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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


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 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 – 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!

New Brand Voice

8 Jul

In MDes this week our task has been to prototype the poster section of our final show. Part of that process is encapsulating our product not only in what we write about it but ‘how’ we write about it. What is your voice? Is it appropriate to your audience and your product?

A brand I’ve always had admiration for is Innocent, who recently published their first cook book (above). Obviously their products are great but it was the presentation that first got my attention. The illustrations were fun and and playful but that communication didn’t end with the illustration.. it continued on through the copy. The way that Innocent talk to their community is interesting and it’s carried through into other products such as the cook book. I’m not going to go on… i’ll spoil it, but watch this video by two of Innocent’s key management…

The interesting thing is that they say their style of communication is as natural as the products they create…  The other thing is that he mentions talking about the product as if he were talking to his ‘gran’. As a rule of thumb we, in MDes, we are often reminded to pitch as if we were talking to a ‘clever Aunty’… it’s not a bad idea… and it’s worked for Innocent!

I was curious though, because this week my wife came home with a new range of smoothies by Tesco. How interesting it is that they too have a ‘chatty’ style to their smoothy packaging… how does this fit with other Tesco lines, the overall Tesco voice?

Well, of course it doesn’t and it’s not intended too. Tesco are making an attempt at going under the radar and persuade you that their smooties are just as good as those really cool (but more expensive) ones on the shelf above.

Clearly you can communicate a lot in your ‘voice’. Maybe as much (or more) than you actually say?

So, my self appointed task now is to find a couple of examples of ‘brand voice’ that I like and that I think is pitched at a similar level to what I should be doing through my show… the hunt is on!

While we’re talking about voice… I was scouring through the websites of a few new Twitter followers last week and came across this site. Intro video’s I thought were a thing of the past… but then you don’t come across many as good as this… and it features an ‘actual voice’ that I was familiar with… back in the day (anyone still on CB radio?). The video says a great deal in a very short space of time and clearly it’s all about the ‘brand’ and ‘story’ in a very clear ‘voice’!

One last thing… here’s a ‘voice’ that branded not only a product but an entire culture… ably illustrated by marketing agitator Eaon Pritchard; also encapsulating these ideas of brand, story and voice!

Mystery and the QR Code

17 May

So, second semester assessment out of the way, time to focus on the QR workshop.

The background to this is that I did a QR hunt for the Game To Learn conference and the people who organised that have organised this event in Edinburgh, Open For Education. The focus of the event is to introduce educators to a wealth of Open Source (free) resources available for use in the classroom.

So, I was offered the opportunity to do a session based on QR (Quick Response) codes which would suit predominantly FE/HE lecturers.

I’m assuming the group in Edinburgh will mostly be ‘newbies’ to QR so i’ll start with a bit of history, and then get into the mystery

If you’re interested in coming along (or know someone who might) please let me know in the comments below or tweet me @onthesuperfly (I need to know how many biscuits to bring…) and if you don’t already have a QR Reader on your phone take a few minutes to see if one is available before you arrive… iPhone/iPad and Android are easy (NeoReader, iNigma, Scan, Quickmark come recommended), for all other phones just google you phones make and model along with ‘qr reader’ and see what comes up.

Additionally, if you know of any particularly creative examples of QR codes, especially if they are yours, then let me know. I’ll include a showcase of what’s being done with QRs as well as what I’ve been up to, so I want to hear from you… especially if they are yours!

QReativity – Mystery of the QR Code
Masters of Design Studio
Duncan of Jordanstone
Thursday 19 May at 11am
There will be opportunity  

Hope to see you on there!

200 Seconds…

6 May

UPDATE: Below is the lo-down on our previous 200 seconds project – we are running a similar event on Thursday 26 May as part of DJCAD’s Degree Show. Find us in the Masters Showcase, Room 212 (animation corridor) at 1pm. We would welcome as many people as we can cram in the room and come prepared to write down a bit of feedback for us either online or in the room the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. We’ll only keep you for about 25 mins so we won’t even spoil your lunch hour. Hope to see you there!  : )

In the MDes studio we were looking forward to a visit of students from Auburn University, Alabama (25 April) and we decided that, rather than bombard them with a series of talks about DJCAD an what projects we were up to, we would loosen things up a bit and turn the day into more of an event!

