Play

[00:00:00] Tim: Hello. on Tim Panron and this is the distributed future podcast
Vim: and I'm Vimla Appadoo
Tim: and this episode is about play and how we interact with things in a playful and sometimes subversive manner or don't and how that relates to technology? So although I got told off this week for calling something Tech calling anything Tech so that it's it has a bunch of negative connotations and you should think of a different word for it, but I haven't actually come up with a better word yet.
So you got any suggestions
Vim: would digital maybe
Tim: I hate that
Vim: yes
Tim: it's like digital is people. Digital has this connotation of people who don't really know what they want.
Vim: That's interesting. So instead of tech. Tools maybe
Tim: yeah. Yeah, that's uh, that's right because it is just it is just tools to get a task [00:01:00] done or in the case of the interview with Emma tools to have fun. Tools
to you to broaden your horizons broaden your thought processes just have an amusing time. So it's a kind of it's difficult to know and we never actually successfully although we did try a few times Define what play and playful means. Um, so that was kind of that was novel in itself. Like we don't really know exactly what the fine definition of this is, but we'll know it when we see it.
I mean if I say play to you, what would you think of
Vim: I think of letting go of all of your inhibitions and having fun?
Tim: Right? Right, so we had this conversation about whether. Plays always creative whether you always have to make something or present something or you know, like or is it something you can passively do and that was an [00:02:00] interesting conversation that actually
Vim: I think it's on the even passively do I don't think there has to be an outcome or an output and I definitely don't think it's always needs to be creative because so well, I guess that depends on what you see is creativity as well though.
Tim: Yeah, yeah, so we got into quite a lot of interesting definitions, but I mean, you know, it doesn't it's difficult to know for me play is not necessarily about lacking in Ambitions, but it's permission to try things.
Vim: Yeah
Tim: that you wouldn't necessarily otherwise do so. It's sort of not really letting go but but not worrying about what.
Well what the outcome will be for start and and not knowing where you're going with it. I think is the key for me.
Vim: But is that not a part of that like not having an inhibitions.
Tim: Maybe I suspect it's to do with it's sort of the antithesis [00:03:00] of a character trait in a way and like if you're naturally a controlling person it's about letting go of control if you're a naturally a directed person who's aiming for a goal then it's about not aiming for a goal.
So it's just sort of in a way. It's an antidote to maybe whatever you think is your worst character trait or other one that holds you back. Alright, so it's kind of interesting interesting problem and and then part of the discussion is around like to what extent new Media games and whatever constrained in a way that mean that plays not really quite the same as you know, what we think of as free play of like, you know, making sandcastles or whatever.
Vim: Yeah,
Tim: and then we sort of I have my feeling is and I'm not sure that anybody agrees with me in this is that constraints actually make it interesting. I mean sand castles of fun because. Sand is sand and it behaves in a particular way and you can't make all the shapes you want to make
Vim: I think that's where [00:04:00] you start.
So I think there's an interesting blur between fun right play in Challenge. And so there's a lot of people that find being challenged within those constraints really fun. But I also Imagine there were a lot of people that find it prohibiting and limiting. Play
Tim: so. Yeah, I guess it depends on what the constraint is to some extent.
I mean whether it's something that like stops you from achieving, achieving you. Can you achieve things with play? Is it still play if you're achieving something
Vim: I think so, I wouldn't it be well,
Tim: I mean, I guess it's to do with our different definitions Minds about if you're achieving a goal and like you've got a goal and you're heading towards it and therefore it's not play right?
So that's fascinating as I hadn't really I've never really thought about. Well, I think play is.
Vim: Yeah,
Tim: and then we then we were also talking about playful which is subtly different.
[00:05:00] Vim: Yeah,
Tim: there's something quite subversive about playfulness, which is fun. She's right really that that was that's interesting and then and then they all other thing is like, how do you.
Do this. How do you enable and allow people to do this without being kind of discriminatory effectively, you know, if you set this up for a particular kind of person does that stop other people from doing it and it's a really I mean that it opens up a whole bunch of fascinating conversations, which we we didn't get all the way out through all of them and there's a bunch more podcasts
coming out of the end of that.
Vim: Yeah.
Tim: So what's the last thing that you did that you thought was probably play.
Vim: So I think I play all the time because play I think to me is anything that really makes me laugh. All right, it's okay, right? I think I see that as playful. Okay and [00:06:00] probably because I have a super sense of humor.
So just yeah it always makes me feel good like that. I guess I'm lucky conditional sentence though, like playing with my niece. So she is almost 2 and just runs around like jumps on the sofa and I just mimic what she does and I think that's that's playful.
