Building magical realms: responses to pervasive and locative media technology
This paper reports on 12 future focused participatory design workshops involving 216 young people, aged 9 to 16. Through a combination of hands on GPS enabled activities using locative and pervasive media young people explored their thoughts, feelings and wishes about the future. Initial activities included game-play and gifting actions (using treasure hunt geo-caching applications), GPS drawing and virtual tagging (using applications that track body movement as a line form in space), mapping activities, such as individual drawn and later combined group journey maps, and the emotional mapping of points of interest (using media rich interactive mapping applications). These activities then inspired collaborative storytelling activities that imagined fantasy, or science-fiction stories about those journeys. In addition after these initial activities, participants were shown a range of public and corporate produced future scenario imagining and planning videos and asked to either comment or redesign those activities to suit.
The stories that participants imagined were influenced by the locations in which they were set. Rural settings encouraged sporting, games and tourism themes, whilst stories in urban setting focused upon social interaction, security and territory. Girls were more interested in social networking and communications scenarios, particularly in relation to the ways that their popular culture knowledge of celebrities, popular local places and technology use interplays with issues of inclusion/exclusion from cliques. Boys tended to approach place in terms of territory. They devised games of conquest and stealth, that also featured virtual graffiti as a form of territory claim. Both genders like collecting play using mobile tools, but girls tended to collect celebrity culture knowledge, whilst boys imagine fantasy worlds to display weapons, power, or skills. Both genders talk about feeling excluded in public spaces and were attracted to the idea of secret signs and communications in these spaces that adults were not privy to.
AIs were a universally popular way of interacting with the world. Identity was seen to be fluid and AIs were imagined as masks that could be used to present a variety of different identities to the world. Identity theft was an equal concern with participants supporting biometrics, smart ID and even embedded personal chips. Older groups were also concerned about equity and exclusion issues in terms of technology access.
Imaginary future mobile devices (often described as wands in the young peoples’ imagined future scenarios) were designed around access, demand and control issues, prompting the researcher to comment that these future imagined mobile communications were not so much with others, as with the world itself. Anywhere, anytime access that can also be personalised were central concerns. AI were described as creatures, or beings. Disguises and masks were referred to and the idea of personal invisibility was often explored. A world of networked, smart domestic devices was approached as a magical realm, which the user can control like a scientific sorcerer.
Nolan, S., 2006. Building magical realms: responses to pervasive and locative media technology. Digital Creativity, 17(3), pp.185-192.
The USW Audience of the Future research team is compiling a summary collection of recent research in the field of immersive, and enhanced reality media