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Moving on..!

6 Feb

Just about a year ago I started this blog. Primarily it’s the documentation of research and the processes of my Masters Degree (@DJCAD) from which I graduated in November 2011. MysteryBoxes will remain live but will not be update anymore.

I ‘ve taken the key information and projects from here and presented it in a (hopefully) more legible structure.

So, if you are following here then please join me over here..!

Have a look around the new site and keep your eye on the blog for projects rolling out over the next couple of weeks including a return of BMEDay (on Instagram), a QR Code history trail project that I’m designing with a group of Primary School children and the latest information on the Dighty Burn!

Can’t wait to get you up-to-date! 🙂

What’s in the Box?

12 Nov

Anything…

EVERYTHING!

I thought it was time now to put down a few more words and pictures about a little prototype I put together for my final Masters show. The idea had been in my head for a while but I was preoccupied with putting my final presentation together, completing essays and what not…

But while I was putting the final touches to the display for the show I became obsessed with getting this final piece, and after an entire week of sitting next to a noisy, smelly laser cutter I managed to get a 3 editions of a product that worked! See more about the production process here.

So what is it?

Well, the inspiration is the classic wooden toy, something that can be played with but is probably best just looked at. During my Masters year I hadn’t spend anywhere near as much time as I would have liked in the Uni workshop so I decided that with the academic pieces out of the way I’d spend my final week making stuff!

So, what’s in the Box? It’s a jigsaw. But the shape to be made is a bespoke designed QR Code that links in to the QReate (QReate.co.uk) QR CMS and at point of purchase you can have that code point to a URL of your choice. Not only that, but you get access to a mobile site where you can redirect the QR for yourself – as many times as you like. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

So who would want one? Well, here’s an idea. Fathers day – Dad gets a cool desk toy as well as a link to the latest family online album. Birthday – Mom gets a custom painted box from the kids and a link to the latest family video that dad put online. Conferences – they’d make great conference gifts which link to the sponsors chosen content or video of the best bits of the event… in any event they’re a classic looking memento with a tech spin…

Apart from anything else, if I do say so myself, I love the logo!

What do you think?

Please leave comments below…

QReativity continues

4 Nov

It’s been a while since my last post… new teaching role and an abundance of freelance work has kept me away… but I had to let you know about this…

Dundee is currently in the middle of a Science Festival…

Earlier this year I was preparing for a lecture in Edinburgh, QReativity – The Mystery of the QR Code (a screencast version is posted below) talking about the various QR projects I’d been working on. For practice I gave my talk in the University and amongst a handful of folk who turned up were three members of the Science Fest committee, keen to find out more.

Time didn’t allow for me to be any more involved than the Q&A after my talk and the odd email here and there. However, as part of the festival a series of posters have been produced to promote a variety of ways in which QR codes can be used for Art, Education and Entertainment.

QReativity is the tag given to each of the various QR projects of the last year – it’s also the title of the SciFest poster that points you in my direction and for that I am most grateful. Thank you Dundee Science Festival 🙂

I managed to get a few photos of un-posted artwork while paying a vist to Street Advertising (who manage the poster sites) and today, after a tip-off, I went in search of a ‘posted’ version. Ironically, my poster is not only on the same site, it’s even in the same position as the very first SuperFly poster of just over two years ago (image below). Not only that but above todays poster is an ad for the NEoN festival 2011 – in 2010 (along with Rick Curran and Tim Pryde) I launched the first of a series of QR Treasure Hunts – NEoN Knights.

It feels like those projects are being neatly tied up at exactly the point where I’m working on the next incarnation of my evolving QR/engagement projects… a permanent QR Trail along Dundee’s Dighty Burn.

But you don’t want to hear about that just now – that’s for another post… to be continued..!

You can learn more about the SciFest – here

 

Transformational Games

8 Sep

A great couple of clips from Jesse Schell… he not only understands this games but he’s also got a smart handle on education – ex Disney Imagineer, Game Design expert and now Professor at Carnegie Mellon, Schell carries some clout when talking about Games Based Learning (GBL)

What I enjoyed most about these two talks is that he backs up what I was trying to achieve through the QR Treasure Hunts that I designed for my Masters project. He talks about putting the teacher in the position of overseer, or ‘Dungeon Master’ as he puts it. In Role Playing Games there was always an extra player who wasn’t part of the main game who had to oversee the game play. In the games I created ‘I’ was the Dungeon Master (Role Playing Games were even part inspiration which was reflected in the first game’s name – NEoN Knights!), but when pitching ideas to teachers the role of overseer was their’s; they would take my tools and game ideas and populate them with their own content, map out their own courses, decide the parameters of the game, etc.

