30 people gathered in the studio tonight to share ideas, progress, tapas and beer at a Media Sandbox event. Designed to update the community on how projects are getting on, the event also served as an opportunity to extract knowledge from the gathered crowd of innovation, web, TV, mobile and social media people.
"Mobile networks were actually built originally to carry voice. People forget this" Sam Machin, Orange
Nomos Media kicked off with an overview of how their AudioEnable mobile podcasting platform is progressing (so far easier than they expected). They are using the .NET compact framework for development, initially just for Windows Mobile as it is the schools' platform of choice. Having cracked basic functionality with a test device, the next phases will include file management, compression, upload and editing functionality (potentially the more difficult bits). Richard Hull from HP Labs and Sam Machin from Orange jumped in with some technical questions around encoding and Brian Condon asked the Audioboo in the corner question. Part of the discussion was around the user need to upload recordings 'made in the field'. Could they be uploaded later? Could the application instead use telephony to dial and record straight to a server (cue Sam's brilliantly dry comment). In the wider project, Radio in Schools is still being taken up rapidly across the UK, with schools using it to create audio newsletters to parents, communicate with twin schools in India and record school plays. "We created a platform and they are running with it".
"Stunningly we have made one sale already. And they jumped through many hoops to do it"
Next came Calum Lasham from Street Art Dealer who opened with an explanation of QR codes, lamenting the lack of UK uptake in both QR and mobile micro-payments. One of the aims of this project is to spread the gallery across the city; enabling artists to sell their work directly and cut out the middleman. As QR can encode a lot more information than a normal bar code and you can lose 70% of an image and still scan it, they are perfect electronic price tags for the street. Having sold one print already, they are planning a test installation with an unmanned gallery in Broadmead, but still have many challenges around the lack of parity in scanner quality across phones (I rate Optiscan for the iPhone), trust and payment mechanisms.
At this point we took a break and I conducted some 'special' research of my own, ripping and crumpling QR codes to see just how robust they are. My very scientific study says crumpling is fine, ripping and putting back together is sometimes not and you can lose rather less than 70% and not have a chance of reading anything. But I still think they are good.
"Big brother and Crimewatch are the most success interactive TV formats ever"
When Rik Lander started the Viral Spiral Sandbox project, he proposed to investigate how the passive nature of watching TV could be combined with the many types of interaction made possible by computers and the internet. Rik discussed how many of the TV production people he had discussed his ideas with had expressed dismay at the idea of creating a live, interactive programme; outside of the rather crass output of Channel 5 quiz programmes, the two worlds rarely meet. Rather than starting from thinking about formats, Viral Spiral is looking at what may or may not work for audiences (both those who do and don't want to interact), testing studio-based games which utilise audience interaction through things like search and messaging, the project will then develop TV formats, depending on success. Rik gave an overview of their first test session (described in his blog here) and asked his Tricky interactive question of the week: is there an inverse relationship between audience participation and quality? Rik then employed the community brain with some technical questions around the search and ARG type audience tests he is planning next.
This seemed to be a good opportunity for me to try out Aardvark for the first time, a new social network which enables you to IM questions and get live answers from your network and beyond. So, I instant messaged out Rik's question "what is the standard delivery time for an SMS?" And this is the chat transcript of what came back:
17:47 Aardvark: Got it. I'll find someone in your network who knows about *consumer electronics* , and send them your question now. I'll send you an answer in a few minutes!
17:49 Jose L./25/M/Venezuela: 3 seconds, more or less.
17:50 clare reddington: Thank you. Does it depend on traffic?
17: 54 Jose: It depends on how far are you from the closest cell (antenna). the closest, the better transfer rate you'd get. Of course It is all theoretical, in practice there's more variables to consider.
So there, not sure how useful Aardvark was, but a great event with lots of chatting, snacking and useful interjections. Thanks to all who attended.