[creativity conversation]

Following my presentation on "Reader 2.0" for the Creative Writing and New Media Masters run by Sue Thomas and Kate Pullinger, the creativity Conversation held it's 8th session.

Speakers: Andrew Hugill (Composer, writer, and Director of the Institute of Creative Technologies)
Mohammad Ibrahim (Technology fusion, artificial life, and design methodologies)

Some notes (live-blogged)

"Why do we abandon or switch ideas, methods and views whilst being creative?"

Mohammad Ibrahim:

Strategies for Switching (intuitive or naturalistic)
Naturalistic/Action based
Process Oriented
Evolving Design Space

Current Research:
There is some work on switching between strategies
Lots of work and debate on identifying and switching between stages/phases
Very relevant for rational approach
Personal view - waste of time for the intuitive approach

Apart from "initial scan brief" no real pattern
Hence naturalistic approach in the dominant one
No clear clusters of activities into phases/stages - the second scale
Clustered activities into phases - but no real agreement on order of activities in each phase (here are some activities, can you give us the order in which you do these activities? - they couldn't)
SO: Different intuitive approaches to evaluating a design space (trying to understand what the project is about rather than figuring out what they have to do)

Question on strategy: need to teach both strategies to students but the "experts" will develop their own strategies

Can we make a safe place where students can be creative, where engineering students can work with art and design students?

Andrew Hugill

Sees creativity as a process
Can you not change your mind in the process of creation? Why do we change our minds or rather, why don't we.
Rimbaud wrote the best poetry and then radically changed his views and became a banker - interesting exacmple of someone rejecting creativity

Three key words:
clinamen - from Epicurus, every so often an atom makes a slight swerve in its course and collides with another atom thus creating matter so clinamen is that swerve or bias
syzygy - from astronomy, when suddenly you get three bodies (unexpectedly) in alignment - things fall into place (eclipse)
anomaly - when something appears that doesn't fit

"The Act of Creation", A ha, Ah, and the Ha-ha (Arthur Koestler - adjusted, thanks Andy)

Andrew's own experiment into creativity with a musical composition, created a process and followed it through rigorously (though this process is not audible in the final musical product). However, when copying some music he made an error but this ended up adding to the creative aspect of this piece.


[meds1100: media texts & representations lecture]

Following today's lecture on new media here are some questions you might like to address (either here or in blackboard):


[do you think google has too much power]

Well, if you believe that google is ruling the internet world and would like to thwart their hold, try out these steps from the Internet Strategy Blog:

"Marketing your website:
  1. Article marketing – Submit articles to article directories is a surefire way to attract traffic. Not only can you establish your expert status, your articles will also be reprinted in various blogs or ezines, thereby increasing the number of links back to your site.
  2. Syndicate content – Syndicate your content and increase your traffic with RSS feed
  3. Publish a Press Release – particularly if you have an important announcement
  4. Social networking – Build social communities in the various social networking sites. More details here.
  5. Video marketing – Create a video on anything related to your niche and upload it to Youtube, Metacafe, Veoh, Dailymotion etc.
  6. Participate in specific forums – Establish your expert status by providing help and support in forums specific to your niche.
  7. Joint Venture – The best way to generate traffic is to leverage on other people traffic. Create a joint venture with the top marketers in your niche.
  8. Create free stuff and give it away – Serve as a teaser for your product. Everyone just can’t resist free stuff.
  9. Classified Ad– put up an classified ad at Craigslist, USFreeAds, Yahoo Classified, Oodle
  10. Submit to directories – Another place to increase exposure to your site

