Tag: Flickr

PICNIC ’08, part four: Clay Shirkey – Here Comes Everybody

argnetpicnic2008.jpgEditor’s Note: Daniël van Gool, an administrator at the Unfiction forums, was on the scene at PICNIC ’08 on behalf of ARGNet. We were impressed with Daniël’s work covering PICNIC ’07 and, as media partners of the annual cross-media festival, were invited to a number of special events in addition to the speaker sessions. This is the fourth part of Daniël’s comprehensive look at this year’s event, a look at the beginning of day two of the event. All pictures are courtesy of Daniël as well.

Kicking off the second day of the conference was a hugely interesting keynote address by Clay Shirky, famed author of Here Comes Everybody, a highly recommended read documenting the way society is rapidly being changed by emerging social tools.

The theme of Here Comes Everybody is “Group Action Just Became Easier” and Shirky gives 4½ examples of this:

1. The social dynamics behind Flickr

Not too long ago, a Flickr pool on high-dynamic range photography (HDR) was created. What followed was a conversation in the photos’ comments about who uses what software to create HDR material. People found out that it was possible to insert pictures into the comments and kept exchanging ideas on how to improve techniques. The stream of comments slowly turned into a “lecture” on HDR photography, making it a “social object” that attracted a community. It is the process of a social gathering in reverse: instead of starting by getting people with the same interests together into a large group, the social object acts as a catalyst which slowly gathers interested people around itself.

In the past, this would have taken years: a photo shows up, people document it in magazines, it gets picked up by amateurs, people get together in meetings discussing the topic, etc. The HDR on Flickr phenomenon happened within three months and became a vital part of the rapid progression of HDR photography techniques — much faster than would have ever been possible in the past.

There’s was another example illustrated which shows the downside of the same mechanic and it’s also Flickr-based. A separate photo pool exists called the Black & White Maniacs. The name is pretty self-explanatory, and the pool has rules on posting and commenting on black and white photos. The most important rule is that in order to post a picture, you had to comment on the previous two pictures in the pool. It turned out that people either ignored the rule, or found ways around it by just leaving a simple, non-descriptive comment like “nice.” This lead to an expansion of the rule set that was meant to be really simple, which prompted some big fights between moderators and users who just wanted to show the world their pictures.

The bottomline: Flickr has introduced a service of sharing photos, but creates a whole new dilemma on the social dynamics behind the actual sharing. Shirky’s firm statement was that you cannot solve such a dilemma, you can only optimize it. The new design challenge seems to be in how the social organization takes place.

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PICNIC ’08, part three: Social network fatigue and visual asset collections

argnetpicnic2008.jpgEditor’s Note: Daniël van Gool, an administrator at the Unfiction forums, was on the scene at PICNIC ’08 on behalf of ARGNet. We were impressed with Daniël’s work covering PICNIC ’07 and, as media partners of the annual cross-media festival, were invited to a number of special events in addition to the speaker sessions. This is the third part of Daniël’s comprehensive look at this year’s event, still focused on the first day of conference speakers (the first part is here and the second part here). All pictures are courtesy of Daniël as well.

Next up on the first day’s schedule was Stefan Agamanolis, formerly of MIT, now working at Distance Lab, devising creative ways to deal with distance, giving a talk called Duelling the Distance. His rather bizarre but interesting address concerned itself with the communication analogy of fast-food versus slow-food: it’s efficiency versus quality, generic versus personalized, and so on. A mobile phone has the same ‘design mentality’ as fast food, meaning it facilitates ‘anywhere, anytime’ versus specific communication, it’s generic, and it’s the same device for any type of situation.

So Stefan and his colleagues had been thinking about what ‘slow communication’ would be like and tried to build a system based on those design principles. It would have to be free of distractions, like the concept of a phone booth pushed to an extreme.

What they ended up with were two people, submerged in two different swimming pools, each one’s head encased in a helmet that completely blocked their vision, taste and smell, while the water they floated in diminished their sense of touch. At the same time, their helmet, fitted with ultra-high-quality speakers and a microphone so the two test-subjects could communicate, was attached to three flotation devices so that they wouldn’t have to put effort into staying afloat. They called this concept the iso-phone. The experiment resulted in a lot of gestures under water by people who completely lost track of time.

