I had such an interesting day last Friday but I haven’t had a chance to write it up until now. I kicked off by meeting Ben Mawson at The Cowheards, a pub on the common close to Southampton University. Ben introduced me to his ongoing work Portrait of a City. He gave a me a cheap Android phone, with no sim card, and a pair of headphones (on the longest cable ever – pbviously made for sharing). The phone was running NoTOURS softwhere.
While I’m looking at (broadly) how narratives can be told across space, I gatecrashed an interesting seminar today looking at how spaces (thats places, not the space between the words) can be pulled out of narratives and mapped. Its all part of the Spatial Humanities project at Lancaster University. Patricia Murrieta-Flores visited Southampton (her old alma mater) today to share some of the work she has been doing as a proof of concept for the idea.
Just a short note to set out my position. In my reading I’ve again and again come across an academic division in the study of games, between ludology and narratology. (Ludology being a word I hadn’t heard before, meaning “game studies”.
I’m thinking about music. Which is slightly scary for me, as I’m not very good with music. I have no sense of rhythm, I’m not tone deaf, but I do struggle to tell the difference between notes, and though I enjoy singing, people around me don’t enjoy my singing. This might have something to do with two of my favourite musicians being Bob Dylan and Shane McGowan whose own singing voices are a matter of some division among critics.
My fact of the day appears to be that time itself started on Monkey Island. In his Games and Culture paper Michael Black argues that one of the key innovations Ron Gibert introduced with the graphical adventure game Secret of Monkey Island, was a “sense of temporal narrativity.
My wife told me “You can stop studying for your PhD now, you’ve done what you wanted.” Last night I hit the end credits of Red Dead Redemption. My wife isn’t entirely right, but yes, reading about Red Dead Redemption was one of the “triggers” (forgive me) for thinking about what Cultural Heritage might lean about telling stories in three-dimensional spaces. In February I decided I had to actually play the thing, and went out to buy a cheap XBox and the game.
Gah! Sculpting Hypertext is harder than it looks! I’m still struggling with what I thought would be a simple enough exercise to practice using the free hypertext creation tool for non-techy creatives: HypeDyn. You may recall I set myself the task of adapting the draft text for a guide to the River Wey and Godalming Navigations, into a hypertext document. The original text, by Sue Kirkland, reads very well, but its written as though the reader is walking the length of Navigations, upstream.
Forgive me a little aside here, but I’m feeling a little proud about this. I first started working with the Vyne, a National Trust property in Hampshire, about 18 months ago. On my first visit, one of the objects that most interested me (apart from the truncheons stored in the ante-chapel to impose the will of the aristocracy on the peasants) was a fourth century gold ring, said to have been one of Tolkien’s inspirations for the ring that features in his famous books.
Last night I saw a presentation by Dr Mark Eyles. It was part of a meeting of the Hampshire Unity3D/3D Interactive Group (H3DG), a groups which started up just as I was beginning my studies, so I’ve sort of fallen into it. Its a great little get together, about once a month at The Point in Eastleigh. Part of the evening consists of a tutorial demonstrating how easy the Unity3D engine is to use.
I’ve spent the day engaged in a first-pass edit of a proposed guidebook text into HypeDyn. The text is the 10,000 word draft by Sue Kirkland of a guide to the River Wey and Godalming Navigations. Though this is National Trust site, its not an official project, I’m doing it as a “real-world” exercise in using HypeDyn. So far I’ve cut the text up into about seventy “nodes”, most of which are associated with actual places along the river.
I’ve been reading about a really interesting project to create a context aware interactive experience on the island of San Servolo.
***Updated*** When I added a photo via my mobile device, I seem to have deleted half the post before publishing, so the headline won’t have made much sense. I’ve rewritten the second half of the post now. Apologies. This morning I got my head around HypeDyn by working through the three tutorials they provide.
I’ve been reading about a pilot study done by (it seems) Hewlett Packard and Bristol University. For three weeks around Easter 2004 people could book out a iPaq (remember those?) and a pair of headphones, and walk around Queen Square in Bristol, listening to a location-based audio drama (or “mediascape“).
The seminar I gave last week was streamed to the University of York. The software that does this also records it, so now the department have put it online and its available for anyone to watch. Watching it myself, for the first time, this morning I’m pleasantly surprised - not too many ums or urhs, and it seems to actually make sense.
I gave my first seminar yesterday, talking about how I come to begin the PhD. It seemed to go pretty well, and was recorded for posterity, so when it appears online, I’ll post a link to it. But before the seminar I spoke at a workshop examining Digital Narratives, and was impressed and excited by all the other speakers. One in particular got my childish enthusiasm all fired up though.
I’m posting this from Day Two of the CAAUK conference. I think there may be more of relevance to my studies today, though yesterday was by no means disappointing. There were many thought provoking points made, and I got to meet more of my fellow Southampton students than I’ve met so far while actually at University. I also heard yesterday that my seminar in Thursday might be streamed to York University’s Cultural Heritage students. Argh! Scary.
I can’t read for a PhD in digital technology and cultural heritage interpretation at Southampton and not visit the recently reopened Tudor House Museum, which touts some of the very latest interpretation technology. So with my daughter on an inset day from school, I thought this would be the ideal opportunity for an educational visit. We parked at the West Quay shopping centre, and skipped across the road to Bugle Street (what a great name).
A week or two back, a colleague gave me a sample of the QR code panels that are being piloted along the South Downs Way. I was quite excited to see it, because it turned out not to be just a QR code, but also incorporated an NFC chip and a LAYAR augmented reality image. I’m quite dismissive of QR codes, but only because some people get over excited about what is, after all, just another way of inputting a URL into a browser.
Maybe I’m on the wrong path. Perhaps I’m on a deserted Scottish Island, just like the one in Dear Esther, wandering down a path that is going to come, in time, to a dead end, I won’t be able to climb the rocks, or I will slip down a cliff and find myself on the path I should have taken.