Sunday, October 17, 2004

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I met with two really interesting people today. In addition to stimulating chatter about their work, studio structures and research processes they both demonstrated tools which help them make sense of, manage and creatively archive digital film footage.

Bas Raijmakers is currently finishing an MPhil in Interaction Design at the RCA. We met at Ubicomp where we discovered similar interests in alternative visual ethnographic methods. He talked through his work 'How to use film in design research. Inspiring and informing interaction design through visual media' and introduced me to the Korsakow system, which I have already downloaded and started to play with. The Korsakow system is interactive narrative software designed by Mediamatic Amsterdam and the University of Arts in Berlin (UdK). Bas is using it to explore how it, and other filmic techniques, might build bridges between designers and the people they study. Korsakow is interesting in that clips can be remixed by viewers into a plot of their own design, thus co-creating the meaning of the film with the filmmaker. It does this through a database that links clips with identified key words. Some of Bas's work will be online soon.

I also had the pleasure of meeting up with Paula Neal of PDD, (a product design and innovation company committed to user-centred research). She introduced me to the scope of interdisciplinary creativity that goes on in a huge warehouse space in Shepherds Bush. In particular (if I can narrow it down) I really liked the digital footage archiving system that researchers use to catalogue clips, complete with annotation, for easy searching by anyone for any project. You can imagine the size of their backup system!

Both meetings and tool intro's reinvigorated my creative thinkings about the box of footage, images, sound and interview transcripts I have gathered over the last 15months from my bus research. mmmmmm
- kat

Monday, October 11, 2004

I am still at a loss about Saturday’s election results in Australia. More than just miserably reeling from the prospect of another term of Howard, bloated from the success of ‘making history in his fourth term’, but about my fellow Australians who have swallowed the political farce. Who are they? His victory represents an endorsement of all the gut wrenching political rhetoric that doesn’t fit anywhere in my understanding of Australia. It’s made me question what Australia is becoming and what it means to be Australian. I have been calling friends and family and I have been glued to the internet searching for comments, news, opinion to somehow reinforce my own beliefs, my ideals, my values. At this time I have found myself reading lots of aussie blogs (more than my usual favourites) for they offer me a sense of shared community - of personal outrage and disbelief. Being away makes these moments even more acute. According to a Diplomat Survey published Sept 2004, 1 million Australians live outside Australia - 3/4 of them on a permanent or long term basis. That’s an enormous number, which has increased markedly over the last decade (see any links?). It will be interesting (and depressing) to see if this trend continues.

The Menzies Centre for Australian Studies is holding a number of seminars I hope to attend.

14.10.04. The Australian Federal Election. A panel discussion of the Australian election results and the likely consequences.

26.10.04. Anne Summers, AO. Can Women's Equality in Australia be Restored?

27.10.04. Menzies Lecture: Michael L'Estrange (High Commissioner for Australia). The Australia-Britain relationship today: patterns of history, dynamics of change.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

RIP Derrida.


Friday, October 08, 2004

This term, I'm going to be teaching on a new degree course here at Surrey: MSc Digital Technologies and Society. It's designed to foster critical thinking within the design and production of digital tech. My course is entitled "Concepts and Theories." I'm going to meet the students in a couple of hours and I'm curious about their backgrounds. My guess is that most of them will have come from computer science, rather than the social sciences. I'm not exactly sure why I think that. I suppose it's easier to imagine a computer scientist deciding they wanted to know something about research, theory, and method AS A PART OF their practice as a computer scientist. It's much harder for me to imagine a theorist (social scientist, cultural stud, etc) wanting to take courses in computer science without imagining that this represents some kind of career change. Probably this says much about my biases, and the tenacity of a view which stupidly divides theory and practice (despite theoretical and practical allegiances to the contrary). Maybe it also says something about disciplinary flows: which disciplines can conceive of themselves AS themselves while taking onboard another discipline's optics and methods; which have a harder time with this kind of expansion.

In The Pirate's Fiancee, Meaghan Morris says this about expansion and engagement across boundaries that seem to divide theory from practice: "...serious engagement with popular culture must eventually accept to take issue with it [popular culture] and in it, as well as about it, and I think this means writing seriously about popular theories as well as (or even rather than) writing 'popular' spin-offs from academic theories." The successful practice of which would go a long way towards undermining our capacity to talk meaningfully about theory as un-practical and practice as un-theoretical.


Monday, October 04, 2004

Lawrence Lessig, of Stanford University Law, launched the UK version of Creative Commons today at UCL. He spoke about the problems of the existing copyright system and the future of creativity and technology.

Creative Commons is a new way for authors, artists, musicians, film makers, programmers and others to make their creative works available to the world. Rather than the usual"(c) All Rights Reserved" approach that limits the use that can be made of works, Creative Commons provides a"(cc) Some Rights Reserved" license. Creative individuals can use the Creative Commons website to automatically generate licenses that fit their exact needs.

Lessig talked about cultural remix which he described as the freedom of creative expression to remix culture without seeking permission. He argued that digital technology has changed the way creative content is created, developed and distributed and so should our understanding of copyright. He does believes in copyright to protect creative content BUT not where it is ambiguous and unnecessarily applied to content without the creators intent. He is for collaborations across the internet, creative co-creation and building on other people's work but he is against lawyers as unnecessary intermediaries.

The licenses are available from November 1. They are made up of three layers; human speak, lawyer speak and machine speak. The first so you as a creative person can understand how it works, the second so the court will support and respect your claim should it resort to that and the third sets up an infrastructure for a searchable database in the future. The UK is the 10th country to take on the Creative Commons model. There are apparently 60 others currently negotiating their own. There are various spin-offs from the original version. Wired magazine will feature a CD of music released under Creative Commons sampling license. There is also a Science project looking to push open access publishing and the BBC Creative Archive is currently building on the CC model. Upon questioning Lessig admitted they started with a culture model before an academic one but hoped through experimentation it would develop. It has me thinking about the changes it suggests - How it might affect the way I blog or read or reference other blogs? How different the UK version will be to others? and more, but later as this post is long enough...