Friday, March 19, 2010

Enhance: The unofficial theme of the GigaPan and NanoGigapan Projects

This could be the unofficial theme video for the GigaPan project...a serious of video clips from movies and TV with the command Enhance! Followed by video enhancement.

GigaPans, and NanoGigapans let us zoom in-which is a lot like 'Enhance!'

At the Last Etech in 2009 Julian Bleecker did a great talk on Design Fictions. Brutally summarized, the idea is that the best way to present a new technology (real, or imagined!) is to assume that the technology exists, and to insert it into a work of fiction.

As an audience we are trained to the suspension of disbelief in watching stories, and so we accept the technology, and we experience the characters as they interact with the technology to advance the story.

The quintessential example is the motion controlled displays in _Minority Report_. According to Julian (or to my memory of Julian's talk :-) A technologist worked with the actors to develop a coherent gestural language. To develop something which felt like it made sense to the actor, and to the character who the actor was attempting to inhabit.

The visuals were all faked. The system didn't have to react to the actual gestures, that is what special effects are for! But the experience of the actor in creating this language, and the experience of the audience in experiencing that interface as an integral aspect of a compelling narrative were real.

And this process of creating a technology first in fiction works. It works much better as a method of conveying the possibilities of new technologies than doing a demo at a trade show or conference.

And in many ways it is also harder for a technologist to create this sort of Design Fiction than to just write some code or to create a product. Deciding that we should have a device which, for example, tracks where we are and displays that in 'useful' ways on a map, along with annotations about our mood, and biometric data, and ambient data, is easy.

And designing such a device is relatively easy.

But designing it to actually be something which even alpha geeks, let alone average people, can use is very very hard.

Christian Nold created Biomapping at about the same time as Schuyler Erle and I were working on related ideas. Hell, it is even possible that we predated him :-) But getting any device to function is hard. And even now, to the best of my knowledge, Christian has created beautiful maps and proofs of concept, but has not yet penetrated into even the geek community.

Julian wrote about Design Fictions a year ago. It is well worth reviewing.

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