• What are People Saying?

    2nd August 2013

    We've now had around 12,000 player messages come through on Hello Lamp Post. The website randomly cycles approved questions and answers, but we thought it might be interesting for you to see what our favourite responses are - the ones that have made us smile the most while moderating content.

    The three main themes behind our experiment are around shared observations, memories and opinions - we're trying to give people a context and platform to be more mindful of the environment around them, to trigger their most salient memories of the places they live in, and to communicate these things, along with their perspective and learnings, to each other.

    With that in mind, have a look at these...



    If you listen carefully, what's the quietest thing you can hear?

    Via parking meter #2995: "Fingers clenched to moving parasols"

    Via lamp post #21: "The wine sloshing in my back pack"

    Via lamp post #3: "I'm blasting drum and bass through my headphones, nothing is quiet..."


    Can you smell something?

    Via lamp post #103: "Fresh broad beans - I'm podding some now and can't resist popping one or two from each pod in my mouth raw. Yum."

    Via bench #6bs: "Ice cream and dry kebab fat"

    Via lamp post #1: "The fresh scent of the rain and the earth - the scent of the outdoors!"


    I can't turn. Can you tell me what's behind me?

    Via parking meter #2717: "Bristol Library. A most beautiful library and one of my favourites."

    Via station #bri1: "A man in a yellow Jamaican shirt with a pot plant in a plastic bag. But he's more 'in you' than 'behind you'."

    Via green box #6: "You are in front of Colston Hall, you must enjoy listening in on the concerts"



    Tell me a childhood memory you remember well?

    Via post box #bs4127: "I remember a very snowy day when we made a sledge to go and get some milk from the shops."

    Via bus stop #11020515: "Walking through Broadmead after watching a Doctor Who story about showroom dummies that come alive. Very scary."

    Via bridge #per1: "I remember when Peros bridge was built, people said the horns were ugly but they just fit in now."


    What's your favourite memory of Bristol

    Via Harbourside #hrb5: "Taking my son to see the Balloons take off at Ashton Court Balloon Fiesta for the first time. He was 4 years old 'Come back balloons! I love you!' "

    Via station #bri1: "My favourite memory of Bristol is celebrating St Pauls carnival 2010, it was my first after moving from London and I loved the energy and the jerk chicken!"

    Via Harbourside #hrb5: "Surviving 2.8 hours later!"


    How has Bristol changed, in the time that you've known it?

    Via City Hall #ch1: "I've lived here for 25 years, and one really noticeable thing is the increase in COLOUR! I love how street art is flourishing here..."

    Via City Hall #ch1: "Park St has less shops of interest but Stokes Croft on the other hand is now brim full of boutiques so maybe it's a location thing?!"

    Via City Hall #ch1: "Stokes Croft has gone from uninhabitable to somewhere I never want to leave."



    Are there any rules that you live by?

    Via lamp post #hrb3: "The rules of the game. I just lost the game."

    Via bridge #per1: "Always hold hand when we cross the road."

    Via lamp post #350: "No I'm limitless"


    If I was yours for the day, what would you write on me? (Asked by a billboard)

    Via billboard #cabt: "Everything will be ok"

    Via billboard #cabt: " "I love you!" so that everyone who went past would think it was for them XD. "

    Via billboard #cabt: "I think I'd write 'be excellent to each other'."


    What would be your super power? (And why?)

    Via parking meter #2721: "To be able to grow money out of my belly button"

    Via crane #29: "The ability to float above water - because we could make some side cash"

    Via Biggles #2688: "Super beak that can tap tap tap on the top of peoples heads... Why: pick peoples brains"

  • Week #1 - Statistics

    25th July 2013

    (cross posted from panstudio.com)

    The first week of Hello Lamp Post (15-21st July) is complete and we thought it might be interesting to summarise how it went. In the coming weeks we can tunnel a little bit deeper into specific parts of the data (responses to particular objects and questions etc), but seeing as it's early days right now we're just going to give a glancing overview of activity.

    Unique Players

    We had just under 1000 new players take part...



    Players initiated just shy of 2300 conversations with their objects. This amounted to 5221 player SMS messages sent (with a similar amount sent from the system in return). The modal length of a conversation is actually four messages each way, but in this case a "conversation" is really any discrete exchange between a player and an object and sometimes this can be over in one or two texts.



