Digital storytelling tools

I am currently attending an interesting session at the E-Campaigning Forum on digital storytelling. Stories are very powerful ways of motivating people to take action, to reflect on the implications of policies, to make abstract concepts concrete and so on.

In this age of Web 2.0 and user-created multimedia content, the old linear textual technologies for supporting storytelling like discussion forums are being complemented by a multitude of innovtive tools supporting new forms of content, interactivity and user involvement. Here are some telling examples of this new wave of tools. They still need to find their niche in the Internet landscape, but it is already becoming very clear that they provide powerful incentives for people to become more (inter)active and engaged.

  • Animoto: automatically generates professionally produced videos using their own patent-pending technology and high-end motion design. Each video is a fully customized orchestration of user-selected images and music. Produced on a widescreen format, Animoto videos have the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer.
  • Viddler:
    • Use webcam to record directly to website
    • Tag specific moment within video
    • Post comments to specific moments within the video
    • Have complete control over who sees video
  • JibJab: allows one to put one’s face on video and share it.
  • SproutBuilder: Sprout is a quick and easy way for beginner and pro users to create living content including websites, widgets, banners, videos, music, photos, RSS feeds, calendars and more.
  • Living Cultural Storybases: Nurturing the oral heritage of minority cultures in a digital world.

Good reference source:

  • NFP2: what happens when not-for-profits, social media and people meet

ALOIS 2008 conference

On May 5-6, I will be attending, as an invited speaker, the ALOIS (Action in Language, Organisations, and Information Systems) conference in Venice. Apart from the wonderful venue, it is going be a very interesting conference, in the best tradition of the Language/Action Perspective and Pragmatic Web conferences.

Here is the abstract of my talk and paper:

Activating Online Collaborative Communities

Collaborative communities often make use of complex tool systems. In these systems, work gets fragmented over many tools, often halting communication. We discuss online community activation in terms of the Language/Action Perspective, and its more recent offshoot, the Pragmatic Web. We propose collaboration patterns for defining high-level socio-technical design solutions for activation problems. We illustrate the approach using examples from a digital tutorial case.

Semi-mobile technology

Aldo being semi-mobileMobile technology is great, but it’s very hard to find _the_ right mobile tool. I now have two mobile phones, an HP Ipaq PDA, my Asus EEE 7″ subnotebook, a Dell X200 12.1″ (sub)notebook, an Acer Aspire 3610 15.4 ” notebook, and counting. Frankly, this is getting ridiculous. None of these tools suits even close to all my needs, and by now I would need a suitcase to lug them all around!

Of course, I could always try to choose one of these tools, and stick to it. Well, this is what happens then: here I am, using Skype on my Asus to call my good friend Mark Aakhus in the US via the Tilburg University wifi campus network. It works, but somehow it doesn’t quite seem the optimal mobile solution đŸ™‚

Funnily enough, Mark who just happened to be online when I demonstrated my Asus, co-edited this book: Perpetual Contact: Mobile Communication, Private Talk, Public Performance. I wonder whether this is what he had in mind…

eCampaigning Forum 2008

I have just received confirmation that I can participate in eCampaigning Forum 2008, to be held at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, on April 10-11. Last year, I attended their social dinner while visiting a friend, and was struck by the nice mix of expertise and friendliness of the participants. I am really excited about being part of that crowd myself this year!

What it is?

“The 2008 eCampaigning Forum brings together e-campaigning practitioners, managers, freelancers, entrepreneurs and bloggers to share the essential and emerging trends and practices in campaigning (advocacy) using interactive media. The experts are the participants and this event ensures those who attend get to spend most of their time engaging with their peers on topics that concern them most.”

This year, the crowd is even larger, with some very interesting people, from organizations including Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, Medicins Sans Frontiers, the BBC, and many, many others. What is especially interesting is that these people are among the world’s top experts on using interactive media to get people moving. We are drowning in information, but using the Internet to make people do things is the holy grail many of us are after. I am looking forward to joining the other Internet knights at the Round Table đŸ™‚

Understanding Design: 150 Reflections on Being a Designer

Understanding DesignI recently finished reading “Understanding Design: 150 Reflections on Being a Designer“, by Kees Dorst. It’s a delightful book with 150 single page stories that you can’t stop reading. The stories have been organized in four main themes (Inside Design, About Design, Being a Designer, Around Design), and cover everything from the philosophy and morality of design to very practical guidelines on how to do and teach design. A must for everybody remotely interested in this complex but so intriguing field.

Design for development

Richard Heeks and Bill McIver sent useful references in response to my post on the Another Perspective on Design-symposium.


