Category Archives: Networked Media

Muse Finder- The Story

Once upon a time, there were two girls with a great idea that they needed to test. And there were some willing participants who wanted to see how the idea worked, so they volunteered to play along. This is what happened…

Twitter Game

Image by Ronja Moss, 2012.

So Muse Finder the twitter game is a joint project between Ronja and myself that started off small and got really big really fast. The game version is a bit like a tour. A group of people travel through Melbourne, checking in at various locations (via QR tags) and choosing from the options that come up as to what kind of art they want to create in that space. Their creation is then uploaded and hash tagged for easy finding afterwards. The choices they get to make at each location look like this:

 

The aim of the game was to get people into a physical environment creating content for a digital environment, to get their creative juices flowing by providing a framework of inspiration, and to get a bunch of cool people to create a bunch of really cool stuff. We succeeded on all three counts I think.

We ran a guided tour of the game for this assessment, but also as a prototype of the app for development later. We started at the shot tower and explained the rules to our group. We also explained where we wanted the app to go eventually. Then at each location, the group members scanned the QR tag and were directed to choose options presented to them (like in the decision tree above). Then  a description of the task was presented to them and they had 5 minutes to create their art and upload it.

The game worked really well and we got some useful feedback for the development of our app at a later date. We documented the experience for our digital story.

Although everybody tweeted as part of the game, a problem with the Just Sayin’ app (which we were using to upload out text, sound, photos and video) means that none of the tweets can be searched via their hash tags. This is something we will correct for the app by integrating our own media uploader instead of relying on 3rd party apps. Some of Anke Willems tweets from the tour can be found here if you scroll down a little (just to prove we did tweet).

So when we ran the tour, what worked? We asked our group for feedback and got some awesome responses. Overall what we all though worked well was the group aspect (unexpected), the actual interaction required with the physical and the choices given to the participants.

Some stuff that didn’t work so well included the Just Sayin’ app we were using to upload (not something we could control, but something we can certainly improve for the next version of our app/game), the internet connection for some people on certain networks (which will remain unnamed, and to be honest was also out of our control) and it took us almost twice the amount of time we thought it would, even though we generally stuck to the time limit of 5 minutes for creating.

I’d love to run this tour again, once we have the next version of the app ready to test out.

Flipped Lecture 4 – 6 Degrees Of Separation

I made a cowbird story with an image, text and audio. You lucky ducks, you get to go and hear me yabber on about my selfish early teen years. Go on, click here.

Apps

Apps. Aren’t they great?

Yeah, lets all just pat each other on the back for making apps, and using, apps. Fucking marvelous.

Oh I know I shouldn’t knock it, somebody invented  the idea of apps and then a bunch of really clever computer geeks made some awesome apps and it truely is great. When said apps aren’t sucking the life out of you (I’m looking at you Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc. did you guys really need your own easy to access any time apps?!!).

I’d like to make an app actually. It’s going to be an extension of the Celestial City project that I’m working on with Ronja. The app will be simple, but amazing, as all good apps should be. It will also be creative and social, as all phone apps should be.

I don’t know, I really don’t want to write a post about apps. How about I just leave this post with this:

This is how I imagine the tutors feel after reading 20 billion posts about apps. Points for creativity? Also, note the lack of appalling puns in this post. I definitely should get points for that…

 

Source: someecards.com

Ebooks

Ebooks are great, but I’m not throwing out my bookshelf anytime soon. I think this is a sentiment echoed by rational people the whole globe over. And I don’t want to write a blog post about how great ebooks are or how they spell the end of the world for the book industry. Instead I’m going to talk about an ebook I made once and what I learnt from the process. Ha.

So, in 2011, I needed a bit of extra money to fund a trip overseas to visit my family. I decided to create and publish an ebook to sell online to help me raise the extra money I needed. In the process convinced myself I could now be called a published writer. Not bad for the ego. Anyway.

So the book I made was a recipe book. And instead of typing it up and adding in a few pictures, I decided to paint and hand draw/write the entire thing and then photoshop it all into a pdf document. PDF documents are really useful for ebooks because they’ll work on any ebook device (eg Kindle, Nook, smartphones) without having to reformat the book for each device it will be used on. The draw backs of making it in a pdf format include limited search function (especially because mine were all converted .jpegs and had no searchable text) and the inability to reformat it to suite particular devices.

