I just stumbled upon this very short TED talk by Chris Hughes. In his presentation Chris Hughes shows of an “Augmented Reality demo using Adobe Flash!”. In an exited tone he talks about how he wrote a piece of software (!) to allow the replacement of a “2D Barcode” with something “really, really cool” using nothing but Adobe Flash!
In reality he hardly wrote any software, rather did he do a pretty standard and in my opinion a very ugly implementation of Papervision3D and FLARToolkit, for which tutorials can be found online quite easily.
Why is this worth blogging ? Well, as a Papervision3D core developer, personally I’m offended for someone taking credit for both the Papervision3D and the libspark project’s FLARToolkit libaries, none of which he has had any hand in. He’s essentially taking credit for 100′s of hours of work by both the Papervision3D and the Libspark team. With the TED conference headline being “Ideas worth spreading”, which implies the sharing of knowledge and ideas. Both Papervision3D and FLARToolkit are opensource projects, with exactly that in mind. And both of them get ripped off by Chris Hughes, who not only fails to cite his sources, but takes credit for it by saying the following things on the TED stage :
“……I wrote a piece of software …… “
“Oh, no, it does not quite stop there…….……another bit of the technology we managed to introduce here……”
With both statement not only failing to mention the actual technology and projects, Chris Hughes but actually taking credit for it. Disgusting. But hold on, to cite Chris himself, “it does not quite stop there”….in the followup interview on TED.cm Chris Hughes states the following :
“So what you’ve seen today is a Flash port of an existing project. There’s a project out there known as ARToolKit. Unbelievably awesome. It’s a university research project. Folks ported it from C, which is what it’s written on, onto Java. And then we took the Java port and made it work in Flash.”
That last piece of that sentence is very interesting “we took the java port and made it work in Flash“. Let’s make it easy. No you didn’t. You took a port named FLARToolkit, and used it in your project. (here’s the sources to his demos, which show Papervision3D and FLARToolkit).
So what did Chris Hughes do for him to take credit on a TED Stage ? Most likely, he followed a tutorial like this one from the FlashBlog, then gathered all his courage and energy to work with 2 opensource projects and take credit for it.
One more quote from Chris Hughes here :
“It’s open source. Everything I do is about being very open.”
Openness at a conference like TED would be giving urls, credit and a clear explanation of what you did. Right now you’re just taking full credit for work done by 2 software team’s hundreds (if not thousands of hours) of work, for your own credit.
I hope the TED conference takes the proper steps to avoid people like Chris Hughes standing upon on a stage, presenting other people’s work as their own, purely for their own glory. I’m disgusted by this.
To avoid any confusion, looking back at this hastly and angrily typed post, I want to clarify that most of the work he’s demoing which makes this so awesome is the FLARToolkit project. Papervision3D is used for visualization, but I’m guessing most of the awe is for the FLARToolkit project, which is done mainly by saqoosha.
The TED conference has removed the video from the Talks page, and is in the process of removing subsequent posts, as a response to the contreversy around Chris his talk. I do feel a rectification of the statement “And then we took the Java port and made it work in Flash.” is still missing, since this is just clearly not true.
I have a lot of feeling towards this kind of presentation of other peoples work without proper accreditation and honestly, I do feel the real victim here is Saqoosha / LibSpark. Saqoosha has posted a blog around this, unfortunately only in japanese.
I’m sorry for the uproar and feeling some people have of this being a witch hunt, or the feeling this was instigating “get your pitchforks and torches out”. That was not the intent of my blogpost. I feel that injustice was done, and it wasn’t publicly rectified. As this blogpost was part of the reasoning behind the removal of the video of the TED pages, I do feel it served the proper purpose and in that specific result hit it’s goal.
It wasn’t my intent to be insulting, or publicly binding Chris Hughes to a stake. Rather this was a way to rectify the injustice which was done to the original developers of the source code he displayed, and took credit for. I apologize for any of my wording which is that strong above and as such removing it would be wrong. Rather then doing that, I’ll leave it up and apologize for too strong wording or instigation of a witch hunt. What I won’t apologize for is pointing out this issue and subsequently asking attention for it.
I have just been in an enlightning IM discussion with Keith Peters / Bit-101. In this discussion Keith pointed something out I feel I am at fault at. I’ve could have contacted Chris personally to ask him for a public correction of both his talk and the interview. Instead, I first wrote this post and then mailed Chris later, after any reply from his side stayed out.
I’ve got no excuse for this and I am at fault for not contacting him directly first. I apologize for that towards Chris Hughes.
Upon further investigation, TED.com have decided to completely retract the entire speech, naming it “misleading”.
With TED having researched the grounds of these allegations and subsequently removing the video and retracting the entire thing, Chris Hughes still wants to pass this off as a fluke. I have yet to see an updated blogpost, or a reply to my emails. As such, let me make it perfectly clear for the last time, for future reference.
Chris Hughes took Mikko Haapoja’s tutorial on using FLARToolkit and Papervision3D, two open source projects he was not involved in at all. Then he did some slight modification of the tutorials, not adding, or extending anything and recompiled the examples. He then went on stage saying “He programmed” etc…
In reality, he passed someone else’s work off as his own, without giving attribution or even mentioning the projects, rather just claiming credit for it in an interview, and obfuscating what he did both online and in his presentation.
End of story.