Thoughts on “Cross-Media” May 9, 2012Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, service design, strategies, theory.
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Since 2000 the Berlin senate is organizing a regular panel discussion called “Zukunftsgespräch” (conversation about the future) on innovation in ICT. Yesterday’s 61st Zukunftsgespräch was about “cross-media” and I was on the panel.
Here a summary of my prepared statements, which I discussed with my team at IxDS (sorry only in German):
Ich finde, dass die Definition von Cross Media in der Einladung zu dem heutigen Zukunftsgespräch zu kurz greift: es wird dem Thema und den Potentialen nicht gerecht, wenn wir fernsehserienproduzierenden Verlage als Vorbild zitieren oder von Popsongs reden, die auch als Klingeltöne vertrieben werden – auch wenn wir hier in Berlin im Bereich Klingeltöne eine gewisse Schuld auf uns geladen haben.
Zumal, Cross-Media häufig das Ziel verfolgt (so ist zumindest mein Eindruck), den analogen Nutzer in das Digitale zu holen, wie beispielsweise der ZDF Film, der im Internet weiterläuft, oder QR-Code auf Poster, um Posterbetrachter ins Internet zu locken.
Wir müssen Cross-Media weiter denken und vor allem aus den klassischen Sparten heraustreten und uns auf neue Experimente einlassen. Wir müssen es schaffen, dass die Storytellers und die Technologen zusammen an neuen Formaten arbeiten. Wir müssen die Leser, Fernsehkonsumenten, Kinogeher usw. zum Mitmachen einladen und zum Mitmachen befähigen (empowern – wie man so schön im Englischen sagt).
Und vor allem müssen Magische Momente kreieren – magisch im Sinne von Arthur C. Clarke, der so schön festgestellt hat, dass „Jede hinreichend fortschrittliche Technologie von Magie nicht zu unterscheiden“ ist.
Konkret sehe ich drei Bereiche, wo spannende Herausforderungen im Bereich Cross-Media vor uns liegen:
- Visualisierung: Unsere Umwelt ist geprägt von komplizierten Prozessen, von komplexen Zusammenhängen, von riesigen, frei verfügbaren Datenmengen. Wie können wir – eventuell gemeinsam mit den „Nutzern“ – diese Daten zu relevanten Wissen, gar Weisheit werden lassen. Für mich gehört es zu den medialen Aufgaben, z.B. die Prozesse/Transaktionen/Zusammenhänge in der Politik (z.B. EU), in der Wirtschaft (z.B. Bankenrettung) oder in Globalisierung (z.B. Umweltschutz) erfahrbar werden zu lassen. Der mündige Bürger soll eigenständigen diese Daten auslegen dürfen und dafür bedarf es neuer crossmedialer Produkte.
- Raus in den Raum, in die Umwelt: Noch sind wir relativ statisch in unserem Medienangebot – wir gehen von einer Person aus, die sich hinsetzt, um Medien zu konsumieren. Das ändert sich gerade massiv: Wir sind unterwegs, an bestimmten Orten, in bestimmten Kontexten, wir sind mal aktiv, mal passiv, mal dazwischen, unsere Umgebung fängt an auf uns zu reagieren, usw
Als Beispiele seien die wunderbare Arbeit von Rimini-Protokoll, dem „Walk-In Stasi Radio Play“ (2011), die unter dem Umbrella „Location Based Services“ – oder besser noch: „Location Based Storytelling“ – fallen.
Eine andere Kategorie von Cross-Media sind Stories, die in die Architektur, in den urbanen Raum verortet sind. Natalie Jeremijenko hat 2009 das Projekt „Amphibious Architecture“ realisiert, wo auf dem Wasser schwebende, leuchtende Glasröhrchen eine Geschichte zur Wasserqualität erzählen.