Talking of parameters, Schell also talks about how difficult it is to fit games into school schedules and timetables. This was also something that I had considered… therefore I tested game running times from 5 mins to 5 days and several variations in between. All of them worked in their own way, they just had different dynamics, but dynamics vary for many reasons including what the purpose of the game is. The brief needs to be clear, what do you want the players (students) to achieve… and this is where Schell starts…

Rather than talk about Edu-tainment or Serious Games, Schell coins the term Transformational Games – games that will change the player in some meaningful way. This of course doesn’t happen on it’s own – the outcomes need to be considered so that a route to those outcomes can be designed. This is where the co-design between game designer and educator is essential. I was fortunate enough to have great discussions with the likes of Gary Penn at Denki, Derek Robertson at Learning and Teaching Scotland and Kenji Lamb at JISC RSC NE Scotland. Each (Google them) have an animated passion for games and education and how these two can come together and were a great source of inspiration to what I would go on to do.

So it’s a boost to hear someone like Schell backing up my processes…

Whoa! Maybe he’ll put my name forward to the Imagineers at Disney..!?

 

Game Over…

5 Sep

The ‘activity’ from this ‘hive’ is soon to be redistributed across the country as everyone heads towards new jobs, new challenges or another stint with ‘the folks’. My family get their Dad back and are probably hoping he’ll not be on the computer as much!

My year of living dangerously has come to an end and I’ll have to start getting up early again. I never actually stopped getting up early – I have two little alarm clocks that make sure of that – but getting out of the house early again is definitely going to be a challenge.

So, tomorrow morning (today now actually) I’ll be back in college. But not DJCAD and not as a student.

I’ll be teaching at the local FE college in the area of digital imaging a few days a week, plus working on some freelance projects that are lined up while waiting for the funding that is being sought for location based services to come through so that I can work on those too.

Rick Curran (wideopenspace) and I have set up QReate.co.uk as a coverall business that will offer those LB services along with content managed ‘dynamic’ QR Codes and bespoke QR Treasure Hunts for advertising, education, tourism, entertainment and whatever else you can think of.

It’s been the fastest year. Also the most fun.
I’ll miss the freedom and availability of time to get things done but also there’s a lot to be said for the edge and urgency that comes with the pressures of the ‘part-time’ project so i’m not going to disappear.

The first thing I need to do is find the balance of where I position myself between here and SuperFly.org.uk – jump between them, integrate them both..? If you’ve experience in this area then suggestions gratefully received.

I’ll be back soon with final show images (my space and Mystery Box close up included here) and videos (more talks from the closing night)…congratulations to all DJCAD MDes 2011, hope to see you all flourish soon… 🙂

…but for now, it’s not so much Game Over as to be continued..!

Masters Show!

29 Aug

Saturday 27 August, 2011

A year ago that date was impossible to imagine and seemed so very far away, but how quickly it arrived.

What would I have done? What would be the result of this enormous tangent to my life..?

Now we know…

The morning started off with an introduction from Prof Tom Inns, Dean of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD), another intro from course director Hazel White and then a series of talks from Masters students past and present.

While we tried to capture the talks on Video only three worked out… mine is posted here and Hazel’s and past Masters student Danielle Hu will follow soon.

Looking forward to Tuesday’s Healthcare day and the rest of the week I’ll be around for tours and chats, so please get in touch if you are interested in a viewing.

You can find out more about the projects by:

• visiting the official DJCAD website,

• following the hashtag #mastersshow on twitter (@onthesuperfly)

• or using the same hashtag on Instagram where I’m collating images of the projects in various stages of completion

It’s been a fantastic year, thanks to all concerned:
I have had fantastic support from Rick Curran who designed the web elements of this project. Kenji Lamb (JISC RSC) for allowing me to test out games at Game To Learn and speak about The Mystery of the QR Codes at Open for Education; and Tristan Henderson (St Andrews University) for the opportunity to send PHD summer school students around St Andrews searching out QR codes in the rain
I would also like to thank: Derek Robertson (Learning and Teaching Scotland), Gary Penn (Denki), Divya Jindal-Snape and Fiona McGarry (Dundee University).

But finally special thanks to my family, my wife in particular, for giving me this opportunity.

Please visit us and see what we have to offer… we’ve done all this great ‘stuff’ and we want to do something with it!

QR jigsaw..!

27 Aug

So, finally, a physical Mystery Box!

I’ve been doing a lot more with the form of the QR Code lately. I’ made one barely recognisable as a QR Codes and it still worked! But few people would recognise it as a QR Code so it kind of misses the point.

