Archive for the 'CCS' Category

Qualitative analysis is an art?

Friday, September 8th, 2006

I found this lovely quote (below) in a very good book on art and design research, Visualizing Research by Gray and Malin (2004). I’ve been reading a few of these types of books and this one was, for me, the most helpful, probably because it was targeted at higher degree art research students. It was also very practical. Most of the others (Sullivan, Art Practice as Research, 2005;Carter, Material Thinking, 2004; Bolt, Art Beyond Representation, 2004) were aimed at a more general art research audience and were more theoretical in their approach. See what you think. Is qualitative analysis an art?

“Qualitative research is to a large degree an art. The question of its validity does not depend on replicable outcomes. It depends on the employment of a data ‘reduction’ process that leads to a result that others can accept as representing the data. The result of the analysis is, in fact, a representation in the same sense that an artist can, with a few strokes of the pen, create an image of a face that we would recognise if we saw the original in a crowd. The details are lacking , but a good ‘reduction’ not only selects and emphasises the essential features, it retains the vividness of the personality in the rendition of the face. In the same way a successful qualitative data reduction, while removing us from the freshness of the original, presents us instead with an image that we can grasp as the ‘essence’, where we otherwise would have been flooded with detail and left with hardly a perception of the phenomena at all.”
From Tesch, R. Qualitative research :  analysis types and software tools. New York :  Falmer Press,  1990, p.304. Quoted in Gray,C. & Malins, J. Visualizing Research: A guide to the research process in art and design, Aldershot:Ashgate, 2004, p130.

Qualitative Research book

Monday, August 21st, 2006

I’ve just been reading a book by Lyn Richards (she is involved in the design of Nvivo software) called Handling Qualitative Data (Sage:2005). Her aim with the book was to deal with the practicalities of doing research (as opposed to the theory behind why this approach or that). It was a very easy and interesting read and answered many of the little issues that had been worrying me about some of the research I had been doing at beta-space. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is doing qualitative research and who has not yet written their methodology chapter. The key area it cleared up for me was the role of researcher observations as a form of data (something Linda had discussed with us at one of our beta-space meetings). This made me realise that I had been putting far too much emphasis on participants retrospective reports and should (as we did in our pilot test) make sure I also always do some detailed observation sessions with each artwork before doing a retrospective testing day.

CMC is eating my life

Friday, March 24th, 2006

Like Yusuf I have to confess to having been completely snowed under by work lately. But I think I’m getting on top of it now. I spent January and February working on a chapter of my thesis and am happy with my progress on that (but not yet ready to share anything :-) ). At my peak “in the zone” period I was averaging 1000 words a day which for me (a very slow edit as I go writer) was amazing. Now I’m back at work at UNSW and like Yusuf have three subjects to get my head around - a second year interactive design class using Director, a third year interactive design class using Flash and Dreamweaver and an honours production methods class. I’m coordinating the third year subject which means I get to give lectures as well when I haven’t organised a guest to come in. A couple of week’s ago we had Mark Pesce as a guest lecturer. He is an excellent speaker who perfectly pitched the presentation he gave at IE05 for an undergrad audience. What I’m really enjoying the most, though, is my honours subject which I am co-teaching with a colleague from the theatre and performance side of the school, Clare Grant. It is amazing (even having read Brenda Laurel’s book Computers as Theatre) how many parallels there are between the concerns of experimental performance practitioners like Clare and interactive artists like me. We have structured the course around four themes (audience, time, space and visceral experience). The other interesting thing that is happening in my teaching this session is that I am using the online design studio Omnium in my third year subject (designed at COFA UNSW). The subject has 98 students and Omnium lets us divide them all into small support teams and gives them a space to share and discuss their work. This is one of the reasons why I haven’t blogged for so long. By the time I have finished responding to my emails and then responding to the message board stuff on Omnium I have to just get down to work. Computer mediated communication is eating my life :-)


Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

I attended two conferences at the end of Nov/beginning of Dec. The Interactive Entertainment conference 05 had some great papers and some very good keynote speakers. I presented a paper that was co-written with Lizzie and Shigeki. I particularly enjoyed hearing about Tracy Fullerton’s game design class at USC that focuses on paper prototyping. If you haven’t already seen it, the cloud game that some of her students ended up developing out of this process is worth a look (PC only).

Another keynote speaker, Mark Meadows, had an interesting definition of interactivity:
“A system that becomes more complex due to exploration, discovery, enjoyment and reciprocal change.” I like the way it focusses on evolving complexity and not so much on the nature of those who are interacting.

