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Think ‘Differently’ Tank

June 13, 2018
Mark Lochrie

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To put it simply, to think differently, is to innovate. Its focus is to change perceptions about something we find difficult or challenging. The tank seeks to break down barriers to allow you to imagine the possibilities to Think Differently. For us at the Media Innovation Studio ( and friends we feel innovation doesn’t start with technology, but pens and paper/low-fi materials. Technology comes as the by-product of innovation which ultimately is where we will end up after the two days. The Media Innovation Studio will host a special two-day Think “Differently” Tank (TDT). We feel ‘Thinking Differently’ should be focussed around Process, People and Prototyping. You will explore novel ways to think differently, through our two-day conference/unconference hack. First we hope to inspire you then we will open up the studio for you to interact.

To Think Differently we need other experts to tell you all about their experiences. So we have brought together academics and industry to give your their insights into process, methodology and practice. We are so excited to bring everyone together for this two-day hack, here’s a bit about the team;     

From industry we have Brendan Dawes. He is an artist exploring the interaction of objects, people, technology and art using form and code with an eclectic mix of digital and analogue materials. In a previous life Brendan headed up MagneticNorth as Creative Director before venturing out on his own. Author of two books on interaction design, his work is featured in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and has been honoured in awards including Fast Company Innovation by Design, Information is Beautiful and D&AD. Clients include Airbnb, Google, Twitter, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Intel, Cancer Research UK, Mailchimp, M&C Saatcci, EE, PWC, The Atlantic, and Arup. Brendan brings his unique style of process and  knowledge of working for clients to the workshop.

Complimenting Brendan is Adrian Gradinar. Adrian is an Experience Designer and Researcher, currently employed as a Research Associate within Imagination Lancaster at Lancaster University. His main area of research lies in the intersection of the digital world we experience in our daily lives and the physical world we actually reside in, with a keen eye onto how to design better [more meaningful] experiences taking into account our mixed-reality environments. For the last 5 years, he’s also been running his own business as a technical consultant, delivering different products and solutions to a range of clients.

Following on with the academics is John Mills, based at the Media Innovation Studio, University of Central Lancashire. His research interests span journalism, the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented paper, mobile journalism, wearables, HCI, drone journalism and innovation theory. In recent years his research has focussed on the Internet of Things, and how news organisations could utilise physical platforms and experiences. This work includes the Google-funded NewsThings project, an IoT content management system and conductive ink and web-connected print, and work around augmented and connected print.

Bringing back the Media Innovation Studio’s recently graduate interns Robin De Neef and Ruben Dejaegere. Robin De Neef, comes to the team as a Applied Computer Science graduate and Media Innovation Studio intern, he’s currently been exploring the use of physical and digital computing with  electronics. This comes from an keen interest since an early age. During his internship at MIS he built a range of devices that aim to nudge people into better habits – thinking about the technology that surrounds us and how they talk to one another, which is great but how does it affect us, by being notified about temperatures in our homes, or DM’s from friends on Twitter? Following the further graduation of his Applied Computer Science, Ruben Dejaegere has a vast experience working across technology platforms to prototype artistic experiences. During his time, he also learnt and created how to prototype with physical objects using the 3D printer. His works will be used in museum exhibitions to encourage music making, creating opportunities to provide access to music for everyone.  

John’s ( John Law) research interests lie around the internationalisation of higher education, working with overseas partners and Ministries of Higher Education to promote collaborative partnerships and research co-operation, with a focus on MENA and East Asia. John continues to work with SHARE, the ‘European Union Support to Higher Education in the ASEAN Region’ and also speaks regularly on providing access to higher education for refugees and displaced young people. His role at UCLan involves mentoring colleagues to build a more structured and strategic approach to engaging with research and tendering activities.

Mark, heads up the Think Differently Tank from the Media Innovation Studio. His role within the Studio is twofold; creative technologist and researcher. His research lies between computing and design focusing on the Human-’istc’ side of Computer Interaction. Exploring the interactions of users through the design of meaningful blended experiences.  Mark has years of experience as a technical consultant in the digital and creative sectors

Day 1: Inspire / Imagine / Intrigue / Infuse

Day one, sets the tone and the context for the TDT in a structured conference approach, where you will hear from researchers, designers, technologists and industry experts to explore various approaches to  process, methodology, creativity, research and innovation that will insight, inspire, and intrigue,  to transfer new ways of thinking into your own business/practice.  We want you to interact with the team and presenters so we’ll be having presentations, question and answers followed by spin off masterclasses – where each presenter will set a task and provide resources and materials to assist in the exercise. At the end of day one, we will gather further insights into you and your businesses which will be used to generate extra themes ready for day two.    

Day 2: Ideate / Innovate / Interact / Insight

Day two is over to you! We will follow an unconference approach, the structure will be determined from the themes extracted from day one combined with who’s in the room.  We will dig deeper into the types of talks from the previous days, with further masterclasses where you will gain a a hands on experience with physical/analogue/digital technologies, playing with data and novel insights into storytelling. You will have the experience to make, create, design and discuss ideas with mentors. This session will provide an opportunity to engage, inspire, interact and upskill.

At the start of the day you will all learn the basics of making with technology – using littleBits; you’ll learn about input/output to collect data, control motors and make sounds. This will give you a taste for tech. Your experts will then lead masterclasses tailored to you based around their respected fields.

The masterclasses will run in parallel, so on day one, you’ll have signed up to which sessions you will be attending the following day. Each mentor will run their masterclass twice throughout the day.

Adrian will guide you through low-fi prototyping. What can you do with pieces of card, string and spaghetti mixed with low powered technology and simple interactions? Adrian encourages you to play – like you did as a child. Show your creativity in his masterclass and learn new processes and ways of thinking to prototype ideas.

Robin and Ruben will entertain you with lights and sounds in their creative coding masterclass. You’ll be able to make LEDs light up based on an interaction or data from social media or play a sound when a target is reached. Think about if you get a message on social media what could your tech do to notify you about it? Don’t worry if coding is not your think, they have some fantastic drag and drop components to help you build your experiences.

John Law will help you unravel your concept and demonstrate ways in which you can initially expand your thinking in different directions, to fully explore the potential of your idea, before focusing down to achieve clarity in the expression and presentation of your thinking to others, whether that be potential partners, stakeholders, or external funders. This will be a practical, hands on Masterclass, where you will directly apply techniques and processes to your own themes and contexts, to reveal the power of ‘Thinking Differently’.



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