Yesterday, I was invited to a meeting of the MuseumFutures Lab. The Lab is part of the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering and is associated with the Connected Everyday Lab of Prof. Elisa Giaccardi. Its focus is on exploring the future of museum experience design, looking at experiences that start before and last beyond the physical museum visit. Such experiences are connected to personal lives, activities that take place in schools, community spaces and other institutions. Arnold Vermeeren, the director of the Museum Futures Lab happened to be our guest last year for the Cultural Heritage Communities workshop organised in conjunction with Communities&Technologies 2015.
The work of several students and researchers associated with the Lab explores the role of the Internet of Things, DIY technology, the Maker Movement and other current technology-related developments in facilitating and stimulating the design of new experiences for museums and heritage places.
Some of the previous work done in the group includes:
Arnold invited specialists from two prestigious Dutch agencies involved in designing for museums (Fabrique and Tellart), an independent museum exhibit designer currently working with Royal Delft Porcelain, as well as a number of colleagues from IDE, to listen to presentations made by four postgraduate students currently working with different Dutch museums and attempting to design innovative experiences for their visitors.
The ideas were extremely diverse. They ranged from combining museum visits with making in an adjacent makerspace, to organising country side circuits of memorial houses including transportation and accommodation solutions, and designing joint museum experiences for visually impaired people accompanied by friends or family.
After the presentations, we had a round of feedback for which pairs of specialists forming the audience had the chance to discuss separately with each of the students. It was a rewarding experience, as all these group discussions allowed us to exchange information in an efficient and intellectually stimulating way.
My time here at TU Delft proves to be very rewarding. My initial plan was to hide, read and write, but I am finding myself attending a lot of interesting events just because I happen to be here!
During the week 10-14 October 2016, I had the chance to attend the ‘Games for Cities’ training school in Amsterdam. The training school was part of the CyberParks COST action, and the central topic was Circular Amsterdam: Cities, Public Space, Play. The main organisers were Martijn de Waal and Gabriele Ferri from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, and Ekim Tan from Play the City
The main focus was on investigating “how play and games can be used to engage and activate citizens around the advent of a ‘circular economy’, with a focus on the flows of food and waste”. Taking a playful, game approach to city-making facilitates engaging different stakeholders in discussing and imagining future developments. This wasn’t my first encounter with the concept of “Circular Economy” (a SIG on this topic exists at the University of Limerick and my host university, TU Delft, is offering a MOOC on the topic), but seeing concrete examples and adopting this mindset definitely helped framing our mission for the training school.
The 5 days programme included presentations by and discussions with various specialists in game design and in the Circular Economy, as well as briefings offered by a number of local organisations on topics they brought to the table as case studies. The majority of the time was dedicated to work in interdisciplinary teams to design a prototype for a city game to take place in a specific location in Amsterdam.
The 19 participants (‘trainees’) were asked to opt for the selected case studies before the training school. The trainers’ task was to coach, nudge, inspire and share knowledge. The participants came from different backgrounds and from all over Europe. Each of them had impressive practices and achievements, and I had the chance to learn from them more than they probably learnt from me.
The first day was dedicated to introductions, general presentations and warming up with some games. We started with the Circular Economy game, designed by Play the City.
Later in the afternoon, there were presentations on City Games, Circularity and Games Design. The day ended with a scenario game at Mediamatic, that I had to skip because of my daily commute to Delft, where I was based. On the second day, we listened to presentations from representatives of the five ‘clients’ who provided the case studies for each of the teams. The first, from the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, introduced the concept of Urban Mining. The second one was introduced by Arjan Wardekker from Utrecht University, and was connected to water and reflecting on situations where a city has too little or too much water, what can be done to reuse grey water, rain water and so on. The third case introduced a European project run by Waag Society, Urban AirQ, which enables citizens to measure the quality of air in a polluted area of the city by distributing DIY devices. The next step is to reflect on potential behaviour changes and their own roles and that of the neighbourhood in making these possible. The fourth case focused on waste streams at an experimental site in the North of Amsterdam, Noordoogst. Maarten Mulder from the Urban Technology group at the Amsterdam University of Applied Science talked to us about the efforts for building a Circular Economy system at this location that includes at the moment a pancake restaurant, a bakery, bee hives, a kindergarten, a vineyard, offices, a take-away restaurant and a hostel. The last case was introduced by Francesca Miazzo from Wasted , a system developed for Amsterdam Nord in 2014 to recycle plastic waste. After a trainers’ coordination meeting, I joined the team working on waste streams in Noordoogst, as I found this development intriguing. After a discussion with Maarten and some brainstorming, we decided to make a trip to see the place. It wasn’t easy to get there- we had to catch a bus from the train station and walk quite a bit. We met the hostel owner in front of the hostel itself and he gave us the Grand Tour. There is a lot of potential, but also doubts that the municipality will extend the lease after the current contract ends.
