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Mobile Phones and the Work/Life Boundary

The next keynote speaker here at Mobile Media 2007 is Judy Wajcman. Her focus is especially on the question of work/life balance in a mobile environment, and she highlights the home-to-work and work-to-home spillover which mobile technologies have made possible. Such spillover can be both positive and negative, even though research focus has been mainly on negative aspects; this is a shift from earlier interest in developing family-friendly work/life policies. At any rate, the boundaries of home and work are clearly being blurred, and the mobile phone is often positioned as a threat to the quality of personal life (while others also see it as an enabling technology, of course).

Mobile Media, 2007 and Beyond

I'm spending the next few days at the Mobile Media 2007 conference, which is already shaping up to be a very interesting event. The first plenary kicks of with Leopoldina Fortunati. She notes the important role of Australasian countries in academic debates around ICTs and mobile communication - a shift from a European focus in the 1990s. This has been driven by the increasingly important economic role of these countries; Asian countries now are the key market for mobile devices, of course (and Australia is in an interesting position as a bridge between Asian and European cultures). The research community on mobile communications has itself been highly mobile, therefore.

Any Graphics Artists in the Audience?

I'm back in the country (and off to the Mobile Media conference in Sydney tomorrow), and I'm continuing to work through my produsage book, whose working title may have shifted again - we're looking at Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: The Shift from Production to Produsage as an option now.

In the book, I'm working with a number of graphs to clarify the concepts I'm using. For one of them, I'm coming up against the limits of my design skills, so in true produsage style, I'm wondering if anybody reading this may be able to offer their talents? I'll acknowledge your contribution in the book, of course! Below is the passage in question, and my first sketch for the graph. What it should show is the tall peak and soft slope I'm talking about - basically a version of the classic 'long tail' graph turned 360 degrees around its vertical axis, perhaps with an overlaid texture that indicates the location of interest community clusters clusters on the soft slope. Any takers? Email me... (The image will need to be hi-res, and work in black & white print on paper, of course...)

Call for Papers: M/C Journal 'error' Issue

We're now calling for contributors for the next issue of M/C Journal:


M/C - Media and Culture
is calling for contributors to the 'error' issue of

M/C Journal

M/C Journal is looking for new contributors. M/C is a crossover journal between the popular and the academic, and a blind- and peer-reviewed journal. In 2007, M/C Journal celebrates its tenth year in publication.

Palpable Creativity, Cognition, Collaboration

Washington, D.C.
We're now in the wrap-up session for Creativity & Cognition 2007. Programme co-chair Elisa Giaccardi begins by highlighting the range of themes, topics, and disciplinary backgrounds represented here, and introduces keynote speaker Thecla Schiphorst. Thecla begins by noting the increasing miniaturisation of computing technology, and the invisibility of the object which follows from this increases the visibility of our own presence and contributions. She frames this in a field of somatics: the felt experience of the self, through lived experiences, first-person methodologies, tension and movement, and a phenomenological understanding.

New Musical Instruments and Tools for Collaboration

Washington, D.C.
I got back a little late from today's lunch, and missed most of the first couple of papers in the next session here at Creativity & Cognition 2007. The paper by Kirsty Beilharz and Sam Ferguson is already in progress; they enhanced a Japanese flute, the shakahachi, with a variety of extra-instrumental sensors which drive a generative music system, creating a hyper-instrument, or a creative environment for the instrument. The environment senses the player's physical gestures while plying the instrument; some such gestures already exist as part of the normal process of playing the shakahachi, and the environment therefore enhances and builds on the often unconscious movements of the player, enabling them to exploit techniques they already have. Additionally, qualities of the instrument tone itself (breathiness, noisiness, and other qualities) are also monitored and harnessed.

New Approaches to Design

Washington, D.C.
The next session at Creativity & Cognition 2007 starts with a paper by Ron Wakkary and Leah Maestri. They note the rise of ubiquitous computing as providing a new focus on design for the home, and point to the fact that in the home, evolutionary solutions to common problems are most appropriate; this relies on pliable, changeable artefacts which enable users to be everyday designers of their home environment. Creativity in this context is a quality of resourcefulness and adaptivity, and relies on 'tinkerability': appropriation of available tools and technologies, their adaptation, and judgments of quality. Ron and Leah conducted a study examining such practices in a number of homes.

Environments for Creative Work

Washington, D.C.
The final day of Creativity & Cognition 2007 has begun, and Andrew Warr and Eamonn O'Neill are making a start. The note that design is a collaborative creative process, and that a number of tools for the creation, manipulation and dissemination of externalisations and boundary objects in design. Externalisations, such as sketches, complement verbal communication and allow for the creation of tangible forms for ideas; boundary objects are externalisations that are used to communicate and facilitate shared understandings. For Schön, this enables a design process of seeing-drawing-seeing, facilitating the development of individual and shared understandings and of a common ground in a group, in an iterative process.

Creating, Sharing, Using, Produsing

Washington, D.C.
We're in the last session for today already, and Stefan Schutt makes a start. He's in the process of building Small Histories, a Website for users to upload and compare their life stories. Stefan begins by sharing his own very interesting life story (his family originates from Pomerania, and is now spread across the world including relatives in Germany, France, and Israel). Inspired by such family history, Stefan has built a Website for uploading and sharing this and similar stories; this enables users to compare perspectives on events and times in history through sharing their own small histories, putting them out into the public domain without the need for turning them into something else first.

Models for Creative Collaboration

Washington, D.C.
The next presenters at Creativity & Cognition 2007 are Yun Zhang and Linda Candy, focussing on art-technology collaborations. Her study focussed on a specific group of collaborators developing a new media art project reinterpreting the experience of exploring the Brickpit Ringwalk in Sydney. Collaboration took place in face-to-face, proposal-assisted, drawing-assisted, computer-assisted, and interactive artefact-assisted modes, and such interactions were analysed in Yun and Linda's research. The results are perhaps what one would expect: face-to-face and proposal-assisted modes of collaboration decline over the duration of the project, while computer- and interactive artefact-assisted forms of collaboration pick up as the process develops. This indicates perhaps the growing maturity of the project itself, and points to the crucial role that mediation technologies play in developing a project.


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