Thursday, September 29, 2011
"...An analysis of mood patterns distilled from half a billion tweets has produced a civilization-scale picture of how moods rise and fall in tandem, over time and across the world.
The details seem intuitive: positive feelings peaking in the morning, dipping during work and rising at day’s end; negativity accumulated over the workweek dissipating late on Friday afternoon. But they’ve proved surprisingly tricky to measure.
“There’s a whole generation of lab work that’s been inconclusive,” said sociologist Scott Golder of Cornell University, co-author of the tweet analysis published Sept. 29 in Science. “Every study would have something different to say about what they saw in their subjects’ affective rhythms.”
Many studies of how moods — or, more technically, positive and negative affect — change from minute to minute and day to day rely on self-reported surveys, which can be inconsistent if not misleading. The subjects of these studies also tend to be undergraduate students from western colleges, a group that’s not always representative of humanity at large.
'A systematic daily pattern of positive mood is a fundamental part of human existence.'..."
From the site:
"This spring and summer The Factory embarked on an adventure with a few exciting new partners. The Bay Area Video Coalition collaborated with the Mozilla Foundation and ZeroDivide to explore the possibilities of web-native filmmaking: to help the internet find its own storytelling voice. They asked the question, “What would a story made FOR the internet look and sound like? And how would it be told?” After all, the internet is not a television or a movie-theater: it is its own entirely unique creation and a story told on the internet should take advantage of the immersion, immediacy, and non-linearity that the web can offer viewers.
Twelve youth in The Factory beta-tested Mozilla’s “Popcorn Maker”, a kind of web-native filmmaking software devised in Mozilla’s Web Made Movies innovation lab, by integrating the software into the program’s summer-based Community Filmmaking Partnerships (“CFPs”– short films that The Factory makes for/about East Bay non-profits). In doing so, The Factory filmmakers got a taste of cutting edge storytelling technologies, while Mozilla got the best kind of beta testers for their software: limber-minded, net-savvy teenagers.
These are the four web-native videos that The Factory produced in partnership with Mozilla, ZeroDivide, and our Community Filmmaking Partners...."
"...INSPIRE YOURSELF (image above)
INSPIRE USA is an organization that uses media technology to share first-person stories from teenagers who struggled with, and overcame, mental health issues like depression and suicidal impulses. They distribute these stories to other teenagers so young people can benefit from the experiences of others in similar situations and so they can be made aware of the resources and support that are available to them.
Lauren, Fifer and Raymundo, the Factory filmmakers collaborating with Inspire USA, wanted to develop an interface that conveys some of the crucial statistics around teen mental health issues – making evident how common they are – but they also wanted the interface to be interactive and embedded with stories of how other youth have pulled themselves up and become happier. They envisioned a webpage with stick figures representing teens with mental health issues, with each figure being clickable and linking to an uplifting video or written story. Participants would also have an opportunity to post their own stories, which would then be uploaded to the webpage via Tumblr. WATCH NOW >..."
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
"Moshi Monsters boasts more than 50 million pre-teen users. Photograph: Mind Candy
It has already dominated kids' magazines and social networking. Now Moshi Monsters is set to take on the world of children's TV, with a new online channel described ambitiously as "YouTube meets Nickelodeon".
Moshi Monsters, the UK-based social network that boasts more than 50 million pre-teen users, will launch Moshi TV within weeks.
While the fine details are still being ironed out, Moshi TV will feature popular "moshlings" such as Dustbin Beaver and Lady GooGoo, alongside animations uploaded by users and syndicated content.
"TV is really critical because kids are begging to see [Moshi Monsters] characters a lot and hear more of the story," said Brad Schultz, the newly appointed head of Moshi TV. "We're holding ourselves up to a Looney Tunes here. We're going to create shorts [animations] that will be talked about for years and years and years."
Schultz, who joined from US video-on-demand channel Kabillion in August, is the son of Bill Schultz, the renowned animator behind The Simpsons, King of the Hill and The Transformers...."
Of Course: Disney Cars to get 'Appmates' toys that work with new iPad app | Technology | guardian.co.uk
"Children will push the Appmates cars around the iPad screen to explore the virtual world
Disney's next big iPad app? There are toy cars for that. The entertainment company has unveiled a new range of physical toys called Appmates, which will be used to interact with apps on Apple's tablet.
The first Disney brand to get the Appmates treatment is Pixar's Cars. There will be six toy cars sold in packs of one or two for £12.99 and £19.99 respectively, which go on sale in October. They will be sold in Disney's physical stores and on its website, as well as in Apple's real-world and online stores.
The companion iPad app will be free to download. It includes a mode for children who don't own one of the physical toys (or at least don't have one to hand).
"We've been working on this exciting new technology that really brings together the physical world and the app and tablet world," says Jeff Jones, vice president and general manager for digital games for Disney's european division. "They have a capacitive footprint, so when you put them onto the tablet, it recognises what the toy is, where it's positioned and what direction it's pointing in."
