cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

“Excited” is an understatement for how I felt about having the opportunity today to be a guest at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University — like I said today, this was like a baseball fan getting to go to Cooperstown. Just think of Zotero, Omeka, THATCamp, SyllabusFinder — and these are just a few of the projects under the CHNM umbrella.

But it also meant I got to hang out with Patrick Murray-John, who I’d not seen since my 2007 visit to Mary Washington, and the chance to meet Dan Cohen, the wizard behind CHNM.

I had also opted to broadcast the session live on ds106 radio, via the Papaya app on the iPhone; I neglected to consider recording it too, but luckily Giulia Forsythe was abe to grab at least the first 25 minutes (see below).


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Doing this in the first throes of a cold, I am hoping I can remember some highlights – the purpose was to talk about and demo the StoryBox — follow:

  • They thought it was cool
  • This was the first demo with a group, and the box performed well for people accessing and uploading.
  • Speaking of uploads, I got a lot of new content from the group.
  • Speaking of uploads from mobiles, 3 people were able to do so from their Android phones. Being able to upload from mobile is pretty important, and frustrating given the lack of access to a file system on iOS.
  • A few people said they were going to try building one.
  • One person suggested the front screen be a little more demanding on sharing fules- like leading with a GIVE ME YER FILES Pirate command.
  • Someone noted from how I described framing the content was polar, sometimes I was sneaky (hidden recorder or camera) and other times explicit, asking people interview questions. Yes, I am. Frankly I will take it any way I can.
  • Dan suggested this was similar to the goals of the BBC’s Doomsday Project in which thousands of people capture media in the 1980s to capture life in the UK, with the idea to preserve it digitally– alas then the media was videodisc.
  • Dan also brought up the similarity to the Dead Drops— I shared my own story how we tried to locate on in Toronto only to find it gone (noting that the poem Giulia wrote was added to the StoryBox)
  • I speculate an idea of a series of dead drops with clues that might lead to other locations, sort of a geocaching / scavenger hunt thype thing, or wrap it in a location history activity.
  • There was some conjecture of Omeka could be installed on the piratebox (there is an iPhone app in development meant to send photos directly to Omeka). it might take some python wrangling.
  • I shared Scott Leslie’s idea of creating a python script to dynamically generate a .pls file based on the audio content- in hence, making the box a radio station of sorts.
  • I am thinking I have to knuckle down and learn some python.
  • A few people wanted a step before upload to be able to add meta data or at least specify a file name. I think this is desirable but also adds more steps. The simplicity is what makes it work, as is the mystery of the content.
  • Everyone loves the stickers.

StoryBox at CHNM (first 25 minutes)

That’s what I can recall for now. Mostly it was fun to share this and get some feedback and ideas.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

All in all it was a ducky day (thanks George for all the arrangements and managing of a tired cogdog)

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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