- Die Einbeziehung des „kreativen Konsumenten“: das fängt mit dem Suchen und Finden an, passiert beim „Kreieren“ des Medienprodukts, natürlich beim „Konsumieren“ (wobei sich die Frage stellt, wo das eine aufhört und das andere anfängt), und geht meiner Meinung nach mit dem Ende der Geschichte weiter. Für mich gehören all diese Aspekte auch in die Gestaltung des Formates – und sollten nicht getrennt davon gedacht werden (ein kleiner Seitenhieb an die Social-Marketing-Experten). Wir sprechen hier von Co-Creation, also die gemeinsame Entwicklung von Inhalten, von Erfahrungen mit den Endnutzern. So gibt es beispielsweise Ricardo Bomba, ein Charakter bei den Simpson, der von den Fans kreiert wurde. Wobei hier angemerkt werden soll, dass Co-Creation auch sehr klein sein kann: auch schon die Verlinkung, Einsortierung oder Kommentierung von Inhalten ist ein kreativer Akt!
Die Forderung nach Beteiligung hat übrigens auch Implikationen auf die Organisation von Firmen, also von “Verlagen” wie sie früher hießen, die im Cross-Media-Bereich tätig sind.
Cross Media verlangt Forschung!
- In Formate
Auf die Formate bin ich ja schon eingeganen. Vielleicht nur so viel: Aus dem Interaction Design wissen wir, dass es sehr schwierig ist, a priori, also rein planerisch über die Qualität eines Entwurfes zu urteilen. Interaktive Erfahrungen, wie wir sie gestalten, sind in der Tat sehr komplex, haben unendlich viele Stellschrauben und häufig ist sind es die Ausführungen im Detail, die über Akzeptanz, über Freude am Nutzen, über Erfolg entscheiden. Daher abreiten wir sehr intensiv mit Prototypen, Prototypen in jeder Phase einer Entwicklung. Und heute kann man sehr viel schon sehr günstig prototypisch umsetzen.
- In Tools
Diese Aufgabe halte ich für enorm wichtig: wir müssen selbst die Tools entwickeln, auch die IT-basierten Tools für Cross-Media, und wir müssen sie der Allgemeinheit zur Verfügung stellen. Die, die wirklich erfolgreich sind im Medienbusiness (Instagram, Berlins Music-Softwarefirmen usw) sind die Tool-Anbieter.
- In den Vertieb: Hier denke ich muss und wird noch viel passieren. Es zeigt sich am Horizont, dass auch im Internet verstanden wurde, dass nicht alles umsonst ist. Selbstverständlich gibt es Gründe, kostenfrei zu publizieren, aber es muss auch Gründe (und Möglichkeiten) geben, mit Inhalten Geld zu verdienen! Verschiedene Business Modelle fangen an, sich zu etablieren, müssen aber weiterentwickelt werden. Beispiele: Kick-Starter für Buch- oder Filmprojekte, InApp-Verkäufe (aus Spielen) für mediale Inhalte (z.B. Koch-App von Jamie Olivier), Spotify, Flattr
Why People Adopt Or Wait For New Technology January 10, 2012Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, theory.
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(this ad for the new Samsung phone is making fun of the typical Apple early adopters…)
Jared Spool, consultant with UIE, posted a nice article on why people adopt or wait for new technology. He identified the following categories for the different behaviors:
- People Who Are First
- Being First to Gain Social Status
- Being First as Product Research (That’s me and my colleagues at IxDS…)
- Being First to Solve An Active Need (according to Spool, these are the folks to design for)
- People Who Wait
- Waiting Because Unaware of Latent Needs
- Waiting Because Of Perceived Cost Of Change
- Waiting Out The Product Lifetime
I like this model, even though some of the points are larger than the others and might therefore need a further categorization, as e.g. “Cost of Change”, where Spool already mentioned that the cost of change comes in many forms…
Furthermore it would be interesting to see how these groups are distributed for certain kind of new technologies.
And it would also be good to discuss which strategies are around to address the various groups.
(via Andrea Bauer)
Review of Steve Jobs’ Biography January 9, 2012Posted by reto wettach in entrepreneurship, innovation process, jobs, methods, physical interaction design.
