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FLIPR: Collaborative Media Sharing and the Urban Landscape

Pelin Arslan, Federico Casalegno, Leonardo Giusti, Steve Pomeroy, Amar Boghani, Catherine Winfield Mobile Experience Laboratory Massachusetts Institute of Technology 20 Ames Street, E15-320 Cambridge, MA 02142 +1 (617) 452-55-36 {parslan, casalegno, spomeroy, lgiusti, amarkb, winfield} ABSTRACT
A large number of media-sharing applications have recently emerged that take advantage the combination of connectivity, context-awareness, and media-producing capabilities characteristic of the modern mobile device. In addition, applications that support geo-tagging, by which digital information is explicitly tied to physical space, encourage users to engage with spaces in new ways. The paper presents Flipr, a mobile media-sharing platform that allows people to create collaborative, expressive animations, and aims to show how Flipr could be used as a tool to build visual narratives of the urban environment. and can be incorporated into the flow of routine communication [2]. Generally, the target audience of this everyday content is generally limited in a study of videos recorded with mobile phones, Puikkonen et al. found that the recordings target is often the creator himself and/or a limited group of family members or friends in their network [3]. However, individuals post media on social networks for many reasons, including the desire to share entertaining content, self-expression, as well as announcing ones whereabouts [4]. Mobile and micro-blogging technologies can enable collaborative media production among wider audiences, and if designed around participatory practices, can be used in service of cultural and creative expression, civic engagement, and peer-to-peer learning [5]. Thus, participatory micro-blogging platforms that are accessible and encourage constant media production provide a space for research and exploration. Along these lines, researchers have studied collaborative storytelling in various urban contexts, such as the creation of video narratives before and after big events in an urban environment [6], or urban games based around visual storytelling [7].

Categories and Subject Descriptors

D.4.7 [Organization and Design]: Interactive systems, Real time systems and embedded systems, Distributed systems H.5.1 [Multimedia Information Systems]: Video, Animations, Hypertext navigation and maps H.5.3 [Group and Organization Interfaces]: Collaborative computing

General Terms
Design. Experimentation.

Flipr a mobile and web application developed by the Mobile Experience Lab in collaboration with the Turkish mobile operator Avea aims to demonstrate an interface that enables multiple people to collaboratively document a space over time. A flip is a time-lapse animation made up of a sequence of photos taken at the same location. It can be created by a single person, or can be a collaborative project to which many people can contribute photos. The mobile application is designed to ease the process of lining up subsequent shots, and additionally displays the location of nearby flips to users as they travel through the city. The web application allows users to browse flips created recently, as well as search for them based on location. Users can create or contribute to flips by simply pressing a large red button in the mobile application (Fig.1a). If adding a photo to an existing flip, users can use the onionskin and grid feature to align a new shot with the previous one (Fig.1b). The application thus guides the user to have each photo visually relate to the previous one.

Urban exploration, location based media creation, collaborative storytelling, micro-blogging, animated flips.

The rising popularity of micro-blogging sites like Twitter and Facebook, as well as social photo/video-sharing applications like Instagram, Vine, and Cinemagram, illustrates the broad appeal of platforms built around everyday practices of media production and media sharing. These platforms result in huge volumes of user-generated content that is often tagged with spatial and thematic meta-data [1], and thus enable new ways to explore and discover content about specific locations. Java et al. point out that micro-blogging is less time-consuming, requires less commitment,

Copyright is held by the author/owner(s). ExS 2.0: Exploring Urban Spaces in the Web 2.0 Era June 30, Munich, Germany

bowling session with friends. Another flip animated a sculpture by showing it from different perspectives. The analysis of flips that were shared show that participants mostly create animations individually rather than collaboratively. One reason could be that users preferred to create more personal content. Another reason could be the topic chosen by a participant are only of interest to them, and doesnt inherently encourage other participants to contribute to develop the idea.

Flipr allows us to study how collaborative, location-based mobile platforms can encourage new forms of participatory media practices in the urban environment. The further study will investigate if other compositional structures exist and attempt to define a visual grammar for animation-based collaborative storytelling. The analysis will focus on the usability, the notion of ownership, control of the creation process, and the level of engagement with the collaborative aspects of the application. The methodology will involve semi-structured interviews, which is a qualitative method of inquiry that combines a pre-determined set of open questions with the opportunity for the interviewer to explore particular themes or responses further.

Fig. 1 User Interface of Flipr application. At this stage, users can submit the photo, and then add a title and description as well. Users can delete frames from the flip and mark it as open to collaboration. Users can additionally set the speed of the animation by swiping their finger across a filmstrip that displays every frame. (Fig.1c). After editing, users can decide to publish the flip on the website, or keep it as a draft to be edited.

Flipr was made available to Android users through the Google Play marketplace. The goal of launching it publically was to collect flips for a competition that was called Animate your City ( Analysis of flips published in the competition over a period of two months illustrated a variety of ways that people used a location-based media sharing application in an urban context (Fig.2).

We would like to give our gratitude to MIT community, and The Boston Globe for their collaboration. We would also like to thank all of the participants for the Animate your City competition.

[1] Singh, V., Gao, M., Jain, R. 2011. From Microblogs to Social Images: Event Analytics for Situation Assessment. In the Proceedings of Multimedia Information, 433-436. DOI= 10.1145/1743384.1743460 [2] Java, A., Song, X., Finin, T., and Tseng, B. 2007. Why we twitter: Understanding microblogging usage and communities. In Proccedings of 9th WebKDD and 1st SNAKDD 07 Workshop on Web Mining and Social Network Analysis, San Jose, California, 56-65. [3] Puikkonen, A., Hkkil Jonna, Ballagas, R., and Mntyjrvi, J. 2009. Practices in creating videos with mobile phones. In Proceedings of Mobile HCI '09. Bonn, Germany, 1-10. [4] Bornoe, N., and Barkhuus, L. 2010. Videomicroblogging: your 12 seconds of fame. In the Proceeding of CHI EA10 (Human Factors in Computing Systems), 3325-3330. DOI= 10.1145/1753846.1753979 [5] Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K.,Weigel, M. & Robison,A. J. 2006. Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century, the MacArthur Foundation, Chicago. Retrievable at: <> [6] Development Planning Unit and My Street Films, University of London, [7] Scheible, J., Tuulos, V.H., Ojala, T. 2007. Story Mashup: design and evaluation of novel interactive storytelling game for mobile and web users. In the Proceedings of 6th Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia, MUM 2007, Oulu, Finland, Vol.284, 139-148. DOI= 10.1145/1329469.13294

Fig.2 A Flip that shows changes over time. Through our analysis, we clustered flips into three broad groups: A sequence of photos taken at different times (days, weeks, months) is used to document change over time. A sequence of photos that animates objects (stop-motion) through movements, rotations, 3D effects. A sequence of pictures taken at different locations that visually represents a relationship between disparate spaces.

Preliminary results show that Flipr enables users to create their own, unique forms of storytelling. Most of the individually created flips were stop-motion animations that took place in a shorter timeframe as opposed to longer time-lapse animations, which require greater effort to create. Some flips represented a trip through a part of the city in a quick succession of photos. One flip was a time-lapse animation created out of photos taken at a bus stop over the course of several days by a user during his commute. Several flips were animations of social events, such as a