Category: Weavrs

The Tiny Web.

Henry Cooke and Teddy Ruxpin 

As you all may know I have been playing around with strange bot things for a while now. You know those weavr things. Well a couple of us having been hanging out in a corner of the Internet that looks remarkably like skype but is in fact a place where we bang around ideas and develop stuff. Most people call these places skype group chats but we call this place The Phactory Bar.

Now, one evening somebody suggested that it would be lovely to have a virtual character in the bar. Then we went to bed. When we woke up Henry Cooke had made one. That’s how The Landlord was born. So now we can order drinks, snacks, music and much much more from this fictional character. Over the course of the last couple of months The Landlord has developed into a multi-channel fictional character that is basically an in joke taken a little too far. At some point someone suggested that it would be lovely to give The Landlord a voice and twenty minutes later Shardcore wired him up some vocal chords. One thing led to another and The Landlord had his own pirate radio station called landy.fm that plays botstep 24 / 7 (assuming that Shardcore’s cleaning lady doesn’t unplug the power supply).

Landy.fm also has traffic reports, horoscopes, adverts and something really odd called algo chat. It’s all automagically generated and it’s mental.

Then someone thought it would be fun to stick the radio station up the bum of a Teddy Ruxpin. Povey bought the teddy, Cooke did something to it and Shardcore made the magic happen. Satan just sits there giggling.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLFxqeqat2g]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zYYA1cyDPA]

We will all be talking about The Landlord, The Phactory Bar and The Tiny Web at this year’s Campus Party in Berlin so if you’re around pop on by and say hello. Seriously.

Some useful things.

Hi there. If you were either at Operation Ton (Hamburg) or Scholz + Friends Digital Campus (Berlin) you may have seen me talk about some things. Below, you’ll find some things that put those things into some context.

This is Henry Jenkins. Blog here. Books here. I will be doing a thing with Henry in June, tickets here.

I talked, briefly about the Internet being a massive empathy machine and wefeelfine.org. Go and have a look.

This is me becoming Jack.

And here is some progstep by THE INANIMATES which will be kicking off properly soon. THE INANIMATES are built upon and use the whistles of weavrs, which is brilliant. Go and make your virtual personality of the future, today.

On Weavrs

Disclaimer – I have been involved with Weavrs and the Philter Phactory in some way or another for many years and I am more than happy to be able to say that David Bausola (that guy) is a personal friend.

THAT SAID…

You may, or may not, have stumbled across the rather amusing story of Jon Ronson versus Jon_Ronson. If you haven’t, then you can watch the interview with the Philter Phactory and Jon, here and read the follow up post that clarifies the matter somewhat, here. I’m not going to comment on the matter except to say that neither side of the argument comes across clearly, the Philter Phactory should stop using long words that nobody understands and Jon Ronson appears to have a slightly antagonist history with anything fictional that appears to be “real”. Everyone needs to get out more too.

It has been interesting for me to watch people struggle with trying to describe what these “weavrs” actually are. In fact it has been said on a number of occasions that it is impossible to do so. Even the Philter Phactory struggle with a clear description of what their product is. Now, as the disclaimer above states, I’ve had the privilege of playing with various incarnations of weavrs since 2009 at a time when it was called the Demo Graphic Replicator. I would like to point out that I was never involved in developing any of the black-box magic, that was done by people much smarter than myself. I was asked as a storyteller, a designer of digital characters to play with these things. I am not a philosopher, I am just a bloke who buggers about on the internet and yet I feel that I am more than capable of describing what these bloody weavrs actually are.

1. Weavrs are streamtellers.
Streamtelling is something I have, and continue to use to describe what characters within a digital space do. The early version of weavrs was very basic and required the designer of a character to join up the dots that the character was giving them. These dots (and this hasn’t changed at all) were pieces of social content that made emotional sense to the algorithm. The joining of the dots (back in 2009 this was nothing more than tweets) was a hand crafted narrative layer – a story that was informed by what the digital character was collecting online. Three years later and weavrs have, to a certain extent, automated the narrative layer; they are walking, singing (whistling), tweeting, listening to music, reading, making posters, dreaming, cooking etc, all of which they blog about. The weavr tells its own story, which is based on social stuff that makes emotional sense to the algorithm.

2. Weavrs are emotional render ghosts (HT James Bridle).
Weavrs don’t pretend to be people. This is really important to understand and seems to confuse the hell out of people. Yes, you can give a weavr a real name but the weavr will always behave like a weavr (you just have to chat to one to find that out). A big clue to what weavrs are (I have no idea if this was intentional) is the filter that is applied to profile icon which, to me at least, shows the weavr to be something behind pane of textured glass or something peering into a shattered mirror. Weavrs are shards of emotions, ghosts, a reflection of something. Weavrs are emotional render ghosts. James is smashing this stuff out of the ball park with his New Aesthetic stuff which you must read. Bruce Sterling says so (and so do I). The back end of the weavr platform allows you to build very detailed characters and at a first glance you would be forgiven in thinking that you could in fact “build” a real “person” but that never really happens because…

3. Weavrs are disobedient dogs.
Regardless of how detailed you plan your weavr, regardless how detailed you populate the emotions with key words and regardless of how clear you are in your own head about what a weavr is going to be, the weavr will run of and do something different. That’s not to say that what it does isn’t right, it’s just doing what makes sense to the weavr at the time based on how it’s feeling and what it can find on the social web. You can tell it what it’s made of but you can’t tell it what to do. You think you’ve told it to “sit” but the weavr will go and fetch the morning paper. This can be hugely frustrating at first but after a while quite enjoyable.

So weavrs are disobedient streamtelling render ghost dogs. Easy, eh?

Good morning.