Children drive the cars around the virtual Radiator Springs world by pinching the two front windows with their thumb and finger to complete the conductive circuit. They can explore, stop by characters from the Cars movies to talk and get missions, and take part in races. Buying more toy cars opens up new areas of the world, while additional levels will also be released in the coming months, bought by the parent through Apple's in-app payments system...."
A Five-Day Boot Camp
When: October 24-28, 2011
Where: Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 2950 Broadway, New York, NY 10027
Overview: The Advanced Multimedia Storytelling workshop is an intensive production course that prepares students to produce sophisticated, broadcast-quality multimedia stories. Over the course of the five-day workshop (and pre-workshop coaching session), students will conceptualize, report, and produce a professional-grade multimedia story. This workshop is by application only.Building on the fundamentals taught in our Introduction to Digital Media Storytelling class, students will learn the fundaments of narrative and long-form storytelling. They will learn advanced shooting techniques and editing concepts. Audio recording and editing will also be highlighted. A prerequisite of this course is the Introduction to Digital Media Storytelling course, but students with equivalent production experience may have this requirement waved by the course instructor.
When Sony enlisted Punchdrunk to create its Resistance 3 ARG, it did so with the intention of doing a lot more than simply promoting its game. The more important objective was to test the relationship between theater and video games, working out how the two art forms could be used to create entirely new experiences that appeal to the audiences of both.
"Mixing theater with video games seemed especially pertinent for an innovative theater group like Punchdrunk and for a game like Resistance 3," David Wilson, head of public relations for Sony Computer Entertainment UK, says. "Punchdrunk is very much about an experience where the audience is very much in the thick of the action and, furthermore, plays an active role in the proceedings. Punchdrunk melded their knowledge of the game with the Japanese phenomenon of 'walks of terror' to create a theatrical experience that evoked the thrill of being within the video game world."
Punchdrunk artistic director Felix Barrett says the company agreed to the Resistance 3 project for the same reasons: to test the level of immersion that is inherent within video games and the possible interface with the real world.
"The emotional and experiential potential of finding yourself within a video game is huge--you are your own avatar," Barrett said during the lead-up to the event. "We [wanted to] explore the role of the audience as player, participant, and potential character within a project that transcends theatre and gaming and, in particular, [look at] the visceral potential for a fusion of these two forms."
By Kelly BourdetJune 23rd, 2011, 2:40 pmComments (31)
This week, Eguchi Aimi, the newest member of the all-girl Japanese pop group AKB48, was revealed to be a fake human. She was perfectly cute, but Eguchi was nothing more than a computer composite of her six band mates; she existed only in a virtual world. The bizarre, and clever, publicity stunt was unveiled in the above video, which shows exactly how the virtual beauty was created.
Analog interactive installation / kinetic sculpture by Karina Smigla-Bobinski.
ADA is an analogue interactive installation made of a giant ball filled with helium, covered in charcoal spikes. As the ball drifts around the space, charcoal marks accumulate on the walls. Visitors can push the ball around the space freely, but the results are never predictable.
From the site:
"Located on Jaffe Drive at Lincoln Center in New York, the THINK exhibit combines three unique experiences to engage visitors in a conversation about how we can improve the way we live and work.
Visitors approaching the exhibit are drawn in by striking patterns displayed on a 123-foot digital wall. The wall visualizes, in real time, the live data streaming from the systems surrounding the exhibit, from traffic on Broadway, to solar energy, to air quality. Visitors discover how we can now see change, waste and opportunities in the world’s systems.
Inside the exhibit space, visitors step into a media field composed of 40 seven-foot screens. As the screens come to life, visitors discover a 12-minute immersive film. A kaleidoscope of images and sound surrounds them. They are enveloped in a rich narrative about the pattern of progress, told through awe-inspiring stories of the past and present. They are inspired to think about humankind's quest for progress, and about making our world work better, today..."
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
For Toronto’s all-night public art party next month, Lavin speaker Natalie Jeremijenko will help citizens reclaim public space—and public airspace!—by lifting hundreds of citizens into the air to provide them with a pigeon’s-eye view of our city hall. A radical lesson in urban infrastructure! From Nuit Blanche:
Inspired by the birds of Nathan Phillips Square, Flightpath Toronto is a participatory spectacle inviting the public to rediscover the possibilities and wonder of urban flight. For Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011, the square hosts an urban flightschool, an interactive visual airscape, and fly-lines that enable hundreds of people, enwinged, to re-imagine the city and the way we move through it.
By exploring the square through the eyes of its primary inhabitants, urban birds, can we reinvent our relationship to the city we build together? By reclaiming airspace as public space, can we consider other forms of transit, rediscover the ‘sport’ in ‘transport’, and excite imaginative possibilities for our urban infrastructure? Are we game to experience, through flight, a city that is fluid and three-dimensional?
