Visual Interpretations 2

June 27, 2011 by · Comments Off on Visual Interpretations 2 

Alice and Giles have been throwing words at me, keeping me busy!

Hello! It’s been a while since my last post and what have I been up to you ask? Well, I’ve been honing my skills in advanced Pictionary! Or at least that’s one way of looking at it as it takes on the same principle of visual interpretations from words. For the past few weeks Giles and Alice have been throwing words, concepts and phrases at me to create sketches visualising the meanings behind them.

Below are a few examples I have created which illustrate some of the many different projects Proboscis have accomplished over the years and key outcomes from them:

Perception Peterborough – valuing citizens’ voices in city planning & regeneration.

Navigating History – creating new awareness of rich local archives and resources.

Sensory Threads – revealing value creation in cross sector collaborations.

Snout – using play to inspire people and make complex issues more accessible.

With Our Ears to the Ground – connecting council depts to work together for the first time for cohesive community development.

Lattice – providing the catalyst for new creative collaborations.

Visit the full gallery here.

Having been a part of Proboscis for a fair amount of time now, trying to describe the type of work Proboscis does can be a little tricky. So the best way around it was to look at what Proboscis had accomplished in the past, giving me a new perspective on the kinds of projects and themes Proboscis had undertaken and the different types of people they have worked with.

This part of the project had given me an great opportunity to exercise my conceptual skills, visualising complex activities and abstract ideas and presenting them in the form of a single sketch.

It was challenging creating a sketch that would capture and reflect the sense of a complex project and required a lot of conversation – to which I would carefully listen to pull out keywords that may best describe the process, outcomes and achievements of a project, then further researching to finalise sketches.

Throughout the process I’ve developed the ability to visualise concepts using a single word or string of words and sketching to reflect the meaning behind the words or the ideas conveyed, giving me new confidence as a concept artist to visualise something quickly and to use my imagination to give some of the sketches a touch of humour and a new perspective.

It has been an enjoyable experience, and given me a new insight to the type of work a visual interpreter/ graphic artist does and I look forward to more work like this in the near future.

Advanced Pictionary go! go!

Looking back on Bookleteer

June 23, 2011 by · Comments Off on Looking back on Bookleteer 

City As Material 1 Limited Edition Set

It is now a year since we launched the short run printing service for Bookleteer our online self publish and print platform. So now seemed like a good time to start a series of posts reflecting on the diverse uses people have found for it.  Fredrick Leasge has been doing a series of case studies and interviews over on the Bookleteer Blog with people who have used it. Ive been interested to read how some historical and ethnographic projects that have used this method of publishing for documentation and communication.

Julie Anderson, the Assistant Keeper of Egyptian and Sudanese Antiquities at the British Museum used Bookleteer to create 1000 books in Arabic and English about a 10 year archaeological excavation in Dangeil, Sudan to share the findings with the local community in Sudan.

Following the distribution of the book, teenagers began coming to our door in the village to ask questions about the site / archaeology / their own Sudanese history… connecting with their history as made possible through the booklet. It was astonishing. More surprising was the reaction people had upon receiving a copy. In virtually every single case, they engaged with the Book immediately and began to read it or look through it….The Book has served not only as an educational tool, but has empowered the local community and created a sense of pride and proprietary ownership of the ruins and their history.

Bookleteer was used in the Melanesia Project to record, Porer and Pinbin, indigenous people from Papua New Guinea discussing objects in the British Museum’s ethnographic collection. Bookleteer was used first to create simple notebooks that were printed out on an office printer and handmade. Anthrolologist James Leach used them to note the discussion in both English and Tok Pisin, next to glued in polaroid images, to produce a record that involved “capturing the moment of what we were doing and what we were seeing”.

Once filled in the notebooks were scanned and professionally printed to share with the local community in Papua New Guinea. (who have a subsistence lifestyle without electricity).

“[…] As something to give people, they’re an extremely nice thing. People are very keen. I also took some to an anthropology conference before I went [to Papua New Guinea] and would show them to people and they’d immediately say “Oh, is that for me?” People kind of like them. They’re nice little objects.”

Researcher and community education worker Gillian Cowell has used the books as part of a community project with Greenhill Historical Society:

“I think, for community work, it’s really important that you engage in much more unique and creative and interesting ways as a way of trying to spur some kind of interest and excitement in community work […] The books are such a lovely way for that to actually fit with that kind of notion.”

If you are interested in finding out about how you could use Bookleteer, come along to one of our day long Pitch Up & Publish Workshops or Get Bookleteering short sessions this summer.

Book Get Bookleteering

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Final impressions – Radhika Patel

June 23, 2011 by · Comments Off on Final impressions – Radhika Patel 

Marketing Assistant
(6 Month Placement, Future Jobs Fund November 2010-April 2011)

The past six months have absolutely flown by! Now that I have come to the end of my placement here at Proboscis, I thought I’d take a look back at my time here.