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Over the holiday I had the chance to read the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I really enjoyed the reading, especially as I have been influenced by Jobs’ work very early on. I also enjoyed the description of the Californian culture as lived by Steve Jobs, being barfood, trying weird diets and networking with the most interesting people in the Bay Area, as e.g. Steward Brand, who was a huge influence for me as well.
Here a couple of observations/inspirations I am taking from reading this book:
Tools vs. Results:
The first mission of Pixar was to develop and sell high-end grafic hardware and software. The first product was called the Pixar Image Computer:
(Pixar Image Computer, image source)
This computer was price at 150.000 $ and targeted towards professionals in the grafic design industry, but also for specialized applications as computer tomografie.
Jobs vision was to make this product accessible to masses – at a price of 30.000 $.
Same was true with the Pixar’s rendering software called Reyes (“Render Everything You Ever Saw”): Steve Jobs was planning to make this software also available to the mass market.
But with both ideas he failed. However, Pixar had a small department desiging animations to show off the power of the Pixar hardware and software. One of these films was Luxo Jr., which was first shown at an adacemic conference (!), at Siggraph 1986:
When all the hardware and software projects at Pixar failed, Jobs had to fire most of the people. Interestingly, it was the small creative deparment, which not only made Pixar survive, but turned the company into a huge success.
The question of selling tools or the results of the tools is quite an old one: Raymond Scott and Bob Moog were both involved in the invention of the synthesizer. However, Scott saw himself as a composer and therefore wanted to keep his tools as secret as possible:
Moog on the other side started to build and sell products – and his company is still around today!
Computer as Bicycle
When Jobs took over the Mac-development form Raskin, he also wanted to get rid of Raskin’s suggested working titel “Macintosh” – named after Raskin’s favorite apple.
So, Steve Jobs suggested “Bicycle”, because the computer is kind of the bicycle for our minds:
I really like this metaphor, especially as riding a bicycle is a strong image I am using when talking about Physical Interaction Design. In the important paper “How Bodies Matter: Five Themes for Interaction Design” (2006), Scott Klemmer et al. use the bicycle to talk about how the WIMP-interface is not taking advantage of our ability for “motor memory”. They suggest: “Assigning dedicated actions to different functions of a user interface can take better advantage of kinesthetic memory.”.
I always get a laugh when asking the audience to imaging to ride a bycicly by using drop-down-menues…
Market Research and Prototypes
Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?
– Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is talking here about quantitative research, because when you look into his process it becomes clear that he did a lot of what we call qualitative research:
For example when developing the Apple Stores, Steve Jobs set up a steady changing prototype of a store in an empty warehouse in Cupertino. And he forced a lot of people to come over and give feedback. Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle, is quoted to have said: “He was obsessed by every detail of the aesthetic and the service experience. It got to the point where I said, ‘Steve I’m not coming to see you if you’re going to make me go to the store again.’”
Jobs really like prototypes and their were basis of his discussions with Jonathan Ive and other product developers and managers – as Ive describes it:
This great room [main room in the Apple design center with six long steel tables for displaying and playing with works in progress] is the one place in the company where you can look around and see everything we have in the works. When Steve comes in, he will sit at one of these tables. If we’re working on a new iPhone, for example, he might grab a stool and start playing with different models and feeling them in his hands, remarking on which ones he likes best. Then he will graze by the other tables, just him and me, to see where all the other products are heading. He can get a sense of the sweep of the whole company, the iPhone and iPad, the iMac and laptop and everything we’re considering. That helps him see where the company is spending its energy and how things connect. And he can ask, “Does doing this make sense, because over here is where we are growing a lot?” or questions like that. He gets to see things in relationship to each other, which is pretty hard to do in a big company. Looking at the models on these tables, he can see the future for the next three years.
Much of the design process is a conversation, a back-and-forth as we walk around the tables and play with the models. He doesn’t like to read complex drawings. He wants to see and feel a model. He’s right. I get surprised when we make a model and then realize it’s rubbish, even though based on the CAD [computer-aided design] renderings it looked great.
