SANDPIT: TOTeM Tales of Things, Electronic Memory

Lead Research Organisation: Landscape Institute
Department Name: ESALA - Edinburgh Sch of Architect &Land

Abstract

The principle aim of the research project is to provide a platform to allow memories to be attached to objects that already exist in the world. The project identifies a significant gap in the emerging aspect of the digital economy known as the 'internet of things', which as new objects are tagged there is a real danger that old ones will not be. The TOTeM project is concerned with the memory and value of 'old' objects. It has been suggested that people surround themselves with between 1,000 and 5,000 objects. Of those thousands of objects many of them are probably not truly cared for and end up in rubbish bins or in storage. But for every owner, in almost every household there are a selection of objects that hold significant resonance, and will already connect them to an Internet of memory and meaning. An intrinsic human trait is the process of imbuing meaning onto objects so that they provide connections to people, events and environments. Artefacts across a mantelpiece become conduits between events that happened in the past, to people who will occupy the future. These objects become essential coordinates across families and communities to support the telling of a stories and passing-on knowledge.The TOTeM project is located within the emerging technical and cultural phenomenon known as 'The Internet of Things'. The term is attributed to the Auto-ID research group at MIT in 1999, and was explored in depth by the International Telecommunication Union who published a report bearing the same name at the United Nations net summit in 2005. The term, 'internet of things', refers to the technical and cultural shift that is anticipated as society moves to a ubiquitous form of computing in which every device is 'on', and every device is connected in some way to the internet. The specific reference to 'things' refers to the concept that every new object manufactured will also be able to part of this extended Internet, because they will have been tagged and indexed by the manufacturer during production. It is also envisaged that consumers will have the ability to 'read' the tags through the use of mobile 'readers' and use the information connected to the object, to inform their purchase, use and disposal of an object.The implications for the Internet of Things upon production and consumption are tremendous, and will transform the way in which people shop, store and share products. The analogue bar code that has for so long been a dumb encrypted reference to a shops inventory system, will be superseded by an open platform in which every object manufactured will be able to be tracked from cradle to grave, through manufacturer to distributor, to potentially every single person who comes in to contact with it following its purchase. Further still, every object that comes close to another object, and is within range of a reader, could also be logged on a database and used to find correlations between owners and applications. In a world that has relied upon a linear chain of supply and demand between manufacturer and consumer via high street shop, the Internet of Things has the potential to transform how we will treat objects, care about their origin and use them to find other objects. If every new object is within reach of a reader, everything is searchable and findable, subsequently the shopping experience may never be the same, and the concept of throwing away objects may become a thing of the past as other people find new uses for old things.Spimes are manufactured objects whose informational support is so overwhelmingly extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes begin and end as data. They're virtual objects first and actual objects second. Bruce Sterling, Shaping Things, (2005)

Publications

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Barthel R (2011) An internet of old things as an augmented memory system in Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

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Karpovich A (2011) An Internet of Old Things in Learning from Memory: Body, Memory and Technology in a Globalizing World

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Speed C (2011) An internet of things that do not exist in interactions

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Speed C (2010) Pervasive Memory, Locative Narratives in REM - Research on Education and Media

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Speed C (2011) Social habitats and high-tech: the internet of things session in XVII World Congress of Sociology, Gothenburg

 
Description Since the launch of the www.talesofthings.com public platform for attaching memories to physical objects, that was part of the RCUK funded TOTeM project, the Design Informatics team (University of Edinburgh) have been exploring the relationship between physical objects and their data shadows. Using a wide variety technologies from RFID tags, GPS and barcodes the team has helped Annie Lennox attach her memory of Nelson Mandela to a dress, museums let the public write their memories on to Singer sewing machines, history of local food to be distributed across every barcoded product in Liverpool and residents of Wester-Hailes use their memories to build their future. Smart phone Apps such as the Tales of Things, Mr Seels Garden, Ghost Cinema and Take Me I'm Yours all use data to disrupt the perception of places and physical objects. By altering the value, recovering ghosts from the past, or constraining access to a local context, the research practice has opened up new ways of understanding how data changes our relationship with physical 'things'.

