September was a busy month here at Proboscis and on bookleteer: we sent seven books to be printed via the PPOD service as well as 10 different StoryCubes. The range of publications was very broad, from books about exhibitions and art projects to a book in Arabic about a major archaeological excavation in Sudan and a special notebook for a symposium on digital engagement and another full of QR codes. The StoryCubes included an 8 cube ‘cube of cubes’ set by artists Joyce Majiski and Alice Angus on their Topographies & Tales project, a promotional cube about bookleteer itself and a cube by artist Melissa Bliss to promote her installation, Bird Song, at the b-side media festival in the Isle of Portland.
The photo above shows the various StoryCube and printed eBooks :
James Leach is an anthropologist at the University of Aberdeen who has conducted field-work in Papua New Guinea for approximately 17 years. I recently spoke to him by Skype to talk about a project which also involved two of his friends, Porer and Pinbin from the village of Reite, who had travelled to the UK in August 2009. Part of their visit to London included participating in the British Museum’s Melanesia Project. This project was designed to gain insight into the BM’s ‘largely unstudied’ Melanesian collections. Although I won’t get into to too much of the project’s overall aims and process (see both James’ work and the BM link for more details), part of the project involved inviting people from different areas of Melanesia to provide context about the objects in the collection by explaining how these objects are made, are used, and what their significance is. The exchange also represented an opportunity for the BM to build new relationships with the populations from where these objects originated.
Sample project: Melanesia Project
According to James, both Porer and Pinbin knew a lot about materials and the ways in which some of these objects were made which meant that the exchange could lead to some fascinating insights. Having worked with James in the past, they were also familiar with how to work with anthropologists.
As part of the exchange, James invited Giles Lane to drop by and demonstrate how to use the eBooks to record the event. Giles showed them all how to put the eBooks together and also brought a small portable Polaroid printer that could quickly and easily print digital pictures in a small format that could then be glued onto the eBook pages.
This was certainly a case of using the eBooks to capture information (see here for previous post where I introduce what I mean in by this) – in this case James described using the eBooks asa way to produce a realtime record that involved “capturing the moment of what we were doing and what we were seeing”. Representatives of the BM were also recording the exchange but using the eBooks served as a complimentary archive of what had happened. While the exchange was taking place, James would write down some of what Porer and Pinbin were saying in both English and Tok Pisin next to the images glued down in the eBooks. The addition of the eBooks to the process was partly challenging for James because it involved an additional set of tasks in an already hectic and brief exchange. Nevertheless, James felt that it proved to be a positive addition to the session because it provided a better record of the process of the exchange itself. He felt that although other methods for collecting and presenting information were better suited to the documentation of the knowledge being imparted of the objects by his two friends, the way in which the eBooks were used provided a simple, quick and accessible way of sharing what had taken place during the meeting.
Later on, the eBooks were re-scanned and subsequently reprinted into the professionally printed and bound version of the eBooks. James then distributed copies of the new books in Reite as well as at the local University in Papua New Guinea, and other regional institutions who were interested in what they had been doing. The eBooks were useful for giving people a feel for what had taken place, particularly for people who were unfamiliar with anthropology as a discipline.
Challenges, recommendations and suggestions
James used a wonderful way of describing his work as an anthropologist as being comprised of “moments”. He felt that the eBooks were used at the right moment in the process of conducting this type of research. Although he was unsure as to how this type of practice could fit in other parts of his work, he could see how this process would be helpful in situations requiring the documentation of how people “respond to images or information for themselves”.
He also suggested that as objects in themselves, the professionally bound versions of the eBooks were useful as a way to disseminate general information about the exchange:
“[…] As something to give people, they’re an extremely nice thing. People are very keen. I also took some to an anthropology conference before I went [to Papua New Guinea] and would show them to people and they’d immediately say “Oh, is that for me?” People kind of like them. They’re nice little objects.”
However, since many people of Papua New Guinea don’t have access to Internet, resources like Bookleteer or the Diffusion website proved to be significantly less of an advantage for distributing this information (they obviously can’t download a copy of the eBook).
