Snowcrash the book: Explore the Metaverse origin story

This week marks four years since the blog started and 20 plus years since I read a book that anticipated the human and citizenship dimensions of an immersive, online, digital and connected world hosting rival frameworks commanding human loyalty and shaping identity that still interest me today.

From the moment Hiro Protagonist crashed into a pool, mid pizza delivery ‘Snowcrash’ captured my attention and held it, in full defiance of my usual disinterest in sci-fi in ways not seen since ‘Star Trek Next Gen’.

If you’re a fan of the book, come visit the book club at the Metaverse store on 11 August, 318 Little Collins Street, Melbourne,

Register here

Centre for Legal Innovation – What should I automate?

Automating frequently followed procedures is the new big thing, but what you can automate, versus what you should automate might surprise you.

Check out ‘What should I automate?’

The million dollar question.

Mon, Aug 9 • 1:00 PM AEST online

Register here

Monash Uni presents ‘What next for robots in public space?’

This week’s theme is public use of technology.

First it was IoT and emergencies in Lake Nona, with Verizon, now it’s Melbourne with “What next for robots in public space?”

Wed, Jun 4:00 PM AEST

Location: Flinders Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Details and bookings on Eventbrite here

Can’t make the gig? Find something else to do.

Free afterwork events covering everything from AI to Zoom in the Tec and The City Calendar.

The Erosion of Medical Consent – how technology and medical research impact on agency

Harriet A. Washington, author of ‘Carte Blanche: The Erosion of Medical Consent’ online webinar.

Date: Thu, Apr 22 • 7:00 AM AEST

Book here

Tech and the City Calendar | Tech and the City

Choose your own career hacks, Melbourne.

Tech, data, culture, workshops.

Metaverse fashionista. C’est Moi?

This week I became the lucky recipient of a set of Metaverse Makeover nails.

What are Metaverse Makeover nails you ask?

Good question.

Before we get to that though, may I take a moment to dwell on the joy of hearing one’s name called out in a raffle draw?

It’s so unexpected that I would win something in a game of chance, that I am thrilled, and squealing like a child, even though there is a high probability that I will not be using my metaverse nails anytime soon, for reasons I can explain.

To put it simply, they’re fake nails. But, there’s more to them than that. Their point of difference, as explained by their creator, Thea Baumann, an Australian based in China, is a little more complicated.

They are “collectible fashion accessories powered by a 3D app: triggering hologram stickers you can wear, play, snap, and share.”

More significantly, they presage a future in which scanning people, animals, objects with a device will reveal something hidden about them, a bit like Pokemon Go, the next generation.

Imagine a world in which you can portray yourself the way you want others to see you, without limits. Except perhaps for screen size and processing power.

In the future 3D interactive holographics will augment your appearance whenever your wearables interface with the right app. All kinds of animations and effects will attach to you that you can show off and share them with others: starting with your wardrobe and make up:  clothing, face and hair, but it could be a body part, a gender or species change; a virtual designer outfit; a character or spider webs an invisible lassoo, or a combination of all of the above.

Thar be dragons, furries, plushies and pony boys and girls. Also a lot of Cosplay.

Think of it as Second Life branching out beyond the confines of its universes, islands and worlds and into your smart phone. Anything that can only be seen in the realm between the online and meat world, or whatever terms you’re personally inclined to call the two locations, when they are not united in the metaverse.

A bit like this BBC TV show is doing with Italian cities.

The interesting thing that Thea has pulled off is to make something holographic dynamically adhere to a small curved surface, that is, a finger nail. In doing the hard yards first, the rest should be a walk in the park. Although it is still a very new and very digital art driven project at the moment.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a high probability that I will not be using my metaverse nails anytime soon, but that’s not their fault at all.