Flightpath Toronto’s swarms of flying people experiment with an urban-scale participatory proposition: one that demonstrates the pleasures of emissionless urban mobility and creates a shared memory of a possible future.
Flightpath Toronto is a collaboration between Usman Haque, architect/artist and Natalie Jeremijenko, engineer/artist, uniting his expertise in participatory urban spectacle with her expertise in bird flight and urban natural systems.
The Secretly Awesome Things About to Transform Web VideoKasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg | Sep 12, 2011When I decided to go to the Open Video Conference in Manhattan this weekend, I really had no idea what to expect. Open Video is an unusual cause, belonging to no specific interest group, in that we are all makers and/or consumers of web video (usually both). What other issue can bring together a diverse crowd of hackers, academics, filmmakers, human rights activists, and lawyers to gleefully design and debate the future of technology? The third annual Open Video Conference, held this past weekend at New York Law School, felt like a mini SXSW Interactive loosely dedicated to "making video more open." Topics of discussion included everything from "visual anonymity" to robot lawyers (seriously). Dozens of workshops provided enough food for thought to inspire another year of innovation, not just in technology and policy, but in modes of visual storytelling.
The Documentary Cloud
A central challenge of documentary filmmaking is wrangling the wealth of information and footage amassed in the process of researching and shooting into a three-act structure. The Connected Documentary workshop tackled, among many topics, how a documentary can live and grow online, beyond the boundaries of the feature format. Amir Bar-Lev, the director of The Tillman Story, explained how, like most documentaries, the story he was telling continued long after he finished the film. At the same time, he had amassed an archive of over 300 documents related to the Tillman case and countless interviews that would never fit the film, but were a powerful part of the story. So he decided to put them in the cloud. He used Document Cloud to make the documents available and is working on making an interactive version of the film so that viewers online can brows the supplementary content in synch with the film. This interactive layer (more on this in a second) lets you pin any kind of content that can live in a web page to specific sections in the film, so that the video becomes an entry point for a whole archive of information. A "transmedia" approach to filmmaking certainly isn't new, but the direct linking of content to a linear story, with opportunities for audience participation, is pretty exciting.
We tend to think of video as a static block of content that has to be experienced in a linear manner, but this is increasingly not the case, as HTML5 developers work to integrate video more seamlessly with web pages. The workshop about Popcorn.js was an exuberant introduction to an open source tool that essentially allows you to synchronize non-video content to a video. Sounds simple, and Rick Waldron from Bocoup went out of his way to present it in terms that would feel intuitive to non-developers. Without going into too much detail, it's an HTML5 media framework that can link the behavior of a web page to time code (or any metadata) in the video. Remix artist and conference keynote speaker Jonathan McIntosh has an awesome example of how this can be used to add dynamic context to a video on his website. First, if you haven't seen it, check out his Donald Duck-meets-Glenn Beck remix, an artful edit of Disney footage and Beck's radio and television audio:As McIntosh points out on his site, some of the subversive power of remix is in recontextualizing content, which can be amplified by letting an audience see the source material in its original context. There is also incredible value in being able to attribute each clip to its source, especially in a fair use case like this, where the creator is at risk of a DMCA takedown notice from a content owner (e.g. Disney or Fox).I've recently been exploring ways to contextually present the audiovisual sources, notes and references used in my remix videos. I'm especially interested in the exciting possibilities of the HTML5 video element combined with the Popcorn.js framework to visually annotate the metadata in my more complex remixing projects. With that in mind I've put together anHTML5 video demo which dynamically displays a layer of data referencing the original source materials as the video plays. I have long been an advocate for remixers to transparently cite their sources as part of promoting open video, claiming our fair-use rights and as a way to make it easier for others to remix the same material in alternative ways ...Check out the demo here. McIntosh explains the layout:
While watching the demo you will see related data dynamically appear in the boxes surrounding the remix, triggered by the video's time code. If you click on any red text it will link you back to source materials in their original context. (1) Displays the current visual clip info. (2) Displays the current audio clip info. (3) Displays relevant wikipedia articles. (4) Displays production and factual notes.
