Archive for the ‘The Web’ Category

Haters Gonna Hate

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Student Debt Approaches a Trillion

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Its incredible, but it’s true. America’s new debt is due to the institutional powerhouses. Who owns this crazy debt? People under 40 years old own most of it as per the chart below. And every year it grows like a wild fire.


from: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

The combination of student debt plus unemployment have cause a mass increase of delinquent balances in the recent years. Notice the inverse effect of other debt in the graph below. When students can’t pay their loans, they can’t get credit. With out credit, these young unemployed professionals can’t get mortgages, car leases, or a credit card.

It’s a shame, but this problem is only getting worse. So if you re thinking about borrowing money to go to college; think again. With the mass availability of information in the internet. People can educate themselves and do the jobs that Undergraduates and Graduates are fighting for, without falling into the trap of borrowing money that will not pan out prosperity.

Today Marks A New Beginning! Happy Katun 12-21-12

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Today is the Winter Solstice; the darkest day of the year. The day that most ancient calendars used to calibrate and synchronize their system.

Today we end a Mayan K’atun a 7,200 year cycle and begin a new one! But not to worry, in another 7,200 years we will have an other happy K’atun! and when 20 more of these 7,200 year periods go by we will have end the B’ak’tun cycle which is approximately 157,704 years long! I think we should have an NYE Party then! =)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_calendar

On a side note, I really likes President Evo Morales from Bolivia’s reference to today’s date:
“And I would like to say that according to the Mayan Calendar the 21st of December marks the end of the time and the beginning of no-time. It is the end of the Macha & the beginning of the Pacha. It is the end of selfishness & the beginning of brotherhood. It is the end of individualism & the beginning of collectivism… the 21st of December this year.

The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a biocentric life. It is the end of hatred & the beginning of love. The end of lies & the beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness & the beginning of joy. It is the end of division & the beginning of unity.”

 ? Evo Morales, President of Bolivia to the UN General Assembly, 67th Session, 2012

http://gadebate.un.org/67/bolivia-plurinational-state

MIN: 34 on the video =)

Enough Is Enough! 2012 Presidential Campaign Finance.

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Today I received an email from Barack Obama aka the democratic party email account at democrats.org and it was yet another email silently asking for a donation! Really another email from a DMC affiliated group asking for money!? What a surprise . So I decided that I need to unsubscribe from all of these email lists and distance myself from the Dems.

This is the email and my response, unsubscription:

I get that political campaigns need funding but I think fundraising is way out of hand! In the beginning of 2008 when Barak Obama began his campaign, it was a grass-roots type of campaign. Making the best out of the few millions he had gathered to run a campaign to get the democratic nomination. At the time, he use some powerful tools, such as online social channels and email lists, that would eventually become main stream in politics. The power of YouTube and Facebook, gained the candidate a lot of attention. Various groups chipped into create content (User Generated Content) in support of the candidate for free! Fast forward to 2012 and all that human capital has been traded by obama and the Dems for cold hard cash.
Even “Obama Girl” retracted her support for Obama!

The political campaigns for both parties are forgetting that “social capital” matters a lot and that a good campaign can be ran with out spending a billion dollars to pay for media time.

2008 was also the year when a candidate raised a record breaking three quarters of a billion dollars! This year the trajectory of fund raising efforts seems to indicate that Obama may raise a Billion or close to it. Look at this chart from the NY Times:



By July both Obama and Romney have over half a billion in the bank and that does not even include the amounts that will be raised for August, September and October which in the past are the months when the campaigns raise the most money!

I don’t know about you but I think that anything over $250 million dollars spent on a popularity contest is absurd. I think the right amount of money to get a message out in today’s world to reach the majority of households in the US is about 150 million. Actually, you can even get a massage out with less money if you resort to mobile and online advertising as opposed to the expensive and antiquated traditional media channels. Anything more than that is just a plain waste; preaching to the choir. At the end of the day the people seeing the ads are not the ones choosing the president; it is the electoral collage that needs to be impressed. All the public needs to know, is that the guy in the White House is trust worthy so we don’t have a rebellion and people know the system works.

The question I have now is why the independent party does not get organized and becomes a legitimate political party in the US? Oh yeah, because no politician in their right mind wants to be labeled an independent, unless you have over a billion net-worth. Sigh…

Some Notes on Playbadger.com

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Time is funny, sometimes it passes by very fast. Other times it passes by really slow. Either way, the only time you have to do anything is the present, so that is the time you have to make the best in life.

What else can I talk about other than playbadger.com and electronics? Maybe I can talk about #occupywallstreet or other political events that are important in this day and age. I think I’ll just talk about Badger.

