PICNIC 08 – Locative Lab on Education

On: September 29, 2008
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About Sarah van der Land
I obtained my first MA in International Business Communication at the Radboud University Nijmegen in 2006 on improving HIV/Aidsprevention documents in South Africa (www.epidasa.org). After graduating, I worked in advertising as a junior strategist for THEY. Six months later, I returned to academia where I co-authored a book on ‘how advertising influences you unconsciously’ at SWOCC (part of the UvA). And just recently I worked at the VU University on a project concerning Second Life. Currently, I am an PhD Candidate at the VU University Amsterdam, conducting research on Virtual Worlds.


“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” -William Shakespeare

What: Locative Lab on Education and GPS-based programme 7scenes
Organised by: Waag Society
When: 24 Sept 08 14:00 – 18:00
Where: PICNIC Club (Gashouder)

I was lucky to get accepted to the Locative Lab on Education at PICNIC. Locative Labs are basically workshops in which a specific phenomenon is explored in depth. Participants of locative labs are mostly people who work in the field. For instance, in my lab, there were people who worked for professional schools, advertising agencies, but also people who worked independently as artists. Apart from a student from the Utrecht University, I was the only MA student in New Media and Digital Culture.

In the first part of the workshop we learned more about 7 scenes. Up until that point, I had never heard of 7scenes, nor worked with it. I did read in the newspaper last year that in the PC Hooftstraat stores where experimenting with uses of Bluetooth for mobile-marketing purposes. These stores send sms’es to people in the vicinity and to seduce them with ‘prizes’ in order to enter their shops. 7scenes is a GPS driven programme that communicates with your mobile phone. The tagline is ‘Create online. Play outside. Share online.’ In brief, the architecture for, for instance, a game is established online. In real life, participants can then experience and retrieve the digital available data, and then upload new data as the fulfil assignments or review restaurants.

We experienced how 7 scenes worked by following a tutorial on the Westergastfabriek terrain. Walking around with a cell phone which had a map of the district, we could see on the maps if there was a text balloon. Such balloons indicated that there was extra information available about the spot, or that we had to fulfil an assignment.

After this tutorial, we teamed up in four different teams and had to design our own 7scenes game or application. Each final concept had to be pitched against the highly credited jury. Concepts varied from being able to see on your cell phone where to buy the best apple-pie or find the hippest clubs in the neighbourhood (by for instance linking information from restaurant review website IENS to the maps and offering users the opportunity to review such venues) to establishing a Chinese tourist information programme about the Dutch waterways. Another plan was to link historic visual data of the ‘beeldarchief’ of the Amsterdam municipality to specific houses. In this way, when walking through the city, one would be able to access visual information about how the houses looked 50 years ago. The winning concept was called ‘love cookies’ and was a game to bridge the gap between young adolescents and 55+ year olds.

What struck me most in this workshop was that programmes such as 7scenes seem to signify that the borders between virtual reality and real life are more and more blurring. In a location-based game there is a constant interaction between pre-established and uploaded digital data online (virtual data), and what the participants experience in real life. Other interesting questions that arose where how it could be possible to let data ‘evolve’ if it is not accessed frequently. All in all, it was a very interesting workshop that opened my eyes about possible future integrations of new media in our daily lives.

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