Media Lab Helsinki demo day is a one day event taking place twice a year – every autumn and spring, in the end of the semester. During the demo day the students and faculty are presenting some of their projects done during the semester. Demo day is as old traditions as the Lab, found in 1993.
I couldn’t make it this year to the demo day, because of traveling. The program looks interesting. It looks that the projects that were presented can be categorized to be art, product design, cultural heritage, activism, games etc. The technology trends seems to be physical computing, gesture interfaces, electronics, sensory data, mobiles, etc. What is also characteristic in many of the projects is the design methodology used: most of the projects are strongly relying on the co-design and participatory design approaches. Media Lab Helsinki is on the side of the people.
I put up here seven project I must take a closer look when back in Helsinki:
(1) Clip Kino Helsinki – self-organizing screening events of short video clips and documentaries found online.
The “movement” has an interesting pedagogical statement:
“This is ‘direct action’ media literacy: What media is online? Who is watching it? What does it mean to them, and indeed to you? Where does the video clip come from? How was it produced and distributed? Has it inspired copies, remixes or derivatives? The activity can be a practical and critical education of intellectual property (IP) issues and the emerging configurations of public-private space.
ShapeShifting is a package of tools designed to produce new forms of storytelling that broadband will enable. The tools were developed within a series of experimental productions.
“If theatres have plays, books have novels and television has programmes – what does broadband have? What is the new storytelling for broadband?”
The Krutdurken game is a combination of history lesson and strategy war game taking place in the context of the Finnish War (1908-1909). I am rather critical about the “edutaiment” idea, all in all – there are too few good examples. I also think that engaging computer game can be used for educational purposes but a game should not be designed to be primary “educational”.
There are many examples of computer games that can be used in education. The SIMs and the Civilization are the most obvious examples of these. So, one should not design the game to be “educational” but one may design the game to be “serious”. When the game is serious it can be educational, too.
A Danish company called Serious Games is doing exactly this. They have very interesting two games out: Global Conflicts: Palestine and Global Conflicts: Latin America.(Link via Petri Lankoski)
In the case of Krutdurken it looks that the “educational aims” have overtook the game design objectives. This is common, especially when the client is more interested in education and less on gaming. I assume this has been the case with the Krutdurken game, too. The client was The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland (SLS). However, kudos for the SLS for doing the project.
Zipiko is a service to share your plans with your friends with mobile phones. The people behind the the Zipiko talk about “intention broadcasting”. I like the concept. I assume the experience where you are planning to do something but finally do not do it, because you do not find company to join you, is in some level universal. At least it often happens to me. Would broadcasting my intentions to my whole social network be a solution to this? Maybe – this is what Zipiko people think.
“Intention Broadcasting is the process of sharing your plans and intentions via mobile and IT systems. It has similarities to status messaging but with the emphasis on the future.”
When looking and thinking the Zipiko from the point of view of learning I see it as a potential tool to enhance informal learning among people who have large and heterogeneous social networks. In this kind of network, with the help of ZIpiko you could organize meetings with people from whom you could learn something and for whom you may teach something. Having a large and heterogeneous social network is then another issue. To have this one must have tolerance, understanding and openness to difference cultures, sub-cultures and life-styles. All different – all equal.
(5) Rope as Mind Mapping
This project does not have anything yet online but the description of it is very interesting. I would love to try this in learning context. Let’s see.
“Rope is a prototype of a gesture based mind mapping tool. It tries to improve the convenience of other tools which exist today. It could also be used for bookmarking, video/photo collections, script writing.
(6) Nokia . Expand – a mobile school communication device for children in developing regions of the world
Nokia . Expand is another project without web presence, yet. The fact that they do not yet have anything online makes it even more interesting. I have been meeting several times with Anna Keune, the designer strongly involved in the project, and know that they have some great ideas. I hope they are recycling some of these ideas too:
Mobile phones for learning – September 01, 2005
Wlan device for school children – January 19, 2007
Deschooling society with free phone calls – Skype on your mobile phone – February 13, 2007
Thank you OLPC – Maybe now we may start to talk about education again – January 14, 2008
Handheld Learning Solution – January 15, 2008
OLPC, personal computer, web browser and connectivity – May 06, 2008
This is a real “eating one’s own dog food” project. In Media Lab we keep on talking about co-design and participatory design. The project is aiming to re-design our physical facilities with a help of video cameras and Fusion platform – a P2P collaborative video editing tool.
I can’t wait to see how the Lab will be when I am back in Helsinki.