Back at the Popcorn workshop,
read the full post here:
Grazie! A Media Specialist's Guide to the Internet: 58 Sites for Digital Storytelling Tools and Information
Center for Digital StorytellingDigital Directors Guild- assists educators with their digital storytelling projectsDigital Storytelling in the Classroom- from Microsoft EducationDigital Storytelling Tools for Educators- 120 page pamphlet (download) written by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano (Creative Commons Attribution 2.5)Making Stopmotion Movies- information on how to create stopmotion and claymation moviesAniboom- animation studioAnimoto- create video slide showsBig Universe- for younger childrenChogger- create comicsClassikTV- create a movie by adding subtitles to old movie scenesCreaza- suite of creative tools, including cartoonist, movie editor, audio editor and mindmapsDigiTales- create 3-5 minute stories from these types: living memories, beyond words, itza wrapDo Ink- create Flash-style animations using a "simple and friendly vector editorDomo Animate- free animation website offers characters with dialogue, backdrops and special effectsGlogster- drag and drop text, images, audio, video drawings and more; premium edition has no adsGoogle Search Stories- uses YouTube, so if your school blocks it you're out of luck
see the full list on
Monday, September 26, 2011
In the summer of 2004, unsuspecting movie-goers in theatres across America witnessed the beginnings of a new form of interactive storytelling hidden inside the debut trailer for Bungie's Halo 2. Standing in place of the customary Xbox logo at the trailer's end were three little words, responsible for stirring the imaginations of over two and a half million people around the world: "I Love Bees".
The I Love Bees marketing campaign for Halo 2 was one of the earliest and most successful examples of alternate reality gaming, objective-based experiences that bring together treasure hunting, puzzle solving, and interactive storytelling in one single, ambitious human experiment. Although alternate reality games (ARGs) began life as mere experiments testing the idea of using gameplay fundamentals in the real world, their ability to engage public imagination and target the innate human desire to play together has proved them to be a highly innovative method of interactive storytelling that is finding both commercial and artistic success. ARGs are the perfect distraction for an audience ready to embrace a new kind of social interaction, shaped by social networks and the popularity of mass casual gaming and driven by technological convergence. So what are ARGs exactly, and how do they work? Does their potential lie exclusively in the world of video game advertising, or does it stretch across other media? And will pushing immersion to this kind of level only serve to highlight the limitations of video games as a medium?
In this feature, GameSpot AU looks at the beginnings of ARGs and analyses their potential impact on the future of the video game industry and its adoption in wider artforms.
From the ideo.com site:
"Exploring the potential of book publishing in digital formats
The Future of the Book is a design exploration of digital reading that seeks to identify new opportunities for readers, publishers, and authors to discover, consume, and connect in different formats.
As more people consume pages in pixels, IDEO designers wondered why we continue to discover and consume the written word through the old analog, page-turning model. We asked: what happens when the reading experience catches up with new technologies?
The team looked at how digital and analog books currently are being read, shared and collected, as well as at trends, business models and consumer behavior within related fields. We identified three distinct opportunities—new narratives, social reading with richer context, and providing tools for critical thinking—and developed a design concept around each one.
The first concept, “Alice,” turns storytelling on its head by making narratives non-linear and participatory. With Alice, the story world starts bleeding into the everyday life of the reader. Real-world challenges, like acting on a phone call from the lead character, or participating in photo based scavenger hunts, unlock new aspects of the story, and turn other readers into collaborators or competitors. Alice is a platform for authors to experiment with narratives, to allow their stories to transcend media, and to engage fans in the storytelling process...."
Project date: 2010
Dynamo, Distrify & Distribber: Documentarians Test New Tools for Direct Distribution Online : via DocumentaryTech
In the span of a few short years, distribution in the independent film world has leaped from DIY (“Do It Yourself”) to DIWO (“Do It With Others” — i.e., crowdfunding) to what Ted Hope recently christened “direct interdependent distribution.” The term highlights a new relationship between filmmakers and audiences that relies even less on middlemen — and in some cases cuts them out completely.
Dynamo Player, Distrify and Distribber are three companies enabling documentary filmmakers to self-distribute films digitally
My documentary Library of the Early Mind is at the back end of a 14-month run of screenings to very respectable audiences at universities, libraries and museums in the United States and Canada. We’ve done about 50 since our premiere at Harvard, and close to 10,000 people having seen the film. Many of those viewers told us directly they wanted to buy a copy for their libraries or classes. Others wanted to watch it again or recommend it to friends. And others, we’d heard, couldn’t make a screening but would have wanted to see the film. Digital delivery reaches all of these groups, making it a newly legitimate choice for any filmmaker with an audience (or the ability to find one). And it’s a path we’re taking in December (along with a DVD release). In the handful of years since my previous documentary, people have simply become more comfortable viewing films on digital devices (just as my newly released book appears to far to be racking up more sales in Amazon’s Kindle store than in paper-and-ink).
While video juggernaut YouTube launched a paid rental service earlier this year, there is a widening circle of companies offering direct distribution — and its catching on among documentary filmmakers like me. Dynamo Player and Distrify are two platforms for filmmakers confident they have the marketing skill to move consumers to buy their product from their own website, while tying streaming to theatrical efforts and a DVD release. Both link purchases to Paypal or Amazon, and take a 30 percent cut of each sale. Distribber, owned by the crowdfunding company IndieGoGo, takes a fee up front to place films on high-traffic entertainment hubs such as iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and cable video-on-demand. The percentages may rival a traditional distributor, but I know too many filmmakers who’ve rued the deals they struck with distributors whose idea of marketing was little more than an addition to a catalog.
