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the best and the worst April 11, 2009

Posted by Franchesca Dongha Kim in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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Best vs Worst Activates:

From the experiences of different types of activates from different classes, I would like to agree that the magic sustainability was the best activate of all. When I passed their activate setting, the first thing that made me attract to it was the unusual materials they were using, which was the soil in a huge box. With interest of suspicious look, I went up to the big box that contains real soil. Then, one of the student of that activate came up to me to plant a seed in the soil. With beating heart, I tried and said a magic word. Suddenly, the real fruit came up from the beneath of the ground and surprised me in a natural way. I did not really expect the real fruit would come up. It was no long a surprise when I found out some one lift up the fruit to the ground below the box, but the idea of popping fruit from the ground gave me a joy of laughter. Nonetheless, the more enjoyment they presented to us was, because they did not take the fruit away from us and maybe reused, but actually gave us, this idea of leaving something to us made the user happier than any other activates. Plus, as we eat the fruit or cook the vegetables they gave back at home, we can remember the enjoyments we experienced at their activate. In contrast, the worst activate I chose was the one that presented the Alice and the wonderland site. Because they set up the character models and other flat designs as wall, it made the user feel not welcomed and user did not know what to do or where to enter and how to start experiencing their activate. Somebody actually had to tell their activate was good to the users and let them know it is a fine place to experience. Due to the wrong set up, there was less connection of attracting users to experience the activate and less visual communication between the entrance and the users.


Exercise 4 April 9, 2009

Posted by brendayin in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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The best work that I have seen during the activate
The most successful activity that I like during the activate is called “the happy box”. The happy box is a huge box made by black cardboard. I like it because of the following reason.
First, the happy box gives me a very good experience when I examine it. I was lining up for my turn and when I get into the happy box, I found many eyes were looking at me. some of them have facial expression, some are cute and some of them are scary, which makes me curious to know what they are doing. Inside the happy box, we can see the people are looking are you, which is a feel of the panopticon, and you realize people are watching you so you had a interaction with the people
Second, the happy box created a very good atmonsphere. They have the music which made people have a adverture feeling during the examine. when we get into the happy box and the lady who is in front of the door is quite polite. We also have a chance to win the cookies before we leave the happy box.
Third, I really enjoy their feedbacks at the end of the activity, when we leave from the happy box we get the cookies and there are two students are doing some feedbacks. I think is a very important way to do this investigation because it really helps them improve their project.

Best vs. Worst April 9, 2009

Posted by Lin Lin in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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The best one for me, besides ours of course, would be the MAGICAL GRADEN. Personally I love to see vegetables and fruits growing on trees, so that idea attracted me the most. When a fruit and vegetable poped out from the dirt, it was a surprise. And the surprise kept going on, because you didn’t know what would show up next. Also, the idea of getting my hands dirty made me feel like I was actually at a farm harvesting the fruits and vegetables that I have planted; it was a good experience and feedback.

The worst one would be the STARING CONTESTS. My friend was in that class, and I asked him before about what would be going on, he said “You just stare others.” That’s it? “Yeah, it’s a staring contest, what else are you expecting?” I guess he was right; I couldn’t really expect anything other than looking into others’ eyes without blinking for a while. The whole concept was too simple and was not original; I saw this game on TV shows quite often before, they should have added more ideas based on that game to make it interesting. I don’t think I’ve got much feedback on it, and the winning price wasn’t really an attractive surprise.

The Best and the Worst of Activate April 9, 2009

Posted by dario in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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The Best and the Worst of Activate

