An Ecologist and a Game Designer Walk Into a Forest

An Ecologist and a Game Designer Walk Into a Forest

There are animated parties in the forest with a motley bunch of attendees, their colours and calls hidden among the trees. Pay a little more attention and you can see birds of various hues and sizes in a palpable buzz of activity. Mixed species bird flocks have been reported all around the world, and form the basis of a new card game called ​Flocks!” developed by an unlikely duo.

Mixed Species Bird Flocks

Flock image: Rangu Narayan. Modified to current form: Navodita

In the beginning it is overwhelming because you see one bird, then you see another and then you realize there could be so many…there is not just one or two species but very often, several of them,” says Priti Bangal who studies mixed species bird flocks as a PhD student at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

There is some systemic kind of play inherent in mixed species bird flocks,” says Prasad Sandbhor, a freelance game designer based in Bangalore. He got interested in issues related to nature and society through extra-curricular activities while growing up, and now designs games professionally.

The game rules do not move away from scientific observations. The creators did not bring in anything alien for the sake of a story. For example, gregarious species are important in the formation of mixed species flocks and hence their role as flock starters in the game.

Also Read: An Overview of the Gardens Under the Sea

Another important rule states that a species added once, singly or in a group, cannot be added to a mixed species flock again. The idea comes from the fact that a family group of a gregarious species present in a mixed species flock is not joined by another family of the same species.

It is the same in case of solitary species, which are often territorial in nature. ​I try to justify the ecology side of things and he [Prasad] tries to justify the game-play side of things. We always try and find the balance in between,” Priti says.

Flocks!

Image of cards: Prasad Sandbhor. Modified to current form: Navodita

When we started, we thought anybody could play this game and our play testing has been with a wide age group,” Prasad says. From the feedback they have received, it seems to be especially effective among high school kids.

It is a good introduction to birds and mixed species flocks, and players seem to remember the roles of birds – warblers as flock starters, drongos as protectors and the interactions between other species. ​It is a good way to introduce people to the different elements in the flock…but it is not a lesson plan,” Priti says.

The popularity of other science-based games in the market such as Birds of a Feather, Wingspan, Evolution and Phylo, gives them confidence that there are takers for Flocks!.

It has the potential to be a game on its own and we would like to bring it out in the world for people to play,” Prasad says. They would like to keep it self-sustainable and are looking for companies or ecological organisations who may be interested in collaborating. They also want to collaborate with schools to test the game with a larger audience and use it as a means of scientific outreach.

The journey so far has inspired them to keep working on designing games and playful material like stories and comic books among other formats. They want to work on material that connects players to nature, making them curious to look around and observe natural phenomena, says Prasad.

For Priti, discussing mixed species flocks with people outside an ecology background has allowed her to think about questions that may otherwise be taken for granted. ​It helps me become clearer in articulation about the system,” she adds. ​It definitely has been a fun and enriching experience.”

[“source=thewire”]

Water Shoes Can Be Fashionable and These Four Picks Prove It

‘Next In Fashion’ Reality Competition Will Bow On Netflix, Offering Designers $250K And Showcase

Tan France (Queer Eye) and designer/model Alexa Chung will host Netflix’s “Next In Fashion,” a competition that pits designers in a battle to become the next big thing. No date has been set for the launch, but season one will have ten episodes.

“Next in Fashion” begins with eighteen designers who face challenges centering on a different trend or design style that has influenced the way the entire world dresses. Judges, including stylist Elizabeth Stewart and Instagram fashion guru Eva Chen are among judges who will evaluate their creations. More guest judges will be announced.

The winner will receive a $250,000 prize and an opportunity to debut their collection with luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter.

Next in Fashion is created and produced by theoldschool and is executive produced by Robin Ashbrook and Yasmin Shackleton with co-executive producer Adam Cooper.

[“source=deadline”]

Zalando’s Director of Engineering on AI and the future of fashion

Image result for Zalando’s Director of Engineering on AI and the future of fashionLast week’s TNW Conference featured an amazing lineup of speakers, all sharing their unique knowledge and insights into the future of tech. A prominent theme this year was machine learning and artificial intelligence — namely, how industries can harness its power.

