Interactive Media Mobile

Hacking iPods for museum use

The Walker Art Center has a fantastic post on hacking the firmware and interface of the iPod to make them more usable in a museum setting.

Lending iPods out to patrons is much more involved than just the simple question of how you clean them, or avoiding theft (those items of business are handled by our Visitors Services department). In the New Media world, we care more about answering the question, “how do we make them easy to use?”

Ease of use really comes in two forms. One for the user of the device, and the other for those of us having to update the content on the device itself. When there are budgetary constraints, you’re always looking for the best bang for the buck, while not overly hindering the experience because of it. So what do we do?

Interactive Media Social networking Web 2.0 Young people & museums

More on ‘hanging out’ on MySpace

Youth and social network researcher Danah Boyd continues her examination of MySpace in a new talk presented to American Association for the Advancement of Science earlier this year.

The sizeable quote gives an excellent thesis on what MySpace really represents and defines the three types of space that teens use MySpace to recreate.

So what exactly are teens _doing_ on MySpace? Simple: they’re hanging out. Of course, ask any teen what they’re _doing_ with their friends in general; they’ll most likely shrug their shoulders and respond nonchalantly with “just hanging out.” Although adults often perceive hanging out to be wasted time, it is how youth get socialized into peer groups. Hanging out amongst friends allows teens to build relationships and stay connected. Much of what is shared between youth is culture – fashion, music, media. The rest is simply presence. This is important in the development of a social worldview.

For many teens, hanging out has moved online. Teens chat on IM for hours, mostly keeping each other company and sharing entertaining cultural tidbits from the web and thoughts of the day. The same is true on MySpace, only in a much more public way. MySpace is both the location of hanging out and the cultural glue itself. MySpace and IM have become critical tools for teens to maintain “full-time always-on intimate communities” [4] where they keep their friends close even when they’re physically separated. Such ongoing intimacy and shared cultural context allows youth to solidify their social groups.

Digital Publics:

Adults often worry about the amount of time that youth spend online, arguing that the digital does not replace the physical. Most teens would agree. It is not the technology that encourages youth to spend time online – it’s the lack of mobility and access to youth space where they can hang out uninterrupted.

In this context, there are three important classes of space: public, private and controlled. For adults, the home is the private sphere where they relax amidst family and close friends. The public sphere is the world amongst strangers and people of all statuses where one must put forward one’s best face. For most adults, work is a controlled space where bosses dictate the norms and acceptable behavior.

Teenager’s space segmentation is slightly different. Most of their space is controlled space. Adults with authority control the home, the school, and most activity spaces. Teens are told where to be, what to do and how to do it. Because teens feel a lack of control at home, many don’t see it as their private space.

To them, private space is youth space and it is primarily found in the interstices of controlled space. These are the places where youth gather to hang out amongst friends and make public or controlled spaces their own. Bedrooms with closed doors, for example.

Adult public spaces are typically controlled spaces for teens. Their public space is where peers gather en masse; this is where presentation of self really matters. It may be viewable to adults, but it is really peers that matter.

Teens have increasingly less access to public space. Classic 1950s hang out locations like the roller rink and burger joint are disappearing while malls and 7/11s are banning teens unaccompanied by parents. Hanging out around the neighborhood or in the woods has been deemed unsafe for fear of predators, drug dealers and abductors. Teens who go home after school while their parents are still working are expected to stay home and teens are mostly allowed to only gather at friends’ homes when their parents are present.

Additionally, structured activities in controlled spaces are on the rise. After school activities, sports, and jobs are typical across all socio-economic classes and many teens are in controlled spaces from dawn till dusk. They are running ragged without any time to simply chill amongst friends.

By going virtual, digital technologies allow youth to (re)create private and public youth space while physically in controlled spaces. IM serves as a private space while MySpace provide a public component. Online, youth can build the environments that support youth socialization.


ScreenSpeak presentation – Mike Jones

Here are the presentation slides from the ScreenSpeak Seminar at the Powerhouse Museum on the 6th May 2006.

They are licensed under Creative Commons.

Audio recordings of the talk : Part 1 | Part 2

Wikis, Blogs and the New World Order:

The produser, the digital native and the new tools of ‘text’.

 by Mike Jones

The internet is more than just an electronic library…! The form and function of the The Net expounds a very new sensibility of not only how to source and read a text, but also fundamentally changes our perspective on the creation of texts. This presentation will focus on two emerging textual/creative forms unique to the internet – Blogs and Wikis – and explore how these forms are created and function as proactive and collaborative constructs. The practicalities of using and creating Blogs and Wikis and their potential role in the classroom also allows for the consideration of new ideas about learning engagement, and the nature of the connections young people, as Digital Natives, form with digital texts.

General Web 2.0

‘Zones of silence’ vs ‘digital divide’

Thought provoking piece on First Monday about the problems with the term ‘digital divide’. As the author suggests, the term ‘zones’ of silence’ may be a better term as it focusses on the how/what and why of communication rather than simply assuming everyone needs/wants to talk like those on the ‘fortunate’ side of the ‘divide’.

There is no doubt that much digital divide work — including connectivity initiatives, technology transfer programs, and other projects — is done with good intention. Yet, as has been widely recognized, the conceptual framework of the digital divide is limiting. The language of the digital divide not only places people into simplistic “have”/“have not” categories, making assumptions about the solution to “information poverty” with little attention to local contexts, its logic also continues a paradigm of development that engages with the global south only at the point of what it “lacks”. I propose a framework, which provides a wider, and more nuanced, lens to look through. It focuses work in ways and in areas consistently overlooked by the digital divide, particularly on the realities, voices, and complexities within its unconnected, “have not” spaces — the zones of silence. Encouraging critical questioning of assumptions and an understanding of local contexts and points of view, a zones of silence framework is a way to broaden the dialogue on global communication and information access beyond a discourse of need, to one of mutual questioning, sharing, and learning.

