Archive for the 'Events' Category

The Interactivos?12 workshop

It has been a while since the end of the workshop, but it’s been a busy summer!

Back in July (11-26 July) I joined the Interactivos?12 workshop , organised by MediaLab Prado and the  Science Gallery , as part of the Hack The City exhibition.

The Interactivos?12 workshop brought together about 30 engineers, artists, architects, developers interaction designers, activists and hackers from around Europe to work on six topics that had been selected from a huge amount of submissions. The six projects focused on a wide range of topics, from making energy consumption visible and raising awareness about recycling, guerilla gardening  and collaborative cooking and eating in public spaces to encouraging inhabitants to unveil the city’s hidden potential or report cycling accidents/incidents.

I decided to join the Mobile Cityscapes team when Corelia Baibarac, whom I had met at the Local and Mobile conference in Raleigh earlier this year, told me that her proposal had been accepted. Cora is an architect doing a PhD in Trinity taking an interesting angle on encouraging mobility. We were joined by Kathryn Maguire, Christine Gates, Alessio Chierico and Eulalia Guiu.  I commuted for most of the workshop, although I spent a couple of nights in Dublin. The representatives of MediaLab Prado insisted on continually documenting our work, and I took responsibility for the daily accounts, helped by Eulalia. To give you an idea about the daily activities, here is the account for each day of the workshop:

Mo Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

x      x     11      12    13  14   15

x      17   18      19    20  21   x

23    24   25      26

On the 25th of August, the space we were occupying in the exhibition was altered to display the results of the workshop, and we had a big launch party. We were amazed to see how many people came in and spoke to us about what we had done!

During the workshop, we used random walks in the area selected as testbed to involve potential users. We developed scenarios, a rough video prototype (thanks to my collaborator Alan Ryan who made it possible in the short amount of time we had!) and a prototype for the web-based platform (thanks to Tim Redfern, our team’s mentor, and to Max Kazemzadeh, who worked with us as technical assistant).

It was really tough work, but I had the privilege to work with some great people and to get to meet the mentors, people working on the other projects and the staff of the Science Gallery.  Teresa Dillon, the curator of Hack the City, did a great job pushing us the whole time to find better ways of describing what we were doing.  Jane Chadwick minded us during the 3 weeks, making us to feel at home at the Science Gallery. And it was not an easy job, with the hundreds of people coming in every day!

Being “an exhibit” in the gallery and doing work at the same time is quite a difficult task, but it had its advantages: I met friends I hadn’t met in a long long time passing by and saying hi!

I also had the chance to re-discover an area of Dublin I thought I knew well – with its hidden corners, contrasts, mysteries and great people who stopped to talk to us.

In short, it was a fantastic experience and  I enjoyed it , although my body cried for rest after a busy year!

As Corelia is continuing her work on the Mobile Cityscapes project as part of her thesis work, and I am working on developing Connected Limerick further, we decided to continue our collaboration. The InfiniteCity native mobile app will be the next step, replacing the one that we have used for generating data during the workshop (EveryTrail).

For more up-to-date information, you can check the Mobile Cityscapes website. The future platform is called Infinite City – this is the temporary website (credits Andrei Avram), and you can find us on Facebook and on Twitter as well. For an insight in the process that led to choosing this particular name, you can watch this short video.

A project description in the form of a wiki article is also available on on MediaLab Prado’s Studiolab.


August 26 2012 | Events | No Comments »

This year’s 3Dcamp

This is the 5th year of 3Dcamp – when did time fly?

When we started back in 2008, there were a number of similar events running in various cities. There was a podcamp in Kilkenny, a barcamp in Cork,  and in 2008 we had a webcamp in Cork before the BlogTalk conference.

When we started discussing the idea of a barcamp at UL, James put forward the idea of branding it as 3Dcamp. It was a time when 3D representations were seen as the coolest thing after sliced bread, Second Life and other virtual worlds were just surfacing. Google Earth and Sketchup were trendy, and everybody was interested in wii hacks. I didn’t know much about 3D technologies at the time, but I was definitely ready to learn!

This year, we discussed about how  appropriate the 3D name is for what we are planning to include. Not very appropriate, but myself and James decided to keep it for this year, as it is a sort of brand by now.

So, for this year we encourage speakers to focus on:

  • Mobile applications
  • The Internet of Things
  • Augmented Reality
  • Maker/hacker-spaces
  • Open Data, Open Culture
  • Gestural Interfaces (Kinect)
  • 3D visualizations (Blender, Sketchup),
  • Virtual worlds & gaming (Second Life, the Metaverse)
  • Mapping mashups, GPS, geotagging, geocaching
  • Location-based Services (LBSs)
  • Urban games,  location-based mobile games
  • Robotics
  • Haptics and augmented toys (eg. Wiimote hacks),
  • Interactive art installations

Please keep an eye on the 3Dcamp website, our Twitter and Facebook page for news and updates. Speaker names and topics  will be added closer to the date.