Tim: Right right and ya know the mean the whole particularly the pre verbal laughing stuff is fascinating like getting a pre verbal child laughing with you.
And even at you is it's so rewarding.
Vim: Yeah, I mean mainly at me.
Tim: Yeah, but you know that that whole thing of creating jokes pre verbal fascinating that you can do had that you can have a joke without language. I mean obviously sight gags, but and they are essentially sight gags a lot of that.
Vim: Yeah,
where do you think gaming comes into it as well?
Tim: What you mean kind of what we would have [00:07:00] called in the old days video gaming or yeah, gambling?
Vim: Video gaming
Tim: so video gaming we depends on what the game is like we talked about Minecraft.
We talked about Minecraft a lot because it is it's kind of. amaxing, it's kind of like modern Lego and and and in some ways less constraint and they go so that's really that's interesting. But then a lot of the other games have quite. Structured it's almost like watching a film and you you have to go through in a given order and you have to go through a particular set of actions there was now what was it?
I'm kicking myself for not remembering this but recently there was a game released. Where you could you basically piloting somebody through their depression? Yeah, I can't remember the name of it and my daughter played it and she said she [00:08:00] was deeply frustrated because she couldn't get. There was one action that you kind of basically obliged to do that.
She didn't feel was right and she couldn't get through the game and and finish it even without doing this thing that she thought was wrong.
Vim: That's interesting
Tim: and it's like, you know, the plot of the game was was constructed who in a way that felt like. You had choices but in practice you had many fewer choices.
There were fewer things that actually worked
Vim: that's interesting.
Tim: So that was an illusion of choice and then to some extent an illusion of play and that

Vim: yeah,
Tim: it wasn't your you're actually that's interesting. I've never thought about that but players is partly about making choices. But you're giving yourself the freedom to make choices random choices that you feel don't matter in some way.
I think
Vim: that don't have conseuences
Tim: right
Vim: back to about to my original answer right not having it like being able [00:09:00] to let go of inhibitions. I think that's all that's a part of it.
Tim: Right? Yeah. I suppose inhibitions are to do with consequences. I think it's slightly depends on what. Where your inhibitions come from but but yeah, I mean, I know I know what you mean and I think think I mostly agree.
I think there's some sort of subtle shading of difference, but I can't actually work out what it is.
Vim: You just disagreeing with me for the sake of it.
Tim: Oh, yeah. Yeah definitely well makes makes for a conversation for sure. No, I think I do disagree. I think I'm yeah don't know why but but the other thing that was fascinating that in this conversation with Emma
it was about how
she went into it wanting to do a lot of high-tech,
Vim: right,
Tim: but she could get it turns out that reality kind of just kicked in and she didn't need it. Right, it cost her a lot of effort to do it. So she just like put it to one side and it's all it's a much more kind of physical [00:10:00] localized project than then it would would otherwise be it.
I mean I will let her describe the project in more detail, but it's really it's an interesting thing about about. Producing a space that allows people to play in a local area temporarily just sort of moten's this box in a space and let's let's fun happen. It's creative fun happening and you know, it helps I mean, they helped create it, but but it's essentially comes from the residents, the people who turn up which I think is a fascinating aspect and and and some of it is.
Technically assisted and some of it isn't which is really I mean, it's kind of what we're talking about in general these days. I think yeah. So yeah.
Vim: So what do you think play always has to be fun?
Tim: I think the best players fun. I [00:11:00] think there's a sort of play that's to do with discovering your limits.
And I think that isn't necessarily fun. Although it's still worthwhile.

Vim: Right?
Tim: Does that make sense
Vim: the kind of play where you might fall over and hurt yourself?
Tim: Well, you might you might decide that you're going to go. I don't know canoeing and absolute and and put yourself out there go out there go canoeing and hate it because you know, it's just not your sport.
Vim: Yeah and.
Tim: But that's still kind of play in a way in that that you've got into it without you know, kind of overriding your inhibitions in a way. It seemed like I'm going to go and try this looks like it's something I've never done before going to go and do it and go into it with a playful spirit.
But then in the end actually you didn't enjoy it so it could turn out to be fun. I think don't think you can for me. I don't think I can go into some in to play [00:12:00] without hoping that it'll be fun. Yeah, I give it turns out not to be that's okay, but obviously it's better if it is. I think that about you did you do you think this is right?
Vim: Yeah. I think I'd agree I think. I'd struggle to play if I didn't find it fun said I almost have a rule of so I won't play Monopoly because I don't find it fun. Even though it's a game that most people enjoy and it's just one of those things where I'm no not going to do.
