AR: a unicorn possibility is real, large, and very near

... I will be at ARIA at MIT.

Hello to those who attended my 2018 AR workshops and presentations! And, hello to those who are interested in my AR startup plans! Thanks for stopping by!

The state-of the art AR blog posts of last summer are now ancient history! The following eight blog posts are a glimpse into the latest AR developments and opportunities. 

6D

Whare/Samsung

Magic Leap

Niantic

WakingApp/Vuzixhttps://www.wakingapp.com/blog

Amazon Sumerian

Microsoft Azure + Unity

AR Smartglasses by Facebook +

Now is the time to produce AR content for industry, art and entertainment- and games.


I have been involved with games/spatial computing since 2002, and am now ready to launch an AR startup that involves games, filmmaking and video/content production. If you, or someone you know, is interested in investing, I hope we can talk.

I can share the successful pitch I used at TechCrunch  Shenzhen a week ago. As positive as the response was, it never hurts to share a vision, especially if that vision includes a unicorn. onwARd,
Stephen Black

PS The flyer below is a bit out of date; the startup idea mentioned below includes games.


Presentations and workshops by Stephen Black

This blog has many posts about AR and startup plans, all of which are outdated, but do provide insights. 

AR, VR and Every R in Between (July 7, 2018)

HAPPENING NOW: STEPHEN BLACK'S EBOOKS: FREE AND DISCOUNTED Taking place during the Maker Faire Hong Kong, was AR, VR and Every R in Between, organized by Dr. Ludovic Krundel, of the Digital Entertainment Lab, School of Design at HK PolyU. Here is a link to bios of some of the people who made the day so interesting. Plus, there was Kandao and SnapPop. Photos by Stephen Black and Bubiko Foodtour. 360VR video of the event is here! 360VR video of this is here. Day 2 is here.

Hello!

Hello and welcome. My name is Stephen Black and I work with media, words and art. Media: VR, computer-generated environments,video and photography. Words: articles and books, including Bali Wave Ghost,  I Ate Tiong Bahru (a national bestseller in Singapore), Tiong Bahru Mouth, Obama Search Words and a few others. This post gives you some idea of my current projects. Thank you for stopping by. Stephen Black physical laborers
black and white image of man dropping vase

Ai Wewei, Yesim Agaoglu, Stephen Black, Eugene Soh collaboration in gallery.sg

Jeff Koons Balloon Dog in SPOKEN

Nhung: Floating

low tech in hi tech

Works created with ink

two men smiling

If one person can be said to symbolize the Tiong Bahru Market, it might be this guy in the hat...

SB & 3D (Why I’m excited to be in Eugene Soh’s virtual gallery project)

THIS post was written before SPOKEN started. SPOKEN is a project I am doing with Eugene Soh, an experiment in which art, text, virtual reality and social media intersect. Learn about SPOKEN here.

To enter gallery.sg and experience SPOKEN, click here.

Here is the extremely short version: from 2002 until 2008 I was involved with a visionary virtual reality project that combined educational practices with gamemaking and multimedia. However, the spiritual captain of the project was part Disney, part Microsoft and part Sex Pistols. An unexpected death, treachery, incompetence, inexperience, bureaucratic boondoggles and more made my life "interesting"... I have pages of notes about the events and the spirit of the times. We were doing things like Youtube and Second Life before they started. The project was so close... and yet so far away. (Actually, now that mobile technology has settled down, I hope that the lessons and products of that experience can be revitalized. But that's yet another story.)

In 2006, as a way of showcasing our technology,  I entered a gamemaking hackathon. A theme was given on a Thursday morning and the next day at five the results were judged.The theme was something about healthy eating, I think. Working with my programmer in Hong Kong, we made a game in which the viewer learned about the calorie count of certain foods. The player competed with an AI character.  It was fun to do. However, what I remember most was a team that made an incredible flash game. I don't remember if they won or not, but I do remember two guys on that team very well. George Parel and Eugene Soh were full of energy, knowledge and bursting with creative ideas. They still are.

