Screens in the Wild: The Digital Memory Bank

I’ve been attending a lot of Creative Quarter meetings recently to find out what all the fuss is about and whether I’d be able to tap into any funding. On one meeting I came across something far more valuable than money, Dr Holger Schnädelbach, a research fellow at the Mixed Reality Laboratory, University of Nottingham.

Holger is one of the people responsible for The Screens in the Wild project, an EPSRC funded research project exploring how interactive, urban screens can become relevant to communities and culture.

The Screens in the Wild project consists of four publicly accessible screens (two in Nottingham and two in London). In Nottingham you can find one on the side of the New Art Exchange in Hyson Green, the other outside Broadway Media Centre. The hardware cost of each screen is £7,500 making a total of £30,000 for the entire project.

The network runs a schedule of interactive experiences 24/7 from the screen to an application and enables users to access and curate content in a particular way. They have secured funding to operate this network through 2014 and are now looking for new collaborations to develop relevant interactive content for the project.

The screens are perfect for Dawn of the Unread on so many levels. Primarily, they will act as an access point whereby users/readers can upload content which responds to particular themes and chapters throughout the project. For example, it looks like our first chapter will be about Slavomir Rawicz’s The Long Walk. Users can upload flash fiction inspired by this story, a long walk of their own perhaps, or photographs of walks they’ve taken. This content will then function as a ‘memory bank’ of ideas collected throughout the project.

I’m hoping that being able to see your own work on screen will encourage and motivate people to engage with the project as well as boost confidence. Users will be able to upload content directly to a website which will then be fed through to the screens at specific times.

One way we are hoping to encourage reading is by introducing a competitive element to Dawn of the Unread. We were intending to do this primarily through App functionality and design, using OpenID login for personalization, the recording of locations visited and ‘collecting’ meta-tagged objects at libraries. Our plan is that these locative, gaming elements could encourage further user interaction through web-based ‘leader-boards’ for scoring and sharing, alluding to the development of mobile devices as cultural ‘wallets’ that offer personalised data-transfer functions. Layman’s terms: fun and competition. The Screens compliment these ideals and offer a physical meeting space whereby users can keep an eye out on the competition and see how they’re progressing.

My digital partner in crime, Paul Fillingham of thinkamigo, will be designing a bespoke interface for users uploading content through the Screens in the Wild website. We’ll be able to test out limitations of the interface and ease of use. Our project, due to the amount of variables (writers, artists, locations, literary figures, schools, etc), demands more sophisticated forms of curation to enable meaningful engagement that will retain the attention spans of our 13+ target audience. Therefore SITW will benefit from a thorough and specific testing of their interface. If it is versatile it has the potential to be used by other media organisations and may open up new business opportunities.

Dawn of the Unread was able to build this partnership and utilize technology costs of £30,000 for the price of two cups of green tea, one coffee, and a beer. The Creative Quarter may not be the cash cow that many hoped for but the fact that it exists and has created space that has put creatives in the same room means at least two people in Nottingham are feeling very happy tonight.

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2 thoughts on “Screens in the Wild: The Digital Memory Bank

  1. Pingback: Arthur Seaton: The computer game | Dawn of the Unread

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