Tim: For me plays a way of discovering new things new things out about myself or about the world or you know, How I feel about things to some extent.
Yeah, cool. Well, I'll let you listen to it. I think I think you'll enjoy it and I think think you'll learn from it, hopefully.

Emma: Hi. I'm Emma Bearman
and I wear many hats but I think the one that you're probably interested in for your [00:13:00] podcast is around playful anywhere, which is a not-for-profit.
It's based out of Leeds and we're. Mostly absorbed with how we create play for environments spaces and spirit within people to have a more playful life.
Tim: And how do you feel playfulness is do you feel that playfulness is missing in Modern Life. Is this something you think we used to have more off or what?
Emma: I suppose. I'm on a quest with that same question, really so depending on any given day the week personally. I might feel not very playful at all, and I've set myself a kind of ridiculous benchmark, I'm trying to be playful and failing miserably some days. So my experience both on a personal level which is a kind of people who say, you know stress everyday concerns as adults, cloud their head more than they would really like it to people who live, you know, very playful lives in different ways, and there's a lot of interpretation.
[00:14:00] What the word play means to delve into and then obviously, I don't know if you spend much time reading. I do obviously get a lot of information come through around children having less playful lives concerns about people being with children being on screens for far too much of the day not having enough time outside not enough Independence or connection with nature
so it depending on where you read and where you're sort of your brain is at your so there's a lot of discussion around us not being playful enough. So I suppose I'm interested in how is that really in reality and tired of them? Yeah.
Tim: I mean we've done some we have done some podcasts with people who are specifically looking kind of narrower areas of that like outdoor education, you know walking for wellness.
That's that sort of thing of trying to understand where. When we we maybe we going wrong in [00:15:00] that in that front and there's a subtext of like well, yeah, you know, we do spend a lot of time on screens and maybe that's not totally healthy. But but so you're focusing mostly on children or all age groups had
Emma: all that was really I think we quite hard we've made it so quite challenging really for people to pigeonhole us.
So my view as an adult is that when you are relaxed and. In a state of play a flow in immersion , whatever that might be whether that's a game you're playing on your own or with others something that actually just gives you pleasure. You know you kind of have a sense of well-being and I think when we facilitate spaces for play, through Playful Anywhere.
We recognize that adults get as much out of it as children. And actually what our Holy Grail is is connecting people who wouldn't necessarily be in the same mental emotional physical space together through play as a really great way. [00:16:00] To see people come together who may not have much in common and when we say play it doesn't have to be a particular form of play.
It's actually creating a space for people to tell us and Define their own notion and what play is so it sounds massively abstract. But actually we take quite a responsive approach to work it out with people it is that they like doing rather than insisting. We've got all the answers.
Tim: So it sounds to me like the core of what you're doing there is is around physical space so.
You give us an example of what like that physical space might look like what people's responses to it are
Emma: yeah, so I'm sort of you know, how the in sixth sense. It's like I see dead people I see dead space's so I look around any sort of place and say oh would what would happen if we did something in that place?
They can be as little as leaving the kind of little trail of something or making a treasure hunt or just something that's like slightly different for everybody's [00:17:00] normal day-to-day experience of that place which might stand out. So like a duck rubber duck in a pothole for example, you know, so it doesn't have to be a huge thing or a big undertaking it's much for your own sense of play and pleasure as it might be for other people's so we have.
gone beyond little rubber ducks. Now. I had to kind of quite an elaborate way of engaging people in playful spaces such as we have two shipping containers which are playful and they have lots of objects of play Within them and they go out to different locations communities, neighborhoods, businesses and by virtue of the fact that they're like great big tardises of potential we start immediately the minute the haulier starts to sit down with them.
July using different conversations around that physical space. In fact, even though
Tim: physically where do you put these things? I'm trying to kind of get a mental picture
Emma: in theory. Anyway, we'll [00:18:00] flat piece of accessible land which is bigger than 20 foot and doesn't have overhead electron in electric wires and trees would kind of be a place you could put a shipping container.
So, you know, your limits are around space and access. I guess , and when people want you there or not is a whole other bit of an interesting play. So we've learned a lot about Gatekeepers and power play proven for going to take down those
Tim: fascinating because we I mean I'm I don't know if you know, but I'm in Berlin a lot of the time and when I know that yeah, I know I'm there a lot and and one of the things that I've noticed is that there's still.
