Brown Bag Series: aid to 9/11 memorial

A new online forum and an iPhone application enhance a media design firm’s 9/11 commemoration project. (Photo by Andrew Bak)

Technology made its way into everyday public spaces in the first Brown Bag event of the semester.

Ian Curry, director of Interaction Design for Local Projects, a media design firm, spoke about the firm’s recent work on Friday,
Jan. 27 in the Mildred & Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall. Local Projects is responsible for several award-winning designs, including the 9/11 Memorial, which opened this past September.

Curry explained that the firm took a storytelling approach to the memorial and through this commemorated the victims of the tragedy through an interactive museum.

By sitting down with a software visualization expert, Curry and his team were able to create the basis for the memorial’s final layout.

Aside from typical information gathering approaches, in order to effectively tell the story of the event, the company was able to incorporate an audio picture slide show into the museum of people who spoke about their reactions to first finding out about the tragedy that morning.

Local Projects also created a 9/11 app for the iPhone called “Explore 9/11.”

The app has several distinct features, such as allowing its users to search for pictures that were submitted by people to the Make History section of the museum’s website. Anyone is able to upload images of the event as it happened or its aftermath, and through this, users can see the various parts and places of Manhattan where the images were captured.

“You can kind of get a sense of what it was like to be there that day,” Curry said.

Recently, Local Projects was able to revamp the arena of online discussion forums.

The firm also created a series of interconnected touch screen devices called “The Wall: The Great Civil Debate.” This interactive Wall was incorporated into the Bob Graham Center of the University of Florida, where students, teachers and citizens could voice their opinions on various topics.

According to Curry, every two weeks questions are posted for users to comment on or discuss. For example, the most recent question asked whether or not children of illegal immigrants should be in school, to which over 200 people replied with their opinions.

“The big change between this and online forums is that this isn’t anonymous and people are very visible,” Curry said. “We try to ask questions that are hard to answer.”

The flat screen panels even contain high-resolution cameras, which take pictures of people participating in the discussion so that other people can visualize and see who they are speaking to.

This week’s Brown Bag Series also incorporated social media through Twitter where during the presentation, screen projectors were used to display live tweets from audience members about the lecture.