Badger has definitely been a good project to develop. I have learned a great deal about people, business and technology. The most beneficial part of it all is the actual finding of things that interest me. Which is kind of nice since working so much for so long has fogged these things.

How many times have you been asked through out your life what are the things you like to do? This was especially true, in my experience, during Middle School and High School. Teachers, parents, parents friends and anyone who knew about you would ask about your interests in hopes of giving suggestions for possible career paths. This was the time when the sky was the limit and the only thing holding you back was interest.

What am I interested in?
What do I value?

Street Art

Playbadger.com has shed some light into that question. Through badger I have re-discovered a lot of interests that I enjoy. Aside from art related topics such as Street Art and Gallery Openings or Typography, I have re-enforced my admiration and intrigue with Bugs! Specially Bees. Another thing that I realized through badger is that the reason I take so many pictures is to compensate for my really awful short-term memory. Now when I go to an event or party and for some reason leave my bike over night, I “badge” it with my personal tag. “Badging” a picture of the bike takes less than a minute. I take a picture of the bike in its environment and plot the location. The next day when I wake up and freak out because I forgot where I parked my bike, I look at my phone and boom there it is. I found that this works well with parking my car in the city.

I noticed that Badger also answer the questions “Where did you see that?” and it also helps you keep track of the location of the things you shared.

An other cool development is using pictures from Badger for interactive installations. At my birthday party the other day, I projected the latest pictures that where uploaded to Badger. The software would grab the latest image and use a microphone to make pixels grow according to the intensity of the music. The result was people taking pictures of themselves to be projected with pixels that got bigger to the music.

Here is an example of what people saw:

Image from Badger:

Image processed with low sound:

Image processed with high sound:

It was a pretty cool experience. And best of all this little experiment is opening the door for more interactive installations in the future!

Long story short, I am looking forward to have people upload bugs to my bugs badge since I enjoy looking at them so much! Also Halloween, it would be cool to see Halloween pictures from all over the country.

Red Bull’s Map of Street Art

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

There is a growing trend in mapped data and user generated geo-location content. Red Bull commissioned a web site that shows street art in the street view of google maps. This is a pretty nifty concept, the only problem is that street art has a fast turn around and if you want to see the art in real life, you may not find the art because the image is outdated.

Badger will have a hard time competing for attention with all these applications being made by companies with big budgets. At least we know we are on to something interesting that others are thinking about.

Click on the image to check out badger’s current street art submissions:

Badger is giving away an iPad 2!

Monday, March 14th, 2011

To help promote their beta launch at SxSW, badger is giving away an iPad 2 to the most popular image for the #sxsw Rock On Austin contest. So if you have a really good image from SxSW in Austin Texas, go ahead and make an account so you can post your image to the Rock On Austin Badge!


Badger is a new social network where you can share your pictures by geo location with friends and the world. The unique twist about Badger’s way of organizing images is that all image and video content is associated to badges that also serve as categories to organize the images. Anyone can custume make a badge on Badger and once a badge is made friends and fans can take that badge and make it their own to use. Badger is a great platform for mapping things as a group and the community as a whole gets maps of just about anything.

Here are some interesting badges so far:

Going beyond the check-in, Badger to launch beta at SXSW.

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Badger (playbadger.com) is all about sharing the cool things you see with friends and the community. Instead of just feeding you one long stream of coffee cups and images with photo filters, the company has decided to take a different approach and focus on the story telling aspect of people’s experience in their every day lives.

“Badgers,” as the users of the service are called, are able to contextually organize their photos through custom-made “Badges.” Want to upload photos from a road trip? Make a Badge for that! How about some cool street-art, or the great outdoors? Someone already made a Badge for that. Plus, all the content is organized and displayed on a map. Badger isn’t limited by venues or places, it’s with you everywhere you go. The Badge and map act as localizing agents with the content as the centerpiece.

The Badger system has at its core been designed as a sandbox, allowing the user free reign over their content. Badgers have the ability to design visual representations of themes and interests, which act as grouping agents, known as Badges.

These Badges are socialized from the onset. If one user sees a Badge that another user has created, she or he can simply claim it, and use it when photos are uploaded to associate that content with that Badge. Socializing badges allows Badger to be a collaborative map-making platform.

It’s clear that Badger’s system has been designed with the mobile user in mind. Camera phones and smartphones are in nearly everyone’s pocket or handbag, and the submission to the service from a mobile device is straightforward. Non-smartphone device users can send photos via text message to Badger, and in some phones Badger will display the user’s feed. Android users have the ability to submit photos via the web-based uploader.

