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Field Work at Revision (or other demopartys)

category: offtopic [glöplog]

I happen to have become a phd student through hard work as well as greasing many palms along the way, rubbing the right backs and such. A few "unfortunate accidents" were needed to topple some of my competitors too. My subject is "generative design materials for participatory design" - or in plain terms, how people collaborate around *something* and use that something to generate new ideas. Like ie. creating a set of metaballs gives you the theme for your entire graphical style of a demo or such.

I'd like to investigate this question in a demoscene context - maybe at revision. So my question is this:

How would you guys go about investigating how demogroups collaborate, get inspired and build on each others (and others) ideas?

This will, probably, end up being written up as one or more journal papers on creativity and design.
added on the 2013-01-05 01:30:29 by nic0 nic0
Like ie. creating a set of metaballs gives you the theme for your entire graphical style of a demo or such.

damn. it's totally my process of creation :D
added on the 2013-01-05 01:35:25 by rez rez
I could perhaps have come up with a more precise example, but I meant the process of one idea feeding into another :)
added on the 2013-01-05 01:37:48 by nic0 nic0
It's hard to tell, sometimes one goes into a project fairly blank with some existing bits and pieces and then something kinda ties them together, other times the whole thing is much more premeditated because there's a strict concept to be delivered.

I think most demos can be summed up by their mission objective in about 5 words or less like "exploding city" (Debris) or "particle stuff" (Numb Res) or "demo about cartoon owl" (Glon243).
added on the 2013-01-05 01:41:16 by Gargaj Gargaj
What you say there is really interesting Gargaj in that it indeed captures how vague/fluffy ideation can often be. In the demoscene as well as in other areas.

The horrible thing is that in order to investigate that process i'd have to either be part of a democreating process or hang out with someone doing an intense session. The latter seems the most sensible. Hm.

Anyone doing an intense demomaking session that wouldnt mind me tagging along and recording their work :D?
added on the 2013-01-05 01:44:31 by nic0 nic0
I think most people would be able to talk at length about their previous processes.
added on the 2013-01-05 01:49:44 by Gargaj Gargaj
Somebody at the bonefire looks close to their beer, notices bubbles, tell their group mate. Said groupmate makes a proposal to make a demo about it, and starts to use said bubbles. From those bubbles, the coder accidentally makes metaballs and notices how awesome they look. They then poke their graphician, who agrees on the awesomenes of metaballs and makes a bubble logo. Finished prod is shown on the big screen, and later drama happens as the graphician didn't credit where he got the crack in the first letter got from. Ah well..

Thing is associations, real story at a bonfire - where I drunkenly tried to explain the musician how beatboxing works. Which started by knowledge I got from a german kids TV show, where they explained to start of with Mietzekatze, and pronounce the parts in different ways. Along the lines we had good laughs, and suddenly the coder got the idea that it sounded like "meet the katze", at which we laughed more and thought that it'd be something to try as a demo.
So you get the the theme, to meet a katze for the crew, showing off with all they have - the coder with cubes, graphician with letters and a cat and the musician with unz - all stemming from the odd association one guy had.

Might be the same with others, you start with lego and end up doing things about plastic - and add things the coder is able to do, demo done.

Sometimes it's more about the "what the coder is able to do", where you try to fit an idea around what the coder has ready already :)

take care <3
added on the 2013-01-05 01:50:52 by mog mog
to be honest, the most awesome ideas comes from code errors who make a completely new and unexpected effect :)
added on the 2013-01-05 01:55:37 by rez rez
What rez said, it's random that helps - sometimes to the better, and sometimes it's really just a bug you can't translate to being an effect.
added on the 2013-01-05 02:03:17 by mog mog
They then poke their graphician

i think thats an important part, conveying the idea. sometimes you have people just go meh. it helps if they have the same philosophy or goal in mind.
added on the 2013-01-05 03:59:18 by vectory vectory
We use IRC a lot!
added on the 2013-01-05 06:17:25 by yzi yzi
This is, although you might think its pretty obvious, very helpful! It shows that inspiration is in not always divine, coming out of a clear blue sky, but is very often well, inspired by something, or someone. Or borne out of associations as mog says, combined with what is possible. That is how i'd initially conceptualize it, as a dialectic between constraints and inspirations.
added on the 2013-01-05 11:33:21 by nic0 nic0
Which methods will you use, nic0? Sounds like a qualitative design using participant observation and ethnographic fieldwork. I would also recommend focus groups at the bonfire!
added on the 2013-01-05 12:20:44 by chromag chromag
i still like to just gather random stuff that comes into mind and release em all in a bunch (the olsdskool approach of demomaking, just in 4k and no loading times inbetween, even no trackloader needed anymore so it doesnt have to reload at all), so i guess its the wrong thread to talk in for me!
But sometimes its just one effect i gather all my inspiration into and do it all around this one (ZUCKZ was that case f.e.) ...its just easy to use only one effect if you are trying to stay in some limits as in 4k! ;) maybe atleast this helps you with your "article" ;) :p its just parameterization of the same effect for many different screens of AAWWWW! this way! best show-off: "Receptor" by TBC! ;)
but normally its not the coders choice to "go easy" ;) never was! atleast if the coder still is into learning more and exploration at all!
inspiration is to be grasped from everwhere! as mog said!
Chromag yes, that was the strategies I intended to use... possibly i'd like to screenshot a lot of the stuff people create while recording what they say about it, in order to get really in depth with the collaborative effort.