I have been fortunate enough to be involved in quite a few projects in the past six months. As I mentioned in my previous posts, I started off by launching the StoryCube website and have continued to blog weekly on different uses for the StoryCubes as well as including a feature post series about selected StoryCube sets. As I became a more confident blogger, I also started to blog on the Bookleteer blog about the different uses and recently moved onto blogging about my love of fashion and photography with publishing.

Taking part in Mandy’s Outside the Box project was great fun as all the team members got involved. I was mainly involved in the brainstorming part, thinking of different suggestions of ways the game can be played, as well as coming up with numerous words for one of the layers of the game.

I also got to do some photography (unexpectedly) in the studio, usually for documentation purposes. This led onto doing the photography for Alice at the 50’s Fashion Exhibition, which was a great experience, as I have not done something like that before, but would love to continue doing it. The teaching I got from Alice and Giles about using the SLR and photography has been much more effective than any class I have attended. Thank you!

Alongside this, I have been involved in the ‘re-vamp’ of the Pitch Up & Publish sessions; trying to attract a younger demographic on a frequent basis. This is where I was really able to let me creative side run wild, creating slogans and writing copy, which I love doing. This is something I also want to pursue in the future – copywriting.

The placement has been helpful on a personal development level as well as career wise. This was a totally different sector for me to work in, and was quite challenging being put in an unfamiliar environment. However it enabled me to experience and learn new things, which I would not have if I wasn’t offered the, placement, such as the arts and culture sector.

My time at Proboscis has been great and have been lucky enough to be kept on for a few more months.

June 2011 Newsletter

June 13, 2011 by · Comments Off on June 2011 Newsletter 

Welcome to our June 2011 newsletter. There’s been lots happening at Proboscis since our last missive.

This year we’ve launched two major new features of bookleteer: an online bookreader allowing eBooks to be read and shared via the web and a user API (application programming interface) providing access to making eBooks and StoryCubes to other websites and services. We have two virtual residency’ projects nearing completion that explore creative uses of the API, one by James Bridle (stml) and the other by Simon Pope & Gordon Joly. We’ll announce their projects on the blog soon.

Pitch Up & Publish
One day workshops to create and publish booklets and StoryCubes using bookleteer: guiding you from concept to publication and beyond. 12 July, 13 Sept, £50 / £40 (Early Bird) max 6 places

Get Bookleteering!
Join one of our of 2 hour sessions to answer your questions about specific projects as well as introduce new users to bookleteer online self publishing tool. 28 June , 26 July, £20 / £10 (Concs) max 6 places

For this month only we’re offering a 20% discount on all Short Run Printing orders made with bookleteer (can’t be used with other offers/discounts). Use the discount code : BKLTR0611-20
Check out our prices on the printing price estimator:

Alice has been commissioned to create a new body of work by curators Day + Gluckman for the Collyer Bristow Gallery in Bloomsbury. The work, (on show now until early September) includes drawings and fabric designs inspired by fashions of the Fifties. Alice’s work includes a collaboration with fashions designer, Mrs Jones, on a spectacular dress and apron made from her fabric designs.

We are now developing a major new creative programme, R&D Lab and training programme for young people under the conceptual framework of “Public Goods”. Through research and public projects and a new creative placements programme we will be exploring the how to make and share representations of the intangible things that we value most about the places and communities we belong to, such as stories, skills, games, songs, techniques, memories, local lore and experiential knowledge of local environment and ecology. We are actively looking for partners, collaborators, funders and supporters please get in touch to find out more.

We’re offering a massive 70% off the normal prices on a batch of our publications. The ‘Austerity Special Offer’ bundles the Social Tapestries Case of Perspectives, Endless Landscape Magnet Set, the Being In Common Catalogue of Ideas deck of cards, COIL 9/10, Mapping Perception and Pavel Buchler’s Ghost Stories all for just £29.99 (UK), £34.99 (Europe) or £39.99 (World).

We have recently published a limited edition numbered and case bound set of 10 books created for our City As Material project last Autumn. The set includes work by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Tim Wright, Ben Eastop, Simon Pope and collaborative books created by the participants.
The books are also published on Diffusion and can be downloaded, printed out and made up from here:

Proboscis has been selected by curator Jeremy Hight for an exhibition presenting “key innovators in Locative Media, New Media and Mapping in a show that works to display not only fields and works but more of cross pollinations, progressions, the need to move beyond labels just like the importance of reconsidering borders on maps, what space is and what pragmatic tools and previous forms can do.”

