Archive for the 'Personal' Category

theorycast.66 :: On 938Live’s Raw & Ready with Sarah Cheng

On 938Live's Raw & Ready with Sarah Cheng-De Winne
theorycast.66 :: On 938Live’s Raw & Ready with Sarah Cheng by brainopera

Thanks to digerati Preetam Rai, I was recently introduced to 938Live’s multi-talented radio presenter, Sarah Cheng-De Winne (aka @SarahCDW).

As part of her youth talkshow, Raw & Ready, she interviewed me as a blogger, social cyborg, cyberculturalist, and on my most recent role at The National Art Gallery, Singapore.

This interview was recorded in MediaCorp’s 938Live radio studio on 5th August 2011. You’re invited to take a listen!

FYI: This week on Raw & Ready, it’ll be Juicy & Delicious’ turn!

Download theorycast.66 :: On 938Live’s Raw & Ready with Sarah Cheng (.m4a / 7.8mb) from the Internet Archive, or listen to it on SoundCloud. Feel free to subscribe to theorycast on iTunes.

TertiaryTech Conference 2010: Singapore student startups are pretty solid!


TertiaryTech Conference 2010 @ SMU

Last Saturday morning, I was invited by Wayne Soh of The Digital Movement to speak about game mechanics at their new conference series, TertiaryTech.

As you can tell, this conference was geared at students interested in breaking into the startup industry. I must say that from what I saw, I was very impressed. The ideas and design that went into the interactive applications pitched by student groups at this conference was pretty top notch. I’ve got a bunch of TertiaryTech photos and video interviews to share as seen below…

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Here’s the game mechanics talk I presented meant to inspire and intrigue student developers into building “addictive” qualities into their apps (to sustain an active user base). From the feedback I’ve received, lots of folks were intrigued after hearing what I had to share, and I’m particularly glad how they have come to realize how Facebook derives free labor through the exploitation of such game mechanics (yes, pure psychological hooks!). Big thanks to Daniel Tsou of fame, for helping with the HD camera work shot using my NEX-5. I’m just going to re-use the wonderful abstracts from the TertiaryTech web site.


TertiaryTech 2010: How to add fun to traditional labor (Game Mechanics)

Traditional mass media has typically portrayed video games in a negative light for generating social undesirable or unproductive behavior. However, by harnessing the addictive elements of video games and embedding these game mechanics into traditional labor, can we make work fun?

These forces, or what we refer to as game dynamics or mechanics, are what influence us into subconsciously performing actions or completing certain tasks. As usage and engagement becomes the focus of many technology services today, there is a demand and need to infuse game mechanics in these products.

Kevin has been experimenting with the concept of productive games in the classroom environment, by using Amy Jo Kim’s game mechanics as a means of steering user motivations. He has also been invited to present his research papers and also to speak at numerous corporate and academic conferences. Be sure not to miss him by registering for the Tertiary Tech Conference today!

Additional video resources:
Seth Priebatsch: The Game Layer on top of the World
Jesse Schell: When Games Invade Real Life


TertiaryTech 2010: Pigeonhole – Beautiful Conference Q&A system

Title of Project: Pigeonhole Live
Team Lead: Hew Joon Yeng, Lyon Lim Yu Tian
Academic Institution: National University of Singapore

Pigeonhole Live is a simple conference tool for speakers to engage their audience in a live setting using their smartphones, laptops and even iPad! Pigeonhole Live allows the audience to ask and vote for their burning questions on their web device in real-time. Good news for the audience: No more waiting for the McNanny at the microphone during the precious 10-minute QnA sessions! By looking at the highest voted questions, the speakers can now address the audience crowd more accurately.

Now everyone gets to take part in the post-keynote QnA at the conferences, without running to the microphones. Yes, even if you are a little shy.


TertiaryTech 2010: Su Yuen demos learning through AR for Kids

Team Lead: Chin Su Yuen
Team Members: Chen Lingwei, Tan Reiwen Alex, Ee Wai Lay, Liu Peng
Institution: NUS School of Computing
Category: Games, Augmented Reality

Virtual Sandbox is an educational game for 4-6 year olds that aim to create a creative and interactive environment to learn English vocabulary. The goal of the game is to build your city and populate it with people. Children use physical cards that are similar to flash cards to place and construct buildings in their city and populate these buildings with characters of the right job/occupation.

For example, to populate a school, children must place a “Teacher” character in the school before they can see an animation of the teacher teaching students in the building.

By using physical cards as a form of interaction, we merge the benefits of tangible objects which children are accustomed to with the interactivity of the virtual environment – morphing the flash cards into a less mundane and more fun method for learning English vocabulary.


TertiaryTech 2010: MARGE – Mobile Augmented Reality Game Engine

Team Lead: Jian Gu, Henry Been-Lirn Duh
Institution: MiMe Lab, Interactive Digital Media Institute, National University of Singapore
Category: Augmented Reality

MARGE is a game engine for mobile augmented reality (AR) environment based on iPhone, Android and Symbian OS. It includes integrated support for optimal graphics performance, networking, resource management, sound and music. Mobile developer can learn how to develop high quality 3D interactive mobile AR game using our proposed developmental tool. Several highlight features of MARGE: MARGE supports OpenGL ES 2.0, 3D graphics library which runs on the embedded chipset on different phones; Networking support is an essential feature for a Mobile AR game. MARGE supports multiplayer interacting each other in mobile AR environment using TCP/IP or blue-tooth.

In Summary
These student developer groups were impressive to say the least. It truly shows the potential Singapore has in this burgeoning interactive software industry and I’m all for supporting our local startups. I’ve only managed to interview a few groups here, so do check out the many more who presented at TertiaryTech 2010.

Watch our National Day 45km bike ride in 10mins

@acroamatic's RunKeeper: East Coast Park to Changi Village

In case you don’t know, I recently got serious about cycling. Ever since Siva and the ZenDogs took me to Pengerang, Malaysia for my initiation ride, I’ve been hooked. Mind you they’re not some easy-peasy cyclists… they really put their feet to the metal, so I had trouble keeping up the first time round.

Thanks to Andy Dinesh who offered his bike recommendations. I finally settled on a 2nd-hand Birdy, specifically the Pearl White Monocoque Birdy Alivio 8-Speed, as listed in the StradaSingapore forums. It’s a German-engineered full suspension foldable bike, which is as exciting as it sounds! Here it is folded, and unfolded.

In the video above, you’ll see Kenneth Pinto and I taking on the length of East Coast Park Connector, from Fort Rd to Changi Village, and back. Total distance was 45km, and we did it at 2hrs 28min (mostly due to traffic and human congestion towards noon). I’ve fast forwarded it so you can see the entire ride in 10mins! It’s quite cute to watch!

ZenDogs vs. Pengerang, Malaysia – The 40km Cycling Trip

Pengerang Cycling Trip (40km)

Early Saturday morning, Siva and the Zendogs cyclists take on Pengerang, Malaysia, on a 40km cycling trip along the coastal kampong route. An hour boat ride from Changi Point to the Pengerang jetty, followed by two hours of cycling towards the seafood town of Sungai Rengit 20km away for lunch. After which we U-turned and headed back the same way.

Pengerang Cycling Trip (40km) | RunKeeper

Besides the rustic beach scenery, our trip ended up being quite hilarious, such as how one of our cyclists suffered three punctures on the same trip! He had to hail a taxi just to get back to the jetty. As for me, I used to cycle a lot when I was young, but it’s been years. The return leg took its toll on my thighs as the heat of the day built-up. Take goodness the rest of the cyclists were there to spray deep-heat (actually some Thai cooling muscle concoction) and pace me all the way back to make the boat.

This trip was an eye opener because I was in the company of experience cyclists. Among them were enthusiasts from the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the National Parks (NParks) and NUS biodiversity folks like Siva, all sharing the common passion to explore the prospect of cycling as a mode of commute in Singapore. Unlike the European countries, is Singapore too dense for cycling to be a norm? How much leeway has to be given to bicycles when taking public transport, including sharing elevators in HDB flats? Are foldable bikes the game-changer? While you deliberate, watch scenes from our 40km bicycle ride in Pengerang.