In the evening, we went to Pakhuis de Zwijger for a “City Game Talk Show”, which was open to the public. Ilaria Mariani, Kars Alfrink, Francesca Miazzo, Michiel de Lange and Lucy Chamberlain gave short talks and participated in a panel discussion. I missed the following day’s activities, as I had meetings scheduled in Delft.
On Thursday, Silvia Tagliazucchi spoke about her work with Architetti di strada, an interdisciplinary group including architects, human rights activists, sociologists, communication & environment specialists, and the process used in Modena to find solutions together with the citizens. Maria Tome Nuez presented her perspective on digital/physical hybridation and co-creating with the citizens. Michael Nagenborg gave us his philosophical perspective on playful interactions, illustrated with interesting examples of games such as Papers, please! , Cutthroat capitalism and September 12th.We continued working with the teams and the prototypes started taking shape. Games titles started emerging: Food loop, Carzilla, Fun plastic…
Everybody around me knows I’m always busy. But today was quite unusual, because it involved two events related to Creative Writing, which interests me a lot, but rarely can afford the time to pursue- there’s simply too much happening!
I woke up a 5:55am, tortured by a thousand questions related to a conference budget. I revised the budget – again!, I sent a couple of emails and updated the event page on Eventbrite (hopefully it will go live tomorrow!)
I got to the university at 8:45am, with my porridge in a jar, as I couldn’t afford the time to make it and eat it.
9:15am. I was in the middle of the first Skype call of the day when my door opened and Prof.Tom Moylan came in with no other than Kim Stanley Robinson! I knew he was around, and I had made time for a joint seminar with the Interactive Media and the Creative Writing master students titled “Interaction Design and Scenario Building”, supposed to start at 10am in our Design Studio. I brought the guests to the studio, rang my colleague, tried to organise coffee (and failed), finished the Skype call, initiated the next one while fighting with the printer to get a presentation printed for a student. Workshop details discussed.
10am. The joint seminar was very interesting- we drew parallels between writing and designing, spoke about the similarities between characters and personas, the importance of narrative for both fields and how scenarios come about. One day I might find time to transcribe my notes!
12pm. I ran downstairs to talk to three of my students whose final year projects I have supervised this year. Alex explored opportunities offered by NFC tags to make the connection between buildings on campus and digital content about those buildings, Niamh studied gesture interaction opportunities in a museum environments and Athiei filmed people telling stories about particular places around Limerick in those very places.
1pm. Two more emails and a phone call, and I ran to the weekly gardening session of the UL Community Roof Garden, to introduce one of my master students to the group and do a bit of manual work in the gorgeous sunshine.
2pm. More firefighting – a student who had to demo her project in the lab came to tell me Flash was out of date and she didn’t have rights to update it. I went looking for the technician, sent him her way.
2:30pm. The afternoon demo session started- I went to see two other of my students – Clodagh who designed an app for DIY skincare enthusiasts and Aoife who created a playful interface for keeping track of the roof garden evolution.
4pm. I ran back to the lab to see a few more final year projects before the end of the day. I’ve sent a few more emails, tweeted about my students and said goodbye to the people getting ready for the reception.
5pm. Drove to the Clare side of the campus for the inaugural lecture of Joseph O’Connor, Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing. The reception started at 5:15 and the lecture at6pm.
