As with every previous case study I’ve posted up to now, this week’s case is an example of a very distinctive context for the design and use for the eBooks. Today’s post is the first of two cases that involve the British Museum which means we’re dealing with a far larger institution than in previous cases. Nevertheless, as I hope you will see, this case has quite a few similarities with other approaches we’ve explored to date.
I had the chance to pay a visit to Julie Anderson, Assistant Keeper for Ancient Sudan and Egyptian Nubia at the BM on the 14 September to talk about her work with the eBooks. Julie is the project leader for what is known as the Berber-Abidiya archaeological project in Sudan. She and her collaborator Dr Salah eldin Mohamed Ahmed in Sudan have been working with Proboscis to develop a version of the eBook as part of this project. This was my chance to find out a bit more about the project.
Sample project: Excavations in the Temple Precinct of Dangeil
In our interview, Niharika told me that she first used the eBooks on part of the Perception Peterborough project. She and Alice used the eBooks to document a cab ride around Peterborough using illustrations as a way to explore the different kinds of communities and systems that were embedded in the city. For Niharika, this early way of using the eBooks functioned more as a support for personal reflection. Although she would show the results to others, the eBooks she created felt more personal:
“It is shareable, but that is not the intent in which I created it. It was more like a personal log.”
Although she continues to be interested in this kind of approach, she has also used the eBooks as part of a more extensive project which I want to examine in greater detail:
Sample project: Articulating Futures
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.
This week’s eBook case study involves the work of researcher and community education worker Gillian Cowell. Gillian first encountered the eBooks online while doing research for her masters degree. She was interested in finding online tools help her to “capture data in a more interesting way for local people.” She was also hoping to turn the results of her research into something more unique than a regular research report. Although she had initially been attracted to the StoryCubes on the Proboscis website, she eventually received a version of the eBook after ordering a few things from Proboscis.
Sample project: Greenhill Digital Storytelling Guide
Last week, I posted the first case study as part of my research on how Proboscis’ design for eBooks is being used. For me, CCI was a great example of how the eBooks are appropriated and used as part of a cultural organisation’s activities. Although Trail of Imagination and Curiosity was only one example of the kind of projects CCI is engaged in, these kinds of workshops represented a key aspect of the work that CCI did and it seemed that the eBooks were becoming a key tool in the CCI toolbox for collecting and disseminating information.
The next case I want to present is considerably different in that the eBooks were not designed and used by members of an organisation, but by an independent curator and author: Michelle Kasprzak.
My first encounter as part of this research was with Ruth Sapsed in early July in Cambridge to chat about her work with the eBooks. Ruth is the director of Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI). She was trained as a psychologist and researcher. According to the CCI website, their approach is to “place the people we work with at the centre, in the role of researchers and experimenters. Artists and creative practitioners work alongside participants as facilitators – allowing them freedom in the form of materials, spaces and time.”
CCI uses the eBook in all sorts of ways with all sorts of people. You can find a number of examples of their designs as part of their Recent Publications on their website. The following is a brief outline of some of the work she is currently doing with the eBook.