I want to come back to the way James used the idea of “moments” to describe his work and apply it to the way in which the eBook was designed and used. We could say that each project I have described to date was composed of a series of moments and that nested within these projects was the eBook component which in itself was composed of its own series of moments. In reference to my previous post on the distinction between capturing and publishing, the trajectory of how eBooks were designed and used in some of these projects was composed of both capturing and publishing moments. For example, the way in which the eBook was used on the Melanesia Project included both a capturing moment as part of the exchange with the British Museum and a publishing moment in which Giles and James printed-out scanned copies of the original eBooks and made them available online or passed hardcopies out to people who were interested in learning more about the project (or, in some cases, who just wanted to get their hands on a free neat little object).
These series of moments were significant because they each involved different challenges and successes. In James’ case, it seemed both the capturing and publishing moments proved valuable – in the case of the former as a way to capture “the moment of what we were doing and what we were seeing” during the exchange, in the case of the latter as a way to distribute printed copies of the eBooks. But both capturing and publishing in this particular case also faced challenges that suggested there were some additional key moments that made-up an eBook’s trajectory as part of a project. Here are two moments that I want to add to describe an eBook’s trajectory:
Appropriation: James had only a cursory knowledge of how the eBooks worked before the exchange took place. In other cases, (for example see Ruth Sapsed’s work with Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination) we saw how people had attended “Pitch-up and Publish” events as a way to test the eBooks and decide whether or not they could fit into the way these people executed their projects. For the Melanesia Project, James took the risk of adding the eBooks as an extra element to the project in part because he trusted Giles’ work and his abilities to adapt the eBooks to these particular circumstances. In this case, therefore, moments of appropriation and capturing took place at the same time. I will therefore use appropriation to describe how people decide the way in which eBooks relate to their pre-existing practices for capturing and publishing information.
Design and printing: It may seem that “design and printing” and “publishing” should be categorised as part of the same moment. The reason for making the distinction is that I want to highlight how the physical process of composing the eBook’s pages and physically making the eBook, whether it be printing it out or cutting and folding its pages into a notebook, are distinct from the publishing category I defined earlier. Both capturing and publishing necessarily involve designing and printing an eBook. But the way in which they are designed and printed and the way in which such a design will be evaluated as part of the project will likely be very different.
Of course, in making-up these four distinct analytical categories, I may be over-emphasising distinctions between moments that are in fact all bundled-up and confused in time and space. But the reason for making these distinctions is so that I can begin to develop a typology of how eBooks are part of all of these very different kinds of projects.
Next time, I’ll examine the Diffusion website in greater detail.
As I wrote last week, I have been co-organising the Inspiring Digital Engagement Festival in Sheffield and I wanted to make an eBook for it to try to capture participants feelings and views around digital technologies, digital inclusion, engagement and the festival itself. Thanks to Giles, these eBooks were printed through bookleteer’s PPOD service and ready for me to take to Sheffield on Tuesday.
The eBook was imaginatively titled ‘Inspiring Digital Engagement Festival‘ and consisted of 14 pages with the first page being an introduction and the last page providing space for comments and observations. Pages 3 and 4 were a double-page showing the programme for the day and this was so useful! It helped people anticipate the order in which things would happen and figure out who they were listening to at that moment.
The rest of the eBook was filled with a selection of open-ended questions. Questions included ‘How do you spend your time?‘, ‘Who owns digital space? What are the limitations, restrictions or edges?‘ and ‘What unexpected pleasures did today bring?‘ If you’re a member of bookleteer you can download the eBook here if you’re interested in seeing all of the questions we used.. (If you’re not a member you can sign up here!)
Example of a page from the IDEF eBook
The eBooks were handed out as people arrived at the event – you can see them on our registration ‘desk’ in the photo above… We had designed a selection of micro-activities to take place throughout the day which would have led people into filling in the eBooks individually and collaboratively. Of course, we ran late and some of these activities were cut, however, in the closing minutes of the festival we asked people to turn to their neighbour and to fill in their eBook together.
