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Peer Readings

25 Nov

Peer Readings
First of all, it’s a poor name… i’ll try to think of something snappy and get back to you..!

As you may have realised, through the course of reading this blog, one of my interests is using mobile applications in ways that can aid education. This interst is usually filtered through my experience as a parent and the interests of my kids, which means I have a bias towards pre-school up to early primary years, but in most cases I think the ideas could easily be adapted.
Previous ideas include QReative Reviews and BME(Beginning, Middle and End)Day.
This new idea has come from my daughters interest in books. In the last year her reading has rapidly improved and she’s reading entire books on her own.
For homework she has books to read to us, which she enjoys doing, and her brother enjoys listening too. This reminded me of their audio books (which they love) and whether they, and other kids, would equally enjoy listening to stories read by their peers, or other kids in general.
Without any persuasion whatsoever she happily allowed me to record her reading her latest school book. Two takes did it. There’s also a little interview which I did immediately afterwards to get her opinions on listening to other kids reading. I would be interested to hear from teachers and parents as to whether this is something which is done in classrooms and if there is value in sharing stories being read in this way.

As ever, please leave you comments below 🙂

#VloMo11 (Video Bloggers Month 2011)

18 Nov

I’m not sure whether I qualify as a video blogger – how many videos should you be uploading a week or month for that to be the case? Anyway, I love the concept and decided, when I heard about VloMo11 last week, that I would join in.

Nothing too fancy of my own as yet but loving catching up with other VloMo-ers videos via Twitter and on YouTube. I’m using this post as a collection of my own and also a selection of others which have caught my eye – in particular a new online facility which I had never heard of until this week called ‘PummelVision’ which pulls images from RSS, Flickr, etc and puts them to music and posts them on YouTube or Vimeo. I first saw this put to use in a VloMo11 from @Documentally yesterday and was instantly impressed… only to find that it would have taken him 5 mins 🙂
It is, however a very creative use of the application, using it to present a years worth of Instagram images…

Cool though, and I couldn’t wait to make one of my own! (in 2 mins ;)) Just using a set from my Flickr feed…

Other highlights this week, which feature heavily in my videos was my Graduation Ceremony. On Tuesday I was in Dundee getting last minute bits ‘n’ bobs for the event on Wednesday so I did a 360 degree shot of the City Square, outside of the Caird Hall (where the ceremony takes place)…

and then the next day did a comparrison shot, post ceremony. (Here you have the opportunity to run them simultaneously!!!)

The thing with posting a video every day is coming up with fresh material but it’s a great exercise so, even though I arrived at the party very, very late, here’s to the rest of the month. Thanks also to the other VloMo-ers who have provided so much inspiration in what they’ve done…

Here’s a small selection…

Dighty Burn aka “Di’K-ty B’R-n”

4 Nov

The first thing you should understand about the Dighty Burn is how to pronounce it. It’s ‘Di’k-ty’, but the ‘k’ is ‘ch’ as in ‘Loch’. It’s a sound a Scot can make with ease, whereas I (being a mere Englishman), almost dislocate my neck in the process and still manage to sound like I’m about to vomit.

However, I am so very grateful for the Dighty as Rick Curran and I are currently working on the next incarnation of our QR trails; and if all goes to plan this one will be permanent!

Several months ago Rick and I (QReate.co.uk) pitched an idea to Broughty Ferry Environmental Project (BFEP) to take their enormous catalogue of audio and video footage of Dighty stories and give it a digital home which could be accessed on mobile devices while in the Dighty environment itself. It didn’t take much more than that to get the commission and we’re very grateful to the BFEP for giving us this opportunity.
More than any other of my QR projects to date ‘Dighty’ has all of the key QR ingredients in one place: part treasure hunt, part historical document; educational and entertaining; we’re going to have fun making the Dighty QR Trail as rich and as social an experience as we can.

So, today I was off taking pictures and getting a feel for how the project is going to pan out. I’ll add a link to Flickr in due course and also some mock-ups of QR code designs and locations as soon as they are approved.

