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#dConstruct – building stories online and rules in life

Dan Hon

Interesting couple of talks to round off the post-lunch session. Dan Hon walked us through the exploration of new forms of storytelling that have been going on online. Some are facilitated by a coder and writer combo. The development of new tools has lead to new forms of storytelling, from alternate reality games (ARGs) (Hon cites one associated with A.I. he got sucked into in 2001) to people using Twitter and its ilk to create fictional personas and narratives.

However, he suggests that there are significant issues around discovery and participation right now. In particular, as entertainment and information objects make a digital transition, we often lose the context of their design. Book covers become 200 pixel wide icons. TV becomes 640 pixel wide boxes on screen. Everything’s being reduced to icons, to small versions of the physical object it used to be. We lose context.

We need to explore building products that facilitate these new forms of narrative and gaming rather than constantly adapting existing forms and tools.
Kars AlfrinkMeanwhile Kars Alfrink was thinking the other way around – how we bring our understanding of games back into the physical work. In a sense the games of politics are already manifest in our world: there are towns split between countries as a legacy of history. There are fictional and real examples of cities which exist alongside one another without interaction) –  The City and The City and  Berlin in the post-war cold war era. Areas of London where gang confrontations happen alongside couples eating and drinking at a bistro. In extremes, this leads to riots.

Rules are fundamental to this. The riots highlighted the existence of two different cities in the same place – with different rules. What if we could make those rules more tangible? Simulation fever – the stress of two completing rules sets (games versus reality) He’s not tailing about gamification – by rewarding reciprocity, we suggest there’s not inherent value in it. Mary did a good post about this earlier. Games can bring societies together – like chess in the park – or they can create monocultures. (I suspects FPSes would count here).

Pervasive urban games are part of the routine. Visible Cities – a chase game, with checkpoints in “other cities”. You’re not allowed to interact with people in “different cities”.

Rules as memes. Bookcrossing is a simple ruleset that promotes behaviour. Werewolf amongst geeky circles. Games as social practice. Nomic – a move is to suggest a new rule. Life is roughly a massively parallel game of Nomic. Can we create a game that takes these implicit rules and makes them explicit?

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Riots = Hyperlocal Traffic

Brockley Central traffic graph

The London riots sent traffic through the roof, with 35,000 visitors on the Monday, when riots in Lewisham took place and 45,000 visitors on the Tuesday, when Brockley Kate provided coverage of the aftermath and we provided a live report, during which mostly nothing happened. On a good day, the site normally gets 2,000 visitors.
I’m not surprised – as someone who was monitoring the situation in Lewisham very closely, Brockley Central was the only reliable source of information when the national media was largely ignoring what was happening in Lewisham. 

After the London riots: some links

Burned out car

A burned-out car not far from my Lewisham flat, from a photo set by Tom Royal.

A rough night in London, as looters smashed up and burnt high streets all over the capital.

Morning has dawned, with the #riotcleanup hashtag, promoted early on by Dan Thompson, helping people co-ordinate themselves to clean up the damage of the night before. Proof, if you want it, that social media is inherently neutral, and that people can use it for good or ill.

Some links:

Clapham looks shut this morning:

[via @greencourier]

More as I find them.

Update: 10.10am

Eager to get going #clapham #riotcleanup #londonriots on Twitpic

People waiting to join #riotcleanup in Clapham, via Simon Parsons

Update: 10.20am

Update: 10.45am

The Great Harry pub in Woolwich (via @darryl1974)

The Great Harry pub, Woolwich  on Twitpic

Feels like a miracle that no-one’s been killed in the riots yet, especially when you see this:

Update: 12:01pm

There’s been a definite shift away from recording the damage and arranging positive action, into blame-storming and political posturing, which I’m less interested in chronicling.

Here’s a last link for now, channeling the positive vibe of this morning.