He loves coming in here because it’s calm and gentle. It’s a paradise if you’re a visual person. There are no formal design reviews, so there are no huge decision points. Instead, we can make the decisions fluid. Since we iterate every day and never have dumb-ass presentations, we don’t run into major disagreements.
And – of course – Jobs did not really like Powerpoint: “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”
(I couldn’t find a picture of the Apple Design Studio, but this one by Edwin Tofslie showing the evolution of Apple products is nice as well)(image source)
Physical vs. Digital
Steve Jobs was always into real products as Issacson writes: “Jobs liked to be shown physical objects that he could feel, inspect, and fondle.“. But Jobs was also in what I would call “Physical Interaction”:
“There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat,” he said. “That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”
I really support this quote and therefore the space for creativity is really important! We need more thinking into this area.
Last but not least
Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.
Why service design is the next big thing in cultural innovation December 13, 2011Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, methods, service design.
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In TheGuardien from 07.12.2011, there is a nice article on Service Design: The author, Rohan Gunatillake, is working with the Edinburgh Festivals Innovation Lab, which identifies and develops ways to improve the festival culture in Edinburgh – “for audiences, for artists, for partners and for the festival organisations themselves“.
In his article, Rohan makes a nice remark on what Service Design is: just as product design is a discipline where formal design methodologies and approaches are used to make your hoover, smartphone and car the best it can be for your needs and your lifestyle, service design does the same for experiences.
He then makes four statements, which sound quite familiar for us at IxDS as well:
- What people want isn’t always what organisations want
- We cannot afford to limit innovation just to technology
- We should be customising the wheel, not reinventing it
- We need a more established culture of prototyping
Especially the last one is interesting as I am wondering about a culture of prototyping in the area of festivals: Rohan published a “Festival Design DNA“, which “hosts a toolkit for how to apply service design for people-centred innovation in festivals and the wider cultural sector“. Here you can find the toolkit – under a CC license!
In this toolkit they present three prototyping approaches:
(example for desktop walkthrough; image source)
Even though the descriptions are short and quite general and not focussed on Service Design for festivals, I like their understanding of Desktop Walkthrough: Using figurines, complex services can be brought to life and visualised in 3D, enhancing your paper sketches.
And what do they suggest using? Plastic figurines, Lego
(Thanks to Experientia)
The Uncanny Valley of Mobile Services December 12, 2011Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, methods, mobile.
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In 1970 the Japanese researcher Masahiro Mori presented the concept of the Uncanny Valley:
The uncanny valley is applied to human-like robots or to 3-D computer animations of humans.
A lot of research has been done since 1970:
Some are trying to understand the origin of the Uncanny Valley as Karl F. MacDorman (2005) who relates this feeling of estrangement to the “Terror Management Theory”, which is concerning “how human beings manage their fear of personal extinction“.
Others are expanding the original model as Christoph Bartneck et al. , who are doubting that the uncanny valley in its quite simplistic approach really exists and are demanding a more complex discussion of this hypothesis. In his paper “My Robotic Doppelgänger” (2009) he compared a real person with his robotic Doppelgänger and could not confirm Mori’s hypothesis, however, the “participants were able to distinguish between the human stimulus and the android stimuli“, which I do not think was too difficult… 🙂 However, in my understanding of the uncanny valley, this estrangement is happening in the moment where you are not sure whether something is a robot or a human…
(image source) (Note: Hiroshi Ishiguro is a co-author of the paper)
Hiroshi Ishiguro is even suggesting to expand the framework and to take “behavior” and “appearance” into consideration (“Android Science – Toward a New Cross-Interdisciplinary Framework“, 2007):
I am quoting this research because the behavior aspect of the uncanny valley can also be applied to human-like behavior, which is not visible as an robot or computer generated 3-D-person. In many “intelligent” services one could have the feeling that they come from humans, e.g. in the area of location based services:
The sweet spot 1 “include simple, focused applications like local search or sat nav systems. They provide clear benefits at low cost to the user, and tend to be transparent about their limitations or how they make decisions.”
The sweet spot 2 is like a “close friend”: “incredibly context sensitive, but also has very good sense of discretion, appropriateness and knows how to honour privacy.”