Is it capital city? It's unusual in this still kind of space in the middle of the city which gets colonized by art projects or pop-up bars or dance parties or whatever. You'll go around the corner and they will be as you say four or five shipping containers that [00:19:00] have been piled up and people have there's a jazz band of people playing jazz and there's a kind of pop up bar.
And if you go back there, it won't be there again
Emma: Perfect
Tim: and that's that sort of I mean, that's not 'play'. But it's sort of
Emma: Who says thats not play?
Tim: Well OK right. So we're back to the discussion of like, how do you define plays is Play Always creative? I suppose it's the question.
Emma: Well, I mean, it depends on the Players.
Let's say so you might experience that in a fairly passive consumer ish kind of way, which is like all the Look I can going what something this into something partaking something the people who are putting that on maybe having the best play of their lives. Which are you know this kind of sometimes gets known as tactical urbanism or pop up like you said, which is playing with space and the notion of politics around spaces.
as well comes into that. So, can you just put a shipping container down that loads of bureaucracy generally speaking? No, [00:20:00] but certain cultures or environments will allow you to do more things about seeking Lots permission. So you always kind of there's a different element of play depending on who the actors are if that make sense.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, so I'm trying to kind of earn you said that I wouldn't succeed but like I'm trying to tease out from you it kind of definition of play to use but let's go let's let's come back to that some fun. So like is these are these are outdoor. But
Emma: yeah
Tim: with some shelter or how does it work
Emma: and that's one of the limitations.
Shouldn't say what she might want a playbox to suddenly be a real Tardis. They don't do that. Sadly. They still remain physically Bound by their 20 foot by 8 foot kind of steel box type parameters. So, you know, one of the things we're constantly doing is what stops this being playful as a question.
We will ask and obviously English weather is one of those challenges you've got to [00:21:00] work with or around so dry space. Is you know, we would love dry space quite honestly, but you you're always going to get that and it makes what we do quite seasonal some degree because when you're planning your everybody wants to do playful stuff in the middle of a muddy season of like February.
Tim: Lots of fun to be had in splashing in puddles, but that's probably kind of not. Enough for you, really?
Emma: You know what? I think because we have to make money to solve survive sadly if we got more commissions for winter months. We'd be really happy. I think people are sort of a bit scared that they'll be a turn out if the weather's bad.
So you tend not to put your money where you think there's going to be a lower turnout so. And ideally we'd be advocating for year-round play and it wouldn't just be a kind of seasonal sort of thing of you know, school holidays or breaks Etc. So so we do do Play in winter months and [00:22:00] we've kind of acquired a geodesic dome modular system, which allows us to go indoors much easier to kind of get people co-creating a almost like big Den with a geodesic dome and.
Tim: A space within the space.
Emma: Yeah. So we've kind of recognize we can't always get our shipping containers into places with low ceilings. Let's say so, you know, we're looking at what allows us to just keep playing year around and sometimes you know, it's a bit of an excuse so we don't always need a shipping container.
We don't always need a geodesic dome to play but they have become muscle stock-in-trade type things that people can see as products in a way. I think. Oh, yeah, we'll get the shipping containers or. The geodesic dome but it's hard to kind of
Tim: almost a shorthand and a way of kind of signposting what it is that you do a
Emma: little bit and you know, we went we have a Lego for example, I mean without doubt will always make sure that there's [00:23:00] Lego because if if our kind of pursuit is to encourage people to participate if we're a bit freaky looking.
Cousin all those people they try to make us do then will repel as many people as we attract. So the best thing you can do really to give people a sense of psychological confidence is to put some stuff out that they already understand.
Tim: Right? Right.
Emma: So I think Lego really is like a bread crumb Trail, which is you might not yet trust us, but you'll trust the Lego.
Tim: Yeah, you can see it's a fun place to stand or something to start on at least so I was interested. You said like your 8 bytes 20 space. I was interested in that kind of triggered a thought around the trade-off between constraints. Like, you know, this is the old thing about how a haiku is the highest form of creation because it
Emma: yes,
Tim: it's so constrained that you have to really work to make things you do.
It's wonderful. [00:24:00] So I'm kind of interested in how much you think that the constraints that you're working in facilitate the results.
Emma: Oh, I love that question. Thank you for asking that I used to feel like that by Twitter by the way back in the early days of Twitter,
Tim: right?
Emma: I think the constraints of Twitter made it the most beautiful creative place because you only had a hundred and forty characters and you really have to work hard to make sure they were well used and that's a bit of an aside and so constraints in terms of creativity and really important I think because.