Apps are currently in production for the iPhone and Android and should hit their respective app store shelves soon. You’ll be able to see the Badger team showcasing these products at SXSW in various installations.

Sign up for the service at http://playbadger.com and follow them on twitter @playbadger and you can also find them on facebook.

Founded in 2010, Badger Media LLC is a New York based startup focused on developing interactive technology based solutions that connect people in new and interesting ways. The company’s first product is Badger (playbadger.com), and will enter open beta Saturday March 12th 2011.

Army Strong … The US Army.

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

It is Veterans Day in the United States. A day to remember those who have served in combat in order to protect our state, our home, our freedom. There is not enough thanking in the world to give the US Army Forces. Thank you.

Simultaneously there is big talk surrounding the US Army’s advertising strategy as the Army is looking for its new advertising campaign. The current campaign by the army revolves around the slogan “Army Strong” and the fist thing that I puzzled me was what that line meant? Who is army strong? Is it the soldiers or the machinery they use? Its a vague tag line, but I guess its catchy. The main purpose of a slogan or tag line is important as a tool to influence perception, specially when it involves an icon such as a logo.

Every generation has its collective personality which comes from environmental variables, a zeitgeist that influence behavior. Our biggest identifiable generation begins at the G.I. Generation a generation who’s parents where raised in a world where the USA was only beginning to gain its own national identity. It was the time of The Spanish-American war, a time when there was a persistant remanence of European culture such as Impressionism in art. This was a time when the US Army was still in its infancy as a modern Army.

Targeting the GI Generation was made by using propaganda that included the famous uncle sam poster.

The generation that followed was the Baby Boomer Generation which was a very influential generation which was far more conservative than the current generations. This is the Generation that was heavily divided on the peace and war issue and when the peace sign and smiley face gained popularity.

The interesting part about the symbols of the time, is that they had to co-inhabit the cultural ecosystem of the time. References on the “Duality of man” was made through the use of symbols in the movie “Full Metal Jacket” When a soldier was asked why he was wearing the symbols in the form of a button.

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Generation X followed which is currently taking control of society. The awareness level of this generation greatly increased due to an increase in broadcasting capabilities by radio, television and the telephone. Television gained the capability of acquiring video footage outside of a recording studio with portable video cameras that could be purchased by the masses. Essentially, technology began to infiltrate our personal and private living spaces allowing a stream of messages to bombard us in our very own living rooms. We welcomed this new technology the way we have welcomed mobile phone technology. Generation X grew up with a broadcasting network increase information dissemination at a very rapid pace.

The US Army capitalized on this new network to promote enlistments by using the televisions as a medium to get to Generation X. The slogan that the Army was using at the time was “Be All You Can Be” which was a campaign revolving around the characteristics of Generation X.

What where the characteristics of Generation X? Pop culture is, in a way, a reflection of culture. While Babyboomers could be associated to cultural icons such asElvis Presley, Generation X can be described with Madonna, Michael Jackson, The Doors which where bands that “Gen-Xers” grew up with and who’s characteristics manifested in the form of a new genre in musical expression; Nirvana.

The Army targeted these characteristics in Generation X with their “Be All You Can Be” campaign, which revolved about making the individual a better individual.

In 2006 there was a change in the slogan of the US Army. A reflection on the decrease of people that where enlisting to service. The Army’s new branding hoped to attract a new generation of people that where very unpredictable… at the time.

Generation Y is a very complex generation. It is driven by community and group interaction. They are a generation that revolves around strong family connections and interpersonal relationships. This is the generation that grew up with video games, mobile devices, and the internet. Television has become a very fragmented entity that lacks the ability to connect and interact. The Millennials are those who have realized that television is based on fantasy on specific views that isolates people. They are the ones, that even-though still watch the TV, the TV is not the main source of entertainment. Youtube, Vimeo, The Cheezburger Network, Twitter, and the thousands of news sources that exists in the cloud are the main source of entertainment for the new generations. But by far the most important innovation that has influenced the new generation is the ability to gather data and analyze that data in a casual manner, specifically with the addition of location and emotional connections. Any company, organization or institution that is targeting Millennials needs to understand collaboration, ubiquity, sustainability, memes and filters. The new generations are a generation that has increased awareness and masters of, as Linda Stone put it, Constant Partial Attention. They are the generation that, as Clay Shirky put it, decided to do something with their cognitive surplus. We are in a time of drastic change, and it is making sense to Millenials more than other generations. A time where adopting others as part of our own, is a necessity and not a luxury.

