Category Archives: Richard

Favorite Photos of 2013

image

It’s taken me a while to put together my favorite shots on Flickr that I posted in 2013. This is an annual tradition that I’ve had going for a decade now, which I guess makes Flickr one of the longer-running services that I still use.

I’m not sure what I can learn last year’s photos. I only took 4,788 shots, which compared to 2012’s high of 7,472 doesn’t seem that impressive. But 2012 was the year of the Olympics. 2013 did feel a little more sporadic, though, in terms of my photo taking, and in terms of my photo posting. I lost track a little of what I’d posted throughout the year. I’m not sure why. I’ve already taken 1,982 shots this year, so maybe I’m rectifying that, although many of those are of the after-effects of flooding. Those are still about preserving memory, but perhaps not in the same uplifting way that last year’s shots of our family reunion are.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Portrait a Day

I’ve started trying to draw a portrait a day. This is inspired partially by friends who’ve taken one photo, or even a self-portrait, every day with their cameras for a whole year. I’m hoping to do the same, but with an emphasis on allowing it to try and improve my drawing skills rather than my photography.

At the moment I’m on day 53, with no breaks. I’ve filled one Moleskine sketching notebook already. Who knows if I’ll make it to 365 pictures (or 7 sketchbooks). I’m enjoying trying, though.

I’m posting my favourites to Flickr, some of which are below.

#22. 20th November 2010. Saturday. Home.#34. 2nd December 2010. Thursday. Home.#47. 15th December 2010. Wednesday. Home.#48. 16th December 2010. Thursday. Home.#53. 21st December 2010. Tuesday. Home.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

CHI 2010 workshop on HCI at the End of Life

On the 10th of April I helped host a workshop session at this years Computer Human Interaction conference (known by the shorthand “CHI”) in Atlanta, Georgia, with Mike Massimi (who really did the bulk of the work), Dave Kirk and Will Odom. I’m a little late getting this out, but I thought I’d write up some thoughts about the experience, as well as use this blog post as a place to write up the notes from my breakout session during the day, which was on “artefacts”.

Workshops are run before the conference proper begins, and are a chance for groups of like minded people to get together to discuss and learn more about a topic area. Our topic was “Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at the End of Life”.

P1010682
Lunch at Max Lager’s

The term HCI is getting a little outdated in this context, really. It’s a term used in our industry as shorthand for “people using technology”, although it sounds way more geeky than that. What the 11 of us who met were primarily interested in was how technology is being used, or might be used, during the difficult period towards the end of a persons life and after.

Mike Massimi’s original call for participation gives you a good sense of the themes in more detail, and the position papers we received from participants show the variety of work going on in this area. These are all downloadable from the site and worth a closer look. For example, some of the participants had studied activity on social networking sites such as Facebook after someone in a community had passed away. Others looked at how technology might make decision making easier for those approaching the end of their lives. A few papers dealt with the use of digital media in this space, from creating personal chronicles of a life, to photographing people after they had passed away. My own interest was through the work I’ve been doing on Technology Heirlooms, looking at the process of passing digital things on at the end of life.

It all sounds very morbid, but actually wasn’t. I think we had a very thoughtful, thought-provoking and insightful day, with some great discussion and some practical next steps. We spent quite a bit of time doing introductions, and giving each participant time to explain their work. It’s always great to hear first hand accounts of motivations and outcomes.

 

BREAKOUT SESSIONS

Then after lunch we did a classic post-it note exercise, developing a grouping the different themes we had picked up during the day. We found 4 themes that emerged:

  • The Temporal – about the process before, during and after bereavement. Something we called the “Narrative of Dying”.
  • Identity, Ethics and Social Networks – around issues of online identity. How control of someone’s online identity comes about after their death and the ethics of then managing someone else’s online presences.
  • The Ethics of Research Practice – dealing specifically with how researchers should do their work sensitively in this domain.
  • Artefacts – around issues of dealing with “stuff” before and after bereavement.

 

ARTEFACTS. PROS AND CONS.

I joined the group (consisting of Angela Riechers, Jim Kosem and Daniela Petrelli) that took on the last of these topics, on Artefacts. We really felt like this was an issue of the tension between digital and physical things, that somehow we didn’t understand what we might be losing as heirlooms shift from being ‘real’ to ‘virtual’. We decided to use the time listing out the positives of each.

P1010687 P1010688

There was a suspicion in our group that our relationship and sentimentality towards physical things was a generational thing. That new generations, who spent more time with the digital than the physical, wouldn’t feel the same bias as some of us towards the physical.