See the rest of the photos here…

The Social Cyborg @ BlinkBL-NK: From perfect memory to networked consciousness

Social Cyborg @ BlinkBl-nk #5

Rushing over from work, I made my way down to Blu Jazz where BlinkBL-NK was at it’s fifth installment. Having been to earlier speaker sessions in the past two months, I liked the diversity in speakers and the easy-going atmosphere.

This time it was my turn to hit the stage, so I thought I’d don the Social Cyborg outfit one final time. Putting on that wearable sensory rig was strangely nostalgic. Continue reading ‘The Social Cyborg @ BlinkBL-NK: From perfect memory to networked consciousness’

So… how’s work?

Ever since returning to Singapore, this seemingly innocuous question I’m often asked is probably best answered by the late (and eternally great) Rodney Dangerfield.

While the job ended up being quite different from what I had originally signed up for, I’ve been trying to convince myself to learn beyond my talent and passion. What did take me by surprise after over a month into the job though, are the few colleagues who are clearly giving me the cold shoulder for some strange reason. I must have been lucky to have worked under cozier and less sterile circumstances.

Fortunately, most of the folks I’m working with are friendly and talented in their own right. Logically speaking, I should proportion my concerns accordingly. The funny thing about being human though, is that you could have a hundred friends cheering you on, but just a handful who dislike you in order to turn your mood down.

Whichever the case, I’ll try, and try harder. It’s an opportunity for me to earn their respect.

ICA 2010 Conference: Photos & Videos + Download Our “Leveling Up Students” Poster

ICA 2010 Conference @ Suntec Singapore - 15

Here’s the digital copy of our International Communication Association 2010 conference poster – Leveling Up Students with Class Blogs: Engineering Active Learning through Game Mechanics. This was color printed on an A0 size paper, so you have a choice of a JPEG or PDF versions.

Derek Lackaff and I wrote this up after conducting our experimental semester with students in Buffalo and Singapore back in 2007. On the whole, everyone had a good time… we even managed to throw an MTV-style awards party at the end of the semester!

I had more fun at #ICA2010 than I expected, mostly because the poster session was disorganized. A few of us received wrong instructions and printed our posters wide (72″ x 48″) when the conference boards were actually portrait format, and sticky tape became hot commodity. I also bumped into old friends while making new ones. Everyone was smart, friendly and most importantly, excited to share their discoveries.

Read on to see the ICA conference posters submissions I found interesting (presentation quality varied greatly), as well as a few video interviews with academics and curators while I roamed the Suntec City Convention floor.

Continue reading ‘ICA 2010 Conference: Photos & Videos + Download Our “Leveling Up Students” Poster’

First ever Creative Commons Salon in Singapore (Bonus: Inch Chua performs!)

CC Salon Singapore #1

Yesterday, my poster session at the ICA 2010 conference turned out more fun than expected (will share that soon), while last evening’s first ever CC Salon Singapore at Hackerspace SG turned out to be quite a riot!

In case you weren’t aware, CC Salons are global, informal events focused on building a community of artists, developers, and creators of all kinds around Creative Commons licenses, standards, and technology. It’s nice to know CC awareness is growing within Singapore’s various creative communities.

Continue reading ‘First ever Creative Commons Salon in Singapore (Bonus: Inch Chua performs!)’

Barcamp Create @ Jakarta: On Intellectual Property Rights in Indonesia

Presenting Social Marginalia @ Barcamp Jakarta
“@brainopera talking about making books social”. Photo by @PreetamRai

Thanks to @PreetamRai, I got to visit Jakarta for the first time over the weekend. At their barcamp, I made it count by presenting an interest of mine, social marginalia. @RandomPlaydo was inspired enough to write his thoughts about shared digital annotations.

Barcamp Create focused on Intellectual Property Rights in Indonesia, and received an intimate turnout at the International Design School (IDS). Topics were spot-on with a few awesome surprises (see @glennmars’ Recycling Ideas below!).

