and the colour changes with his excitement: blue, calm, flashing red: excited. “What is he doing? and with who!?”

Through the internet, made a robot hand mimic what his hand did, with feedback. Objective: hold an object. Good news for people who have been amputated. But also, stretching Kevin’s body across the Atlantic.

His wife had wires pushed into her nervous system from the outside. Very painful! But no anesthetic, because the doctor said he needed to see if he made good contact. It hurt!!

Linked their nervous systems. When she moved her hand, his brain received pulses. Worked very well. Vice-versa: “like lightening running through her hand” when Kevin moved his.

Kevin’s research is now moving from nervous system to the brain directly. Brain to brain communication! Telepathy. Ideas, codes, concepts, images. Upgrade these humans. Communicate in a respectable way!


The implant was taken out because the wires coming out were starting to break, it was an experiment — a lot of practicalities.

Kevin’s experiment changed the way people look at things medically. “Cyborg” is not anymore a purely SF term.

Lots of things could have gone wrong with the experiment, but as a scientist, it was tremendously exciting! Discovered stuff about the nervous system that nobody knew, because nobody had done this before. Scary but really exciting. Rollercoaster.

It took Kevin’s brain six weeks to recognize the electric pulses it was receiving as a “distance radar”. Boring time, but it took that time to train his brain, and it adapted — he actually “felt” how far things were.

What next? Research on Parkinson’s, by analysing deep brain scans to predict tremors. Also with epileptic patients to try to see when the fit is coming. Parkinson’s: can predict tremors 15-20 seconds before they happen! With epilepsy, 25-30 **minutes**! *steph-note: wow.* This can change the patient’s lives!

Cultured brains. After a week, a rat’s brain starts having some “neural firing” (activity), and after a month it’s starting to act like a brain. All the brain knows is that it drives the robot. Not good drivers! Now, trying to teach these biological brains how to drive the robot better. Lots of philosophical questions. *steph-note: so, from what I understand, they don’t remove brains from rats, but grow them.* Cultured neural networks. Artificial intelligence. *steph-note: Cylons!*

Watch the video:

Watch a [shorter video excerpt about extending his sensory range](

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On Being Wiped Out [en]

[fr] Epuisée mais contente. Si je ne vous reconnais pas, si je vous demande trois fois votre nom, si j'essaie de vous donner des cartes de visite trois fois... soyez indulgents. Je suis hyper contente de la réception de mon discours sur l'histoire de Going Solo.

My poor brain can’t follow anymore. I’m loosing track of who I speak to, who I’ve met, who I’ve given [Going Solo]( moo cards too (even to my friends). I’m delighted with the reception of my [speech about Going Solo]( — swept off my feet, even.

Many people have come to tell me they liked my speech, that it was inspiring, that they are going to come to Going Solo, that they want to interview me (I’ve lost track of the number of interviews I’ve given today, honestly), or talk about partnerships or possible synergies.

I’m feeling bad, because I was [invited as one of the electronic media crowd]( to live-blog the event, and I think I’ve done a really crappy job of it. I hope to earn my pass tomorrow.

I’m not feeling [overwhelmed as I was at FoWA](, because I’m happy rather than frustrated and anxious. But I can’t keep up. Don’t get me wrong, I want to speak to you, and I’m going to. I also know that this is important for my event 🙂 — but if I look a little exhausted, if I ask you your name three times, try to give you Moo cards twice, or forget what you just told me… please be indulgent!

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LIFT08: Eric Favre [en]

*Live notes that don’t really do justice to the talk — I had trouble keeping up.*

LIFT08 088 Eric Favre

Passion is a necessary ingredient to invention (hence the presence of his wife here). Eckert is one of the first inventors, for Eric Favre. He invented a 20-ton, 18’000-light machine: the first “computer”. Modern maths.

How to make the best coffee: put the coffee in a little bag. Found a place where they made the best coffee in Italy. His wife befriended the guy who made the best coffee and asked him the right questions. Each time he lifted the “piston” he inserted air in the coffee — that was the trick. Air + water + coffee = expresso.

Role of women in marketing a product.

*steph-note: sorry, I’m having trouble following this coffee stuff. I don’t drink coffee…*

Innovation and invention are not the same thing.

Eric’s father was an inventor (lived his whole life off the invention he made when he was 18). In the genes? Maybe more contact with inventors.

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LIFT08: Rafi Haladjian [en]

*Note: live notes, probably incomplete, possibly misunderstood. Please post comments, links to photos, videos, or other coverage in the comments. Rafi founded Minitel start-ups, and now makes wifi rabbits.*

LIFT08 087 Rafi Haladjian

Calm technologies. Attention economy: screens require an exclusive attention span — putting more things on the screen is maybe not a solution. Why not provide information through other channels?

In the beginning, chips were expensive. 1 computer for several users. Then chips became more affordable, and today, so cheap you can stick them everywhere. 1 user, several computers.