So, I started working up my prototype concept of a QR Jigsaw. Initially I was going to have a QR on the bottom of each piece and the solving of the jigsaw simply gave you the correct order of a series of links, audio, video, images, in order to tell a story. I turns out that the QRs are so robust I was able to make the QR the jigsaw image and if you’re careful they actually scan.

So here’s some images and video of the making process. Time in the workshop is always good. Great to get away from the computer. The results of the laser cutter is good too but it’s very slow, at the far end of the building and you’re not allowed to walk away from it in case it catches fire… so it’s pretty dull waiting around…

So, the Masters Show opens today so come along and see the Mystery Boxes for yourself…

I’ll be talking soon about developments with a QR related service established by Rick Curran of [wideopenspace] and myself. Where this jigsaw idea fits in is that toys like this can be made bespoke and directed at any given location, but also that that location could be changed. The laser cutter makes it possible to customise every element of the box design and while they would mostly be consistent at least one side of the box and even the jigsaw could be customised.

Looking forward to experimenting further this coming week as I have one week left with the facilities… then I’m on my own!

 

Panic?

9 Aug

A mobile-phone and a no-longer-mobile car...

The riots in the UK just now seem to be spreading as quickly as Morrisey could reel the names of cities off in The Smiths ‘Panic‘.

“Panic on the streets of London
Panic on the streets of Birmingham

I woke this morning to find that, for the third consecutive night, looting and arson are seemingly rampant across England with no clear indication that anyone can stop it.

I watched in interest on Saturday evening as the information and content on Twitter (and it’s photographic counterparts such as TwitPic, etc) and YouTube, was differing from that of the nation news agencies. The BBC seemed to be several steps behind and it was Sunday morning before the real story was told through verified means. While Twitter can be very unreliable there were those on line who were conveying a sense of fear that wasn’t present through the national media (thank you @davidcushman)

Astounding difference been official media tweets, journos tweeting on ground and real people sharing what they see. Fear in the latter – Aug 6, 11:24pm davidcushman

Cushman then went on to ‘ReTweet’ on-the-ground reports from both pedestrian observers and official news outlets.

RT @PaulLewis: If police indeed are saying #tottenhamriot “contained”, that is absolutely not true. It is mayhem.

RT @D_Dougieee: I actually cannot believe what I’m seein! A bus on fire! Police cars on fire! They’ve broken into banks, hairs shops n jewellery shops!

RT @itv_news: Police cars set on fire in Tottenham, north London, after riots connected to the shooting of a young man by police on Thursday #Tottenham

Last 3 RTs to illustrate that difference.

Real-time unedited view delivers a tapestry of perspectives versus an edited version of ‘the truth’ #tottenhamriot

Apart from the relative horror of witnessing this kind of information from the comfort of my own bed (800 miles away), I was intrigued by the use of the technology. We’ve seen it happen across the world… Japan, Middle East, China… when in times of distress social media has created a life-line for many… before, in some cases, it got shut down…

However, two days on and I’m beginning to see the effect of how this media is also being used to fan the flames. No, it’s not to blame..!; there are plenty of reasons why these things happen and not one of them is ‘mobile phone’. But as someone who has been using these types of media and techniques for the purpose of entertainment and education it’s a timely reminder that, like any valuable tool, there will always be a way in which it can be abused.

No doubt rioters are being rallied directly through various networks but also rallied through miss-information, and being made to believe there are similar incidents in their area when there are none.

Without question this is a desperately sad situation.

I have chosen not to link to any of the riot videos as I’m sure if you are reading this you are capable of finding them yourselves, and while there is much to learn from viewing these films, for many they remain a source of entertainment and I’d rather not propigate them.

There are some users though whose intention is the ‘other’ ‘E’. Education. Via Twitter I came across this Google map by James Cridland who has mapped verified information on the riots. If you read his blog you’ll see exactly how vigorous that verification process has been. It’s an illustration of how useful, but also unreliable, Twitter can be.

Sadly, while exactly the same process, it’s a stark contrast to the maps that I’ve been creating for the purposes of games and tagging and mapping media.
The outcome, while extremely useful in many ways, is also a lasting virtual memorial of what has happened over the last few days.

Let’s hope that he doesn’t need to populate it any more.
Alternatively you can check out the emerging hashtag of #riotcleanup where you’ll find more positive images like these. The same tech, the same areas, just different people…

Practice what you preach…

3 Aug

In pieces... The beginnings of my final show plinth...

I’ve been in the Uni workshop over the last two days putting together a display piece for my final show… you may even recognise the design..!