I've been lucky to work with George and Eugene on a few projects since then. In 2008 I finally had to put the educational gamemaking project on hold while I waited for a programmer and the mobile device situation to stabilize.I put more time into writing and art projects. George and Eugene (that dude from Singapore) however, have kept on doing remarkably creative things with IT, art, design and more.

Virtual reality may seem to be an artificial place, but the gallery Eugene has created fills me with memories and hope. I am honored and very thankful for I Ate Tiong Bahru to be on display in gallery.sg

IATB in virtual gallery Cheers, Eugene! Cheers, George!

Ebooks: Born to Click (1 of 3)

Preface

This informal essay is my way of marking the end of a certain era in ebook history. It's part snapshot, part reference materials, part journal.At the end of this post are notes about me, my experiences and my books. Thanks to Doug Rolph for his insights on economics, Eric Hellman for his input and my dad for having taken care of our family by selling books.

το πνεύμα του Ιανού

After I finish writing eight books, I will begin marketing. Until then, I'll probably study the ebook world less and hopefully do more writing, arting and engaging with Life. When it does comes time for me to contribute to the marketing conversation, I hope I have something to say. For now, I present the following notes, quotes and thoughts as a means of punctuating a phase in the development of ebooks as I have seen and experienced it.

This is an exciting time. The ebook delivery platforms are finally stable, self-publishing has proven to have great value and a number of services have recently appeared that shorten the distances between readers and authors. It seems to me that indie ebooks and ebook marketing are about to enter a new era.

This blog post makes little mention of traditional publishing. This is simply because, as much as I would like to enjoy the benefits of being a Big 5/6 author, that fruit is not now within my reach. I am however, considering joining the Author's Guild.

Although I've done almost no marketing, I have studied the environments in which ebooks are created, presented, bought and sold. Some observations:

1. Except for uploading, nothing about ebooks is easy. Writing is the anti-social social media, full of long, long hours of pressure-filled solitude. Assembling an error-free book is never simple. The social part, finding an audience, is an immense challenge. I respect all of the authors mentioned in this post for they have successfully met these challenges and more.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. Stephen King

Based on my experiences, the work breakdown of an 88,000 word novel looks something like this: 1000 words a day (88 days) or, more likely, 500 words a day (176 days). Call it 200 days to prepare something for a proofreader. Two months for corrections, art, and ebook conversion. So, a book takes about 300 working days to finalize. About... And then there are the thousands of actions needed to connect with readers... The title of Guy Kawasaki's excellent book says it all: APE, meaning Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

This document, by Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, is a data-based analysis of the ebook market. Highly recommended, it covers topics important for newbies and veterans. It touches upon issues like word count, pricing, marketing and more. For instance, his research shows that the average bestseller on Smashwords is 100,000 words, and the average romance is 112,195 words. (There are more links to resources at the end of this post.)

Very few traditionally published authors became bestsellers; the same is true for ebook publishing. My goal is not to become a bestseller, but to connect with the largest possible community of people who enjoy the art of reading.

2. A great writer or a great marketer...

....or, the frustration of being caught between not doing enough writing and not doing enough marketing. A writer writes, a salesman sells.

Self-publishing does not equal self-marketing. Spending money wisely on promotion money means income and time to write. (See the links below)

Twitter, Goodreads, FB, LinkedIn and blogging? All have their advantages and disadvantages...

3. There are no independent, hugely successful ebook-only self-publishers. Note: Two days after this post went up, I became aware of this great piece by Dana Beth Weinberg on Digital Book World. Thank you Jacqueline Church!

Amazon is huge, Apple is huge, Kobo and Smashwords are very big. Unless you are selling from your own website or the back of your car, you're not truly independent.

OK, A bit of an attention grabber there...but the author's need for a partnership with Amazon and ebook distributors is a dependence that cannot be overlooked. These "automatic partners" will always protect their interests first. They call the shots. Amazon is a business, not an author.

Amanda Hocking is a hugely successful author. At one point, the average daily sales figure of her self-published ebooks was 9000. Again: average DAILY book sales: nine thousand! Her success was based on hard work, technological first mover advantage and an indirect tie-in with Hollywood.