Why do teddy-bears speak? They used to be pure plush, and now they have a chip and sing stupid songs.

All home appliances networked: never happened. Why?

– not that appealing, no fun
– expensive and not that sexy (too much effort)
– proprietary tech, complex to set up
– loss of control

Violet’s strategy:

– affordable products
– not too useful, because too useful is boring
– expanding the internet, not something radically new
– user in the middle, control
– don’t think you can do everything: open standards, let the community in


LIFT08 086 Nabaztag

– proof of concept
– “If you can connect a rabbit, you can connect anything.”
– somewhat absurd
– rabbits are cute and have ears
– there is a life after the PC
– light, speaks, music, reads, moves ears, hears, RFID reader — does all sorts of things
– use? short reports, read RSS feeds…
– emotional messenger, physical avatar of your friends
– rabbit marriage — very stupid but people love it (ear movement sync)
– sold with Gallimard RFID-enabled children book (can read it — a step back from the idea that the future of books is electronic)

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LIFT08: My Going Solo Open Stage Speech [en]

[fr] J'ai fait une présentation très courte de ce qui m'a inspiré à organiser Going Solo tout à l'heure, lors de LIFT. Voici le texte sur la base duquel j'ai préparé ma présentation, et des liens (quand je les aurai trouvés) vers vidéos ou articles.

For the first time in my life, I actually rehearsed a speech. Ironically, my three-hour workshop yesterday required all of 5 minutes preparation time on the train in the morning (in my defense, I given similar workshop/classes before), but my 5-minute open stage speech had me preparing and rehearsing for at least three hours. My friend Sarah probably got sick of hearing it over and over again last night as she timed me.

It went well. Thanks again to all [who voted to see me speak on stage](, and for your kind and encouraging comments after my speech.

You could probably see I was a bit stressed — quite a bit more than when I usually [speak]( you can’t really make any mistakes when you only have 5 minutes. It’s there, it’s gone.

I left a bit out, I’m afraid. Blame it on stress. The part I left out is about how important this “business” aspect of freelancing is — because it’s actually what’s going to determine how successful you’ll be as a freelancer. You can be the best at what you do, if you don’t know how to set your rates or find clients, you’ll starve.

So, here’s the text I wrote last night and I based my preparation upon. It isn’t a word-by-word transcript of what I said (I didn’t learn it by heart!), but it’s pretty close. Enjoy the insight into how I prepared this speech!

If I find videos and links later on, I’ll add them to the end of this post.

> I’m going to tell you a tale of inspiration, of a personal journey which led me to do things I never would have thought possible, like organising an event for freelancers from all over Europe — which I’ll tell you more about at the end of this speech. It’s not just my journey, it’s the journey of all those who have turned a passion into a living.

> Are there any freelancers or small business owners in the room? Keep those hands up. Any ex-freelancers? Aspiring freelancers, or people who’ve thought about the idea? This is about you.

> Two years ago I was sitting in this same hall. I was a middle school teacher, and I dreamed of being able to make a living out of my passion, the web — but I couldn’t see how. After LIFT in 2006, something clicked, and I saw how it could be possible. A few months later at the end of the school year, I quit my job as a teacher to be a full-time freelancer.

> It was easy at first. The phone kept ringing, and people actually wanted to pay me for stuff that didn’t feel like work. My biggest challenge was that I felt bad because I had the impression I was on holiday all the time.

> After a few weeks or months though, things became more complicated and less fun. I was charging too little, how should I set my rates? I was drowning in paperwork, I hired an accountant. I was contacted by clients I didn’t expect, like Intel who wanted to fly me all the way to the US, or a rather prominent local politician. I realised I wasn’t good at negociating and closing deals.

> Luckily I had friends in the business. I asked for their advice, and realised they had faced or were still facing the same issues. They were willing to share. I found support and learned useful things:

> – how to set a daily rate, for example. Decide how much you want to make in a month. Divide that by the number of days you have available for paid work — 10 maximum, maybe — you have your daily rate.
– I also learnt to stop being uncomfortable about how much I was charging for talks — people were paying for my expertise, not for my time

> I started learning that there is way more to freelancing than just doing the things you’re being paid for. There is a whole business aspect to freelancing which is not what draws people to become soloists — they go solo because they’re good at doing something and can get paid for it — but this business stuff is actually really important, because it’s going to determine how successful you are as a freelancer.

> When I decided to organize events, it was pretty obvious that the first one would be for freelancers. That’s Going Solo — it’s going to take place on May 16th, in Lausanne, just 30 minutes away from here by train.

