Interactive Media Social networking Web 2.0

Sharing & economic production

Interesting essay by Yochai Benkler from Yale Law Journal titled “Sharing Nicely: On shareable good and the emergence of sharing as a modality of economic production”. Benkler looks at carpooling, distributed computing (SETI@home, Folding@Home etc), open source etc and draws some interesting conclusions about the ways in which and motivations for sharing – and how technological changes have affected this. He ends looking at potential policy directions that might emerge from an understanding of sharing.

Social sharing and exchange is becoming a common modality of producing valuable desiderata at the very core of the most advanced economies—in information, culture, education, computation, and communications sectors. Free software, distributed computing, ad hoc mesh wireless networks, and other forms of peer production offer clear examples of such large-scale, measurably effective sharing practices. I suggest that the highly distributed capital structure of contemporary communications and computation systems is largely responsible for the increased salience of social sharing as a modality of economic production in those environments. By lowering the capital costs required for effective individual action, these technologies have allowed various provisioning problems to be structured in forms amenable to decentralized production based on social relations, rather than through markets or hierarchies.

Interactive Media Young people & museums

australian children’s television workshop – kahootz

The australian children’s television workshop, already pretty famous with kids as the creators of round the twist, yolngu boy, lil elvis jones plus much more, are also producers of a clever and versatile piece of 3-D software for students and kids called kahootz.

The philosophy behind Kahootz is to promote creativity, problem solving, and sharing of projects and so actw have deliberately limited the assets (worlds, objects, etc) available within the program. The project files are typically only a few kb which ensures that bandwidth issues dont prevent file exchange via the kahootz online community. (Reminding me of the days before mp3 when MIDI was the way of sharing music online: the midi file contained just the instructions: which sounds/notes to play, how and when to play them. The actual sounds only exist on the users sound card).
You can however import jpegs, so designing and populating a virtual gallery is a justaddwater museum student activity.
This software and its community site represents a substantial and very elegant set of experiential learning opportunities with a focus on design process, collaborative problem solving, and sharing the interactive outcomes.

Some terrific work is being produced and there are genuine exchanges and collaborations taking place, within Australia, and globally. It’s a cool and easy game building engine too, however as yet you can’t export an executable file.

Users can import jpegs, so it’s a great environment for kids to design and populate their own virtual gallery. Some interesting work has also been done blending kahootz and other apps eg vegas/imovie and using chromakey to combine real actors with virtual characters and environments.

Kahootz is a powerful set of 3D multimedia tools that allows students and teachers to be creators, designers, inventors and storytellers. Kahootz is also an active, online community. Kahootz students and teachers can publish their work and exchange, share, collaborate, de-construct and explore with other schools in the Kahootz community.
Students can share Kahootz narratives, inventions, designs and projects with classrooms around the world.
Students of all ages can create fantastic three-dimensional environments that allow them to use animation extensively, add sounds to events and objects, link from one scene to another and navigate through their created world. They can also export their Kahootz creations as AVI or QuickTime movies.
Kahootz facilitates non-text based learning, develops visual literacy skills and allows students to create and construct their own text. It can be used in the maths and science classroom to develop measurement, spatial awareness, estimation and thinking skills. Kahootz helps students demonstrate their understanding of a range of artistic concepts, can be used to enhance cognitive skills across the curriculum and promotes higher level thinking through construction and design.

Interactive Media Young people & museums

Wonder Wall software

Michigan State University have started selling licenses form their nifty Wonder Wall software which uses Flash Communication Server, MySQL and PHP to create a lovely familiar and child-friendly interface for an online forum.

This may be something to consider for the childrens’ microsite.

Wonder Walls are a breath of relief from textual discussion boards, chat, and IM. A Wonder Wall is like a bulletin board. Well suited to relatively short important and/or fun messages and images. Wonder Walls are colorful. They are spatial. Messages can be placed alongside or on top of other messages. Wonder Walls are a little goofy – when two cursors collide, we hear thunder. Kids especially love Wonder Walls. Grown up kids do too. The moderator can answer questions asynchronously, or pop in live and broadcast audio to all who are connected.

Wonder Walls are not intended to replace text-based discussion boards. Wonder Walls help build community and encourage participation in a different way. They are oriented towards fewer, more important words worthy of attaching to a bulletin board for the (password protected) group to see. Moderators create and assign many different Wonder Walls during a semester, each dedicated to a particular topic, question, or week.

For slightly more info check out their short paper from Siggraph.

General Web 2.0

Other museum blogs

Here’s a nice summary of other museums running blogs.

We’re not on the list yet.

But we will be.