Marketing your blog

  1. Blog actively, consistently and constructively – This is really the only way to attract readers.
  2. Read other blogs and give comments – You’ll be surprised how much traffic it will bring you, especially when you leave a good comment on the popular blogs.
  3. Link actively to other blogs – The rule of reciprocal. People tend to link back to you when you link to them.
  4. Guest blog - Invite some big names to write a post for your blog and request him to link back to your blog. It always works.
  5. MyBlogLog – Register an account with MyBlogLog and start to visit other blog with the MyBlogLog widget. Your face will start to appear on their blogs. Nice traffic puller.
  6. Submit to blog directories – Just another place to increase the exposure of your blog
  7. Interviews other bloggers – Especially useful when there are newsworthy topic. For example, during this pagerank event, you can interview Darren of Problogger on how he feels about the drop in pagerank and ways he has come up to counter it. It is definitely newsworthy and link-worthy.
  8. Accept interview by other bloggers – This only work when you have established your expert status in the field.
  9. Establish good relationship with your reader – Comment on your reader’s comment and if there is any doubts, go the extra mile and provide the solution for them.
  10. Pay per post – Get people to review your post.

Social Media Marketing

  1. Facebook / MySpace – Invite friends, start a group, join groups, comment on friends space.
  2. Yahoo Answers – Help others solve their problem and put a link back to your site in the sources field
  3. Digg / Netscape / reddit / stumbleupon – Only submit your best article, do not spam.
  4. Helium – Share your expertise and make money at the same time
  5. Youtube – As mentioned above in video marketing
  6. Wiki marketing – Start a wiki on a topic related to your niche and invite contribution from the public. Include your links in one of the contribution.
  7. Flickr – take a screenshot of your site (with the url fully visible) and upload to Flickr.
  8. Squidoo – Start a Squidoo lens and participate in the Squidoo community. You could easily drive traffic to your site.

Offline marketing

  1. Advertise in local newspaper
  2. Publish news in local newspaper
  3. Get interviewed in local newspaper
  4. Print your website url in namecard
  5. Include signature in all outgoing mails
  6. Become a sponsor in public events and activities

From Internet Strategy Blog.



I've just bought The Hidden Sense: Synthesia in Art and Science (Leonardo Book) by Cretien van Campen and can't wait to dig in. I've always wondered what it might be like to hear music but then see colours or hearing a word (hypertext for instance) and smelling something (peaches maybe).

Take a look at the image above. What do you see?


"Someone with number – colour synaesthesia will immediately see a triangle of 2’s – it would stand out because the 2 and the 5 are seen in two different colours."

If synethesia is a
"union of the senses"
does that imply a greater degree of transliteracy (if in fact transliteracy can be measured in degrees or otherwise). Would having synethesia mean readers can experience a variety of modes simultaneously? Images appearing as sounds or text as smells, rendering the whole experience sensory in both the online world and real world?

One of my students, Andy Warrington, on the Digital Cultures module for the IOCT Masters has drawn my attention to this interesting talk by neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran on brain fuctions including synethesia. Excellent:


[business+social networking]

Thinking about our current plan for NLab (tracking social networking in business) this video seems to give a good background on what businesses need and how social networking can help:

(of course there's ecademy linked in - with 11 million members and the more recent jump up etc...)


[transliteracy and us]

I've just been reading Sue Thomas's post over at PART on how (and whether) the bbb.co.uk is meeting their targets:

1 Sustaining citizenship and civil society
2 Promoting education and learning
3 Reflecting the UK's nations, regions and communities
4 Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence
5 Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK
6 Emerging communications

Initially I began to think of discussions I've been having with my students in my new media seminars. We've talked about the potential to contribute to the bbc.co.uk via comments on photos and stories and the ability to write one's own reflections (more so on the bbc.co.uk local sites). On that level it would seem that the bbc is participating in the digital world and allow us to participate alongside it.

But, then I saw this video:

How far is the bbc (among other institutions) really going to involve and collaborate with this kind of user? (See Euan Semple on the BBC and web 2.0). With Facebooking and IMing etc..., collaborating and satisfying targets like the bbc's can't be a product, something that is *done.* It's got to be more about a *becoming;* a constant evolving process. I don't have any answers but I think that's the trouble with asking that kind of question. There are no single answers out there. I'd suppose we all (as businesses, teachers, parents, schools, universities, libraries, museums, etc...) want/need to be part of the process... but that also means having access and we know that's not something everyone shares.


