Toni Alatalo on Sat, 28 Aug 1999 20:05:20 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> an-airguitar, summary of last night

Yesterday, on Friday the 27th of August, we org-an/i.zed the Global
Airguitar play-together on the Internet as a part of the Oulu Music Video
Festival night on the market square in Oulu, Finland. The festival site is
<> with <> linked. 

This net.thing was part of the event for the second time this year and we
had tried to learn from last years experiences </1998/>. So this is what
happened - first mentioning the hardware and software we used, remembering
about how ppl participated from the net and then concluding a bit on the
conceptual part: 


Like last year, the Oulu telephone corporation <> was happy to
provide us with a DSL connection (8M downstream, 1M up this time) and the
equipment needed to do all we wanted. The hardware included a 500Mhz
Pentium with the latest full multimedia capabilities: two video cameras, a
TV-card, video capture card, gigabytes of mass memory etc. *drool*

On the marketplace this all was located in the temporarily constructed
tower where all the audio/video mixing was done for the PAs, including a
video screen next to the actual stage. 


For the global airguitar play-together we developed special software to
overcome one problem we had encountered last year - then we had used
cuseeme&ivisit to show people playing airguitar in front of their cameras
where-ever, but quite few net.stations are equiped with videocameras. So
this time you needed only a browser (supporting java 1.1) and could select
yourself a cartoon-like character (an avatar, if you wish) and then move
it in a window around the globe (pic taken from xearth ;) and click the
mouse button to animate it (ie. to play airguitar). 

The solution is a client-server environment, a bit like irc but
non-verbal, so you can see the other participants' characters and hang
around the globe together with them. On the marketsquare I had my own
client and could control one of the characters (my avatar), the
Tux-penguin that says "use Linux" when you click the mouse button. Then
during the play-together the globe with all the characters (perhaps 8-10
at the time) going around and rocking was shown on the screen for the

The applet was at <> and you can still at
least see the funny characters there, if the server is on (and the
firewalls don't stop you) you can connect to the globe-thing too. 

People/participation from the net: 

With some of the participants we were chatting on IRC, or using e-mail or
even telephones to coordinate a bit but during the play-together I had no
clue who actually was there. More people were just following the Real
Media Stream than actually participating but luckily there was enough to
make it work visually. The tech-ppl are sleeping still so I don't have any
statistics yet, except that in the evening the on responsible for the
play-together server said there was 3-4 from abroad and I estimated 8-10
on the screen. 

I had sent information to different lists (nettime, several Finnish ones,
friends, ..) and Internet has been mentioned in the press when
reporting/promoting the funny airguitar contest, sometimes including the
URL. But it has been clearly a problem to get people involved - often
because I haven't managed to give them a clear enough picture what this
all is about :) 


Traditionally, the Internet is used in live events like TV or radio - just
to (broad)cast audio/video etc. "out there" - not knowing too much about
who is - if is - watching/listening the show. We have chosen a completely
opposite approach instead of this one-way communication model of mass

The first goal for the an-airguitar experiments have been to bring some
sort of sense of the net being present in the event
_for_the_people_who_are_actually_there, on the place - yesterday in the
rain on the marketsquare. Last year we showed live video from different
locations where people have webcams, this year we had the globe-applet
specially prepared for the play-together. This happens for only five
minutes but was still the biggest concern. It was quite a relief when it
was over and everything had worked well! :) 

Secondly, everything is mediated out to the world - this year with a
webcam, realmedia and also national FM radio part of the time if I
understood correctly. This is the "normal" way the net is used and quite
important too .. but too much following the tv/radio broadcast model. 

Thirdly, there's the interesting mix that started to happen when the above
was going on and there was interaction between us out there on the square
and the other's on-line in different parts of the world. This is something
to think about in the future, now just some random thoughts about it: 

During the contest and other program (concerts etc.) before the
play-together a friend of mine in Hailuoto (an island not far from here) 
was wathing and commenting on where to point the camera, how to set the
audio etc.

Another memory is the long chat with <TermII#linux> on LinuxNet, who was
following the event and our weird camera work in Australia and commenting
consequently. The last session last night was dance-oriented house DJing
and when it started I changed the real stream from 56kbps -> 300kbps with
emphasis on music in the encoding actually due to his request for better
bandwidth. Before I was trying to be modem friendly. Then we did a lot of
experiments, f. ex. videoing the screen of my workstation where he was
writing (with 1sec lag on IRC) so he could see that the video (showing his
own writing) was coming about 20sec later to where-ever in Australia :) 

A lot happened and mostly it was great fun - it's all archived too so we
can study and perhaps do research on it later .. but now off to prepare
for this nights event <>

thanks for interest if there was any ;) 

+ an + ~ Toni ~ : (t . ! 

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: