Some of my research is in an area that is called ‘personal information management’ or PIM. PIM is about all the bits of information people store electronically: files on the computer desktop, web bookmark, calendars and address books and increasingly photos, movies and more.
However, physical information management can be just as fascinating … and a lot more creative.
I just came across a really nice part of the BBC web site for Cardiff called Streets of Cardiff. It allows anyone to upload (moderated, this is the BBC!) stories, pictures, or videos about different areas and these are presented as points on a map. Below is the Roath Park and Penylan page … where I grew up:
[ screen shot ] [ BBC web page ]
Given it is the BBC no google mashup, but a little flash app! But a very nice bit of webbery, community content etc. … pity they don’t have it for everywhere. For years now I have kept thinking it would be really nice to have a coherent location-based portal of everywhere and even got a domain for it! Whilst google maps and related things are getting close to that dream, still it is hard to find things by location … maybe one day …
Last night was at the Kendal Torchlight Carnival [web site, flickr]. Floats, shire horses, caribean-style dancers, old steam vehicles and a vintage fire engine to die for … how cool to drive to work in that!
I remembered summer holidays as a child, where the seaside villages and those nearby would often have street processions, a different village each week, carefully timed for tourist season. I even recall one on the Isle of White the year of the Isle of Wight Festival … but no I was a little too small to go to that!
Like, I would guess, most of the seaside processions, Kendal Torchlight is not an ancient festival, but only goes back less than 40 years, and apart from a fun fair does not include much beyond the procession itself. However, it was a slightly eerie feeling walking down towards the town through street empty of traffic and so quiet with families buggies and old ladies with fold-up chars all going in the same direction, almost like one of those zombie-style sci-fi films where everyone is drawn towards some unseen force.
I don’t go to football matches or other sports, so it was unusual that sense of all streaming together towards an event, the shared anticipation waiting together lined along the roadside and experiencing the lights, sounds and movements with so many at the same time (especially the enthusiastic lady next to us who cheered waved and shouted at every passing lorry and dancer). In a world dominated by the individual, from on-demand TV to corner yogurt pots, things that bring us together, whether ancient or modern, seem no bad thing.
Last week’s HCI2007 conference and the Physicality workshop now all finished (except sorting out the the final finances for HCI … but I’ll forget that for now!)
Being part of the organisation of things you always see so many things that are not as planned (like going wrong), but for the delegates it all seems a well-oiled machine. In this as in many other domains, the mark of a rubust system is not whether or not it fails, but how it copes with failure. This is the heart of my principles for appropriate intelligence when designing ‘intelligent’ user interfaces and also ‘fail fast programming’1 when designing and debugging critical computer systems.
Great to see so many old friends … and meet new people … and after able to show Nad2 the glories of the Lake District.
Nad has been blogging about Live Search‘s new features for searching for images of different kinds (see Finding Faces with Live Search). he used me as an example and it was weird both the images it found of me, but also the occasional images that also showed up that were not of me, including a golden Budda (!). There is something quite poignant about the near random associations that come with the ‘mistakes’ on the search. One image was of a national guardsman about to leave for Iraq. the link was tenuous, his name was Alan and he was at Fort Dix, but seeing the photos of his children and his going away cake (stars and stripes and plastic tanks), gave me a very odd feeling of connection to someone far away and in so different circumstances.