Yesterday we had a key development meeting between us, Orange and France Telecom R&D. We outlined the main areas of enhancement from the original prototype on the iPaq and decided on a rough target of completing version 1.1 for the P800 mobile phone by mid April. We plan to run a second trial in late April where a small group will be given devices to use over 1-2 weeks to give us a more realistic idea of why, what and how people will use public authoring over time.
Meantime FTR&D have managed to resolve a few of our Symbian/XMLRPC problems and managed to get a version of the current 1.0 prototype working across GPRS. Hurrah!
Rachel Murphy's Catalogue of Ideas for future and emerging technologies interfacing with Urban Tapestries is now on the UT website.
Giles and I recently travelled down to the University of Surrey in Guilford to attend the "Approaching the 'City'" conference put on by the INCITE group there. We set up a beautiful series of posters that Alice and Giles put together on the various facets of Urban Tapestries, and Giles chaired a panel. I was frankly amazed at the broad variety of disciplines that all seemed to fit comfortably under the conference's umbrella of "alternative urban studies". We heard researchers from film theory, cultural and social anthropology, english studies, history, interaction design, virtual reality art, sociology, academic and corporate research labs, human geography, and of course Proboscis (choose your category!)
Eric Paulos and Elizabeth Goodman presented some fascinating research done for Intel Labs on "familiar strangers" -- those people we see all the time in our daily travels, but we don't really "know". They've developed technology that people could use to interact (anonymously!) with other familiar strangers in public spaces. Especially interesting was the device's ability to display anonymous local data about "turf" ("is this a place where people like me frequently visit?") and "tribe" ("are the people here right now like me?") Ideas like these seem like a logical next research area for Urban Tapestries -- extending it from a system about "places" to one that also includes "people in places"!
Proof that industry can directly benefit from working with artists by learning new processes and methodologies that can be directly translated into their own practices:
Our partners at HP Labs have profited from taking part in our Bodystorming Experiences – adopting the model for use in their own projects. Jo Reid will be presenting their version (Modelstorming) at NESTA futurelab's Digital Dialogues Event, Sheffield 24-25 March 2004.
A new year beckons and its time to reflect back on the previous year's activities and peer ahead into the future. After a few weeks' welcome break we're now in the process of evaluating what we learned from the trial and planning the next stages of development: both of the Urban Tapestries platform (software) and of the social, cultural, economic and political uses of public authoring. We will be drawing out key themes from the trial and creating a section on this blog as a discussion forum exploring these issues and their implications.
We are continuing to develop the client software for the P800 mobile phone with France Telecom R&D, and extending and refining the server-side elements, hopefully to run a small trial of the P800 version in the Spring. Now we have the basics of a system that works, we are also starting to prepare a development roadmap for functionality: planning key stages in which to add more and more enhancements.
Beginning in April we will also be starting the next major research phase under the title 'Social Tapestries: Public Authoring and Civil Society'. In parallel with our technical development of the Urban Tapestries software, we are putting together a consortium of partners to explore specific uses of public authoring technologies in civil society contexts – collaborating on experiments to explore why people may use these technologies, what they will do with them, as well as how they can be delivered.
A Cultural Snapshot exploring this area of research will be published by Proboscis in the near future.