First Sikh Enlisted Soldier:

The new generations are not looking to become “drones” that are in the control of some other person. There is a big misunderstanding that you stop being an individual when you become a soldier. I think the opposite is true. Becoming a soldier makes you part of a big group of people. You actually become an individual in a big group of people that have a similar goal in mind; to protect what matters most, other people. Soldiers in today’s army are not drones, they are the ones controlling the drones literary. Physical computing is the next level of innovation. It is when the computer goes out into the real world and does something. Do something! Literary. How would you like to control a robot from your mobile phone? Well, that is not science fiction any more. Its the reality. Willow Garage is mass producing telepresence devices that are similar in concept, to the ones being deployed by the army. Sooner than later we will see a squad of soldiers be accompanied by a hundred is not thousands of swarm-bots all guided by a couple of soldiers. We currently have the technology that is being widely explored by hackers and artists:

These networked robots will soon have the capability to self organize to accomplish complex tasks. When you have a swarm of thousands of tiny little robots, dealing with them would be like dealing with a beehive that was just attacked or a swarm of locusts. You may be able to fend off against a few hundred before being over ran by the group. Here are some projects in their research stage which will become more familiar as time goes by.

And then there are the bots that the army and institutions are exploring:

These are the things that Millenials are interested in doing. Becoming part of something bigger. Something that they have the ability to make a big contribution to, with out endangering them selves in the process. They are the new tribes that have risen from digital connections, metaverses, LOLz, Hacking video games, and then telling their friends about it. And their world is like being inside “Tron” or “The Matrix”

…but the only difference, is that you can talk to everyone there. Including your enemies.

Now here is a peek at out awesome Armed forces!

One of the things that technology has done to our society is to increase the “small town effect” which means that everyone and their mom knows what everyone is doing. We are all interconnected, including the army and our “enemies.” We are all aware of what the other is doing and this effect is only bound to become more apparent. It would be silly to say that Millennials clearly understand the complexities that our new communication systems have created. But they are definitely more aware of our inter-connectivity than any other generation.

Elections 2008 – Political Media Strategy for 2012

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

I wrote this paper for a class in 2008 and thought it would be nice to post on my blog since I have not been posting as much as I would like. Keep in mind that this paper was written in 2008 and much has change in the Metaverse, Also I have added images for those who like to see pretty pictures in articles ;) The “Cloud” has exponentially become more complex, yet easier to understand with the addition of a very simple variable; Location.

Location based technologies such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook and Google will become very important as we move closer to 2012. The other important variable that is not as prominent today as it will be tomorrow is semantic data gathering and accessing. With that said, here is the paper I wrote right after Obama’s win in 2008.

NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)
Class: Elections 2008
Professor: Clay Shirky
Author: Oscar G. Torres

Political Media Strategy for Elections of 2012
November 14, 2008

The Presidential elections of 2008, was the culmination of a major shift in political campaign strategies in the United States. How did a democratic “underdog” gain steam and come in as the leading candidate in the general election of 2008?

The Republican Party is scratching their head wondering how John McCain lost the election. They will look back at the campaign trails and realize that they lacked a very important element that proved to be a vital player in gaining people’s vote. The Republican Party did not embrace amateur political campaigns and their effect on the general population.

Amateur political media is not a new concept in the campaign process. Picket signs, homemade t-shirts, printing newsletters or flyers with personal printers are all examples of media created by “average Joes” in the past. In the election of 2008 we saw a new and powerful medium take center stage. This new medium is not your traditional broadcasting system, its actually more that just a way to send messages to a large audience. Social media is the new player in politics and quickly became a major component in winning the trust of people. What makes a “YouTube” video different than a hand drawn sign, a flyer or t-shirt? The answer lies in the comment section of web sites like YouTube, Facebook and the thousands of blogs out there.

“5th Grade Reporter Interviews Vice-President Joe Biden” by CanalPointKECTV is a video where, as the title describes, a 5th grade kid interviews the Vice-Presidential candidate. Normally a traditional broadcasted video would be seen and probably talked about by people and their close friends, perhaps some co-workers as well. The conversation has now moved to YouTube where viewers have the ability to leave a comment on videos or respond to someone else’s comment. A new form of communication has been set in place. Since these web videos can be seen any time and anywhere (with internet access), it makes it convenient for a person to access them and add their thoughts.

The comments left on the specific videos are a rich source of information about people’s thoughts and intentions. You can even see the commenter’s profile and content they have personally contributed, videos they liked/ added as their favorite, and comments others made about the particular person. With all this data you can make pretty good assumption about the person or “user’s” state of mind and can make educated guesses about what their position will be when they are standing inside the voting booth.