In my opinion the best experience was the happy box because its touchpoints were well executed. Location, signs, advertisement, actors were connected resulting in an intriguing experience. The box itself was very well located, centrally positioned in the main hall, right across the entrance doors, its size and form instilled lots of curiosity. The bouncers helped to stimulate my interest in it by what they were saying. The processes were fairly clear and direct: I got some information that in order to give it a try I should wait in line and that two people should go together. After waiting for my turn I was instructed to go inside the box. It was pitch black for a second and then I could see pair of eyes through little apertures, there were many of them, monitoring and staring at my actions. The actors were impartial to my actions. The Panopticon feeling of being over watched might have been more intense and intimidating if I were trying it alone, the fact of trying it in pairs caused less impact on me. The gut feeling of being overly observed endured only feel seconds because I felt it a little noisy inside and I could not discern any sound but the sense of disturbance due to the darkness was strong. I felt more uncomfortable because of the feeling of being a subject of voyeurism. The “treat”, a cupcake, made me feel like a mice in a lab awarded by its accomplishments. I would suggest that they should had tried to invert the position or roles for the participants, for example, let them be part of the group observing other people and seeing the other side of the experience. The questionnaire afterward should be shorter and more intuitive. I really enjoyed the metaphor used.

The Worst was  the “Pollock, Van Gogh, Picasso, YOU”, their advertisement was promising but they didn’t deliver it. They missed the point completely wasting the touch points, great location, great signs, and posters with poor results. The experience didn’t engaged to much to the feeling of being an artist or that the actions of painting were made by the user. The metaphor was lost because they were unable to expand the experience; they should have done a better use of the user scenario and avoided some weakness of the project. The canvas was permanently on the ground, there was no surprise in terms of use and the interaction was too obvious.

Best and Worst of Activate! April 9, 2009

Posted by emilysoo in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!, Uncategorized.
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After seeing all of the first year projects for Activate, I think that our class had the best project, but since we can’t pick ours, I think that the Makeover Project inside the Room next to the Butterfield park was the best. It was a great experience as it made the participant scared as you were getting your hair cut. They had real sounds that created great feedback, when they had scissors cutting your hair, and also the buzzing of the razor. Their experience also had great visceral components to the experience, because you could see hair falling onto you as you had your hair cut, and also the hair colour was the the exact same as your own. Not only that but before they started cutting your hair they took a picture of you before you had your makeover. Also they spun you around so you couldn’t see what was being done to you in the mirror. This created an element of curiosity for the participant as they didn’t know what they would look like in the end. The experience was somewhat tactile, because of how you could feel the hair falling down, and also the way the hair dressers were pulling on your hair, pushing against it. In the end of this experience, they provided you with your end result picture, in which someone photoshoped a wig on your head, and it was funny to view in the end. Not only that but they even sent the image to our emails, once the activate event was over. This was a good idea to take the participants email, so they would be able to receive something even after the experience was finished. Overall, this experience was really fun, and it was one that i remembered most!


The worst experience I think of Activate was the Alice and Wonderland project. As I walked into the entrance of the installation, I thought that I would receive something amazing, as it was alice in wonderland. However when I entered, all I received was a group of people saying “Happy Birthday” , sitting down on at a tea party table, with decorations. They also asked us to play a ball game with a stick, and that wasn’t really fun, as there was no real feedback to that game. They asked us to take some cookies, and asked us to play that ball game, that was about it. There wasn’t really anything to experience, and I think they could of done alot better, with this particular theme. Overall this was a bad experience, and I didn’t receive any good feedback from that installation. 

Our project however created great feedback, and the affordances were really strong because of the video and sound created when the ball was put into the whole. The participant was able to place themselves in 6 different experiences which were extremely fun. I think it worked our amazing!

Priya’s doers and booers April 9, 2009

Posted by Priya Bedi in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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Let me start of by informing you that I didn’t take a break, and it was entirely my option to do so. SO I didn’t get much of a change to go around and experience the other activities that were there.

The one i liked when i heard about it was the Happy box. This is because it had all the experience that I was looking for. It had a sense of surprise and wonder when the eyes can be seen and also an extension which was the cupcake to relieve you of the fear that they had caused.

The one that I disliked the most was Crickey! I thought it was boring and lame right after I put my hand in the alligator mouth. This is because they had an extension but no way to build any excitement leading up to the point.

Well that’s all I got.

Later days!

