links for 2010-05-17

  • Had a chat with some of the guys behind this com­pa­ny at Thought­Made. They showed a bit of pat­terned foil that you could print and stick on a reg­u­lar screen, mak­ing it work with their dig­i­tal pens. A cheap way (com­pared to Wacom’s Cin­tiq, for instance) to make big screens with pen based inter­ac­tions.
  • Ran into the peo­ple behind FIELD last fri­day, who were in Copen­hagen to present this video that was com­mis­sioned by Net­film­mak­ers Gallery: “In their video Muse, FIELD is remix­ing their pri­vate dig­i­tal scrap­books from the last 3 years. A flood of inspir­ing images and ref­er­ences is trans­formed into an ocean of colour, fuelled from Ever­note, our blog, our favourites on Google Read­er and Flickr, and oth­er sources.”
  • ““The use of cer­tain prod­ucts, such as kites, moun­tain bikes and GPS mon­i­tors, has a bear­ing on the way in which land­scape is under­stood.” The land­scape is instru­men­tal­ized, we might say, dis­tilled through dense lay­ers of tech­no­log­i­cal abstrac­tion to become, once again, a place inhab­it­able by human activ­i­ty, how­ev­er pathet­ic or impres­sive­ly per­sis­tent it might be.” Which more or less sums up what I find so fas­ci­nat­ing about work­ing in new urban devel­op­ment areas such as Lei­d­sche Rijn. To see if there are ways to trans­form in between spaces into social places for play.
  • “The New Weird has come into being, such as it is and what­ev­er it should be, on its own and not by dint of any deci­sion or pro­gram, so the attri­bu­tion of deci­sions and schemes to it ought to be seen as pre­scrip­tions rather than as descrip­tions.” This pas­sage, from a slight­ly con­fus­ing essay on the con­tem­po­rary lit­er­ary fan­ta­sy scene, got me think­ing about dis­cus­sions about inter­ac­tion design and this exact kind of con­fu­sion that often hap­pens. Peo­ple express­ing a hope or a wish about it, but pre­sent­ing it as an objec­tive fact. Where­as, for instance, what we are try­ing to do with This hap­pened is to just show the work and in doing so, just describe what is going on.

links for 2010-05-14

Week 150

That’s a nice num­ber, 150. One-hun­dred-and-fifty. I like the sound of that. So what’s been going on this week?

I hopped on a plane last Sun­day to the Nether­lands for This hap­pened – Utrecht #6. Wouldn’t miss out on my own par­ty, of course. And I’m so glad I didn’t, because we had awe­some talks by Berend & San­neke, Matt, Sebas­ti­aan and Keez, plus a sur­prise appear­ance over Skype by Mr. Bux­ton. The room was packed, inter­ac­tion design­ers of all stripes were chat­ting away before­hand, dur­ing the break and after­wards over drinks. I had a blast and judg­ing by the reports that have been com­ing in, so have many oth­ers.

Before head­ing back to the Nether­lands the next day I man­aged to squeeze in a few meet­ings. One of those was for PLAY which, now that I’ve wrapped up project Tako,1 is ready to move into its next phase. We’re plan­ning to pro­duce sev­er­al play­ful ‘things’ for a num­ber of cul­tur­al events and tie them all togeth­er with a meta-game. It’s a mat­ter of get­ting all the right peo­ple on board now and get­ting going as fast as pos­si­ble. So I’ve a list of folks to con­tact in the com­ing days.

I think I broke a per­son­al record for the num­ber of Skype ses­sions in one day on Wednes­day, with back to back talks with my HKU stu­dents as well as a plan­ning ses­sion with Karel and Julius for an urban games work­shop they’ll be run­ning tomor­row in Lei­d­sche Rijn.2

And today, after spend­ing Ascen­sion day on a couch, plug­ging away at email and to-dos, I’ll be mak­ing the trip across the Øre­sund to Malmö in a bus full of mak­ers and inter­ac­tion design­ers to attend Thought­Made, which I’m real­ly excit­ed about; an exhi­bi­tion and talks includ­ing a can­dy machine con­trolled by Twit­ter. What more can one ask for?

  1. I need to write a report on that one at the Hub­bub blog soon. []
  2. A new devel­op­ment area of Utrecht I’d say is the clos­est thing to a real-world Sim City project that I ever saw. []

links for 2010-05-13

links for 2010-05-07

  • “Home­sense will bring the open col­lab­o­ra­tion meth­ods of online com­mu­ni­ties to phys­i­cal infra­struc­tures in the home. Over the course of sev­er­al months, select­ed house­holds across Europe (UK, France and Italy ini­tial­ly) will have access to the lat­est in open source hard­ware and soft­ware tools, decide what they want to do with them in the con­text of their home and share the results with the world.” Real­ly proud of Tin­ker for get­ting this off the ground. Can’t wait to see what comes of it.
  • PLAY is a short film […] cre­at­ed with film­mak­er David Kaplan. The 18-minute film takes place in a future where the lines between games and real­i­ty have become blurred[. It] unfolds as a series of videogames, nest­ed inside each oth­er like a set of Russ­ian Dolls.” Can’t wait for this to appear online.
  • “BackChat­ter is a game about pre­dict­ing Twit­ter trends. […] Each round, you pick three words that you think will be pop­u­lar in tweets about the con­fer­ence dur­ing the next game round. You send in your votes with a direct mes­sage to the game con­sist­ing of the three words you want to pick.” A clever social game run­ning on top of Twit­ter. I like how it plays with the some­times annoy­ing behav­ior on Twit­ter dur­ing con­fer­ences, of peo­ple just name­drop­ping stuff or tweet­ing things ver­ba­tim.