Museums & The Web – Best Of The Web 06 winners

The winners at Museums & The Web 2006 have been announced.

Congratulations to all, especially to our friends at the Australian Museum who picked up an honourable mention in the Best Research Site category for the Birds In Backyards site.

There are MANY lessons to be learnt from the winning sites and I’d encourage everyone in our teams to check them out thoroughly and post your own evaluative comments about each of the winning sites. These sites are relevant for everyone in our area, not just us web folk.

Kevin Sumption’s paper on the ‘ubiquitous museum’ is online too and is a good overview of where he sees museums (including ours) need to move.

Here’s my reactions to the Best of the Web 2006 winners.

Overall there seems to have been a big shift towards ‘users’. The language on every site and project has shifted towards emphasising interaction and the ‘you’. eg. What do YOU want to do?, Tell us YOUR experiences/memories etc.

And it is not only superficial. Some sites are moving towards real multidirectional communication – not just one/two-way between museum and user but also encouraging ‘between user’ communication.

Whilst there is still some superfluous Flash use it is really pleasing to see sites beginning to move away from Flash for the sake of it and looking at responding to user needs rather than simply providing pretty slideshows and unnecesary visual navigation. The LA Conservancy’s Curating The City site is a good example of where Flash makes it very pretty but also makes it unnecessarily complicated to get to what is basically a tracking of historical changes along the Wiltshire Boulevard. The nav is slow to load and processor intensive. Why? Aesthetics over use. The best part is the ability of users to upload their own stories about places but in my mind this feature is too buried and should be the primary focus of the site instead – see the highly popular community memory projects like Mumur in Canada from Habitat (and spinoffs) for comparison.

On the otherhand there are times when I wanted MORE aesthetics. The Canadian educational site on mining cutely called ‘Life Of A Rock Star’ does have great content but it seems so, well, late 90s in design. Maybe that’s what makes it such a good educational site – it targets low end computers and doesn’t frighten low tech teachers. I’m not sure.

Science Buzz – Designwise this site pretty much nails the audience. It is SO 2.0 it is not funny – the font choice, rounded corners, boxes, colour schemes – FontShop would have a field day. But its not just pretty ‘now’ graphics, they’ve deeply integrated a lot of the ideas of social software and it seems to be working – comments, polls, etc all seems to be being used by actual visitors. This is a good site to keep in the back of our minds when we start building our upcoming ‘childrens’ portal/site.

Search-wise the New York Public Libary’s Digital Gallery is fantastic. They’ve implemented the ‘search history’ that we are using for our own OPAC 2.0 and Design Hub, and the interface is so intuitive. Obviously they have some very rich data to mine which helps.

Like the Australian Museum’s Birds In Backyards site – it too has really rich data to draw on. The site design is neat and clean, fast and again, nails the target audience. The survey form checkbox navigation is cute.

AV Related Interactive Media

Incredible “Realtime-Mind-Music-Video-Re-De-Construction-Machine”

From Germany comes this truly amazing piece of software art called Scrambled Hackz.

What it does, as explained in the video, is match audio input (eg from a microhpone) with video samples taken from music videos in real time and dynamically combine them. This has the effect of creating a realtime live ‘remix’ of the input audio by whatever video is on the music video server.

The possibilities are endless – I can imagine plugging an audio input of one artist’s (X) music into a video collection of other artists’ (Y & Z) music videos . . . . and getting X performed by a mash of Y & Z.

Its probably best to just watch the video and read the site for a proper explanation and demo.

I hope that someone sensible brings Sven out to Australia to perform/demonstrate.

Folksonomies Web 2.0 update from M&W2006

Read the latest about the collective museum folksonomy project, from Museums & The Web 06. Our Electronic Swatchbook projects gets a mention.

Social tagging applications such as flickr and have become extremely popular. Their socially-focussed data collection strategies seem to have potential for museums struggling to make their collections more accessible and to build communities of interest around their holdings. But little is known about the terminology that visitors to museum sites might contribute or how best to obtain both useful terms and on-going social involvement in tagging museum collections. In the project, a number of art museums are collaboratively researching this opportunity. These research questions and an architecture for a prototype research application are presented here. Prototypes created to date are discussed and plans for future development and term-collection prototype deployment are presented. We discuss the potential use of folksonomy within museums and the requirements for post-processing of terms that have been gathered, both to test their utility and to deploy them in useful ways.

AV Related Interactive Media Web 2.0

How to fix big media

Here’s some interesting discussion on audience co-creation, but Haque’s concept of the ‘competence trap’ is perhaps even more interesting in terms of what is going on in the socio-cultural shift that is taking place.