While we had lecturers and students volunteering presentations… some more experienced than others, what we really needed was a leveler..! How could we present these talks in such a way that would give everyone an equal footing..? Pecha Kucha was the perfect solution!

Pecha Kucha means “chit-chat” and is a format of presentation devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham Architects, Japan. Each speaker has 20 slides and is allowed 20 seconds for each slide. A total of 6min40sec.

The first even took place in 2003 and today you will find events, using this or similar formats, across the world.

We modified the format a little stipulating 10 slides of 20seconds each (3min20sec or ‘200seconds’ as it came to be known). What I didn’t mention before is that Pecha Kucha slides are on an automatic timer; once your 20seconds are up the next slide kicks in. While this might sound relatively easy, it’s telling how that even the most experienced of our speakers were uneasy with the format.

Nice 😉

I’m disappointed to report that everyone did great. No one went blank, cried or went over time. No one even crashed the ‘time’s up’ alarm that i’d built in for 3min 35sec… and I think the Alabama crowd sensed the nerves in the room and it added a nice edge to the proceedings.

So, for your viewing pleasure I present to you my own 200sec presentation. It’s the first time that i’ve done one of these, and if i’m honest, although i’d practiced it about 6 times, this is also the first time that I managed to make everything fit!

Adrenalin’s a winner!

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:

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

Jesse Schell & the Gamepocalypse

1 Apr

Watched this for the first time about 2 weeks ago and it blew me away.

In the most entertaining presentation that I’ve seen in some time Jesse Schell puts a great deal of what’s happening in Games and Advertising, and where they meet, into context with the world as we understand it… give it a watch, you’ll be glad you did!

Creative Crowd-sourced QR Codes

10 Mar

UPDATE: Today (20 May 2011) i’m at the ‘Open For Education’ Conference – for ‘Open‘ read ‘Open source‘.
I’ll be giving a talk, ‘QReativity – The Mystery of the QR Code’
This post, from back in March might be useful as it contains a brief screen cast of how to create your own QR Code.

All feedback gratefully received!


I’m pleased and excited to announce that my exhibition project SuperFly will be exhibiting at the Games Based Learning conference Game To Learn: Take 2 next Friday and Saturday.

I’m working on a new QR hunt as well as preparing a potential lecture for the event… just in case…

I’ve also decide to try and gather a crowd sourced collection of QRs, called ‘SuperFly QReative’. In many ways these little black and white collections of squares are just about as dull as any contrasting collection of ink or light could be. However, it turns out that the technology that scans them is very forgiving in the way that it reads the information. This means that, should you be so inclined, there is the possibility to get extremely creative with the humble QR and turn it into a thing of even greater beauty! (there are examples on the SuperFly website…)

If you’re unsure about how to make your own #QR.. i’ve made a little video to help!

So, visit SuperFly, send in your modified QRs, and the good news is you only have until next wednesday, 16 March!

So not even time to think about it too much, just do it!

Visit SuperFly for more info! (and please spread the word…)


4 Mar

This is not so much a blog post, as a public service announcement.

At times it would seem that anyone with a Twitter account can claim to be a Social Media ‘Expert’ or ‘Guru’; and Social Media is a phenomenon that can radically evolve from month to month, so it’s hard to believe anyone could claim such a title. And yet, in the few short months since I have been following this chap I’ve never seen anyone else be so at one with the concept.

If you are in anyway unsure about how you should blog or tweet or document via video, photography, sound or combinations of all five, then you should look no further than the example of Christian Payne, aka ‘Documentally‘.

What does he blog about? Everything! His work. His travels. His kids. His trips to the shops. And those are just a selection of the videos and blogs I’ve watched and read tonight.

He works as an advisor/trainer and yet, such is his ‘SM’ presence, he also gets sent gadgets and kit from big name brands to review, which he does via his blog, and usually as a video entry.

Vodafone even commissioned him, at the end of last year, to complete a ‘Social Media Hitch Hike’ from Lands End to John O’Groats, with nothing but five prepaid sim cards and a phone. He completed the task by putting out appeals on twitter and people from across the country gave him lifts, bought him train tickets, cab rides and offered beds or floor space for the night. He’s like a Social Media Frodo Baggins!

So, if you want to know how it’s done, just check out his blogs, watch his videos (his ‘5 video tips’ is embedded below) and follow him on twitter.

Then… Sit back. And learn!

twitter: @documentally