The Pool

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hastac_logoStill Water Senior Researcher John Bell has been named a 2013 HASTAC scholar, and he’s spending his time finding new ways to knit together data and the organizations that produce them.
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Digital Humanities Banner 2013

Using a 3-D printer. Custom-styling a WordPress blog. Growing your own medicine. Conducting a social media campaign with YouTube and Twitter.

Is there a skill you wanted to learn but haven’t found the teacher or time to learn it? Create your own class in exactly what you want to learn at this year’s Digital Humanities Week at the University of Maine, which takes place Monday through Thursday 7-10 October. Sponsored by the New Media Department Correll Fund, Humanities Initiative, and CA/DLS, this year’s Digital Humanities Week will be Maine’s first THATCamp.

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Pool Project Contributors illThe Pool is one of the software packages showcased in Trebor Scholz’s 2011 anthology Learning Through Digital Media: Experiments in Technology and Pedagogy, along with Facebook, Tumblr, and Second Life. Available as a printed or eBook, the text surveys “how both ready-at-hand proprietary platforms and open-source tools can be used to create situations in which all learners actively engage each other and the teacher to become more proficient, think in more complex ways, gain better judgment, become more principled and curious, and lead distinctive and productive lives.”

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Thoughtmesh Logo smaAccording to Colin Kloecker at the Walker Art Center, ThoughtMesh and The Pool are good tools for a healthy commons. He profiled these two open-source Still Water networks in a post leading up to the kickoff of the Walker’s Open Field initiative last June.

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Walker Open Field LogoThis past year saw several prominent museums open their doors to public participation in ways they had never before, such as inviting visitors to submit works for exhibition or help determine curatorial selections. At the kickoff event for the Walker Art Center’s Open Field program on 3 June, Jon Ippolito contrasts three different models for the commons such institutions can choose from–a market, a zoo, or a tribe.

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Pool Approval v Relationships 2010 01Still Water’s John Bell and Jon Ippolito presented good news for underdogs everywhere at the NetSci 2010 conference, held last May at Northeastern University. Bell and Ippolito argued that the dynamics of creative networks may work to lessen inequalities that first appear when leaders in social networks receive high ratings. The findings are based on a study of student use of The Pool, a collaborative network where success is an emergent property of feedback from one’s peers.

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A network analysis of The Pool will be featured at the Leonardo satellite symposium on Arts | Humanities | Complex Networks at the NetSci2010 conference on 10 May in Boston. This conference, held at the lab founded by renowned network theorist Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, brings together a cross-disciplinary group of scientists, artists, and scholars to examine old and new media through the lens of network theory.

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Now that we have over 250 students using The Pool regularly this term, Still Water senior researcher John Bell and co-director Jon Ippolito are happy to announce two improvements to accommodate the increased number of projects visible at any given time:

1. “Jump to subject” feature

Pool Jump to Subject interface

Now when you visit the Pool home page and choose Jump In > Art Pool, you’ll be invited to choose a theme to filter by–such as audio or nmd205-2009–before you continue. This should make it easier for students working in particular classes to find each other’s work quickly.

Of course, you can still use the filters at the top of The Pool to refine your search, and bookmark the page so you easily return to the same set of filters.

2. Safari compatibility

The Pool is now compatible with Safari version 4 and above, so that users can use it with any of the three major browsers.

We welcome additional suggestions or comments on The Pool–please visit The Pool and select Learn More > Contact.

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A variable media class in the New Media Department at the University of Maine this term introduces undergraduates to concepts of new media preservation and gives them hands-on experience with some of its tools.

Raymond LinuxwarsThe NMD205 syllabus includes a range of preservation strategies such as emulation, migration, and reinterpretation. As part of their coursework, students study technical vulnerabilities in well known new media artworks, resurrect an obsolete game using an emulator, and create new works based on reinterpreting or remixing works by other students in the class.

NMD205 students use The Pool to find works to remix and establish relationships among related works that can be tracked long after the course is over. This term U-Me students are joined in The Pool by students from UC-Santa Cruz, opening up their work to feedback from a wider range of participants.

ABOVE: Joe Raymond’s Linux Wars, a remix of the vintage game Space Invaders from NMD 205.

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Pool Logo ill@mThe Pool, an online collaborative environment created by Still Water, has earned a headline story in Wired magazine, a feature in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and a demonstration at Harvard’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society. Yet with the exception of a semester-long experiment with students from UC-Berkeley in 2003, until this year The Pool’s audience has been almost exclusively students at the University of Maine.

Art of Collaboration LogoThis term, however, The Pool has become a lot more crowded, as students from two classes at the University of California at Santa Cruz join three U-Me classes in using this unusual software to bounce ideas off each other and receive feedback across the two campuses.

Pool Project Contributors illAthough divided across the east and west coast, the 250 students will be united by a common interface and timeline as they contribute intents, sketch approaches, build approaches, and offer feedback across classes and time zones. University of Maine professors Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito will present a preliminary report of the testbed’s results at a conference organized by UC-Santa Cruz, The Art of Collaboration, on 23 October 2009.

More on the U-Me New Media Web site.

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