I’ve been experimenting with AudioBoo (AudioBoo.fm) for a few months now and today was my first ‘proper’ Boo… no pre-record or editing (or kids) just me, in the car commenting on my first proper visit to the Burn. Here it is:

More on the Dighty project soon…

Mixed Media

7 Sep

Another inspirational AudioBoo from Christian Payne, aka @Documentally

Much of what I was trying to achieve through my QR hunts was to demonstrate what a number of people are already doing…

In our analogue world we share common behaviours:
we: • experience • explore • interact,
with:  •people • objects • environments…
we: • document • archive • share…

I have been constructing spaces in the real-world where real journeys take place. Navigation however is achieved by means of technology (Mobile devices, Google Maps, QR Codes); capturing, documenting and sharing as we go (Twitter, Instagram, AudioBoo, FaceBook, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo), with the Dungeon Master curating this content for online audiences across the World (WordPress, Storify).

My games (the image above is from my St Andrews PHD Summer School game) reflect the digital equivalent of those common analogue behaviours which will become even more prevalent in the future. Some are already doing it – see Documentally amongst others. However, I believe my games can help us understand what we want from these tools, what uses we can find for them and what forms they should take in the future.

Documentally’s Boo is specifically about the various ways in which we ‘consume’ media. He observed within a few, cramped, square feet multiple methods of creating and consuming media, each of them a succession in terms of technology but each equally valid and acceptable in itself.

There may be value in artificially constructing such a scene – however contrived it may seem – as an illustration of where we stand with regards to media in 2011. But to have witnessed it in the wild..!? There are definitely overtones of a frustrated Attenborough as Documentally, our guide in the urban jungle, laments missing the money-shot!

So have a listen to Documentally’s AudioBoo, but before you do please sign up on the right for updates – In the coming weeks I plan to deliver complete outlines and outcomes from the three real-world games plus the smaller prototype games, projects and methods in development as a result of my Masters project.

I passed BTW 🙂

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!

 

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…

Who Killed The QR Code?

25 Jul

Marble QR memorial in Pere Lachaise, Paris

Found this on the web via ‘Geek-eLeaks‘ and copied it here before it was removed… apparently a leaked obituary for the QR Code!

Obituary: QR Code

Who Killed The QR Code, aka Quick Response?
The sad irony of course was that the QR Code was anything but ‘quick‘ to catch on. Is this a tale of ‘tech‘ ahead of it’s time?

Created by the ‘Terminator II‘ sounding Denso Wave (a subsidiary of Toyota) in 1995, to keep track of car parts, the QR filtered through into public consciousness in the mid-naughties with the rise of the ‘smart phone‘! But it seems that the phones were smarter than the people and the QR just didn’t catch on. Speaking from Cupertino back in 2002 an iPhone said, “Sure I can make calls and text an stuff, but when you’ve paid $500 for a phone and $30 a month for two years you need a little extra, a little justification, to sweeten the purchase! QR did that for me in spades.. the geeks ‘lurve’ the Codes maan!
Clearly a hit with the early adopters QR Codes, along with more obviously useful applications, promted a whole slew of smart phone purchases and QR Codes could be found across the world on the office doors of computer scientists who would embed them with ZX81 jokes.
However, the ascension of the bell curve from early adopter obscurity to it’s big break with the early majority fan-boy status was an endurance test of K2 proportions. But even then it didn’t quite happen for the Code.
2009 was heralded as Year of the QR Code… as was 2010… and then 2011. To be fair 2011 looked promising, but even before the paint was dry on the ‘welcome‘ banners the backlash had started and signalled the demise of the Code called Quick. So what was it exactly that made the Code more Napoleon Dynamite than Justin Bieber?
Was it the casual association with Supermarket 1D barcodes?
Did it’s challenging appearance make it the Elephant Man in the room?
This may be one autopsy that remains unresolved.
This mystery may never be explained.
However, there is one designer who believes ‘mystery’ is ‘the key’. He also believes that the passing of the QR Code is much simpler than the media would have us believe.

