The first assignment for the class was to collect data from each other and analyze it. In the first round, each of fours groups polled their classmates and acquired enough data to investigate a question they posed about the class as a whole. The groups exchanged data with each other and created interfaces and visualizations.
Kunal, Michael, Vanessa:
The positions of the glowballs, and other information coming from SCREM, can be relayed to a little Nokia N800 palmtop over the WiFi connection.
Tracking is still a little rough, and, as I mention in the video, I think the IR cams are grabbing the N800 a little bit, so we'll need to keep it outside of the area--at least until the tracker is a bit more solid. Still, it should be a handy way to bring in another interface--and other participants--inside SMALLab. In fact, I gave the N800 to James in the office, and he could watch the movements of the balls through the wall.
I'm sure that's useful somehow.
Here is a quick video explanation of the HitArea and DragArea render engines.
The engines can track when a pointer enters and leaves them, and the DragArea engine also reports back the pointer's relative position--handy for sliders, etc.
Here are a few more videos from last week's session with ASU. The first is a math game for two players to help students learn about slope through physical and audio interaction. The players can listen to the change in coordinates and then try to determine the right slope based on their positions in three-dimensional space.
There are some issues here with finding the right location for the balls that will prompt some work in the future. Knowing, for example, that you are "on" the right point in the Z-axis may require different kinds of audio cues. One idea we've had is a kind of sonic prompt that fades out when you've hit your mark, but gets louder and louder as you approach the boundary between two integers. This, we hope, will help people visualize where the number 2 and 3 are, rather than floating on the boundary between them and continually triggering the audio sample.
The next video is an improvised dance that the students can choreograph as they each try to reach their X and Y coordinates. This is a variation on the "Coordinate Game" that we had developed the day before. Hopefully, students will get an embodied sense of how the Cartesian system works as they move along in their algebra/geometry units.
It's not quite a game yet, but there's something really fun and compelling about making your own art work (a dance piece) that corresponds to your math assignment.
I just discovered a bevy of research on the Enron email dataset. After the collapse of the company, all of the email from the roughly 150 ex-employees made it into a publicly available archive. This is a pretty valuable resource for people looking to test data-visualization ideas for social relationships. Hopefully, Chuck and I can find a way to use this in the fall for the collaboration studio we're teaching.
This is simple game we created as part of the SMALLab workshop here at Parsons. It's for teaching middle-school students how to figure out coordinates on a projected grid.
Each player takes their own origin as 0,0 and must reach the goal marker laid down by the teacher. The first player to correctly call out the coordinates of her or his goal marker wins.
Congrats to Christopher for his mad math dancing skills!
Here's more work on faking three dimensions on a flat plane.
Again, this only works from the perspective of the ball, so one person needs to hold it fairly near their point of view to get the effect. And, from the brief demo we did at the workshop, sometimes people need a few minutes to adjust to the effect before they feel like they're navigating space.
At this point, it seems like more of a fun demo or a parlor trick. One really good suggestion we got recently, though, was that we could give participants a button, say on a Wiimore, that would allow them to assume the first person perspective if more than one person is navigating the space. That might help share the experience a bit better.
I just finished reading Nicholas Lemann's article "Conflict of Interest" in the latest New Yorker. It crystallized a lot of the thinking I've done in the past few years about politics, all the way back to when I was an organizer for Democracy for America here in Hudson County.
I couldn't call my participation in the DFA effort as anything more than a failure, but it taught me a lot about the push and pull of real politics. As it turns out, I don't have a taste for that kind of work--I think I'm temperamentally unsuited for it. But it did drop the scales from my eyes. I stopping seeing the act of governing as a battle between good and evil, and, rather, saw it as the net result of conflicting and cooperating interests.
The Lemann article sums it up well, and I'd encourage anyone with an interest in the subject (or the engine) to read it. For me, it helped to gel a number of key components that ought to factor into games like this:
That's what I have for now. More questions than answers at this point, but it makes sense for me to start taking apart some of the work from this spring's "iPod Game" and working out a mechanic for that kind system and logical interface.
We were experimenting with different ideas for how to represent the third dimension you have access to with the SMALLab installation. This is a trial using a camera viewpoint that tracks the position of the ball as you move through a space with it. It fools you into thinking that a 3d world is changing at your feet.
It's not a perfect solution. It only works for one person, and there are limits to how high you can pretend the Z-axis goes. Still, it's an interesting way of looking at the problem, and it might open more doors later on.
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