    445 unique items of street furniture across Bristol were woken up by players, meaning that, on average, each object had about two players converse with it (though this will be skewed somewhat by some more popular/ promoted objects having a larger engagement than their suburban siblings).

    In the first week the eponymous lamp posts were the most commonly addressed item of street furniture, followed respectively by post boxes, telegraph poles and parking meters.


    ...so it's been quite an active week and we've been really happy with the spirit in which everyone has entered into the conversations. We've seen a steady (bizarrely linear, actually) increase in play, and look forward to seeing how players' behaviour changes over the coming weeks. We're hoping to make tweaks and changes based on the way people are choosing to play - whether that means adding new object category types, or ensuring there's enough depth of questioning for people returning to particular favourite objects. This approach to flexibility is made immeasurably easier by the very fact we've got a powerful system in place for providing us with necessary contextual data - for diagnostics, effective analysis and review.

  • Launch Party.

    15th July 2013

    We're live! A thoroughly enjoyable 6 months of work culminated yesterday in a high-tea fuelled launch on College Green. The first conversations with Bristol's street furniture were held in a marquee in front of City Hall.


    It was great to see so many faces from the duration of the project again. We had play testers and sponsors, judges Imogen and Clare and even Bristols Mayor George Ferguson texting lamp posts. A massive thanks to you all for testing, talking about and guiding the project. Our biggest thanks however, are reserved for Clare and Verity at Watershed. This projects realisation is as much due to their hard work and enthusiasm as ours and we're extremely grateful.

    Even at less than 24hrs old we've had nearly 700 responses, and people all over Bristol are getting involved. We've had people sharing historical facts on City Hall, thanking lamp posts for helping with their fear of the dark and reminiscing about their experiences in Bristol. A select few from the last hour are below:

    What's your favourite memory of Bristol?

    Watching the old Wills buildings being demolished at 6am many years ago

    Have you been waiting here long?

    I have not been waiting long for a bus ... But it feels like i've been waiting all my life to talk to a bus stop.

    I was thinking of taking up a hobby - do you have one?

    I love to play cricket. I'm not sure bridges can play cricket though!

    We also have a beautiful miniature of our eponymous lamp post and 4 of his co-stars in the foyer at Watershed. Come down and have a chat to them and learn more about the project.



    Keep an eye on the website for a snapshot of what people are waking up and talking about. As the project evolves we'll be learning how people use the system and tweaking as we go, the most exciting thing of all is we only have a hunch how people will play. There's lots of potential for different types experiences, such as branching narratives and objects with specific agendas so keep looking for new things to talk to and visiting old ones. We're just getting started.

    There are more images in this set.

  • The Road to Hello Lamp Post

    12th July 2013

    Prior to the launch of Hello Lamp Post, the team have written in a few places about the project and its progress. It felt worthwhile to collect a few of those notes here.

    Over at the PAN site, Ben wrote about the development process to date, including some notes on playtesting:

    We don’t want to give too much away about the content, but a lot of our work has focused on the balance between giving the objects personality, and their responsibility to convey the personality of the people of Bristol. We started off building quite characterful objects with recognisable personalities, but we quickly realised that acting like a logic system is more honest to what they are, the personality comes from the people on the system.

    Sam spoke a bit about the way experience cities - and what an experience designer can bring to them - at TedX Hamburg a few months back, and you can see that talk here:

    And, a few weeks, ago, Tom and Ben were interviewed by Keith Stuart over at the Guardian Gamesblog. Ben talked a bit about the inspirations for the project:

    "We are a generation of designers for whom the internet of things is impossible to ignore," says PAN co-founder, Ben Barker. "We understand that objects are often the visible element in far more complex systems, whether that's Berg's Little Printer or a bin that know when it's full. We came to Hello Lamp Post knowing that all the 'things' were already in place, our challenge was to build a network, one that united all these smart systems for a more human outcome."

    …while Tom talked a bit about how Hello Lamp Post fits into the history the Smart City:

    "There's a long tradition of technology reshaping the city by harnessing its citizens – services like Foursquare or Dodgeball, games like MogiMogi, even cycle hire platforms like Vélib. These all alter and improve the city through technology and people. We're taking some of that DNA and then investing the city with some personality."

    It's a meaty interview, and goes into some depth - check it out!