Best and Worse at Activate!!1 April 9, 2009

Posted by Daniel Orellana in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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The project that stuck out for me was the Magic Grow dirt pit in the entrance area. To be fair I might just be more interested in the mechanics of it, but I liked the surprise of different fruits and vegetables popping out when planting seeds. The feedback was very satisfying. The different kinds of fruits and vegetables made me try it myself, rather than passively watch. Even if I understood the concept before trying, seeing a giant watermelon emerge was still hilarious. Perhaps they could have taken that idea further, who knows what bizarre things could pop out? That may have helped them give their project a message of sorts, but I digress. The visceral appeal of getting my hands dirty was hampered by the way they executed instructions. They had students hand out seeds and demonstrate who to bury it. Personally I think they missed out on a more intuitive sequence. Give me a seed and a giant dirt table, and I already know what to do. When planting the seed the fruit may have come up a little early, but it’s forgivable because I was really impressed that they managed it at all.

The worse was the “Your 15 Minutes”, or the “Pollock, Van Gogh, Picasso, YOU” project. It was a fun contraption, but there was no experience to reflect on. The paper on the floor already had paint on it, giving away the result. When I participated, I was expecting some surprise, it went exactly as I’d imagined it. In light of the class’s content, the project was like a joke with no punchline. They tried to extend the experience by handing out a small card with a URL where they’ll upload photos for us to see, but I had no interest in going to see them because I knew how they’d turn out. Unfortunately the drab weather didn’t help there cause.

The funny thing is that Dario’s evocative feedback project was related but immensely more memorable. And made by one man!

Activate: Good and Bad April 9, 2009

Posted by yunyintsai in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!, Project 3: Activate!.
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I was not able to see all of the projects at Activate, and the only few I experienced were not as interesting as I expected… But if I have to choose one favourite, I would say “Happy Box.” It evoked curiosity and an interesting visceral reaction in the users. A big black box and a long lineup raised my curiosity. (But I might leave if I was not recommended to experience it by other people since it took me lots of time to wait.) Inside the box, it was totally dark and quite at first. When I was wondering what would happen next, suddenly many pairs of staring eyes appeared on the walls! Actually, I was not scared or surprised by them because I was busy taking photos at that moment, yet I believe it could create a good feedback in other users. After that they sent out a cupcake which I’m not sure it was a reflective design or not. I also like the idea that they had a survey right after the users went out the box, it makes the users feel like, as someone have mentioned, had been a subject of an experiment.

The worst one… should be the OCADVAS. Obviously, it did not require much thought and effort, lacking visceral, reflective, and behavioural reaction. The only feedback was the paintings on the person’s skin which was very predictable. I did not even want to try it when I passed by, but I thought it might have some hidden meanings after the whole experience. Surprisingly, that’s all…


Posted by Adam Brace in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!, Exercise 5: Psychogeographics, Project 3: Activate!.
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Best experience at OCAD was Free Beats. I particularly enjoyed this one as it was a really fun way of getting people to engage with the experience by added there own beat into the beat being played by the musicians from the group. Even though it was raining it seemed people were still really enjoying it.  I think it worked so well because it was really just a simple idea that incorporated alot of sensoral aspects that people would enjoy.

I thought that the happy box wasnt very good. I didnt really understand what it was all about, making it difficult for me to get any kind of sensoral response to it, other then feeling alittle uncomfortable. There were alot of fun projects I wish I had more time to experience them all

The Good, The Bad, The WTJ? April 9, 2009

Posted by Nhi Tran in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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Just to start off, I didn’t get a chance to experience all the projects that the first year class had to offer but for the ones I did see, I can’t say that I have a favourite, but I was inclined towards the Free Beat project located at Butterfield Park. The idea was simple, although not unique in nature, the group still managed to create a positive, creative atmosphere of sound that was pleasant and not an auditorial mess. In terms of usability it was clear, just pick up an instrument and go! The instruments already had built in affordances for easy use and it was up to the user to do what he/she wills with it. Again not original, but pleasant. The project that I disliked was actually the one situated right in front of our WTJ, a sort of Prey and Predator type game governed by small coloured pins with different species. First off, the Lion King song that was on repeat became very annoying to users of the game and others experiencing activate. I’m sure once explained the game is simple, but there were too many rules to read for a simple visceral or reactionary experience. All I knew was that I had a pin, and someone with a higher ranking pin would try to steal mine – fair. But the way people interacted with each other was completely unstructured after that, and users were left simply wandering around intrigued by the other projects. The pin bore no meaning, and that’s all users walked away with – a pin – completely dissatisfied with the experience.

