The “Google Generation” of Today

The Guardian posted an interesting article on their website today about the use of virtual technologies within Universities.

The article stated that 75% of students are subscribed to a least one social network and spend at least four hours a day online. As technology is evolving rapidly and students are becoming more web savvy – will universities struggle to keep up?

With an increase in blogging, social networking and the phenomenon of new micro blogging site twitter, people are becoming better connected. This peer to peer exchange encourages a dialogue between people, allowing them to form communities to share knowledge, skills and expertise.

“Students aren’t just passive consumers of content. They need to be able to evaluate it and should be creating it themselves,” Brian Kelly, University of Bath
The article makes some interesting points and presents some example’s of digital media being used within universities in the UK.  There is also a link to a report on higher education by Sir David Melville. 

Burda Style’s New Projects

The open source sewing community  Burda Style are dividing the “How To” section on their platform under two new categories – projects and techniques.

They have blogged a sneak peak of the new “projects” section. The projects area will allow creations to be easily categorised under a number of different descriptions such as season, material, garment type and style…

All  techniques will be filed under a “learning” category.

burda style projects

I love the open source element of Burda Style as it networks  a global community of sewing enthusiasts ( with over 200,000 members)allowing them to share skills and expertise. The platform supports the novice through to the expert and allows users to communicate amongst themselves to support, critique and compliment each others creations. 

The new sections under construction look to improve the navigation and usability and Im excited to see the developments.

The Value of User Generatated Content

We attend many different talks and presentations as PhD students this week – as a first year students we only spectate and poise question’s at the end of our colleagues presentations. I don’t think one talk so far has connected completely with my practice as a whole but I feel I can make connections by relating methods, process and application of practice. Its also inspiring to see other PhD formats and how they approach their research problem.

There are so many talks I couldn’t possible write about them all – therefore I am only highlighting one todays which I connected with and found thought provoking.
The student Brita Pollmuller introduced “Machinima – making movies in a virtual world”.
She is using Second Life as a platform to participate within an educational group called Schome. The group is strictly moderated and supports teenage learning within a digital environment. Brita’s presentation highlighted how youths of today are engaging with technology. They are using new language of ‘terminology‘ to describe their practice and process and becoming more design savvy as a result of growing up surrounded by digital technology which has becomes integral to their daily rituals.
It fascinates me that a six year old can pick up a games console and just play…
No instructions are required, they subliminally just ‘know’ what to do. Brita highlighted the playful element and how this inspires youths to engage more freely. She presented some beautiful examples of movies made by her students, whom remain anonymous and adopt alias characters to present themselves within the digital community.
I began to think about other platforms for co-creation. For example, PlayStation home and the game “Little Big Planet”. The game LBP presents a platform for co-creation, allowing players to construct their own levels within  digital world. The design team are reviewing player generated worlds and even scouting new level designers – from user generated content!
I asked Brita about these other methods and if she thought this had scope for future investigation. She facilitates participatory practice within Second Life to make movies – can Little Big Planet or similar games be used in the same way to nurture creativity? Can an Artist/Designer facilitate practice to educate consumers through digital frameworks? Another student in the audience stated that Sony heavily audit and regulate user generated content therefore there are limitations into what can be achieved.
There are many current debates about regulation and intellectual property? Who should profit from user generated creativity? If Sony design and produce the tool –  are the right to stake ownership over the outputs?
I think further research, practice and reflection needs to be done to resolve these issues. The main issue is accessibility – to make co-creation accessible to a mass audience it needs to be presented in a functional way designed for mass participation. Sony may regulate the content but they do provide a platform for creativity and if that allows a 6 year old to design their own game level – it has real value. I think there needs to be a balance between real time/digital worlds to support co-creation and children/teens and adults can learn more from real time social experience and interactions. But, if a design framework presented through gaming platforms nurture and support creativity we can reach exciting results  – push boundaries?
If anyone has any insight or debates into this  – please comment!

No need for mirrors “it’s all about clothes”

Someone kindly left a comment with a link forwarding me to nn4m a website designed to allow you to organise your clothing and linked to high street retailers so you can plan your consumption in advance.

This leads on nicely from my previous posting about touch closet and weardrobe – both software programmes allowing you to organise your style. No need for mirrors allows you to mix and match outfits (including accessories) and then explore the alternatives in a virtual changing room. Favourites can be stored in the outfit library and you can also plan in advance by linking up outfit selections to a virtual diary.
I think all three examples illustrate how rapidly technology is evolving around us. This presents new opportunities and methods for fashion participation, changing how we as a society engage.nn4m

Little Big Planet – Explore, Create and Share

Outside the fashion bubble, the computer game “Little Big Planet” has grabbed my attention. I am not one to follow computer games but the methods and opportunities presented by this game really inspired me!

After much anticipation it was launched at the end of last year in partnership with Sony and Media Molecule. The game provides tool kits for users to create their own levels and customise characters within a shared virtual platform. The game is evolving in ways the designers could never forecast as users upload content to create their own worlds.
The cute, playful style of the graphics appeals to many different audiences and captivates both adult and child! As a Textile Designer, the fabric swatches and stitched textures appealed to me. There is also a sticker library and a camera tool to take snapshots and expand your archive which you can then stick onto objects within your level or others. I have never played a games console but the functions and tools are engineered in such a way that you forget about the technicalities and this allows you to focus on being creative.
The game has sparked many debates about intellectual property and questions who owns this user generated content? The levels are being reviewed and Sony is learning a lot from user generated content, they are even scouting players to employ as level designers! It provokes many  questions about the relationship between the consumer and the designer.
By reviewing this game, I realise that some methods can be borrowed and applied within a fashion context. By bringing consumers together they can be inspired to participate in creating goods and services that they desire.littlebigplanet-1