While the eBooks seemed too seductive for people to want to give them back to us the few that we have show such thoughtful answers and leading questions that I would love to see the rest and I feel that using the eBook for reflection and evaluation was successful and certainly something I would use again – though hopefully with more time to give to it throughout the event.
Aside from my work at Proboscis I’m currently busy organising the Inspiring Digital Engagement Festival taking place in Sheffield on 15 September 2010. As part of this event we plan to use eBooks to gather feedback from participants about the day and their feelings and experiences of it. So I have been browsing the diffusion library to see how other people have approached using eBooks for this task and have come across a number of examples.
eBooks from Articulating Futures by Niharika Hariharan; eNotebooks from school workshops; StoryCubes at bTween
In the Articulating Futures workshop run by Niharika Hariharan eBooks were designed to take the students through the different workshop activities. The eBooks acted as personal journals and tools for them to bring their ideas together and were used to reflect over the proceedings of each day. Proboscis have made a number of eNotebooks to use as learning diaries for school workshops such as Experiencing Democracy and Sound Scavenging, as field notebooks to collect ideas in projects such as St Marks and as evaluation tools at conferences such as Enter. At bTween in Manchester 2008 Story Cubes were used to collect people’s answers to questions around new technologies. A similar premise could easily have asked for feedback from participants on the event itself.
A blank probe pack
Finally, a chat with my co-organiser this afternoon reminded me of the eBooks that Orlagh, Niharika and I made for the probe packs we put together as part of Being in Common. These were sent out to twenty people with very different lifestyles and understanding of space living all over the world. The packs were designed to collect participants thoughts, feelings and experiences of common space. Participants returned the packs to Proboscis once they had completed it. You can read more about the probe packs and the *amazing* things people did with them here. It is this kind of reflective eNotebook that I would like to create for the Inspiring Digital Engagement Festival. Of course, you’ll be the first to know how I get on..
Download Articulating Futures eBooks from diffusion.org.uk.
Read about StoryCubes at bTween here.
Find out more about eNotebooks here.
A few days ago we published a ScrapBook made at the Vintage Festival for a project Proboscis is participating in called Graffito – a collaborative iPhone/iPad app that lets people draw on a shared canvas. It was used in the Warehouse tent (which had a 1980s theme) as a collaborative VJ system displayed on a giant LED screen. A number of iPhones were lent out to people to draw with, as well as remote users playing from all over the world (the App is free to download from the AppStore).
For part of the 3 day festival, Jennifer Sheridan (Graffito’s project lead) sat in the control booth capturing snapshots of the screen and printing them off using a Polaroid PoGo printer (a very small portable printer that uses USB & Bluetooth to print ‘zero ink’ pictures from mobiles or digital cameras). She then stuck them into a blank eNoteBook I had designed especially for Graffito. Once back from the festival we disassembled the ‘ScrapBook’, scanned it in and republished it so anyone (whether at the festival, a remote participant or just someone interested) could have a hand made tangible souvenir of the project and the event. The process was very simple (though not helped by Apple’s blocking of Bluetooth connection to the PoGo printer on the iPhone) and points the way to similar uses for lots of other projects. In fact the whole process could easily be copied by anyone with an iPhone : simply download the Graffito app, start drawing and use the ‘snapshot’ feature to capture pictures of your favourite screens. Then download the blank version of the Graffito ScrapBook from diffusion.org.uk, print out and stick in the screen shots to make your own personal Graffito ScrapBook. You don’t need a PoGo printer (though they’re now very cheap to buy, around £20) – you could just print out the pictures on normal paper and glue them in.
As we develop Graffito further, part of our thinking will focus around how to personalise the creation of tangible souvenirs from the project even further. It could be possible, for instance, to request a series of screen shots to be taken from a particular time sequence and made into an eBook or StoryCube. This could be particularly fun for a group of people using it to draw collaboratively and could be combined with maps of where users are located in the world (there’s a short movie demonstrating this on the Graffito website).