There was also a sense that physical things were losing their value, as they become transient and temporary holders of digital content. An example of this kind of object is a mobile phone, which is typically replaced every 14 months.

An interesting outcome of these lists are that the positives of one form of artefact are inevitably a negative for the other. And in many cases the reverse of a positive of one artefact type was a positive of the other. So, for example, the ‘uniqueness’ of a physical thing was seen as a positive – the fact that there’s only one of each physical thing makes it somehow more precious. So somehow the fact that digital things are easy to copy and therefore can’t be considered unique cheapens them. At the same time, the fact that a digital thing can be so easily duplicated is also a positive. It makes a digital thing shareable amongst family members, for example, with no arguments over ownership.

So here is the list of positive attributes of physical things:

  • Physical things are unique.
  • Physical things are precious.
  • Physical things have a “smell” – subtle qualities of being physical.
  • Physical (particularly old) things have an aesthetic that comes with time.
  • Physical things have to be curated because they take up real space. You can’t keep a limitless number. They force decision making.
  • Therefore, physical things have been ‘selected’, which makes them more meaningful.
  • Physical things have stories associated with them about their physicality.
  • Physical things get a patina through their knocks that also tell their story.
  • Books exemplify a special example of the physical. They have attributes that it’s hard for the digital to match (such as browsability, portability)
  • Physical things can be personalised and changed.

And here’s the positive attributes of digital things:

  • Digital things do not take up space – there’s no cost associated with keeping them and they are very portable.
  • We can have a serendipitous relationship with digital things that can be delightful. I can put all 60 gigabytes of my music collection on random, for example, and find songs I haven’t listened to in decades.
  • Digital things can have rich interactions, motion etc.
  • Digital things can be easily duplicated and shared.
  • Digital things do not crumble.
  • Digital things can be augmented with metadata – objects can carry their stories, for example.

And a few things we found that both shared:

  • Both physical and digital things need to be maintained to make sure they persist.
  • Both digital and physical things make us guilty if we don’t sort them out.
  • We feel delight when we randomly come across lost or forgotten things, whether they are digital or physical.
  • Both need curating, but for different reason. For physical things we need to decide what to keep in order to keep our environments sane. For digital things we curate to make special, in order to elevate the “best” for sharing for example.

This feels like a useful list, for me at least, as we continue to think about the digital and physical forms that we reminisce with through the things we keep. Relevant to the Technology Heirlooms work, anyway.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Old Timecard Video

I’d forgotten about this video from last year’s Innovation Day event at Microsoft Research in Cambridge (so this was from about April 2009). It shows the V1 of Timecard, which was a non-working proof of concept that came before the working version I described recently. The comments about the goals behind the project still apply, even if the object itself has changed quite a bit.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Workshop on HCI at the End of Life

I’m helping organize a workshop on the topic of “HCI at the End of Life” at the Computer Human Interaction 2010 (CHI) conference in April. To say I’m organizing it would be a little inaccurate. Somehow I have my name down as an organizer, but in reality this seems to mean watching Mike Massimi being hugely productive.

The workshop is closed now, unfortunately, but there’s a bunch if interesting papers up on the site

http://www.dgp.toronto.edu/~mikem/hcieol

image

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Interaction 10 talk

I was lucky enough to do a talk at the recent Interaction 10 conference in Savannah. An amazingly inspiring event, spread over a number of really eclectic locations (a theatre, a pharmacy, a blacksmiths and a restaurant). Compared to the inaugural conference in 2008, which was also in Savannah, the distribution of locations really encouraged mixing, as well as giving a much better sense of the city.

At some point I’ll go through my notes and write something up, but for now I thought I’d post the video of my bit.

Richard Banks-The 40 Year Old Tweet from Interaction Design Association on Vimeo.

Thanks to Geoff Alday, Diego Pulido, Gautam Ramdurai and others for the reviews.

Videos of the rest of the sessions are here.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook

Nowhere Girl

Odd the things you find now that humanity is dumping its combined knowledge of useless ephemera online. It’s as good a place as any for it, I guess.

Exhibit A,  the video for the song “Nowhere Girl” by flash-in-the-pan band, B-Movie. My roommate Nick Mellor and I obsessed over this one in our study at school when we were about 15. A study which we had unadvisedly painted black and red, BTW.

I didn’t even know this song HAD a video (not that ripping off Metropolis counts as creative).

Importantly, this is the 12″ version not the 7″. Something about the 12″ version was way more compelling. Maybe the sound of the girl/gull (we were never sure which) screaming at the beginning of the track?

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook