As I mention in my other post, I wanted, perhaps unsurprisingly to anyone who has spoken to me in the last few months, to have a discussion about Archiving. Meanwhile John Fass wanted to have a discussion about Adaptive data representation, User experiences, Human behaviour and Physical computing and as we walked towards the break-out rooms we were already talking to each other about all manner of things under both of these topics, so we combined groups and had a wide-reaching discussion which resulted in more questions than answers. We had two sessions, with some people being in both, and others leaving or joining as they saw fit.

Topics we discussed were as follows, with appropriate links wherever possible, and with a rough attempt at grouping things logically:

  • We spoke about Jean Malaurie and his storage of the first genealogical records of a group of 302 Inughuit and the fact that it isn't/hasn't been consumable to the public
  • We spoke about making things and storing things so that they are resistant to degradation, for instance format shifting, i.e. storing multiple formats of images (JPG, PNG, Raw format etc) so that when the format changes the image itself isn't lost
  • We discussed making things that are physical touchable, so that you can interact them. Which led someone to mention the Chronotape from Bristol interaction & Graphics group - this is a tangible timeline which was created as an example of a tangible user interface
  • We spoke of the use of stories to bring data points to life. And how we see the world through stories and events, and use stories to warn us about bad things, and inform us about good things - myths and legends form the basis of many cultures. And how this also passes on language across generations as well. We also went on later to discuss the storification of data, the idea that storify is still quite a blunt tool, but that it'll be interesting to see what comes up next in this space
  • We mulled over questions about: When looking at data now, how do you determine what the events or stories will be in the future? How do you ensure that you're recording the right data now, so that the future looks after itself? How do you tell what will turn out to be important or significant? How do you choose what you keep and what you commit to keeping current even if the original format changes? Discussing the fact that my Mum kept a journal for 20 years and that I am tweeting bits of it Jamie suggested that “Context makes the mundane important” (a phrase I particularly liked) - the fact that Mum chose to walk somewhere instead of taking the bus is significant because a few days later she indicates that Dad has been offered overtime, and so we determine that she walked to save money
  • John mentioned a project which used the concept of a magnifying glass to show news articles changing over time. Which made me think about James Bridle's talk about being able to press the history button at dConstruct a few years ago, and I mentioned the Iraq War books produced as a result of printing out all the history from the wikipedia article
  • We talked about projects which return your content to you through time lags, examples were Timehop - tweets from a year ago emailed to you, Memolane - a social data capturing service, Photojojo's time capsule - flickr photos from a year ago emailed to you - time lagged memories, helping to keep memories alive
  • We spoke about the senses, that we're still very much sight driven. I mentioned the Museum of endangered sounds, someone mentioned OllyFactory - a web-connected smelly robot that turns your online notifications into smells and we mentioned touch, and how our experiences with touch and technology were changing. Jamie mentioned the excellent Brett Victor Inventing on Principle video as another example. We also touched on artificial synethsisia - whereby a guy who couldn't see colour now has it transmitted into his ear as a musical scale (I couldn't find a reference for this when I took a brief look just now). We also spoke about the future of interaction and about Singularity University and about head up displays via contact lenses 
  • We discussed “The right to be forgotten” and the fact that delete doesn't always mean delete when it comes to deleting your user account but that there was EU legislation on it's way to help
  • We spoke about instant messaging tools and the different metaphors they use to show what the other person is doing, some which say x is typing, some which show what they are typing as they type, so you see errors and speed etc. This led to a brief mention of screen sharing, and whether this was too intimate as you see things related to your work together, but also IM chats etc
  • We discussed 3D printing, and it was suggested that 3d scanning will transform 3d printing - the high-resolution scanning is still expensive but when it comes, it will be like teleportation
  • Someone mentioned the Microsoft Life logging/SenseCam research projects - what did they learn by doing it? What did they do/learn as a result of it? How did they store/sort/interrogate the data produced as a result of it?
  • We spoke about body activated search, using different positions to work through a backlog of images for instance
  • We spoke about how/if you could quantify attention? And whether the very act of being tracked would change the outcome. Like Affectiva which measures the emotional connection people have with advertising and brands
  • I mentioned Into Eternity the documentary about the Danish facility Onkalo for spent nuclear fuel and the need for information to be preserved about where it is over multiple generations to ensure that the 100,000 years pass without incident. This led to a conversation about the visual ways to communicate danger
  • We spoke about the glitch - the useful reminder we sometimes get that technology is involved, and fallible
  • We discussed archiving methodologies, about how Jamie's company PDFs all documentation, with the aim that it will last around 50 years as a format. They use PDF/A as their fomat of choice. Jamie also pointed out that the National Archives would have recommendations and policies and might be a good place to do some research. We also discussed the use of XML as a format, deciding it made quite a lot of sense because you got both plain text data, and meta data describing various elements of it
  • We spoke about privacy, with Jamie mentioning that there is no legal right to privacy within the UK, there is no common law or human rights act that covers it. Other european countries do have however. We also questioned what the legal coverage is of people using your data? How do you protect the privacy of your data? At least two people in our small group had received text messages to their mobile phones of the "We can help you get compensation after your accident" ilk. We also moved on to considering whether our personal data assets are worth the same to us as they are to others who consume them? We treat our personal data as an asset, whilst to a company they are just a commodity. This led to us talking about Facebook being used by employers/potential employers and the use of all social media networks in human intelligence analysis and sentiment analysis for hedge funds etc
  • We then mentioned about being off-the-network, via pop up networks and pop up social networks - like one run amongst the MTA in New York for commuters. Someone also mentioned something like 25 square miles in a suitcase but I can't find anything via google, so I may well have transcribed that incorrectly). And then the NSA's Utah Data Center, which plans to record every online interaction, including encrypted data that they can't crack yet, but may be able to in time
  • We briefly touched on the need to find appropriate metaphors as our technology evolves, and disagreed on whether the fact that the icon for Save is still a floppy disk was ok or not (learned response vs something that indicates save now)
  • And finally the notes that no longer make any sense to me, that needed additional context which I can't remember:
    • Reflection of self, direct perception
    • Physical control vs virtual control 
    • Slow technology
    • Is the Facebook timeline impoverished? Or is it a great first step? Is Facebook actually more of a scrapbook?
    • How do you illustrate the richness of data?
    • How do you socialise data?

If anyone who was in either of the sessions feels I've missed something, or has clarification or further details on anything they mentioned, or that I've been a bit vague about, or even just wants attribution for some information they shared, please leave me a comment and I'll fix/add/update as appropriate.