[man booker(s) digitised]

From The Times.
"The Man Booker Prize has been criticised over the years for selecting dark, unreadable and worthy tomes unlike the winners of other more populist literary prizes.

Now, in the week that Anne Enright became its 2007 winner, it is shaking off criticisms of being elitist and out of touch by taking the radical step of placing all its shortlisted novels online, available free to anyone worldwide.

Negotiations are under way with the British Council and publishers over digitising the novels and reaching parts - particularly in Africa and Asia - that the actual books would not otherwise reach.

Jonathan Taylor, chairman of The Booker Prize Foundation, said that the initiative was well advanced, although details were still being thrashed out.

The downloads will not impact on sales, it is thought. If readers like a novel tasted on the internet, they may just be inspired to buy the actual book.

Hearing about the initiative from The Times yesterday, Robin Robertson, deputy publishing director of Jonathan Cape – Enright’s publisher – likened it to Radiohead’s experiment this month in which the new album, Rainbows, became downloadable on an “honesty box” basis. An internet survey of 3,000 people who downloaded the album found that most paid an average of £4, although others claiming to have paid more than £40.

Mr Robertson thought that a partial reproduction rather than an entire book was preferable. The news emerged as Enright, a 45-year-old Dubliner, became the 2007 winner of one of literature’s most prestigious awards for her bleak Irish family saga, The Gathering.

The latest British figures from Nielsen BookScan show that, since it was published in May, only 3,306 copies have been sold in hardback, with a further 381 in paperback. Enright’s publisher said that the actual figure was 35,000, including sales in Europe. Winning the Booker will also do wonders for sales. Enright’s sales may now quadruple, at least.

“We found it a very powerful, uncomfortable and even, at times, angry book,” Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the judges, said after picking the book on Tuesday night. “It is an unflinching look at a grieving family in tough and striking language.”

He added: “I think you people will find this a very readable and satisfying novel.”

That was not quite what a lollipop lady, a builder’s yard worker and other locals from the Scottish village of Comrie thought of the novel when presented with the shortlisted books by the BBC, for a Culture Show documentary screened last weekend.

Sara Tiefenbrun, its director, said that they asked regular readers and those who had not touched a book for years to comment on them.

If Conway’s inhabitants had been judging the prize, they would have chosen The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a story about a Westernised middle-class Pakistani man whose life is changed after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Tiefenbrun said: “It came out on top because they found it had a gripping narrative and unusual story . . . very much a story of our times. The Gathering didn’t go down well. The Booker judges decided it was ‘accessible’. That’s not what our people found. They found it jumped about, the narrative wasn’t linear and it was quite confusing and gloomy.”


[reading images]

An interesting article on the reading (as in interpreting) of images and development of point of view. If the image appears alongside a narrative, people will wait to read the whole story before coming to any conclusions. If, however, the image appears with a list of information (rather than a narrative), people are quicker to form conclusions, basing their opinion more on the image rather than the verbal description. This has pedagogical and new media theory implications (among others).

"As our results indicate, pictures can have directionally opposite eVects on the impact of the verbal information they accompany, depending on whether this information is conveyed in a narrative or a list. These diVerences are largely traceable to the inXuence of pictures on the processes that individuals use to compute a judgment and the representations that are formed. When the information about a person describes a sequence of temporally related events, participants with the goal of forming an impression of the person are unlikely to compute an evaluation of the protagonist until the entire sequence is complete. Pictures provide perceptual symbols that both facilitate the formation of images of the individual events and permit the events to be perceptually linked, thereby leading a more coherent mental representation of the information to be constructed. When the information is conveyed in a list, however, participants attempt to form an evaluation of the protagonist on line by integrating the implications of the individual events as they encounter them, updating their impression as each new event is received. When pictures accompany the event descriptions, however, they appear to interfere with this integration process, resulting in a decrease in the impact of the descriptions. This interference largely occurs when pictures directly accompany the verbal information. Thus, as indicated by the supplementary data obtained in Experiment 2, presenting pictures separately from the verbal event descriptions had similar effects on participants’ evaluations regardless of the format in which the verbal material was presented.

