Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Caine's Arcade

What I love most about this business is our inclination to let kids and kid culture inspire our work (which in turn inspires kids). I'm sure you've seen Caine's Arcade already, but it's worth a second/third/tenth view.

This short film reminded me of the movie theater I would create in my grandparents' living room as a child. I would use the TV Guide to help me devise a viewing schedule, and the sell tickets for $.10 to family and friends. Role play helps kids experience what it might be like to take on different adult roles. In Caine's case, it's gone one step beyond role play to actual adult work. I wonder what Caine will do when he grows up. Will he have his own arcade? Will he become a game developer or an engineer that creates new arcade games?

What kind of roles did you experiment with as a child? Did you ever pretend to run a small business?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jim Henson's Muppet Show Pitch

The original video pitch for The Muppet Show was released a few years back, but recently went viral. I'm sure you saw it! What do you think? Would a pitch like this work in our industry today?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sandbox Summit, Day 2

“Show me the games of your children, and I’ll show you the next hundred years.”

I was surprised at how much anthropology was discussed today. The conversation was brought back to the nature of play and the human need for gaming. Perhaps this is because many of the speakers were academics. Heather Chaplin and Eric Zimmerman spoke. I won’t share their lengthy, impressive resumes here, but you should absolutely look them up! My favorite presenter was Colleen Macklin, a game designer and professor working with PETLab, part of Parsons at The New School, who gave the keynote. Her energy and enthusiasm for play and game creation were contagious. Check her out! Though she is in the business of gaming, she encouraged us to learn from Caine: “less apps, more cardboard.”

Chaplin and Zimmerman also brought up outdoor, real world play. They defined play as “free movement within a rigid system.” Funny…that’s how I would define art as well. So how do we do and support this while creating and selling tech products? Speaking of the business side (sorry, I have no easy answer for the last question...let's talk about it in the comments section!), Disney Publishing shared a presentation. I find that their work is a great example of risk. Fortunately they have the budget to take bold risks and the confidence that their experiment will pay off in some way. I admire that confidence and that business strategy!

A feature of the iBook app The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.
Though I've had the app for almost a year, I didn't know I could play an
alphabet cereal game, customize, and save as a photo!

But, Christina, WHAT is an accelerometer? I’m glad you asked. I kept hearing this word get thrown around at the conference and finally discovered that it’s the tool that allows you to move or shake a mobile device and have an app respond. This is the absolute basic "kind of close" definition. The Wikipedia page was very scientific and hard to understand. You should not mistake me for an MIT student.

So much learning, so much knowledge. I am exhausted! I’ll end today’s recap with a few books mentioned that I’m desperate to read after this great meeting of the minds. All seem financially reasonable on Amazon:

Shovel on, sandboxers!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sandbox Summit, Day One

There are a few key highlights from my first day at Sandbox Summit. First thing's first, the bag is awesome. Moving along...

Photo via LaneSutton.com
I won't recap each session for you. You can follow a lot of the great tweets using #sandbox for specifics. Rather, I'll highlight some things mentioned that stood out to me. I learned about social media entrepreneur Lane Sutton. Nope, that picture is not placed on his site ironically to invoke his childlike spirit. That's Lane, a 15 year old social media expert. Lane's using his social media smarts and savvy business skills to teach adults how to get attention online. My personal favorite part of his website is his ownership of the title "Digital Native." He's embracing it, and using our language for his benefit. Call him. He's usually available after 3:30pm.

The next thing to blow my mind was a demonstration of Microsoft Kinect's collaboration with National Geographic and Sesame Workshop. They're working together to create truly interactive programming for young people. Alex Games, a Microsoft employee who presented on the topic, emphasized this technology as a means to promote co-viewing between parent and child. I'm eager to see how it evolves!

Big learning moment: the difference between iReader and eReader. People use both terms all the time, without little distinction, but Ruckus Media pointed out that an iReader is interactive, a book app, while an eReader is a version of the book that can be read on a mobile device.

Lastly, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh blew my mind with their new exhibit/program MakeShop (as if Pittsburgh wasn't cool enough). MakeShop is not only a workspace in the museum, it's a movement. The program combines the DIY/Maker trend with technology and education. Materials and guidance are supplied by the museum, and Makers (big and small) are encouraged to "share" their work, though "share" can mean many different things to many different people. What does it mean to you? I am so inspired by this work and would love to check out the Mini Maker Faire. It sounds like a great excuse to get out to Pittsburgh.

Before I sign off, some trends I noticed/heard:
User Generated Content (UGC) is huge and will probably continue to grow/take on new forms
Crowdsourcing. Is it just me or did American Idol really jump start this movement? To respond to my question, text 123--...
Pittsburgh is to kids' tech as Toronto is to kids' animation.

Off to dream about augmented reality...

