Battlestar Galactica and the art of the future

I’m a little late to the Battlestar Galactica craze having only in the past few weeks got around to getting series one of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. And I must say we are all hooked. I love the way that the 70s series has been re-worked in the mid-noughties.

The ships and the space special effects are updated to appeal to an audience used to high-quality fabrication. But I love the way the essentials of the social fabric and the more mundane technology – writing implements, telephones, food and drink etc – have been frozen as they were imagined in the 70s. (The one thing that seems to have changed out of all recognition, for some inexplicable reason, is the playing cards.)

As a consequence they say as much about the 70s as they do about the future – more actually. So, smoking is a common pastime, drinks are served in glass and people are contacted by being called across to old-fashioned telephone handsets (mobile phones were nowhere to be seen in the 70s). And paper and pencils are still very much state of the art.

I was reminded of the presentation at d.construct this year by Nathan Shedroff and Chris Noessel which argued that design in Sci-Fi was absolutely conditioned by the norms of the time it was written. If they ever wanted proof of their theory – this is it.

Of course, not everybody believes even the star ship version of the future – consider this for a well-reasoned argument against the Battlestar Galactica premise.

Changing Broadband Providers

A couple of weeks ago I changed my broadband provider to Virgin from BT, with whom I had been for the past 10 years. And I didn’t just switch broadband – I changed my landline and my TV package at the same time.

The catalyst for this move?

I’ve actually been quite happy with BT for quite a few years but a few months ago I noticed that the speed I was getting on my supposedly 8mb broadband line was very low – around 1.5mb quite often. I reported it (through BT’s very efficient Indian call centre). After a few days of tinkering around the speed did seem to improve. But then the line started dropping – sometimes four or five times a day, and the line was down for quite long periods of time.

I reported this and they looked into this problem too. Again, the Indian support centre looked into it. This time, though, they said they found the problem. The FUP (Fair Use Policy) had been invoked – apparently we had been using too much bandwidth so our connection had been artificially slowed down and that was causing the instability. I was told that if I contacted the FUP team they would lift the restriction as it was causing technical problems.

So I called. There was a very polite woman on the phone who explained that our usage was quite a bit above average and asked if there was anything particular we were doing with the connection. I explained there were five of us in the house using the connection, two of us playing online games, but nothing special. Then she asked if we had an Xbox. Yes, I said. That explained it, she said. Xbox Live uses a lot of bandwidth sending information back and forth.

So it seems, that if you have an Xbox you need another provider – BT wants the kind of users who use the internet for email and browsing – maybe so that the usage patterns don’t interfere with their plans for interactive BT Vision – interactive TV.

Anyway, I’m happy with my move and with my 50mb broadband – as are the hard-core gamers in my family.

The mouse that roared?

Jeff Jarvis has a go at teasing out the facts behind this weekend’s kerfuffle over the thought that Rupert Murdoch might pull out of the Google index. Murdoch said in an interview with Sky News Australia that he would pull his sites out of Google index once they went paid-for.

Jarvis points to research done by German consults The Reach Group (TRG) which tried to quantify what impact the threatened withdrawal of 148 German publishers in the so-call Hamburg Declaration would have on Google. Their conclusion: barely any. Jarvis believes the same would be true for Murdoch.

The future of social media

Just read an interesting post by David Armano which speculated about six important trends for social media:

1. Social media begins to look less social
Lists and filters will make the social web more exclusive

2. Corporations look to scale
Companies will turn to large scale implementations to enhance their business

3. Social business becomes serious play
Incentives will be mixed in with social media to increase stickiness

4. Your company will have a social media policy (and it might actually be enforced)

5. Mobile becomes a social media lifeline
…because companies will be controlling web access more tightly

6. Sharing no longer means e-mail
Share through Facebook and Twitter (and the like) buttons will become ubiquitous

Worth a read