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Playing With Blocks

Brygg Ullmer, a researcher at MIT’s Media Lab, thinks that we shouldn’t have to deal with a computer screen to get networked multimedia devices to work together. If Ullmer gets his way, we’ll be able to use wooden blocks. The “media-Blocks “would serve as a simple means to copy recorded information from devices such as video cameras and whiteboards, and paste it into an output device like a video projector or a laser printer. For instance, inserting a mediaBlock into a slot on a digital whiteboard-a collaborative writing surface whose contents are stored electronically-would copy its contents onto a network computer and simultaneously write a code onto the block specifying the file ‘s location. Inserting this mediaBlock into a printer would retrieve the file and produce hard copy of the writing on the whiteboard-all without requiring a conventional screen interface. Arranging these blocks on a Scrabble-like rack would allow manual sequencing of multimedia elements.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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