As a demonstration of what I’m trying to achieve through my project, and as I’d aquired a funky new app, I thought I should get documenting and sharing…

This was yesterday afternoon…

I captured these two videos with iMotion HD, an easy to use stopframe and timelapse photo app for  iPad2 and iPhone… an ideal format for demonstrating what I was doing rather than dull, real-time clips of me gluing, etc…

You’ll also find Instagram stills via my Flickr page feed on the right. I’ll be combining some of this content, and more, for display in my final show.

Beginning/Middle/End

28 Jul

Beginning/Middle/End: A challenge to capture your life in three images through Instagram!

UPDATE: (9-8-11) ***BMEday is confirmed as being this Saturday 13 August!***

I blogged about Instagram recently. Instagram is a great iPhone app (runs on iPad2 but no Android plans as yet…) for sharing photos in a way that is not dissimilar to how people use Twitter. Just under a year old the service has six million users who have shared over 100 million photos. It has it’s own micro-community but it’s possible to share your images instantly with other networks you may be connected to such as Flickr, Twitter and Facebook. Images can be captured within the app but there’s also the option to pull images in from your device’s photo library which means you can still use other photograph apps and filters before you share.

Why do I like it so much? Well digital has give photographers the ability to throw caution to the wind. No spools of film to worry about or the restrictions of a 36 image spool… at the end of a day out there can be 500 images on the camera card to sort through. Instagram, because it’s ‘instant’, is closer to the old experience of a Polaroid or 35mm where every image counts. Choosing exactly the right image to tell a story in the ‘moment’ is a really interesting idea to me. I may not be telling you the whole story, but it very definitely is a story… and a single image has a mystery element, it fires the imagination and these are elements very close to the heart of my project.

By now, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with stories. Stories themselves but also the construction and architecture of stories. There are many definitions of what makes a story but rather than try to ‘define’ what I think a story is i’ve decided to distill everything I’ve written above and distill it down into a creative experiment…

Beginning/Middle/End is an experiment inspired by a quote, a film and my work. Through my Masters project I’ve been creating treasure hunt style games in varying places and spaces… varying in size from a city over the course of a week, a conference venue over a day and even a gallery space for ten minutes. The most interesting things to come out of each of these games is not the game itself but what happens around the players and the stories that consequently unfold…

Recently the movie Life In A Day showed what would happen if thousands of people captured their life on video, and shared it on YouTube. Producer Ridley Scott and Director Kevin MacDonald curated a selection of those moments, captured over the course of 24 July 2010, and created a 90 minute snapshot of life on that day. It felt appropriate to me to do something similar in the real world ‘real life’ to contrast the artificial worlds and situations i’ve been creating through the games.

Finally, my research into storytelling led me to the use of the number three. In fact the ‘rule of three’ ‘rules’ storytelling. The Three Bears, three wishes, the third day, etc…  ‘threes’ can even be found in the structure of story telling. Famously, French film director Jean Luc Goddard said, “a story should have a beginning, middle and end… but not necessarily in that order”.

So, I took these ‘three’ elements, filtered them through Instagram, and dreamed up this challenge. On a specific date ‘to be confirmed’, I would like YOU to take three images. A beginning, middle and end for YOUR story. It’s entirely up to you whether you need to add a words or a caption. The day in question may be your lazy day, your birthday, your wedding day! You might be off to Costa, the Co-Op or another continent..! It’s your life I’m interested in, or at least how you want to present your life through Instagram. In three all important images.

If you don’t yet have an Instagram account then set one up, see what it’s all about and get ready for BMEday!

Rules
What you must do (boring but essential stuff coming…) is label each of the images ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ or ‘end’ and also hashtag each of them #BMEday. You’ll find Instagram remembers tags after you’ve used them once.

Why are these two labels important?
The ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’ labels are important because I will be gathering the images together as a series of stories into some kind of online exhibition on my website so I need to know what order you want them in. The hashtag is essential for me to finding your entries on Instagram.

What’s NOT important
I don’t have an iPhone. I run Instagram on a wi-fi only iPad2 so I rarely get to upload images when I’m out and about. It’s not essential to me that the images are posted in real-time or from their location so, if like me you want to use an iPad, feel free to take your pics and upload them by the end of #BMEday.

Also, your images can be taken over the course of a day (eg morning, noon and night), they don’t need to be all together in your image stream (another reason for the labels and hashtags) so don’t worry about other Instagrams that you might send during the day.

It’s not even essential to follow me on Instagram, but it would be useful to know if you intend on taking part, so a tweet, email or comment here would be great.

Also, any queries/questions you may have can be posted below. I’ll post the date for BMEday asap – it’ll most likely be a saturday but if you have any comments regarding that, then let me know. It’d also be great to hear what you love about Instagram – what it has to offer you and others who might like it…

I can’t wait to see your stories…