ia play

the good life in a digital age

Archive for June, 2007

neologisms all over

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Matt Jones also mention Gary Penn’s concept of ‘toyetics’, an interesting concept but one I can’t help feeling is destined for another list of hated words, just like this Lulu Blooker list.

I had ambivalent feelings about that Lulu list since one of the ‘winners’ folksonomy has dogged the last few years of my career, with far too many people, who should know better, getting confused about a useful idea and thinking it means we can get rid of all the BBC’s librarians.

But neologisms seem to be another way we entertain ourselves. Fun with words, even. The BBC’s newfangled broadcasting mechanism once upset C. P. Scott, the editor of my old employer the (Manchester) Guardian:

“Television? The word is half Greek, half Latin. No good can come of it” – C. P. Scott

Just like metadata then, another common work topic.

And this week Information Architect as a job title was lampooned in Private Eye using, shock horror, a BBC job ad in their Birt-Speak feature.

I’m neologisms all over at the moment.

Written by Karen

June 30th, 2007 at 2:04 am

Posted in words

BBC activates one of its homing chips

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Matt Jones returns to the BBC in a few weeks. I think this confirms my theory that they put chips in our brains that make you feel ill if you are away too long.

Jones recently presented at Interesting 2007, Russell Davies’ conference where “all sorts of speakers speak about all sorts of stuff. Not brands, advertising, blogging and twitter but interesting, unexpected, original things.” I’ve just been flicking through his slides on slideshare and it shouldn’t have surprised me that he crammed themes of play in there alongside cityscapes, comics, the Sultan’s elephant, Parkour, Francis Fukyama, and psychogeography:

“truly playful spaces are those that enable the unplanned and un-authored to occur within their environments. Truly playful spaces are being crowded out by authored experiences, but this is only having the effect of making them even more attractive environments. A great recent example was the “play” inspired by The Weather Project installation in Tate Modern, where many people chose to lie down and bathe in the artifical sunlight, making patterns together that they could see in the huge mirrored ceiling”.

Looking forward to having him back and causing chaos.

Written by Karen

June 29th, 2007 at 11:47 am

Posted in bbc,playful spaces,work

innovation days

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Today was an Innovation Forum at work. An open invite is sent out for staff to pitch ideas and for other people to come along and vote. It was held at the Dana Centre in London, a space set up to allow the public to engage in debates about controversial science issues. Apparently the Science Museum couldn’t do this as it is “a family-orientated space”.

Upcoming topics include ‘what will everyday healthcare look like in 20 years’ time?’, ‘how are new technologies helping to secure our skies?’ and the seemingly less cerebral ‘are chilli-eaters sadomasochists?’.

We were just there to talk about broadcasting.

Themes of play appeared in some of the ideas but the basic voting was given an extra playful dimension by the use of ‘optical’ voting. When we arrived every chair had a shiny length of piping resting on it which inspired many bizarre suggestions of potential uses. As it turned out the lengths of drainpipe wrapped in reflective tape were our way to vote. When we held them vertical a ‘yes’ vote was recorded and horizontal indicated a ‘no’. A camera picked up the light reflecting off the pipes and this data was fed to a real-time display of the vote. Apparently the system made an appearance at Hack Day the other weekend.

The process certainly led to more enthusiasm for voting but what really put a smile on my face was the occasion when the display was switched on but there were still a few more questions for the speaker before voting time. Whilst the speaker answered the question, all around the room members of the audience were quietly and bit sheepishly playing with their voting sticks to mess with the vote display on the screen behind the speaker.

There was a discussion later about how to get more audience participation during the screening of sports events on the BBC’s Big Screens. Someone suggested using a similar voting system. The idea was rapidly squashed when someone observed that the last thing you want to give thousands of football fans watching a big match is a load of blunt objects.

Written by Karen

June 28th, 2007 at 2:07 pm

Posted in bbc,work

new baby in the family

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I’m no longer the youngest in my family. My place has been usurped by a new arrival, who will be getting the last roast potato from now on (well, technically not from right now, but soon enough).

I’m wondering how the family will have to learn to play again when pretty much the last 20 years haven’t involved much more than Trivial Pursuits and Bridge, and the occasional radical game of Eye Toy.

I’m looking forward to being re-taught things I’ve forgotten and an excuse to buy some pretty cool toys.

Written by Karen

June 28th, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Posted in toys

Lego Serious Play

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Lego we are hopefully all familiar with.

But Lego Serious Play? Sounds a bit contrary but as The Science of Lego Serious Play says “play is usually fun, it is seldom, if ever, frivolous”.

Lego Serious Play is a consultancy method from the Lego group that gets participants to build metaphors of their organisational identities and experiences using Lego bricks and then work through imaginary scenarios.

It is based on the concept that when we “think with objects” or “think through our fingers” we tap into ways of thinking that most adults have not used since childhood.

The method builds on theories of constructivist learning and the idea that when people construct things out in the world, they simultaneously construct theories and knowledge in their minds. By building Lego metaphors participants can make abstract ideas and relationships more more tangible, and therefore more readily understandable.

Would love to give it a go…

Written by Karen

June 19th, 2007 at 12:14 pm

Posted in lego,work

playing well

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I’m back from swanning around Crete and the admin/HR nightmare that is June is mostly complete. So I’ve signed myself up to a new project. One of those really meaty interesting projects that just happens to interest all of the political heavyweights in the organisation. I’m very very happy to be getting my teeth into the project but slightly nauseous at the thought of all the politics, positioning and general unpleasantness.

On the way home I was just reminded by David Gauntlett’s Creative Explorations (more on that later) that Lego is a contraction of the Danish phrase“Leg Godt,” which means “Play Well.”

So that’s the challenge. How do you get everyone to play well?

Written by Karen

June 19th, 2007 at 11:58 am

Posted in lego,work