I think this ScrapBook is a great example of just how simple it can be to design and make custom eNoteBooks or ScrapBooks for projects and events with bookleteer. Using simple and cheap tools like the PoGo printer, its possible to capture and print images using mobile phones (or cameras via USB) which can be stuck in and notes written around them. Whether its for festivals, art events, schools projects, field research or sports events, its possible to create beautiful and engaging ScrapBooks ‘in the field’ – as they are happening – that can be shared with anyone afterwards.
Get in touch if you’d like us to design a way of creating tangible souvenirs like this for your project or event.
Even though the eBook Treasure Hunt took place in 2009 I hadn’t come across it until I was looking for projects for my talk at Be2camp Brum 2010 last week. I used this project to help me explain the idea that eBooks facilitate shared making. I thought it was really great and I wanted to share it with you here too.
The eBook Treasure Hunt was designed and implemented by Kevin Harris of Local Level with Manningham Library in Bradford. The library was undergoing refurbishment and the Treasure Hunt was part of a public event to engage people with the refurbishment project and open up a period of consultation.
Treasure Hunt participants followed clues that sent them to specific spots around the library that would be affected by the refurbishment. The first clue was printed in the eBook and asked “Where are the books about Bradford?” Answers to the questions were written into the eBook and supplementary questions were designed to solicit ideas for the new building. The supplementary question for the first clue read “How else might the new library be used to celebrate Bradford and Manningham?” When they found the place in the library that held the answer participants were handed a sticky label with the next clue on. This was stuck onto a new page in the eBook.
In this post on diffusion.org.uk Kevin writes that the eBook Treasure Hunt worked well and no-one had difficulty following the clues or the instructions about where to place the sticky labels. He goes onto say that, in part, the success was because the activity took place in an ongoing mix of engagement activities and processes. Library staff were on hand at the event to hand out clues, give hints and generally smooth the process. He also wrote this post on his own blog about how the eBooks and questions were designed. I think this is such a thoughtful well-considered approach to engagement and consultation I encourage you to read the rest of the post.
As far as shared making goes I think this is a great example of how different types of making can come together in an eBook. Kevin designed the eBook and entered the content into bookleteer, librarians at Manningham then printed out the A4 eBook sheets and made them up into the A6 eBooks. Finally, the treasure hunt participants took these eNotebooks and made them unique and personal with their answers and ideas. Three types of making, one eBook!
The Manningham Library Treasure Hunt eBook is available for download here.
Following on from the paper versus digital notebook conversation the other day I came across this post describing how to keep a geological field notebook. What I liked was how few of the characteristics and possible uses of a geologists field notebook they list actually have to do with the content and how many are to do with the form!
“A well-kept field notebook can function not only as a recording device in the field, but as a scale for photographs, an umbrella, a signal, and most importantly, as a guidebook for the next time one is schlepping through the same area. The notebook itself should be small and easy to carry, and preferably a bright colour, making it hard to lose. It should be bound so the pages will not fall out, and have a hard cover, so that one can write in it easily. Also, because geologists work in all sorts of weather and locations, the notebook should be waterproof, with synthetic or coated paper on which pencil marks will remain legible when wet.”
A field notebook being used to show the scale of a mineralised water droplet (via www.uwec.edu);
The author then describes the type of content you might want to include in your geological notebook and formats you might want to use (and very sensible advice it seems too) Of more interest to me though is the discussion that followed on from this post where the first person asked “can one not have a digital note book ?”and was told that while you could have a digital notebook..