The hashtag for 3Dcamp 2012 across all social media will be #3Dcamp12


March 18 2012 | Events and Uncategorized and unconferences | 1 Comment »

We’re bringing Ignite to Limerick!

miLKlabs and IxDA Limerick are joining forces to organise the first Ignite talk series ever in our city!The event will happen on  Wednesday, April 6 2011, 7 pm in the Absolute Hotel.

Why this event?

The idea is to spread the news about miLKlabs, bring together likeminded individuals, create synergies between people from different backgrounds and highlight possible collaborations. We are also trying to shed a light on the creativity and talent of Limerick people and bringing them to the attention of the public. IxDA Limerick is hosting the event as part of their United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development programme.

What is Ignite?

In talks that are exactly five minutes long, Ignite presenters share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. Ignite events are run by local volunteers in many locations around the world, as part of the global Ignite network. Talks are video recorded and shared on the Internet, allowing local Ignites to share the knowledge and passion with the world (more about Ignite here ).

What is miLKlabs?

miLKlabs is a collaborative community space based in Limerick City, Ireland. The name is derived from ‘made in LimericK’. It is meant as a shared physical space for any and all creative projects: art, woodwork, software, photography and electronics – to name but a few. The aim is to provide Limerick with a place for people to work and collaborate on creative projects, to learn and to share their knowledge.

What is IxDA Limerick?

IxDA Limerick is the local chapter of the Interaction Design Association, a global network dedicated to the professional practice of Interaction Design.

How can I participate?

You can sign up for attending the event either on Facebook or on the IxDA meetup page.

If you have an interesting idea or project you’d like to talk about, there’s still room for speakers! Please drop us an email at with your name and a title for your talk.

April 02 2011 | Events and Ireland and Limerick | 1 Comment »

The importance of being useful

There are many days when I feel proud to be part of various groups of people that work on things that matter. And today was one of them.
It started with the Limerick OpenCoffee in the morning. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish by having coffee with like minded people once a month! Talking about a possible home for the MiLK Labs and the many things that could happen once we find it with James, planning joint events for our students with Bernie, exploring social graphs and couchsurfing, adding events to my diary and meeting new people.

And it ended at the university, in the Concert Hall, where I went for this month’s ICO concert. We are so lucky to have this world class orchestra in our vicinity and to listen to them every month!
Tonight, after the interval, this little video was shown, and Kathleen Turner, the ICO education officer explained how part of the money we pay for tickets goes to support initiatives like Sing Out with Strings:

I felt proud. My finances are not at their best these days, but this is a really worthy cause. Music can bridge many differences and transform people!
At the end of the video, the signature of Shannon Images brought back nice memories from Padraic O’Reilly’s talk at 3Dcamp back in 2008.

Life is good. And I am a very fortunate human being to live around so many people who work on things that matter – to them and to me!

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October 07 2010 | arts and Events and Life | No Comments »

Becoming an Ambassador for the Enterprise 2.0 Summit

The great news: I was appointed as one of the ambassadors for the Enterprise 2.0 Summit that will take place in 26-28 October this year in Frankfurt am Main!

Last year, I had my conference ticket and booked my flight, but I was appointed on a PhD examination committee and couldn’t go.  I tried every possible solution to go over even for one day, but it didn’t work out in the end.

I am absolutely thrilled! And I am so grateful to those who recommended  me for the job – I will finally get to meet the members of this vibrant community!

The pre-conference day (Oct 26) has two workshops scheduled:

They both sound extremely interesting – it is so important to understand that social media tools can’t work on their own! The right culture has to be in place for people to adopt and use them before any benefit can be realised!

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August 21 2010 | E2.0 and Events | 1 Comment »

3Dcamp – a note on FabLabs

My intention was to give a presentation about FabLabs at 3Dcamp. But being in the middle of 1000 other things, I postponed putting my name forward until no slot was left unoccupied. Well, I guess you don’t need to hear me talking – you can read it by yourselves.

FabLab (or Fabrication Laboratory) is a concept originating at MIT as part of the MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA). If you’re looking for a short explanation, it is the realistic version of the Star Trek replicator.

3D printing is just one side of it. There are mills, cutters, molding and casting and electronic circuits involved.

