This is interesting for a couple of reasons:
1) it’s amazing DIY technology… a robot doing something that the average human could not do… but doing something completely useless.
Maybe this is all working towards something useful – there’s been a flotilla of motor-driven steadicams recently (balancing machines)… with the usual camera-speak prefix “Affordable”, which actually means “Ten times more than the price of the camera”… but I don’t know if that’s ‘useful’, in the way that we (not just humanity, but the biosphere) need things to be useful.
What we really need is a shift from scarcity based economics, to abundance-based. So we can feed and water the 7 billion people on the planet, without destroying the biosphere.
Just for a laugh, we should kill all be billionaires as well – but let’s get radical abundance sorted first. If we sort that, then there won’t be any billionaires, because billionaires tend to be billionaires because they’re running artificial-scarcity regimes that allow them to skim the entire surplus (and not so surplus) value that humanity creates.
And I don’t know if balancing a robot on a football is a good way of doing that. Too early to tell. It might be, in an indirect way.
TL;DR : Amazing tech doing something useless.
2) It was made by a Chinese Startup (fuck ‘startups’)… a Chinese Startup who specialises in doing stuff for “Makers”, ie: people in the west who need a bit of a helping hand with their kickstarter/indiegogo projects. Which is a really cool idea I think.
The website, is an unsettlingly unpopulated shell, which appears to have been blatantly pinched from some Czech Web Dev guys. This does not bode well… but ignoring that for the moment*, I quite like the idea of linkage between geeks from our radically different global economies.
I’m not sure why I like the idea of this – it is in a way just low-level exporting of jobs to places that have no labour laws, but there’s something quite cyber-punk about it… and for me personally, if I’m partnering with someone from another country, I’m happy to pay them the same rate that I pay myself. It’s not about cheap labour, it’s about dissolving barriers between “Nations”.
A Nation is basically just a circle drawn on a map where people are taxed to buy weapons to fight people in other circles… with whom they have no particular quarrel, but the circle-leaders “want more”. It’d be good to get rid of this bullshit… and cross-border geek-collaboration is probably a pretty good way of doing it, because we are interested in building systems. We understand ecosystems – usually (in my experience) better than actual biologists do. And we just want people to like us. We’re more interested in making a really cool great big thing that saves the world, than making money.
Don’t believe me? This site is running on a LAMP stack, with WordPress on top, and jQuery on the side, written by me, in my spare time – which I have a lot of. All of that is open-source, and in case you didn’t know, LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP run the internet… an increasingly, so does WordPress (and it isn’t even very good)).
Part of the problem with geeks (or anyone for that matter) wanting to save the world, is that we’re not actually talking to the bits of the world that could possibly (if we actually listened to them) do with our help. Cross-border/ideology geek projects are a way around that.
Another possible example of this is a Mexican / US startup that does micro-copters
Which looks a bit more together on the web front – although it does seem to be a bit more old-school as well… copyright symbols at the foot of every page. A Copyright Symbol (©) is a special badge that means “Damaged”. “From The Past”.
My first foray into Tindle rang similar bells – I was buying electronic expertise from a guy in Nepal – there’s something good about dealing with other people one to one. I guess it’s to do with the knowledge you’re not dealing with some sweat-shop somewhere, who leave no corner uncut, and who will never tire of finding ways to short-change you.
* So how come you’re always railing about copyright, but somebody copying and pasting someone else’s web-site is “bad”?
Well… it boils down the the subtle and important distinction surrounding copyright and plagiarism. Breaking copyrights/patents is to ignore an artificial scarcity… a legal fiction that has been set up so someone can get ‘something for nothing’ – plagiarism is identity theft.
There should be no laws governing plagiarism – the penalty should be (as it is in comedy), embarrassment… loss of credibility. That’s enough.
What Ufactory are doing web-wise is (in my opinion) on the “identity theft” side of the line. I’d see this more as plagiarism than breaking an artificial scarcity against which someone is charging monopoly rents. It’s not a particularly big deal – but the fact that they don’t take pride in ‘building their site themselves’, but would rather (hermit-crab-like) move into someone else’s shell, doesn’t really bode well as far as geek-to-geek synchronicity of vibe goes.