> Going Solo is an occasion to gather freelancers from all over the web industry, from all over Europe and even elsewhere, and take a day off “working” to think about these business issues in depth. Seasoned freelancers like Stowe Boyd, Suw Charman, Martin Roell — and also Laura Fitton of Pistachio Consulting, which I’m announcing right now as my fourth confirmed speaker — will share their experience and dig into topics like setting your rates, negotiating and closing deals, finding clients, or better, helping clients find you, and even choosing how to work so that you actually have a work-life balance — something I’m personally struggling with these days.

> If you want to know more about Going Solo, come and talk to me or visit the website — [](, with a hyphen. If you have speakers to suggest, or partnerships to talk about, make yourself known. Otherwise, see you on the 16th of May!

– [interviewed by Robert Scoble on Qik](
– [interviewed by Nicholas Charbonnier on Tech Video Blog](
– (

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LIFT08: Pierre Bellanger (Skyrock) [en]

[fr] Conférence de Pierre Bellanger, patron de Skyrock (skyblog), à la conférence LIFT08.

*Note: live notes, probably incomplete, possibly misunderstood. Intro: SkyBlog is the biggest blogging platform in Europe / SkyRock radio.*

LIFT08 022

Is going to speak about the future. Founder and CEO of — will speak about their vision of social networking, and why it’s the future.

Skyrock started as a pirate radio station. Became a national radio network after a few years. 13-24 year olds.

Blogging platform. Very basic, easy to use. Profiles. 2nd French site in page views. 1st French-speaking social network in the world.

Started the SN in 2002. Thinking about the next stages. Numbers:

LIFT08 025 Skyrock Numbers (Pierre Bellanger)

Goal: be the world teenager social network. For that, need to change constantly. Netamorphosis. Where do we go from now?

Understand what we are better. Need to go back to what we were, e-mail — the mother of all social networks. E-mail and the web gave birth to meta information. Search and social network.

SN is to mail what search is to the web. A new level of metadata, information about people.

Teenagers are extremely productive. Lots of contacts. The blog is a revolution, because it becomes your new e-mail address, your new digital identity. The centre of electronic exchanges. The social network is the future of telecommunications.

The value is shifting from bandwidth to programming code. Changing internet providers is much easier than changing your e-mail client. Same with social networks. Skyrock wants the social network to be at the core of all exchanges.

For that, important to think mobile. Go for IM rather than trying to stick poor web pages on that tiny screen. Merge the SN and the IM.

Social operating system.

*steph-note: snipping a bunch of technical stuff — too stressed by my upcoming Open Stage speech!*

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LIFT08: Bruce Sterling [en]

[fr] Notes prises lors de la conférence LIFT08.

*Note: live notes, probably incomplete, possibly misunderstood.*

What’s the punchiest thing one can say about the past year? That’s the way it was, now get out!

Europeans: historical sense.

LIFT08 017 Bruce Sterling

2008 is not going to be the total revolutionary year (no year is, we always thing it’s going to be, but it doesn’t happen).

Economic downturn. China under piles of dirty laundry. India surrounded by crazy mujahidins (spelling?).

Global warming is a slow, 200-year-old problem. Is it really exciting to watch Microsoft eat Yahoo?

Bruce would like to offer us a piece of futuristic insight, a nice prophecy.

Carla Bruni. Sarkozy who wants to civilize the Internet from a French perspective, by repressing P2P on French soil.

Carla isn’t here at LIFT. She has a whole lot of reasons to be here. She’s a [Black Swan]( But Black Swans can be beautiful — Carla is gorgeous! *steph-note: snip some comments about Black Swans, positive and negative.*

There isn’t a single journalist around who can’t write a Carla Bruni story.

Two driving purposes (Carla and Sarkozy): ambition and publicity. First Diva de France. She’s certainly never been a politician. *steph-note: follow scenarios of Nicolas and Carla etc.*

Carla is a pop star with the power of state behind her.

Predict the future: Carla and Nicolas don’t know the future any more than you do.

Empress of Europe: 35% (fantastic success is a much better story — Bruce is a journalist!)

The Internet is a Black Swan too.

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Busy! [en]

[fr] Je cours, je cours! Pas mal de nouveau sur le site de Going Solo. J'espère mettre les billets en vente dès mercredi!

Gosh, have I been busy these last weeks. My “one post a day minimum” resolution kind of evaporated when I started [running all around town]( looking at venues for Going Solo.

Well, [we have a venue]( now, and today I spent a fair amount of time playing with [Expectnation]( to try and get it ready to [open registration]( less than two days from now (fingers crossed).

We also have
badges to display in your sidebar (thanks, [Carlos](!) and [more content on the Going Solo site]( [Pulled the badges after some feedback. New ones soon!]

I also seem to have found our fourth speaker, which I’m quite excited about (no, not telling — both parties are going to chew on it a little before we make it offical).

Now, I just need to sleep, prepare my [workshop](, rehearse my [Open Stage speech](, announce the Lausanne [blogging seminar]( for 26th February and figure out how to market it.

Uh-oh! Night night everybody.

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