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iDocs 2018 summary

I had a great time and learnt a lot from the iDocs 2018 conference in Bristol.

My full conference notes are here: day 1, day 2 and day 3, and here are the slides and words of the talk I gave about interacting with new audiences.

I came away from the conference with two overriding thoughts.

The first is amazement at all the interesting and influential projects that I simply did not know about. This is one of the great benefits of going to a conference outside of your field or area of expertise.

The second is the feeling that part of what ‘digital convergence’ means is that people working across many disciplines are all having similar debates and working through similar issues: How to balance authorial intent with user choice and autonomy? What are the ethics around documenting or even creating communities? How do we help people learn? How do we create change and impact with our work? Where are the boundaries between art, academic research, journalism and advocacy?

I’m more convinced than ever that journalists, ethnographers, documentary makers, game designers and technologists have a lot to learn from each other. I also think that there’s a lot to be gained by sharing resources: a canonical and oft-cited text in one discipline could bring something new to the debate for people working in another discipline.


Here’s a partial list of the projects I found out about at the conference.

The Shoreline profiles the efforts of educators, artists, architects, scientists, city planners, and youth organizations from nine countries who are confronting coastal challenges with persistence and imagination.

The Quipu Project, which shines a light on the stories of the nearly 300,000 people who were forcibly sterilised in Peru in the 1990s, creating a collective memory archive of this case.

Home 1947, an oral archive of stories told directly by the people who experienced the partitioning of India in 1947 and collected through a special customized phone line system.

The Johnny Cash Project, a global collective art project to create a music video for “Ain’t No Grave”, rising from a sea of one-of-a-kind portraits.

Winchester’s Nightmare, a $300 book that is also a computer and is destroyed by the act of reading it.

High Altitude Michael Najjar manipulates alpine landscape photos to match up with stock market charts.

I love Alaska A multi-episode web series constructed based on the leaked search terms of one AOL user whose search history was exposed in the 2006 AOL leak.

Get Lauren What happens if your smart home devices and digital AI assitants are quite literally anthropomorphised?

Nowhereisland A travelling arctic island nation.

Treehugger combines virtual reality with tactility.

NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism “If we can simulate experience with the ‘other’ using emering technogloies, maybe we can make people less afraid of who the ‘others’ are.”

It must have been dark by then A book and audio experience that uses a mixture of evocative music, narration and field recording to bring you stories of changing environments.

Srbská an online archive of materials from the village, previously named Wünschendorf, whose entire population was exiled in 1946.

Alma Testimony of a member of one of Guatemala’s most brutal gangs.

The New Rules of Public Art I especially like rule number 8: Share ownership freely, but authorship wisely.