Informatics: iPad envy

Made it back to Edinburgh this week, but with only half a voice so my workshop on using the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey as a way of approaching research project funding applications has been postponed until January. On a brighter note, the university system has finally decided to recognise my existence so I was able to pick up my computer account login.

I started the day with a little research into the floorplans of the Forum, making notes on small details such as the 1 hr timed extension switches for the heating system. The light switches in the offices have been confusing me since my first day, so it was a relief to discover the architect firm’s notes on how they work (press up and hold to dim. Press up once to turn off. Press down and hold to brighten. Press down once to turn on). I’ve been trying to work out the ethics and financing questions behind the Ada and GIL narratives I”ve been writing, and looking through the Estates information I found a possible loophole; if GIL is counted as part of the architecture of the Forum itself rather than as a research project asset, he should qualify for maintenance and refurbishment costs and hidden in the system accordingly.

This led me on to investigating the School’s ethical review procedures, which are fairly standard. The subheading-questions sound fantastically ominous, so I’m thinking they might make great chapter headings, e.g:

  • ‘Potential Risks to Participants: 1. If the true purpose of the research will be concealed from the participants, explain what information will be concealed and why.’

… and:

  • ‘Part C. 9. Dual Use: Is the research classified or does it have specific adversarial military application? YES/NO’

I also discovered the concept of administrative consent in lieu of participants’ consent, which made me think that a twist at the end of the story could be that Ada is as much the subject of the research as GIL.

I filmed myself typing up a handout for the Hero workshop, then researching the floorplans/ethics, then writing in the mini-forum by the roof garden. Here’s an edit of the research/writing part as they I felt they were complimentary sides of the process.

Jon and I then had a chat about word fountains, lexicons, emotional trajectories of characters, language metrics, entity-level trackers: lots of different ideas for approaching the Writer’s Toolkit. Since it wouldn’t be a meeting without coming up with a terrible pun-title for something, this week’s offering was the ‘Epigrafter’: an automatic generator of suitable epigraphs for a piece of writing, which then checks which lines from the epigraph have already been used as titles for published works.

Later in the afternoon I visited Kate Ho across the road in Appleton Labs. Kate is MD of a spin-out company called Interface 3 who specialise in the design and development of interaction multi-user tablet and table-top applications, with a focus on learning environments for the 3-11 age range. We had a very jolly chat, playing math games on the iPad, discussing creativity, playing with the (slightly battered) SmartTable, and comparing notes on ideas for creative writing apps. I filmed a short section of us talking- lots of hand waving and nodding, but haven’t edited it as you can’t see the ipad screen we’re playing with.

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