Consider: -the successful and pioneering integration of ebook readers into tablets and mobile as well as the launch of the Kindle (2007) and the iPad(2010)

-the large demographic of young women who bought readers and tablets - the fact that, having written many books, Hocking could quickly provide a new and large market with a variety of new titles - writing books about the paranormal when Hollywood is pushing the same cannot hurt. Twilight, the hugely successful series of movies about teen vampires began in 2008. Hocking's first book, My Blood Approves, began selling in 2010.

E.L. James' book phenomenon began in the fan fiction chat rooms for Twilight. The characters in Fifty Shades of Grey were originally the characters from Twilight. Could Master of the Universe, as her series was originally called, have achieved its success without an existing network of thousands of Twilight fans?

These two women made their mark upon society in two different ways. As shared, collective book-based experiences: WOW! However, the writing is..."not terrible" or worse

I remember SF/F authors complaining (back in 2011) that their readers hadn’t switched to e-books yet, casting jealous eyes at the outsized romance audience. But as readers did move across, we saw people like David Dalglish and BV Larson breaking out, and the rest of “genre” fiction soon followed. http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/amazon-makes-life-easier-for-authors-of-historical-literary-fiction/

There are "indie success stories" about authors who "rode into town" on the backs of traditional publishing. Funded by Big 6 money these "indies" were advertised and publicized, sent on book tours and given things like business cards. Possibly, audiobooks were made. Hundreds, if not thousands, of their books were given away, many to reviewers. As the 'first mover'possibilities of the ebook market became clear and realistic, these authors, knighted by the Big 6 and armed with credibility and connections, rode onto a battlefield with little opposition... Undoubtedly hard work was involved, but to label them as indies brings to mind the quip about George Bush: "...was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple."

There certainly are "ebook only" indies connecting with many readers and enjoying sales. I just don't know of any. (FOUND SOMEONE: LINDSAY BUROKER Please tell me about others! them! Somewhat related to this, are there any "ebook only" awards?

Here, authors talk about their sales experiences.

4. The ebook world evolves to reward the reader; the prepared author benefits from this. Fan fiction. Goodreads. Ebook readers on mobile phones. The mashup between big data and metadata. Entrepreneurs with vision who see ways to connect authors and readers in a new ways.

It is an exciting time.

Ebooks: Born to Click, Part 2 of 3 visit www.blacksteps.tv for parts 2 and 3 of this post, as well as information on art, books and ebooks

 

ARphabet Tour


January- April, 2019

the ARphabet tour

With the two topics of AR and Books, The ARphabet tour start at ARIA at MIT, January 14 and 15, 2019.  AR-themed presentations are one part of the tour, the other part involves readings and writing workshops.

The ARphabet Tour is fun, serious and now taking bookings for the United States and Canada. After stops at SXSW in Austin, Texas and the Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco, The ARphabet Tour will wind down around the first of April.

Although I am planning an AR startup, the talk is about AR trends and developments. I am not using this tour as a way to directly seek investors or partners. I am interested in promoting AR as a whole.

Here is an example from my workshops last summer, at HK  PolyU.

AR: 2018 State of the Art Workshop @ Hong Kong PolyU

AR Presentations

Presentation will be focused  to provide maximum relevant information to any of the following groups. No AR knowledge or experience necessary. Consultations should be scheduled separately.

  • General
  • Children
  • Grade School Students
  • High School Students
  • University Students
  • Advertising/Media
  • Food Industry
  • Medical
  • Artists, including Dancers and Sculptors
  • Filmmakers
  • Writers and Poets 
  • Investors

Unless requested otherwise, the presentations are not overly technical and consist of personal experiences and observations about the past, present and future of AR.

Introducing  Bubiko Foodtour, an AR character

Readings and Workshops

Son of a book salesman, author of fiction and non fiction, writer for TV, websites and magazines, Stephen is well experienced with the art of writing. One of his books, I  Ate Tiong Bahru, is a national bestseller in Singapore. The readings provide a behind-the scenes look at Stephen's writing techniques, inspirations ad challenges. Stephen's books and related videos and reviews can be found here.