True. In real life the nails are heavy and plastic looking. The ones I’ve selected are neon pink and leopard printed (as opposed to the unicorns featured in the video, which were also an option) and it’s fair to say that they’re not really consistent with the environments I tend to work in, now that I don’t work in the arts. Then there is the fact that I am nearer to fifty than forty which is frankly, disgraceful.

But the bigger reason is that I am a confirmed nail fail.

The only reason I’ve never used fake nails, (and am unlikely to use these ones, aside from enjoying them being in pristine condition), is because I’m told that they leave your real nails in terrible condition. And believe me when I tell you that the last thing my existing nails need is to be even worse off than they are.  I stopped biting them when I finished high school and despite another half a lifetime passing by, they remain steadfastly horrible, no matter how much attention and professional care is lavished on them. They are weak, prone to breaking and always uneven. They have a weird shape.

I am impressed by the tech and interested to see who turns out to be the market for pieces and I wonder what the coding and programming skills are that are necessary to design augmented fashion products.

I would love to know and try it out.

The Law and You Forum: Is sport playing by the rules?

24 October PM join a panel of experts and the Victorian Law Foundation discussing whether sport and the law should be more like one another or not.

“Sport has its own codes of behaviour and its own judicial processes – which at times seem at odds with the general community. Issues like assault, bullying, drugs and discrimination can be managed differently on the field and off.”

Register here

Could a Scientist Solve your Problem? If you need a synchrotron, this could be the place for you.

If you have  a problem that only a person in a lab coat can solve, then think about taking a hike out to Mulgrave on 31 October.

This is one of the furthest flung events we’ve ever featured, and it you’re on public transport I’m afraid you’re in it for the long haul, (and a bit of a hike on top of that). But.

South East Melbourne Innovation Partnership (SEMIP) is proud to bring you the “Can a Scientist Solve your Problem?” pitch night on 31st October 6pm at the Eastern Innovation Business Centre.

The winner will receive $10,000 worth of Beam time at the Australian Synchrotron in Clayton with PR delivered by Scientell for the project.

What is a synchrotron?

Ansto’s Australian Synchrotron is a source of powerful x-rays and infrared radiation that can be used for a wide range of scientific and technical purposes.

Who needs a synchrotron?

You could be forgiven for thinking Dr Evil / Frank Thring and villains but, no. Some of the industries that currently benefit from the Synchrotron:

  • Advanced materials: ceramics, polymers, biomaterials, semiconductors, magnetic, superconducting and battery materials, opto-electronics
  • Biomedical: new diagnostics, bio-mimetic materials (artificial skin or organs), imaging and therapeutic techniques
  • Defence industries: new materials, sensors, heavy metal analysis, coatings
  • Environmental technologies and services: analysis of soils, fresh and salt water, air and atmospheric samples, pollutants, toxins and contaminants, environmental remediation
  • Food technology: analysis of food ingredients and packaging materials, product and process development
  • Manufacturing: metal alloys, catalysts, engineered components, stress analysis, fibres and textiles, adhesives, polymers and plastics, surfaces, interfaces and coatings

“Will Robots Eat Our Jobs?”

Happy 136th Birthday RMIT!

With a subject as enticing as “will robots eat our jobs?” I found myself mid-morning at RMIT’s green-slimed Storey Hall, expecting a bit of a lecture.

What I got was more.

A whole lot more.

Not only was it the University of Technology’s 136th birthday party, but there was molecular gastronomy on offer.

My goodnesss. It was eye-opening and mouth watering.

From the cater waiters dressed as Pris from ‘Blade Runner‘ to a thirty minute roller skating extravaganza that was part ‘Xanadu‘ and part ‘Starlight Express’, to a panel discussion involving the most animated university Vice Chancellor put on this green earth (Martin Bean) introducing a whole new word to the lexicon.

Meet “micro-credentialing”.

In a world in which you have multiple careers, a freelance economy, and ever evolving technology and capability, it’s exactly what the blog is aiming to wean you onto. Constant short bursts of self development.