This is a rather non-practical concept, of course, but it does provide insight into different aspects of the fast vs. slow analogy. We use the same communication device to call our lover as we do to talk to our lawyer or the pizza delivery guy, and this brings up the topic of intimacy. Another setup devised by Distance Lab tried to tackle this topic: a subject wears a ring on their finger that is detected by an overhead camera, which makes you able to draw in the air. The drawings are then communicated through projections of colored light onto someone else, creating an intimate way of communicating. Check out more about this project, dubbed Mutsogoto, on Distance Lab’s website.

Another few less intriguing objects were discussed before Agamanolis finished with a project called Remote Impact, which was described as a ‘boxing interface’ that lets you hit a mattress that’s mounted on a wall, where a silhouette of your opponent (potentially across the world) is projected. This setup proved especially popular on several games-related conferences over the past few months.

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Paul Denchfield + Violet Kiteway = Fun

fia.jpgThree weeks ago, we reported on the Frozen Indigo Angel game promoting BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend music festival. On the same day, we also found out about a season two preview for Perplex City. As it turns out, the two were fated to be reported together, as they were officially connected on May 12th in a blog post on Violet Underground, with a puzzle found in one of Paul Denchfield’s videos leading to a new PXC game web site.

Within a day of finding the puzzle, players of the Frozen Indigo Angel (FIA) game had solved it (see this thread at unofficialmills.co.uk) and discovered the tie-in with Perplex City. On the 14th, Denchfield posted on his blog about the recent activity and the new PXC web site, and Violet blogged about receiving emails which put her in touch with Denchfield himself. At this point, the story revolved around Cyrus Quinton, a member of the myserious Third Power who had set up a secret web page at the newly discoverd Silburn-Griggs Mining web site. Cyrus, according to Violet, is a “sound-engineer-slash-mass-murdering-psychopath,” and Denchfield warns about a “subliminal messaging scheme” Cyrus has planned for the Big Weekend concert — just as Cyrus warns his agents about Denchfield.

From the 15th to the 18th, Cyrus created “ticket challenges” for people to take part in during real world events. These challenges were noted by both Violet and Denchfield in separate blog entries, and players quick to solve the puzzles were awarded with tickets for the concert event. However, not everything is as it seemed, as a timetable was discovered at the same time, revealing that Cyrus was planning on using Perplex City technology during the weekend to send subliminal commands to listeners of Radio 1 who attended the Big Weekend concert. Alas, even as players, led by Denchfield, were told to do whatever they could to stop Cyrus from broadcasting a “primer” over the airwaves, the signal ended up going out on the 17th, “drowning out Beyonce and Shakira.”

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Game Alert: Frozen Indigo Angel

frozenindigoangel.jpgThere’s a new alternate reality game in the wild, and it goes by the name of “Frozen Indigo Angel.” It’s a promotion put on by BBC Radio 1, and is promoting Radio 1’s Big Weekend music festival. The event is the largest free music festival in Europe, and the game has a number of tie-ins to real world entities — the BBC web site, radio, podcasts and many popular web sites are where you can find information leading to the game.

The trailhead for the game can be found at www.pauldenchfield.com, which details the life of Paul Denchfield, who obviously loves the conveniences of Web 2.0, as he uses Twitter, Flickr, Imeem and YouTube to tell his story. Recently, there was a live event involving Paul as he protested at the BBC, and our sources tell us that there are more live events in the near future.

The blogosphere has taken interest in the game, as Matt Deegan, Wonderland and The Guardian Blog have all featured the game in recent posts. This is yet another example of how the BBC has embraced alternate reality gaming as a content delivery model and buzzmaker, as previous ARGs Jamie Kane and Wannabes have come out of the BBC camp.

One last thing, for you faithful ARGNet readers — watch this game carefully, as we have an inside track on a very interesting development to come very, very soon.