Following in the tradition of behind-the-scenes posts like The Making of Idiot’s Mask, I invite you now to take a look at the genesis of my most recent serialization effort, Bobo, in which I will share my originating ideas, my thoughts on the themes in the story, and even some “deleted scenes” that didn’t end up in the final novella.
I met Roland Denning in the comment thread of an article that Cory Doctorow had written in the Guardian (UK) about “Why free ebooks should be part of the plot for writers.”. I wrote to Roland proposing a book swap: one of my self-published technoparanoid dystopian novels for a copy of his self-published technoparanoid dystopian novel The Beach Beneath the Pavement.
When his book came in the mail, I read two chapters & then set it aside for later, as I was in the middle of a few other books at the time. I haven’t finished reading beyond chapter two yet. All of which context will only make you laugh harder (and cringe more) when you watch Roland’s alter robot ego as he follows the path that leads him to self-published stardom.
Part 2 below the fold. This is simply the best thing on publishing and self-publishing ever. Watch it and cry. Watch it and weep. Watch it and laugh your ass off. Watch it and go buy a few copies of Roland’s book, and then a few of mine.
Electroluxe is sponsoring a design contest for products that we will see in the next 90 years. One of the entries is a little robot whose sole purpose in life is to take care of a single plant on Mars or similar hostile environment. I think there’s something Wall-Eesque about the little fella diligently going about his work. And, of course, it brought to mind Brautigan’s poem. Of course, in practice, I suspect the little robot would be stressing out as his plant’s health fluctuates, much like I’ve been distressed over the sudden die-off of shrimp in my fish tank, probably due to some unknown water issue, which I hope I’ve worked out.
I’ve been working with some test harnesses for our Croquet worlds. It’s been a real pain working outside of Croquet: getting things to happen across multiple platforms. Moving data around. It’s all so much easier in a virtual space that automatically replicates everything.
Anyway, we finally got it working enough that there are several machines in Qwaq’s Palo Alto office that are all running around as robots in a virtual world, doing various user activities to see what breaks. Being (still!) in Wisconsin, I have to peek on these machines via remote. I’m currently using Virtual Network Computing (VNC), but there’s also Windows Remote Desktop (RDP). These programs basically scrape the screen at some level, and send the pictures to me. So when these robots are buzzing around in-world, I get a screen repaint, and then another, and then another. And that’s just one machine. If I want to monitor what they’re all doing, I have to use have a VNC window open for each, scraping and repainting away. Yuck. If only there were a better way….
A Japanese sex club advertisement robot. What could I possibly comment further…?
Want to learn ballroom dancing? Don’t feel like having all that icky physical contact with a human being? Well, you’re in luck! Japanese researchers have invented a ballroom dancing robot partner for you. Once again, technology comes to the aide of misanthropes and shut-ins everywhere who want to avoid actual human contact.
This story from the BBC explains how researchers at Cornell have created a very simple robot that can assemble a duplicate of itself.
Now, it’s not the time to panic (yet). The robot can only really
assemble a duplicate of itself if it has the correct parts. In this
case, each robot is made up of three cubes, each of which contain
motors, a processor, and programming. Aside from making more of
themselves out of these building blocks, the robots really can’t do
Bringing to mind (per usual) the quavering voice of David Crosby’s over-the-top histrionic paranoid manifesto Almost Cut My Hair: “It serves to increase my paranoia, like looking in the rearview mirror and seeing a PO-LEASE car!”
However, it would have made me feel worse had this been discovered when I thought of myself as human. Now that I know I’m a robot, somehow it’s easier to take.