Thursday, 28 June 2012

the definition of insanity

Somehow I have it in my head that because I love people, and I love ideas, and I love meeting lots of people and talking about lots of ideas, that conferences are wonderful. And they are! Particularly well run ones, stocked with fantastically interesting folks (shout out to DIS2012).


But I'm knackered. Shattered. In the words of my homeland, mega-zonked. And every return to my actual work - you know, the quiet stuff that happens when you sit still and type - is returning from a place of more ideas and less practice at how to wrangle them.

I guess when your supervisors actually threaten to tie you to your chair, you know it's time to get back to work making some sort of sense out of it all.

Thankfully, I've got an ocean liner chock full of ideas from these forays into the wider world. Lots to think about regarding design research and the whole first-principles purpose of what it is I'm doing, thanks to the doctoral consortium folks and the closing keynote at DIS in particular. Lots to think about regarding the distinctive nature and contribution of live experience, thanks to the workshop at CHI. Lots to think about when it comes to the potential for human connection through digital storytelling in any number of forms, thanks to DS7.

And in a way even more to think about with the lovely and talented Claire Morgan, with whom I am hard at work on a performance collaboration. We're doing an autobiographical performance two-hander with digital media, and I could not be more excited about it. Watch this space... and hopefully an actual, physical performance space sometime perhaps in the autumn or winter.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Cardiff via Newcastle

I continue my whirlwind conference tour with DS7 (or is it properly ds7? Neither bell hooks nor danah boyd provided a keynote, but you never know). Last Thursday I was on the very first train to Cardiff through Reading, and much to my surprise I stayed awake for every minute of the trip. Much less to my surprise, I stayed awake and fascinated for every minute of DS7. Keynotes and breakouts were compelling, and I couldn't have been happier to see the people I recognised, even if they were almost uniformly run off their feet. And such fascinating new (to me) people! The digital storytelling conferences feel like they could never compare, with their more or less single track and dozens of participants, with CHI and its snazzily branded, eleven-tracked, three- or four-thousand-strong cohort... yet there I was in Cardiff, reeling in the connections and ideas and overlaps, wishing I had weeks to pick the brains of the people I encountered.

One day after I left Cardiff, with its many participants from Aberystwyth, I was hoping that they were all home and dry. Three days after I left Cardiff, on my way to Newcastle, I was hoping that the people back where I live were all home and dry! I would be first in line to complain about the frigid and soggy weather in the UK these past few weeks - I bought a new fleece and a new umbrella today - except I'm pretty sure I still have a home, with possessions intact, and not everyone here can say the same. With droughts like these, who needs enemies?

The (potentially) tantalising bit of this post is that I've had about eighteen design ideas since the last time I posted. Yes, I thought that I my design was locked and loaded as of last February. I wasn't lying. I wasn't looking to do anything new. And yet... such are the ways of the PhD. The joyous news is, my brain is engaged, and I'm coming up with fun new ideas! The bad news is, I'm at or over halfway through this project, and my brain is still engaged in coming up with new ideas! Somebody put me out of my misery, please!

The even more (potentially) tantalising bit of this post is that I'm writing it from smack in the middle of DIS2012 in Newcastle. The conference proper starts in less than 8 hours, but the workshops have been going on for two days already, and the Culture Lab folks might need significant interventions of mental health assistance and/or strong alcohol by the time Pervasive draws to a close... cheers, dudes!