Murmurs of a Project Idea

My interest for my final years work is turning more and more towards the idea of UbiComp. Though I am interested in Product based Media design, which lends itself more to wearables than to my ideas for a project, I feel that the ultimate expression of the network as a second 'layer' is by adding some kind of 'value' to geographic, real world locations.

Which leads me on to a link that Morna sent us, for Murmur Edinburgh, a tool which allows people to listen to stories linked to locations in the Leith area of Edinburgh. The system works by using stickers with unique phone numbers put up in the places in question, with a unique phone number which if phoned plays back the message. The stories are snapshots of peoples experiences and feeling about an area, which is nice as it builds up a kind of collective anthropology of the area and its people.

A more developed version of this can be seen with the Yellow Arrow project, a worldwide arts MAAP (more shite acronyms, I'm not even going to justify this one with a decoding) which promotes user involvement by allowing people to tag their own areas using stickers with unique text codes. As before, you find the sticker, text the code to the number, and get back a text message worth of information about that area. I think I prefer this, as it is more user participatory.

Although for some strange reason both of them ring hollow with me. I don't know if its simply a case of 'shit, I wish I'd thought of that, or perhaps it's just a feeling that the area of 'geotagging' places is saturated with ideas that are far too similar (the two mentioned above, Urban Tapestries, even Google), or maybe even that allowing people to do this will result in information overload, where the genuine tidbits of artistic, poetic nuances are overrun by peoples stickers saying 'omg, this is whr I had mi furst kiss lolz!!!1'

I'd like to find a way of distinguishing my project from these, to think of a new spin on it. A while ago Andrew Cook asked me if I'd be interested in doing a project that linked in with his interest in creating music.

From his myspace: I'm only really doing improv these days, and I'm an interaction designer really (as if you couldn't tell that from the dubious quality of my music), so new ways of interacting with sound-producing systems during improv is what really floats my boat."

This catches my interest. How can you create music based on location based media. Like, could you decode a picture to make it play a sound, and what would that sound be like? How could you link these sounds together to create a performance that would describe a particular time or place? How could these performances be linked by people, how to create a narrative that goes with the created sounds? How could you translate this into a live performance, and what aspects could you add? Is this art or design, or both?

These are some questions I'm mulling over at the moment. I'm considering e-mailing this stuff round people to get some early ideas on what people think of this, and any links etc. that might help.

If you are reading, thanks for reading.

PS. Still looking for a job.


Some summer projects.

The summer is here again and that means time to get a job.

Unfortunately that is proving more problematic than it should be. So I've resorted to the IMD way and started advertising to build websites (because thats what IMD is, right? *choke*)

So without further ado, I present to you Design for Art*.

Quite apart from being a website I'm very pleased with, DFA* exploits the feeling I've had that most web design firms charge ludicrous prices for what is essentially, not a very hard job. DFA, I hope, will appeal to artists, designers and indiviuals who just want a website with none of the fuss. You want your work online, for not alot of cash, and you dont care about CSS styles, W3C compliance, javascript, or any of the other toys that webdesigners like to throw in.

So if you accidently find this site, please drop me an e-mail, or pass it on to someone who might just be looking for a 'never mind the bollocks' website.


phone | not phone

Once again, the course I am studying has produced another 'web-sensation', in overhypespeak, but this time its our second years, with the phone | not phone online store.

The stores founding principle is "to offer our customers expressive new interactions, rather than be driven by technological innovation for its own sake or by maximising our revenue streams", an idea I'm *kind of* exploring in my dissertation, that the hi-tech product industry is lead far to much by engineers and marketerrs rather than designers. Instead of offering new features in hi-tech products, we should be seeking to discover new experiences.

Headed up again by Graham Pullin and with the addition of Innovative Product Design lecturer Jon Rogers, the project was novel as it was the first time outside of our design studies module that the IMD and IPD students were working together. The results, as you can see are fantastic. I think the addition of the IPD course lead to a real desire to make both innovative, well made and aesthetically pleasing objects. Although the objects of the Museum of Lost Interactions (MoLI) were laboured over, the addition of people who can work in the realm of objects is always going to help create pieces which are more robust.

I think the differences between phone | not phone and MoLI is that whereas MoLI was charming and cerebral, slightly more research-based, PnP has been grounded securely in the realm of design as a business, reflected in the coverage both projects have recieved. Its interesting to see that when Wired picked up on MoLI it was first in Bruce Sterling's Beyond the Beyond blog, whereas PnP was picked up by GadgetLab.

Again this has got me thinking about my final year project and what route to take, or even to possibly do both. Ultimately, I would like to produce a project that could be masss produced, but I am also interested in tackling things on an intellectual level. Something that got me interested was Fiona McGowan's 4th year project for 'The Fear' where she mentions that critical design was a major driving factor of her project, more observing other peoples work to inform her own (proof that critical design does what it says it should, huzzah!). Might be an idea for me, to create some design ideas which I can then translate to a final, market ready-type prototype.

Anyway thats todays thought, I vow I WILL keep updating this.




New Beginnings, or the Beginning of the End

Well it's approaching that time of the year that all your current year projects are beginning to end, and the mind begins to wander onto whats on the road ahead. Due to the 4th years losing their studio as it's set up for degree show time, we've had several of their number in IMD3 waters, and its given me a real hankering to start thinking about my 4th year project.

But where to begin? Well as always, its a good idea to be looking at something you are interested in. Which brings up a whole new kettle of fish, what am I interested in?

The more I think about this, the more I see I am interested in looking at ubiquitous computing as a tool for mediating our everyday lives. I see ubiquitous computing as changing our 'face value' relationships with (particularly urban) space, imbuing it with a second layer, a layer of information which enriches our everyday experience of it. It has the possiblity to do to a space what a piece of public street scuplture can do. However, there is always the dark element, the idea that there is information hidden from all but the annointed, and in this respect it has more in common with grafitti, a public media underworld.

Or something.

This is getting towards the themes I'd like to start looking at, but there is so much research to be done before I'm going to say that this will be my final idea.

One thing I'm quite keen in doing though is restricting my project to sound. This year I have been working with a similar theme, with the project Samizdat which explored the idea of locative cinema. Although I was happy with the concept, the actual creation of a video piece was a total pain, and something that I'm keen to avoid this year.

Anyways, I think I'm going to start using this to post my summer ramblings and links to things for my fourth year. Also I hope to put up some of the summer work which may be in the pipeline for the creativyard project. More to follow.



Where did all the rubbish go?

Well on the offchance you were looking for something that was here, its gone. I actually had a look through some of the random postings and decided the quality was substandard to say the least, and most of it was straight boring.

So as part of my New Years resolution I've decided to start posting again, except this time, actually posting decent length posts, more images, and links to other blogs and random fun I've found on the intertubes. I'll also hopefully find time to post some things related to my project and dissertation, which might be quite good for me, as far as keeping a track of how each of them has come along... either that or I'll waste most of my time writing here instead of my dissertation... enough procrastinating. Time to set this place up, move the furniture in etc.