I first heard from FabLabs from my Dutch friends Elmine Wijnia and Ton Zijlstra. Here’s a documentary about FabLabs made by Elmine:

This is a FabLab wiki based in Afghanistan.

The whole idea is about sharing designs globally, while making things locally.

There are 41 FabLabs around in the world at the moment, in US as well as in Norway, Germany, the Netherlands in Europe, in Afghanistan and in rural India.  The concept seems to have captured the imagination of many, and inventors, artists, teachers and students can get access to top technology to experiment making things without too much need for training.

Will the day come when we’ll produce all we need in our own kitchen? The plates, the mugs, the tea towels, but also the washing machine and the family car? Will the day come when machines will be able to replicate themselves?

May 28 2010 | Events and Uncategorized and unconferences | No Comments »

Welcoming visitors

On Wednesday, Nicholas Polley, the founder of the Dublin-based company 3rd Dimension was our guest in the IDC. He was invited to give a talk for our students and staff, continuing the Interaction Design Talks series we initiated in autumn (previous speakers were Nicola Quinn and Macdara Butler).

3rd Dimension’s Visualisation and Animation studios are based in Blackrock in Co Dublin. The company is focused on creating design solutions that include 3D visuals, photomontages, visual impact assessments and 3D walkthroughs meant to support their clients planning and marketing strategies.

I met Nick last year at the InnovateMedia 09 event, and approached him to talk about 3dcamp. Nick was open to the idea of coming to give a talk in UL, and we’re glad we managed to organise it.

The talk, titled Inside 3D Visualisation, attracted a pretty large crowd from both our undergrad and postgrad courses:  Digital Media Design, Product Design  and Interactive Media.
Nick spoke about his own career, about his company’s past and ongoing projects and referred to the processes and technologies involved. I think it was a great opportunity for our students not only to find out about technologies and work processes, but also about how to get a job in the digital media industry. Nick emphasized the importance of portfolios in selecting appropriate job candidates – and gave me yet another argument to push our students to start the work on their portfolios as early as possible!

Talk in ULNick Polley talking to a UL audience

On the same evening, Nick was the guest speaker at the IxDA Limerick meetup in the Absolute Hotel.

Slide from Nick's presentationIxDA meetup in the Absolute Hotel

The talk touched on various uses of 3D visualization for Building Information Modelling, virtual decorators, real-time 3D, a new plugin allowing to add 3D representations and walkthroughs to Skype conversations.

In the medical domain, 3rdDimension are doing interesting things in representing the eye, its conditions and interventions to correct this, in collaboration with a Swiss ophtalmologist.

A discussion started around VirtuSphere and its potential use for walkthroughs in to-be-built spaces. It was compared to CAVE – after the InnovateMedia 09 event, both myself and Nick had the chance to visit the CAVE installation owned by IADT. I expressed doubts that bringing people to visit an installation would be as successful as the wide spread visualizations that can be made accessible to anyone, anywhere

Nick blogged about his visit as well. It was great to have him in Limerick and I hope we can convince him to speak at the next 3d camp!

February 04 2010 | Events and presentations | No Comments »

The iHCI conference 2009

The series of iHCI conferences started two years ago – my colleague Luigina Ciolfi organised the 2007 event, hosted by the Interaction Design Centre at the University of Limerick.

The 2009 event is hosted by Trinity College Dublin and it was organised by Aaron Quigley and Gavin Doherty. The first day was dedicated to workshops and tutorials.

I chose to attend the IxDA industry talks this morning – and I was really impressed by the great speakers line-up! Kudos to Ben Arent for the organisation and for telling us more about the IxDA Dublin and the upcoming Design Week!

Niamh Phelan (IQ Content) spoke about Google Analytics and how to harness its power when researching usability matters. She pointed the audience to the IQContent blog for useful tips on tracking multiple domains and I was really impressed by their openness to share useful solutions.

Henry Poskitt and Frank Long from Frontend spoke about OOBE (oh, how I recognised myself in the picture of the frustrated user!) and working with personas in design.

The talk of Des Traynor (Contrast) focused on designing for mobile context and made our imagination fly by talking about e-ink and application integration!

I enjoyed the morning session a lot and I’ll do my best to convince these fantastic guys to come to Limerick and talk to the students in the near future.

The afternoon was dedicated to a tutorial on Inclusive Design for Older and Disabled Users offered by Prof.Helen Petrie from the University of York, UK. The tutorial was a real mind opener on what it means to design for and with people with various disabilities. The conclusion was that even if the needs of these groups might be very diverse, the solutions are not that diverse, and by including these concerns in the design process from the very beginning, mainstream technologies (and not only the assistive ones) could benefit a lot. Prof. Petrie mentioned quite a lot the Utopia project and the work of Alan Newell from Dundee University who is using theatre as an intermediary between users and designers.

