The Battle of Camperdown House

camperdown house with SPK

There’s a report in today’s Dundee Courier that the A-listed, neo-classical Camperdown House, centrepiece to Camperdown Park, Dundee is not going to be accessible to the public anytime soon.

I understand the problems that this must bring to Dundee City Council (DCC). So often cultural projects are criticised for being a waste of money in the face of other, more pressing issues. In this particular case DCC are saying Camperdown House is not as important as other things they have planned and therefore not a priority.

camperdown house dome

You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Sometimes you can’t please any…

However, I have a little insight into why people would want this building accessible. In October 2013 I was one of a small group who were granted access to the building as part of a collaboration between the McManus Youth Action Group (YAG) and SmallPetitKlein (SPK) contemporary dance who were interpreting our contribution to the National Museum of Scotland’s ‘Sense of Place‘ project.

View more Instagram images from the day here (you will need an Instagram account)

The purpose of the day was for YAG to work on a dance sequence with SPK that would be performed at the opening night of the McManus ‘Sense of Place’ exhibition. I can’t remember why Camperdown House was chosen other than us ‘arty’ folk like to be inspired. Given that it has been closed for so long there was definitely a ‘haunted house’ vibe which also contributed to another SPK production ‘Cut’ – see more below.

The ‘Sense of Place‘ session in Camperdown House went so well that, at the end of the day, I was able to direct a piece of film that captured the dance as well as becoming a template for another film shown in the exhibition.

So, if you would like to see inside of Camperdown House I hope that, to some degree, you can be satisfied by what follows. First you will see the camper down film, followed by the final version filmed out-and-about in Dundee. That film is then followed by scenes from our opening night at McManus where the dance was performed live, leading our audience through the museum – a stunning building in its own right.

Links:

SmallPetitKlein’s production, Cut

Dundee Courier Camperdown House article

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Visual Storytelling Made Simple: Storehouse for iPad

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Did you know that the very first version of Instagram (Burbn) was intended as a ‘Swiss army knife’ of an app… kitchen sink included. As development progressed went on, Kevin Systrom and his team stripped out feature after feature to arrive at the simple (but effective) photo sharing app that subsequently sold to Facebook for 1 Billion Dollars only 18 months after launch.

Storehouse is a new digital visual storytelling application for iPad and shares something of the simplicity of Instagram.

Positioned somewhere between Storify and photo book production, Storehouse maximises the intuitive interface potential of the iPad. Bring in pictures and video from your iPad’s photo albums, Flickr, Dropbox and Instagram to create (very quickly) a polished ‘story’ that can be annotated with text (again, limited to ‘header’, ‘quote’ or ‘regular’) and published on the web to the Storehouse community and to the world.

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Experienced desktop publishers might see the application as limited. As a long-time Adobe InDesign user the power of Storehouse, to me, is in its simplicity. Within 30 mins of downloading the app for the first time I had browsed some great stories (links below) and had one of my own ready to publish.

Sharing is simple too – Facebook, Tweet or email a link to stories. Click ‘recommend‘ to bookmark stories you might like to return to. I expected ‘recommend‘ to be a ‘like’ but I can’t see that Storehouse display numbers of ‘recommendations’, only ‘views’.

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Translation to bigger screens via your web browser is excellent, no need for ‘mum’ to download any pesky desktop apps to see your story. As yet embedding is not an option, but I wonder if that’s an intentional choice for now… YouTube videos can turn up in all sorts of places – Storehouse stories can only be seen on their site.

Developed by a team that includes an ex-Apple employee, the presentation is very cool – limited, but unfussy. As with Storify, the inability to ‘save a version’ of my work is a little disconcerting. I once experienced hours of work on Storify disappear due to a server problem. Once was enough.

Although a PDF would be appreciated, I have to say that much of the functionality and beauty of the ‘story’ would be lost. The Storehouse versions flow and bounce and twist (to close) in the fluid way we have grown accustomed to in well executed iPad apps. And while images can be cropped in the ‘story’, a single tap has the image appear full screen and uncropped.

storehouse application image

While less than a week old the Storehouse community is growing and, like me, they see a lot of potential and room to grow.

I think Storehouse would be great learning tool for schools. My daughter loves creating Keynote (Powerpoint) slides about her favourite subjects. On an iPad I could see the simplicity and intuitive nature of Storehouse being really popular with children creating home or class projects – but for that to happen I would want the ability to create private accounts, maybe even private groups where stories could be shared with the class, youth club, etc.

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I can also see me using Storehouse as a presentation tool – particularly for image heavy and Pecha Kucha style slides; particularly for the cropped images that then appear full screen.

But, I’ve kept you for far too long – you should try it out for yourself.

Have a browse through the stories I’ve linked below, including my own ‘SuperFly’ exhibition retrospective… (read more about SuperFly here)

Remember where you heard about Storehouse first – if it was here then come back and tell me what you think. If you make a ‘story’ (or you already have one) link to them in the comments below or Tweet me @OnTheSuperFly

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Dementia Diary meet Memory Box

I Met with Memory Box originator Scott Downie this week.

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It was after tweeting progress of a workshop at Alzheimer’s Scotland a few weeks ago that I received a message from Scott informing me of Memory Box and that we should talk.

My workshop was focussed on Dementia Diary, an idea formulated through the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) Workforce Of The Future Challenge (partnered with IRISS). It investigates the use of video as a tool for supporting people living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, their families and their carers.

dementia storyboard 1

Here’s a short video of one of our suggested uses:

The idea is currently in the pilot development stage and about to be trialled by Alzheimer’s and Dementia Key workers in Glasgow and the Borders.

So far we have built on the premise that Dementia Diary is an umbrella name for the preliminary idea of using video in this context. How it is adopted, modified or evolved is down to the authority, organisation or individual. From there they can call it what they like!

