Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Face your pockets project

Flickr has a photo pool called 'what's in your bag?' This group has almost 4000 photos in it (and growing). If you would like to do something a little different, Timur Akhmetov and Yulia Yakushova are encouraging you to scan your face alongside whatever happens to be in your pockets.

I have no idea why.

But it's really interesting to see what and how and wonder why.

In the 1990s, before James Gee began to think about video games and learning he wrote about Discourse (with a big D), describing it as an identity kit. With that in mind, it is fascinating to see what people keep in their pockets and/or what they want us to think they keep in their pockets and how they choose to arrange it all.

There's something really interesting here about the notion of making the very personal and private, public. The communal nature of the activity is also quite fascinating.

Don't forget to close your eyes when you do your own entry (or wear goggles).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Public Diplomacy Island event

The University of Southern California's Annenberg Public Diplomacy Island is hosting an international virtual event in Second Life on the 22nd June from 9.00 SLT. Second Life CEO Philip Roseday and MacArthur Foundation's President Jonathan Fanton will discuss philanthropy in virtual worlds. Grab your avatar and turn up!

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Mooch: to obtain something without paying for it.

BookMooch is about giving and receiving books. Every time you give a book, you receive a point and can in turn get a book you want from someone else registered on BookMooch. You can also choose to give your points to identified charities.

Cool idea.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Beyond the digital divide - Futurelab at work

If you've never been to the Futurelab website, you should go. As their website says, they really are passionate about changing the ways in which people learn and exploring the ways in which technologies and learning intersect and they do some funky, important stuff.

One of the most exciting sections on the website is (for me, at least) the commissioned literature reviews - all cutting edge and written by key people in relevant fields. In the last couple of weeks a great paper on the digital divide has been released. Really clear outline of key issues that points to the complexity of the notion and identifies a set of questions to which we must attend in order to move beyond the divide.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I have been reading designobserver. Apparently we are currently publishing a book every 30 seconds - which means that by 2052 there will be more people writing and publishing books than people reading them. This poses interesting challenges for publishers and authors.

Alice Twemlow asks:

Why keep on with the work of traditional publishing when the Internet would seem to provide a much more efficient means for reaching the people? What is is about the book, pamphlet and magazine formats that continue to lure publishers onto the rocks of insolvency?

Perhaps it's the level of control that books afford. They are created from the top down: completed and finessed before their release, they provide few entry points for unpredictable reader contributions. Books are statements, serene and imperturbable.

This issue of control and sense of completion is interesting, particularly when contrasted against the more fluid and eternally incomplete nature of many digital texts. Different technologies, different social purposes, different functions.

Flickr photo 'Pile of books' by hawkexpress.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Google maps Street View

Wow!! I love Google's new Street View. I do a lot of research where I collect photographs of textual landscapes in urban sites. The ability to cruise around urban sites from the comfort of my office is cool (don't get me wrong - it doesn't replace the need to be on site). The top photo is a street scape shot of a random street in San Francisco (878 Haight Street); the second photo is zoomed in on the poster board (in the top right hand corner of the street scene).

The collision of geography and technology with my own interests is really exciting.

If you want to learn about Street View, there's a cute tutorial here.

On the privacy issue raised in relation to Street View: I've been living in the UK where I appeared on CCTV an average of 300 times a day. If you're in the US and you are one of the 100 million people who shop at Wal-mart you are contributing to the more than 460 terabytes of personal data (your social security and drivers license number, where you live, which colour lipstick you buy, what snack foods you like, when you are having a dinner party).

Sunday, June 03, 2007


The GeoCommons site was officially launched on the 28th May at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Jose.

The aim of GeoCommons is "to make the world of detailed geospatial data on everything from crime statistics to meteorite strikes at your finger tips". This is amazingly cool.

The heatmap pictured here is "The hippest place to live in San Francisco". The brighter the heat spot, the greater the concentration of particular categories. In this case, SeaGor (who created the map) chose popular bars, low crime rate, density of tech workers, newer homes and female motorbikers as indicators of 'hip' and overlaid them accordingly. Interesting choice of categories.

See the blog as well.