Posts Tagged events
One of my very few non-thesis commitments in the last while was co-organising Web Art and Science camp, a one-day event held in London at the start of November. We ran it as a chance to talk about, demo and play with neat ideas in advance of Web Science 2011 and Hypertext 2011. One of our aims was to be open and accessible to people who are not strongly embedded in those communities, but instead greet with open arms unfamiliar faces, non-academics, and non-computer scientists. (Neither Web Science nor Hypertext are purely computer science by any stretch of the imagination, but there can be a bit of a stereotype in there. We need to fight that!)
How did it go? Well, I’d say! There were definitely unfamiliar faces, and we introduced the two areas of Hypertext and WebSci. Paul de Bra gave an interactive ‘unkeynote’, which I thoroughly enjoyed — more importantly, I understand from people new to the field of hypertext that they found the talk an accessible introduction. Meanwhile, although it wasn’t in my plan, I ended up running a session entitled “What’s going on in Web Science?” During the discussion, I attempted to strike the balance between introducing the Web Science concept to new bods while not boring older hands with yet another discussion about how to define WebSci. (A mini write-up of the session is here.) I’m not quite sure how well the old hands managed, but the new people were definitely positive in their feedback!
So, we introduced WebSci and hypertext. What else?
There was a wide variety of talks, including a wonderful session on narrative and what sounded like a very diverse set of demos (which I was sad to miss — the inevitable problem of parallel tracks!). As Simon Harper observed, there was a strong presence of Web Scientists from Southampton, and I agree with his assessment that the event would benefit from seeing more practising artists and writers. I see his point about the lack of archival records but please note, dear reader, we are attempting to document the event as thoroughly as we can — through blog posts such as this, the wiki resources (here), Lanyrd and Flickr. Not to mention the Twitter stream.
Of course, the above don’t constitute a formal proceedings in any way. I’d be interested to hear how other unconferences have gone about self-logging and archival, so comments would be very welcome!
As the event closed, people began talking about running a WebArtSci event next year, possibly co-located with Hypertext 2011. I’d love to talk some more about this, although I might offer a little caution about the issue of co-locating (whether with Hypertext or WebSci): it would be a very easy way to boost our numbers and profile, but perhaps at risk of excluding the people on the periphery of the communities — which this year at least, was exactly the audience we were targeting.
So I have failed miserably at updating this thing. I think I have three main things to talk about right now, two trips and one piece of news.
The news first: after a certain amount of soul-searching I have come to the conclusion that I am, at heart, an academic. I don’t want a career as a software engineer in industry — academia is my home. What this means is that I’ll be parting with IBM come the end of my degree, and starting a postdoc. I’ve really enjoyed working with IBM, and it’s a great company — it’s just not for me.
I’ve been offered a one-year position working for the desire project, looking at creative design in the context of science and technology. Given that my EngD has been all about a process for creative software design, this sounds ok to me!
However, the position is to start on 1st January next year… which means I absolutely must submit my thesis by then. So, I am currently very focused. I’ve backed out of (or deferred) all my non-essential commitments — papers, training events, talks. It is sad to say ‘no’ so much, but necessary!
That said, there were two trips I did go ahead with, despite time pressure — they were too important not to.
The first was the desire network’s second summer school, an intense six-day training event in Portugal, all about models of creative design. It’s of personal and professional interest anyway, but when you factor in that it was being run by the network which is employing me next year, not going wasn’t an option.
The event was great: some fascinating talks and seminars, but more importantly, really good people. I found it useful both for getting an insight into the ethos, goals and general ‘feel’ of the desire network, and also for getting to know the specific people with whom I’ll be working. No regrets!
I’m just back from the second trip. The IET were wonderful enough to part-fund my going out to visit Jill Walker Rettberg at the Digital Culture Research Group of the University of Bergen. Jill and I were interested in using TAPT as an analytical tool towards conducting academic research (in contrast to its previous uses as a software engineering design tool). Particularly, Jill was interested in experiences around location-based services such as Gowalla and geocaching. A couple of focus groups later, and we have a tonne of data, and some interesting papers to write… Although given my thesis situation, those papers may have to wait a little while!
It’s been a long time since I updated this: I could offer lots of excuses, but I think it boils down to “the EngD”. Poor, I know!
This is a really quick one: I’m very pleased to be co-organising Web Art and Science camp, an unconference in London on 6th November. It’s intended to be an introduction to the web science and hypertext communities, and… actually, I’ll quote from the webpage:
“Join us on 6th November for a day of ideas, fun, and creativity with Hypertext and the Web! We’re meeting in advance of Hypertext ’11 and WebSci ’11 to make cool things together, show off our work, get feedback on our ideas, and find research collaborators. You don’t have to be a researcher to come. We’re not just computer scientists. We encourage and publish work by poets, professionals, startup warriors, and academics in the humanities and political/social sciences. We’re one of the only academic conferences to publish research in non-linear formats.”
I think that summarises it well See you there?
I had the pleasure of attending Ted Nelson’s 70th birthday lecture
two days ago. It was my first time hearing him speak, and it was
fantastic! I was expecting it to be fairly computery, but the first
words he uttered were along the lines of, “I am tired of talking about computers.”
I wasn’t disappointed. He touched on many a topic, from the end of
the earth, to note taking, to the brokenness of our education systems
(students as prisoners of requirements and obligations – the fun has
been taken out, there are no choices!), to the Brothers Grimm,
linguistics and the history of the European languages, to a bit of HCI
and a rant about the ‘cut and paste’ function, a 3D version of Xanadu,
nuclear war, quitting smoking, police informants, a HIV contact curtain
using strategic self-revelation, the earth’s core, and back to
education (”the perfect curriculum is no curriculum”!).
(I’m sure the above isn’t comprehensive: the pace was fast, and I wasn’t note-taking at every moment!)
It was quite a whirlwind. Awesome stuff.
In my experience, the more interesting things happen when you bring different areas of your life together. For example, I had a great time with StorySpinner, which was about both technology and creative writing.
I help out with a local youth group, for young carers. It occurred to me, whilst getting involved with a few of the many IBM initiatives for young people (letting them know about the world of technology, and that science really can be quite cool), that these kids are probably ideal candidates for such events. You can’t generalise, but a lot of the kids have missed fair chunks of time in education, and been bullied, as a result of their caring efforts. What are the odds that they know much about what life in the IT industry is really like, or are thinking about their career options?
I asked a friend in IBM, who has run various workshops over the years, what she thought; she thought yes.
I asked my boss if he’d be okay with me running some kind of one-off event, and he gave it the go ahead.
I asked Leonie, who runs Young Carers, what she thought, and got a wonderfully enthusiastic reply!
So, I’m now taking steps to try and work out the logistics of having maybe 15 kids, 14 to 18 in age, coming into Hursley for half a day. We’ll have activities for them, a talk or two, a tour, biscuits… it should be fun!