Digital Finds

joseph dot reeves at thehumanjourney dot net

Our Stories

Dec 10, 2007 by Joseph Reeves

From Walter Bender's weekly OLPC newsletter:

Our Stories: Google, UNICEF, and OLPC issued a joint press release
regarding a global storytelling project being orchestrated by Google's
Stephen Cho. The goal of the initiative is to preserve and share
stories, histories, and identities of cultures around the world by
making personal stories available online in many languages. Using XO
laptops, mobile phones, and other recording devices, children will
record, in their native languages, the stories of elders, family
members and friends. These stories will be shared globally through the
Our Stories website (See, where they can
be found on a Google Map.

As a charity with a remit of recording and disseminating knowledge about the past, this project seems to be something that OA should be jumping into, especially considering our commitment to exploring new technologies. The expertise that OA, as arguably Europe's largest archaeological contractor, could bring to the project is vast; this is the sort of thing we need to be a part of.

Acoustic Pathmapping

Dec 07, 2007 by Joseph Reeves

Today I updated the OA XO unit to the latest stable build (650) and firmware (q2d07). There's a noticeable speed increase over the previously installed build, plus many nice fixes, tweaks and polishing; even the camera works again! And in glorious full screen too.

Is it the perfect recording tool for the field archaeologist? Probably not; the FIC Neo1973 still trumps it, but the XO unit is still an amazing thing for kids.

Of course, OA got hold of these XO units on the promise that we would develop software for kids to map their environments. This was named PathMapper, and I put Leif's blueprint for it here.

An application ("activity" to give the proper term) included within the latest build (and possibly before; I don't know) could prove very useful for the Pathmapper project. Acoustic Tape Measure measures the distance between two XO units based on the noises they make and subsequently hear. Save these distances as points, add some simple alternative to a northing and degrees, and let kids draw in the details and you've got a simple mapping program.

I know that this isn't what Leif originally wanted; he wanted some defined distances (near, fair, really fair; to paraphrase) that would be used in relation to what you were mapping. If mapping this office, for example, the desk next to me is near, but the reception is really far away; if mapping the industrial estate we live in, the office is really close and something outside is really far away. My apologies to Leif if I've misrepresented his idea, and if the idea of accurate-ish distance recording goes against the original plan, but I think there's room for some acoustic distance measuring in mapping for kids.