Next, marketing and selling. I chose to set up a simple eshop on my own website and promote my book to my blog followers and through Twitter, Facebook and a few forums. It didn’t work very well for me due to the following combination:

  • Priced too high (no-one wants to pay $15 for an ebook these days, unless you’re a famous author and you can get away with it)
  • Not enough blog followers/twitter followers
  • Didn’t build blog following to the right niche of customers
  • Didn’t really have a marketing strategy in place, just sort of winged it.

Any of these factors alone might not have impacted sales so much, but all together and I was destined for a bit of a flop. But that’s okay, I learnt from the whole experience! Next time it might be worth investing in multiple file formats and an account on Amazon from which to launch the book as well.

I’d like to make another ebook sometime next year but as yet I’m not sure what I’d like to make. Perhaps a follow up recipe book, perhaps something entirely different. But I know that if I do make one, I’ll be able to apply the lessons learnt from my last foray into the world of ebooks and self publishing, to create a better, more successful product.

Oh, and if you want a copy of the book, I’ll let you have it for free(!), just click here.

Flipped Lecture 3 – Web1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0

Web 1.0 vs 2.0
Evolution Web 1.0, Web 2.0 to Web 3.0
Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us
Intro to the Semantic Web
The Semantic Web of Data Tim Berners-Lee
Epic 2015

These videos together made up Flipped Lecture 3 which was all about the evolution of the web.

The main ideas I got from these videos includes:

  • Separating form and content meant easy uploading for everyday users (blogs, videos etc)
  • Syntax vs semantics ie. what you say and what you mean. Aparently we have to teach the internet semantics. ‘Cause that’s only going to end well…
  • Users are in charge, we have to organise the data. And there’s a lot of data.

I think I’m going to finish on a quote from my dad. He said something about the fact that we’re moving into web 3.0 without fully understanding what web 2.0 is yet. Wheeeeeee!

 

Flipped Lecture 2 – Search

The second part of the documentary Download: The True Story Of The Internet was titled Search and I watched it with more interest than Browser Wars because I knew less about the topic. My notes from this segment:

 

The part that interested me the most was about advertising and how once that was done right, making money on the internet was now possible. I think that has impacted the way I use the internet the most. I can make money online if I wish (and I have through offering my services as a web designer and by publishing my own ebook) and that’s all possible because the search engines found a way to make money that wasn’t flashy flashy banner ads. I mean, that would have had to happen eventually, but it happened with Google stealing an idea from Oveture.

My final notes on this lecture say “Google mania –> Google phobia re: personal info” and I’d just like to say I think this is both totally valid and totally irrelevant. Yes, Google has access to a hell of a lot of our personal information (and they’re not the only ones) but that fact is so ubiquitous in our lives today that it almost doesn’t matter. Almost.

Flipped Lecture 1 – Browser Wars

I’ve started taking notes differently when I listen to lectures. My notes for part one of Download: The True Story Of The Internet look like this-

I watched part 1- Browser Wars. It’s about the world’s first graphical web browser and the trouble it caused in Silicon Valley. It was quite interesting, even though I knew a bit about the so called browser wars already.

In fact, unlike these people in the video below, I actually knew what a browser was before I watched this Browser Wars.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4MwTvtyrUQ&w=560&h=315]

My dad sent me that video a few years ago so I could laugh at it. I made me a bit sad actually.

Anyway, I use Google Chrome as my browser and I’m happy to see how far they’ve come since being releassed in Spetember of 2008.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share

Anyway, I’m deviating from the doco a bit as it focused on the demolition of Netscape Navigator and the maliciousness of Microsoft in creating Internet Explorer to get rid of the competition. Although, I guess what goes around comes around as Internet Explorer is now no longer the most popular browser…

Search Engine Comparison

They say change is good, but I am not convinced. Google has been my go to search engine for at least the last 9 years, but what about before that? Way back in primary school I was using search engines like Yahoo, Dogpile and Ask Jeeves (for kids). I was also using cool programs like logo, but that’s beside the point.