Interviews up front, participant-observation by maybe embedding myself with a demogroup for a period of time (maybe not at revision but before or after), or just hanging out at the party with some people crunching. Focus groups at the bonfire is a given... I imagine its gonna be like:

BB Image
added on the 2013-01-05 13:33:43 by nic0 nic0
its musicians-heaven, right?
or maybe just another boozembly! :D
love that pic!
its mekka & symposium 2002 ;p
added on the 2013-01-05 13:53:54 by wysiwtf wysiwtf
Wow, this is why one has to love scientific work :) . Really looking forward to your phd, nic0.
added on the 2013-01-05 17:01:02 by chromag chromag
thank you chromag! looking forward to it myself, its probably going to interesting days :)
added on the 2013-01-05 17:23:56 by nic0 nic0
I second Chromag. You might want to check the three generations of scandinavian participatory/cooperative design tradition ranging from the metal workers union over the Utopia project to cooperative prototyping (where you are a part of the process). I reckon you might want to go for the latter, otherwise your methodology could be stuck in the 70s. There is also a new book from Springer called "Doing Design Ethnography". And this sketch on Phenomena with Kermit the frog.
added on the 2013-01-05 19:07:57 by noname noname
You cannot grasp the scene, Scene grasps you!
added on the 2013-01-05 19:26:21 by T$ T$
hArDy.: too bad yer never went to a MS! the woods in the background are damn characteristic for the heidmarkhalle. xD
added on the 2013-01-05 19:31:03 by gentleman gentleman
noname thank you! I work at a research centre headed by some of the oldschool PD people (Susanne Bødker and Kim Halskov, with the latter being my thesis advisor). I plan on using about that approach anyway but with a sprinkle of my own personal bullheadedness :)
added on the 2013-01-05 21:47:26 by nic0 nic0
From my experience (not a scener, just programmer/designer), "one idea feeds of from another"-thing - in general (not just demoscene, but pretty much ANY scene) - often in its strongest way isn't so much about the "LAN", but more about the "WAN".... and it is more a kind of overall feeling and mood, than precise concepts.

What i mean with this, one may perhaps call (cultural) "spirit". For example, if you look at history of various subcultures.... you notice timespans where the "market" was basically FLOODED with new ideas and even more "quantity". For computers, many veterans associate this "golden age" with the 80's and especially commodore machines. It basically was as if an entire generation was fed digital acid, got inspired of all the things other people were doing, started to dream of "uh, what if we make a game/demo/app about this?". I think it primarily wasn't so much about been able to "feed on" actual concepts, but more the overall encouraging and exciting atmosphere/mood.

I guess you know about the 95/5 rule (95% of everything is crap, meaning only a few individuals tend to really stand out among the masses)... the thing in such a "golden age" is, that the entire culture gets elevated, so that even the "95% crap" becomes "better crap", and the "5%" even more legendary "heroes". Like some kind of positive feedback loop.

The reason why i mention this, is because i think this also to a lesser extend applies to smaller scales. Like, demogroups, parties, groups of groups, etc. And from personal experience, i think this even afffects those metaphoric "genius designers that for many years design something in a basement".... the fact in practice is: they do not live in a basement without contact from the outside world.... even if they may not have much interest in the current culture, it strongly affects their motivation. If the overall "spirit" of the culture is a wasteland, they find less motivation to work on their "semi-vaporware uber project".... because they feel like "uh, why do i even do this? Its not like ANY of those zombies would care or value it, no matter how groundbreaking it is... why dont i just shoot myself instead?" (yes, i'm exaggerating).

Yeah, i know, this isn't really what you were about to "research". I'm mentioning it, because "collaboration" is not just an exchange of precise ideas, or a clearly deterministic (and copyable) workflow (sure, some of its aspects are, but thats just part of it). The other part IMO is simply having an "environment" that *overally* encourages and inspires oneself and likeminded people.
added on the 2013-01-05 23:25:07 by myka myka


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