Interactive Storytelling Interface design Picnic07

Interactive storytelling: The Whale Hunt by Jonathan Harris

The Whale Hunt by Jonathan Harris

Jonathan Harris has a very impressive portfolio with interactive projects. He’s an interactive storyteller and great visualizer. Last year I visited his talk at Picnic where he talked about his new project ‘The Whale Hunt‘. Today I discovered the project is public.

In May 2007 Jonathan lived for nine days with the Inupiat Eskimos in Barrow Alaska. Het went out hunting wales and documented his story in a wonderful interactive story.

“I documented the entire experience with a plodding sequence of 3,214 photographs, beginning with the taxi ride to Newark airport, and ending with the butchering of the second whale, seven days later. The photographs were taken at five-minute intervals, even while sleeping (using a chronometer), establishing a constant “photographic heartbeat”. In moments of high adrenaline, this photographic heartbeat would quicken (to a maximum rate of 37 pictures in five minutes while the first whale was being cut up), mimicking the changing pace of my own heartbeat.”

The Whale Hunt by Jonathan Harris

Video: Jonathan Harris at TED 2007 about the Web’s secret Stories.

Experiments Featured Interactive Storytelling Interactive Video Journalism Live Web Picnic07 Projects Usability

Picnic 2007 Review of the tools

Mobile posting: Picnic Aggregator flyer
Supersize aggregator flyer

Every serious project needs an evaluation and so does the Picnic aggregator. The VPRO-crew interviewed everyone who had something to do with the aggregator about what the liked or didn’t like about it. The ‘review of the tools‘ is a collection of video and related discussion (see the videos below, sorry it’s all in Dutch).

What I personally liked about the aggregator was the enormous amount of information that was created over the last days. The most difficult thing – from the start – was to sort all this information. I build a simple interface to make it accessible. The aggregator proved this interface wasn’t enough to sort signal from noise.

In an aggregated environment information is fragmented. The strong idea behind the aggregator is to give everyone the freedom to use the service they feel most comfortable with. API’s and feeds make it technically possible to aggregate. The problem is how do you design an interface that keeps the flow of information structured and connected. A machine doesn’t know how to do this unless all the information is labeled.

And aggregating it did
I think you could compare the aggregator to a news wire service. The reporter out there only knows what he or she sees on sight plus his or her personal knowledge. The reporter sends fragments to the news-desk(aggregator), the place where all the information comes together. There are also other reporters(users or systems) who collect information, sort it on relevance and give meaning. If there is a black spot in the story the news-desk(aggregator) informs the reporter what is missing.

The aggregator covered most of this cycle, except one thing. It collected all the information and gave partial feedback about missing information (mostly through Twitter). What it didn’t do was organizing, sorting and giving meaning to information collected.

This should be done the next time, how isn’t important. There is this giant pool of everything. You can make your story in the end of the day searching the archives for quotes or media. Or viewers can sort using voting and bookmark systems. You could even appoint a human editor.

The aggregator was a great success. It aggregated, distributed and made people create and communicate. It transfered the conference vibe to the web. Which should be a goal for every conference, this is how you make people sign up for the next event. If only the aggregator could give meaning to information.

Vincent Everts (PCZapper/Interimic) about Twitter and Gabcast.

Jaap den Dulk (Daadpracht) about Twitter

Mathijs van Abbe (Van Abbe IT) about Mobypicture

Leonieke Verhoog (VPRO) about Netvibes and Tumblr

Gertjan Kuiper (VPRO) about VPRO’s Picnic Aggregator:

Roeland P. Landegent (TodaysArt) about de Twitter Abroacatr

Wilbert Baan (Volkskrant) about de Picnic Aggregator (interface)

Yme Bosma (Hyves) about VPRO’s Picnic Aggregator and onderdelen als Flickr, Tumblr and Splashcast.

Erwin Blom (VPRO) about Gabcast:

Nicolette Nol (VPRO) about iMovie.

Eef Grob (VPRO) about YouTube.

Maarten Terpstra about Operator11:

Notes Picnic07 The Social Web

Picnic Day #2 a review of Keen vs. Weinberger

Marco Derksen photographs Weinberger, Mossberg and Keen
Photo by Marco Derksen, click to zoom.

Today was the second Picnic day. Together we published an incredible amount of information. Ad to this my personal notes and I could write a pretty long essay about the last two days.

Somehow I don’t feel that writing down what happened the last two days will contribute to whatever there is made already. So this is just a small take of todays main event. Maybe I have some time to sort out more of the information this weekend.

