Sense of Place – part three

electric theatre

I started using QR Codes in 2010 – firstly to see if I could add any value to advertising. I then became more interested in education and developing the ‘game’ element (of what were essentially digital treasure hunts) to engage children in learning activities.

Conveniently, in the middle of this diversion from advertising in education I was asked to create a trail for an eTouirsm PhD Summer School at the School of Computer Science at St Andrews University. One of the lecturers had been watching the NEoN Knights QR Game unfold on Twitter and got in touch.

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His brief was for my trail to achieve two things: 1) An example, on day one, of technology enabling tourism that would prompt discussion and encourage the students to design their own ‘products’ throughout the remainder of the week. 2) An ice breaker, an introduction for the students (most of whom would be travelling from across Scotland) to St Andrews and to each other.

The aim of the eTourism trail, from my perspective, was a combination of both advertising and education. For a city like St Andrews those tow things are inseparable because the majority of the tourism is heritage and history.

St Andrews Space Hop

It was also an opportunity to engage with a Twitter/Social Media active community of independent traders across St Andrews who would value the interaction with tourism in a technological way and boast about it through their online channels.

The combination of these three opportunities has prepared me with the experience to create at least two other trails (though their have been more) that both educate and entertain:

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Dighty Water – A vital stretch of water in Dundee’s history; rich with stories that have been gathered and tagged to QR Codes that will be dotted along portions of the walkway that follows the water.

And now:

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Sense of Place (SoP): The McManus, Dundee

The McManus has a fantastic permanent collection, curated under the title of The Making of Modern Dundee (MoMD). This collection is situated down stairs at The McManus includes remnants of the original Tay Bridge that collapsed in 1879, through to video games from the 1980s created in the city. Many of the objects in this collection inspired work created for Sense of Place. Without moving them, we wanted to acknowledge them as part of our exhibition. QR Codes were the simple solution.

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Throughout the SoP exhibition programme visitors will find QR Codes alongside project descriptions. These codes deliver additional content and help visitors understand the connection to MoMD – you may even find a sample hide here…

However, should you wander into MoMD knowing nothing about SoP there are QR Codes on the display cases that point you to the relevant work in our exhibition.

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For me, it is the richest combination of physical and digital artefacts that I have worked on and another accomplishment in the image of the model I established with my Masters ‘Mystery Boxes’ project during 2011.

As if this wasn’t enough, the content behind some of the QR Codes are pieces of work that could constitute an exhibition for themselves. Trips across the Tay Bridge replicating a journey made, captured and shared over 100 years ago. Besides that you can share in the tour of MoMD that we made as a group with Brian Cox and hear him recounting memories of growing up an living in 1950s Dundee.

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The thread through all of this is a desire to preserve memories, stories and experiences. While this feels very new, because the technology is so ubiquitous in 2013, we learned that our capturing and sharing activity is no different, in practice, to that of 1897. More people have access to the tools but the majority of them are filming the mundane processes of daily life as the pioneering filmmakers of the late 19th Century had. Train journeys. People at work. Children at school.

So, I am very grateful to ‘Sense of Place’. As I’ve said before, working with the young people was rewarding/entertaining enough. But in addition to that, together we’ve worked on projects that we will talk about for the rest of our lives – Tay Bridge journey, SmallPetitKlein, Brian Cox, the BIG Print, and so on… Finally, the fact that we’ve had the opportunity to bring it all together for the exhibition is the icing on the cake. But not just any old icing. Elaborate, swirly, multicoloured icing with adornments of sweet decorations covering a beautifully hand-made cake. That’s what it’s like.

Go along. Have a look. Let me know what you think.

Thanks :)

Find out more about:

NEoN Knights (Digital Arts Festival) – St Andrews Space Hop (St Andrews Uni PhD Summer School) – Balmullo Primary School (Permanent Heritage Trail)
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Storify, Storify Storify

Storify is fantastic. That’s all you need to know.

Storify exists simply for you to gather, or craft, a narrative from snippets of social media channels.

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The likes of Twitter, Instagram, Faceook, etc, are already in the business of providing a means of telling a story but they are rigid streams of information and the story can be lost – at the very least it must be searched out. Storify puts you in hot seat as narrator/curator, however you like to look at it, and gather the relevant elements from a variety of channels including those mentioned above.

So, here’s an example: A couple of weeks ago I organised a QR Trail across Dundee for McManus Galleries Youth Action Group – a group of young people interested in the arts. We’re currently looking at digital and social media – what it’s all about and if it has any value.

The aim of the QR Trail was to deliver images of Dundee from 100 years ago (or more), in the spot where they were originally taken and the young people were tasked with capturing the same scene as it appears today and share it via Instagram.

McManus Crawl Players

Back at the museum I gathered their images live, as they appeared on the Instagram feed and put them into Storify along side links to the old photos that were to inspire them! (via Photopolis).

We Tweeted the Storify feed. This meant that, potentially, viewers could follow the young people’s progress live as I combined the Instagram pics with those from Photopolis (while adding a little narration). The Storify feed remains of course and you can view it here.

I’m noticing more and more sites, the Guardian for example, using Storify to gather stories that break on Twitter.

My only reservation is that I can’t yet export my completed project – they remain on the Storify site. I did have an experience last ear where I gathered a Storify for a conference I was working at and my 2 hours work coincided with a Storify server crash! I had no option but to start again. Presumably Storify learned from that experience!

That aside I love Storify! Do you?
What other sharing platforms do you love?

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

Creative Speed Dating

I attended Fife Creativity Xchange 2012 (#CXFife12) last week where I presented my Balmullo History QR Code Safari. Held at packed Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, it was a well attended event where 10 groups presented creative educational projects in a ‘speed dating’ format. I’m fine with creativity, but ‘speed dating‘? This was a new experience!

Each project was sat at a table and, on arrival, the attendees were appointed one of the 10 tables to start at. After the opening key note (Fife Director of Education – very good!) each project had 10 mins to present (a countdown clock was projected onto the main screen), at the end of which an alarm would sound, attendees moved on to the next table and the process started again.

The cons: As a presenter, 1) I didn’t get to hear about the other projects and 2) I had to listen to myself 10 times! Nothing could be done about 1) but 2) turned into a little challenge in it’s own right and I quite enjoyed it – reiterating the presentation on the fly was really good practice – and by the time I’d got to 8) it was really flying!

The Pros: (Besides the Pros which came out of the Cons…) Having talked to a room of 60 – 100 and beyond I’ve never had so much immediate feedback from one session. I’d present for about 6-7 mins and then 2 or 3 mins would easily be filled with a combination of questions and feedback.

Standing on a stage doesn’t suit everyone or put them at their best. Likewise, not everyone is up for approaching a speaker so this process solved both of those problems.

It’s not for every event (Would TED have been as successful in this format?) but I think the ‘speed dating’ approach is a good alternative to bear in mind.

Anyone had similar experiences..?

Thanks to all who contributed to the organisation of #CXFife12 and turned up, contributed and made it a genuinely worthwhile afternoon! For more on the QR Safari go here.