November 16, 2015 by katie
Here is the text of the talk (minus the live asides of course, which made it a bit less dry!):
“I’m going to leave it actually.
Yes, its a great idea.
Yes, it seems there would be a market for it. The Funeral industry would be the most obvious place to start.
Yes, no-ones doing it yet, well they’ve started trying in a way, but their attempts are pretty poor quality, most people would agree with that.
Yes, I think there would be quite a lot of avenues to pursue in terms of start-up support and finance.
So, yes, I thought of it, I looked into the feasibility of it, I’ve got ideas about how it could work, what it could look like, who the partners and customers might be. I’ve even worked with people to explore exactly how we could produce it.
But I’m going to leave it there. I’m not going to take it forward.
These aren’t words I use a lot.
In fact, it took me a while to make the decision.
At first it definitely felt like a failure.
But now I know it was the best decision.
A positive exit from the project.
Better to say a considered no, than struggle on with something against your better judgement out of some kind of misplaced sense of duty, until it grinds to a bitter and messy halt. (a bit of melodrama there… did I mention I’m a theatre maker…)
In the Spring of 2014, with REACT Feasibility funding, I undertook research into the feasibility of building a software engine that automatically creates a video life story from an individual’s social media content. The project was called Protagonist.
Protagonist was an attempt to make sense of our vast stashes of personal data online in a human, emotional, narrative way. Using their own social media content, we wanted to create a short film memoir of an individual – with the output feeling meaningful and personalised. And we wanted to see if we could create this using an automated process.
Our ambition was that the Protagonist service would be a commercial, stand-alone, direct-to-consumer product.
I found that the construction of narrative from online data poses an extremely complex computing problem. Who knew?! Well I didn’t. As someone from an arts background its sometimes tricky to guess which seemingly impossible problems can be solved relatively simply by technology (or already have been) and which are actually basically impossible.
This particular area of algorithmically generated video is only just starting to be explored (with very limited success) by digital giants such as Google and Facebook.
So here’s why I’m saying no to this idea:
It would be very difficult to compete in this marketplace currently, if Google & Facebook with all their resources are struggling to make anything worth watching;
I’m a theatre maker, not a software engineer;
Life is short: I don’t want to spend at least the next 3 years setting up a software start-up, that won’t use my skills well;
I’ve got other ideas for other projects I want to make, so I’m going to use my skills and energy where they’ll be making the most impact, and get on with making those.
You can see what we’re up to at www.theotherwayworks.co.uk
I’m Katie Day, and I’m Artistic Director of The Other Way Works.
We’re a Birmingham-based theatre company making playful theatre that immerses our audiences in the story.”
January 20, 2015 by katie
The Guardian: Facebook apologises over ‘cruel’ Year in Review clips
Facebook has apologised after learning, yet again, that not everything can be done algorithmically. Some things, it seems, need the human touch.
BBC Your Story
This web app uses your Facebook profile (or manually entered personal info) to create your life story through the BBC News Archive.
It appears to filter the content displayed using your date of birth, and whether you like Music, Comedy, Politics or Sports.
August 14, 2013 by katie
We have been awarded a £15,000 Feasibility grant from REACT to research a new project.
Have you ever wished that someone would make a film of your life?
What if you’d already done most of the hard work without even noticing?
We’ll take all the stuff that you’ve posted online – the status updates, the shaky-cam videos, the happy snaps, the moments of poignancy and of triumph – and weave them into a personal life documentary using our specially made digital curator bots, and watch them transform these scraps into a brief, beautiful visual memoir.
The grant will fund pre-prototype activity on this project.
Protagonist is a practical attempt to make sense of our vast stashes of personal data in a human, emotional, narrative way. Using their own social media content, we want to create a short film memoir of an individual – with the output feeling meaningful, personalised, beautiful and potentially provocative. And we want to see if we can create this using an automated process.
Our ambition is that the Protagonist service will be used within the Afterlife Retreat, but also as a commercial, stand-alone, direct-to-consumer product.