the Ubiquitous Diary

One part of the meta-narrative should allow people to autonomously create ubiquitous narratives:

  • digital content and information that can be attached to physical spaces, objects, bodies
  • space for information, discussion, knowledge sharing, confrontation
  • emergent information, that can be progressively updated by the initial author and by the other people and agencies which take part in the process
  • information that can be linked to other information in its digital and analog manifestations, across places, objects, bodies and digital systems.
In the process of creating RWR we decided to design a working prototype for a tool that would enable such practices. We came up with what we have called the Ubiquitous Diary.
The Ubiquitous Diary is composed by a set of QRCode stickers that can be attached anywhere: on objects, places, bodies, books…..

The first time one of these stickers is scanned, it allows users to create a content that will be associated to the sticker itself. The following scans will show this content and let other users comment it. The initial user can update their content either by scanning it again, or by using the WordPress website on which the system is based.

We imagined a very simple and accessible architecture for the Ubiquitous Diary:

  • each sticker is connected to a WordPress post
  • a script can generate new stickers for registered WordPress users, pairing them to empty posts
  • the first time the sticker is scanned, the user is requested to create the initial content which will be connected to the sticker
    • the way in which this procedure is enacted is left completely to the creativity of the user, which can also be imagined as disseminating “empty stickers” around, so that other, eventually unknown, people provide the initial content
  • the next times in which the stickers are scanned, people will be able to add information to the sticker, under the form of comments and replies
  • the content can be also modified at any time by logging in at the WordPress website which hosts the Ubiquitous Diary, to include even rich media such as videos and sounds
The code used to create the Ubiquitous Diary is included in the RWR software package.
Here are the steps needed to create such a service on your WordPress-powered website.
The first thing to do is to create users for your website. The way in which you create such users is entirely up to you: you can have pre-registered users, such as in the way it happened at RWR, where each workshop participant has his/her WordPress account; or you can let people autonomously register to the service by creating their WordPress user, for example by using one of these plugins.
[macme title='Wordpress Plugins for user registration' id='42']
The next step is to create a category in which to place the contents published in the ubiquitous diary. This is not only required, but it is also very useful, at it could help you out in visualizing the Ubiquitous Diary entries not only on the QRCode stickers, but also on the website, in which you might have a certain space of your graphical layout dedicated to the visualization of the latest ubiquitous diary entries.
Now we can generate some QRCode stickers.
To do this we might setup a script that, given a user and a quantity, generates the empty posts on WordPress and  the related QRCode stickers.
Here you can find the code that has been used to create the Ubiquitous Diary onto the RWR WordPress website. Download the PHP scripts used to generate the Ubiquitous Diary QRCode Stickers
[macme title='The PHP Scripts' id='43']
In the ZIP archive at the link you will find several PHP scripts which take care of all the needed functionalities. The scripts must be placed and executed from the main WordPress directory (the one containing the “wp-content” directory and the “wp-config.php” file.
the generate_qrcodesfordiary.php script generates 20 QRCode stickers for each registered user on the WordPress site.
The line of code
<img src="<?php echo( urlencode("$i&uid=" . $u->ID) ); ?>" border="0" />
generates a QRCode pointing to the genDiaryPost.php script with correctly generated parameters. The genDiaryPost.php behaves differently according to each possible situation:
  • there is no content currently associated to the sticker
  • there is an empty content associated to the sticker
  • there already is some content associated to the sticker
In the first case and second case, an empty WordPress post is generated, so that it can be filled in by the user: an interface asking for a title and body of the message is presented to the user; when the user uses the interface to fill in the message/information, it is saved to the empty post, turning it into an initialized one.
In the third case, an interface presenting all contents, comments and replies already associated to the QRCode sticker is presented to the user. This interface includes input forms and fields to add further parts of the conversation.