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Wednesday, March 4, 2009, 5:00pm to 5:00pm

Using CNMAT's latest instruments and development tools as examples we
explore ways to improve interactivity in a wide range of media projects.
The idea is to get a way from the pavlovian paradigm of so many current
games and interactive works by shifting to composing instruments instead
of "works". Instruments favor delightful emergence (unstructured play)
over the puzzle solving and trophy collecting schemes of structured media
and games.

We explore how fiber, fabric and other unusual
materials can be used and demonstrate rapid prototyping techniques to broaden the
design space for interactive systems.

Here are some questions to stimulate discussion:
Why are there only a handful of successful new musical instruments from the last 100 years?
Why do such lame and great examples of interactive multimedia coexist?
Where is the multi in multimedia?
Why are toys being designed by people who aren’t parents? Is being a child once enough? How many toys in stores are truly interesting to kids and how many are interesting to parents who think kids would be interested in them?
Is ambiguity the key design axis?
Why when we know how important unstructured play is do we persist in dropping opportunities for it in institutional learning environments?

We discuss this rough sketch of basic interactive paradigms inspired by studying successful toys:
Dolls (Symbolic)
Puppets, Mirrors (Affective)
Sticks (Tool for building, weapons etc.)
Blocks and Fluids (Construction Materials)
Ball (Interaction)
Boxes and Bags (Surprise management)
Loops, poles, circles (Community)
Vehicles, surfing (Exploration)

I asserted that poor toys (e.g. themed lego) fail because they confuse two of the above paradigms (Blocks+Dolls). I also warned that introducing interactivity (sound touch sensors etc.) into dolls actually conflicts with their original roll as symbolic vehicles for unstructured narrative play as they become instead Puppets in my proposed model.
I also clarified that my category "Ball" represents objects that people set up "resonant" kinds of relationships where the response of the object invites further response, e.g. drum membranes, ball bounces and this is therefor where musical instruments lie in this system.

Contact name
Adrian Freed