Thursday, October 28, 2010

Continuing Education and Augmented Reality

I spend a lot of my free time involved in the Victoria Writers' Society, and a lot of that time involved in Island Writer, a literary magazine based around Vancouver Island. We only accept stories from the Island and the Gulf Islands. I do a variety of interesting things, none of which involve selection. It's kind of fun how much of that there is. As the Editorial Assistant, I accept and blind all the submissions, convert them all to Google Documents, format them for the genre editors, and pass them on after the deadline has closed. I also verify that they're from the Island, keep track of a multitude of spreadsheets, and answer questions. Today I sent out the rejection letters for the upcoming issue, which was slightly less fun, as I know it will disappoint some people. The acceptance letters will follow shortly, but they're pe4rsonalized, and from the genre editors, so I don't need to do anything more until we do the copyediting.

It's been an education being involved with the magazine. When I started on the last issue, I'd only helped with selection for my high school literary magazine, and that was a dramatically different experience. This issue has been more of an education, as I've been involved since the beginning, including posting ads on Craigslist calling for submissions, and my duties have grown in other areas.

So I'm really looking forward to the launch of this issue, and working on the next one. I hope I'll continue to be able to work with a great team and learn a great deal about the publishing industry.

This bout of sentimentality brought to you be a meeting earlier today; no, I most likely won't be the next Editor in Chief, but we're hoping that I'll be able to do some definite training with the next Editor in Chief about production schedules and the other duties of the Editor in Chief.

As I've been typing this, I've had MuchMusic on in the background: music and 3-minute videos make good company later in the evening. One of the persistent commercials is one by Doritos about the band Down With Webster. One part of the ad focuses on the special edition bags of chips that have a spot on the back that you can hold in front of your webcam to get a free music download.

The MuchMusic website having that capability means that the spot is electronically coded, like barcodes, but in a different shape, which brings home far more that augmented reality, that 90s sci-fi darling, is very much a physical reality.

Video games that take place half in the real world and half electronically have popped up with regularity for the last while; my favorites of the genre are Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, which features a virtual scavenger hunt over physical San Francisco as a minor element, and Invitation to The Game by Monica Hughes, which approaches it from a different perspective; the involved subjects continue to think they are playing an electronic game even after the game becomes their reality. The blurred lines between the electronic and the physical makes this an interesting time to be experimenting with technology. And the blurred line is becoming increasingly more prominent; it's more than just sales, like barcodes, and some electronic games for teenagers; the British postal system has come out with new stamps that, if you put your smartphone camera over them, will bring up a video presentation about the historical place or event depicted in the stamp. And if the British post is doing it, you know for certain that it's no longer a fringe technology.


  1. Oh, if you think the basic URL directions are hitting it home, wait until you see some of the OTHER things being worked on in AR. Very cool future coming!

  2. What else have you seen? I know you had to do some research on it for that paper. It's a really interesting field.