Digital Mushrooms or Augmented Reality

I wanted to write about this a lot earlier, but well, you know how it is sometimes.

This autumn I had my first two encounters with Augmented Reality (short AR).

Thanks to Djure Meinen and Frank Tentler I was allowed to join the evening event of the stART conference in Duisburg in September where the Zaboura Eichstaedt Experience (short ZEE) gave a performance.

ZEE’s art performance is based on the iphone technology. They use the application Ocarina for getting some nice instrumental background to play with and then add instruments like guitars to it in order to enhance the musical effect. The added instruments can be very different, as their photo and video section shows.

This already fascinating sound mix gets taken to another level when Zaboura adds her soft yet powerful voice reading the philosophical texts of Georg Simmel . At the start of the performance, both music and the text read do not make really sense to your little grey cells, but then after a short while of resistance they decide to accept this uncontrollable flow of sounds and impressions that the ears pass on to them – and then one just falls into it, into a certain kind of trance-like experience almost. And then at some point the sounds stop. Performance over. And what then? One does not really know what to say. Non-sense. Strange. And that shall be art? These kind of comments one hears. But also things like wow, brilliant, amazing experience.

I found that the ZEE-performance took me totally out of my normal thoughts. Listening and allowing myself to fall into this special mix of sound simply freed my head. It made me listen, without really understanding or being able to describe the experience if someone would have asked me. It took my thoughts kind of to a bigger, wider space. I felt inspired, creativity seemed to be filling the air around, possibilities. All that in the wider sense of a feeling, nothing concrete.

Even though this has been over a month now, the inspiration I took with me. And I can still clearly recall the special atmosphere.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I went to the Geek Girl Meetup in Stockholm. There I met Andie Nordgren who is the product manager and developer at RjDj in London. Andie demonstrated to us one of the iphone applications that RjDj developed. The way it works is that one listens to music via ones head phones and then via the application sounds from ones surroundings get added. Think of listening to your hottest House or Trance compilation or even your favourite lounge music compilation, whatever you prefer, and then walking down Oxford Street with all the people rushing past you. All these sounds get added on top of your music and thus everything blends to a unique mix that only you listen to via your headphones.

Andie demonstrated the application to us in an open room at the GGM, and she gave some of us her headphones on our night out together. Both times it was a really impressive experience. But she also advised us to be careful with this since it “fucks with your brain” as she put it. Or as John Mahoney from Gizmodo states on the RjDj website “Hey, it’s mushrooms without the mushrooms!” .

For me this is definitely a reason consider even more seriously to finally get an iphone.

Anyway, Andie’s demonstration helped me understand much better what I already experienced with ZEE, even though these two are of course two different pairs of shoes.

I look forward to see what else there will be available within the next let’s say six months.

Digital mushrooms, wow ūüôā

Another thought, does this mean that applications like the RjDj ones will considerably fuck up the market for Ecstasy and the like? Will drug dealers get digital and legal? So much cheaper and fancier and less dangerous – OK, the latter has probably to be proven first.

First day at #ggm09 goes towards the end

… or better saying the program part goes towards the end, the party is still waiting for us ūüėČ

Impressing and truly inspiring it was so far. For me at least.

These are the sessions I went to:

– 10:30 Marketing with Social Media by Heidi Wold – Do’s and Don’ts in Marketing via Social Media
Great examples for good and bad marketing (i.e. @saltakvarn + and @nike -, the latter because there is i.e. no official facebook group but quite a few inofficial ones, meaning Nike does not seem to be interested to use the huge potential of people who would like to talk to them. So there is kind of a monologue going on with just a few and irregular replies from such a big company. Kind of a waste, but I reckon they will realise that soon enough.)

11:30 Jin Moen from Moveintofun about how to create a product and then try to get it out onto the market. The latter will happen early next year, please correct me if I am wrong. Cool product they have, it is kind of a device called BodyBug that gets people dancing – similar to Guitar Heroe making people move their fingers and play music. More information you find here. Would be fun to try actually!

