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SuperFly St Andrews Space Hop…

24 Jun

St Andrews is an amazing city.

As someone who grew up a stones throw from Birmingham, ‘Dundee‘ hardly feels like a city, let alone St Andrews… but in this instance size matters not and St Andrews has a great deal going for it, including the three C’s: Cultural, Cobbled and Quaint..!

On Monday 27th June (my boy’s 5th birthday! (Bad Dad!)), between 3 – 4.30pm I’ll be putting 25 PDH students through the paces of a SuperFly Space Hop! I’ll go into the ‘whys and wherefores’ of the name in another post… at which time i’ll also explain the object of the game… but for now, lets just say it’s a treasure hunt that thinks it’s an eTourism project.

I live in Fife, less than 10 minutes from St Andrews and despite the fun that I’ve had putting on SuperFly events in Dundee I’m really looking forward to this one. Firstly, thanks to the support from it’s host, St Andrews School of Computer Human Interaction (SACHI), and the local businesses accommodating the QRs (for now they’ll remain nameless to preserve the mystery…), the set up has been really easy. Principally however, the secondary benefit has been that I’ve been able to spend a lot more time in St Andrews… something I don’t do often enough.

The biggest challenge facing me these last few weeks has been ‘what not’ to put in the game. It has been a perfect opportunity to combine the treasure hunt aspects of NEoN Knights with the tagging of content that i’ve been experimenting with lately. I’ve also been able to build on the experience of the games since NEoN Knights (Game To Learn time two, plus the MDes open day) and have a much keener sense of what works for these events.

So, this is the one. This game is the focus of what my final Masters project will be. Even if only in a small way, each element of my research, my interviews and prototypes, plus the experience of previous games have come together and informed the conception and execution of the game. That’s not to say it’ll be the last – at least I hope not – just that it’ll be the last one before September.

This one has to count in terms of how I evaluate it afterwards. For that reason I’ll have at least 3 cameras capturing video and stills of the teams playing the game, engaging in the tasks and fulfilling the SACHI ethnographic brief. To the best of my ability I’ll be following a team around myself, but that may have issues for the teams and how I manage other elements of the game. Another two people are shadowing for their own interest (for future events…), but they’ll also be ideally placed to provide me with feedback afterwards.

The interest from participating businesses has been such that I’m hopeful that this game, or at least refined version of it, could be a semi-permanent digital fixture. Any number of players could engage with the game over a period of hours, days or even weeks… convert the points to ‘St Andrews currency’ perhaps..?

Well, let’s not jump the gun just yet…

Between now and Monday morning I’ll post a little more detail about the game but on Monday please keep an eye on Twitter (@onthesuperfly) for the hashtag #SuperFlySpaceHop and maybe one or two updates on the blog. I’ll be posting on how the teams get on… and there are sure to be a few surprises.

 

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Chris Speed & an Internet of Ghosts…

1 Apr

Classic case of serendipity this week… been trying to meet up with a Computer Science chap from St Andrews Uni since November when I did the NEoN Knights QR hunt… finally got a day that suited us both, which also happened to be on the same day as a new series of seminars happening in the Computer Science building.. first up Chris Speed!

Chris Speed is a research active designer working within the field of Digital Architecture, Human Geography and Social Computing developing new forms of spatial practice that transform our experience of the built environment. He is a Reader in Digital Architecture across the Schools of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the Edinburgh College of Art, where he teaches undergraduate, masters and supervises PhD students. (lifted from ECA website)

An Internet Of Things That Do Not Exist was Speed’s title.. stemming from the idea of ‘An Internet of Things’.. not something I was not familiar with but a glance at Wikipedia explains it as ‘a self-configuring wireless network of sensors whose purpose would be to interconnect all things’… this resonated with Jesse Schell’s lecture; sensors in every day objects and their increase in advertising, packaging, society, etc., as they become cheaper, etc..

I don’t know exactly what my project will be yet, i’m remaining as open minded as one can with only 5 months to go until delivery… but what I would expect to find, what interests me, can be boiled down to the following:

  • a good idea
  • a modicum of tech
  • an emphasis on real world experiences
  • collectively a device for telling or capturing stories

The projects Speed talked about matched my criteria precisely… the ideas behind them are inspiring, the tech was subtle and unobtrusive and the experiences were definitely in real life.

He describes memories and artifacts from the past, their representation and connections, as being ghosts… he made the connection between children (particularly in cinema) as metaphors for innocence and temporal connections… Spielberg’s Poltergeist being an example.. but most crucially the connection with technology through touch. I’m afraid what I’m writing doesn’t do it justice… but essentially going back to that creative openness found in children and exploring it as a a way of connecting with others was interesting to me and integral to what I want to achieve.

What I recommend is you check out the projects that Speed is associated with; in particular I was impressed with the Oxfam project where donators were asked for the story behind their donation. This was recorded and and the item tagged with a QR code and an RFID tag. Scanning the codes took you to a recording of the story… brilliant! And Oxfam’s income went up by 50% during the time of the project!

I came away from Speed’s lecture with a much broader scope of what my project could be.. the QR prototypes like NEoN Knights are just scratching the surface of what can be achieved, of what people can experience and share, through creative uses of very basic and freely available technology.

However, it doesn’t have to be all-singing-all-dancing… interestingly Speed related how, once his kids have finished a book he gets them to give a quick review, recorded on his iPhone. He then creates a QR code and sticks it in the back of the book… the scanned code links to recorded review online. How exiting! How cool! How amazing would it be for you, 5, 10, fifty  years from now, to go back in time to that moment, and listen to your own review as a 7 year old; not to mention playing it to your own 7 yr old… or your 7 year old grandchild!

A ‘ghost’ of a memory encapsulated in such a powerfully simple way.

Our kids will take this stuff for granted!

Of course, there is also the possibility that that book will leave your household and find a new owner someday. Someone who knows nothing about you, who you werre, where you were from… but hearing that same recording of ‘that someone’ who used to own this book.

But, maybe when you create your QR code for your own books, why not print off a few extra codes and drop them into the same book in Waterstones next time you’re in town… share your opinions guerilla style..!

Maybe I can get Waterstones on board..?

Inspiring projects…

Possibilities limited only by imagination…

Watch this space…

Projects of Chris Speed:

http://fields.eca.ac.uk/

http://www.comob.org.uk/

http://www.talesofthings.com/

http://www.youtotem.com/

http://www.walkingthroughtime.co.uk/

Thanks to Chris Speed… hope to catch up with you again at some point in the future…hopefully not via a QR code… 😉