At IxDS we developed a tool for prototyping contextual mobile services, which we called CWS (Contextual Web Services). This system is based on the concept of Wizard-of-Oz-Prototyping, which means that the user does not know nor experience that a human is controlling the contextual web service on his mobile. The operator is working with a PC-based dashboard which shows the profile of the test person, his/her location, the history of interactions and an easy-to-use interface to send/push a notification – with or without interactive elements. The user can give direct feedback whether he like a certain service or not:
We also observed an “uncanny valley” when the suggestions became too personal. In the qualitative feedback following a three-week-test-period many test users indicated that they didn’t like too personalized suggestions – they found them “scary”…
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Here some quotes, which I took from the summary by Richard Anderson, who was hosting the event:
Don – the former usability guru: Usability is important, but it is not the most important thing. There are lots of parts of (the iPhone) that are completely unusable, and you know what? It doesn’t matter.
Don: Engineers and MBAs are fantastic at solving problems, but they aren’t any good at making sure it is the right problem…
Jon: Now, if you get an MBA, you might take a class called “design thinking,” where you will learn a bunch of design methods. You’ll learn a method called, “empathy.” For 4 days, you learn about empathy, and then you are now certified to be empathetic. Clearly, it can’t be that reductive.
Don: If you really want to be in control of your own destiny, go get an MBA in addition to your design (degree).
Jon: I worked at frog for about 4 1/2 years, and when I started, we had a design research practice that was small. When I left, companies were hiring us to do design research engagements — 4 or 5 hundred thousand dollar engagements — where all we did was do design research.
Jon: Not all problems are equally worth solving.
Don: My favorite quote is from (H. L.) Mencken, a journalist from the 1930s: ‘Every complex problem has a simple answer, and it is wrong.’
Internet of Things August 31, 2011Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, physical interaction design, prototyping tools.
Last year, I wrote an application for research funding together with Prof. Vandenhouten from the University Wildau. We were suggesting to developing a easy-to-use prototyping environment for the next generation of internet of things.
(image taken from the application, artist: A. Knörig)
Similar to the concept behind Fritzing and other high tech prototyping tools we follow the philosophy that making new technology accessible to non-experts leads to a wave of innovation. The art is to design these tools right – with a low entry barrier, high ceiling and wide walls – as Ben Sheiderman describes it in his wonderful paper “Creativity Support Tools” (2006):
“low threshold to enable easy entry for novices, high ceiling to enable experts to work on increasingly sophisticated projects, and wide walls to support a wide range of possible explorations.”
We suggested to not only design a new board, but also to develop a programming environment, which suits the potentials of an always-on hardware. Furthermore we wanted to adress many of the complicated and delicate issues (as privacy) in the background and proved a support platform with courses, sample projects etc.
Our application was perceived positively by the jury – with 91 out of 100 possible points. Unfortunately the German government decided recently to cut down on spending and so only a low percentage of projects have been funded. However, my partner and me decided to submit our application again for this year’s call.
Now, we are looking for partners, especially from telecommunications: even though we are planning to develop an open tool, it would be nice to have a partner, who brings in knowledge in the telecommunication side of this project and – at the same time – has an interest in opening the infrastructure for small-scale and innovative projects – and not only for the classical use cases as the car industry…
Why we do Co-Creation… August 22, 2011Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, service design, theory.
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Designing new services or interfaces needs the involvement of end-users. IxDS always approaches new projects by involving all stake holders – we call this process “Co-Creation” (based on the work by L. Sanders).
Why do we use this approach? Amongst others, because designers (and product managers and software engineers and …) are not able to see the world as their future users are seeing it. One nice prove for this I found today on boingboing:
Dan Russel, an anthopologist working with Google found out that “90 percent of US net users don’t know from crtl-F”.
In the original article Dan then explains that he is usually showing the people this feature after conducting his interview, and then “very often” people will say: ‘I can’t believe I’ve been wasting my life!'”
Too bad that I could not find any paper by Dan showing his research…
Why I like peer-review… August 18, 2011Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, theory.