The lecture was titled: ‘Ghost Light: John Synge and Molly Allgood – A lecture through fiction, letters and music’ and Martin Hayes was invited to play during the lecture.
Ellen McCourt- Frank McCourt’s widow- was in the audience. Facebook brought me this video with her taken the other night in Limerick. Great lady!
I loved Ghost Light very much, and during the Q&A chaired by Prof. Sarah Moore some interesting connections came to light: Joseph O’Connor grew up in Glenageary, and passed by Synge’s house at least twice a day.
8pm. Very hungry. We decided to have dinner in the Pavilion admiring the sunset. Very soon after, Joseph O’Connor and his family, Martin Hayes and the whole group of Creative Writing master students arrived to have dinner in the same place. Dinner was lovely- and none of us had to do the dishes!
9pm. Back home, writing a blog post before reading a proposal and grading more student work.
Throughout its existence, the event followed the intertwined development of cities and digital technologies. My interest in urban informatics/Urban Interaction Design has continued to grow in the last 3-4 years. Back in 2009, I came up with the idea of a Connected Limerick project, that went through different incarnations- from workshops and curated talks through to active involvement and support for local communities.
In September last year, I started to work with a team of three students on a Connected Limerick-related project meant to explore opportunities for supporting citizen and visitors in adding digital information to the physical layer – in other words, annotating the city.
The three students who joined me were Laura Festl, a visiting master student from the University of Siegen, John Slattery, a Music, Media and Performance Technology final year student, and Alan Ryan, a Digital Media Design student doing an internship with us at the Interaction Design Centre at the time.
John continued his work in the new year and produced an excellent proof-of-concept for the application we had in mind as his final year project.
From February on, we were joined by an Erasmus student from the Military Technical Academy in Bucharest, Cristina Dobrisan, who continued the work, producing a working prototype.
I was delighted to be given the opportunity to present our work in Munich. The paper is available on Academia.edu and will probably be developed into a longer article for a future Digital Cities 8 volume.
I enjoyed the workshop a lot – some very interesting attendees and papers. Martin Brynskov did an excellent job as workshop organiser and facilitator. I was delighted to meet Eleni Christopoulou, who joined our morning session. She had a paper in the main conference on Collective City Memory together with Dimitrios Ringas. I was aware of their project – CLIO, and indeed there were a lot of commonalities.
Martin Tomitsch spoke about an app that aggregates real time data on the public buses’ locations contributed by the citizen. It made me a bit nostalgic – my son had the same idea for Bucharest during his PhD and he was told it wouldn’t work… Well, it worked in Sydney!
Ingrid Mulder spoke about Creating 010, an initiative based in Rotterdam meant to enable citizens to be involved as co-creators in the development of public services. Fiorella de Cindio spoke about participatory budgeting -a fascinating subject I’ve read more about since, and Henrik Korsgaard presented City Bug Report, an installation meant to explore transparency and Open Data readiness in Aarhus, Denmark. Alexander Wiethoff introduced his work and his efforts towards developing a method for the evaluation of media facades. Katharine Willis‘ paper looked at how online interaction could facilitate inclusion and support a sense of place.
We were also joined by Martijn de Waal (The Public Matters) whose insightful questions and comments brought a valuable contribution to our discussion.
It was a fantastic day and it opened new horizons for my future work in this field!
At the beginning of last year, I started working on the idea of a Limerick Tweasure Hunt – a treasure hunt using Twitter. The initial idea was to send the participants out for a walk in the city and help them discover things they ignored during their daily rush through the streets. Their tweets were going to expose those places to all their Twitter contacts and generate awareness. I also intended to draw attention to the Open Plaques project – a fantastic initiative to build a crowdsourced database of historical plaques from all around the world.
It was part of my ongoing “Connected Limerick” pet project – trying to connect the digital and the physical layers of the city in a playful way. You can read more about the background of this idea here and get the gist about what went on by watching this video.
Together with Sharon and Tara, we ran the event for the first time on the 1st of April, as part of the Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival. We included an April Fools joke – unfortunately the first team who got there bagged the fake plaque as a trophy and that was that. The date coincided with the launch of the Limerick City centre Tidy Town initiative – so one of the missions that participants had was to meet the volunteers, talk to them and take a picture.
