Lovely ad about a girl and her snowman:
On Monday we watched this great talk by Lily Dart as a Talks We Love session at FutureLearn, where we pick a talk that someone has seen and then discuss with everyone what we might want to change in our own team. I love the points that Lily makes about how everyone in the company is responsible for the user experience, not just the “user experience” designers:
Last year on Halloween I thought I’d have some fun with my Twitter stream and live-tweeted an improvised story about me being in a zombie apocalypse type world. It was so much fun to do, that this year I thought I should do something a bit more elaborate. Only… I pretty much forgot about it up until last Friday. Oops.
I still thought it would be fun to do, so late Friday night I started planning. What would this story be about? I brainstormed some general storylines I could use: another zombie apocalypse, a virus outbreak, a vampire attack, a haunted mansion, an escape room (since I’m addicted to them)… hmm, what about an Alternate Reality Game leading to a haunted escape room? What if I could make it a bit more interactive and get people on Twitter helping me solve clues? That’s the initial idea I came up with, and I started creating several puzzles and riddles I could use during the day.
Reading the end result (see previous post) you can see that the initial idea did adapt a lot. I pretty much just started tweeting on Saturday without any real plan on how the story would evolve or even how it would end. That’s definitely the fun part though: coming up with the story on the fly and just improvising as you go along!
I did visit all the places I mention in the story though: all the photos I took were on the day itself, albeit an hour or so before I sent the tweets. I quickly realised in the morning that just staying still, waiting for people to respond with solutions, wasn’t that handy, especially since I was meeting with friends for lunch (hence the long and slightly awkward encounter with the Swedish tourists). So instead I started taking photos earlier and doing the tweets “delayed” and adaptable to those following the story. One of the things that I completely forgot though was how early it gets dark! There were a bunch of photos I took that I ended up not being able to use, cause of that.
In the end I had come up with way more material than I could use, and I ran out of time to use it all. I still have several prepared puzzles and riddles, and I’ve got an entire backstory figured out about what happened. Rather than throw it all away though, and leave the story hanging on an incomplete note, I thought it would be fun to take it a step further: could I continue the story over 2-4 Saturdays in the next couple of months, and actually plan it out better?
So that’s what I’ll be doing: The Others Episode 2 will take place in a few weeks time (I’ve got my eye on November 28th) and will pick up where the previous “episode” left off. It again will contain puzzles, riddles and ways for you as a reader to get involved in the story and influence its outcome. Want to hear more? Sign up below to get notified when the next episode starts!
It would be great to hear what people thought of the first episode. Did you like how it unfolded? Did you enjoy the puzzles? Did you follow along during the day/night, or did you read it at a later point? Did you like the Twitter polls? I really want to know what people enjoyed and what they didn’t, so I can adapt the next one!
I’d also love to get actual London museums or other interesting places/sights involved in this! I really like the idea of people learning more about the history of London through games likes this and it’s one of the things I want to highlight more in the following episodes. If anyone is working for a museum or something like that and would like to get involved, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year on Halloween I thought I’d have some fun with my Twitter stream and live-tweeted an improvised story about me being in a zombie apocalypse type world. It was so much fun to do, that this year I thought I should do something a bit more elaborate. I’ve written a Behind The Scenes post about how I came up with the story and what I’ve planned for the next episodes, but if you’re just interested in the story, here’s Episode 1:
I can’t believe it’s been more than 1.5 months since I last blogged here! There has been so much stuff that has happened the past few months, that I still have to write about and I know I really should. Next to that I did a crazy Twitter story thing yesterday for Halloween (more about that later – but here’s the gist of it) and I realized: I miss writing.
I started this blog 8 years ago to highlight cool stuff that I came across – doing reviews of movies, books and games, featuring fun and interesting products like jewellery and posters, and sharing videos and other blog posts I like. Throughout those years though, I’ve noticed I love the art of telling a good story. Lately I’ve been mainly doing that through talks I’m giving at conferences and blog posts that I’m working on for the FutureLearn blog. I’ve rarely used this blog to tell those type of stories. Besides the sporadic longer thought pieces, my blog posts typically tend to be quick and easy posts that don’t require too much brain power to create (or read). And I think that might be the reason I’ve started drifting away from writing here.