Henry Jenkins: How Can We Understand Code as a "Critical Artifact"?: USC's Mark Marino on Critical Code Studies (Part One)
How Can We Understand Code as a "Critical Artifact"?: USC's Mark Marino on Critical Code Studies (Part One)
The Humanities and Critical Code Studies (HaCCS) Lab opened this summer at the University of Southern California with the specific goal of developing the field and fostering discussion between the Humanities and Computer Science. Current members include USC faculty and students and a host of affiliated scholars from other institutions, including and international advisory board. The HaCCS Lab sponsored its first conference this summer and will be sponsoring other get togethers both on campus and online. Central to its mission is to develop common vocabularies, methodologies, and case-studies of CCS, while promoting publications in the field.
Mark Marino, who teaches in the USC Writing Program, is the Director of the new center. He was nice enough to agree to an interview during which he explains what he means by Critical Code Studies, how it relates to other humanistic approaches to studying digital culture, and what he thinks it contributes to our understanding of Code as a cultural practice and as a critical artifact.
What do you mean by critical code studies?
The working definition for Critical Code Studies (CCS) is "the application of humanities style hermeneutics to the interpretation of computer source code." However, lately, I have found it more useful to explain the field to people as the analysis of technoculture (culture as imbricated with technology) through the entry point of the source code of a particular digital object. The code is not the ends of the analyses, but the beginning.
Critical Code Studies finds code meaningful not as text but "as a text," an artifact of a digital moment, full of hooks for discussing digital culture and programming communities. I should note that Critical Code Studies also looks at code separated from functioning software as in the case of some codework poetry, such as Mez's work or Zach Blas' trasnCoder anti-programming language. To that extent, Critical Code Studies is also interested in the culture of code, the art of code, and code in culture more broadly.
At this nascent stage, I also find it useful to point out the plurality and variability of the methodologies that have been already used to analyze code whether in the Critical Code Studies Working Group, at our two conferences, in the HASTAC Scholars Forum, at MLA, and elsewhere. These preliminary readings demonstrate that Critical Code Studies is not an approach but a wide range of approaches that use code as a starting point for a larger discussion. Scholars seem eager to talk about code and are experimenting with ways to unpack it.
Critical Code Studies answers a call from N. Katherine Hayles and others for media specific analysis by taking up for analysis an aspect of digital objects that is unique to the computational realm. Back in 2005 and 2006 when I first began talking to people about code, there weren't many examples of critics, working then under the title "new media," who discussed code, which struck me as unusual since it's such a rich semiotic realm. There just weren't enough critical readings that demonstrated for how to talk about that component of the work. At the time, I was working on my dissertation and was trying to produce readings of conversation agents, or chatbots. That led me to write that initial essay in electronic book review.
For my work, the "critical" component is also crucial because it evokes "critical theory." I don't want to limit the types of theory or philosophy that can be applied to code, but I do want to push for critiques that challenge, that remain sensitive to the socio-historic contexts of the code, the institutional investments, the ideologies and ontologies of code. Code is already studied in the contexts of computer science, while the humanities have something unique to offer in the form of critical analysis and explication or, if you will, exegesis.
Yesterday, Brian Clark of GMD Studios spoke at Dr. Henry Jenkins‘ transmedia course at USC. He’s promised to post a detailed account of his talk, but he encouraged me to share this summary post for now.
The topic of his talk was the business of transmedia. Literally.
Perhaps keying off Mike Monello’s recent admonition for independent creatives to talk less and create more when it comes to transmedia, Brian proposed a couple of frameworks for both dissecting the current typical business model for transmedia experiences and constructing some new ones.
First, Brian outlined the five challenges he sees for current transmedia experiences:
- Funds – where will you get the money to pay for the expenses of your transmedia experience?
- Return – what do your funders expect in exchange for their money?
- Sustainability – how much money will you need over what time period?
- Audience – does it exist / how big is it?
- Promotion – how will you reach your audience?
Next, Brian laid out what he saw as the biggest problem with the current approach for transmedia experiences: almost without exception, they use the same model, whether they are produced by media companies, consumer brand companies or what Brian calls “issue” organizations (social cause, non-profit, etc.).
In the current transmedia business model:
- Funds come from someone else
- The expected return is impressions / ratings / awareness (not money)
- Sustainability for the experiences come from charging a fee (consulting, production, etc.)
- The funders will tell you how big the audience is (and who they are)
- Promotion comes from what are referred to as owned, earned, and paid media
Sunday, September 25, 2011
LOS ANGELES — DreamWorks Animation, the company behind successful movie franchises like “Madagascar” and “Shrek,” said it had completed a deal to pump its films and television specials through Netflix, replacing a less lucrative pact with HBO.
