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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Into The Blu

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Almost every day I get email from PR people trying to get me to blog about something. Mostly, they fail to take account of the stated purpose of the blog. Rarely do I take an interest but something about a new web page peaked my interest, even though it is not about transportation or planning or this part of the world. On the other hand it does have a direct connection to my concern for the environment, and specifically the damage we have done, and are doing, to our oceans. I doubt that anyone who lives in BC can be unaffected by the ongoing drama of the salmon. There is, of course, an inquiry – and also an offensive (in both senses of that word) from the salmon farmers who see a threat to their profits by people concerned about the damage they have done, and are doing to our ecosystem. I will not eat farmed salmon. I regard Alexandra Morton as a heroine. It does indeed concern me that port expansion at Roberts Bank seems to be able to proceed despite the obvious damage it has done and will do to habitat of fish and birds – as well as our ability to feed ourselves. The huge gyre of garbage in the Pacific does worry me – as does the absence of the oolichan. And as you are reading this, and while some of you have started growing moustaches for Movember, I am shaving mine off so that my new mask does not leak when I go snorkelling on the reef in front of the hotel on the Mayan Riviera. I rediscovered the joys of snorkelling when I swam with the stingrays last winter. When I first heard about The Blu I thought maybe that would provide me with some information I could be using there.

I was fortunate to be given a demonstration of the Beta version by their CEO Neville Spiteri – by some clever use of internet technology. While I cannot offer you quite the same experience, the web site is currently offering a limited number of guest log ins to those it invites – a bit like the way Google initially offered gmail and google+. So for twenty readers of this blog there is going to be a free guest log in. But, of course, not yet.

You can already visit the site to read about what they are doing, but to see the Beta demo you will have to use the invite code. If, when you get there, you find that twenty others have beaten you to it, then send me an email (see the about page for that) and I will ask for some more. But you will have to wait until I get back as I am not shlepping a five pound MacBook this trip. Nor do I have an underwater camera – and seeing the results that those cheap disposables produce – I don’t intend to get one.

The Blu offers an immersive experience. It is a virtual reality. The graphics that I have seen have been impressive. Many people are working on adding locations, environments and species. There are currently five entry points, that depend on your location i.e., which of the five land continents you log in from. From there you can travel to several habitats, and watch a growing number of types of fish, which each have artificial intelligence and awareness of their surroundings. You can interact with the fish – simply following one is interesting since it is nearly impossible for a humble human without flippers or scuba gear to do that in reality. And, in the case of the Great White Shark, not advisable, even if it were possible.

Some people will see the The Blu as just another electronic game. Others are already exploiting its educational value. Neville Spiteri said that he feels one of the shortcomings of the environmental activists is that they tend to hit people over the head with information, rather than letting them discover for themselves, which is what The Blu can do for the sea. He is talking to Sylvia Earl and Greenpeace already. I am hoping that activists here will also see the opportunity. The Blu is a business, and while most people will experience it for free, already enthusiasts are “collecting” species, and the money they are willing to pay can go either to the graphic artists who create the species, or to an organization that wants to fund raise on behalf of that species. Thanks to the computer magic, the Pacific Salmon may become a superhero (and not just a supper hero as autocorrect would prefer). I was also quite pleased to see the fatty tuna swimming around – just as I like to see spring lamb in season.

I think I have probably done enough to wet your appetite. You do not need to request an invitation when you click on the blu. All you need to do is sign up using the invite code theblu0064

Written by Stephen Rees

November 4, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Posted in computers, Environment

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