Social networking Web 2.0 Young people & museums

Social networking websites for education users

Interesting paper at First Monday reporting on the results into a study of K-12 needs and users on the Internet.

The advantages of SNWs are five–fold. First, they are more likely to save time and energy than supply–oriented sites. Instead of spending a couple hours doing trial and error excavations, the user may take 10–20 minutes doing a few custom matching searches, type a few e–mail messages, and then logoff. Secondly, SNWs lead to more precise results than using a search engine or some supply–oriented site. Individuals have a capacity to reason and share experiences. Reasoning and sharing are inherent to the SNW model. Reasoning and shared experience allow for customization and tackling situational questions. Third, the social networking Web site fosters an environment that encourages informal learning. While expanding knowledge bases, social networking sites facilitate contacts to help bridge understanding and enhance judgment. Research has shown that casual acquaintances, sustained by “weak ties”, are more likely than strong relationships to offer pathways to new and varied information [10]. Fourth, rather than posing as direct competition, social networking will complement supply–oriented sites. The simplest use of a social networking site is to find reference information. As relations develop, users may be pointed to primary sources, whether they are other individuals, K–12 supply–oriented sites, or off–line K–12 organizations. Finally, to some degree, relationships should prosper. This would be beneficial at the individual level in terms of resources, peer support, elaboration, corroboration, collaboration, mobilization, or organization. Communities should also benefit as SNWs foster social exchanges and carry potential for K–12 civic–building.

Web 2.0

Wikipedia usage part 3 / long tail of production / further thoughts

Nicholas Carr’s post last week about participation rates in Wikipedia has set some ripples in motion across the Web 2.0 blogosphere.

Ross Mayfield weighs in with an excellent post on the ‘power law of participation’ which basically confirms what some of us have thought for a while, whilst still retaining a sense of a paradigm shift. Mayfield’s power law graph is an excellent condensing of ideas.

(from Ross Mayfield)

Umair Haque, who is really one of the most challenging thinkers on 2.0 theory in the blogosphere at the moment, rightly sees that low participation figures are a bit of a red herring. My own concerns that the vast majority just want to ‘read’ rather than ‘create’ ignored the automatic creation that happens when you read something on the net – log file data is collected and at its most rudimentary can be used to personalise future reading for you.

But I do think that at the museum we are in a quite unique position – even in comparison to other museums.

My copy of Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth Of Networks arrived from Amazon last week as well and I’ve started ploughing through it. Benkler makes a lot of important points and has gone as far as releasing his own book as a free PDF download, and set up a collaborative wiki for the communal fleshing out of ideas. I opted for the hard copy mainly so I could read it on the train.

Benkler writes in the introduction, discussing democracy and a critical culture,

The networked information economy also allows for the emergence of a more critical and self-reflective culture. In the past decade, a number of legal scholars — Niva Elkin Koren, Terry Fisher, Larry Lessig, and Jack Balkin — have begun to examine how the Internet democratizes culture. Following this work and rooted in the deliberative strand of democratic theory, I suggest that the networked information environment offers us a more attractive cultural production system in two distinct ways: (1) it makes culture more transparent, and (2) it makes culture more malleable. Together, these mean that we are seeing the emergence of a new folk culture — a practice that has been largely suppressed in the industrial era of cultural production — where many more of us participate actively in making cultural moves and finding meaning in the world around us. These practices make their practitioners better “readers” of their own culture and more self-reflective and critical of the culture they occupy, thereby enabling them to become more self-reflective participants inconversations within that culture. This also allows individuals much greater freedom to participate in tugging and pulling at the cultural creations of others, “glomming on” to them, as Balkin puts it, and making the culture they occupy more their own than was possible with mass-media culture. In these senses, we can say that culture is becoming more democratic: self-reflective and participatory. (Benkler, Y, 2006, The Wealth Of Networks, Yale, New Haven, p16.)

Folksonomies Social networking Web 2.0

Collective knowledge, South Korea, Google

Very interesting piece from the Baltimore Examiner.

Google is not the dominant search tool in South Korea. Apparently a local company called Naver which uses a collective knowledge, community-based question and answer service is. This is an interesting parallel to something like Wikipedia – and very clearly demonstrates the impact of local culture on the net usage patterns.

The Korean slice of the Web is relatively small compared to the English-language chunks of cyberspace. Koreans often come up short when trying to find information in their native tongue.

To remedy the situation, Naver – which is more like a Yahoo-esque portal than a mere search engine – came up with what it calls Knowledge iN, where users post questions that are answered by other users – creating a database that now totals more than 41.1 million entries. A search on the site brings up typical Web results along with the Knowledge iN database and news and blog sites.

“I don’t know whether they expected it before or not, but it was actually a very good match for Korean culture,” Wayne Lee, an analyst at Woori Securities, said of Naver’s service. “Korean netizens like to interact with other people, they want to answer questions, they want to reply.”

The most popular questions clicked on Naver’s site focus on love, dieting or eradicating computer viruses. The queries that have garnered the most answers range from how dinosaurs are named to getting rid of pimples, and even musings on why telephone poles are spaced 165 feet apart.

Google relies on its computers to troll the Web and see which sites are linked most often by other sites, creating a ranking system based on how often a page is referenced. Compared to Naver’s people-created database, Google doesn’t “have a system to combat that,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of industry newsletter Search Engine Watch.

(via Bubblegeneration)