Week 149

I’m writ­ing these notes on a train to Malmö for a change. I was there this wednes­day and am back again to have a chat at Illu­sion Labs. I was put in touch with them by Ham­pus of The Aston­ish­ing Tribe, whom I vis­it­ed on wednes­day. TAT’s an inter­est­ing group, spe­cial­ized in the design of inno­v­a­tive mobile UIs. Their Rec­og­nizr con­cept video made quite a splash in AR cir­cles ear­li­er this year. I once gave a lec­ture on play­ful UIs at their office and even though noth­ing con­crete is in the works it would be inter­est­ing to col­lab­o­rate some more on that top­ic some time.

On wednes­day I also met up with my friends at InUse, whom I did some work with when I was last in Copen­hagen. That project dealt with appli­ca­tions of mul­ti­touch in a real-estate project. Over a Lebanese buf­fet lunch Mijo and I most­ly mused on what’s changed in UX con­sult­ing land the past few years and how that might devel­op into the future. We talked about ‘peak com­plex­i­ty’, the inter­net of things and strate­gies for design­ing deeply net­worked things. Good stuff.

To wrap up that day, I had a sur­prise meet-up with Karin of Ozma, (again thanks to the awe­some con­nect­ing pow­ers of Ham­pus). Ozma is a game design stu­dio work­ing very much in the same spir­it as Hub­bub, with a focus on “gam­ing beyond the screen”. It was very encour­ag­ing to dis­cov­er a com­pa­ny that’s been suc­cess­ful­ly work­ing in this space for the past four years. (And they’re not the only one, in Swe­den alone there’s also Fabel, The Sto­ry Lab and Grul…) One of the things we talked about is a cool plat­form they’re devel­op­ing for urban games that is not GPS-based, but runs entire­ly on SMS and is there­fore very use­ful for work­ing with tar­get audi­ences who do not have access to high-end phones (i.e. teens and tweens).

That wednes­day I head­ed back to Copen­hagen, my mind suit­ably blown, as you can prob­a­bly imag­ine.

Oth­er than that I have been enjoy­ing Social­square’s hos­pi­tal­i­ty on the Vester­bro­gade. Mar­tin, Mag­nus and I spent some time hash­ing out the details of the work­shop we’ll be doing and we man­aged to nar­row down the ques­tions we’d like to answer to a man­age­able set. I’m keen on hav­ing part of this project’s out­put be share­able with the world; in what shape or form we have yet to deter­mine.

My active involve­ment with Layar has gone on hold for the time being, but at the same time the first bits of my work for Layar are find­ing its way into the world. They’ve launched a new ver­sion of their app, which now sup­ports paid con­tent. (Android is out, iPhone should fol­low soon.) This was one of the first things I worked on for them, before mov­ing on to stuff that’ll hope­ful­ly see the light of day some­where over sum­mer. Design­ing the paid con­tent stuff involved deal­ing with a ton of depen­den­cies on process­es behind the scenes. It was an inter­est­ing chal­lenge to make it as fric­tion­less as pos­si­ble. Plus, the mobile pay­ment ecosys­tem is itself an inter­est­ing beast to deal with for a while. I also found myself design­ing for sev­er­al mobile plat­forms at the same time, which can real­ly mess with your head; both Android and iPhone have their own ‘gram­mar’ of inter­ac­tion (or more pre­cise­ly, one of them has some­thing resem­bling a prop­er gram­mar, the other’s is more accu­rate­ly described as a pid­gin). So design­ing in par­al­lel for both is a bit like speak­ing two lan­guages at the same time. Con­fus­ing, even to a Dutch­man.

All this, plus some more Skype calls with my HKU stu­dents (remind me to share some details on their work next time), anoth­er Skype ses­sion with the U-Turm group and the very final prepa­ra­tions for This hap­pened – Utrecht #6 took up week 149.

links for 2010-05-06

  • “The Facade­print­er is a sim­ple, soft­ware con­trolled robot. It con­sists of a two axis turn table and an air­pres­sure print­head. The print­er shoots the art­work from a dis­tanced posi­tion dot by dot onto the cho­sen area.” Crazy stuff, the things it ‘prints’ have a very dis­tinct esthet­ic.
  • “Game­Camp is a gath­er­ing for the peo­ple who are build­ing that world [a world with ubiq­ui­tous video gam­ing]. It’s for the design­ers, coders, artists, writ­ers, thinkers and play­ers who are mak­ing the 21st cen­tu­ry the cen­tu­ry of the game. Game­Camp is about more than mak­ing games: it’s about play­ing them, think­ing about them and how they affect our lives for good or for ill.” Sounds like an event I’d like to see hap­pen in NL some time.

links for 2010-05-04