Open Data and the Personalisation of Experience

Earlier in July at SMC_MCR, a monthly digital and social technology meet up in Manchester UK,  BBC R&D demonstrated a new approach to personalised entertainment called Perceptive Media. It is something that BBC producer Ian Forrester had been talking about for some time, being revealed at SMC_MCR in February. At that point it was hard to understand what the concept entailed. It was explained as a way of delivering media that was tailored to individual preference and environment but little else.

 

On their return in July the team showcased a short radio play demonstrating some of the concepts of Perceptive Media. The play can be found here http://futurebroadcasts.com/ At first listening the play seems to follow the traditional radio play form, but within the play there are certain personalisations that are based upon the location of the listener. After a couple of listenings it is quite obvious where the personalisations exist. As Ian Forrester stated in the Q&A, it was a fairly basic demonstration of the technology pointing to the challenges of narrative personalisation and the ability to create these personalisations ‘on the fly’, in the browser. Even with such a short and somewhat basic demonstration of Perceptive Media it is easy to see how it could develop into a more complex form cutting across platforms.

 

The personalisation aspect of Perceptive Media comes from the creation of a narrative framework that allows certain variables to be inserted, with these variables influenced from the data that the Perceptive Media storyteller has access to. In the case of ‘Breaking Out’ – the play in the demonstration – the data accessed was local weather, listings and local news. As more data is made available it is easy to see how it could be integrated into a Perceptive Media framework. The demonstration offers a glimpse into a new form of story telling based on an individuals location and environment and if coupled with personal data – preference and situation.

 

In 2009 at FutureEverything there was a presentation by Philip Trippenbach, then at the BBC, about the construction of narrative in games especially first person games. He highlighted a game called ‘Six days in Fallujah’ which he writes about here http://trippenbach.com/2009/06/09/six-days-in-fallujah-and-the-dirty-g-word/ What I find of interest is the possible use of the form to be educational, to disseminate news and information in a way that many would be uncomfortable with. What Trippenbach talks about is a personalisation of experience, a certain ‘being there’. The use of real situations to create realistic gaming experience is not new but a concerted attempt to create ultra-realistic gaming through streaming of real-time positional and telemetry data from Formula 1 Grand Prix was attempted in 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7440658.stm Although as the article states it would probably only be of interest to hardcore gamers, it offers fascinating possibilities about could be achieved at this intersection of gaming, personalisation and data.

 

Although not using open data, a great example of this was demonstrated at FutureEverything in 2011. Arcade Fire’s – We Used To Wait scores a personalised film called The Wilderness Downtown by Chris Milk developed in association with Google Labs. It invites the user to enter the address of where they grew up and then the HTML5 based experience literally flies. You can try it here: http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com/

 

Data both open and personal is at the centre of the personalised experience whether it be local weather, what food we like, position of racing cars, location of where we once lived or the environment in which real-life situations were played out. We are starting to see a new world where the way information is delivered to us is adaptive, often in real-time and just for us. It might not be to everyone’s liking but it is happening, just look what Google are doing: http://www.google.com/landing/now/

 

Disclosure: Julian Tait is a co-founder of SMC_MCR and content programmer for FutureEverything

T-Shirts

There was a discussion a while back around Open Data Manchester t-shirts. It was probably after an Open Data Manchester meeting in Common Bar, but in a moment of procrastination I have designed a t-shirt.

It will probably never see the light of day but it would be cool to see if other people can design one too. You never know one day we might get some printed. This is the template T Shirt Blank

It doesn’t matter how bizarre or strange – as long as it isn’t offensive, libellous or irrelevant. Send it to opendatamcr [at] littlestar.tv and I’ll post it up

Julian

SOPA and PIPA

What and why?

The SOPA and PIPA legislation currently going through the American congress has impact and ramifications far beyond the shores of the US and piracy, and is a threat to the Free and Open internet that we have today. It iS a blunt, badly constructed piece of legislation that seeks to prop up an industry based on old business models by clamping down on new and innovative ways of producing and disseminating content. As with most bad pieces of legislation it will be open to creep and opportunism, where arbitrary take down and closure of sites pointing to or serving content would prevail. It offers a world where the winners will be the established players with large legal teams and vested interests and the losers will be everyone else. It is an outcome which we, as part of the Open movement, are fighting against.

What could it do?

Would it effect Open Data? We don’t know, as open data is made available by data owners under open licensing. It might constrain the publishing of data that has been scraped, but the legal arguments as to whether data is protected by copyright and IP law are complex.

It could constrain search, if you fall foul of its broad and ill-defined terms. You may have a site but it might as well not exist if it doesn’t show up in search results.

It can effect free expression – just imagine the internet awash with copyright bots who can automatically close down or de link sites with out any recourse to the law. You can get a flavour of this on on some sites that have content sniffing technology.

Who decides what is or isn’t copyrighted or IP protected material? In the SOPA world you will be found guilty and then have to fight to prove your innocence. How will this effect the ability to expose wrongdoing if the evidence is subject to SOPA and PIPA?

Many people have written about why these laws are a bad thing and some links are below. From the UK we can only watch and hope.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/31100268 w=640&h=480]

Technical overview

Why SOPA is bad for business

Guardian article on effect

Added 19/1/12
Excellent article on Al-Jazeera by Jonathan Zitrain et al.

Update 19/1/12

Last night several members of congress, who originally supported the SOPA/PIPA bill withdrew their support due to the massive international campaign that saw many thousands of websites, including Open Data Manchester’s, go dark and people ‘block the switchboards’ of the American congress. It was a victory in the battle to protect our free and open internet but there is too much money at stake and we are sure we will see a revised, more subtle form of SOPA/PIPA in the not too distant future.