The ability to offer experiences and solutions that produce new relationships between material and immaterial 'things' has led to a unique engagement with a wide variety of companies and organisations who want data to change the way that they and they audiences/clients see the world. Features in the BBC Digital Human programme, NYTimes and WIRED (there have now been over 80 print, broadcast and on-line articles published, internationally, on the research) have helped position the creative and technical team develop innovative projects for Oxfam, National Museums of Scotland, English Heritage, National Trust for Scotland, Edinburgh City Council and Lothian Buses.
Exploitation Route Our research in to the use of QR codes in museums picked up a lot of interest and we have been invited to do several talks in this area as well as our research in to how people respond to storytelling through the use of objects.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail,Transport

URL http://www.talesofthings.com
 
Description There have been a number of projects which have come out of the TOTeM research (such as Community Hacking 2.0 AHRC, Internet of Second Hand Things EPSRC) and have resulted in numerous workshops with the public, invited talks and events. Our findings led to the launch of the Shelflife app which was created for Oxfam following two interventions in an Oxfam shop in Manchester as part of the Future Everything Festival. The Oxfam press release read as follows: Ever wished an object could tell its story? That's the idea behind Oxfam's unique pilot scheme, Oxfam Shelflife, launching on 27 February in 10 Oxfam shops across Manchester. The Oxfam Shelflife app uses QR codes to enable the public to discover the stories behind Oxfam's donated, ethical and Unwrapped products, and even share their own stories for the items they donate. The project is the latest innovation from Oxfam which promotes sustainability by encouraging people to look beyond disposable consumerism. The stories behind vintage and second-hand items are all part of their desirability. At the moment these stories can be lost when an item is acquired by a new owner but Oxfam Shelflife enables the stories to stay with the items in a more long-lasting way. Oxfam's Sarah Farquhar, Head of Retail Brand said: "Every item has a story to tell and Oxfam Shelflife enables people to share these stories. We've found that items with an interesting story behind them are instantly more appealing to our customers so we hope Oxfam Shelflife will encourage people to love items for longer. This commitment to sustainability is an important part of what Oxfam shops bring to the high street." The scheme allows donors to 'tag' a QR code to their donated object, using the free Oxfam Shelflife app on their iPhone and share the story behind the item for the next owner to discover. Shoppers who visit the participating Oxfam stores can then scan the QR code on the item, via the app, which will take them to the unique story behind the object. Usually QR codes direct users to a website or URL but the Oxfam Shelflife app enables users to engage and interact with the technology, taking QR codes on to a new level. The concept behind Oxfam Shelflife is based on an original idea developed by the Tales of Things initiative (TOTeM: Tales of Things and Electronic Memory), a collaboration between five British universities: University College London, The University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh College of Art, Brunel University, the University of Dundee and the University of Salford. The TOTeM initiative was funded by a £1.4m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Dr Chris Speed from the Edinburgh College of Art and part of the TOTeM team said: "Oxfam Shelflife has the potential to transform shops from places of consumption into places of stories and reflection. Shopping is no longer about buying things from unknown people in unknown places, instead the Oxfam Shelflife app will allow people to 'write' their stories on to products and help prevent them heading for the landfill." To find out more about the Oxfam Shelflife project and find a participating shop visit http://shelflife.oxfam.org.uk/how_it_works/
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail,Transport
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Title Shelflife 
Description iPhone app developed out of TOTeM created specifically for Oxfam 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact It got Oxfam thinking of stories in a new way. There has not been any follow on from this specific app but the collaboration started another research project- Internet of Second Hand Things 
URL http://shelflife.oxfam.org.uk/get_the_app/
 
Title Tales of Things 
Description iPhone and Android app and supported website 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2009 
Impact The app and website was the main focus of the research project and thus all impact from the award led from this 
URL http://talesofthings.com
 
