Interactive Media

Timeline of trends and events

Such a nifty visualisation of history.

But what a shame it isn’t printable.

Interactive Media Web 2.0

Web-based file compression and decompression tool

New web 2.0-ish site called Krunch.

As of now, enables you to
» Upload and compress files
» Pick and compress files from the web
» Upload and un-compress a compressed archive
» Un-compress a compressed file from the web

What is particularly neat is the ability to supply a URL of a compressed file and use Krunch to open and download selected contents from it . . . .

Imaging Interactive Media

HTML visualisation application

This lovely little HMTL visualisation applet is doing the rounds at the moment. It is built in Processing and the source code is already being hacked by others to build variants.

Everyday, we look at dozens of websites. The structure of these websites is defined in HTML, the lingua franca for publishing information on the web. Your browser’s job is to render the HTML according to the specs (most of the time, at least). You can look at the code behind any website by selecting the “View source” tab somewhere in your browser’s menu.

HTML consists of so-called tags, like the A tag for links, IMG tag for images and so on. Since tags are nested in other tags, they are arranged in a hierarchical manner, and that hierarchy can be represented as a graph. I’ve written a little app that visualizes such a graph, and here are some screenshots of websites that I often look at.

(from Aharef. Source code available there as well.)

Social networking Web 2.0 Young people & museums

MySpace downturn? Monetising issues

Everyone is talking about Scott Karp’s article questioning whether MySpace is experiencing a downturn. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence both from Karp and others, but I think the strongest argument for the MySpace hype eventually running out of steam is that teens are always a very fickle market, and they are getting increasingly fickle.

As I (amongst many many others) keep pointing out in presentations, the real pull of MySpace is/was its stickiness as a communication platform/site. Once you set up a MySpace page then you had to keep going back to it to check if your ‘friends’ had ‘added’ you or you’d gotten mail etc. While this was genius while MySpace was/is ‘hot’ it will quickly become a big turnoff when/if it falls from favour.

The problems with ‘monetising’ MySpace through advertising versus, lets say advertising on Google, is that when people visit a MySpace page their motiviation is purely conversational – versus a Google search which is likely informational/information-seeking. The informational motivation can more easily be monetised through well placed advertising – advertising which offers to make easier your search for information (or cut through the plethora of choices with a simpler option).

Monetising the purely conversational is difficult.

I’d be fascinated to know how successful the advertisements that pop up in those ‘free telephone services’ that were written about a few years ago actually were . . . these were advertisements that interrupted your telephone calls (effectively the advertiser paid for your free calls by forcing you to listen to their advertisement).

Of course, these advertisements that intruded on your phone conversations were not able to be customised/personalised to the conversation topic in the same way that is now possible with conversations over the internet.

Google have been doing this very thing with their advertising that appears in your Gmail account – supposedly tailored to the conversation topics (content) in your email.

But does anyone actually click (or see) those advertisements?

Maybe the value of MySpace for its owners is purely as market research. But even that relies on its continuing dominance.

Interactive Media Web 2.0

Ross Mayfield on Enterprise 2.0 & decentralising knowledge control

Interesting post by Ross Mayfield which begs the question of where museums fit in the spectrum of controlled/centralised-to-open/decentralised in terms of IT and knowledge control. And in terms of cross-enterprise, cross-departmental teams, museums are ideal environments (much more so than traditional companies), at least on the surface of things, to encourage a decentralised and more open approach.

Are any museums using wikis for their intranets?

The second front, that Enterprise 2.0 is Egalitarian, or indifferent to formal organizational identities, not only flys in the face of enterprise culture and convention, but previously encoded political bargains. For example, a primary property of social software is easy group forming — but most enterprise systems expressly prevent it. To form a group, you not only need permission from IT, but complex configuration and in many cases even software development. Beyond applications, ever come across an LDAP implementation that supports easy group forming? This runs counter to the way many enterprises actually work today, where ad hoc cross-functional teams drive more than professional services organizations.

A second example is fine grained security. Content management, document management, portals and poorly designed wikis highlight per object/page permissioning. Certain expert users have the ability to control access and rights for a specific document. This harms productivity — when a user needs to access a document to perform a task and has to incur the overhead that can unlock it, plus the overhead of locking (structure upfront) and unlocking itself. This harms knowledge sharing — documents go undiscovered and are decidedly static, despite how the knowledge in the document is never finished. This harms competitive advantage — any system that exhibits inertia compromises a firm’s ability to adapt to it’s dynamic environment.

While .pdf is where knowledge goes to die, there are some documents that benefit from being static. But they are a fraction of the documents in a given enterprise. And with the discovery afforded by hypertext and tagging, documents have the potential to exist in a social context. Even a locked down document, if viewable, can be annotated through linked messages.

