Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Computing trending at Kent

I was lucky enough to go to two quite different events at Kent today that would have been inconceivable just two years ago. This morning I spent time at the #kenthack and this afternoon at a Digital Humanities event … quite different, but both lots of fun.

The #kenthack was the brainchild of some computer science students, getting together collectively to hack out some new ideas, sustained by a heady mixture of sugar, saturated fats and salt (OK, sweets and doritos).
Nice ideas going around included a version of the old "helicopters" game, with a motion sensitive interface. Sorry I don't remember the name of the particular piece of kit, which is able to sense all 10 fingers and thumbs, up to about 50cm away, based on 3 IR sensors and an ARM chip. More info about the outcomes at www.kenthack.com. Great atmosphere, and refreshing to see people getting together to have fun coding.

This afternoon to the new "crit space" in the school of architecture for a digital humanities event, bringing together academics from architecture, history, english, archaeology, film studies, linguistics to talk about their research and teaching activities informed and and mediated by digital technologies.

Exciting to hear about what's going on. Highlights included

  • using network visualisation of word counts and proximities to understand documents;
  • how software has revolutionised the practice of linguistic analysis of real speech, and the repercussions for speech therapy;
  • understanding the mental mapping and conceptualisation of space, time and software behaviour in game development software.
The talks were good, but as always, discussions over coffee were more fruitful. I hope we'll be able to build some links with the last project … exciting things to do with new APIs, and also with data mining of "big data" from programmers of different kinds. Also able to catch up with learning support staff from UELT to share our enthusiasm for panopto, but at the same time to bemoan the fact that we're unable to share any of our exciting teaching and learning initiatives and materials outside the university. Grr.

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