Posts Tagged ‘tools’

Manything, Video, Riffing

So I can use Manything on my iOS devices to let one be a camera and the other be the viewer. Motion detection, and so on. Immediate first use? Ms 8 yo is into spy gadgets, this is perfect. (What is she learning?, um, cue music.)

What would be really interesting would be trying to record something with 4 or 5 cameras and doing stuff with that media…. (thinking hat on, might try something like this with an essaying project that is coming up.)

Digital Reading

Papers update, two new styles to scribble on essays.

1. What does it tell us about our tools where we have to wait for scribbles to be defined and scripted as styles to be able to use them?
2. And that I’m excited that I can new underline not just highlight in a program?

And I just dropped in 10 pdfs that I’ve downloaded from a journal and it seems to have automagically auto accurately extracted the bibliographic metadata.


Qwiki, (there’s a video demo) which used to be a web service, has reinvented itself as an iOS app. It uses your camera roll to make movies. These increasingly automated services are the future of what we are describing here as everyday media. They are the video version of the templates that Microsoft Word includes for letters, or business cards, and the like. If it is anything like the earlier web service, it will be very good very quickly.

Vine and Lightt (a poetics of the sublime ordinary)

Two apps. Similar concepts with different sensibilities. Lightt, which has been available for a few months now, is an app that grabs a frame a second for approximately ten seconds, creating a sort of low res sample of a moment that has a really nice animated feel to it. Vine, on the other hand, which has been swallowed into the Twitter oligopoly, shoots around six seconds of video, with a very elegant shooting interface of simply touching the screen to record. You lift your finger off to stop, touch to continue. Once you hit six seconds the sequence is done and you can upload and distribute via Twitter and the Vine site.

These two apps are extremely interesting for those of us exploring light weight, ready to hand video documentation practices that want to seriously engage with and intersect the everyday. Each achieves this, though enacting and promoting quite different aesthetic outcomes if approached from the point of view of a critical videography rather than merely a social video app. First of all, each are easy to use and take advantage of your phone’s camera and services to let you simply shoot in very minor ways, gathering location data if desired, and then sending out to the cloud. This really is the minimum needed for a viable app or product in this space, and is the video graphic equivalent to the polaroid – point, click, record, see, with the contemporary addition of distribute/share (their own site, Twitter and Facebook).

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Lightt’s strengths are in its interface, which has been progressively developed and enhanced through a series of releases, and its constraints. Once you click the camera icon it is going to record 10 or so frames at the fixed rate of one a second. By default individual clips loop, but you can repeatedly touch the camera icon to shoot another ten second, ten shot sequence and it is automatically butt edited to the previous sequence. You can close the app and return and it still has your previous sequences for you, preserving them until you choose to share them. This means you can assemble a relatively long series of shots (long for Lightt at least) that documents or records things around a particular event or activity. (Rupert does this quite a bit with great effect.) If you touch “next” each of the ten shot sequences is shown in a timeline and you can edit, which only consists of removing an entire ten shot sequence, and if you touch through this you then get to add caption, hashtags, location information and what services you want to distribute to.

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At the moment you are limited to forty in a row – which to my way of thinking is tons. The staccato sequences that result are often visually interesting and the default looping and staccato frame jumps encourages relatively abstract pattern making and observation as these sorts of sequences really bring out the strengths of what Lightt offers. This is unusual in this space, where most things emphasis what I think of Lowest Common Denominator documentation, and I suspect it works very effectively as an aesthetic hurdle that keeps away spam, porn and the like. In other words the stop motion already aestheticises the image which in turn encourages its users to notice aesthetically. This in turn discourages filming things that aren’t worth noticing. You can see someone’s sequences at, and it is possible to share via Twitter and Facebook any clips you find there (there are some privacy options when you choose to publish which I think is a BIG plus).

However, what Lightt currently does not offer is any way to embed this media into other places, for instance your blog. I assume this is because the format is nonstandard and so relies on some server magic to actually play (though presumably this is trivial to let sharing with them hosting in the way that you can embed photos from Flickr for instance). This is a problem as you can’t use it outside of their framework in any meaningful way, and you’re left with their decisions about how to present it. For instance as of today my lightt account (vogmae) automatically rolls back to mid December and I don’t know if it auto rolls back about a month, or perhaps 25 clips? And how do you see earlier clips? Or an archive of thumbnails? If I could publish these via my blog or own site then I could more with this material. In addition as far as I can tell, to date what others may like or comment about your clips which is available via the app does appear web side…

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Vine’s strength is that touching the screen to shot, and lifting your finger to pause, is a surprisingly nice way to film. It’s a big target and you touch what you want to record rather than press (touch) a button. Six seconds I like, it really is enough for most of the time. However, it already apparently has a porn problem which is unsurprising as unlike Lightt it just grabs the world for you. Sure, it might only be six seconds, but given services that already provide a live feed from Vine then the hashtag porn is going to get a workout. (As I write this it seems Vine might be under some load stress as I’m getting multiple ‘upload fail’ messages – that was ten minutes ago, normal service resumed….)