Workshops, as much as possible, focus on ideas and text provided by students. After explaining his own writing process, write and share their own texts and ideas, which are evaluated individually and with the class as a whole. Workshops can be modified for any age group or level of writing experience.

Publishing Magnates
Stephen Black , Book Merah CEO/author , with Stuart Rankin, Chairman of The Dundercats Multimedia Group.
360 films
Stephen Black in Beach Road, the 360VR film he co-produced with Hiverlab. The film has been featured in festivals in Las Vegas, Brisbane and Singapore.

About Stephen Black

After graduating with a BFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Stephen Black experienced the growth of digital media from these viewpoints: as a photographer, as a video artist in New York's  Lower East Side and Japan; as a producer/writer/director for Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies in Hong Kong, and as a self-publisher of ebooks, books and photography books.

He was first drawn to the possibilities of spatial computing/AR/VR as the creative director for a $3.2 million game-making startup in Singapore. In 2007 he committed himself to writing books, while anticipating the arrival of AR and VR. And here we are...

Presentations and workshops by Stephen Black
A Chinese newspaper review of i ate tiong bahru. iatb is available as an audio book and a softcover, on Amazon. The first edition of the printed version is sold out.

Trouble Maker

construction process
Trouble Maker in Shenzhen, meeting

One chapter in Alphabet Spikes will be about Trouble Maker.

HQB Vibe

HQB VIBE: NEW EYES (the first of a series of paintings created by Stephen Black)

HQB Vibe: Baby 2
HQB Vibe: Baby 2

The paintings are rectangular, the grey and white checks are part of the painting.

Photo Documentation by Stephen Black of FAI Drone Racing Championships, Shenzhen 2018 (part 5)

Hey Birdwatchers!

Thank you to all of the athletes and attendees! The time flew by; every day the sense of community grew stronger. Thank you for making  a couple of newbs feel very welcome. On Thursday morning Lunchbox gave me an hour of his time, and what I learned from him greatly increased my enjoyment of the competition.Thanks Lunchbox-- and Lunchbox Lady too!

If you are in the photos, or know the names of those pictured, please let me know.

Feel free to use the images for non-commercial purposes. If you could credit "Stephen Black", that would be great, and do let me know your link, so I can publicize your site. If you want to use the images for commercial purposes, please ask, so that I can discuss with those in the photos.

Perhaps you can tell, but this was my first experience with posting photos with Gutenberg, a new OS from WordPress. It is not what I am used to, and later I will redo these posts.

Finally, in Alphabet Spikes, there are two short stories about drones. Alphabet Spikes is about my travels in Southeast Asia and China. It is available on Amazon, as are my other books...

Photo Documentation by Stephen Black of FAI Drone Racing Championships, Shenzhen 2018 (part 4)

Photo Documentation by Stephen Black of FAI Drone Racing Championships, Shenzhen 2018 (part 3)

Photo Documentation by Stephen Black of FAI Drone Racing Championships, Shenzhen 2018 (part 2)

Welcome Birdwatchers!

If you know the name of the pilots, or anyone else, please let me know via the comments section.

For commercial uses of these photos, please contact me so I can discuss with the those in the photo. Yes, non-commercial use is free, but please credit Stephen Black, and let me know your link so I can share it....and do feel free to buy Alphabet Spikes, one of my ebooks. Alphabet Spikes has a couple of short stories in it, stories about DRONES!

For many of the photos I have RAW files, which means I can improve the quality somewhat, in case you want prints or something.  The link to the first set of photos is here.

Photo Documentation by Stephen Black of FAI Drone Racing Championships, Shenzhen 2018 (part 1)

International drone racing championship in Shenzhen: the birth of a sport!



If you know the names of the people in the photos, please let me know, especially if you have contact info.

Feel free to use the images for noncommercial uses. If the photos are to be used for commercial purposes, please contact me, and I will contact those in the photos.  
The four days in Shenzhen were fantastic. I met Lunchbox and The Lunchbox Lady! I also was inspired to write a story called Life Pilot for  Alphabet Spikes.

Onwaird!