Experiments 3 and 4 provided more direct indications of the processes and representations that underlie the judgments we observed in earlier studies. Experiment 3, for example, indicates that pictures are recognized both more quickly and more accurately when they are conveyed in a narrative than when they are conveyed in a list. Furthermore, verbal descriptions were also identified more accurately in the former condition, whereas the time required to make these identiWcations was longer. This latter effect is consistent with other evidence that when the features of information are represented in memory in a temporally related sequence, people engage in a mental search of the representation in order to identify these features, and the required time to do so is a reflection of this search.

Experiment 4 confrmed these implications and the nature of the representation formed more generally, showing that when event information is presented in a narrative
and, therefore, stored in memory as a temporally related sequence, exposure to one event description increases the speed of identifying the event that immediately follows it in the sequence. This eVect is not evident when the events are simply listed. Further results from this experiment indicate that pictures increased the time to identify statements when they were contained in a list but not when they were conveyed in a narrative. These results further strengthen the assumption that pictures interfered with the processing of the verbal information they accompanied."

"The impact of pictures on narrative- and list-based impression formation: A process interference model, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 43, Issue 3, May 2007, Pages 352-364
Rashmi Adaval, Linda M. Isbell and Jr., Robert S. Wyer

[site stats]

More ego-searching though interesting to see what my readers are using (well, for the first 2 weeks of Oct. anyway):


[machinima = storytelling]

After welcomes and introductions to the event, Paul Marino, Executive Director of the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences, shared with us his presentation, "commemorating the first ten years of the use of game engines in real-time for the creation of Machinima." For me, this was an excellent presentation as it really gave me a sense of how machinima began and the stages through which it has been evolving. What I found most exciting about Marino's presentation was his recurring statement that machinima is about telling stories (woo hoo go narrative!):

Watching Marino's chronology of machinima not only reflected the development of technology and skill but also the greater expertise or craft of storytelling. (here is a
list of his machinima selections) Marino, as well as other speakers on the day, reminded us that *anyone* can create machinima stories but then I wondered if that were true why are so few women (seemingly and please let me know if this is way off) are involved? Judging from the audience not many women are interested in machinima. Judging from the entries DMU received, not many women are making machinima. Judging from the films viewed at the festival, not many women are playing parts in machinima in terms of characters (there were a couple but not exactly positing *contemporary* views of women...) or production. Is this really the case or are women presenting their machinima work in other arenas and following different avenues? (perhaps Sims99.com might be such a place) The seeming lack of women was highlighted for me during an afternoon panel which included Ricard Gras, Xavier Lardy, Friedrich Kirschner and Klaus Neumann. Interesting as it was to hear the speakers' thoughts on distributing and promoting machinima as well as the variety of links Friedrich and Klaus zoomed through, I was left a bit surprised - given the perceived accessibility of machinima - that no women were represented in that session. I wonder if this gender imbalance grows out of the fact that machinima originated with gaming? How many women play Quake and Halo etc...? However, maybe this is changing already with Sims and SL game engines?

Food for thought I think.


"When a guy can show a machinima vid and proudly announce 1996 as the date of origin for that art form, he’s eliding decades of female vidding history. And that’s very, very wrong. (Harvard 2005)"



[machinima festival at dmu]

woo hoo! tomorrow I'm heading over to the machinima festival at dmu.

Check out the small print...guess who was one of the judges:


[audible and visual pedagogy]

In a seemingly text-centric academic culture (where students must write essays and submit written coursework) I've been thinking about how to bring in more of our other senses including image and sound. What follows is a simple attempt to allow students to move within other kinds of literacy (oral and visual).

    Name of the lesson: Hearing and Seeing Sounds

    Level: Can be adjusted to suit age or level.

