Some thoughts arising from PLAN, and elsewhere

3rd February 2005 @ 1:46 pm
Research, Thoughts, PLAN and Collaboration
Play as a topic is in vogue, for sure.

At some point I was wondering about the role of iterative development cycles, frequent releases, rapid prototyping and so on as allowing for more play in design processes. Taking software development as an example, the waterfall model of development (analyse, specify, design, code, test) only really has one opportunity for play, whereas recent movements like Agile Programming afford a little bit more experimentation.

I was also wondering about the relationship between play and flow. Is one necessary, or sufficient, for the other?

Performance was a big part of a lot of projects that were talked about at PLAN. I'm stuck on this one because I can't help thinking of performance as attention-seeking, or performance as display. This one requires more reading, I think.

There was a strong distinction made between inter-disciplinary teams and trans-disciplinary teams (with cross-disciplinarity - if that is a word - being somewhere between the two). It was agreed that the former inevitably results in siloed development teams, and that the latter requires a shared vocabulary to facilitate understanding and common goals. As someone who instinctively falls into roles bridging the art-science divide (as I'm sure many people do) I didn't realise it would be as big an issue in this kind of forum. (In school, and college, and university, I never really did one discipline, and I don't consider myself wholly a part of either the computer science or architecture & design communites in my post-graduate studies either).

There was a call for raising awareness of the potential applications of locative media amongst those disiciplines which weren't represented at PLAN. One such discipline which came to my mind was oral history. A large number of the projects discussed involved using locative media to enhance the delivery of place-specific story-telling and to restore the context in historical re-enactments (psycho-histories?). In the bar, Giles Lane mentioned to me some of the issues around public collections of oral history recordings - namely that as personal first-hand accounts they aren't always cleared for public consumption. Still, I think it would be good to get the people making these recordings to be aware of the possibilities for presenting them in context.

My final thought was about the role of locative media practitioners as tool makers, in the same sense that most computer scientists would consider themselves tool makers. (This notion gained some ground in the UK in recent times, I think, and perhaps contributed to the increased emphasis on inter- (and trans-) disciplinary research now going on in UK CS departments).