Sunday, 3 May 2009

Visualising project membership

I got an idea of making a mosaic collage of our WHAZZUP? project members profile photos when attending the Finnish conference on Interactive Technology. The Sometu team (Social media supporting learning) had posters up with hundreds of profile pictures from the network Ning.

Why wouldn't I make a similar poster? So off I went, looking for a tool to easily compile a mosaic collage of the 256 little square profile photos on our project Ning. I ended up using Qoop, which I found through Flickr. It took me quite a few trial and error sessions to come up with this poster.

The problem was the many members who hadn't put up a profile picture and either were represented by the boring orange head or a Windows sample scenery picture, after I had set it to be compulsory to put some profile picture up. What I had to do was to calculate exactly how many of each of the pictures I needed, rename them all to be able to upload them on Flickr, and then finally reorganise the set to have these repeated photos fairly evenly distributed across the poster. I also added two AEC-NET logos at the beginning and end of the set, since I didn't find a way to have the logo with the poster title. There might be an easier way and a different tool to achieve the same result, even a company somewhere in Finland, but I really got a bee in my bonnet to get this done today.

Although far from perfect, I am quite pleased with the poster now. To me it is essential to have each of the 256 members represented on the poster, as it tells several stories:

- Firstly, about a fourth of the all the members opted out of choosing a profile picture for themselves - some of them silent, inactive members, while others must have had various reasons for this.
- Secondly, I like the fact that teachers and students are represented here as equal members of the project.
- Thirdly, the poster to me beautifully displays the wonderful diversity of our project members - reflected in their clothing, for example (school uniforms and Muslim hijabs as opposed to bikinis on the beach).
- And last but not least, having all of us together on one poster also brings forth the idea that, despite our different backgrounds and motivations, we still came together during this school year as one community to share our learning.

Paying for the postage to order the printed poster from America was quite dear, but I think it will be worthwhile framing it and putting it up on the wall at school as a colourful reminder of one year's intercultural exchange.

Photo: Oletko kuvassa by rongasanne on Flickr

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