Stacia Carr, Director of Engineering at Zalando, gave an inspiring keynote about how she integrates this tech into her work.

As the fashion industry moves more and more online, customers want to know if the clothes they’re ordering will fit. Together with her team, Carr uses machine learning to make intelligent predictions on variations in size across the industry. We asked her more about her background, how she got to where she is today, and what the future holds:

You graduated from Berklee College of Music and went on to work in the music industry for a while. How did the transition towards engineering happen and what inspired the change?

For me the intellectual part of the transition was really natural — music is math — from math to computer science – and really overall, thinking in abstract concepts for system design is very similar to composition. Studying computer science felt really familiar and exciting to me. 

The inspiration for the shift was also very natural. I was at Berklee in the early ’90s just as affordable digital recording technologies were hitting the market. It was so obvious to me that with a dial-up modem and the possibility of making high quality recordings at home, suddenly we’re living in a world where one didn’t need to impress a record label in New York or LA to invest in a musician’s work.

The musician could take their future into their own hands. I wanted to make this happen so I started working in online music distribution startups where I could combine newly acquired programming skills with my music background. 

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You left San Francisco, the epicenter of tech entrepreneurship and innovation, for Berlin. What was the potential you saw in Europe and in Zalando in particular?

I loved working and living in San Francisco, particularly during the late ’90s and early 2000s. This was an incredible time of change, possibility, and people with very diverse backgrounds coming together to explore the potential of the internet with a lot of genuine curiosity and heartfelt desire to shape the future.   

What I experienced over the subsequent 15 years was an increased focus on creating wealth and development of products that seemed to benefit smaller numbers of people. I saw moving to Europe as a way to disrupt my personal and professional life trajectory.

I wanted to live in Europe since I was a teenager, but I had no idea what it would be like to work here. So the move was a way to push myself way out of my comfort zone and at the same time realize an important dream. 

Working at Zalando represented an opportunity to take my experience, share it with others, and support the development of the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

Zalando’s ambition felt very familiar to me and from my perspective the fashion industry is about where the music industry was when I first started working in the mid ’90s — ripe for disruption, innovation, and democratization through the possibility of digital automation. 

In interviews, you’re vocal about the need for more diversity in tech. Is there anything you wish you had known at the start of your journey as a woman in engineering?

My time at Berklee left me well prepared for working in a male dominated industry; while I was there, the male to female ratio was 9 to 1. If I could have spoken to my younger self both in music and in tech I would love to say, “don’t be fooled, they sound like they know what they’re talking about, but they have just as many questions as you do.”

Is leadership something that came naturally to you? What are the biggest challenges of being a leader of an engineering team?

Yes, I was the kid roping the neighborhood kids into building a lemonade stand or writing a local newspaper together. I love bringing people together to work as a team — the human connection and the possibility of creating something big together is exciting and personally fulfilling.    

When you lead engineers, technical folks, or just really smart people, you have an inherent responsibility to create a container for them to thrive that is also deeply connected to value creation for customers and business. It’s really easy for individuals to get caught up in their own growth ambition and lose sight of the customer or business objective. It’s your job to gently and thoughtfully reset that focus. 

Stacia Carr on stage at TNW Conference 2019 in Amsterdam

People don’t usually think about fashion as a tech-driven industry. What are the most exciting innovations we should be looking out for?

A lot of 3D is coming our way in the fashion world. As more and more fashion purchases move online, we as an industry need to turn to 3D technologies to be able to provide the customer with the right fit, ensuring a more sustainable experience for everyone.

Customers should be looking out for 3D fitting rooms, even more personalized recommendations, and inspiration in the form of outfits and collections to suit all occasions. Online shopping experiences are becoming increasingly personalized, making use of vast amounts of data and technologies such as machine learning to show that they know the customer better than anyone else.

At your role in Zalando, you’re innovating sizing with machine learning. What other areas of the fashion industry could benefit from this technology? Where do you see AI in fashion heading to in the future?