So how can I change that? What should I do to get back into writing more here?
My “solution”? I’m going to see if I can my own take on the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) challenge. Rather than do the traditional write a post every day, I thought I’d stick closer to the challenge of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): write 20,000 words on this blog this month.
I don’t want to focus on just creating more posts again, I want to focus on telling good stories.
So: challenge accepted! Wish me luck.
And by the way? This post? It’s only 304 words long. 1.52% done, 98.48% to go!
Two days ago I gave a talk at State of the Browser about having imposter syndrome and how to create a culture of learning. Here’s the video:
If you want to check out the full slides, here they are (without all the pretty animations though):
I was so nervous about it all, but I’m quite proud with how it all turned out. I think it’s the nicest bit of storytelling I’ve done and they’re the prettiest slides I’ve ever made! Plus it’s been awesome seeing the reactions and hearing the stories from people who have seen the talk.
Imposter syndrome is something that more and more people are talking about, but I think it tends to quite often be from the point of view of the individual: what are the things that we each should do to stop imposter syndrome happening in ourselves? Since there are so many people that have this though, I think it’s much more interesting to get people thinking about the things we call could do. I hope my talk has given some ideas of how we can help each other, but I’d love to hear what other people think!
I can’t quite believe it’s September already! As usual, September means conference season is upon us and the next 2 months are going to be slightly insane for me. Want to see me talk? Here are the upcoming events I’ll be speaking at:
12th September 2015 – State of the Browser: We’re back for another year to talk about browsers and the web. Come and learn about the latest in browser developments and the web industry. My talk will be about imposter syndrome and how creating a culture of learning can help deal with it.
25th-26th September 2015 – Over The Air: A tech-agnostic event for and by the developer community, featuring technical workshops where attendees can roll up their sleeves and tinker with new mobile & web platforms, operating systems, APIs & open hardware. I’ll be talking about how and why we organize internal hackdays at FutureLearn.
2nd-4th October 2015 – Hackference 2015: Three days of talks and panels from the best in the world, with a full weekend hackathon to top it. Again I’ll be talking about how and why we run internal hackdays at FutureLearn.
8th-9th October 2015 – WebDevConf: We don’t need The Avengers or the Justice League, WDC2015 has assembled the best line up that is ready to take on the world. I’ll be doing a fun talk called the Marvel Guide to Agile, explaining agile principles through the means of Iron Man to the Guardians of the Galaxy.
I know, I know, I might be slightly addicted to escape rooms at the moment. This is the second escape room Kickstarter project I’ve backed (the first being Enigma Escape a few months back), but I really love the sound of what Enigma Quest are doing!
Here’s what they are focusing on:
We believe that there are three most important aspects to a great immersive experience, be it an escape game or a live quest: quality, immersion and innovation.
Without quality, nothing stays for long. We design every puzzle and every prop to be of high quality material, and where we can’t source what we want – we create it ourselves.
Without immersion, it would just be another puzzle hunt. We love puzzle hunts, don’t get us wrong, but to provide the highest possible value for money, we pay attention to every tiny detail to achieve deep level of immersion, until when the players lose themselves in the surroundings.
We design the puzzles with innovation in our minds, and aim to be very high-tech. There are no padlocks in our rooms, no hunt for numerical codes with tiring amount of numbers. Everything feels real and highly interactive.
I especially love the sound of no padlocks and no numerical codes. While I understand that padlocks and numerical codes are quite ‘easy’ to implement, my favourite moments from escape rooms have been discovering the more creative objects and triggers within rooms. Besides that, Enigma Quest’s first room will be the Harry Potter-esque ‘School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’.
They’re still looking for a couple more backers, so go back it if you think it sounds interesting!
I loved Big Hero 6 and Baymax is one of the most adorable robots ever, so who wouldn’t want a cute necklace with him on it?
I’ve currently only been able to find it in this Japanese online store K.UNO for ¥ 8,800, which is about £45. I’m so tempted to get this! It’s adorable!
As I mentioned yesterday, I gave a talk at GORUCO, a one-day Ruby conference in New York. I did a 10 minute version of my Un-artificial Intelligence talk, trying to explain some basic concepts of human learning through machine learning: