Digital Experiments

Experiments, 2004-2012

My method is to think of an objective for a brief, conceptualise the design on paper, set a time frame and figure out how to make the concept material. I do this for work, for digital anthropology and other ‘spare time’ projects. Then I figure out the tools and languages to use for web editing, development and programming. For bigger projects, especially involving marketing, editorial and event curation, I’d think of what suits the team’s objectives, delegate some works to designers and developers, and make sure we stick to the time frame. If we all have fun doing the projects, all the more rewarding. But it has to start with ‘an objective’.

HTML & JS

  • The flat web page. SHTML, HTML, Javascript and CSS before they’re back in fashion and got relabelled “HTML5” and “DOM” becomes a buzzword. Don’t ask me if I am a ninja; I did this page, that’s what counts.
  • Agrow website. HTML, CSS, Javascript. Original dummy. Right click to see source code.
  • Animal Pharm. HTML, CSS, Javascript. You’re seeing the jpeg because the website, originally set in Squiz cms, was scrapped by Informa.
  • Email campaigns and enewsletters. HTML, CSS. Right click to view source code.
  • Story of Books. WordPress platform, HTML, CSS. Graphic design by us.
  • SWXX Compendium of Southwest London. WordPress platform. HTML, CSS. Graphic design and photography by us.
  • Sojournposse.com. HTML, CSS, Javascript. PHP modification to play with the predefined interface design. MySQL at the back end to get the login and password for users and admins up and running.
  • Other projects I did/am working on. The experiments that got the green light.

Digital storytelling

  • Sojournposse.com. Not just a blog and a website for Sojournposse Purpose. There is constant tinkering behind this website, endless experiments on plugins and architecture that requires manual intervention and upgrades. PHP, mySQL, you name it, we have used thrown all sorts at this baby. My next project is to make it Flash-free and optimised for HTML5. The stories and multimedia contents that we write and produce here are only the tip of the iceberg.
  • Story Of Books. A project that began life as a Twitter hashtag for Sojournposse Purpose’s London Design Festival 2011 event, “Whatever is to become of books?”. My project for London Design Festival and beyond. I am the business developer for this project, and so far it has gathered over 700 Twitter followers and over 300 Facebook Likes.
  • SWXX Compendium of Southwest Fulham. ‘Hyperlocal’ visual blog which focuses mainly on Fulham and the surrounding SW districts in London is the brainchild of Sojournposse’s creative director, Zarina Holmes. She asked me about digital anthropology and visual ethnography and I said, make the labour workforce of Fulham and SW ‘visible’. I also give suggestions on how to weave the images and text, and use the chronology of blog posts to turn SWXX into one digital storytelling project.
  • Sojournposse Mater1al. Is about what you wear and what you treasure. You can lump fashion and design under material culture, but fashion and design magazines are there to sell ‘magazines’, not to promote the material artifacts. So how would an anthropologist and a designer discuss these artifacts, and mediate their presence online? A blog was born. It gets hectic around The London Fashion Week, of course. Still very much tied to Sojournposse Purpose’s design projects.

Data visualisation

  • Sojournposse FT (Food & Travel) Index. A tribute the the FT version, I built this using a combination of html, shtml (pre-cms), css, javascript and Google Maps. Rudimentary, but this 2006 project was the precursor to the 2009 WordPress overhaul.
  • Google Charts. You can catch two types of Google Charts that I authored on this page, a static one, and an interactive one at the bottom. I was in the middle of a data visualisation project, but the Lloyd’s List in-house animation software would take ages for the developers to deploy, given their workload. Bricolage was needed, and I quickly studies the script and ‘wrote’ the charts. So why ‘wrote’ codes to visualise when you can just create jpegs in Photoshop or Fireworks? Why not. It’s an experiment. It’s fun.
  • Sojournposse Taxi Index. Remember the MacDonald’s index? It’s like that, but for taxi fares all over the world. We had a fun time playing with the css here.