This Spring we published 3 essays on our work and practices by ‘Critical Friends’. Each looks at a different aspect of what we do, why and how, observing our impact from their own varied perspectives:

We’ve published lots of new titles on, including new works by Adam Greenfield & Nurri Kim, Tim Wright, Cartoon de Salvo, Dodolab, John Hartley, Cambridge Curiosity & Imagination, Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Ben Eastop, Simon Pope and many others.

Thanks for reading. We hope to see you at some of our events or interact online.

Bookleteer’s new web bookreader

June 11, 2011 by · Comments Off on Bookleteer’s new web bookreader 

This year’s seen several major milestones achieved in developing our bookleteer platform. At the beginning of the year we launched a User API (Application Programming Interface) allowing people to create and share eBooks and StoryCubes directly from their own projects, applications and websites.

In February we unveiled a new price estimator to help people calculate the costs of printing and shipping (all over the world) eBooks and StoryCubes through our Short Run Printing Service. We combined this with new pricing structures that make both the eBooks and StoryCubes cheaper and easier to order in small quantities (from 50 copies)

This month we’ve launched what we think is our most exciting new feature : an online bookreader allowing users to read and share their eBooks via standard web browsers. We have also re-vamped the user interface for creating and editing eBooks which should make it simpler and more intuitive. Below is an example of an embedded ‘mini reader’ showing an eBook created by Caroline Maclennan as part of Alice’s As It Comes project in Lancaster:

You can also find plenty more (and growing) over on our Diffusion website.


Moin Ahmed – Final Impressions

June 11, 2011 by · Comments Off on Moin Ahmed – Final Impressions 

Web Development Assistant
(6 Month Placement, Future Jobs Fund November 2010-May 2011)

I have been here at Proboscis for six months now and surely the time has moved really fast. The FJF placement scheme has allowed me to acquire new professional skills needed to understand the real world and the working environment. The skills I have learnt have been advantageous because they have allowed me to take on significant challenges such as working on the integration of the online Bookreader for Bookleteer eBooks.


I would like to thank Giles, Yasir, Stefan, Alice and the rest of the Proboscis team for participating and encouraging me in my working life at Proboscis. This involved our regular Monday meetings where I was given the chance to talk through my objectives for the coming week and what I had managed to achieve since the last meeting.

Here at Proboscis I have been inspired from both creative and technological perspectives, which as a combination has been a great quality to develop for my profession.

Life at Proboscis

I have been working on various parts of the technological side of Proboscis mainly the front end and back end of the Bookreader so that the visual styling matches with the Bookleteer look and feel. The way we as a user would feel that the Bookreader is part of Bookleteer.

I have also contributed towards user testing this Bookreader such that no issues are found in any other browsers or devices. The browsers compatibility testing did involve making sure devices such as iPhone or any Android device displays Bookreader accurately.

I had issues in the past with setting up a local server to duplicate the live Bookleteer site. After having the help of Stefan and Yasir, I have managed to get this working successfully which then allowed me to work on redesigning and creating a new user interface for creating and editing eBooks in edit Bookleteer. This involved removing tables to div tags, which is defined using style-sheet. This is a better method to use because I believe that table tag is meant for listing tabular data, it is not optimised to build structure. Having div tags should improve the search engines optimisation too. I have also managed to remove some drop down options and replace them into radio buttons, which now has pictures to illustrate different options. This new design went live on the site as the final culmination of my placement.

Since my last post I believe my confidence has been boosted a lot as I worked along with internal and external members of Proboscis. This has allowed me to understand other projects that Proboscis deals with, which include non-technical ones too.

Life Before Proboscis and Now

The quality of information and knowledge I have received from Proboscis team members are priceless. This is because I had help from internal staff, freelancers and external members such as Stefan and Paul. I have worked under pressure where I was facing challenges from different perspectives. I believe I took those challenges seriously and researched viable solutions with the help of Proboscis members, which has allowed me to learn new things each and every day. For example:

  • Learning & using Github code repository
  • Installing and managing Linux Debian Squeeze operating system
  • Working with command lines
  • Managing branches  and merges in Github repository
  • Creating pricing estimator for eBooks and StoryCubes ordering system
  • Learning the backend complex framework of Bookleteer to integrate with front end page designs
  • Testing & providing technical support for the Bookleteer User API


My goal before joining the FJF scheme was to work towards a career in web development or assisting with web development. My goal remains the same and I believe that finding a job in this sector in the future will be a lot easier due to the experience, new technical skills and confidence I have built from being here at Proboscis.

I am now looking forward to taking up a new full-time job working where I will be contributing towards the software and web development side of a business. I strongly believe that this experience has made a difference towards my career path as I know what I want to do and now have the confidence boost to do it. Thus I am also  happy to be continuing a working relationship with Proboscis as a freelancer and help towards the development of new services/products in the future.

Moin Ahmed, June 2011