Title Walking Through Time: Edinburgh 
Description https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/walking-through-time-edinburgh/id381528712?mt=8 SatNav for historical maps: A phone app that combines GPS technology with old maps to allow users to walk through time. The Map set is for central Edinburgh although now features maps for Dundee, Glasgow and Perth. The app allows the user to see a variety of Historic maps from 1765 to 1939 and reveal the many changes of the cities over time. The application also comes with a set of narrated walking tours from the Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh World Heritage. Walking Through Time is a mobile application that allows iPhone users with GPS to not only find themselves in the present, but find themselves in the past. By making available historical UK maps, users will be able to scroll through time and navigate places using maps that are hundreds of years old. The maps are provided by National Library of Scotland, the Visualising Urban Geographies research group, and EDINA, overlayed with modern day maps. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact Walking Through Time became a quick hit that demonstrated the potential for mashing up different maps and geographic data on the Apple iPhone. 1. Speed, C. 2012 Walking Through Time: Use of Locative Media to Explore Historical Maps, in Mapping Cultures, Palgrave Books, London. pp. 160-180. 2. Speed, C. 2012 Mobile Ouija Boards. In On Heritage. Edited by Giaccardi, E. London: Routledge. pp.179-196 
URL http://www.walkingthroughtime.co.uk
 
Description Breaching the Smart Home, GIST / HCI Glasgow University. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk to reflect on research from the series of projects that engage with Internet of Things technology.
Strong discussion followed and further interest in the subjects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Designing From / With / By Data Talk for SiREN conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact sIREN is a student-led research network established in 2016 by PhD students in Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Edinburgh. It aims to provide support and training for research students and staff concerning interdisciplinary research, as well as to create dialogue between several fields and promote new perceptions of research based on diverse methodological approaches.

Work was presented from a series of research projects that explore Designing From / With / By Data
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.siren.eca.ed.ac.uk/2016/10/25/chris-speed-designing-from-with-by-data/
 
Description Disrupting the Museum talk, Museums Association, Edinburgh. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited speaker to the Museums Association conference in Edinburgh.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Dutch Design Week: Drive.NL, Crossovers: Things to Things: Where are the Connections? Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dutch Design Week and the Drive.NL Crossovers: Things to Things: Where are the Connections? Panel introduced the Dutch community to the concept of designing with data.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Ghosts and Talking Objects, Talking Objects, British Museum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited speaker as part of British Museum symposium on Talking Objects
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description I am Seeing Things Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was an exhibition and symposium and the artefacts offered good points of discussion and also showcased the work we did on TOTeM e.g. exhibits from Dundee Contemporary Arts and National Museum of Scotland which were not part of the symposium itself, so they sparked a lot of discussion on a variety of themes.

Interest in TOTeM has continued years after the project ended and we have been asked to be part of a number of talks and workshops.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.iamseeingthings.com
 
Description Ideas and approaches to engage students with museum collections, Talk Science Seminar, Science Museum, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited to speak at a Science Seminar at the Science Museum, London
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Invited talk to Falmouth University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Invited talk regarding IoT:

Design from/with/by Data

The complex constellations of personal and shared devices that are connected to everyday practices that involve the transmission of data constitute openings to new markets in which different kinds of value are exchanged. In many cases we are becoming attuned to understanding how value is constructed as we use software: social media users are becoming aware of the many pros and cons of exchanging social values in Facebook, while Trip Advisor users understand the implications of their liking, disliking and commenting upon the economic values of hotels. However, as websites and apps become replaced by objects that we use in everyday life, such as making tea, taking a shower or getting on the bus, it is less clear how the flow of data that is derived from our interactions, constructs value and is 'traded' between services. This disjuncture in the flow of value - with and without humans in the loop - presents both opportunities and threats to people and institutions. This talk will explore the implications of emerging ecosystems and an agenda for designing human data interactions, that goes beyond the organization and understanding of data, toward the development of platforms that balance the values of all stakeholders within complex digital economic systems to offer a level of commensurability with a service.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Keynote address: Designing within an Internet of Things, at "The 1st International Symposium on Art & Technology"  held by NTUE and  ATATW, Taipei, Taiwan. 10th-11th January 2015. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Keynote address for the 1st International Symposium on Art & Technology  held by NTUE and  ATATW, Taipei, Taiwan. 10th-11th January 2015.
Important to be part of the new wave of academics and industries exploring these technologies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Millennial 20/20 Summit invited speaker, Victoria House, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited to talk about work relating to Internet of Things, Connected High Street and Tales of Things.