Initially designer Jon Gill wasn’t enamoured by the QR code, he was much more interested in the much ‘cooler’ GPS technology, but the QRs accessibility made it perfect for his projects. In early 2009 he started an outdoor visual arts exhibition project called SuperFly. While QRs were on the cards from the start it would be late 2010 before they found their way onto a SuperFly street poster treasure hunt called NEoN Knights.

Gill says of QR Codes“They are a great tool for ‘mystery’! Once you’ve scanned one you can’t wait to find out what lies behind the next!”
Gill developed a close working relationship with the Code, some would say too close… but undeterred by the naysayers Gill persevered with a single minded creative passion. Of the Codes untimely relegation and controversial Wikipedia entry deletion, he says, “The problem, as I see it, was that too much responsibility was placed on the shoulders of the QR code. The QR is a key, a doorway if you will, to somewhere interesting, engaging, and worthy of the mystery implied by the enigmatic pixelated box that bought you here. The trouble was, while there were lots of really cool and creative uses of the QR they were swamped by a deluge of rubbish from ‘less_than_creative_marketeers.com’ who just didn’t understand what to do with them.”
‘Less than Creative’ advertising and PR is nothing new. Open a magazine. Turn on a TV. Any day of the week. You’ll never be far from a steaming pile of marketing manure. But on this occasion it was the QR Code carrying the can. By early 2012 “doing a QR” had superseded “doing a Murdoch” (which, only months before had superseded “doing a Lucan“) as the street-side nomenclature for ‘disappearing without a trace‘.
The collapse of the QR Code would almost take Gill with it, although it appears he was doing a fine job by himself… he laments, “I was the QR-go-to-guy… the QR-go-to-superguy..! But when the QR Code folded I was seen as a one trick pony… I was a laughing stock and… well… folk assumed I’d go with it.
I’ll have the last laugh though… with ‘HooLED-Hoops’ my line of Hula-hoops embedded with LEDs that spell out pre-programmable messages… they’re going to completely change the way we communicate with each other… we’ll be bigger than Twitter!”
Gill may well be the architect of his own demise but the definitive killer of the QR Code remains a mystery, open for debate. Although it would seem that the return of the QR code is not. While many believed that the technology would live on such was the backlash toward it in the industry that, as a standard, it was completely deleted. When quizzed on any possible reinstatement an industry expert said, “It’ll be a ‘Adobe Flash’ day in Apple‘ before that happens.
Q.R.I.P. indeed.
A cautionary tale…?
…or could this mean that the death of the QR Code is imminent?
Clearly QReativity is called for…
What are your thoughts?
Comments below…

Meta Maiden… part two

25 Jul

A 'real' picture of Maiden front-man Bruce Dickinson

In August of 2000 I travelled with my wife to Glasgow’s City Centre music festival, ‘Glasgow Green‘. I have many memories of that day… the afternoon was glorious sunshine while the evening was wet and foggy! I was gutted (and grumpy…) that we arrived too late to see a band whose name I can’t even remember now… and the highlight was seeing Beck, for the second time that year, put on a great show. I took with me my newly purchased Fuji 3.4 mega pixel digital camera (check me out!). I can clearly recall feeling quite nervous and vulnerable as, in 2000, the glow of the little backlit screen that we take so much for granted in 2011, was drawing attention to an unusual and expensive device. Many bands and palls were captured on that device that day… stills and video..!

Like I said, many ‘crystal clear’ memories of the day. None quite so vivid however than the memory of accidentally deleting all of those images, the very next day, while demonstrating the ease of use to my dad! Hmm…

I started off my last blog post with the news that within two hours of the concert I was at finishing there were already two clips of the show on YouTube… within 24hours there were almost 60.

On Wednesday (20 July, 2011) I was at an Iron Maiden gig in Glasgow. I last saw them in the same venue in 2006. While the collection of this data is hardly scientific, it’s useful in that, arguably, they are ‘like-for-like’ concerts five years apart (same band, same venue, most probably a large overlap in fans attending with a few new fans too young to attend five years ago…) and therefore comparable and reasonable data upon which to make comparisons and assumptions.