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The Netflix accord, which analysts estimate is worth $30 million per picture to DreamWorks over an unspecified period of years, is billed by the companies as the first time a major Hollywood supplier has chosen Web streaming over pay television.
It is also a bet by Jeffrey Katzenberg, the animation studio’s chief executive, that consumers in the near future will not distinguish between the two. “We are really starting to see a long-term road map of where the industry is headed,” Mr. Katzenberg said in an interview. “This is a game-changing deal.”
Storytelling and Content Potential
I’m fortunate here, in that other people have already covered many of the possibilities suggested by the new Facebook features, particularly the timeline. Ian Schafer’s piece on the Harvard Business Review site discusses them from an advertising and marketing perspective:
To make the most of Facebook’s changes, brands must:
- Understand what the value of each kind of consumer engagement is to their business.
- Be comfortable with the fact that they are generally not actually “managing communities” on Facebook, but rather, programming content and engagement channels.
- Create experiences that enhance other experiences.
- Find each and every way to ensure that as many of the right people have those experiences as possible, so they can efficiently affect their short- and long-term business goals.
One of the most enjoyable games I’ve been a part of in recent times has been an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) being run by an innovative teacher from Australia. We usually think of ARGs as large scale, requiring lots of resources and being part of a marketing campaign for a new movie – or as some funky, alternative techy game that the cool kids play. But it doesn’t have to be.
Jess McCulloch teaches Mandarin in Australian schools and she sent me a tweet asking if my boys (aged 7 and 9 years) might be interested in a game that teaches them about how languages are structured. Of course I said yes. All she needed to begin was our home address and the boys’ names.
The next thing that happened… we received a letter in the mail addressed to my kids. They didn’t recognize the handwriting and they curiously opened it. What they found was an A4 sheet of paper with a Chinese Character on it, and a URL. They were puzzled. My eldest suggested we type the URL into the computer and when we did we were opened up to a world of secret agents, lessons on language and mission after mission that would help them solve the mystery of the character on their piece of paper.
Jess has created an an ARG targeting younger school children called “The Blackline Mystery.” Through email and live Skype sessions with her “virtual agents” she sets missions that they must complete online. She uses video and letters in the mail to give the game a stronger sense of reality and in doing so has my children hooked. They have set up their own agent email and are spending time working their way through missions to gain the next clues about the mysterious character they received in the post. This beats homework hands down – and I’m happy for them to work on this rather than homework because they are engaged and willing participants in a game, developing their digital media literacy skills, their problem solving skills and improving their literacy, their numeracy and understanding things about how languages develop. What Jess demonstrates is that an ARG doesn’t need a huge budget. With a good plot, some free web-based tools and the willingness to invest some time, teachers and parents can create playful and immersive environments for their children to learn in.
I’ve wanted to be part of an ARG since I went to an event on transmedia in Melbourne and heard Steve Peters, a Senior Designer at Fourth Wall Studios talking about an ARG he played that involved going out to a local park and looking for something which was buried. It was the afternoon and raining and he invited his teenage daughter to go with him to look for something in the park. They drove there, wandered around getting wet in the rain and eventually – after a few tries – dug up a canister. In the car, drying themselves off, Steve’s daughter opened the canister to find a digital camera with photos on it (the next clue in the ARG). She said to her Dad, “I feel like I’m in a movie.”
I want that feeling. I want my kids to have, even for a moment, the feeling that they are in the story and part of a narrative that they don’t fully understand but feel amazed by.
For those who haven’t heard, an ARG is a game that isn’t real, but engages with the real world in a way that draws players in because it feels real. ARGs have been run by large production studios around films like The Dark Knight and by emerging organizations of loveliness like Coney whose ARG (which they call an adventure-in-learning) “A Cat Escapes” is a fantastic example of what can be done in a school environment. But, there is no reason why with a bit of planning you could not create your own ARG for your kids based around a book or a poem or even a landmark by your home. And, with the technology we have at our fingertips it can be so much fun.
If you wanted to run your own ARG for your kids you could. What could you do? Well, you just need a good storyline. You could use books, films or your child’s favorite toy for inspiration. Then…
- Create a map and leave it in a place where you child can find it or mail it to them… the map could lead to a park nearby where you have buried a digital camera in a plastic tube. When they dig it up it has photos that lead them on a much larger mystery…
- You could have a friend that lives overseas create videos of their home country and use them to create a geography-based game about that country.
- You could leave notes under your child’s pillow each morning that are written from their favorite soft toy and ask them to complete specific tasks, for which they get rewards (that also appear under the pillow)
- Basically, use your imagination – there are no limits
I have found my children’s engagement in an ARG to be so much fun. We all love secrets and we love to play. This is such a great way to engage with children in playful ways that can help them to learn so many things.
I’d love to hear other people’s experience of ARGs with kids. Let us know how you get on.
