Nathan Shedroff in the lab

This morning Nathan came to the lab and among other things, he met with some of our Ph.D. students.

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This kind of international influx is very important to the whole HUMlab enterprise and I am glad that our graduate students take part in it so whole-heartedly. Nathan is very easy to talk to and he brings new things and thinking to the lab.

Text Visualization

AUTHOR: geoffrey

One of the interesections between the traditional humanities, with their focus on textuality, and new media design is the emerging field of text visualization. For example, see Letter-pairs analysis which a student of mine, Matt Patey drew my attention to. The work has both a research use and an aesthetic dimension. I particularly like the attention paid to the animation of the process as letter pairs are found.

I have on my own blog collected other examples, see grockwel: Research Notes: Visualization. The question I’m working on is whether there is a semiotics to text visualization or whether it is parasitic on business graphics and information visualization?

Geolocating Services

AUTHOR: geoffrey

What can we do when know where we are? How will the availability of location information change how we interact?

More and more devices can track and report your location. Mobile phones and wireless devices (like a Blackberry) can be used for LBS (Location-based services
). Most of the services offered strike me as unimaginative – services to track your kids, to track your employees, to get directions, to provide site-specific advertising and to find information based on location. These are first generation services – extensions of existing practices instead of imaginative designs for what could be. Many of these ideas are constrained by privacy fears.

As the underlying technologies become standard, designers should start using them imaginatively and ethically. What have you heard about? What could you do with LBS? What are the privacy issues and will they constrain LBS?
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Selected Texts from ICT and the Humanities Summer School 2005

Selected Texts from ICT and the Humanities 2005 (In chronological order of appearance during the school):

Stefano Franchi (Editor), Gwen Gzeldere (Editor). Mechanical Bodies, Computational Minds: Artificial Intelligence from Automata to Cyborgs. MIT Press (January 1, 2005)

Gaby Wood , Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group 2003

Bruno Latour (2002) Jubiler ou les tourments de la parole religieuse, Les Empêcheurs-Le Seuil, Paris, Mars 2002.

Alfred North Whitehead Modes of Thought</em> New York, Free Press 1966

Andy Clark Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence. Oxford Oxford University Press 2003
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Nathan Shedroff in the lab

This week designer och writer Nathan Shedroff will be visiting HUMlab. He is the author of the book Experience Design and very well-known and well-respected both in the industry and in academia. On Thursday he will give a seminar on “Designing Meaningful Experiences” and on Friday there will be a workshop (9-12 am CET, registration required). The seminar will be broadcast live on Thursday (Sept 15). It starts at 1:15 pm CET and a link to the stream (and the associated chat room) will be posted here.

We are really happy to have Nathan visit HUMlab and the university. His stay here has been co-sponsored by the Umeå Institute of Design . Apart from the seminar and the workshop Nathan’s visit will include discussions, joint work in the lab, a visit to the Design Institute and many other things.

The extended entry contains the abstract for Thursday’s seminar

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Philosophical Aspects of Collaborative Intuitive Design

This is the final posting of my notes from the ICT and the Humanities Summer School. Although I will post a bibliography of texts used and discussed at the school tomorrow.
This final lecture at the school was given by Erik Stolterman. Department of Informatics Umeå University and it centered on the question, “What is the philosophical core of doing design?”

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Finally Blogging: Buckets of Grewal

AUTHOR: geoffrey

Well, I have been procrastinating on this guest blog in all the usual ways. What does one do with a guest blog?

First a blog entry on blogging. An acquaintance of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, started a blog in May of 2005 about a bizarre moment in Canadian politics, what is now called the Grewal affair.

Some background. Canada now has a minority Liberal government that survived a confidence vote by one vote. A member of the Conservative opposition, MP Gurmant Grewal, met with senior Liberals pretending (or not) to negotiate crossing over to the Liberal side and he secretly taped the discussions. The Conservatives issued edited transcripts of the tapes to discredit the Liberals by showing that they were bribing Grewal, but it soon started to come out that the “editing” of the tapes was suspicious. My acquaintance started his blog, Buckets of Grewal six days after the affair went public in order to analyze the documents and track this curious political sideshow. The blog, with its careful analysis of the various versions of the documents, soon became an issue itself. (See the story, CTV.ca | Rookie political blogger tackles the Grewal tapes.

What interesting is how Buckets applied textual analysis skills for dealing with documentary evidence to a contemporary political hot potato contributing an analytical blog that was one of the top 50 in Canada for a while. Anyone with a good humanities education can do this. Buckets shows how careful and open fact checking, rather than spouting opinions, can be effective. It is also interesting how the blog has itself become and issue, with conservative bloggers questioning if Buckets is too good and systematic to be one amateur – see What it takes to win…: Just who is “Buckets of Grewal” anyway?.

Coming soon, an interview with Buckets.

HUMlab seminars

We have a very interesting seminar series coming up this fall. I like the fact it is also rather different from last semester’s seminar series (which was excellent). The list for this semester is not quite ready (but almost) and here are seminars in English so far:

[Sepember 15, 1.15 pm CET]
Designing Meaningful Experiences
Nathan Shedroff, Experience Strategist

[September 20, 1.15 pm CET]
ALiCE: Artificial Life, Culture and Evolution
Nicholas Gessler, University of California at Los Angeles

[September 21, 1.15 pm CET]
My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts
Katherine Hayles, University of California at Los Angeles

[October 25, 1:15 pm CET]
The Sims as Engine of Narrativity
Jim Barrett, HUMlab

[December 19, 1.15 pm CET]
A Manifesto for the Humanities in a Technological Age
David Theo Goldberg, University of California at Irvine

All seminars will be broadcast live (realmedia) and archived, and we will also provide mp3 versions of all seminars. Streams and podcasts will be made available from this page.