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Coming from the field of design (or rather design research) the concept of peer-reviewed conferences and publications is not well established in our field. Usually in design, there are three forms of going public:
1. DIY: you open your studio or any other (real or virtual) location and show your stuff. With facebook and lots of friends this should not be a problem at all, especially in a city like Berlin with such a big audience. I usually like these events because they feel a little bit like family gatherings, but the quality of the work remains suspenseful…
2. Renting a slot in a design fair: Design fairs have a long tradition and recently have been popping up all over the place from fashion weeks in every larger city to the big commercial fairs as the Salone del Mobile in Milano to the highly specialized fairs as DMY in Berlin. In a commercial context this approach makes sense – however the participation in such an event does not prove anything about the quality of the work.
3. Curated events and exhibitions: a team of curators decides – in a quite intransparent way – what gets shown and what not -either based on applications or not. Even though this is quite usual in arts, when it comes to design or design research I think that this (more or less) dictatorial approach is not suitable anymore: one needs to know how the selection process works! This is important, both for the audience and their understanding of the relevance of the selection and for the contributors and their understanding of the quality of their own work.
In the scientific community the peer-review process has been established: peers, who are researchers in the same field, would – mostly anonymously – review a paper before publication and write quite a detailed report about their opinion on the paper. Usually a paper is reviewed by three peers and then the programm commitee decides upon acceptance or refusal. The program comitee does not only select the reviewers, but also outlines the review criteria.
I have been both – reviewer and author – and even though this is quite a lot of work, it is great to be part of this process, not only because one knows that it keeps the quality in science high. It is exciting to be a reviewer and to try to understand the impact of a paper and to see what the other reviewers wrote. It is even more exciting to be an author and receive detailed feedback – even if you don’t get accepted as you learn a lot!
For the audience it is the best as they know that there has been a quite comprehensible decision making process and therefore they can be sure that the quality is high!
One note on the side: I was a little surprised when I first joined this process that the reviewers’ comments are not made public: I think they could be quite interesting for readers and could give the reviewers some fame – but as far as I know these comments remain secret. However, after reading these quotes from reviewers, I understand the culture a little better… 🙂
So, I hope that in design we will see more peer-reviewed publications, exhibitions or conference to keep the quality of our work high!
Sidlee Boot Camp July 12, 2011Posted by reto wettach in innovation process, play, theory.
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Sid Lee is a very creative advertisement agency with headquarters in Montréal. For their client Fatboy they organized this creative boot camp with 8 participants from all over the world. They basically used a viral campaign in facebook and others to recruit and for the recruitment they did this nice video:
According to Christiane over 500 people applied and Sid Lee carefully selected 4 women and 4 men – all with different specializations within the design disciplin – as architect, graphic designer or media designer.
And then these people worked together for 10 days, really hard! All in one big warehouse, nicely designed for them and the topic, a lot of inspirations from various people, visits at really cool places as the Cirque du Soleil headquarter (with a training unit in high-wire performance), of course parties all the time and very little sleep. If you want to see more about the process and the results, you can find tons of material here.From Christiane I know that the client was also very happy about the outcome of this project and that all people involved had a lot of fun!
I am impressed about this approach, about the love to detail the organizers had and about how happy Christiane was that she could participate.
For me this Boot Camp is a quite extreme form of the method “Co-Design” as Liz Sanders is suggesting it and as we are doing it at IxDS: With Co-Desigh we mean to involve all stakeholders into the creative process – most importantly of course the people who are going to buy and use the outcomes of this process. We usually do one-day-workshops with all these stakeholders, but doing a 10-days-boot camp is of course much more intense and gives deeper results! And to provide all these inspirations – outside of the physical working space – is also a good idea we should do ourselves!
I am also thinking of the learning curve of such an approach. Actually Christiane mentioned this also in her talk. And being a professor I ofter think that it would be so much more fun and effective if I could take my students to boot camps instead of seeing them once a week for a couple of hours.
Thanks for you talk, Christiane!