Ahhh. Social Media Filling News Gap: Mexico Turns to Twitter and Facebook for Information and Survival - NYTimes.com
MEXICO CITY — Before the police or news reporters had even arrived at the underpass outside Veracruz where gunmen held up traffic and dumped 35 bodies at rush hour last week, Twitter was already buzzing with fear and valuable information.
Veracruz en Red/European Pressphoto Agency
“Avoid Plaza Las Américas,” several people wrote, giving the location.
“There are gunmen,” wrote others, adding, “they’re not soldiers or marines, their faces are masked.”
These witness accounts have become common in Mexico over the past year, especially in violent cities where the news media have been compromised by corruption or killings. But the flurry of Twitter messages about the bodies arrived at a telling moment — on the same day that Veracruz’s State Assembly made it a crime to use Twitter and other social networks to undermine public order.
The TaskRabbit iPhone/iPad app allows you to get tons of stuff done by paying a small fee. Task Makers are people who bid on performing these services for people who are willing to pay for them. It’s all done online. TaskRabbit charges a 15% fee to the Task Maker, so it’s important to keep this in mind when deciding how much money you’re willing to do the job for (if you apply to be a Task Maker). You can also link TaskRabbit to your Facebook account in case you want to let all your friends know that you used the service. I hope someday something like this comes to Atlanta (but I would never link it to my Facebook #justsayin). Here is the iTunes link.
Very Cool Initiative launched by Michelle Kasprzak · Announcing the Curating.info Fellowship with Integrated Crowdfunding
Announcing the Curating.info Fellowship
I have been running Curating.info as a free resource for curators of contemporary art since 2006. It was borne out of a “why not” attitude towards sharing and openness, since I was compiling research on curating anyway. I also thought it would help me make my research more rigorous, as writing on this blog during my Master’s thesis did. A few years later and Curating.info is getting fan mail and picking up a lot of attention. Today I’m able to easily recruit four fantastic interns to share the burden and we have nearly 5000 fans on Facebook. The question was what to do next with this great platform. With thousands of people paying attention, what can you do and what should you do?
I had a vague idea that I’d like to create a Curating.info Scholarship, part funded by donations from the Curating.info community (that I had, thus far, never directly asked for any money) and could think of several good curatorial Master’s programmes that would benefit from a scholarship in place. I went to the IKT Congress in Luxembourg this year, and in the cavernous and highly atmospheric basement of the Casino Luxembourg, ended up chatting with Sally Tallant, Head of Programmes at London’s Serpentine Gallery. Sally, who as it turned out knew and loved the site, listened as I tipsily described the nascent plan for the Curating.info Scholarship. “But why not do even more?” was her response. “Make it an experience in a gallery you love and trust, something where people can get real experience. There are already loads of scholarships out there.” Immediately I saw how right she was, and changed course accordingly. My first thought was to partner with the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow, in part because it’s a great institution and a fellowship would fit with its ethos, and in part because it’s Director, Francis McKee, is that rare combination of visionary and highly trustworthy person. Francis was onboard, and so it was born: the Curating.info Fellowship in collaboration with the CCA in Glasgow.
The Fellowship is a chance for individual to conduct curatorial research and produce an exhibition at the CCA. The Fellow will work at the CCA four days per week over the six month fellowship, developing a curatorial project or body of curatorial research. Fellows will be paid a flat fee of £8,000. Ideal candidates for the Fellowship are emerging or mid-career curators who can demonstrate passion and fresh thinking in curating and writing about contemporary art, and who have a vision for what the role of the curator means today.
The deadline for applications is October 21, 2011. Applications will be judged by Francis McKee, Sally Tallant, and myself.
We’re really excited about it. I hope you will spread the word, contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, and apply to be our first Fellow.
CBC News correspondent Nahlah Ayed and Radio-Canada's Ahmed Kouaou and Danny Braün spent two weeks documenting life in Shatila, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut whose 12,000 inhabitants are among the oldest group of refugees in the world. The web documentary above will introduce you to some of the remarkable people they met there.
Palestinian refugee camps exist throughout the Middle East, but Shatila is one of the poorest and most densely populated. More than 60 years after it was established, its residents remain in limbo, with no state of their own and few rights within Lebanon, raising generation after generation in a place never intended to be permanent.
The website's interactive, street-level interface allows you to follow some of their personal stories from inside the one-square-kilometre camp and experience firsthand Shatila’s maze of cramped, dark tenements, narrow alleyways and shabby infrastructure. The documentary is best viewed in full-screen mode.
CBC News correspondent Nahlah Ayed and Radio-Canada's Ahmed Kouaou and Danny Braün spent two weeks documenting life in Shatila, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut whose 12,000 inhabitants are among the oldest group of refugees in the world.
More than 60 years after the camp was set up to house Palestinians fleeing the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Shatila's residents remain in limbo, with no state of their own and few rights in the country in which they live.