    Subject: New Media, English, Creative Technologies,

    Materials: Computers with PowerPoint, Internet Connection, Access to copyright–free images (
    http://www.freeimages.co.uk/, http://www.pics4learning.com/, http://freestockphotos.com/) and sounds (http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Music/waves.html), recording equipment (microphones, digital cameras, video),

    Students will become aware of the role sound and image play in telling a story.

    Students will collaborate in pairs to create a short story. They must develop a narrative employing various modes including sound, a recording of their voices, images (scanned in, photos, or free–pics) and text (while being aware of how words sound and being able to explain why they chose certain words).

    Activities & Procedures:
    1. Have students read a selection of online stories: any episode from Inanimate Alice, Pirate’s Treasure and Number Story.
    2. Discuss what students liked about each story. Talk about the role of images, colour, text, and sound in each work. Pay particular emphasis to the rhythm and tone of language.
    3. Students collaborate in pairs to create their own stories using PowerPoint (due to its ease of use and general availability) or Istories if available.
    4. Students can record their voices telling parts of the story or making sounds. Students can use digital cameras to take photos of classroom or school artefacts to use in their stories. Students can visit the sites suggested to collect royalty–free images.
    5. Students present their creations to the class and explain how the various modes, specifically images and sound, tell their story.


[dr. julian murton on cbc radio]

Wowee! We know someone famous. Julian (related to the famous jam-making Della) is on CBC radio talking about his speciality: permafrost.

"Siberia's Methane Lakes

In parts of Siberia, small lakes are beginning to form on what used to be dry Arctic tundra.

They're nice to look at, but ultimately deadly for the global environment and everything in it.

They're called "thermokarst" lakes, caused by melting permafrost. And they're belching methane, one of the worst of the greenhouse gases.

Like that's not enough, the melt also threatens to release vast bogs of carbon dioxide. But nobody knows exactly how. Or why. Or when.

That shortage of research troubles Dr. Julian Murton. He's a member of the International Permafrost Association.

He's also Professor of Geography at the University of Sussex in England, and he joined us from Brighton.

Listen to his talk with Rick."



Have just printed out a draft of the entire thesis...first time I've actually seen the *whole* thing.

It's BIG.

And I've already found typos...


[i was hacked: part deux]

S l o w l y as I come to grips with the whole *thing* I'm patting myself on the shoulder for taking screen shots (including of the source code) of the hacker communicating with me (before he crashed it). As soon as I figured out what was going on I thought I'd google to see if anyone had published information on dealing with this kind of a hack. As I googled the thief spoke...


[are you posh?]

Well you know you're posh if you say loo/lavatory instead of toilet, sofa rather than settee, lunch not dinner, and napkin instead of serviette. This is according to BBC 2's Grumpy Guide to Class, a 30 min explanation of how language situates you as either lower or upper class. It was quite funny but I do wonder about the napkin/serviette distinction: should napkin only refer to those of the cloth variety while serviettes are only paper (but then there's that whole French/English divide)...

There was a very funny story about how to sound posh - talk about something not even mildly interesting (like a boiled potato) in excruciatingly effusive terms: that was the most fabulous boiled potato, utterly divine... But one must talk about grave events in mild tones: oh yes, he lost an arm.

Then there was a section on posh names. Posh people have long names: see this image: Hugo Ponsonby Fethergill, or Sebastien etc...Girls' names should end with the "e" sound as in Emily, Chloe, Emmy, Tilly, Ellie...

Hrm...important matters...


[i was hacked]

I say "I" and not "the computer" because the hack happened in real time and the hacker actually communicated with me as it was happening. I'm still trying to salvage my hard drive which he (I say he though of course I can't know for sure) wiped and then proceeded to rewrite...but more on that later (when I've had time to calm down and hopefully save some work...my whole thesis was there...).

Anyway...I've been trying to figure out how it happened. I don't click on links in spam e-mails (even legit-looking spoofed ones). I have anti-virus software running (a good one), I have anti-spyware apps running (good ones) and it still happened....I wonder if this latest threat to google was related (though I didn't follow any links to .cn sites).