The Millennial 20/20 Summits focus at a unique time in the industry, where large and small businesses are dealing with a more-complex and ever-evolving consumer that requires them to think of innovation, disruption and technology as key components of their future. The way the consumer wants to shop, interact with brands, consume content and make payments are evolving and Millennial 20/20 aims to address this like no other event series has done before through a curated experience of multiple conference stages, immersive and experiential showcases and organised networking experiences.

The Summits in London, New York and Singapore look into the future of nextgen commerce from the perspective of a digitally savvy consumer with a micro-focus on key pillars that include Retail, Marketing, Mobile, Payments, Video, Social, E-Commerce, CRM, Advertising and Big Data. The Multiple conference stages are run with industry specific tracks including Travel & Hospitality, Food & Beverage, Fitness & Sport and Fashion & Beauty.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://millennial20-20.com/london2016/
 
Description Oberlander, J. & Speed, C. (2015) Designing Human Data Interactions Panel at the 2015 British HCI Conference (British HCI '15), June, Lincoln. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oberlander, J. & Speed, C. (2015) Designing Human Data Interactions Panel at the 2015 British HCI Conference (British HCI '15), June, Lincoln.

This panel will explore the implications of emerging ecosystems and an agenda for designing human data interactions, that goes beyond the organization and understanding of data, toward the development of platforms that balance the values of all stakeholders within complex digital economic systems to offer a level of commensurability with a service.

The panel brought together Speed, Oberlander, Luger and Haddadi and was warmly received as a positive debate surrounding how to design through Human Data Interactions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://british-hci2015.org/program/panels/#HDI
 
Description RememberUs & RememberMe 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We did 2 interventions in an Oxfam shop in Manchester as part of the Future Everything Festival. During our first intervention the shop manager noticed that sales had gone up during our installation and this then led to future work with Oxfam including the Shelflife app.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011
URL http://2010.futureeverything.org/festival2010/rememberme
 
Description Scotland Internet of Things conference, invited talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Scotland Internet of Things conference, invited talk

200 approx members of diverse IoT community listened to research from the various projects and has led to further meetings with SMEs to discuss future projects and engagements.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.iotevents.org/iot-scotland-2015?format=html
 
Description Shaping Things 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Workshop which sparked discussions (participants 30-50) but associated exhibition attracted greater audience

Secondary school was also involved in this activity with the ACES programme of ECA and was interest in collaborating in the future
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Take Me I'm Yours / Is Your Marmite Watching You? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact part of Beltane Public Engagement, Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas. The talk and performance sparked many questions from the audience afterwards and created a lively debate.

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/is-your-marmite-watching-you
 
Description Tales of Things at the Museum 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Installation in main foyer of the National Museum of Scotland as part of Edinburgh International Science Festival, which reached over 100 families.
We also a ran a more structured workshop as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival as part of this.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Tales of Things: Experiments in Retail 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Digital Economy All Hands Conference, Media City, Salford 4-6 November 2013

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Tales of the City 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This activity was part of the London festival of Architecture 2010 and so reached a wide audience in London. Adding stories to architecture led to other projects such as Tall Tales
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://www.youtotem.com/talesofthecity/
 
Description Things That Go Bump In The Night, Caithness International Science Festival, 18th March, 2015, Wick. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A suite of talks at the Caithness International Science Festival to the General Public and local Schools explored the implications of the Internet of Things.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://community.caithness.org/article.php?id=4955
 
Description Time of the City, workshop for CityLink Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Time of the City, workshop for CityLink Festival
The City Link Symposium 2015 was a celebration of cities and the people and activity that shape them. They brought together speakers who in different ways have studied, considered, altered or impacted the urban environment.

Speed ran a workshop that reflected on the temporal issues running through the departments research.
Very positive engagement that identified time as a core issue within the digital economy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://city-link.org/event/city-link-symposium-2015-democratic-renewal/
 
Description University of Edinburgh, TEDx 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact under the theme of The Environment and Society Salon, 26th March 2014

n/a
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014