The most anticipated keynote for today was the keynote by David Weinberger and the response by Andrew Keen. This discussion was moderated by Walt Mossberg. David Weinberger is a very good keynote speaker. Andrew Keen doesn’t give up, and that’s about it. A heavy discussion without an ending.

Erwin Blom reviews Weinberger vs. Keen (dutch)

Picnic theme of the day

David Weinberger, Andrew Keen and other speakers talked about giving meaning to data. David gives meaning by meta-data or co-creation. Someone talked about extracting meaning with software and Andrew believes in editorial reviewed content.

I think giving meaning to data was the theme for day #2 @ Picnic 2007

Slideshow by Jim Stolze

Live Web Picnic07 Projects

Picnic 2007 The Aggregator is LIVE

Picnic Aggregator
The aggregator is ready, the conference is ready and we are ready. This afternoon the Picnic conference starts officially and we will try to catch the live coverage using a mash-up of different web-technologies.

The aggregator is an interesting experiment in using the web for live event coverage/journalism. The filtering is based on the theme (picnic 2007). Everyone can join using e-mail, mobile, webcam, blogs, sms, phone calls or anything else you can think of.

This is a multimedia experiment with collective journalism or collective event registration, it doesn’t really matter how you call it. It’s live and time-shifted at the same time. Some people will write whatever they hear or think of, others will think it over and recap at the end of the day.

If you’re not at the picnic conference you can virtually join the conference through

Let me know what you think of the aggregator and what you like or don’t like about it. If you are a Picnic visitor share your stories! This friday we will review the tools. You’re invited to join this session.

The aggregator

Mobile Picnic07 Projects

A countdown clock for the Momo 90 Seconds pitch

For the Momo 90 seconds pitch in Amsterdam I made a simple countdown clock. Try it yourself by clicking on the clock.

Tomorrow is Momo in Amsterdam. It’s the second Mobile Monday organized in the Netherlands. I really liked the first momo, especially the mobile social networking part.

The event is not officially connected to the Picnic week, but it could easily be a (pre)picnic conference (same week, same city).

Tomorrow the momo-guys will try something new; the 90 seconds pitch (I don’t think this needs explanation). I build a small countdown for the background channel.

If you ever need a 90 second countdown clock feel free to use this one: Click to activate and click again to reset.

Interactive Storytelling Picnic07 Projects

Win a free ticket for Picnic 2007 in Amsterdam

design aggregator

Next week is the Picnic conference in Amsterdam. A conference with Bruce Sterling, Jyri Engström, Marc Canter, Walt Mossberg, We-Make-Money-Not-Art, Cory Doctorow and many more.

You can win a ticket (worth € 950,-) for this festival by thinking up a creative idea for the aggregator. A project initiated by the VPRO. Think up something great and send your ideas to

I’m experimenting with an interface for this aggregator, tonight I released version 2 (check version 1). The ticker moved down and the menu got more options and less difficult. You can try the updated version over here: Let me know what you think about it.

screenshot version 2 of the aggregator

I have also created a category for Picnic on this blog, since I probably will be writing a lot more about it in the next two weeks.

Experiments Featured Interactive Storytelling Live Web Picnic07 Projects The Social Web

Picnic 2007 building a data aggregator for live coverage

PICNIC 2007 aggregator - the picnicker

This month the Picnic Conference/Festival is in Amsterdam. The VPRO decided to start a wiki and build an aggregator to collect all the data created during the even.

Building an aggregator isn’t that hard, you just scan for updates on feeds and tags and combine the messages. The big problem is the interface, how do you design an interface that is capable of showing different types of information without creating a long list without context?

There is a certain urge to design an uniform template for all different types of data. I’m playing with this for a while and have build aggregators in the past. I haven’t figured out what is the best way to do it. Nonetheless I have given it a try again and build a Picnic aggregator.

How it works
The idea is simple. I have build a bar similar to the twitterticker. The top layer reads an RSS file from twitter and scans for a certain word. Right now it is the word ‘:’ for testing purposes. I think it will change to PICNIC or something similar. So you can just use the word ‘PICNIC’ in your twitter messages.

The second layer is a row with buttons linking to searches or webpages that will have PICNIC coverage during the days of the event.

Nothing fancy, but I think this will do the trick for organizing all the information during Picnic. See the ticker in live action:

Picnic has a wiki about the live coverage and data aggregation during the festival. Join it to share your ideas. If you would like to improve my tickerbar, please do. You can find all the source files you need on my server: download the source files