best Happy Box, worst OCAD VAS April 9, 2009

Posted by Yinan in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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My favorite one, of course as I can’t choose ours, is also the happy box. The best aspect of it I think is the surprise. Firstly it is totally covered, which is a simple and effective way to hide surprises. And its need of darkness that we know after experiencing it is also achieved by this. Another that raised my curiosity is was that people laughing coming out of dark box. Then thanks to the raised curiosity and probably good feedbacks, the lineup made me guess “this is probably good”. But on the other hand, it also sent away people who didn’t have time to wait. But I guess it’s always more of good thing than a bad thing when you have a lineup, plus my break was really late when many are almost closing so I was really surprise this one still had a lineup, even what the juke didn’t! Then when I was waiting in line, I thought it could have more poster or interesting images on the happy box’s wall, which could prevent waiting people getting bored and not necessarily leak the surprise. The only thing I saw was “Enter Here ->”. After getting inside, the feel was weird but good. I kinda enjoyed the weirdness, dunno why. The atmosphere they created was successfully unusual, by visceral settings and sound (forgot that fancy word for hearing). But finally the surprise was much less than I was expecting. Which made me ask exactly the same question as that I heard when someone else came out of the box “So that’s it?” I think they could’ve done much more interesting things than just a cookie. But overall it was a good experience. My concern is there seems no metaphor, or I wasn’t smart enough to discover it.

I also didn’t see all the projects, tried only a few, many just didn’t seem interesting.

My least favorite is the body painting one, the OCADVAS. I didn’t try it. No surprise at all. There were four or five people standing there being painted. When I got there they were all being painted. So the spots were very limited and once they were full you couldn’t tell how long would you need to wait if you want to. Cuz every user was painting very carefully, maybe scared of making the painted uncomfortable, and there was no one managing the stage, or just I didn’t see. Although it had a metaphor, not really interesting. Behavioral wise, I think they could’ve made it more interesting and unpredictable, e.g. the person’s body being painted slowly moves as the user paints. It just made me feel they didn’t really spend thinking on it and went for a simple solution.

My Experience at Magic Grow and Happy Box April 8, 2009

Posted by Milica Guberinic in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!, Uncategorized.
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These were the only two experiences that I did during my break time at Activate. I am going to write a few pros and cons for each experience. I enjoyed the Happy Box more.

Magic Grow

My first instinct when I saw people huddled around a box of dirt receiving fruits and veg was that they were digging for the items. As it turns out he veg pops out after a seed is inserted into the soil. There were seed holders, people who handed out the seeds and told the user what to do. Because you were told what to do the experience was not as rewarding as discovering it for yourself. One of the seed holders almost did everything for me. This was very irritating. There are too many vocal constraints or rules in this experience and too few affordances. The seed holder told me how deep the hole should be. Why couldn’t I just figure that out on my own? The wait time to get the veg was not too long or too short. This was good feedback. There is an element of surprise because the veg doesn’t appear right away. I was talking to another girl about her experience and she told me that her veg popped out of a place far from her seed. This is a behavioral problem of the design that I did not experience myself but I felt it was noteworthy. The visceral component of the design was good because the feel of the dirt was cool and out of the ordinary (we do not touch dirt daily unless we garden). And the reflective aspect was good as well because you got to take something away with you and tell your friends where it came from. My main critique for this experience is that it would have been more interesting if the user had to do more work through discovery and play. This would make the reward more enjoyable. Also, I feel like there is some message, but I am just not getting it. Perhaps it is about food growth and bio engineering since you get many different fruits and veggies from a sunflower seed.