The two day e-performance conference organised by Yuji Sone at UNSW was also very good. Unfortunately I could only attend the first day. Philip Auslander gave an interesting paper around the question of whether machines can perform. In it he dicussed three art works; Sergei Shutov’s Abacus 2001, Max Dean and Raffaello D’ Andrea’s The Table: Childhood 1984-2001, and Nedko Solakov’s A Life (Black and White) 2001. Auslander ended up making a distinction between technical skills and interpretive skills and argued that all three works (some with human performers and some with machine) were mere technical performances. He felt that interpretive performances were something that only humans could give (with current state of technology). On the other end of his scale though were what he termed hypertechnical performances. These were something that only machines could give (e.g. search all of the internet and return a result in seconds). There was much audience dicussion about his definition of interpretation.

Yuji Sone gave a paper in which he discussed the japanese concept Kata and applied it to technology and performance. He said that in the concept Kata there is no split between the form of something and its content. As an example he talked about the way that a calligrapher’s movement of the brush as they draw a character is expressive of their whole life.

The day finished with a talk by Stelarc and I’m afraid I can’t make much sense of my notes from that (it must have been too entertaining) apart from this quote from Nietszche

“the doer” is merely a fiction added to the deed - the deed is everything

Pure Data a go-go

Monday, November 21st, 2005

Last Friday Rodney gave Jen and I a v.good intro to pure data (thanks!). Now I just need to find some time to do some fiddling around before all his tips fly out of my head.

He also suggested I check out another open source app called Processing which I have downloaded but haven’t had time to look at yet. Some of the things people have created with it look interesting though.

2005 publications - Brigid

Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

Below are my publications for 2005:


Costello, B., Weakley, A. & Edmonds, E. (2005) “Reading and Writing Collaborative Creative Presence”, in proceedings of HCI International, July 2005 Las Vegas (electronic ISBN:0-8058-5807-5).

Costello, B., Muller, L., Amitani, S., Edmonds, E. (pending) “Understanding the Experience of Interactive Art: Iamascope in Beta_space”, in proceedings of Interactive Entertainment, November 2005, Sydney.


Costello, B., Rothwell A., MacInnes A., “Play@beta_space”, interactive installation, Powerhouse Museum Sydney Sept-Oct 2005.

Mobile Phone Tennis

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Here is a pic of a tennis game being played on mobile phones at the ACID conference.

Gamers at Acid

ACID Innovations Conference

Monday, October 17th, 2005

Last Wednesday I attended the ACID Innovations conference. The day started with presentations by 5 PHD students who are doing research on ACID projects.

Marcus Foth presented his research on tools to facilitate communication between urban residents in apartment blocks. Marcus used action research methods in the three studies he conducted of communication in three different apartment blocks.

The next speaker, Eryn Grant, is just beginning her study into the social economies that develop during massive multi-player online games (Second Life in particular). She is adopting a sociological approach and talked about why she doesn’t find the term ‘virtual community’ very useful.

Steven Livingstone is developing musical systems that are able to respond to user’s emotional desires. He cited the case of Doom 3 where many users turned off the music because they found it too scary as a reason why video games developers might be interested in this approach. His first steps involved classifying the emotional characteristics of music and then testing this schema on users.

Inger Mewburn discussed her experiences of working collaboratively with the Keith Armstrong team on Intimate Transactions. Having been one of the test subjects during the project’s testing phase at the Performance Space, I was interested to see the haptic elements she had introduced to the project. She and her team developed a stomach vibrator out of very skin-like fabric. People who had experienced the finished work commented that the haptic elements designed by Inger had really grounded the piece.

Finally Jared Donovan discussed his research into ways to design a gestural interface for dentists to use while working on a patient. Jared argued against seeing the gestural user as a conductor who stands in one place. He thinks that the gestural user should be regarded as more like the actual orchestra in that they play many roles that are not always in the same physical location.

In the afternoon there was a presentation by Professor Pelle Ehn from Sweden who will be visiting ACID for the next 7 months. He described an interesting project he had worked on titled “Indigenous Design”. This involved mainly existing technology but was extremely innovative in terms of developing new work practices within a hospital system. Health workers were encouraged to make short tutorial videos explaining how to use the various complex machines within the hospital system. A board of experts decided whether the videos were accurate enough and if they were they got placed onto a central server. Other workers could then access these instructional videos using barcode readers and PDAs. The barcodes were placed on the actual machines so the information was delivered at the location it was needed in.

I also enjoyed Professor Brian Fitzgerald’s talk on Creative Commons and the demos of Mobile Phone games that were built using the ATR toolkit.