“your trusty notebook cannot get a virus, cannot crash or freeze, will not run out of batteries, is generally impervious to moisture (see bit in the entry about using pencil – though biro isn’t bad), does not require backups or upgrades (other than a new one once that one is full) is easily archived and retrieved, can be used as a fly swat, impromtu dinner plate, signalling device, flat plane for getting an average dip using the compass-clino, scale in photographs… oh, and it doesn’t break when put in rucksack or pockets along with rocks, hammers, tape measures, lunch etc…”
Which I think pretty much covers all of the ways in which paper notebooks can be used – though of course computer notebooks can do some of these tasks too. (And the authors did say that digital notebooks do have their advantages to geologists such as GPS and GIS.) Now I’m going to go away and think about how I can make a bookleteer eBook that can function as a signalling device, dinner place, fly swat and umbrella..
This 12 Month Schedule by Alice is my new favourite eBook. It has one month per page with pages for notes and every page is decorated with illustrations by Alice. It’s designed as a notebook to carry around and use as a way to keep yourself organised, jot down ideas or make sketches. But seriously, could you bring yourself to write on top of Alice’s amazing drawings??
Cover image (from In Good Heart series)
The Schedule eBook can be downloaded at diffusion.org.uk. And if you have access to an A3 printer then you are even luckier because you can make it up at the new A5 size and enjoy the illustrations at twice the size (or have twice the room for making notes..).
If you want to see more detail of the pictures check out Alice’s Flickr stream.
bookleteer eBooks have often been used as sketchbooks or notebooks for people to draw or write in (as seen in yesterday’s post on ‘A Little Something About Me‘!) and one of the things I love best about them is that they are such a manageable size and look so handmade that it’s almost impossible to feel intimidated by the ‘blank white page’ and feel that your ideas are not going to live up to the notebook.
And now I find that Access Art understand precisely how a sketchbook can be a constraint as well as an inspiration! In Sketchbook Space, amongst all of their fabulous examples of sketchbooks, ideas for sketchbook activities and answers to the question ‘When to use a sketchbook’, they also provide the Scrappy Sketchbook. This is a 13 page PDF to download with a title page and 12 ‘blank’ pages each with an image of a different type of paper or surface. Download the PDF, make up the book using hole punch and string and you have a ready-made scrappy sketchbook that is totally blank and completely filled in – at the same time! You’ll never need to feel intimidated by the blank page again..
Some of the pages from the Scrappy Sketchbook
Of course, if it seems too much trouble to get out the hole punch you could always upload the PDF to bookleteer and generate it as an eBook, then all you need are scissors to complete your scrappy sketchbook.
Read more about the Scrappy Sketchbook and download the PDF here..
Last summer I collaborated with James Leach (Anthropology Dept, University of Aberdeen), Lissant Bolton and Liz Bonshek (Ethnographic Dept, British Museum) to help document the visit to London of two people from Reite village, Papua New Guinea – Porer Nombo and Pinbin Sisau. Porer and Pinbin had been invited to come to the British Museum to help identify and provide information about hundreds of the objects from their locality which are in the BM’s collection. It was an amazing privilege and an education to spend time with them watching how their knowledge of their world was rooted in a multi-sensory memory, triggered as much by touch as by seeing. Several eNotebooks were completed which were immediately scanned and printed to make further copies for Porer and Pinbin to take back home with them, and were published on our diffusion site.
On Sunday (June 20th) I got an email from James asking if it was possible to have some copies of the eNotebooks we made last year printed up via bookleteer’s PPOD service for him to take to Reite village on his next trip to Papua New Guinea in July. I just had to remake the scanned-in versions into new eBooks with bookleteer (which took about an hour for all 4), and I then sent the eBooks to press first thing on Tuesday morning. In a super quick turnaround time, I collected the printed versions this morning (Friday 25th).
Porer & Pinbin’s visit was part of the larger Melanesia Project, a conference for which happens next week (June 28th & 29th) at UCL’s Anthropology Department. We’re looking forward to sharing the printed eBooks with colleagues there and getting their feedback and ideas on using bookleteer and the eBooks as innovative ways to capture and share field work, both with each other and with the communities they work with and study.
We’d love to hear from other anthropologists and ethnographers (and any other disciplines too) interested in using bookleteer and the eBooks as creative and shareable notebooks for fieldwork – please get in touch.