So today, I’ll be comparing these three search engines and seeing what they’re like now. I’ll start with a relatively easy search term, “The Little Prince”. It’s been on my mind lately, so I thought I’d see what the Internet has to offer in regards to one of the books of my childhood.

Yahoo and Dogpile both brought me comparable results to Google (because of course, I couldn’t resist “Googling” it as well) but Ask Jeeves brought me some really whacked out results. First, I was surprised at the sponsored links at the top, they certainly weren’t there a decade ago (oh god, a whole decade, now I feel old). Then there were two relevant and useful links, all good, followed by eight, yes eight, links to Disney sites or toy stores. Clearly a search engine aimed at kids, unfortunately, not as good as it seemed to be a decade ago.

But wait, perhaps I’m being unfair. A decade ago I was using Ask Jeeves to do research for my projects, searching for terms like “What do koalas eat?” and “Where is krakatoa?”. So let’s try all three search engines with the question “Why do volcanoes erupt?” and see what happens…

Ah! All three search engines return useful links. The Ask Jeeves results were aimed more at kids with simpler explanations and more kid friendly websites. So, much better this time round, however they still had the sponsored results at the top and bottom of the search results. Dogpile had a long list of sponsored results at the top it it’s page, but that’s because they’re a combination of Google promoted results and Yahoo promoted results (Dogpile uses a combination search, drawing on results from Google, Yahoo, Yandex and Bing). Yahoo on the other hand had no promoted results for this search querie, but did have an ad for itself at the bottom of the results claiming to be “promotional results” when really it was totally unrelated.

Okay, but let’s get rational here. I don’t really need to know why volcanoes erupt these days, I mean, I’m studying at university for goodness sake. I need to know things like how citizen journalism has affected Malaysia. So let’s try searching “How has citizen journalism affected Malaysian media?” and see what we get.

Right. Ask Jeeves has returned not one useful or relevant link. At all. But Yahoo and Dogpile? Both have plenty of relevant links, both are nicely laid out, easy to navigate, and come with categories up the top to sort results. Dogpile has two main advantages at the moment, the first being it’s suggested searches on the side and the second being the cute dog who I presume is the one doing the fetching every time I click “fetch”. Wait, I lied. It has three advantages. The third is it’s ability to pull results from Google and Yahoo as well as Bing and Yandex. This means it gets a good mix of results and beside each result it tells you where it was found (for example, exclusively on one search engine or on many).

So out of these three search engines, my favourite is Dogpile. Of course, I could set it as my homepage (except I don’t actually have or use a homepage) or I could set it as my default search engine with my web browser, but I’m still way too attached to Google to do that. Instead, I’m going to add it to my bookmarks bar and use it next time I’m tempted to click to the second page of results on Google. Because, I mean, who does that?

News From The Other Side Of The World

It’s been nice having my Google Alerts sitting in the bottom of my reader the last couple of days. I mean, mostly. It’s also kinda sucked cause it feels like just another thing I don’t have the time to read… but it’s also been good, as I can keep up with the news relating to Watoto, Uganda and Africa.

I must say I was a little disappointed with the African news results, only because there was so much Olympic news in there, and in general the comments on such news articles were in serious need of some moderating!

There were only three results for my Watoto alert, two relating to their world famous choirs and one about a scandalous land grab that upon reading the actual article turned out to have no actual scandal related to the church.

By far the most interesting alert was the one I set up for news in Uganda, and truthfully, this is the only one I won’t be deleting after I finish this post. I have a personal affinity for Uganda having travelled there twice in the last three years and made connections with the country and her people while there.

I read about the 40 year anniversary of Idi Amin expelling Asians from the country. I read about the Gay Pride weekend that was being held in the botanic gardens of Entebbe (a place I have visited and so can vividly imagine what the gatherings would have looked like). And I read that the HIV rate in Uganda is, sadly, on the rise again.

I am currently in the middle of a lack-of-travel slump and reading these tid-bits from Uganda really perked me up. I’m going to keep my alert for news from Uganda for a few more weeks, but keep the pressure off to check it all the time. It’s kind of a handy way to keep in touch with the news without having to hunt it down myself.