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Living Without Television | Replacing The Idiot Box

A year without a tv.

Back in the 1950’s Winky Dink And You (see above video) was at the forefront of interactive media. Kids were invited to participate in concluding every episode by literally connecting the dots using a transparent sheet placed on the television screen and drawing on it with special pens (they were just crayons).

Over half a century later the box in the corner avails a gargantuan amount of viewing options. Our interaction is mainly with the remote, which is used as a tool to carve through the immensity offered. Texting to vote on some karaoke-style show or choosing between which sport commentary is the depth of our interaction—most content is still a passive consumption one-way serving.

Just like the acetate used by the kids, we are simply completing the narrative proposed rather than defining a wholly original one for ourselves or even shaping its future.

There is another way…

Embrace the opportunity to find our own voice.

Rage and publish.

Aggregate and share.

Understand the power of creating your own media menu.

The world is not what the news tells you it is.

It is far sadder.






Get out.

Develop your own media.

Your own message.

Take photos (nearly everyone reading this have a device which does this).


Capture audio.


Shoot video.


Comment like a fool (don’t just nod your head and move on).

Click all the buttons.

Try breaking the web (you can’t—I tried).

Talk to people.

Connect with people.

Ask them questions.

Set up an RSS aggregator.

Subscribe to a vast array of varying blogs and online spaces.

Blog yourself.

Understand the difference between curation and creation.

Craft a more balanced media diet.

Don’t accept the world as it is offered to you.

Get rid of your television and live longer, have more / better sex, look taller / slimmer / younger, earn more money, etc

Disclaimer: last line may not be true.

Gnat Gnat | Apologies

Gnat Gnat

Aggregating online activity whilst simplifying the effort and concentrating the goodness (or something like that).

Gnat Gnat was my digital scrapbook.

It’s tagline served a bigger idea of how even the smallest things can affect things.

It existed as a dump for all the amazing brain melting stuff I found following digital breadcrumbs and was hosted on the fab little blogging platform Posterous.

It’s mouth-watering content and future activity will now be folded into this blog (sorry if you’ve been getting many and random updates through your email / rss subscriptions as currently making good all the blog posts over the coming weeks).

Gamification For Beginners | Levelling Up, Rewards & Having Fun

Gamification is the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to solve problems and engage users (from Gabe Zicherman).

The video I created above is collection of speakers / attendees who attended the Gamification Summit, NYC last week, defining the term from their perspective (featured in order: @gzicherm, Irvin Fain, @brian_wong, @tobyberesford, @dwmcallister, @mich8elwu, @jradoff, Mario Herger—thank you guys). Here’s the agenda:

For those who are new to the whole term and discussion of gamification here’s a quick and basic 101 on the subject from my experience at the conference:

When I was gaming it was Kokotoni Wilf, Jet Set Willy and the crazy blue hedgehog (bearing in mind this was during the ZX Spectrum and Sega era—yes I’m that old). Although the graphics and layers of game play has increased exponentially the fundamentals of creating player engagement has somewhat remained the same.

The Theory

Great games are built around a narrative the players / users to interact with whilst completing tasks, getting rewarded, levelling up and having fun.

A great introduction to think about game theory is the Bartle’s Test (created in 1996), which attempts to defines what player type you are in an online game (take the test). There are four:

frank caron player types

Click on the above for bigger version—thanks Frank (image credit)

This has been used by creators to steer game development although the majority of people are socialisers (hence the popularity of social gaming in the last few years).

I really liked Jon Radoff’s challenge and approach to designing games as experiences. Layering in the crucial, and sometimes forgotten, emotional and motivational elements within the ‘play’. He also made us think about the need to:

“…understand your customer and make them a hero


A HUGE part of gaming is the reward mechanisms. There’s the obvious intrinsic (fun, power, love, meaning etc) vs extrinsic (points, badges, punishments, levels etc) debate, but simply put, without rewards games loses its stickiness.

Another way to think about rewarding participants is by giving them the following (again from Gabe Zicherman):

  • Status—reaching the end of the race first could be replaced by a new title or being referenced in the annual report as the main facilitator of success
  • Access—instead of unlocking secret levels maybe it’s about the opportunity to participate in real world events like conferences or invites to executive meetings
  • Power—not just more weapons but maybe the chance to make budget or policy and other creative decisions
  • Stuff—sometimes cash, sometimes things like gifts, trips and other real life experiences

Levelling Up

This is what the player / user achieves (which is different than rewards).

People need to feel like they are moving forward and this can be done either through a narrative and / or levels. Benchmarking progression is another simple measurement tool both for the user and creator of the programme. Get this right and it will drive motivation plus sustain engagement.

“The best games are designed as real life” by @aaronkwhite

So What?

So here’s three scenarios for applying gamification:

  • Schools: education is currently a game (some say badly designed). It already have levels and players moving through the system, scores / grades to reward and the subjects create potential opportunities for player and personality types to engage. The problem is it’s not designed with the user in mind but with the outcome of serving an outdated notion of the world. What would a school look like if you grouped students by how their brain works (player types) and not by age / intellect? What if we not only focussed on gamifying the classroom but also the professional development of the teachers as well?
  • Retail: the power of exclusivity has been used by retailers for ages but add to that the idea of discovery and referrals then you have a game. Creating an “I won” experience for shoppers through a fantastic user experience is already being done with great success by Gilt and others. This is about seeing products as rewards and the route to attainment as the interaction (game). As long as its fun people will engage.
  • Internally (for a company / organisation): again with the many layers of hierarchy and sometimes reward schemes already existing the organisation and corporate environment provides a ripe environment for games. Motivating your staff to tackle the problem (whether it is finding new clients or solving marketing challenges) is sometimes about outlining what will happen if these issues aren’t solved. The reward layer could be based on a competition and the sharing of ideas could be vetted through using the built in ‘crowd’ of the company. Start small with the possibility of scaling big.


The conference filled my brain with a deeper understanding which I hope will provide the foundation in my attempt to graft this stuff onto the gamified internal social media training currently in development. This should provide a start but there are several resources and videos online which does a deeper dive for those who are hungry for more:

So, is this something you could use in your work or do you think it’s just a hollow argument and over complicated layering to experiences? Leave a comment below as would love to hear your thoughts.
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The Optimism Of Uncertainty | Read This Because It’s Important For Your Soul

“We need hope. An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places-and there are so many-where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”