AI in fashion is, on the one hand, about creating a personalized experience for customers. Machine learning helps us to analyze the very personal nature of fashion and teach an algorithm what makes a good outfit, for example, allowing us to scale inspiration for the benefit of all our customers.

On the other hand, AI also offers sustainability. Using machine learning, we’ll be able to produce on demand, design in 3D, and reduce the type of wastage which has become commonplace with mass-produced clothing. It’s a very exciting time to be working in fashion!

[“source=thenextweb”]

Aldous Harding: Designer review – cryptic charm and shimmering psychedelic pop

‘Captivating and indecipherable’ ... Aldous Harding.

Comebacks come no more enigmatic than The Barrel, the first single to be taken from Aldous Harding’s third album, and its accompanying video. It featured the New Zealand-born singer-songwriter performing stylised dance moves and giving knowing looks to camera while variously wearing a tall white hat, a white ruff and enormous platform boots; a grotesque blue mask and a T-shirt and white underpants accessorised with a pair of maracas. The lyrics were as puzzling as the video: “I know you have the dove, I’m not getting wet … show the ferret to the egg, I’m not getting led along.”

Aldous Harding: Designer album artwork
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 Aldous Harding: Designer album artwork

Perhaps understandably, what the whole thing was supposed to be about was the subject of considerable online debate. Depending on whose interpretation you plumped for, the video was either a homage to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s surreal 1973 film The Holy Mountain, a nod to the national dress of Wales (where Designer was partly recorded and where Harding currently resides), analogous to the faintly disturbing vision of pregnancy found in Sylvia Plath’s 1960 poem Metaphors, inspired by postmodernist poet Susan Howe’s book Singularities, which surveys the 17th-century First Nation wars in New England, somehow related to menstruation or – a more cynical view – a canny artist doing a load of self-consciously weird stuff on screen with one eye on the end result being GIF-able and meme-worthy. Whatever it was, Harding wasn’t letting on: “I feel we’re expected to be able to explain ourselves after we’ve worked the space and have purpose, you know, in a little bag that you carry around everywhere,” she told NPR. “But I don’t necessarily have that in me.”

Long-term observers of Harding’s rise might note that this is all par for the course. After attracting attention for a pared-down, folky debut, things in Harding’s world got weird fast. On 2017’s Party, the lyrics became more oblique, her videos more inscrutable, her interviews more vague and her live performances more mannered and strange, as evidenced by the divisive explosion of bug-eyed gurning that accompanied her appearance on Later With Jools Holland. For everyone moved to purple prose by her stagecraft, there was someone expressing their displeasure in more earthy terms: “She looks like she’s escaped from the nut house,” protested one YouTube commenter.

For anyone braced for a further explosion of oddness, the strangest thing about Designer might be how disarmingly pretty it is. The staginess of Harding’s vocals has been slightly toned down, although she is still wont to sing with a curious enunciation, as if she’s invented her own accent. The tunes are sweetly charming. The music, meanwhile, is drawn in soft, warm tones: piano, Mellotron, fingerpicked nylon-strung acoustic guitar, subtle shadings of woodwind and brass, gently pattering congas. It occasionally sounds like a lost Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter album from the immediately post-psychedelic era – there’s a faintly lysergic shimmer to the tempo shifts and pregnant pauses of the title track – and occasionally like the work of Leslie Feist. The emotional temperature seems to drop midway through, with Damn’s hushed six and a half minutes ushering in a shadowy, twilit mood that lingers to the album’s conclusion, but even then the songs are draped with graceful, inviting melodies: driven by the muffled tick-tock of an ancient-sounding drum machine playing a vaguely Latin pattern, Weight of the Planets is particularly lovely.