How I would do I do I think they're important because effectively make you creative. So there's always a solution to problem as far as I'm concerned. So that's what becomes exciting about the persuit or put in play on is there's always a way to make it happen and the constraints actually start to mean what you can do and how so if you've got too blank canvases kind of where do you start where as if you're told you know, these are the dates this is the budget.
This is the space. [00:25:00] Get on with it. Then you become very responsive quickly. Don't you? So the size of the Box obviously means that the things we can't do like I've mentioned but there are lots of things we can do and where it gets exciting for me is when you ask other people what they would hope would come out of the box.
Tim: Get sensible answers or did you get interesting answers
Emma: on some people? You know, we've had people say they would like a donkey to come out and I quite like the idea of that so I'm like well what that app is something that maybe one day will happen not quite sure how because in transit. It's kind of its finger happened.
So yeah, but it doesn't mean say that adult and a donkey of some description should at some point emerge or you know, A big Orchestra or you know, it's that kind of thing of going by ourselves we have. You know a limited amount of imagination and capability to pull our imagination off but actually collectively if you start to really go, you know, there's something in [00:26:00] what people are coming up with as ideas.
How do we make them happen? So if we have a strap line at all, it would be if we can imagine it together we can make it and that's really our philosophy really becomes less of a single person's pursuit of weird to playfulness, but actually really is out there putting people and going what would you really like and how you going to make that happen rather than us being the kind of conjurer's of other people's dreams.
It's to kind of give people some sense of agency and say. You might not even thought of doing anything differently to you know, you had planed today but let's plant a seed and that's kind of where it goes really. Some people will never come back again. But for some it's all the invite they ever needed.
Tim: Right? Right. I'm interested. One of the things themes that sort of emerging out of the past podcasts is is. Emerging crossover between physical and virtual world like I mean [00:27:00] the extreme example is the kind of AR/VR stuff which. I think is interesting but I'm not sure it's kind of Desperately relevant.
But but just this sort of you know, even the thing about having a Facebook group that in then in that then invites people to come and play on a particular date. Like that's a crossover point. There are the and I think that space is. Is really interesting and trying to I'm trying to understand it.
Is that is that something that you do? How does that fit for you?
Emma: Yeah, so, two levels once how cup of this on a very boring level. Actually, we realized the social media aspect of gathering people around play box in some areas we go where people aren't so attached to their phones are really what you'd call digital natives.
Really kind of whether that's through money or just not their culture made it kind of less that we use social media as it all even like WhatsApp or SnapChat or any of those [00:28:00] other channels as a way of interacting. So on that score, we went actually there's quite a lot. We're learning about digital inclusion in poorer places if I'm honest so we had a text number.
So it was more of an SMS interaction. Which is when the box next open and it was a text messaging service.
Tim: It's interesting.
Emma: Yeah, it's kind of that's what we learn. So we kind of if you talk about human centered design. I guess we started off thinking we'd have all bells or whistles and it would be this wonderful, you know flow between like you just.
Explained, you know described online and offline. And in fact, we realized there were barriers to people feel it and this was about three years ago. So we could re check this about people's use of smart smart phones, for example, so some of the plans we have things like QR codes or NFC readers or various social channels.
We kind of put on a bit of a back burner in those in that context because we do get a lot of work in areas that are sadly called deprived. [00:29:00] Because people have kind of given up to some degree on wondering what else doing that piece of land which you know is full of dog poo and glass and stuff. So I don't have to make any sense.
But we kind of put that on a back burner because we knew that actually just sticking the container there and enabling play was primary function having said that though. We work a lot with young people and things like Minecraft. And so the Minecraft kind of mindset of young person is they could build anything.
It's a sand pit if you know Minecraft, but it's generative and they can pretty much dream anything up and so we can have conversations around place with using Minecraft to kind of explore what this park be like if you could design it in Minecraft, we did that in a place called Charlie park the kids.
Kind of looked playing Minecraft in the container. That was something quite normal for them. And then they had a sort of proper like clipboard experience of a map [00:30:00] and they went and counted all the trees and the railings and things like that's a very, you know, proper geography field trip feel to it and then kind of considered, you know, a playbooks prevent allocate Park, but within Minecraft, for example,
Tim: yeah now no Minecraft is fascinating.
I mean we were. Kind of find somebody to talk to like just about that because it. It's it's a really good example of that. What I was saying about constraints, is that like there are there are what appear to be quite narrow constraints of like, you know, the blocks of this shape and whatever and but in practice like everyone just totally overcomes those constraints and builds the most fantastic virtual things and the thing that I love about it is that it's it's very collaborative.
