Archive: Conference

Month Links: January 2013

A post about things we”ve found interesting in January, 2013.

January”s a funny old month. One of the oldest months, I think. Certainly the longest. It”s been a mixture of waking up from a winter break, and hurtling into new projects. There”s a handful of new things on the go, which we”re pretty stoked to share when we can, and a few ongoing projects we”re shortly to finish.

In the meantime, have a look at the things we”ve been sharing in Dark Social.

The Cloud, by STML

- The first thing we published this year was Orchestrated Text, a blanket-swaddled project that Richard munged together over Christmas and James finessed when we were all back in the studio. It”s done pretty well – thanks Wired – and helped broaden our thinking about what text on the web can mean, beyond “just words”. Should be more on that soon enough.

- Tying nicely into Orchestrated Text, Richard has been following the ‘Alan Rusbridger Plays Chopin’ story for a while. The publicity run for the book this month, especially Know The Score (the musical e-book accompaniment) has been particularly enjoyable.

- The odd space between digital and physical is never more felt than when people replicate physical things in digital – such as notepads, watercolour painting or leatherette folders. We”ve had a nice play with Paper and been pleasantly surprised by how it feels – very digital, but with a reassuring sense of friction. It won”t replace our pads and papers, but it’s a damn nice attempt to.

- Mark Fell“s article in The Wire reminded us all of the values of working within limitations, and pushing at the edges of what can be done: “we can redefine technology, not as a tool subservient to creativity or an obstacle to it, but as part of a wider context within which creative activity happens.

- Matt Ward wrote a moving and insightful blog post about what digital spaces outside of capitalism might be like. It feels a bit like a beat”s companion piece to Russell”s post about truthiness and The Majority of Images. In a way.

- Revisited “Why Lost Is Genuinely New Media“, Dan Hill“s excellent post from 2006 about leaving threads open for parallel narrative and speculation. “This isn”t so much product placement as identifier placement.

- Our James has continued to smarten up and iterate the new Mudlark aesthetics, and has been taken with a handful of projects looking to solve or evolve design problems. Of the most mainstream and publicly visible is the ITV rebrand. There”s still quite a lot of discussion about whether it”s any good, but James is firmly in the Pro camp. He feels it really comes to life when animated over the idents with the ‘colour-picking’ technique.

- We packed him off to NAConf last week, so expect a blog post about that soon. When he bought his ticket, he noticed they were using tito – which provided a very simple experience. As a company who has PayPal grief every year with , we”re hoping this turns out to be a healthy challenge to them.

- Work continues on Chromaroma: putting wires back where they should go, kicking the data scraper and looking for new ways to develop it, inside or out of London. A couple of us have been using Moves for iOS. It is definitely an extension of thoughts we”ve had about taking Chromaroma “off the rails”, but lacks that competitive and social edge.

- Smart travelling moves into the next phase over in Boston with the introduction of using smartphones for ticket purchasing.

- Our pal Ben Bashford got his speak on at UX Brighton last year. It”s up on YouTube now. If you enjoyed his excellent blog post about Emotional Computing you should enjoy the mundane Robocop”s talk.

- Matt Edgar wrote an excellent post titled “Ad agencies are discovering products like Columbus discovered America“, which just about sums up his angle. Typically great.

- Brendan Dawes is someone who consistently turns out excellent and beautiful work. The RSC are the latest to benefit from this, with the rather lovely To Be Today, “a Shakespearean twist on the events of the day.”


How To Make A Cocktail.

- How To Basic
Genuinely the best and most informative channel on YouTube.

- Internet of Lamps
Good Night Lamp is a beautiful looking and simply realised IoT project. Its Kickstarter is closing soon, so go and wang as much as you can in their bank account.

All Other Parties Are STILL Trite And Dull.
If you”re going to GDC, go to this. You will thank yourself.

- Towards A Canon of “Hypertext Literature/Interactive Fiction/Digital Narrative”
Tom Armitage started drawing up a list of most “important” works in the messy taxonomy of interactive fiction.

Vinny Poo
Bless Russia”s laissez-faire approach to copyright and enjoy this very special interpretation of Winnie The Pooh. Thanks to Marie for putting it into our lives.

Great Reddit thread on “house rules” in games.

The Internet of.

“The family”s principal entertainment… was for everyone to recount their dreams.”
What it”s like to be cut off from human contact for 40-years.

The Internet of Ketchup Things

- Diddy Appreciates, by Shardy

- rrrrrrrroll

- What we”ve been listening to: , , the .

Advertising head on

We had a wonderful day with the people of Ogilvy recently where I gave a talk on “playing with data”.

The day was organised as a Pixel-Lab co-production with Ogilvy, and we got a spot in the running order. My slides are .

The talk I gave, focused on why we believe data is becoming more and more important to be playable and not just available to people.  Passive data collection and the playable nature of it will, we believe, take gaming beyond the simple nature of adding scores to things we do, and take us to a “playable world”.

Mad Men cover.