While Vine lets you post to Vine, twitter and Facebook I haven’t yet found how to view a users account of videos. The app generates shortened urls which then resolve to things like where you can play the embedded clip but the user name is not clickable and the url is machine generated. The video is MP4 (a plus) and unlike Lightt clips appear in your phone’s camera roll, so you can do things with them elsewhere, just not within Vine once published. Even the web page where you can view an individual clip currently provides no way to share what is there. It is early days for Vine, but if they can make their back end more porous then its got an interesting and I would think viable future

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For nonfiction practice both apps offer a lot, but they both need to break out of treating the app as front end (media in) and as the key viewing experience (friends, and so on) with not letting those who want to build upon their services themselves elsewhere. If this is addressed then either (or both in combination) could really let some people get creative with everyday video documentation and a poetics of the sublime ordinary.

Tools, Updated

My current researching, note taking, curating, writing tool kit.


Does some nice things for video. For one for the first time there is a video tag. Just like the image tag. Makes putting video on a web page about 300% easier. July found some information about this, while Celine has a brief note to self regarding the same. Henry is stuck trying to embed his video, and so some HTML 5 video tag goodness his way ought to come. So two of the best – Video on the Web – courtesy of (the code stuff is at the very end of the screen), and the detailed stuff at on the video tag (you need to click on each of the tags attributes for more details).

Affective Atlas Road Trip To The Prom

Ok, this is a report on the AA road trip in November 2009 to Wilson’s Promontory National Park. We have an ARC Linkage project with Parks Victoria which involves the development of knowledge mapping and geovisualisation tools for land management. As the project has developed it looks like we’ll be focussed on the specific smaller (though enormous) issue of fire management. So this trip was to bring most of the project team together, visit the site, critique the work to date of the two PhD students, and toss around ideas and arguments about directions, problems, and possibilities.

The participants for this trip were Adrian Miles, Brian Morris, Laurene Vaughan, Monique Elsley, Colin Arrowsmith, Bill Cartwright, and Chris Marmo (all from RMIT), Jim Whelan and Cristhiane Da Silva Ramos (Parks Victoria), and last but not least Ross Gibson (University of Sydney). We drove down, with the compulsory lunch and coffee stop in Leongatha, and met up with Jim and Chris at the main Ranger office at Tidal River. The first afternoon was spent developing the agenda and then getting on with it. The agenda looked something like:

  • update on recent developments in IT services at Parks Victoria relevant to the project/s
  • Jim to outline his latest bright idea (the knowledge map)
  • Discussion on the culture and practice of working in the field as a ranger, role of notes, information sharing, logs and journals
  • Monique to update the team on her research, outcomes to date, future directions
  • Chris to update the team on his research, anticipated outcomes and directions
  • Introduction and discussion around the DRI burnmap submission for their design challenge competition
  • What next steps and actions are we all going to do?
  • Anything more?
  • Site visit


While sitting around during squalling rain, alternating with drizzle, mizzle and rude teasing patches of gloried sunshine at the prom I’ve been reading Rancière’s “The Future of the Image”. Haven’t read Rancière before, and art theory is not really something I’ve dipped much into. The second essay in this collection, ‘Sentence, Image, History’ appears to be particularly interesting. However, I found it pretty hard going and during the course of this reading I was reminded of how I actually do read, which given how little I’ve done in the last few years was both a timely and pleasant reminder. When I read work like this, that is both in an unfamiliar theoretical field and vernacular, it is easy to get bogged down trying to understand it in what I might think of as a deep way. The sort of reading that seeks each turn and term of the argument to be clear. A sort of theoretical mastery. This is a lousy way to read, and frankly dumb. As I well know when I write I make an argument. This argument develops a shape (often of its own apparent accord) but really it makes best sense as a whole, that is in view of where the argument ends up taking me. This means to read something like this well, which is not the same thing as reading it with felicity (felicitousness at the time seemed too hard to spell), I need to first of all read it through, gleaning what I can, building and rebuilding temporary frameworks and schemata as I go. This is surprisingly productive as I am able to get a general idea of the key theoretical terms and I guess flavour of the writer, argument and what I suppose I think of as their regime of thought. In this way you avoid getting bogged down in the reading, in trying to understand something which, really, you can only really begin to understand once you’ve finished it because argument is always nearly teleological. The added advantage of this is that you can then work out what might deserve a second reading, the reading that actually begins to think with the essay or book. In this case ‘Sentence, Image, History’ could well deserve this second reading, what I’d call the actual reading. There were three or four wonderful sentences in there, as well as an argument about image and meaning that could be very productive for thinking about my own practice, as well as providing some theoretical tools for rethinking video online, narrative and the fragment. It is provocative in the way it helps me to rethink my own formalism and I suspect makes my own consideration of my work sadly naive. Such interrogation is good.