Archive for November, 2009

5 Infographics to Rock Your World

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

And if they don’t yet, they very much should. Get with the agenda… you… you web 1.0 people you.

Click below to see my 5 favourite infographics, or infographic creators of all time.

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Toshiba and Armchair Viewing

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Toshiba sent an armchair into space:

The vid on youtube

  • The shots were taken at a staggering 98,268 feet above the earth using Toshiba’s own cameras
  • To reach the altitude required and to conform with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the weight of the rig had to be carefully managed to a weight of no more than four pounds
  • Tied to the rig was a specially created full-sized model chair made of biodegradable balsa wood – the chair was made by a company called Artem and cost about £2,500
  • Launch coordinates of the rig were – 119 degrees, 14 minutes by 40 degrees, 48 minute (12 miles North-East of the town of Gerlach, Nevada)
  • The quality of the footage from the Toshiba IK-HR1S cameras was: 1920×1080 pixel count; 1080i @ 50hz; 100 Mbps
  • The temperature dropped to minus 90 degrees when the chair reached 52,037 feet
  • The chair took 83 minutes to reach an altitude of 98,268 feet where it broke and took just 24 minutes to fall back down to earth with the rig.

How to win a BAFTA for social media wizardry

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

We’ve all been in those marketing meetings when everyone gets a bit over excited talking about ‘award winning campaigns’. We’re high on inspiration, a bit rowdy perhaps, and start believing that perhaps world domination is merely one single well-timed mouse click away. Of course (most) awards worth having are hard fought little things, and your best shot is at something in your niche. I mean, you’re not exactly going to win a Nobel Prize for the best kick ass facebook application, right? For argument’s sake, let’s imagine for a second that you could win a BAFTA for your social media wizardry… how might you go about that?

Well, first of all you’ll be needing a great CONCEPT.
The best campaigns are based around ideas that are actually quite simple – an open concept that forms the brief for the final product. When you get your brief, you might like to deconstruct it and find a single nugget that stands out – something as simple as, say, the human need to feel loved. So take that concept, and create a new brief based around that. Let’s say you come up with: “Build a tool that illustrates, using social media, the human need to feel loved – and its tendency towards narcissism”.

Now that’s a brief.

Next you’ll need a CONNECTION or an association.
This is something that connects your concept (that floaty thing) to something existing, live, and kicking. For example, you might want to associate the concept with a group of people, your target audience perhaps… Not something too broad like ‘The yoof of today’. Perhaps instead choose something specific that we can all relate to, such as: “A young, media savvy unsigned band, fighting it out on Myspace, Facebook, Youtube and the like, in search of that elusive record deal”. Sound familiar?

Ok, we have a narcissistic unsigned band, fighting for a record deal, desperately wishing everyone loved them.

Now we need something totally unique, a RANDOMISER.
It’s the equivalent of feeding your fantastic idea through the Enigma machine to produce something totally unexpected. We need to take this existing (now grounded) concept, and warp it through the mind of a mad genius or two, shock it with electricity, make it travel back in time for a while, hook it up to the social web, give it the means to make music, and then squeeze it into an antique cupboard placed in the corner of a modern art gallery.

Now THAT sounds award winning, right?

Introducing Cybraphon – the BAFTA award winning Autonomous Emotional Robot Band

This 1 minute video explains it perfectly:

“Cybraphon automates the now-familiar process of musical performance, followed by obsessive tracking of online opinion, and subsequent mood swings. It is the 21st century equivalent of the player piano, but instead of your coins, it begs for your attention in the online world. Its music is purely acoustic, played robotically on antique and junk-shop instruments in a gallery in Edinburgh; but what it plays is driven by its mood, and this is shaped by its 24-hour monitoring of the whole of the web for comments, reviews, or simply traffic to this web page.”

Genius, no?

Well done Si Kirby for winning a BAFTA for the best use of social media I’ve ever seen. You’ve set the bar buddy, now watch while everyone struggles to keep up.

Here’s the HOW and WHY for those that want to know more.

I highly recommend that everyone watches one or two of the videos on Cybraphon’s video page to see the incredibly long and hard fought year of genius that led to the launch of Cybraphon.

Oh, and here’s a video and some photos that I took at the launch of Si’s last genius project ‘Etiquette’ (a table that could see and play very good music), which was on display at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop a couple of Edinburgh Festival’s ago. That’s me in orange on the right.



Monday, November 9th, 2009


How to draw a story

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Last week I was having a look through the first site that ever sat on this domain. It was an architecture and photography portfolio from my uni years, and whilst clicking about I stumbled across an old project.

The project was to design a school on a brownfield site to form part of a brand new extension to a town just outside Edinburgh called Granton.

With only 3D models of what the rest of the new town was going to look like, sources of inspiration were limited to the history of the site and the surrounding architectural remnants. I decided to try and design the school so that it would tell a story. The story didn’t have a beginning, middle, and an end, per se, but it told the history of the ‘place’ and how it connected to the rest of Scotland. I racked my brains for weeks over how to use different vistas of the same space, or interlocking spaces to give just enough info and evoke just enough emotion to covey this story of sorts.

Flicking through my notes I saw this quote:

“Often a transition is marked by a structure,
as a sentence is marked by punctuation,
bringing pause in the rhythm of one’s progress.”

Ian Hamilton Findlay

I wasn’t totally happy with the final design, but I always though that the ambition was an honourable one. Perhaps if I’d been reading back then I’d have had more success.

Here’s how to draw a story:
XKCD how to draw a story

That there is top notch data visualisation. ;)