Emma: Oh, yeah, and yeah
Tim: actually more so than Lego, which is surprizing
Emma: and also can have. Same sort of like if someone comes along and smashes your Lego tower in real life you get upset in [00:31:00] the same way. If you do that within a digital realm like Minecraft, that's also very upsetting.
So, you know, there's still the same kind of like conversations to be had around kind of. Fair play, you know, you're fair play literally say yes, and it is collaborative and it's generated when I say generative. I mean people build upon each other's ideas. They help each others worlds/Realms develop.
So we live that kind of. But we would let by the kids. So the key thing for us is to go we don't necessarily start out with us or definite idea of what we're going to do when we're talking with people are engaging with its then the ideas start to generate an obviously. I mean last year if you'd have looked at our activity was all slime based.
Everybody just wants to make slime all the time. So became quite an analog year in many ways having said that we did do we do pop-ups in empty shops? We took over a shopping in the markets and we [00:32:00] did a three-month play lab and having in young inventors Club pilot. And that was kind of about them creating content for like DIY video around things like slime and science experiments de-coding of data locked room games.
What else they do that anyway, so we kind of work with. Whichever kind of audience or group of people that we are encountering to develop ideas around with them rather than going we definitely are going to run this thing and you're going to lump it or like it.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah. No, they don't respond well to that
Emma: but really and I think in some ways that means we've got go-with-the-flow bit and will not be learning from them as well.
So the thing of going actually my own children, give me an insight into the world of what nine, you know, ten year olds and eight year olds are into. And but the kind of where they are in terms of their accessing digital social media. It's really interesting to us to kind of go out [00:33:00] us we wouldn't have known that as 40 plus adults.
So they they're giving us massive insight into what's exciting and what's you know, I think whirring to some degree to some parents you think all my kids spending spending far too much time. YouTube or Instagram or whatever actually if you spend some time with the kids we're going at what it is that they're getting enjoyment from it becomes less of an isolated.
I just leave them on their screens like it's a babysitter. I'm more of a collaborative type thing and you'll learn so much from their, they love that actually I think it would delay a lot of fears about things like Momo and all the other types of kind of hoax. Is that come along? So
Tim: right
Emma: engage with the kids on their screens and they'll teach you some stuff as well.
And that's that's something we want to build more into our practice. Shame really.
Tim: So I think one of the things that's interesting about that is is and that we I'm worried about personally is that we're the screens are smaller. One of the nice things [00:34:00] about I mean, my kids are older and therefore like this is history really but but one of the things I did enjoy was that we.
They would play games on a big screen in a shared space.

Emma: Yeah,
Tim: so, you know, we might not be there to oversee it. But we you know as parents we drift in watch them, you know beating up the aliens or whatever. It was that they were playing and get a sense of the game and and and maybe say hey have you seen that thing behind you and actually be part of it.
Whereas I feel that with some of the the phone games in particular it's quite hard for them to be collaborative in the same physical space. I understand that their collaborative in the virtual space. But but I think like there's something different there and I don't really understand what it is, but it feels to me different.
Emma: Yeah, I agree and I think there's something about social sharing as well. So if you are, you know sharing a big screen then you are [00:35:00] obviously. Whether you are participating or just aware that some comfort in that and there's also a negotiation that goes on around the big screen happens to be your main TV.
Then they can't just hog it forever.
Tim: Right? Right, right.
Emma: So there's a bit around negotiating screen time and stuff there as well as now, but I think I think the opportunity really lies in actually having better conversations between children and parents and Grand parents and carers. That's a rather than it being a kind of all this fear doom mongering.
The stuff which the media loves to pick up on is to actually facilitate better conversation and teachers as well let's be honest, so that we are not kind of been Draconian or drawing up the you know, drawbridge and go in. Oh, no little screens bad big screens good-nature. Brilliant. Blah blah blah which isn't really going to help us navigate, you know, it's really fluid world that we're living in and I think we just need to maybe engender more confidence in having better [00:36:00] conversations really and not being quite so drawn in by fast-paced.
Click Baity kind of crap that sorry. Excuse me.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah. No totally I mean. I think that's a how and how we do that. I think is really really interesting. I am I'm one of the things so did you just coming back to Minecraft? Did you when people playing Minecraft in the Box was there a big screen that people could kind of spectate from or were they
playing it on smaller screens individually. How did that look?

Emma: So we are I might add also that we work a lot with great practitioners. So the other thing for us is that and you know, we work with people who are really good at that stuff. So like we were a number of different artists who use Minecraft as their practice and in that particular instance lady called Emily Latham , we've worked with quite a lot.
I need to add that in because I really wouldn't want anybody listening to this thing that I can do all of these things alone. I really can.