There were lots of interesting talks on the day, Hugh Garry and Alice Taylor gave very passionate rousing calls for broadcasters, both the traditional TV based companies, and non traditional publishers such as brands and advertising giants such as Ogilvy to look beyond the ad and poster to an interactive engaged campaign. Chris Thorpe touched on some very similar issues to ones we are facing with Chromaroma and Mike Bennet from Oil Productions is looking at some very exciting interactive storytelling techniques, that have come from their work with routes and Channel 4 Education.

Mudlark at Mobile Cell, Barcelona

Whilst my colleagues at Mudlark where launching in Birmingham and discussing Post Digital (see the fantastic write up by David Hayward) I had the pleasure to be invited to Mobile Cell at Citilab in Cornella, a satellite town to Barcelona, where a very interesting media lab has been built in conjunction with Living Labs that houses IT resources, supports innovation, research, enterprises and runs a very exciting high quality conference programme.

The interesting thing about this lab is that it is ensconced in the community, therefore it aims to build innovation from the bottom up, it feels very continental European and I wonder if and when this kind of model will reach the UK.

I was invited to present my work as part of two days of talks and presentations around mobile technology but with a strong focus on gaming.  What evolved from the diversity of games developers, researchers and artists that spoke was a very interesting discussion on alternative games development versus the mainstream. A discussion that is ongoing in Mudlark, exploring the potential to make risk taking innovation that are accessible marketable products.  How do you create a new vision of this Post Digital world that is ready for market and that people want and need?

The conference was quite “arts” heavy in some respects but from this stand point some interesting discussions arose about responsibility, ethics and issues around data collection, usage and interpretation and also motivation of audiences, players and participators to take part.  Two of the talks I found particularly interesting were by Joan Leandre and Patricia Gouveia.

Joan was an early hacker activist (despite saying that hacker has now become assimilated into the mainstream and he is no longer comfortable with it) he developed Velvet Strike which I remember from the early interface between artists, modders and computer games.  His work now centres around research and revealing the links between computer games, violence and war and brought up an interesting debate about the opportunities for activism and to respond to the connection between real life war and computer games.  Which made me think on some ideas for cross-platform education games based on real world events as a response to the horrifyingly cynical reality war games.

Patricia”s informative discussion of gamers identities enabled this discussion to continue, whilst discussing the motivations for engaging in ARGs and realtime games that go beyond the mainstream game worlds, including the ongoing discussion of gender within game play, which is a particular area of interest to me and exploring how games can be accessible beyond the traditional sector of players.

In a world that is supposedly becoming Post Digital – these discussions wherever they are in the world and amongst different communities of developers, thinkers, activists and players are key to us making sense of our desires to play , socially interact, communicate and share experience and to make robust and informed decisions about how we do this, how we work and shape data, ensuring that integrity is key to our vision of a post digital future.

Collaborative Mobs

One of the highlights of Futuresonic last month was the one I had with the CoMob folks. I was that keen to get on this one that I went to the earliest iteration around lunchtime, hence why there were only three of us in ‘The Mob’.

CoMob, presented by research project leaders Jen Southern and Chris Speed, premiered at Futuresonic and is designed for collaborative GPS mapping. Each member of the mob becomes a node on the map, and so by collaborating with the other folks on the server, can surround an object/site/sight or draw shapes on the map. It all depends on what you want to map.

iPhone borrowed (thanks to Toby), app installed, server configured, the three of us left the building and started walking and talking about what we wanted to map. The premiere of this digital art piece was part of the Environment 2.0 strand of Futuresonic, and so we started talking pollution. Noise, air – these were things that were too untangible to map without additional equipment. Visual? In a previous talk someone had hit upon something that reminded me of the Sao Paulo clamp down on visual pollution – this struck a chord with all three of us. So we started surrounding objects that we classed as visual pollution – rotating advertising, neon signs etc.

It’s important to note at this point that the app does not currently feature visual feedback on your movements – these were being recorded back at the conference. Thus, we could only imagine how our movements could be later interpreted (this in itself became an important discussion back at the projection table).

This first stage of mapping really could have been done with a map and pencil, but was nevertheless a good ice breaker between the three of us, and the subject a good one to start from. We naturally started talking about brands, and after ‘stalking’ some heavily branded people realised that a better use of our collaborative mobile mapping mob would be to track the movement of things. The nodes could then be joined up and represent the coverage a portable visual identity has in the real world. Right over the road from the Contact Theatre was probably the most ubiquitous and recognisable brands in the world – McDonalds. So we started following people with branded take-away food, following them until they left public space. The result visually proved that the golden arches cover more ground than the logo on the side of the building visible at street level (see image). Okay – no big surprise there. But with a few more people and more time over a bigger area, the results could be shocking and, perhaps more importantly for CoMob as an app that can work independently from the complicated server setup required currently, easy for anyone to do. If something like this is easier to do, the more people will do it. The more people do it – the more people that present it, and the more people will become aware, through a visual medium, of the effects of actions and objects in the physical world.

If nothing else, CoMob could be a great tool for giving more people a bird’s eye view of their surroundings, thereby increasing social conscience in public spaces.

CC image by aeioux

Cut-up/edit of Toby Barnes’ Talk at Futuresonic

Contact Theatre.

Here’s our minicam-from-the-crowd assembly of Toby’s performance in Manchester yesterday.

Toby at Futuresonic09.