Click on the links opposite for essential DIY tips to get your project started.

Producing a Project

So you want to make a pervasive media project! Here’s where we give you an idea of the process involved:

  1.  Start with an idea, and think about what skills are needed to come together to make it happen
  2. Gather together the right people with the requisite skills – aim for a mix of creative & technologically aware
  3.  Make time for conversations to ensure that you are all talking about the same project – it takes time to develop a shared understanding and a shared way of talking
  4. If more people are needed, gather more together to assemble the right mix of expertise – whether they are permanent or associate members of the team, they need to be integrated into the team in some way and aware of the agreed outcomes
  5. Continually assess the progress towards your goal and respond by deciding when to add or remove ingredients – whether those ingredients are people, technology, funds or combinations of all three
  6. When you have a working version of your idea, test it out on a trusted audience – people who will give constructive feedback on the project. This doesn’t have to be a huge group of people, just enough to make a good conversation. The trusted audience could be people who you work with, or people who are part of your fanbase, preferably those who have an awareness and enjoyment of the field and can give you ‘expert’ feedback
  7. Take the feedback and see what has worked and what needs changing – often projects get simplified at this stage if it is decided that the technology is not reliable for a public performance. Simple technologies can be used to great effect – it depends what your aims are – to try out cutting edge technologies, to deliver an intriguing and innovative set of content. You can do both, of course, but it takes more time to deliver.
  8. Test the reconstructed project on your trusted audience again, record feedback and decide if anything needs to be changed
  9. Work up to a public audience, once you are confident that whatever you have made will work. Don’t forget to build in some evaluation; you may want to repeat the experience or build on it for your next project. Evaluation from an audience perspective can also be useful when applying for your next commission or funding
  10. Document in as many ways as you can – blog, tweet, get it out there to raise awareness of your work and help build your reputation

Most of the pervasive media projects that have grown out of the pmstudio community have followed this pattern of development, with one of our main mantras being the cry of:

test early and often

You will find that people use phrases like ‘agile design’ and ‘iterative design cycles’ as a way of describing this same broad approach to project development, but the main thing to remember when you have an idea and want to make it happen, is to take it in small steps, test out each of those small steps on an audience and reassess your plan.

It’s a bit like eating a big cake – start with a small slice and see how it goes. You will eventually finish the cake, but it may take you a little longer than expected. That is often the case with pervasive media projects.

One nameless developer suggested the following rule of thumb when planning a project – take the technical person’s time scale for delivery of the technology side of things and triple it.

It helps if you know your team that you are working with, and have built up a network of people you trust to deliver the different elements of the project.

Conversations are important – factor in time for meetings, testing, feedback.

For a really useful set of slides on evaluation and user testing take a look at Jo Reid of Calvium’s slides from the summer school 2010.