OT: Types of Interaction

David Bovill david at vaudevillecourt.tv
Fri Aug 20 07:22:41 EDT 2010

Not quite clear on a couple of your questions - so digging...

On 19 August 2010 19:17, Michael Allan <mike at zelea.com> wrote:

>  2. Generalize it to support multiple
>    a) simultaneous productions (not only crossforum ranging),
>    b) companies of actors (not only ranger companies) and
>    c) various criteria of interaction (not only discussion).
> Is this going in the right direction?  If so, (c) is challenging to
> imagine.  What kinds of interaction?  Does anyone have a concrete
> example?

I am thinking that you mean you would like examples of interaction which
were not directly and simply reducible to something akin to discussions
based on debates about text based propositions? In many ways what I picture
as a "Liquid Unconference" is simply a discussion about text based
propositions, however this is the end result, the product, not the

To try to suggest proposals that may go some way to answering this question,
I've sketched out a number of forms / aspects that I think these real space
events / performative interfaces can take:

   1. Subtlety - hell it's not really that different! We can move smoothly
   from a traditional Unconference to more imaginative performances as
   resources, the audience and the need arises.
   2. A Game Example
   3. An Intimate Example
   4. A Practical Example

*Subtlety - hell it's not really that different!*
Unconferences - are simply a series of small face to face discussions
between peers. They are therefore not essentially different from text based
discussions online. No big difference there.

There is however a clear aim to remove some of the formality, the
bureaucracy, out of the real space meeting - and to take a step or two
closer to that of a creative performance, in order to allow a richer initial
set of ideas to be placed on the table, while allowing at the same time a
slower time, and a richer set of tools (delegated decisions) to enhance the
quality of the decisions being made.

Interestingly I see in Augusto Boal's Wikipedia entry - it has been updated
to draw parallels between crowdsourcing and forum Theatre - Unconferences
are in this same spirit - that of breaking down the idea of audience and
performer/speaker, producer and customer - and in creating a new hybrid - in
Boal's terminology the SpectActor.

The difference is subtle but important. It is important because thinking
this way defends the presentation against powerful attacks, it communicates
better, and it is too easy for developers to think about the technical,
philosophical, and text based aspects - expecting to tack on a suitable
front end when the back-end is ready. It is my belief that the most
important work is on the front end, and that this work, working with active
debating communities), should be driving the development, and will have deep
implications for the backend.

*A Game Example*
Lets start somewhere radically different. An interface that no one would
confuse with traditional political debate. Games are good for this as they
allow us to create playful spaces for "audiences" which encourage them to
step outside of preconceived ideas of social convention and politics. They
also allow us to embed software into the decisions without it seeming
artificial or strange.

A core part of the show I am working on involves the use and abuse of games.
It is possible (and legal) to create a game out of existing computer games,
in which progress that is the decisions made are based on the interaction of
groups of people in game. Fights? Yes partly. But also we can conceive of
building into "the code" LD as part of the game logic - there can be LD
based ways of awarding resources to combatants, there can be in game

To picture this concretely we can envisage live streaming of in-game footage
into events. That is this live footage can be projected into a real space
event, with participants taking part online. We can have debates, with game
characters featured presenting their cases (using video), we can have jury
panels adjudicating on decisions, we can script the games to allow players
to use LD to vote, and of course we can have fun with battles in which teams
compete to battle for what they believe.

This is what we call Gladiatorial Democracy, and all of this is possible
using existing high quality visualisations (games), with people
(SpectActors) taking part and a minimal of new software development.

*An Intimate Example*
We can picture an event in which hundreds of groups take part from home, in
intimate settings. Perhaps over food. They can simply organise an event,
based on a dinner party, but not billed as such. In which short videos are
shown, and then debated over food.

This can be seen as an intimate version of an Unconference in which people
split up into small groups to have round table discussions. The difference
is that you can do it at home. You can produce your own short video
(position), or take elements from Documentaries or ideas presented at TED
talks, and invite friends around.

Initial responses can be captured as questions or comments spoken to (web)
camera, and added to the discussion online. LD can be used by everyone in
their own time to form positions on the range of topics and people
presenting at the event. I think it is clear to see how this can act as a
stimulus to a follow up LD debate online. The initial "interface: however is
"food", and humorous, creative talks at a friends house, and the medium
directly supports the organisation and presentation of these in a way in
which it would not be possible easily to do yourself. Again a new form of
political debate is encouraged / facilitated, and LD is used to bring these
fragments together in a malleable, remixable, creative fashion.

*A Practical Example*
Universities often facilitate speakers, talks, debates, and also bands,
music, and comedians. It is not hard to imagine a touring event which
Student Unions, can put on, which mixes some of these elements together on
the theme of voting reform.

I would see taking some interesting and controversial issues, showing short
film clips, using LD, and showing how LD works along side the general theme,
and getting students to sign up, and help build the project. Again it should
be possible for someone to "download" the show toolkit, so they could put on
their own event, mix in local acts, bands, comedians - just as it would be
possible for a dedicated team to have a show, that is booked for a fee, and
tours a group of Universities.

I know of a couple of projects that do pretty much this already in the UK,
and one way of taking this forwards on a practical level is to team up with

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