As the gig kicked off, the second thing I noticed (after the huge screens.. grrr) was how many cameras and camera phones were being pointed stage wards. The increase I would roughly approximate as ten-fold. Every fourth or fifth person would occasionally hold up an image capturing device of some description to document, in stills or in video, the ‘moment’.

Is it just me or …? Using a camera at a gig is challenging operation. Keeping the device steady, avoiding heads in the foreground, checking the battery level… oh, and trying to watch the band through the two inch screen. The irony is that all of the ‘moments’ that are captured during ‘live’ experiences, such as this, are the ones that are not actually ‘experienced’..!

A picture of a picture! One of the big screens at Maiden's show!

I understand that what’s captured is ‘part’ of the ‘thing’ we experienced and so of course, for many reasons, it ‘is’ valid. BUT, there is no doubt that for those few minutes or even seconds, we are actually being taken ‘out of’ the ‘moment’ and into a different experience altogether.

I think on some level, anyone who has tried to use a camera in these, or similar circumstances, understands that it’s awkward but we put up with it because… well, all sorts of varied and personal reasons. Amongst them, I assume, is the ‘evidence‘ factor: “I was at the gig, here is my evidence.”

So we endure the inconvenience (probably without even considering it), because the outcome has value to us. (Had someone tasked us with filming the whole show then I’m sure we would feel differently and less enamoured by the process.)

So, what do we take from this… that more people are using digital cameras and YouTube than five years ago? Well, kind of, but presumably we all knew that already. The fact that within 24hours there were as many clips of the 2011 show as had accumulated over the past five years of the 2006 show is interesting, but again, not too surprising given that YouTube only came into existence in 2005. However, the immediacy of the first two uploads less than an hour of the band being off stage ‘is’ interesting to me. Presumably uploading to YouTube at the earliest opportunity was in their heads as they were filming.

With some of the games I’ve set up I’ve tried to encourage people to share the experience in ‘real time’. What came out of the ‘Space Hop‘ experience was that while it was an interesting idea to people, it wasn’t ‘convenient’ enough… again it comes down to being taken out of the moment. There is another tangent here to be explored in my next post and it is ‘Twitter‘… the communication tool of choice for those ‘in the moment’…

How many camera/phones can you see..?

However… back to the cameras… if there is a future market for this kind of ‘immediate feedback’ of images and video and sharing the story in ‘real time’ how can it be optimised so that the author remains in the moment, not missing out on the experience. I think applications like Instagram have shown that there are creative solutions to sharing in an immediate and engaging way. And it’s convenient..!  Which in this case means it does a very good job of being simple enough so as ‘not’ to detract from what you are ‘meant’ to be doing and not taking you ‘out of the moment’…

Another avenue I’m interested in exploring is ‘GoPro video cameras’ that you can mount on your person and preset it to automatically capture images or video and even time-lapse. Maybe something like GoPro that could automatically upload images or time-lapse on-the-fly without any intervention would be very cool!

It’s fun to share this stuff. I’m grateful to @sirchutney for the use of images taken at the Newcastle gig and I enjoyed viewing his Flickr stream of the night as well as the video that he put together. But is capturing all of this video and still images diminishing the experience of being there? We tend to think of them as ‘memories captured’ never to be lost… but are they really helping us or are we relying on them to the point that our memories are getting lazy?

Memories are generated by many senses, not just by sight and sound… are we placing too much emphasis on the visual at the expense of the smells, the dynamics, the feelings..? Are we sacrificing the moment in order to have a ‘copy’ of it?

While I did lose a lot of images and video from Glasgow Green I still have pretty clear memories of the day. Despite not having any images of that day (from my perspective at least…) I can’t say that I’m any worse off as a result (and yet I have more than 16,000 photos on my laptop that span just over two years…).

What do you think… comment please or tweet me @onthesuperfly