"It appears that a spammer has found out how to infiltrate the Google index without being caught. Here's what is happening in a nutshell:

* Some searches (very specific phrases, and I won't list any of them right now - Google knows which they are) return results with a large number of .cn (Chinese) sites.
* The .cn sites are often scraped content from legitimate U.S. websites
* The legitimate sites are being ranked below the scammed .cn sites for these competitive keywords.
* When a user clicks on one of the .cn sites returned in the result set, the user is redirected to an entirely different page which attempts to install one or more pieces of malware on the user's computer. If the user is not protected, they become infected - I don't know the specifics of the infection as I AM well protected
* The .cn sites don't appear to be hosted ANYWHERE. They are simply redirected domain names. How they got ranked in Google in such a short period of time for fairly competitive keywords is a mystery. Google's index even shows legitimate content for the .cn sites.
* It appears that the faked sites are redirecting the Googlebot to a location where content can be indexed, while at the same time recognizing normal users and redirecting them to a site that includes the malware mentioned earlier. This is an obvious violation of Google's guidelines, but the spammers have found ways to circumvent the rule and hide it from the Googlebot.
* These sites are numbering in the millions for many different keywords and phrases, and appear to be developed on an automated basis. Because of privacy laws, it's hard to track down who owns the domain names - Google has the power to do so, but there has been about exactly zero information from Google about the problem so far, and even many SEO experts and webmasters are not picking up on it.

What Does This Actually Mean?
So what does all this mean? One, don't click on a .cn domain name returned from Google.com. If you need to search for a Chinese site, use Google.cn instead of Google.com. Second is to watch your own SERPs and see if you are suddenly dropping below sites with a .cn TLD. If you find that happening, report it here. Third, don't panic - Google is remaining mum on this for a number of reasons. Were the public to stop trusting Google it could cause major upheavals in the search engine business - if the problem was just spam, the public wouldn't even notice. However, since malware is involved, this is something that could hit the major media with a giant bang and cause a panic. That could affect traffic to some sites in a major way - especially those specifically optimized for the Google search engine.

A Major Infrastructure Problem?
If a smart spammer has really found a way to game the Google search results with spoofed or cloaked sites, and Google still doesn't have a fix, this could be a major issue with the underlying infrastructure of the entire Google operation. I've seen hints that a significant infrastructure change is taking place; is this spam issue the reason? Could that mean that Google was actually hacked instead of someone spamming the index? If so, webmasters may be waiting a long time for the expected Pagerank update while Google fixes the leaks.

Time to Worry?
This is the first time that I've ever been worried that Google's own index has been hacked. The obvious and blatant circumvention of a guideline normally picked up by the Googlebot quickly is worrisome. A normal website pulling this would be banned almost instantly. The fact that none of the sites have real content and don't appear to even be hosted anywhere is even more scary. How did millions of sites get indexed if they don't exist?"


[Google eyes Canada rollout of discreet Street View]

From Reuters UK

"Google Inc is considering a Canadian launch of its Street View map feature, which offers street-level close-ups of city centers, but would blur people's faces and vehicle license plates to respect tougher Canadian privacy laws, the Web search firm said on Monday.

Canada's privacy commissioner told Google in August that the feature -- which offers a series of panoramic, 360-degree images of nine U.S. cities -- could violate Canadian laws if it were introduced without alterations.

Some of the pictures feature people who can clearly be identified, which contravenes Canadian legislation on privacy.

"We are thinking about launching it outside the United States, including Canada, and we're looking at how it would have to be different in Canada compared to its U.S. version," said Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel.

"We would launch Street View in Canada in keeping with the principles and requirements of Canadian law ... that means we know we'll have to focus on finding ways to make sure that individual's faces are not identifiable in pictures taken in Canada and that license plate numbers are not identifiable in Canada," he told Reuters in an interview.

Google had been approached by a number of Canadian cities seeking to be featured, he said."

Read the rest of the article here.