Since introducing the concept, RMIT has delivered over 8,000 of the blighters, with the aim of creating a ‘pick and mix’ option for students and return-to-study types, but if you’re not sure you want to commit to these just yet, you can access the blog calendar, or sit at home and try some online offerings like Coursera or the number one educator in the world which I am surprised to learn is ‘YouTube.’ (I mean I get it but I’m not sure that I’d put it in that category.)

This week alone I’ve attended a webinar on programming chat bots with Microsoft UK; a seminar on how to edit Wikimedia and Wikipedia with Andy Mabbet at ACMIT X; learned about the policy ecosystem in Australasia at UniMelb and the Modern workplace at Microsoft HQ, discovering that Australian and state governements are disconnected and seem not to have invested in ways to share knowledge and colloborate on policy, and a business in regional Australia is using Microsoft 365 (the way of the future for shared services) and purely mobile solutions to deliver healthcare to seniors in rural, regional and remote areas of New South Wales.


Telehealth being a pet subject, I’ll be following up on Integrated Living and recommending it to my policy connections in health, tech and gov.

I also visited WanChain at Stone and Chalk who seem to be a middle ware interface or exchange type entity allowing trade between different types of cryptocurrency.

I asked them tricky questions about privacy and health data and we are going to continue the conversation.

Last but not least, I also made a new connection.  The Chief Strategist at Deloitte Australasia Robert Hiliard whose career trajectory includes an interest in letting go of the ‘digital’ descriptor in the transformation space and a short story involving a thirteen year old, a Commodore 64 and an early inventory and accounts management system created from scratch for a furniture retailer in country Victoria.

Disconcertingly, 2 per cent of Chief Executives in Australia think that technology has the capacity to seriously disrupt their businesses.

An alarming 71 per cent think that someone somewhere in the business is (probably) looking into the issue of disruption and the implications of new technologies. (Specifically “that guy with the red hair” to give an example of one of the answers supplied to researchers in response to my exact question, aka ‘who?).

This is really bad news. For so long we have promoted people to the top because of their ability to cut through, or as I prefer to see it, pay no attention to the detail. Speaking as someone who loves complexity and systems design, this has always meant my own career was never going to hit the heights but geez I’ve seen some really incompetent people rise up the ranks.

If these stats are real, Australia is headed for some nasty shocks.

Mr Hiliard is the first person to confirm my previously quietly held concerns that blockchain is “ugly” by which he means there are other  better options in the market that do the same thing better and I mean it seems to be attended by a yuge amount of hype and not a lot of information as to how it is actually better than other options.

(Example: you need US dollars to float an ICO. In laymans’ terms that means you make your digital currency out of existing currency… Why would anyone do that?)

Then there are the calls to regulate and apply the rule of law to these speculative creations, which is fine, except it doesn’t gel with my understanding of these currencies as having been created to avoid “gummint control” and tax, and allow the black market to flourish with some certainty.

So there’s that.

Finally, on the question of whether robots will eat our jobs the consensus seems to be no. They won’t.

At least twice this week the poster child for the future of humans and robots has been cited as two teams of chess players currently kicking goals on the world chess circuit (OMG. Why do you do this to yourselves, technologists?) in which the yuman and the off-the-shelf bot are working collaboratively. The machine doing the routine and predictable behavioural bits, and the creative tactics coming from the higher cognitive reasoning bits of the human’s imagination and brain. I can see how this would help risk management. Specifically my ability to reign in executives making rash decisions. However, I also note that behavioural interviewing (which is a pet hate, because it literally looks backwards, and assumes that we will only ever do what we have only ever done, which is precisely the type of work that machines will eat alive) isn’t interested in the ability of the human to have several careers and be creative. It vitiates against it. It may be what we need, but it’s not how we’re recruiting….

It begs the question whether the guy with the red hair who’s supposedly dealing with the threat of disruption actually exists or is he a figment of our irrationally positive imagination?