So, What’s Up?

You know I’ve been studying. But that’s not all – I’ve been busy with all sorts of things.

Here’s some snapshots to answer the ever-interesting question “what’s up?”:

Today I’ve watched the watery snow to make Helsinki all white and wet again. I’ve been resting, drinking coffee and listening to old prog vinyls. Genesis‘ A Trick of the Tail. Grateful Dead’s Aoxomoxoa. Tabula Rasa’s Ekkedien tanssi, with lyrics by Mikko Alatalo.

Looking forward for the evening: we’ll go to a dinner with friends, and afterwards to Tavastia to listen to Scandinavian Music Group. 

(Edit 16.3.14: Had fun! Thanks, Elina and Aapo for a swell evening! SMG’s gig was nice – found the songs from the latest “Terminal 2” to be more interesting than the old  catchy-banjo-pop-tunes.)

Yesterday, after a successful study presentation held in Media Lab’s new premises in Otaniemi, I went running. I ran 16+ kilometers, which is something I’m proud of, since it’s the longest run I’ve ever had.

During the whole 2013 I went running only three times (with a sad total of 10-ish kilometers). In 2012 I ran probably even less. My physical condition is and has been rather good, but I’ve never really enjoyed running.

During New Year’s party, me and my friend Kimmo decided to enroll to a half marathon run in early June, so during the last two months I’ve been running more than ever.

After running 2-4 times per week for two months now, I still don’t enjoy running that much. I still get better kicks from gym training. But it’s nice to see that practicing makes running easier: taking longish running trips is possible.

On Thursday I tried to fix my bike, just to fail miserably. The back rim was crooked, and I tried to straighten it. Without any experience whatsoever, but with a strong believe to my abilities.

Shouldn’t have tried. The rim went more wobbly, and got so crooked that I was forced to remove the whole back wheel, and take it to a bicycle repair shop. Since it’s spring, and the repair personnel are busy with all sorts of repairs, it takes nearly two weeks to fix the wheel.

During these two weeks I’ll learn my lesson by riding a heavy 3-gear Nopsa classic bike.

Polkupyöräilemässä. Elokuu 2012.
The bike for the next few weeks. Still going strong!

During the early week I spent a day in the Greens’ party office. I’ll do a web project for the Greens, scheduled to be released in June, but I’ll also help the communications officers in little web tasks.

While I could advance projects from the home sofa, I really like to see the Greens’ personnel every now and then. The people are great, and the party office is a nice place to hang in.

While hanging in the party office, I also tweaked the lil’ website I made for the Greens (and their partners) at http://inspiraationaeurooppa.eu.

It’s a Finnish-language site for a EU themed short movie competition. Do take a look, if you’re into movie-making. The rapidly-built site is simple – built on WordPress with a tweaked theme without – but the competition seems really interesting.

Information Visualization, Design and Augmented Reality with the graphic novel Watchmen

First things first: I’m changing the language of these blog posts to English.

Since I’m studying in an international MA program (New Media Design and Production), and since most of my fellow students don’t speak or read Finnish, it’s nice to write the posts in a language they’ll understand as well.

– –

Since returning from the “field trip” to Berlin, I’ve been quite busy with studies. February went by unbelievably quickly, and it’s difficult to believe that it’s already mid-March.

During February I took a 12-day intensive course on Information Visualization and Design. The goal of the course was to create 1) information visualizations and 2) an augmented reality project, which had a connection of Seven Deadly Sins, which was the general theme of this year’s course.

I chose to research Watchmen, the acclaimed graphic novel, and its characters’ sins. The project turned out to be surprisingly interesting: researching the characters’ sins showed the coherence in writer Alan Moore’s outstanding work.

How come?

First, I re-read the graphic novel, and gave somewhat ad hoc values to different characters’ “seven deadly sins” in the novel:

The "sins" of Watchmen characters
The “sins” of Watchmen characters

Second, using these values, I built a self-organizing map (SOM) with Matlab. The map turned out to be  interesting and meaningful, especially considering my ad hoc-ish method in giving values:

watchmen-sins-som
The self-organizing map of Watchmen characters’ sins

The distances and groupings of different characters make the map interesting.

I’m not going to go the details of the map, since the relations make sense to only those who are familiar with graphic novel, but those who know the graphic novel might notice that the SOM map A: groups Ozymandias and Dr Manhattan together (bottom part of the map) and B: groups Ozymandias, Rorschach and Comedian together (right part), and Dr Manhattan, Silk Spectre and Nite Owl (left part).  

Third, as the little augmented reality project, I looked at different ways to make annotations to the graphic novel itself, especially to help researching purposes.

QR tags (or other visible markers) could be embedded to the graphic novel, which could be used to 1) point out relevant research material and to 2) link to additional content on the web, such as research articles etc.

In addition to visible markers, such as QR tags, a researcher can make hidden markers and annotations to panels. When viewed with a smartphone application, researcher could see the hidden content (see the annotations shown on my iPhone’s screen, and do also notice the QR tag):

Hidden annotations in a panel (see iPhone’s screen). Pic by Nuno Correia.

There’s also a video (by Nuno Correia) available, which shows the another augmented reality project done in the course, a nice “world map game”: