As an introduction to my role as iShed Coordinator, I attended the two Media Sandbox events that took place in October. As a complete new-comer to the world of pervasive media, and to Media Sandbox itself, it was an enjoyable and fairly steep learning curve.
The first of the two, the industry advisors event, was lively and productive. Starting with three-minute introductions to each project, the groups then broke out into three advisor-led discussion groups: ‘technical aspects’, ‘ideas & experiences’ and ‘monetisation’. During the course of the day the groups progressed round each themed discussion.
The day was the perfect antidote to feeling that a project only has one possible route. It is so easy to get caught in a certain way of thinking, and the advisors were well chosen to bring their own unique perspectives, and ask questions that hadn’t been considered.
It was great to meet the people working on the projects. You could tell the initial workshops had brought them together in a creative way that helped them form mutually beneficial connections.
The second event was a work in progress workshop, open to anyone interested in learning or feeding into the projects. Themed around technical challenges, the set-up of this event was slightly different. Two presentations provided a backbone of knowledge transfer. Jo Reid of Calvium gave a research and evaluation methods presentation, and Constance Fleuriot of DCRC presented on the ethics of pervasive and digital media.
Jo Reid presents on testing with users
The project groups took part in break-out sessions after each talk, to discuss their own technicial challenges with advisors. This was particularly well-timed as most of the projects are nearing the demo and testing stage, and needing to think about their end-product in real terms. A final feedback session led by Constance drew the strands of the conversations together.
Feedback collated on the whiteboard
The two events were a really exciting introduction to Media Sandbox and to the advisors, project groups and all associated with it. The sessions were designed in a way that encourages generosity, creativity and productivity. Supportive experts are given the role of cross-examining each project in a positive and fruitful way – gently probing and questioning choices made, and providing alternative answers: broadening possibilities. The advisors use their experience and knowledge to inform the groups. They give examples of similar ideas, studies, games, instances, phenomena or modes of thinking that are already out there. Tell them about projects with similar aims, and connect them with people who can help. This is sharing on a very advanced level; feeding into one another’s thought processes so that problems are identified and overcome much more quickly.