The Thing is…

Gloved hand retrieving a hidden object
Gloved hand retrieving a hidden object from Wellcome Collection

…this week just passed has been the most fun and productive since i started my fellowship.  Telling stories is generating some fantastic connections and i had the most productive, efficient meeting i have ever had in my entire life.

At Mozilla last Saturday i met some incredibly talented and lovely people who i worked with to devise a fantastic concept for citizen scientists to learn, share resources and connect using the web that can be built using popcornmaker. An online platform that helps remix and share existing web content. It was the friendliest hackday i’ve ever been too. Usually people are wired on redbull and lack of sleep but not so at this Popathon run by two lovely guys, Philo van Kemenade and Gilles Pradeau.

There were enough transmedia peeps, filmmakers and developers to form six teams that came together in a day to create a new concept on popcornmaker.  The prototype challenge was to turn a viewer into a user. Perfect for citizen science!

Popcorn Pirates pitching citizen science prototype
Popcorn Pirates pitching citizen science prototype

What i loved about it is that this is not a one off affair – the guys are building a community around their events and another is coming soon at the end of June. I really like the ethos of Mozilla as an organisation and those principles made it into the environment and the work we created. Our team, the Popcorn Pirates won the most original prototype and i went home with a Mozilla Dinosaur. We’re hoping to come together online and off, to develop the prototype further.

Straight off the bat of the Popathon, i was in Amsterdam for MuseumNext where i gave, so i am told, an inspiring presentation at the death slot of 4.30pm on the Monday afternoon.This was ahead of a private visit (for conference goers) to the Van Gogh Museum where i got to see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Of course, my talk had to begin with that… you’ve heard of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, well…. let me tell you about Turing’s Sunflowers.

My knowledge of sunflowers is forever enriched by Van Gogh and Turing. Turing in the detail of the patterns in the seedheads and Van Gogh in his impressionistic take on a bunch of sunflowers. Plus, as part of my talk i also got to share the inspirational Catalytic Clothing & A Field of Jeans by Professor Helen Storey. Incredibly, next week i am meeting Helen and her creative producer, Caroline Coates.

This same week i had the sheer joy of meeting Ashley Burgoyne and Henkjan Honning, music cognition scientists at the University of Amsterdam who have come up with the most amazing citizen science music experiment. So cool in fact that we’re hoping to bring it to life very soon – i’ve seen the prototype app and trust me, I’m hooked!

My next stop is another storytelling session, this time at Wellcome Collection in London. I have spent the last three months browsing the collections looking for an object to tell a story about citizen science. There were many objects i found that were definite possibilities but in the end i have gone for something that as a kid, inspired my curiosity. I hope others will be inspired too. The object will be revealed on Sunday.

My event, The Thing is… Citizen Science is tomorrow, Sunday 19th May, 3pm at Wellcome Collection. Tickets are free but booking required. Love to meet new peeps! Hugh thanks to the wise man of the collection, Ross McFarlane and Emily Wiles who invited me to get involved and who will be facilitating tomorrow’s session.

Read all about it!…


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