The Ride to Sandbox

I love visiting Boston: seeing friends, eating at favorite restaurants, and getting my hair cut by the best stylist on the east coast. This week, I get to visit a new spot, an area I had only stared at and read about during my two years as a Massachusetts resident. I'm in the area for Sandbox Summit at MIT. I'm here to represent and learn for my research and strategy job, and I feel so, so fortunate. Only a year ago, I was following the tweets from the annual conference. It was far to pricey for a student's budget, but I knew there was invaluable information there.

 As I ride Amtrak, reading my new Domino magazine and listening to This American Life podcasts, I think about what I'll learn this year and who I'll meet. I reflect on my visit to Carnegie Hall on Saturday with some great members of WiCM and one of my best friends, H. We saw a Music of the Muppets concert, featuring the Muppets, the Sesame Muppets, some Fraggles, and songs and puppets from Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas. It was huge! I'm pretty sure this is the first time all of these characters have been featured in the same space, under the same bill since the Muppet Family Christmas. This event and Sandbox Summit are reminders of how lucky I am to be doing the things I'm doing, and working in the business t we love. I can't believe how much my life has changed in the last year. It just goes to show that with dedication and love, good things happen in time! Continue your journeys and follow your dreams, dear readers. There's so much exciting stuff around the corner.

Follow my tweets @InsightMuse for all the latest at this year's Sandbox!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rules for Playing in the Sandbox (Summit)

As I prepare for my first visit to Sandbox Summit next week, I have been thinking about successful behaviors observed while watching my former students play in sandboxes. I've found that these behaviors are also applicable to conference interactions...

  • INTRODUCE YOURSELF: you spent the money to be there, now get to know everyone else
  • JOIN IN: start playing and others will join you
  • INVITE OTHERS: some people might have great ideas but not feel comfortable joining in without an invite
  • SHARE: tools, resources, ideas with others
  • CO-CREATE: the more people and materials mean bigger, more impressive projects

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Funday: I Have Furniture Now

Happy Friday! I'm wrapping up the week with a little film I made of my friends and I putting together IKEA furniture in my new apartment. Putting together IKEA furniture is, perhaps, one of my favorite activities. I recommend trying this with young people. It helps with visual, one step directions, and the completed product is so gratifying. Maybe start with a simple product, like this one.

(I'm having difficulty embedding the video. Please follow this link, and I will work on embedding this evening.-CZ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFVsyAblmY4&feature=g-upl&context=G2338c64AUAAAAAAAAAA

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Guest Blogger: Victoria Zagarino

Victoria Zagarino is currently the Assistant Exhibition Coordinator at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California. Having always thought of things a little bit differently than others, she was thrilled when she realized that physically experiencing objects and art from the past encourages a kind of critical thinking that she could relate to. One of her favorite things to do is to get people excited about discovering something for the very first time.

          It’s April! Students everywhere are starting to get serious about their end of school countdowns. There’s nothing better to a kid than a summer off from school, but it is not always easy for their parents. I am not a parent myself, but I have heard a countless number of working adults complain and be anxious about what they are going to do to keep their kids busy over the summer. There are tons of trendy summer camp options available, but just because they are trendy does not mean that they are affordable or enriching.

           If I may, I’d like to suggest a little known option to parents searching for summer camps: museum summer camps. I have not only served as a museum summer camp counselor in the past, but also have the privilege of working at a museum with a stellar summer camp program.  In my opinion, museums are an untapped resource for families of all ages and sizes.  Museums, especially local museums, are increasingly becoming involved in their communities in so many different ways. The time of the stuffy museum that can only be visited by “art people” is over. Speaking as a museum professional who has worked in several different kinds of institutions, both on the East and West Coasts, I can say with certainty that museums truly are striving to reach a broader audience. Most importantly, museums want to provide visitors of all ages with a unique way to experience history, culture, art and life. Where else could a child go on an archaeological dig for pottery shards from an ancient civilization, learn about Romare Bearden’s collages and go on to create their own interpretation of collage, or watch and take part in a Pacific Island spiritual ritual?

Museums benefit from the increasing dependence on technology in many ways, but regardless of how much technology is incorporated in exhibitions, they offer an incredibly important opportunity to visitors that they cannot get anywhere else. That is the chance to physically experience a piece of art or an object created by a different people in a different culture. Having face time with objects and art encourages people to interpret them critically and strive to achieve a point of mutual understanding. When learned at a young age, these skills can be so very valuable to a child’s understanding of life and human interaction.

Regardless of the opportunities offered through a camp, museum campers will undoubtedly have an experience that many other children of their age will be missing out on. I encourage you, both parents and individuals without children, to investigate the programing options at museums in your area. Or, try something different and take a visit to a museum you have not been to in a while. An enlightening experience is there, waiting just for you.