Happy Box

Surprising, exciting and emotional are three words I would use to describe this experience. These adjectives and a cupcake were a great reward and made the wait in line well worth it. The actors were good because they were not phased by me and Dario staring back at them and talking to them. The countdown was exciting but anticlimactic, as I do not remember what it was counting down to- the cupcake, or the end of the experience? The entire experience was a bit too long. This was a problem because the line was very long. They tried to remedy this by letting people in two at a time. This decreased the quality of the experience because it made the space even smaller and it gave the user more power, changing their reaction to the staring eyes. As a result, the metaphor of the global panopticon got a bit lost. But it was thought provoking, which I liked. There were several affordances and only a few constraints. We could not leave the box, but could do anything we wanted to inside it. The space was too small. This could’ve been improved by making the box bigger and white on the inside. The groups attempt to document their project was good. Although some of their questions did not allow for my answer, it was interesting that they were doing a study (ethnographic perhaps) on the user.

Avtivate, the best and the worst! April 8, 2009

Posted by Ayesha Ijaz in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!, Project 3: Activate!.
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             First off, let me say it again….ACTIVATE was great! It was a lot of fun, and our project was definitely amongst the most popular ones, and

The Happy Box, with scary eyes!

The Happy Box, with scary eyes!

judging by the reactions and feedback from the people, it was one of the most enjoyed as well. That being said, from what I saw around the whole events and checking out others projects, my favourite one would have to be “The Happy box”. Sandy has already provided a lot of details on that, but I’ll do my part with it as well! 🙂 This project was located in the center of the lobby of 100 McCaul. Essentially, it was a big black box that could easily fit 2 people. The outside of it was all black, covered with black plastic/foamcore. The front of that box had a white poster as an invitation into the box, along with the title of “The Happy Box”. Prior to going into it myself, I was recommended to experience it by some others as well, and I guess the concept of the black box with a rather contrary title of Happy Box evoked curiosity and an interesting visceral reaction. Once inside, there was total darkness, with very dim light coming from small rectangular slots on 2 sides. After a little while of thinking if I have to look for something in there, many pairs of eyes stared to stare [as you see in the picture] which was creepy, but it created a good visceral reaction and feedback as well, since either people would scream, or as I did, laugh! By the way, this is totally new to me, what sandy just said, there was a countdown and voices told you to ‘turn around’? I mean, I didn’t hear any of that actually…I pretty much had to just look for what would happen next! I guess they had some functional problems…! and because of that I think they lacked behavioural reactions [since it involved a lot of guessing on your own, and was not intuitive at all]. Then they had a cupcake in a small holder that came out, and it took me a little while to notice that in the darkens [since I heard no instruction!]. Finally, with the cupcake in hand I got out of the back side of it, where there was one person managing a curtain to let you out. They had a survey that they were conducting right after you’d had the experience, which was another way for them to get feedback from the ‘users’. All in all, the reason I do give them credit for being the best out of all [not considering us! ;)] was because it was intriguing, engaging, and had a strong visceral aspect.


  The one I would rate the worst would be one of the two outside in the Butterfield Park, the one in front of the back exit of the Lambart lounge. I’m not sure if this was their title, but from what I gathered from the posters it was “Picasso, Van Gogh, Pollack, YOU?” This project had a huge area right underneath the OCAD ‘chess board’, and they had a big cloth[?] on the floor. They had a wooden stand, with which was attached a white bucket and beside it they had a table with paint cans. They had taps attached to the white bucket. They poured diluted paint in the buckets and let the taps open, and then spun the bucket, and the paint drizzled onto the white cloth creating…something. It severely lacked an element of surprise, and did not evoke any sort of visceral, reflective or behavioural emotions/reaction. The only feedback was that you could see the paint drizzle onto the cloth, but that was quite expected as well. I understand that they had some disadvantages and probably usability problems because of the rainy weather, but the lack of element of surprise was…surprising! [not in a good way :P]. All in all, it was still a lot of fun, and a lot if group effort went into it, so two thumbs up guys! =]

