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Revenge of the Latte Fund (The Crowdfunding Beat)

on Thursday, May. 21st

2015 has been an interesting year for crowdfunding… at least it sure as heck feels that way to me. Big projects are back in vogue and there’s talk again about how “superstar” projects are messing things up for the little guys. More on that in a moment, first, because we’ve got our eye on the ball I thought we’d break out an old favorite practice: the Latte Fund.

The ten of you who religiously read our crowdfunding content here will remember the Latte Fund as a little thing we used to do at the end of our crowdfunding podcast. We’d have each of the panelists pick a project they thought was worth $5— the price of a fancy latte here in LA. That’s with tip, by the way.

I’ve kept my scanners online this week and have let a few PR pitches pique my curiosity, so here are a few projects that caught my attention, and one that is my pick of the week for the Fund.

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One Teen’s Take on EdTech

Soraya Shockley on Tuesday, May. 19th

Remember when a TI-84 was the most technologically advanced tool in the classroom? I don’t! Tech has always been a part of my high school reality. But as digital and traditional learning mix and mingle, reactions have exploded over whether “EdTech” is enhancing or hindering education.

On this question, we usually hear from teachers, parents, administrators, tech companies, and investors clamoring to fund them. Now, it’s time for teens to talk. Let me tell you what my friends and I really think about technology in the classroom. Some of it’s great, but for those EdTech enthusiasts out there, well, hold on because the truth may hurt. (more…)

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DIY Midas Touch Turns “Plain” Apple Watches To Gold

on Wednesday, May. 13th

One of the most talked about features of the Apple Watch this year has been the pricing. The consumer electronics juggernaut took a big pricey step into the world of luxury goods this year by offering up an 18 karat gold version of the device.

If you want to roll with the celebrities who are sporting that flashiest of versions you’re looking at dropping $10,000. For, as everyone will tell you, a watch that is almost certainly going to be obsolete in about three years time.

Or you could just gold plate the steel version. Which is something that is businesses are offering up for a few hundred bucks here and there.

But there is an alternative: Do-It-Yourself gold plating, using a device powered by Apple’s own iPhone charger. Or at least there will be if chemist Eric Knoll gets his way.

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A View From The Top: The LA Games Conference

on Friday, May. 8th

Industry events are strange beast no matter which industry is involved. Industry events in Los Angeles are doubly so. When the industry in question is the video game industry as it stands in LA pretty much all bets are off.

This week I attended Digital Media Wire’s LA Games Conference. A gathering of industry insiders, developers, Financiers, and press. There is in the glitz and glamour of E3—their are no game demos just chats with executives, Analysts and their ilk. While there’s nothing”sexy” about this type of event one can get a real handle I’m what the industries consensus is going to look like for the next six months.

Spoiler alert: if you consider yourself a core gamer you’re probably not going to like where the endless quest for cash is leading the bulk of the industry.

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REVIEW: GameLoading: Rise of the Indies

on Thursday, Apr. 30th

Another indie film about indie games?

That’s the first thing I thought when I was pitched on the idea of GameLoading: Rise of the Indies, a documentary funded via Kickstarter that tracks a number of indie game developers in order to give a cross section of the international scene.

The sense of deja vu was strong: it was Indie Game: The Movie—an indie movie about indie games—which helped kick off the Kickstarter film funding craze a few years back, after all. GameLoading tackles the same topical territory. Yet where IGTM delved into the details of its subjects to tell a story about creativity the makers of GameLoading directors Lester Francois and Anna Brady take a wide angle approach.

This means that GameLoading is a less intimate film than IGTM, but while the later movie does an amazing job of unearthing the soul of the indie game scene Francois and Brady excel at giving a sense of the scene’s scope.

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Enchanting Theatre Troupe Source Material To Preview New Work (LA)

on Wednesday, Apr. 15th

Put this one on your radar, all you broke LA art kids.

Last year I got excited about the emerging theatre company Source Material and it’s piece Into The Fog which played at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It was a physically lyrical affair that skated the line between dance and theatre gracefully.