We got to spend time with amazing people, including @glennmars @ChrisWaterGuy @aulia @monieksagita @barijoe @koesuma @savitri @kuriman and @murakumo_andy. You can see our red carpet photoshoot on Facebook. Alternatively, we used ScribbleLive to liveblog for #BarcampID, as reblogged below…

Continue reading ‘Barcamp Create @ Jakarta: On Intellectual Property Rights in Indonesia’

The Artist is Present. So am I.

imho, MoMA is sensory but overtly commercialized.

“What you do here? You see museums? Oh god, you see nothing. Go to the clubs, go dancing, drinking, so many beautiful pussies in Manhattan. You see nothing.”

That is my Albanian limo driver, Rafek, in his late fifties yet clearly without any dysfunction. Perched above the Manhattan traffic on his carriage, the Cadillac SUV, he peers out at the pedestrians, howling whenever we drive past an angelically proportioned lady of the night.

New York City, a renowned safe harbor for immigrants seeking a brighter future, gave Rafek his chance of starting a new life. A decade back, he arrived in New York and applied for political asylum. A court hearing and five years of no-travel commitment later, he brought his family over and lived the American dream.

I didn’t have it as hard as Rafek. Moving to the States was fun times for me, though going home was another story altogether. Though I struggled a little moving my nine years of baggage from Buffalo back to Singapore, I won’t deny that my heart had always belong in this tropical city. I just needed a really good reason to return… and the job was it.

I really wanted to do the East to West coast roadtrip as a personal farewell, but I chose on a tour of museums around New York City instead. Thanks to my professor mentor, Alex Halavais, I was able to stay comfortably yet frugally in a relatively expensive city.

What Rafek didn’t realize, which I didn’t want to dive headlong into, were the real-life pussies and boobs I got to see… at a live nude performance-art piece in the Museum of Modern Art. This was significant for two particular reasons: 1) Visitors were overheard commending how MoMA was willing to challenge conventions, 2) Being single for several years, it was a vice-free way for me to get visually reacquainted with the physical female form.

The exhibition which ended yesterday (May 31st), is none other than Artist Marina Abramovic’s retrospective performance-art piece entitled “The Artist is Present“. Since opening March this year, this show alone has drawn more than half a million visitors to MoMA.

Read about the exhibition at your pleasure, then take a mental flight across the other side of the planet to our fair (relatively oil-free) shores of Singapore. Would we ever see such gratuitous art exhibitions in Singapore? Possibly, but definitely not now.


From my month long exposure to what Singaporeans have to say about themselves, there’s a widespread belief that we lack the cultural maturity needed to create dialogue about the arts. Simply put, as a tiny economic powerhouse, Singapore’s initial focus on financial prowess may have cost the nation in cultural criticality. The government recognizes this, but it will take a generation or two before we see society’s appreciation of the art grow. The myth that art is only for the affluent remains invincible.

While local museums have been carefully making art relevant and accessible to the everyday man, they may also have to provide the challenge for those of us who seek a deeper connection with exhibited art pieces. In order to establish Singapore as a cultural capital, there’s a need to graduate museum visitors over time (even years!) in terms of the the thematic complexity of exhibitions. That said, some could argue that such complexity would naturally occur within any context, even simplistic one, not necessarily requiring predetermination. Either way, we have to keep asking what works best.

The National Art Gallery, Singapore, where I now work is staffed by some of the most talented museum curators, educators, and management talents around. They are in the phase of testbedding exhibitions at the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), in preparation of when the new galleries open at the former Supreme Court & City Hall.

Over the course of my new life in Singapore, my personal mission here would be to stay curious. As a fresh pair of eyes in musuem scene, I hope to reveal and question traditions to seek sustainable approaches to conversing about the arts. If you’re so inclined, I do keep a blog for interesting ideas at Join me there.

Before I go, we have to ask… what is Art?
My favorite quote comes from Andy Warhol who once said “Art is what you can get away with” (Thx Liz!)