My Activate Experience April 8, 2009

Posted by Gingy in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!, Exercises, Project 3: Activate!.
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OK first of all I would just like to say AMAZING JOB EVERYONE!!!!  Thanks to everybody for pulling their weight and gettin the job done I think it went swimmingly so thanks for the help:)

In the few Activate experiences I went to it was clear that not everyone learned as much in their experience design classes as we did in ours. Affordances, usability, feedback…they almost seemed like foreign concepts to the other groups. The one group that I think did the best job was the “Happy Box”(or at least that’s the name I can remember) which was located in the front entrance way of the main OCAD building. I would say they did the best job because they really evoked a strong visceral reaction in the users. At the end of the experience they did a survey to get the user to comment and reflect on their visceral reaction which I thought was interesting because it gave the user a feeling like they had been the unknowing subject of an experiment. The survey they conducted after the experience was an example of a reflective aspect to the experience.  Another reflective aspect was the fact they gave out cupcakes at the end of the experience which left the user happy after being somewhat traumatized . However as far as the function and behavioral aspect of the experience goes, it was severely lacking. The  line up was understood thanks to the bouncer out front, once  you and a friend  entered the box there was a moment of pure black then  all  these  slits opened and eyes were staring at you. My first reaction was to  get out ! But with respect I stayed in for a couple more seconds finally I saw a crack of light coming from the curtain at the back and I escaped, the bouncer at the back of the box shouldn’t have let me leave and  so he sent me back inside where  it lasted another  couple seconds then the eyes spoke “turn around” and we saw the cupcakes  then finally  I could get out of there. Whilst inside the box there was nothing to let the user  know how long it would last, no affordances,  which  made it very uncomfortable and dangerous for people who were claustrophobic. Apparently there was a count down going off while inside the box, but the only reason I found that out was because they asked about it in the survey, I didn’t hear it while within the experience.  They meant to build a physical constraint with the use of the back bouncer holding the curtain closed, but because the bouncer failed, the experience was lacking. Although they had some flukes, over all the experience was the best because it was the most engaging and invoked  many visceral feelings as well as positive reflective emotions.

Now to move on from the best to the worst. I thought Crikey! was the worst because it had no affordances what so ever was hard to use, and caused a negative visceral, behavioral, and reflective reaction. Crikey was located in room 190 across from our experience so I approached it on my way back from break. I saw these alligators sitting very low to the ground, which was intriguing but I had no idea what to do with them, there were no signs and no affordances to instruct the user. So I asked the general crowd “anyone know what were supposed to do with these things?” And someone, who didn’t look like he belonged to the experience because he wasn’t costumed, told me to stick my hand into one of their mouths. So I attempted to lower my self down to the ground, the usability of these alligators was very  awful because they were so low. Finally I’m at the right level and I put my hand in one’s mouth and got bitten by the alligator. After the effort it took to get down there that was completely unrewarding. So the same guy said to try another one, so I did, hoping for better results. This time I got sprayed with water! Finally I said the heck with this and I stood up and walked away after only trying two alligators out of the four.  I name this experience the worst because it had unpleasant visceral reactions, horrible usability, which caused me to be very negative when reflecting upon it.

Over all I think ours was the best 😉 but I know we weren’t allowed to analyze our own

~Sandi Wheeler

Exercise 4: Documenting Activate! March 26, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Exercise 4: Documenting Activate!.
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For your fourth (second-last) exercise you will take time out from the mirth and mayhem of our Activate! performance/happening to make a circuit of the other classes’ offerings.

I’m dropping the requirement to post photo or video. Instead, I want you to try to give the actual name, and good description/location info for the project(s). Refer to my earlier emails or other ACTIVATE!! publicity for help.

Choose what you feel are the single Best and Worst experiences of Activate! 2009 and record a few points evaluating the piece subjectively and objectively. For at least one of these experiences, take a few photos or a short video clip. Post your results on the blog.

Your exercise will be evaluated for:

  • Insight and perceptiveness
  • Use of course terminology and concepts
  • Timely and complete upload
  • Clarity of expression