That troupe, led by founder Samantha Shay, will be presenting a preview of their second original piece at the Avant Los Angeles art party next week.

Details after the jump.

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BirdlySENSORY STORIES

‘Sensory Stories’ To Touch Down At The Museum of the Moving Image

on Thursday, Apr. 9th

Every October the Future of StoryTelling (FoST) conference gathers together an eclectic group of movers and shakers to discuss the shape of things to come, narratively speaking at least. It isn’t the easiest of events to get into, however, the event is limited to 500 attendees and by invitation only.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t enjoy some of what the organization has to offer. If, for instance, you happen to be in New York City between April 18th and July 26th you can make your way over to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria where FoST has curated an exhibit that shows what happens when the latest in technology is put into the hands of innovative storytellers.

The result is called Sensory Stories.

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Digital Zen: Interactive Haikus

on Tuesday, Apr. 7th

Every year some of the most interesting interactive experiments come to us courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada, and this year is turning out to be no different.

This month the NFB is debuting a series of twelve short experiences they’ll release as part of the Interactive Haiku project. Each Haiku, which were culled from 162 proposals from around the globe, uses the language and tools of Internet connected devices to create a kind of digital poem. Not quite a game, but not a passive consumption experience either.

The added injunction from the NFB and co-producer ARTE that the experiences be just 60 seconds long means that it doesn’t take much effort to sample the growing buffet of options. As of this writing five of the twelve haikus are live.

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App-ing Our Way Towards A Future Without Pesky Checks

on Tuesday, Apr. 7th

A version of this story aired on NPR’s All Things Considered.

The other morning I asked my friend Amanda Mae Meyncke, a writer here in Los Angeles, to explain an app to me.

I used my debt card to pay for our order of coffee and toast, and then got her to pay me back with this app she uses: Venmo.

It’s what’s known as a peer-to-peer finance app, which is Silicon Valley’s way of saying that it lets people pay each other without handling cash or swiping cards. People like to use it to split bills.

To get started she opened up the app.

“There you are, Noah Nelson,” said Amanda Mae, “it says we’re friends.”

It’s not just me that’s in there. It’s all her friends who use it… and there’s this Twitter-like feed showing what people are giving each other money for.

It took me a couple of minutes for me to sign up, using Facebook, and link it to my bank account. The money showed up instantly in Venmo, but took a bit longer to get to my bank.

Amanda Mae got started using the app because of friends she’d go out to eat with, but she then started using it for more critical transactions. (more…)

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A Day Too Early For April Fools': Amazon Dash

on Tuesday, Mar. 31st

This has to be a joke, right?

That was the first thought in my mind as I watched the sizzle reel for Amazon’s new Dash program. If you missed it: Amazon has announced a new service that will provide Amazon Prime customers with little wi-fi enabled devices that allow people to order a refill of select items with a push of a button.

That’s all the device does, with each product getting its own dedicated button. It is not, apparently, an early April Fools’ joke, although I’m holding out.

What it is, however, is a glimpse into the corporate vision for the looming Internet of Things. One where a fool and his money is easily parted at the touch of a button, or perhaps automatically thanks to smart sensors embedded in aware appliances.

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Rent Video Straight From Social Media Via Gumroad

The people who brought the “Buy Now” button to Twitter are going all-in on film distribution.

Sponsors

Siegel's NOME meditation machine.

Hacking Consciousness: Silicon Valley’s Next Frontier

Is there something that lies beyond the quantified self movement?

Detail from the cover of Snow Crash.'

Bright, Bold Future: Magic Leap Has Hired The Godfather of The Metaverse

There’s a rapturous term thrown around by VR enthusiasts: “The Metaverse.” It is a term that comes from the seminal Neal Stephenson science fiction novel Snow Crash, where it described a kind of embodied virtual reality.

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In the looming battle of AR and VR the prize is your mind.

Let’s talk about augmented reality versus virtual reality shall we?

Corey McCall with the video game controller that measures the level of excitement in the player. Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

These Game Controllers Will (One Day) Read Your Mind

A version of this story airs on NPR/WBUR’s Here & Now.

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