Following the invitation of the Limerick Local Heroes, we ran a second Tweasure Hunt as part of the 4th of July celebrations in Limerick. By using the same hashtag for all the activities going on on that Sunday (#4thJulyLimerick) we managed to get the public attention by trending in Ireland that morning.
The next one is planned for Sunday the 24th of March 2013. Sharon and myself went for an exploratory walk today, to check historical plaques, odd corners and timing. We were accompanied by Laura Maye, my PhD student working on the meSch project. She is looking into possible technologies that could support museum and cultural heritage curators to make use of digital artifacts in the actual locations.
As usual here, within an hour we had all four seasons: it rained, it got cold and windy, and then the sun came out and it got really warm. And the story was repeated a couple of times. After a nice cup of tea, we continued with a walk in English Town together with one of my final year students, John Slattery, who is at the moment testing a mobile app. But more about this in another post!
Limerick has an annual Lifelong Learning Festival. I remember the first time I came across this information, it was in relation to a gardening demonstration and it was back in 2011. I read the whole program and I realised how many interesting events I had missed because I was unaware of the festival’s existence.
I have the strange reputation of reading any notice, poster or flyer that falls under my eyes. To me, everything is interesting. I’d like to try everything and go everywhere. A friend called me a “culture vulture” one evening when I was leaving early from an exhibition opening to attend a dance performance in a close by location.
So last year I decided that miLKlabs, the Limerick hackerspace, had to get involved in this Lifelong Learning Festival, and somehow I managed to convince the others. We had three events over a week, and everybody -organisers and attendees – seemed to enjoy them. For the first time, we attracted people who weren’t on any mailing lists or subscribed to Facebook pages – people who read about us in the Festival brochure or heard about the events on the radio.
Looking at the Festival brochure, I’m really upset that there are so many great events I will have to miss, because they’re running in parallel with the ones I’m involved in. The Festival is a celebration of the really impressive amount of skills people of Limerick have and are willing to share. I know “there’s a recession on the radio” (Irish joke, don’t be upset if you don’t get it!), but this shows clearly how rich we are, and the kind of things we can do together!
Now please excuse me, I have to put on my various other hats and blog about these events on their own websites;)
At the moment, we are in the process of collating all the information we have on meetup.com on an independent website. Alan Ryan, who is doing an internship at the Interaction Design Centre at the moment, joined me as event co-organiser for this first event.
I would like to renew my invitation for the members who would like to get involved in the organisation of this local chapter of the IxDA to step forward. We’re looking for new ideas, new activities, new people to run theLimerick chapter of IxDA. We’re looking for more practitioners to join our ranks and lead the conversation.
The meetup on Wednesday opened this year’s series and was scheduled as part of the Design Week.
As the speaker we had in mind couldn’t make it for Design Week, we decided to take the opportunity to present our own work in progress:
Urban Social Technologies are information and communication technologies applied in an urban setting and with a social purpose (Pedersen and Vallgarda, 2004). Emerging at the intersection of Social Media with Ubiquitous Computing and enabled by the wide scale adoption of smartphones, Urban Social Technologies are increasingly pervading our lives. The effects are multifold and invite to reflection. A presentation by a team of researchers and students from the Interaction Design Centre at the University of Limerick will provide the material meant to trigger a conversation on the participants’ practices and opinions related to location-based practices, with a special focus on the Limerick urban space.
We couldn’t have wished for a better group of attendees on the night! We had a very interesting mix of people from various backgrounds, although current and former IMedia students formed the majority. The big map of Limerick we borrowed from Limerick Smarter Travel was excellent for triggering memories related to places and supporting the conversation.
The rain stopped about 10 min before the walk started, and it started again when we finished – so I guess we were really lucky! It’s been years since I walked on the Island, it was good to see how much things have changed for the better there! Over €1300 were raised this morning for the Cancer Foundation through the donations people made when registering for the walk.
Well done to Kevin Haugh, the organiser of the event, and to all the other people involved: stewards, walk leaders and especially to the walkers.