Imagine how useful Wikipedia would be if a handful of admins could lock down links to articles indefinately and without oversight, their ability to be discovered through Google, let alone edit them. Then imagine the same thing behind the firewall, where there is less risk (you can presume a greate innocence of users and know their identity). Utility is decidedly compromised.

This is why enterprise systems have low adoption rates, little user generated content, high quality metadata and email is used for everything. Every sacrifice made for sake of control reduces network effects, assumes a static environment you can design against and is designed by supposed experts outside the context of use. Contrary to the most disruptive pattern of social software — sharing control creates value.

Digital storytelling Interactive Media Web 2.0

Gamer Theory / MacKenzie Wark

MacKenzie Wark’s new ‘interactive’ book called Gam3r 7h30ry (yes, l33t speak), is now online at Future Of The Book. Written as a range of short chapters it invites participation, comment and play.

Interactive Media

Infinite zooming photo browsing

Incredible new photo browser that is reminscent of those rather overdone ‘face made up of faces’ pictures you get around the student poster joints. (I’m sure there IS a more technical/art name for them actually).

Either way, this project is pretty amazing.


New copyright regime in Australia

At last the outcomes of the Attorney general’s Copyright Review have been released.

Kim Weatherall at Lawfont summarises, comments and contextualises the major changes.

There are some very significant moves on the museum front and her commentary is essential reading.

Digital storytelling

Powerhouse Museum’s Hedda Morrison photographic collection website online

Today we launched a new project, the Hedda Morrison photographic collection.

In 1992 the Powerhouse Museum was donated a large collection of photographs taken by Hedda Hammer Morrison (1908-1991). These photographs, numbering some 350, were printed by Hedda Morrison and featured in exhibitions held in Canberra and Sydney in 1967, 1970 and 1990. The collection was donated by her husband Alastair Morrison soon after Hedda’s death and formed the basis of two exhibitions organised by the museum: In Her View: the Photographs of Hedda Morrison in China and Sarawak 1933-67 (1993, Sydney and Canberra) and Old Peking: Photographs by Hedda Morrison 1933-46 (2002, Sydney and Beijing).

Over the past fourteen years the Powerhouse has developed an important collection of Hedda Morrison photographs and memorabilia – once again largely through the generosity of Alastair Morrison, who was made a Life Fellow of the museum in 2002 – including rare photographs taken in Germany, a camera, personal papers and photographs, as well as objcts collected by Hedda and Alastair during their years of residence in Asia. Significant collections, assembled by Alastair more recently, including Hindu and Buddhist bronzes, Japanese netsuke and a large library of books relating to Peking, the photography of China, and Chinese culture, as well as Hindu and Buddhist iconography, have also come to the museum.

In 2005 work began on a website that would allow members of the public permanent access to the Hedda and Alastair Morrison collection. Rachel McMullan, an intern enrolled in Museum Studies at the University of Sydney, entered images and exhibition research information into the museum object database EMU. The website is a work in progress and information continues to be added and updated as time and resource allows. It is our goal to make the entire Hedda and Alastair Morrison collection accessible online.

Interactive Media

Using games to teach technical writing

From Terra Nova.

Amanda Linder, a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, now uses Anarchy Online to teach Technical Writing. While past teachers had students read a sci-fi novel as the context for all the writing assignments (reports, instructions, memos, and the like), Amanda has students play – and write from the context of – Anarchy Online. All technical writing assignments and class discussions are now based on in-game content, typically written from the perspective of employees of Omni-Tek, the mega-corporate power in the game.

And from the course outline

This course emphasizes the interpretative and problem-solving processes associated with producing effective technical documents as a part of a community of practice. Students will study the practices, genres, audiences, and situations related to professional settings, the contexts in which writing occurs, the processes involved in individual and collaborative projects, and the production of technical documents.

To simulate the interpretative and problem-solving process involved in workplace contexts, we will adopt a communities of practice model. In its broadest sense, community of practice refers to a group of people who share particular practices in a particular context. Within these communities, members mutually negotiate their ways of working, the expectations for belonging, and the rules for negotiating meaning. Although all communities of practice share some similarities in relation to technical documents (e.g., most communities use memos to communicate within an organization), each community is characterized by the practices around which it evolves. The genres each community creates are an outcome of those practices. Member interaction determines to a large extent what constitutes competent performance within each community of practice. In other words, members negotiate with each other in defining what things mean within that community.

No matter which community of practice you enter after graduate, the criteria used to evaluate competent performance are shared with new member through the stories told about the practices in that community. To demonstrate competency within that community, you will need to be able to identify, analyze, interpret, and demonstrate your understanding of how to belong to that community.

Given this premise, the aim of this course is to help students develop the ability to identify communities of practice, recognize expectations for belonging, and the rules for negotiating meaning. For this class, we will establish a community of practice in the classroom through the massively-multiplayer online role-play game (MMORPG), Anarchy Online. All assignments will be connected to this game world.