Friday, February 19, 2010

Bedtime Story

In its design, the first Digital Media and Learning Conference was intended to integrate participatory behavior and challenge the normal one-to-many model of passive spectatorship at conferences, whether it was Kylie Peppler's workshop on wearable computing that encouraged attendees to take part in "hands-on crafts, physical construction and design, and material play" or eminent digital humanist Anne Balsamo treasure hunt that asks audience members to navigate through websites in small teams in "Inspiring Uses of Digital Media in Museums and Libraries: A Creative Inventory and Collaborative Analysis."

Nothing may have shown this principle more dramatically than "Storytellers, Storymakers and Learning by ARG" with Stephen Petrina, Mela Kocher, Ken Eklund, and PJ Rusnak. I had noticed the fliers about "stress-induced narcolepsy" taped up around the conference site, so I got suspicious when World Without Oil's Eklund complained that the absence of late co-presenter Kocher of pixelidentities was causing him to feel sleepy. Soon Eklund was curled up and dozing while attendees were sending Kocher text messages and friending her on Facebook, although spoiler Alex Halavais did note that one picture of a door was thirteen hours old, so Kocher was "likely to be dead." My second favorite moment may have been when Mark Marino who left the room under the pretense of helping her started sending Kocher maps from his own alternate reality alter-ego, the mischievous work-study student "Seth," who was known for disrupting Marino's social network life last year with humorously inappropriate messages that his friends were expected to interact with.

Before the formal presentations started with their PowerPoint slides, players of the mini-ARG were asked to rate how well it managed expectations and the need for regular feedback in response to individual maneuvers.

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