The web documentary above will introduce you to some of the remarkable people who live in Shatila and the immense obstacles they face as they try to raise families, have careers and live out their dreams within the dismal confines of a place never intended to be permanent. Through the website's immersive, interactive interface, you'll get a street-level view of the one-square-kilometre camp and experience what it's like to live inside its maze of cramped, dark tenements, narrow alleyways and shabby infrastructure. Click above to begin your journey. The documentary is best viewed in full-screen mode.
Excerpt from original article on mapmagazine.co.uk :
Image: Lisa Oppenheim, ‘Refusal, III’, 2011, unique colour photogram.
Courtesy Harris Lieberman, New York
"A Harry Callahan photograph from the late 1940s or early 50s depicts broadsides peeling off the exterior a city building. It’s either a photograph or series of closely cropped photographs. In fact, there is no real way to tell at first they are indeed billboards, although they seem to be mostly movie and concert posters. Only the odd letter or maimed likeness of a long ago starlet peeks through the decay. In short, this photograph (or photographs) look like abstract paintings. His title is something like, ‘For Paul Klee’.
In The Photographic Conditions of Surrealism, Rosalind Krauss explains, via Breton’s writing on ‘convulsive beauty’, photography has a special relationship to mimicry. Mimicry: a thing in nature, in the world, that imitates another; a moth’s wing carrying the markings of an eye; camouflage of all sorts.
Photography is constituted in part by this mimicry, an imitation and imprint of a thing in the world, of peeling posters. What is represented, however, is marked by distance. A photograph of peeling posters is not the thing; it’s a representation of the thing, always viewed in a space and time different from that of its making or taking. It’s a picture of the outside of a building in a town of which you’ve never heard, but which you see on your computer, in a magazine, or billboard. In this way, photographs are abstracted and decontextualised from any semblance of a natural environment, much like Krauss’ description of a moth pinned to the back of a frame. Images are read in this decontextualised frame through the various other economies in which they circulate, for example, journalism and art. It is this such framing, and Callahan’s clever titling, that a documentary photograph of disintegrating broad- sides can engage in direct dialogue with abstract painting.
For Paul Klee...
There is a secondary level of abstraction not specific to photography but to this historical moment. This is an abstraction of information from its source through a haphazard and accidental process that I am just going to call ‘research’. It’s an abstraction of process. Most research is done in front of a computer screen. Sometimes, when looking for something, I will go to a specific website for specific information, like the New York Times, or Petfinder.com, but often the search is meandering. Looking for a Harry Callahan picture I’ve not seen in years, but assuming it must exist somewhere in my Google search, I find another image and email it to a photographer friend who made something that looks similar. This sets off long back and forth chat about mimicry in research. Sources lead to other sources while emails, eating, and life, get in the way. And yet all of this is part of the thought process. Whatever final form the outcome of this research takes, the information required to make or write the thing (this thing that you read now, even) is dislocated and abstracted from any original context; this is the rhizomatic nature of looking around for stuff online...."
A 360-Degree View of the Taj Mahal
Take in four panoramic scenes of the majestic Indian landmark
Related Article: How to Save the Taj Mahal?
Panorama provided by: Roger Berry, VR Trips Around India with indiatours.com
By Gideon Spanier, 12 Sept. 2011
"Adults are changing their behaviour but kids are born into this," says Tricia Wilber, the Walt Disney Company's chief marketing officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as she explains how so many young consumers are not just embracing the internet, smartphones and video on demand. They have never known anything different.
"Transmedia" is the buzzword that Disney likes to use.
This takes in everything from physical to digital and all points in between - from cinema and cable TV to new fast-growing areas such as online streaming and social media and traditional live experiences such as theme parks and theatre shows.
"Consumers now have access to that brand in any way they want. That creates opportunities for us," says Wilber.
Yet this also makes it more complex for Disney, which owns top children's brands such as Mickey Mouse, Toy Story and Pirates of the Caribbean as well as TV networks ABC and ESPN.
In the transmedia age, no single communications channel is dominant. So Wilber says Disney tries to avoid being wedded to any particular platform. "Our content and story-telling and emotional connections are what make Disney Disney," she says.
Every platform can potentially play a leading role, depending on the particular brand and target audience.
For example, Disney used both traditional media and Facebook to promote the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie to teenagers. In contrast, Disney Channel on cable TV was crucial for Cars2 to reach younger fans. Clearly digital and social media offer great opportunities to increase engagement - both in terms of depth and over a longer timescale. Disney UK's official Facebook page for Toy Story 3 won half a million followers. But in a sign of the times, a fan from Luton created his own unofficial page, called "Move out of the way, children, I've been waiting 11 years to see Toy Story 3", that got 1.7 million in the space of a week.
Disney had to think fast and decided to collaborate, giving this fan special content and access - an interesting example of how even the world's biggest media company needs to be nimble and willing to cede a degree of control...."