The Interactivos?12 workshop brought together about 30 engineers, artists, architects, developers interaction designers, activists and hackers from around Europe to work on six topics that had been selected from a huge amount of submissions. The six projects focused on a wide range of topics, from making energy consumption visible and raising awareness about recycling, guerilla gardening and collaborative cooking and eating in public spaces to encouraging inhabitants to unveil the city’s hidden potential or report cycling accidents/incidents.
I decided to join the Mobile Cityscapes team when Corelia Baibarac, whom I had met at the Local and Mobile conference in Raleigh earlier this year, told me that her proposal had been accepted. Cora is an architect doing a PhD in Trinity taking an interesting angle on encouraging mobility. We were joined by Kathryn Maguire, Christine Gates, Alessio Chierico and Eulalia Guiu. I commuted for most of the workshop, although I spent a couple of nights in Dublin. The representatives of MediaLab Prado insisted on continually documenting our work, and I took responsibility for the daily accounts, helped by Eulalia. To give you an idea about the daily activities, here is the account for each day of the workshop:
On the 25th of August, the space we were occupying in the exhibition was altered to display the results of the workshop, and we had a big launch party. We were amazed to see how many people came in and spoke to us about what we had done!
During the workshop, we used random walks in the area selected as testbed to involve potential users. We developed scenarios, a rough video prototype (thanks to my collaborator Alan Ryan who made it possible in the short amount of time we had!) and a prototype for the web-based platform (thanks to Tim Redfern, our team’s mentor, and to Max Kazemzadeh, who worked with us as technical assistant).
It was really tough work, but I had the privilege to work with some great people and to get to meet the mentors, people working on the other projects and the staff of the Science Gallery. Teresa Dillon, the curator of Hack the City, did a great job pushing us the whole time to find better ways of describing what we were doing. Jane Chadwick minded us during the 3 weeks, making us to feel at home at the Science Gallery. And it was not an easy job, with the hundreds of people coming in every day!
Being “an exhibit” in the gallery and doing work at the same time is quite a difficult task, but it had its advantages: I met friends I hadn’t met in a long long time passing by and saying hi!
I also had the chance to re-discover an area of Dublin I thought I knew well – with its hidden corners, contrasts, mysteries and great people who stopped to talk to us.
In short, it was a fantastic experience and I enjoyed it , although my body cried for rest after a busy year!
As Corelia is continuing her work on the Mobile Cityscapes project as part of her thesis work, and I am working on developing Connected Limerick further, we decided to continue our collaboration. The InfiniteCity native mobile app will be the next step, replacing the one that we have used for generating data during the workshop (EveryTrail).
This is the 5th year of 3Dcamp – when did time fly?
When we started back in 2008, there were a number of similar events running in various cities. There was a podcamp in Kilkenny, a barcamp in Cork, and in 2008 we had a webcamp in Cork before the BlogTalk conference.
When we started discussing the idea of a barcamp at UL, James put forward the idea of branding it as 3Dcamp. It was a time when 3D representations were seen as the coolest thing after sliced bread, Second Life and other virtual worlds were just surfacing. Google Earth and Sketchup were trendy, and everybody was interested in wii hacks. I didn’t know much about 3D technologies at the time, but I was definitely ready to learn!
This year, we discussed about how appropriate the 3D name is for what we are planning to include. Not very appropriate, but myself and James decided to keep it for this year, as it is a sort of brand by now.
So, for this year we encourage speakers to focus on:
The Internet of Things
Open Data, Open Culture
Gestural Interfaces (Kinect)
3D visualizations (Blender, Sketchup),
Virtual worlds & gaming (Second Life, the Metaverse)
Mapping mashups, GPS, geotagging, geocaching
Location-based Services (LBSs)
Urban games, location-based mobile games
Haptics and augmented toys (eg. Wiimote hacks),
Interactive art installations
Please keep an eye on the 3Dcamp website, our Twitter and Facebook page for news and updates. Speaker names and topics will be added closer to the date.
The hashtag for 3Dcamp 2012 across all social media will be#3Dcamp12