A fish tank called Wanda

Fishtank
Photo courtesy of Mataparda

D’Arcy Norman has been rethinking eduglu, as have a bunch of folks at UMW. I am nowhere near smart enough to retrace the steps of the conversation, which is for the moment all offline. A couple of things D’Arcy discusses get at the heart of some of the many things we have been thinking about. Do we need to create a new tool or rethink the entire logical structure we have been working through -I don’t think so. The idea of the university creating a self-service tool (as D’Arcy says, OPML or whatever) for students and professors to feed and manage the sites that they are following would allow for more personalized portals of direct relevance to the individual.

The part that is missing, however, is a space to let all of these individual feeds interact with one another in some useful, but not necessarily prescriptive, way. So how about we take the tool D’Arcy vaguely describes and harness all the users’ feeds throughout a particular university and find an interesting way to re-present them to the campus at large. The controlling metaphor in my mind (ahhh, the potential uses of quotidian poetry!) is the campus fish tank. Create a graphical interface whereby the feeds swim around in a space that literally looks like a fish tank, the feeds can look like fish of the user’s choice, and similar feeds can “school together” as Andy Rush suggested. Infrequent users can be bottom dwellers, overzealous bloggers can be sharks, you get the idea.

Patrick Gosetti Murray-John came up with the name for this fish tank- Wanda -and I think we all believe that a graphic interface that may somehow make the feeds both transfixing and at the same time non-intrusive would help showcase the activity swirling around the local, virtualized mind-meld. Such a space might offer UMW a new, powerful way to capture the interstitial online work being done that all too often goes unnoticed for lack of a compelling space to interact within. So go on, click on a random fish, you never know what you might find!

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7 Responses to A fish tank called Wanda

  1. oops. WP stripped out the image tag. I’ll try again with just the URL.

    http://www.worth1000.com/entries/289000/289027UACY_w.jpg

  2. jimgroom says:

    Yeah, D’Arcy -the idea of a fish tank for RSS has some great visual correlates. That’s exactly why I think it might have legs -or fins, or claws, or…

  3. just need to be careful about branding some students as “bottom feeders” or “algae eaters” etc… 🙂

    then there’s the analogy extensions, including fishing, trawling, reefs and ecosystems to represent communities, predatory fish, etc… who’s the shark? the plecostomus? anenome? Nemo? 😉

  4. jimgroom says:

    just need to be careful about branding some students as “bottom feeders” or “algae eaters” etc…

    That would be the funnest part, D’Arcy!

    I love the way you push the metaphor here -moving well beyond your dentist’s fish tank to a veritable Monterey Bay aquarium. I know that post is half-baked and fuzzy- but I can’t help but think this is one way at a unique graphical interface (something Gardner talks about often) that encompasses a whole range of different possibilities for all kinds of folks.

    Can you design this by Friday, D’Arcy?

  5. That’s kinda cool. But I’m thinking of something more like this:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/98105458@N00/441767794/

    🙂

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