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Trying to find useful things to do with emerging technologies in open education

Conference Treasure Boxes

I’m at OpenEd12 at the moment, in the wonderful city of Vancouver, loving Eduroam, and pondering the Conference Treasure Box

Here it is:

And here’s a peek inside:

…which is to say – here it is:

..and here’s a peek inside:

..and another:

As @cogdog describes:

We are also seeking new ways of documenting the conference experience through the device created by David Darts, the PirateBox. which turns a local space into a communication and sharing network.

Using open source technology and under US$30 in parts, the PirateBox creates a local, open wireless network. Upon joining this network, you are not connected to the internet, but a web server running locally on the box, which is set up with simple tools for uploading and downloading files, synchronous chat, and a message board. All communication with the PirateBox is anonymous.

For non-local participants, there’s also an email route for dropping attachments into the box (I think this is handled directly/automatically, rather than Alan checking his email every so often and then moving any attached files over…?)

This is a really powerful idea, I think, particularly for conference workshop sessions. For the workshop session I’m due to give (with @mhawksey) at ILI2012, one of the things it would be handy to do would be to have data files (and maybe app installers) to hand for participants to make use of. I was thinking a USB memory stick would be the best way of making these files available (assuming flaky conference wifi and sizeable downloads), but something like the PirateBox provide a really neat alternative for local file sharing, with the added advantage you can take some of the load of a typically stressed conference internet wifi network.

I notice that the chatbox includes a simple chat environment (though it didn’t seem to work for me?), but I guess it could also include an etherpad for shared local notetaking?

It also occurs to me that we could be grabbing copies of web pages and files that have been linked to in a Twitter backchannel, generate PDF equivalents of webpages (maybe?!) and then pop copies into the Pirate box to serve as both a file access point for some of the things being shared in the conference, as well as a local archive of resources shared around the event. This provides a complement to a traditional conference proceedings, though it might also include shared copies of presented papers. As to an interface to the shared contents, a Flipboard style news magazine interface comes to mind maybe?

PS via @grantpotter, here’s an even more powerful alternative: FreedomBox.

Written by Tony Hirst

October 18, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Anything you want

Tagged with ,

5 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the write up, tony.

    Actually the transfer from Dropbox to TreasureBox is manual, as well as the organizing of submitted content to the media categories


    October 18, 2012 at 10:23 pm

  2. I have @cogdog to thank for also making me aware of deaddrops http://cogdogblog.com/2012/01/08/dead-dropping/


    October 19, 2012 at 11:49 am

  3. Also of interest might be the LibraryBox project which is a fork of PirateBox – see http://jasongriffey.net/librarybox/

    Owen Stephens

    October 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm

  4. [...] The box itself, was fit inside a curious plastic toy box, and was set up in the main lobby area where people gathered, and was accessible during the conference, plus two unconference demo sessions provided people a chance to learn more about how it worked. Tony Hirst wrote up a detailed and illustrated blog post. [...]

  5. [...] Conference treasure boxes – file sharing based on physical location can be used to relieve stress on the local netwrok, as well as creating a de facto archive of files shared during an event. To a similar extent, if you get presenters to pop deliver presentations via a local machine, even if they only drop the presentation onto the machine in the minutes before they give the presentation, you can still grab an archive of files presented via the presentation machine at the end of the event. When I showed my age at #solo12 by referring to “conference proceedings”, what I meant was a copy of the publication that contained a copy of the things that folk could treat as citable entities. I guess “conference repository” might be an informal contemporary equivalent. Are there, I wonder, and conferences that operate on this basis, or that offer a “conference archive”? I guess some conference websites effectively play that role? [...]

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