[Richard Heeks]

Just to follow Aldo’s original point, the whole area of “design for development” seems to be a growing one. Examples are the work of The Cardiff Group: http://www.thecardiffgroup.org.uk/ (which helps organise the Development Studies Association’s Design and Development group: http://www.devstud.org.uk/studygroups/design.htm), and Design for Development: http://www.designfordevelopment.org/. Up-and-coming are the outputs from the BGDD project – http://www.bgdd.org/Wiki.jsp – which is approaching the issue from a computing/interface design-for-development perspective.There are also a lot of organisations working more to help multinationals understand and design for emerging markets, e.g. CKS in Bangalore – http://www.cks.in/They, in turn, have been involved in one of the main design-and-development functions, the Doors of Perception events: http://www.doorsofperception.com/

Prof. Richard Heeks
Development Informatics Group
IDPM, SED, University of Manchester
Web: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/idpm/dig

[Bill McIver]

See also:Low Technologies, High Aims

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

Published: September 11, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/11/science/11mit.html?scp=5&sq=olin+college&st=nyt

Matriculation
Re-engineering Engineering

By JOHN SCHWARTZ

Published: September 30, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/magazine/30OLIN-t.html?scp=1&sq=olin+college&st=nyt

Outside the Box
By LISA GUERNSEY
Published: November 4, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/education/edlife/nicheintro.html?scp=2&sq=olin+college&st=nyt

The inaugural International Development Design Summit (IDDS) at MIT on 16 July – 10 August 2007
http://www.iddsummit.org/

Bill McIver,
Research Officer
People-Centred Technologies
Institute for Information Technology
National Research Council Canada

http://iit-iti.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/personnel/mciver_william_e.html

Another Perspective on Design – Symposium

Yesterday, an interesting symposium was organised in Breda by COLIN (Creative Organisations Linked in Networks) , named “Another Perspective on Design“. Here are some notes I took during the presentations. They are not comprehensive, but should capture some of the highlights.


Speaker: Mary-Ann Schreurs, chairwoman of the working group Design of the Eindhoven city council

  • Design has enormous economic potential
    • One reason DAF trucks has become so succcessful is because of their truck cabins having been optimally designed for their human users.
  • Designers bring together ideas from all disciplines, combine them into a form. Design is leading.
  • Governments need to create the necessary conditions for design to have its effect.
    • For example, never enough workspaces for starting entrepreneurs!
  • Innovation networks necessary
    • Alone it cannot be done, collaboration between many stakeholders is essential. Only organize those who are really willing.
    • Companies are proud of their products because they mean something to people
      • No longer make products just to own, but products that add meaning to people’s lives.
      • For example, children in hospital get badge, when moving around the kids see their favorite themes. projected on the walls, e.g. space travel. Result: faster recovery time.

    “Designer is a carrier of societal change”

  • A design meeting was organized for city politicians: what’s in design for them? Some examples:
    • Participation is the magic word. One approach that has been shown to work in Eindhoven is the “virtual neighbourhood”.
    • Software for 3D design. Use it to show the effects of construction choices, costs automatically calculated. Design of houses much more tailored to needs of citizens, they co-own the design.
    • Designers living with homeless found out that they do not use the designed shelters if their dogs are not allowed entry, as these to them are “their family”.
    • The city council now better understands the power of design for the city. A range of aspects needs to be taken into account:
      • Esthetics
      • Economics
      • Societal
      • “Freedom”
        • Large companies often constrain the creative process too much. Technology should not lead but serve us. Make sure to liberate creative souls to work in the way they want/need.
  • Eindhoven is going to change from a city that creates technology to a city where you experience it.

Speaker: Conny Bakker, director of consultancy company Info-Eco, co-author of ‘Trespassers, inspirations for eco-efficient design’ and author of ‘Sustainable Technological Development’.

  • Info-Eco: helps designers and entrepreneurs choose the most appropriate eco-design strategies for their products and services.
  • For example: “peak oil”, oil shortage very soon becoming major problem
  • Design can help to achieve hyperefficiency
    • e.g. Volkswagen has prototype car using 1 liter of gas per 100 km. Will be on the market in 2010
    • Zero emission house using an advanced pipe system.
    • Airquarium: inflatable building, can be transported easily, using air as construction material
    • XO laptop (One Laptop Per Child). Many efficiency features, needs only 2 W! Rwanda and Uruguay have already bought it, among other nations, positive experiences reported from the field.
    • Zooop electrical car can reach 180 km/h, what can we learn for mass car design?
    • Nokia Eco Sensor Cell Phone: is charged by body movements of user

Speaker: Thera van Osch, economist and chairwoman of the Association for the Care Economy

  • From knowledge economy to experience economy, in which empathy is important
  • Does the economy determine design, or can design change the economy?
  • Increasing monetization of everything, including design! Not good, inhibiting real innovation!
  • We need to develop a paradigm of the caring human being
  • Achieve balance between market economy and care economy
  • Can sustainable design contribute to the economy in economical , social, and ecological sense?

