Infinite Lego

Six 2×4 LEGO bricks

I’m reading Infinite Possibility, by Pine and Korn, exploring business “on the digital frontier.” I’m sure it will be full of very worthwhile gems which I can share (after all Joe Pine is the fellow who, with Joe Gilmore, explained the price of coffee in The Experience Economy). But first I had to share this observation from the Afterward (page 223) wherein he admits that the number of possibilities the digital economy offers is not in fact infinite, but might as well be:

“Take, for example, the relatively simple case of six 2×4 bricks (those with eight studs on top) – and we’ll ignore even colour. In 1999 LEGO published the number of possibilities that could be built with just these six bricks: an astounding 102,981,500. This turned out to be a considerable underestimate, however, as it only counted designs where each brick was on top of each other in some way – so each of the almost 103 million designs reach precisely six blocks high … the true number for six 2×4 bricks is 915,103,765!

“Now imagine (or pull out of your kids’ treasure trove) twenty-five LEGO bricks, still 2x4s, and still all the same colour. And then consider this number: 130,881,177,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That is not the number of different designs you can make with them. No that is the number of years they estimate it would take to figure out that precise number! In case you were wondering, that is nigh on 131 duodecillion. Years.”

My first day

In the words of WordPress, “Hello World”! I’m about to start reading for a PhD at Southampton University. (You can read my proposal on the linked page.) I’m going to use this blog to capture and share what I discover along the way.

For example, earlier this week I met Prof. Steve Poole who was involved in exactly the sort of project I’d like to experiment with as part of this PhD. Ghosts in the Garden was a project that allowed the Holburne Museum to “discover” a cache of clockpunk devices that visitors could use to listen in on conversations from the heyday of the Pleasure Gardens behind the museum. Steve Poole did the research, so each of the characters was drawn from the historic record, but what they did and said was scripted in conjunction with Splash and Ripple, a company that creates real-world games, so that the participant enjoys a “choose-your-own-adventure” style game while exploring the gardens.

I want to know how sophisticated the game script was. For example, I’m assuming that the order in which you visit each location will determine what you hear at that location, but was there also a more sophisticated time based variable, that meant some things might happen only after you’ve been playing a certain length of time? I’ve got a bunch of questions for Splash and Ripple…

Family use an archaic "Special Listening Device"
This image from the REACT website “Rediscover the Georgian Pleasure Gardens of Bath via game, soundscape and ‘Georgian Listening Device’.”