How running made us human

Flip-book world

Some brilliant Latvian geeks made a sequence of images that, when viewed in stop-action animation, shows a robot-like man walking. They stenciled the images onto various public places, like the telephone box pictured above. Then they took snapshots of all those locations, and assembled them into a brilliant online flip-book: As it zips through all the locations, the man appears to walk. You can pause the movie on any frame to see that individual picture. It’s just crazily cool.

Oddly, this reminds me of an idea I had a while ago about Tivo. Advertisers are worried that Tivo users are zipping past TV ads in superfastforward. So why don’t they simply embed an advertisment within the normal ad that becomes visible only when you’re speeding through the TV spot at high speed? Watch the ad at regular speed, and you see the regular ad; watch it at high speed and you suddenly “see” the secondary ad — perhaps some sort of animation that works precisely like the one above. Think of it this way: A normal TV ad is 30 seconds long, with 30 frames per second, for a total of 900 frames. I don’t know precisely how fast Tivo goes, but let’s say you can whip through a normal at in four seconds. That means you only see 117 frames. So what an advertiser should do it create a secondary ad composed of those 117 frames, which pops into existence when you go on fastforward. It would be, of course, maddeningly difficult to create one ad that works in these two modes, but what could possibly be more awesome? Hell, you’d have people frantically watching TV in hopes of seeing it.

(Thanks to Plastic Bag for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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