So what’s with Memory Box?
What Memory Box presents is a possible framework within which ‘a’ Dementia Diary could exist for some people. If offers secure access to your own or web sourced content (images, video, music, maps, etc) designed to be specific to the user’s profile. That profile would contain key information: locations of interest (home, holiday), family, hobbies, likes/dislikes, etc…

Memory Box can be managed by carers or family members and is no more complicated that your average CMS system or Facebook! It builds on the foundations and principles of Reminiscence Therapy (RT). While RT has been around for several decades the research into is relatively new but significant enough to put weight behind Memory Box. Used in conjunction with a gathering of two or more people Memory Box sparks meaningful conversations. Not only that but it helps bridge the generation gap of grandparents and young people who don’t know where to start conversations (I saw evidence of this when I did this project.)

This begs the question, should we be waiting for our elderly loved ones to be developing Dementia before we engage with a tool such as this?

Currently being tested and independently evaluated in a selection of care environments Memory Box is due to be launched early in 2014.

You can find out more about the product and the charity behind it at memoryboxnetwork.org

Anatomy of a Tweet

Our new page (filed under freebies) entitled ‘Anatomy of a Tweet‘ is precisely that!  Intended as a guide for Twitter newbies – attempting to navigate what 500M+ users now take for granted dozens of time a day – it breaks down the various elements of a tweet and explains them in very simple terms: Hazy about hashtags? Flummoxed by favourites?

Playful Communications Anatomy of a Tweet will have you ready to ReTweet in no time!

Anatomy of A Tweet

 

Take Your Time

My last post illustrated how you can use an iPhone or iPad to make simple animations.

iMotionHD is the App that I’ve used for these kinds of projects and workshops. It’s amazingly intuitive, powerful frame editing and great options for sharing your completed movie.

This morning my little boy needed to make a card for his young cousin – to make the exercise a little more interesting for them both I used the ‘time-lapse’ feature in iMotionHD to capture the process of making the card.

The iMotionHD time-lapse option takes a picture a regular intervals (e.g. 1 frame every sec, 1 frame every 3 seconds, etc) and then plays them back as a continuous movie. This can make a long or less interesting process instantly accessible. So my niece will get to witness 90mins of (not too interesting) craft in a very manageable 43 seconds – and my son enjoyed watching the movie too.

Of course, this is not just for kids. This is the same idea regularly used in nature programmes to show the passing of time/seasons, etc. But if your work consists of laborious processes then this might be a way of sharing that experience with your customers or audience.

So, here it is, have a watch. Let me know what you think. Better still, give it a go yourself and let me know how you get on!

Getting QReative with World Book Day – part two

balmullo-QR-stories

So, on Monday I posted about some book reviews I recorded at my local primary school.

I took them home, edited them where necessary (not as much as you might think) and posted them to AudioBoo – today some of those codes (the ones posted here) are in the books that they relate to.

The purpose of Curriculum for Excellence is encapsulated in the four capacities – to enable each child or young person to be a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor (see the graphic below).

FourCapacitiesDiagram

This project draws on at least two of these capacities (although self awareness and confidence are drawn in…) and I’ll detail them now:

1) Talking about something you are interested in is empowering – it also challenges how you articulate your interest. Audio doesn’t allow you to fall back on gestures and pictures so it’s all about the words. CfE – I witnessed enthusiasm, motivation and openness (successful learners). 

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2) These reviews were recorded with several (if not all) of the class mates listening in (no pressure then…). They’re listening to the review, learning from someone their own age and either wondering if their own review would have been as good or wanting them to hurry up and finish so that they can have a go. CfE – Communication in different ways and different settings, working in partnerships and critical thinking (effective contributors)

king-arthur

3) There are other things to talk about but the one that fascinates me is this. As part of the introduction to what we’re about to do in class I play a recoding of my daughter reviewing Lemony Snicket. It was recorded 2010. Our primary school is quite small and most of the kids know each other. It was great for the P2s to listen to a ‘big’ P4 talking about their favourite book – but – it’s the P2 version of them from two years ago!  Think about it – it can mess with your head a bit, but the kids love it!

mr-gum

Obviously within families the benefits of sharing across siblings and, potentially, generations could have huge benefits in terms of appreciating and understanding one another as well as the experience of sharing common interest across time! It’s a bit like being Doctor Who, but instead of a Tardis we have a QR Code.

Where do you see the value (if any…) in projects like this?
Would you question my interpretation of the CfE?

You can hear more book reviews by my own children here including this one from three years ago:

Please, enjoy the AudioBoos and leave me some feedback… I’d love to hear from you!

Getting QReative with World Book Day – part one

capturing stories

Thursday 7th March is World Book Day 2013

On this day all sorts of activities are organised across the globe to celebrate ‘the book’!

One of the events a lot of schools are adopting is the ‘Book Swap’ where young people bring in a book from home, that they’ve already read (and presumably recommend…), and swap it for something new to them.

I love the idea of swapping and sharing stories and so, as my local Primary school was organising a Book Swap, I offered to help, and add a new twist, to sharing stories…

World Book Day logo 2013

Class by class I asked some of the children about their favourite books – Without spoiling the ending, what was the story, who their favourite characters, why did they love this book! I recorded our little chat, and I’m now in the process of editing and uploading to AudioBoo.fm. I’ll then tag the AudioBoo with a QR Code and the QR Code will go in the front of the book.

Soon, these well loved books will be carrying two stories – the one in print and the one in the QR Code. And of course, the next owner could very soon be adding their own story and QR Code… we’ll have to wait and see!

Look out for links to the AudioBoos later in the week – and enjoy World Book Day 2013!

UPDATE: Part Two here