Speaker: Alex van Dierendonck, O2 Nederland

  • User interface design & sustainability: involve the user
  • O2: growing network of designers together involved in developing innovative sustainable solutions. O2 Netherlands, the Dutch branch, has been founded in 1993.
  • Examples of innovative solutions
  • Focus on products doesn’t show the complex processes needed to get there!
  • Together doing design sessions is an interesting added value of such a design network.

Speakers: Stella van Himbergen, programme manager DDiD and Robert Nijhout, graphics design specialist who volunteered for the FairMail project

  • DDiD: Dutch Design in Development, couples Dutch designers to small producers in developing countries.
  • Stimulate sustainable economic development in developing countries.
  • DDiD supports the whole process, is a matchmaker, works towards realizing fairer social and environmental values.
  • Aims for unique product development
  • Example project: FairMail, Peru
    • Municipal waste dump. Many people living and working there in very poor and unhealthy conditions.
    • FairMail organizes photography courses to the kids, by volunteers from all over the world. The photos are sold as postcards (“cards with perspective”) in Peru and the North, leading to sustainable income for the locals. Revenues are split by local community and the individual photographers. Part of the revenues are used for education and health insurance funds for the whole community. The good thing is it stimulates the economy of everybody, from the individual, through the community to the local economy.
    • DDiD provided templates and training (in, for instance, Indesign publishing software) to allow them to produce independently. E.g. photo processing training for the FairMail kids.
    • Good example of “social design” by providing the community with the means to themselves improve their own future.
    • Issue: how to “train the trainers” in order to scale up the impact of such programmes?

Installing a VPN client on the ASUS EEE

I have to work a lot on Tilburg University campus, and continuously need to access the Internet, which is one main reason I bought my ASUS EEE laptop. However, to get access on campus one needs a VPN connection. On Windows machines, it is no problem to install the Cisco VPN client, but, alas, not so for Linux machines like mine. Raymond Mul, ICT manager at the Faculty of Law, and avid Linux enthusiast, has been so kind to write a short manual (in Dutch) explaining how to make the university network open up for Linux lovers as well:

VPN installation Howto for Asus EEE PC series

Enjoy!

Second Life: Beyond the Hype

The hype is over. Whereas only a year ago, Second Life was everywhere in the mainstream media, the mad rush seems over. Then, every major organization seemed to try to establish a presence “in world”, and the virtual sky seemed the limit. Now, the number of active users seems to have stabilized, and many initially over-enthusiasts are disappointed, because their unrealistic expectations have not been met.

However, the dot com bust around the turn of the century did not kill the development of worthwhile applications of the Internet, on the contrary. Similarly, the current stage in the evolution of Second Life from mere vision to serious business, educational, and many other applications is a natural one. Consolidation and reflection on where to go from here is healthy and necessary. Issues to be worked on include tool systems and (workflow) process models.

For a nice glimpse into already existing “useful” applications of Second Life, check out Wagner James Au’s list in his “Second Life: Hype vs. Anti-Hype vs. Anti-Anti Hype” post:

He’d see applications in, for example, retail shopping (as here), online gaming and entertainment (as here and here), data visualization (as here), national security (as here), international relations (as here), non-profit fundraising (as here), architecture (as here), scientific simulation (as here), education (as here and here), and therapy (as here); just ten industries worth billions of dollars, which could potentially impact hundreds of millions of Internet users, quickly culled from my bookmark cache– and that’s not even mentioning the as-yet-unproven applications which have already gained traction, like in-world celebrity appearances (as here), political activism (as here and here), and marketing/brand promotion (as here.)

One particularly interesting use I have experienced myself is as a venue for cyberconferencing.

Virtual Teams and Collaborative Environments – book

CALL FOR CHAPTERS
Proposals Submission Deadline: 3/31/2008
Full Chapters Due: 7/31/2008
Virtual Teams and Collaborative Environments:
Knowledge-Driven Creativity

A book edited by A book edited by Aggelos Liapis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
Julian Malins, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland UK
Stijn Christiaens, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
Pieter De Leenheer, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

http://www.igi-pub.com/requests/details.asp?ID=371

OBJECTIVES
One of the principal objectives of this new book is to suggest improved tools and methodologies for CSCW which can be applied in a variety of disciplines and professional contexts. The book will explore the nature of creativity and how this relates to CSCW. In particular this book will identify the factors that limit creativity in virtual teams when using online collaborative environments.

The overall objectives of the book are as follows:

  • To develop a clear understanding of the use of ontologies as an approach to developing computer supported collaborative working systems within the areas of creativity and design.
  • To identify creative approaches for supporting ontology engineering.
  • To develop the possible uses for collaborative environments that can be used to assist creative communities.
  • To provide insights that support virtual teams, communities and associated ontologies.
  • To examine the future developments in CSCW, focusing on collaborative environments.
  • To demonstrate the advantages of using collaborative environments in order to increase productivity.