Social media & aggregators

  • Eventbrite campaign for London Design Festival’s “Whatever is to become of books?”.  I love doing email campaigns. I did my MSc dissertation on emails, and I don’t get why some email campaigns are so boring and spammy. Well, you can choose to annoy the people you email with ‘spams’ of ticket offers and event information only, or you can work that Eventbrite page a bit harder with links to original contents such as interviews and videos.
  • Sojournposse TV. Well before we got slick and used Vimeo to publish the better edits, and just as we started doing The London Design Festival, we published our YouTube clips on this page, set in html codes. All the visual experiments that we did for the BTEC Final Cut Pro and DVD Authoring programme between 2008 and 2009 were also published here.
  • Audioboo. While Manuel Castells talked about social movement in the digital age, I wondered how long my iPhone battery would last if I subjected it to tweets, Qik videos and Audioboo podcasts. Action: use the iPhone only for tweets, and one photo snap, and stick to Audioboo using the old iPad. Within two hours, I produced five podcasts. The LSE free wifi helped.
  • FeedBurner. In the good old days, we had to author the RSS feeds ourselves using xml. In the IE6 era. A lot of ftp and browser refresh. Thank goodness for this application. Let the software do the syndication for you while you produce contents. Great for SEO, too.
  • Yelp! Have an event and want to go beyond the usual Eventbrite and rent list to reach your audience? I used this FREE aggregator to advertise Sojournposse’s “Whatever is to become of books” event for The London Design Festival. It’s not conventional but is actually good for SEO, a novel way of reaching a new target audience who uses Yelp! to find F&B and leisure activities, and are keen on sharing their experiences. And it’s free. All you have to do is to register, login and update the details of your event.
  • iPhone reportage. If you don’t have wifi, and the battery is low, iPhone video can always be rendered quickly in Quicktime Pro afterwards and published online on YouTube for example. You don’t have to Qik, Skype or Audioboo it then and there if you haven’t got the digital means. Background: A visit to the hairdresser, Mr Toppers, on Tottenham Court Road, led to all of us watching the Royal Wedding on a mobile phone and a laptop. I just whipped out my camera and away I went.
  • Twitter. Very useful for onsite, live coverage. I started playing with this while I was covering the Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit 2009 conference. Then I had it deployed in winter 2010 for an event Scrip Clinical Research covered in Vienna, Austria, and also for Clinica’s RSNA 2010 in Chicago. Of course, we have done countless of hashtag coverage for Sojournposse at The London Design Festival, and other digital anthropology-related seminars. You let the tweets look after themselves by embedding the codes on your website. Or you curate preferred tweets by embedding the codes and then ‘favouriting’ a selected few. Ideal for onsite reporting. The marketers love it, and the journalists told me they could record key interview notes just by tweeting. More examples at this link.

Digital curation

  • 3D hologram of a jinnee in chair. This 3D experiment, which requires an actual chair and some fancy projection, was curated by Graham Phenix, using digital photography, audio recording and yup, a piece of furniture. My experiment of merging the digital with the material. Prior to that, we toyed with the concept of 3D by participating in this impromptu street art installation in Barcelona, a project led by a friend, using recycled furniture discarded by the roadside.

Programming

  • ScraperWiki. My first ever foray into programming, using Python to scrape on data relating to failed clinical trials connected with a particular anti-anthrax vaccine. And then I discovered that you can scrape effectively using search engines, or that simple command Ctrl F, as long as you have the patience to sift through endless datasets. It doesn’t matter how you hack or scrape for the datasets, as long as you get them.
  • Google Search. Used to compensate for the poor search capability our ‘suppliers’ abroad rigged up for this Escenic website. I used the same method for the Phase 1 Agrow magazine in 2007 when it was in flat SHTML pages.
  • An iPhone app. Still under wraps. I did a rudimentary one over Christmas in 2011 – a calculator. Quite an experience stacking codes and getting acquainted with some semblance of Objective C, Hot Cocoa. A project to be revisited with a tighter brief, preferably in collaboration with a designer. Rudimentary apps aside, the project informed my research on dating apps, an app project for pyschiatrists administering schizophrenic drugs and also my critique on the use of apps for cognitive behaviour therapy. They’re all here, folks.

 

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