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Aldous Harding: The Barrel – video

The lyrics are cryptic almost to the point of impenetrability and are clearly going to keep Harding’s army of online interpreters busy for some time: relatable everyday incidents are swallowed up by bizarre imagery. If it’s hard to say what Treasure or Zoo Eyes are actually about – “I made it again to the Amazon, I’ve got to erase the same as the others” opens the former, while the latter concludes with repeated demands to know “what am I doing in Dubai?” – a distinct sense of disquiet and darkness seeps through the splintered imagery, scraping unsettlingly against the music. She alludes to something grim and bloody in the lyrics of Treasure, completely at odds with its breezy musical setting; the honeyed vocals and beautiful harmonies of opener Fixture Picture conceal a bleak worldview: “You can’t be pure and in love.” Even if you don’t feel like spending hours trying to unpick what she’s on about, there’s something oddly compelling about the contrasts.

Making an album that’s both captivating and indecipherable is no mean feat. What seems like the work of an unbiddable artist, operating according to her own baffling internal logic, turns out to be something rather more finely wrought: the fractured and confusing weighed out against the straightforwardly appealing, the darkness balanced by airy light. It’s a strange world that Harding has created, but it’s also an inviting one.

This week Alexis listened to

Four Tet: Teenage Birdsong
Kieran Hebden continues to wend his way down a beautifully idiosyncratic path: sunlit pastoral electronica, devoid of indulgence, thick with melodies.

[“source=theguardian”]

India Men Show: A glamorous show to accelerate men’s lifestyle and the latest fashion trends in India

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The guest list also included industrialists, businessmen, bureaucrats, influencers, restaurateurs, politicians, diplomats, expats, and socialites.

The inaugural edition of “India Men Show” took place on April 18, 2019, at the Metropolitan Hotel, New Delhi. It was a luxury evening dedicated to celebrating men’s lifestyle choices. The evening encompassed a panel discussion on changing trends in men’s lifestyle industry, ‘Man of Substance’ awards to honor select iconic men from different walks of life and a curated fashion presentation by menswear labels.

“India Men Show” evolves from the fact that men are becoming increasingly style savvy and are making informed lifestyle choices more than ever before. Be it fashion, grooming, fitness, travel, machines, technology or personal space, they are investing smartly in factors that determine their way of life. However, the event finds its purpose in encouraging modern men to become significantly aware of their lifestyle decisions and their impact on society.

The guest list also included industrialists, businessmen, bureaucrats, influencers, restaurateurs, politicians, diplomats, expats, and socialites.

Panel Discussion: Former Indian cricketer Anjum Chopra was in conversation with Bobby John Varkey, (Editor-in-Charge, The Man Magazine), Sunil Sethi (President, FDCI), Malvinder Singh Ricky (Former COO, Taj Hotels), Rajiv Makhni (Tech Guru), Sangram Singh (wrestler). They decoded changing trends in men’s lifestyle.

‘Man of Substance’ awards
This felicitation is a celebration of select men’s bold decisions and their lifestyle choices. These shakers and movers have set remarkable examples in society. And they are a role model for the millennials of India.

Some of the well-known names were honored with “Man of Substance” award include Amit Burman (VP, Dabur India), Raghava Rao (Vice President, Finance & amp; India CFO at Amazon India), Zorawar Kalra (Founder, Massive Restaurants), Navin Ansal (Founder, Casa Pop), Raghav Verma (Co-founder, Chaayos), Sunil Sethi (President, FDCI), Sabbas Joseph (Founder, Wizcraft), Tarun Thakral (Founder, Heritage Transport Museum), Sangram Singh (Wrestler), Samir Suhag (Polo Player), Sachin Atulkar (IPS Officer, Online sensation), Rajiv Makhni (Tech Guru), Jamal Shaikh (Editor, HT Brunch) and Martin Howard (Social Activist).

India Men Show 2019 was supported by leading names – BMW as Lifestyle Partner, Wikka and Ayurveda as Gifting partners, United Breweries and Fishing Cat as Beverage Partner, The Metropolitan Hotel & AMP; Spa as Hospitality Partner, The Man and Exotica magazine as Media partners, Brand Stand Bespoke Communications as PR Partner, Crystal Hues as Digital Partner and Red 93.5 Fm as Radio Partner.

[“source=financialexpress”]