Tim: So [00:37:00] send me some links after we've done this well, and well, he thinks are part of the podcast and people can look at these examples because I think that's you know, one of the things that is.
There's a visual lack here where we're Audio Only and I think there are some things people would like to look at and see so so let's do that at the end as well.
Emma: I would love to because there's somebody I mean we've been blessed with meeting people who you know, you're talking about future facing stuff.
Artists are brilliant at that or occupying that space of doing stuff that we haven't yet thought of and that's why I like working with them. And in terms of the question you asked we had I think about three or four laptops about 8 to 10 kids and really it was a case of sharing and again, we don't start off with big budgets.
It's a lot of what we do is kind of in a some constant pilot phase which is how can we speak together the resources to do what it is that is needed without having to go for great big funding bids or slow the process down for example, so ideally we would have [00:38:00] more kit and you know part of our sustainability as a business really needs to kind of.
Acknowledge that bit more I think but not lose sight of the kind of emergent approach that we take to things. So, you know having a course or set of equipment would definitely help. Rather than this kind of beg steal and borrow approach which has been pretty much our constraints. Let's so hasn't stopped us doing stuff.
But I think there are times when it actually just feels like it's a constant but maybe you'll always feel that what technology is one of my thoughts really?
Tim: Yeah, so I'm like, so I think I mean it kind of forces you to be like me back to the thing you were saying earlier to some extent that forces you to be.
Like super creative, but I think there may be times when it's kind of stops you from doing the thing that would have been the right thing to do in that situation and that that's always a bit of a
Emma: yeah. If you had sort of built into process of space we've done this, you know, and of the [00:39:00] world of agile, you've done us or minimum viable kind of thing.
You don't really have this or time really to sort of rest on your laurels and do a lot of unpacking of that reflective piece and then going okay. Let's put into a I mean you could. Go right that's that's definitely a sponsorable or funded activity. If we did much more of that we could actually productized it somebody and I suppose we've not been particularly commercially at all Savvy.
If I'm really honest about this to kind of go. Let's make that into more of a thing that we roll out.
Tim: I have the feeling. I mean, I may be wrong, but I feel the feeling that we're at somewhat of an inflection point in in this area. And that like if you productize some things now you're going to be wrong.
You know?
Emma: (laughs) Dont say that .
Tim: that I do think that there's a there's a lot of change in the air and and I'm I'm [00:40:00] you know, I'm my own business. I'm personally kind of worried about whether the guesses we're making now. To be violated in two years time because like it does feel like a bit change going on in in the way that we relate to Tech in particular but also to some extent to the physical world.
Emma: Yeah. I mean, I guess the thing is things I'd have thought of investing in three years ago. I'm glad I didn't so going back to this off why we jettisoned social media around the play boxes in areas of I don't want to come disadvantage because I actually like isn't what I would call them. It's what funders tend to call them but places where it's a bit rougher.
Let's be honest and people nick Things and aren't gated. Let's say we've thought definitely the play boxes would have solar panels. They would be renewable energy to the hill that that would allow us to do beautiful kind of Internet of Things type projects Based on data and sensing and you [00:41:00] know live streaming or all sorts of things that we thought would be great fun and really augment these boxes from being dumb terminals to kind of connect.
Internet and achieving all sorts of wonderful Civic engagement type projects. So as we've learned that there's all sorts of reasons why that would have been a costly failure.
Tim: Yeah
Emma: doesn't mean to say that for me because certainly I don't really still want to continue down that line of looking at how we power them to do more playful things.
Like if a funder for example says, can you make a note of how many people turned up and how often and how long did they say? And what was their blood type? Then you know we'd like to be able to kind of play with the idea of Technology enabling us to do some of that rather than us become using our precious resource on being a clipboard monkey, for example, or even asking extractive questions of people that they don't actually want to answer.
So some [00:42:00] play with technology. Like I could we measure footfall if we could use a kind of camera at a certain height, which was non-invasive and didn't give a safeguarding issues. Like literally at foot level.
Tim: Yeah. I know. I've actually seen a company in shoreditch who are doing that for shops.
They have shoe recognition and and and they can
Emma: feel is an art project come out of that kind of thing. So whilst that got a very commercial function, we're not in that commercial sphere.

Tim: Hmm.

Emma: But be enough to go could we take existing Technologies like that? And do you think quite different with it in a community setting for example, without having all the R&D costs attached to you know,
Tim: right, you know if I can dig out the URL happy to send it to you.
