When Sprite saw that I had photo albums for my children she naturally wanted one of her own.
And as we had been discussing Voki and avatars on Serendippity http://johart1.edublogs.org/
and made a pact to each create a Voki http://www.voki.com/ before next week I went on an avatar creating spree on Sprite’s behalf.
I played with avatar creation (and paint) at Create a Simpsons Avatar http://www.simpsonsmovie.com/main.html and produced this
Sprite did not like it all and we had a rehash of the cartoon realism levels and anthropomorphism debate – see https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/elephants-in-the-waiting-room/
We tried My Avatar Editor http://www.myavatareditor.com/ and paint and produced
… surprise, surprise… she didn’t like that either – she said it looks artificial!
She didn’t like the Doppel Me http://www.doppelme.com/ and paint picture for the same reason
So then we used Pocoyize
and paint and produced this
and she liked that better and we made a couple more
And she liked the avatars we made with paint and WeeMe from http://www.weeworld.com/ She was even able to show off her laptop and Twister game and Caramel Cat and one the Black Dogs got into the picture too
I liked the ability to show different emotions but Sprite was very cross that I captured her in tears. She said that was Black Dog’s fault and insisted I also capture a happy angelic behaviour moment to balance it.
So then we tried Mini-Mizers and paint
and she loved the resulting avatars and their backgrounds so much that we made her a whole album
And she had so much fun dressing up as a mermaid that we even looked at Build Your Wild Self
Getting distracted is one of the things preventing Sprite (and me!) from getting organized!
Sprite was supposed to be using the using the new hourglass type egg timer to give herself four minutes to complete a particular homework task but I found her with her alarm clock, a stop watch and the egg timer turning it over and over . She was sitting with first one expression on her face, then another, changing her facial expression each time she turned the egg timer.
“What ARE you doing?” I asked.
“I don’t think I can use the egg timer to do homework because I don’t think it is accurate!” she said. “I’m trying to check whether four minutes on the egg timer is the same as four minutes on the clock and the stopwatch is. And then I have to keep on trying it because I don’t think the sand runs through at the same rate each time. Do you know why I think that?”
“Why do you think that?”
“Well because I wonder whether the grains of sand go through the middle in the same order each time and whether they approach the middle on the same angle and whether they would go faster if they approached on a different angle and if the size of the grains makes any difference in how fast they go (because what if a big one goes first and gets stuck and the others have to jump over it?)
“What experiment could you do to find out?” I asked
“Well I think you would have to film the sand grains under a powerful microscope and analyze the film frame by frame and measure it in microns and millisecs and I don’t think I can really do it with an alarm clock and a stopwatch!”
So I posed Sprite’s question to my friends on Twitter and very speedily received a reply from @ljconrad See http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/25194/
“And why were you putting on a different facial expression each time you turned the egg timer over?”
“Because I don’t think all seconds are the same lengths of time anyway! Time seems to go faster when you are happy and excited and slower when you are unhappy or bored. So I was trying to find out if that made a difference. But then it might not have worked; because even when I was pretending to be bored I really was interested to see whether it made a difference; so I wasn’t really bored and the grains of sand might know!”
Sprite and I had been discussing a chart of facial expressions depicting emotions and then how the pictures could be written in text format to create emoticons
We were reading the Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoticon and discussing the difference between the side-on emoticons and the Asian ASCII images which can be read without tilting the head. We were interested in the fact that the Asian emoticons were chiefly expressed by varying the characters used for the eyes whereas the Europeans put more emphasis on the mouth.
“It looks as if Picasso was putting side on AND front on emoticons on his portraits!” said Sprite. She had been playing with her Paint like Picasso kit which she was given at her P Party.
“Look!” I said “A Russian man tried to put a trademark on the wink emoticon!”
“I don’t like Winks” said Sprite.
”Why?” I asked.
“I never know what they mean!” she said. “Sometimes it feels like people are talking behind your back if they wink at each other and don’t include you. I don’t know whether they are talking about me or about something only they know about or about a secret they have with each other.
And when they wink at me I don’t know whether they are happy to see me or being encouraging or referring to some secret I am supposed to have with them and don’t remember.
And sometimes people wink when they trying to flirt and I don’t know if they are doing that and whether it would be appropriate to wink back or not.
Or maybe they just have a bit of grit in their eye”
” And it seems to mean different things if they wink once or wink twice. Sometimes they even say ‘Wink, wink!’ in a sneaky sort of voice as if they are doing something they should not be doing.
I’m never sure whether I missed seeing the first wink or if there is another one coming and I don’t want to stare at them to count the winks because maybe they have some sort of facial tic and can’t help winking and they don’t mean anything at all when they wink.”
I wanted to tell her about the significance of the wink in the film ‘I, Robot’ but I just didn’t have the energy for a full scale debate about physics, ethics and emotions in robots.