Blogs are another form of communication that is making an impact on the campaigns of potential candidates. People can write articles for or against candidates. Those articles are then available for anyone to find, via search engine, email1311 link and/or word of mouth. A group of videos, images and links can form a pretty good argument about why someone should favor a particular candidate. Although blogs are not as popular as other news sources or publications, they reach a niche audience that has potential to be influenced by the content. Blogs are part of the new digital landscape that needs to be considered when running a campaign. Blogs and video content are being viewed in increasing numbers through the use of new devices such as cell phones and iPods. The ability to carry around the information with you has enabled people to scrutinize the data being viewed during their commute, lunch break or random times that lend themselves to a quick browse at the web content. The question is weather this information can be used to sway people to choose differently. And the answer, as we have seen from Obama’s campaign results, is yes.

Mobile communication will become major contributor to media distribution to the masses. Cell phones have become a hub that allows people not only to view web data, but also to contribute data to the “cloud”. Minutes after the announcement of Obama’s projected win, a mass celebration was captured and shared via mobile phone by my close circle of friends. I received text messages accompanied by cell phone pictures and videos from fiends at various locations such as Fort Green-Brooklyn, Times Square, Union Square and even California. Everyone was cheering physically and virtually as they posted images to flickr.com and facebook.com along with status updates to twitter and Facebook.

Sharing real time events is becoming a very popular trend. On the morning of November 4, as I was just beginning to undergo my morning routine, I received a text message with an image from a friend. The text read “yay!” and the picture was a voting booth. Although it is illegal in some states to take pictures of the voting booth when you are voting, there is no way so far to enforce this rule and prevent people from doing it. The result is people disregarding the rules out of excitement in most cases. If the uploading of data is happening while or with-in seconds of voting, what is happening while people are waiting in line to the voting booth?


They are uploading information to the web, downloading information or having conversations with others. This precious time is vital if you want to make a difference on the result. And the only way to get there is through the use of mobile technology.

Advice for the new presidential candidates is very simple, put together a teams of individuals whose sole task is to monitor and respond to amateur media content. These two groups of people should have access to technology that will allow them to listen to a large amount of data sources at the same time and quickly formulate a response to counter any attacks and to praise compliments. This system should automatically highlight and arrange content by subject, popularity and by the size, type and location of the group generating the content. An example of this can be an application that can scrape the information on major social sites such as YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. that can then analyze and organize the content by a list of desired variables. The application should look for information revolving around key words, such as the candidate’s name and topics in his/her agenda. Data that matches the key words can then be organized by popularity, relevance, time, location, network, etc. as well as the time it was added to the web site or origin. Perhaps image analysis can be done to the thumbnails or images associated with the data. This way in YouTube’s case, you can consolidate redundant content and group content that indicates similarities among image content. This algorithm would allow the identification of a popular piece of media that exists in various contexts and who’s meaning may be different according to the context it is presented. One example of a media that is placed out of context to incite different messages is a YouTube video titled “Obama Youth – Junior Fraternity”.

A second strategy is to crowd-source the gathering of data revolving the candidate. Getting supporters involved in the acquisition, contribution and distribution of information that benefits the candidate is very important because the people that find the information can make it more semantic to the presidential campaign context. If there is a system that allows the general public to easily share information they stumble upon, with their favored candidate’s party, it will dramatically increase the awareness of the candidate about their campaign. This will allow for better decision-making on the direction of particular parts of the campaign. This system could take form in a website.

A web site that gathers data specific to a campaign and a candidate that is generated by people and allows everyone to see what others have contributed is a good experiment that has the potential to be a great source of information that affects the candidate’s campaign. The website should be set up to make it very easy for users to upload data, such as, images, videos, links, audio and text data. It is also very important to have a tagging system that will put all the data into context. The website’s database should be set up to allow information to be added via mobil phone, email1311, or text message. This way there can be supporting software that makes the process easy for anyone to use. All the information that is tagged, as it is gathered in a database, can then be accessed, processed and displayed in a comprehensive way that lists the information in order of importance to the candidate.

My main advice for the candidates of 2012 is to crowd source as much of the campaign as possible. Empower people to help you gain aware of what they are experiencing in their worlds. The substantial increase of digital media generation and distribution is too large for a candidate’s personal team to analyze all the data that is circulating the web. So why not lean on your supporters to be your eyes, ears and brains to help you analyze the data and report their findings back to you, free of charge. This awareness will allow your team to formulate a strategic response that will steer the votes in your direction and preventing an underdog to trample all over you. Unless of course that underdog has a better system to identify with everyone and gain trust, in which case no digital technology will be
able to help.