12:00 Build your site with WordPress with the WPGirls – this one got me thinking of moving my blog (or a new one I might start) to, making me more flexible with design and plugins. Also, what I did not know before was that there are even possibilities to create an online shop with WordPress! Very inspiring session from @LolitaLoca. Followed by a second WP-Fika-session at 15:00 covering topics like backup and hosting of a blog. Great and useful.

– 13.30 there was a special session held by Janaina Pilomia about the Nokia 900 which will be launched end of this year, beginning of next year. Like quite a few other ladies I had the privilege to test the new toy for a bit more than half the day. Many functions remind of the iphone, yet it feels sturdier and you have the choice of actually using a normal or a virtual keyboard. I kind of like it but from what I’ve seen from the iphone I still find that a bit sexier. On the other hand it would also be great to have a device that is not mainstream… The Nokia 900 runs with Maemo 5, a Linux based OS. I like Linux because it is open source and there are also loads of different applications available. One could even easily write some oneself we got told, i.e. by using Qt. Well, if one could. Me = “not so techy, no programmer at all” – but maybe one should give it a try simply? If possible I will borrow it again tomorrow. Oh yes, the Nokia 900 is no phone but a computer. Important difference.
(Janaina is actually from Brazil and working since two years in Finland… How on earth could she swap Samba with Finnish Tang0?? Not to mention the climate difference.)

15:30 Ella Britton from thinkpublic, London talked to us about their very interesting project in the UK. thinkpublic as a social innovation agency involves people in designing¬† and developing solutions for improving services. That means that i.e. Alzheimer patients get asked to help creating or improving services in the public sector that they are going to need as their condition progresses. The result is not only that services get better but as important, that people feel valued and taken seriously instead of being pushed aside and treated second class. Ella really managed to pass her passion for her work on to us listeners I believe. My thought was that it would be great to have something like that also in Sweden – it would work here as well, I think. Well, I need to keep my ears open, cos I think it would be really fun to get engaged in such a project here in this country. thinkpublic’s concept is going to be rolled out end of the UK throughout the entire UK – not bad for a company with just 10 employees.

Apart from a great program we were spoiled with good food for lunch (vegetarian or Chicken wraps), great coffee, re-energizing juice from Pauluns, energy bars, fruit, … Well, you get the picture. We did not starve at all and thanks to the sponsors we do not need to pay a penny for it. Impressive organisation, I have to say – and this is meant as a big compliment to all the ladies who put their energy into this to make it such a great day.

Soon there will be dinner/ after party and I really look forward to day no. 2.

Geek Girl Meetup – tomorrow

This weekend will be truly exciting! The Geek Girl Meetup in Stockholm starts for two days fully packed with a great topics and tips. Take a look at the program and you will find everything from technical sessions, via blogging, social media related subjects to consulting. All organised and held by ladies for ladies – or shall one say lady-nerds, means call us what we actually are in one way or the other? It seems that the female “nerdiness” has at least as many facets as thgeekgirlmeetup001e male.

Anyway, I could not decide yet what I want to listen to or see. On my list is definitely the session of the famous WP Girls, simply because it is fun and I will definitely learn the one or the other thing. The second one I really want to listen to and try (!) is the session about the new Linux based Nokia 900. The rest will be decided then and there, I already know that the decision making will be hard.

Most of all, though, I am looking forward to spend two days with nerdy ladies – cos I usually spend my days with nerdy males, colleagues and the loved one at home to be precise. So I am curious to experience the difference and what actually is different – if there is any ūüėČ .

My plan is to blog short updates from the mobile phone to wha’ever, let’s see what I come up with tomorrow then. (Mental note: Don’t forget the battery charger).

Great ways to follow all the #ggm09 updates and related news are their underground backchannel from Maria Söderberg and their Twingly channel.

Maybe see you tomorrow then!