“That is because most companies undergoing massive disruptions in their industries fall into what Haque calls a “competence trap.” They keep trying to do what they do best and insisting that it is still valuable, even though the changing environment calls for a new set of skills. A company suffering from a competence trap is like a fish trying to swim on land by flapping its fins in the air, when what it should be doing is trying to use its fins to drag itself through the mud.”

From How To Fix Time Warner:

The competence trap Time Warner must avoid is the notion that media content is something that is made by professionals, instead of a catalyst for the creation of more content by the amateurs in the audience. Comparing the quality of this consumer-generated content to the content made by the professionals is beside the point. The value of content is increasingly coming from the fact that it allows people to express themselves and create relationships with other like-minded spirits. Rather than resist this emerging consumer behavior, Time Warner should embrace it and encourage it.

Beyond that, Time Warner should give the army of amateur video directors out there access to sophisticated Web-based video editing tools to help raise the bar (and potential audience) of all the amateur video out there. The best stuff could be repackaged as regular DVDs or streamed over the Web with ads, with the amateur directors getting a cut of the revenues. One good thing about the audience creating its own content is that the production costs all but disappear.

Any media executive reading this might be scratching his head right now and wondering how he is supposed to charge for his content if he is going to give it away for free. But that kind of thinking just leads to another competence trap. It is the old product mentality coming through. Remember, this is now a relationship business, and relationships are usually two-way things. What that means is that increasingly, the content itself will have less value than what people can do with it. “In the very near future,” predicts Haque, “the content will only be valuable if it can be bundled in new ways.”

AV Related Interactive Media

Massive Passives

IBM’s Saul Berman on the Massive Passives -> read his article at IBM.

The most clever description of how to describe the varying levels of the adoption of new technology by consumers came from Saul Berman, Partner, Media & Entertainment, IBM Business Consulting :

Massive Passives: The majority of the public is still very slow to accept new technologies into their lives that’s why broadcast television isn’t going away as we know it anytime soon.

Gadegtiers: These are the early adopters, the folks who run out and constantly buy the latest gadgets (myself included). While they only make up 5 to 10% of the public, they are just disruptive enough to put a dent in traditional media models. Generally this group is highly educated, affluent, male, and young . . . the most desirable advertising demographic. As they say, PVRs don’t need to be in 90% of homes, just 10% to have dramatic affect on the broadcast business model. In case you are keeping track, PVRs are at about that 10% threshold right now (of course this will vary from market to market).

Kool Kids: This group is obviously the younger generations who have never known what it is like to live in a “scheduled” media environment. I would estimate that anyone under the age of 25 possesses very strong “on-demand” media habits. As they grow older, these new media habits will grow more pervasive throughout society.

(summary from Beyond TV)

Copyright/OCL Digital storytelling Interactive Media

Lego Bionicle, power, language, meaning and the global ‘commons’

Excellent, fascinating and thought provoking article, Rhetorical Virtues: Property, Speech, and the Commons on the World-Wide Web by Rosemary coombe and Andrew Herman which examines the particularly American libertarian values behind the current debates around co-creation and digital media.

They look in detail at the Lego Bionicle controversy and the interaction between fan communities who Lego was encourgaing to ‘make meaning’ and effectively remix their toys, and Maori and Polynesian communities whose language and signifiers were ‘appropriated’ not only by Lego but also by these fan communities in their ‘remixes’.

Kataraina’s intervention also sought to disclose the collective social conventions by which the BZ Power virtual community (a “mini-culture” in her words) established rules of communication and interaction that governed their speech. Ownership of property and the sharing of culture is not only socially produced and recognized, it is also contingent upon the specific rules of sociality, reciprocity, and respect that are characteristic of a particular culture’s social space or, to use Kataraina’s term, the norms and values that are embedded in a particular community’s “turf” upon which visitors are greeted and embraced. These cannot be established solely by corporate authors, consumers, or individual creators but will require new forms of collectivity and the negotiation of new forms of digital sociality.

Maori activists ultimately encouraged the users of BZ Power to consider their Lego toys not simply as things to be manipulated, commodities to be consumed, and fantasy objects around which to build imaginary worlds, but as a portal to learning about Maori and other Polynesian cultures, the real faces behind the mask of the commodity fetish Lego had provided them. They linked BZ Power to a number of sites devoted to the preservation and celebration of Maori spirituality. The real point of the dialogue was to introduce an ethics of contingency (Coombe 1998) into cultural circulation. From the Maori point of view, non-Native peoples should recognize the contingency and peculiarity of their own concepts of property and propriety.