I think I met them once so it's like, you know, but so to coming thinking about emergent stuff what have you seen recently that you think is something like. But you're going to look at in the [00:43:00] next 6 months. What have you? What kind of behaviors or take or do whatever is like something that's just arrived on your radar.
Emma: Well, so. Okay, there's two things. There's the kind of shiny catnip stuff which we know when we set of 3d printer off. It will attract people out of curiosity, even if the reward is shite excuse my French, you know, the payoff is it's actually in a spectacle of it rather than necessarily in the output, right?
So, you know see 3D printers aren't just around the corner kind of stuff. I'm just going to give an example of how it's tempting to do shiny shiny because you know, it will attract people because it's of curiosity and Novelty Factor as opposed to the stuff that you actually know might make some meaningful kind of change, but actually that's more about skills and using a thing.
So where am I going with this? So in the last three years we've kind of done bits and bats around. Gnomes, you were not [00:44:00] expecting this, how do we make the everyday objects of Our Lives more Cliff since they're number one. Hmm. So, you know on a smart City kind of conversation you might be looking at bins that could tell you a story about, you know, weight of stuff in them or you know, there's a whole load of stuff on this or neighborhood level, which people probably aren't really aware of already happening.
So. Of interesting that little subversive thing of going actually if you could hack a gnome, let's say or garden ornament to be sensing and receiving of some kind of information and then do a thing as an output. Answering your question by the way, but I'm still obsessed with trying to do this project.
Tim: No. No, I'm trying to figure out how you like. What would be what would be funny? Actually that's like, you know, they did I like the idea. It's just a question of like, you know, how do you how do you do? I mean the [00:45:00] like the classic subversive Gnome project is the guy who had his garden gnome stolen and the garden gnome sending postcards from around the world
Emma: exactly.
And so the whole the reason why I know. Now I'm just going to try and bring it back to why did this ever happen is an idea two years ago. So you have done a couple of test events like the pilots again with this and we looked at internet of things and realize that most people would in our experience.
Anyway wouldn't be thinking about Smart Homes or Internet connected devices or any of that kind of stuff, but they did have Gardens or backyards and they had ornaments for example, so or bin so it's what how do you enchant the every day? So another beautiful way of describing the Internet of Things is Enchanted objects music plays with the whole Harry Potter kind of narrative.
How do you enchant the every day? And that's if you think of technology is enabling an enchantment to some description so that bit you talked about earlier about this or physical and digital boundaries blurring a little bit could our everyday [00:46:00] objects indoors or Outdoors become more enchanting and Enchanted.
Tim: Oh, that's lovely
Emma: that's what really excites me and therefore it excites me. I might put some energy into it so there. Convergence of like making a gnome from scratch making it out of the mold making a mold. That's clay or hacking an existing gnome and then obviously the beauti beautiful ubiquitousness now of things like Raspberry Pi's and micro bits and arduinos make it possible to have a bit of experimentation and play with things like.
Moisture in the air or air quality or motion or temperature? You know, there's all sorts of things you could start play with so that's your input. And what is your output well when we did a little events we looked at the kids came up with ideas like farting no memes no memes which did Ghostbusters when the temperature in their fishing rod went up or no down a [00:47:00] certain level
Tim: hmm
Emma: there.
Names that were kind of keep an eye on next door's cats now, obviously some of that's very crude and in terms of like really how could a gnome tell the difference between a cat and a dog for example is going to get into higher level recognition at some point, but you know, it's about ideas generation at this moment rather than going.
We have to do that without like a computer science degree type thing. It's like how do we get people in the room who can get? Oh, this is the technology that would enable you to tell the difference between the cat dog and fox.
Tim: Hmm,
Emma: or if you're if you wanted your name to look like Alan Bennett and to come out with a daily Annie Alan Bennett, you know voice recording of certain an embedded phases or you know, there's no end to the potential of what a little physical.
Holder of computer and some senses and a bit of imagination could do that.
Tim: Yes. I'm going to stop you there because I'm conscious that I'm making you late. But that was that's [00:48:00] absolutely brilliant. I love it. So so thanks so much for that and
Emma: I must come across as a bit of a loon.
Tim: No. No, it's glorious.
It's and I really I mean I think we you know, we need to understand how technology fits into real people's lives and I think. This is this is how you get there? This is how understanding. I mean what your essentially saying is you listen to what people say and then you play with it and like, you know, Well, what else is there to do? Now great.
Thank you so much. And I'm sorry I've made you late.
Emma: That's fine. and obviously we're always happy to hear from people who want to book us for team away days. Corporate leadership stuff, we really really diversifying into that area so that we can make all the crazy shit happen at a community level