Thursday, 23 April 2015

Using Somebody app at #eMOOCs2015 conference? Art & communication

Would you be willing to use the Somebody app at an academic learning conference? Being able to connect with people you know, through strangers? Getting more conversations going? I would, so I wonder whether the Somebody app could be used regularly during the eMOOCs2015 conference in Mons, Belgium (18 - 20 May 2015).

Like everyone, I have my own chosen key artists. They inspire me, something in me aligns with the art they produce, and I turn to their work/ideas when I feel in need for energy or difference. One of these artists is Miranda July. To me she is a core artist, a living artist enabled to turn everyday life into art in a natural, flowing way.

This morning I got an e-mail update from Miranda's mailing list, telling me the Somebody app was back to be tested (iPhone and Android enabled). The somebody app brings people together in an unexpected way. By using the app, you can share ideas or bring messages across from you to another person, but via a third person - the Somebody. This turns any conversation into open data, open communication, open resources... I find that a wonderful idea.

In many conferences I attend I have a mixed feeling of closeness and emptiness. Sometimes I know a lot of people, and that makes me feel welcomed, at other times I feel the odd one out, and I can have trouble mixing in with the other academics and practitioners. It depends on my day, the jet lag, my self-esteem at that moment, the conference atmosphere... context is always multi-layered.

The reason I like this Somebody app is because it stimulates conversation = exchanging ideas, it brings people together = networking, and it uses technology in a human way. It has a lot of parallel with online learning in this contemporary world. So... would you want to use it?
The app has another similarity to online learning, and particularly MOOC: the numbers threshold. In order for it to work with bewildering wonder, enough people must be using it in the same community, and gps enabled smartphones must be available and used.

Nevertheless, I want to try it. Here is a video on how the Somebody app works, wrapped in a short movie directed and written by Miranda July... I love it.