The workshop included a practical exercise that required us to wear 3 pairs of latex gloves and glasses exemplifying various sight disabilities while trying to perform a simple task on a phone or laptop that didn’t belong to us. Here I am wearing the glasses:) (thanks to @aquigley!)

The first day ended with a social event at the Bagott Inn. More about iHCI tomorrow!

September 17 2009 | conferences and Events and iHCI and Ireland | No Comments »

Academia 2.0 workshop at ECSCW’09

At ECSCW’07, I was running a workshop on GSD and couldn’t attend the one organised by Michael Koch and Wolfgang Prinz on Web 2.0. As this workshop took place next door from ours, I couldn’t avoid noticing the enthusiasm and the fun the participants had.

For the current edition- ECSCW’09 in Vienna, Michael Koch and Isa Jahnke proposed the workshop Academia 2.0 and beyond – How Social Software changes research and education in academia, and it was one of the workshops that generated a lot of interest.

The organisers put together a wiki page and a  blog was created to allow the participants to publish their own position papers and to get acquainted to the others’.

The workshop was structured in two parts: the morning was dedicated to the applications of web 2.0 tools in education, while in the afternoon we spoke about the applications of the same tools in research.

During the morning session, I was scheduled to fill the first slot. I had prepared slides, but it seemed to me that things were very relaxed and I decided to speak from my place instead, with no visuals. All I had to share were stories about tools I’ve used in both education and research, their adoption(or rejection!) by various groups, the feedback I got and what I’ve learned from these. My position paper can be accessed here. The discussion flew from there – there were a lot of interesting contributions, stories and solutions shared. Here are some of the things we spoke about:

  • different student groups have different needs – one size doesn’t fit all!
  • the use of social media tools almost always generate more work for the students, and more work for the teachers as well. But:
  • most of the students love the feeling of having created content that becomes public and can be seen as a meaningful contribution;
  • the first cohort of students using a specific tool seem to have the hardest time; once  examples are out there, and a precedent was created, things seem to work better.
  • the introduction of social media tools tends to add more problems, as these tools are brought in to support an old paradigm.
  • the use of social media tools is challenging  academics and students to update their own teaching/learning style.

A number of interesting questions came up – here are just a few of the ones I jotted down:

  • do students like social media tools?
  • do social media tools really support learning?
  • do these tools make learning more attractive?
  • are teaching institutions interested in supporting this adoption?
  • what is the impact of social media adoption on the position of the teacher? Is he still the expert, or his role is shifting more toward facilitating knowledge sharing?

The afternoon was dedicated to social software applications in research: e-science, research collaboratories. I heard a lot of interesting things about various communities using web 2.0 tools, and also about various initiatives and projects meant to facilitate collaboration at distance, serendipity and open sharing.

September 12 2009 | conferences and Events | No Comments »

There’s a crack, a crack in everything…

… that’s how the life gets in!

On Wednesday evening, I took my daughter to the O2 to see Leonard Cohen. Other mothers (in the movies) might make more expensive gifts to their daughters at graduation, like a car, or a shopping trip to NY, but I’m not in that position…so this seemed to me the perfect gift, that none of us will ever forget!

It was a fantastic night – words cannot describe the atmosphere in the O2! Cohen is a great singer, poet and human being – his generosity and spirit were overwhelming.

I remember very well that the first time I heard him singing (on a tape) – it was on New Year’s Eve ’76, and the song was Suzanne. One of our friends had emmigrated with his family to Germany, and now he was back for Christmas holidays, and he brought this tape with him. For days, “Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water” kept on playing in my head.

And then nothing, for years and years. Censorship never allowed Cohen songs to be played on the radio  in Romania before 1989.

In 1998, on a trip to Germany, I bought my first Cohen CD.

I never imagined I’m going to see him live, although last year when he played in Dublin I made an attempt. The only other famous person I’ve seen live was Billy Joel in Croke Park in 2006. And it was a major disappointment – the way he treated the audience was simply outrageous. Maybe it was part of the show-his show. Cohen was a completely different experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

There were many astonishing moments – but one of the highlights was definitely “So long, Marianne”. Here’s a recording made on Sunday night.

He sang most of his famous songs. He recited “A thousand kisses deep“. He sang a few songs I’ve never heard before as well. He spoiled us with solos of the members of his band. He was on his knees in front of us very often, but he also danced like a young man.

It was a great night that none of us will easily forget!

July 24 2009 | Events and Life and Uncategorized | Comments Off on There’s a crack, a crack in everything…

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