mixel nation

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I wrote a piece on Mixel for the charming fellows at Creative Loop, the mixel images couldn’t be included in that post so i’m republishing it below

Mixel Nation

Apple didn’t invent the first desktop computer– it copied Xerox…but it was the first to combine the computer with the household appliance, sparking the personal computing revolution.” ~Kirby Ferguson, Everything Is A Remix

In the wake of the launch of iPhone 5 to a chorus of euphoria or slow hand claps, depending on your tribal allegiance, it’s timely to note that the innovative leap pioneered by Apple with the desktop computer was launched on an intuitive merger of pre-existing building blocks.I don’t at all mean to throw shade on Apple either now or then for redirecting the game with what already existed.

“What started it all was the graphical interface merged with the idea of the computer as household appliance. The Mac is a demonstration of the explosive potential of combinations.”~ Kirby Ferguson, Everything Is A Remix

This “explosive potential of combinations” is so perfectly embodied by the Mixel for iPhone App I feel as though I took a swig of Alice’s potion and rabbit holed my way to Wonderland. Mixel is a collage creating photo sharing app, sourcing from my phone’s photo albums and Instagram or Facebook, I can make a selection then sit back as the pictures are assembled in to a pictogram. It’s a lot more fun than that sounds and having spent a fair amount of time on Mixel recently I’ve come to appreciate how creativity can flow quite beautifully from taking the old and repositioning it to create something new. Remix Culture is all around us, it is the vernacular of the digital age in so many ways and here it is expressed through my ‘sunset’, ‘cat’ and ‘self-portrait pics’.

two Mondrians and the pavement

Giving life to some photo’s that don’t mean much on their own.”

I introduced a friend to Mixel and her observation illustrates why it’s so magical, why sourcing something that already exists and combining it in a new way can create something more meaningful.

If you’re not in love with the first layout that materialises after your photo selection just click the Shuffle button and watch your content reassemble within reordered frames. There are several filters to choose from and with your phone’s pinch-zoom incorporated here additional photo edit abilities can radically transform the material you start off with.

“it’s a great tool for visual inspiration”-@enriquegonzales

This iPhone iteration is Mixel 2.0, the first version having launched exclusively to the iPad last year was somewhat dense and labour intensive .The self-limiting audience of iPad users kept version 1.0 niche, rolling it out on to iPhone was a calculated decision to make what worked more workable and within version 2.0 the heavy lifting is done for you. The app has a design led interface that is intuitive to use and you can appreciate how it works as a creative tool.

The iPad Mixel may have been retired now, but depending on who you follow you can still be treated to the engaging spectacle of design principles being worked and reworked in a post. It is no bad thing to feel like an outsider sometimes, which is how I feel when something impressively complex pops up on my Mixel feed, the creative bells and whistles are impenetrable to me yet awesome still. It’s a bit like being presented with a piece of art that is challenging to make sense of, where I know that something genius has taken place I just don’t have a frame of reference to understand what that is. Not being a design creative isn’t a hindrance to producing something special here though and that this playful tool also stretches your aesthetic appreciation can make interacting with it a whimsical adventure.

Additionally there are sensory quirks to enjoy, like the ‘activity bar’ which fluctuates through the colour spectrum when the app is doing stuff. The real time notifications of Likes and Follows that flow in to your Inbox and of the several streams that can display everyone’s work, the Friends stream allows you to see what the users you follow are responding to. Then there’s the ‘Thread’, a novel element which amplifies the mix-tape vibe to a new level of fun.

above us only sky

I create a Mixel, it’s published and you can add to it by creating one of your own and establishing a link, this thread becomes a conversation that is sometimes Pass the Parcel and at others Chinese Whispers. As a rookie, feeling your way through a chain of collage is not completely intuitive, and maybe there’s an expected knowledge of collaborative behaviour that can trip you up if you’re clueless as you get involved for the first time. I sort of need to believe that you haven’t got the hang of things if you do conjoin your ‘out of focus sleepy eyed boyfriend’ shot to my obviously studiously considered artsy post. Seriously did you mean for that to happen? This is a democratic space though and whilst I might not enjoy it, I support your right to do it and I say that with no rancour because, enticingly, the’ end’ Mixel has the potential to be an inspired comment on the one at the ‘start’ of the thread.

cake thread

“Even World of Warcraft, the legendary multiplayer online role-playing game, is more about collaborating with others than completing the game. Though users can play aspects of the game alone, it requires characters to work together in groups to overcome major challenges. World of Warcraft players spend hours strategizing and socializing, both on and off-line. It’s more than a game; it’s a tribe.” –Nir Elayan, Where Have The Users Gone?

If I’ve given the impression that Mixel can be totally immersive then let me tell you why I’ve become so attached to it. Nir Elayan’s piece on social sharing behavior quite neatly framed my new obsession in a way that made sense although the joint endeavour of role play isn’t present here. For me it’s that I get to express the varied fragments of my visual interests within an echo chamber and confirm my place in the creative tribe. There’s an affirmation at play that has me excited about design, excited about photography and excited about art and the way I see the world. What I find really interesting is that it’s the limits of my imagination that are the great leveller. This democratic space broadcasts in the dialogue of remix culture and when I check in I’m in the perfect place to experiment and reference what inspires me. It’s no wonder I haven’t been able to stop.

Marc Baptiste mash-up

Women & Football

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Although I more than caught up in enthusiasm, two days before the glorious celebration that was the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics I was pretty nonchalant about the XXX Olympiad. The Premier League 2011/2012 had gifted me an FA cup win and a Champions League victory for Chelsea with the euphoria of those two triumphs carrying me through to the Euros. Really, after eleven months of football I thought I was pretty much emotionally done with competitions for a while.

As Team GB’s women prepared to take on New Zealand in the tournament’s opener on Wednesday 25th July I viewed it as an opportunity to up my knowledge of the women’s game. Honestly I expected it to be like a Confederations Cup tournament at the tail end of a full season I would at best be a casual observer.

The Premier League season gave way to the Euros, the Euros flowed in to the Olympics, and the men stepped aside for the women. At least that’s how it went for me. On that first day something wonderful happened, my football universe expanded, there was suddenly much much more of what I loved. I began to think of football in terms of men’s and women’s interchangeably and I had to keep rereading footballing tweets I was seeing to determine whether it was the women’s or the men’s game that was being referenced, I had not found the women’s game wanting and I now had an entry point in to supporting it.

I used to manage a jewelry store. When my team greeted me with the news that we had all been signed up for a shop football team I was at first skeptical, not in the least because I was already a yoga junkie and competitive sport was something I’d left behind on the netball courts at school. It was the notion that this was something I’d never done before that changed my mind and it led to one of my most memorably happy sporting experiences. We began training that November, hiring a weekly session at a south London astro turf club. We got ourselves a coach in March, competed against similar all women’s teams and finished our ‘season’ in a 5 a side tournament at Norbury Power League in May. I scored our first goal. We won a third place trophy. Awesome.

Now I accept that in the context of the company we worked for, playing as a women’s team was unique, the warehouse and delivery men got together to play sometimes. As the weather got warmer we moved to training on Clapham Common and every Sunday without fail we would be approached by women wanting to join us and get involved. I have this memory of a Brazilian family, the woman turned to the man with her, handed him the baby she’d been carrying on her hip and came over to speak to us. Her partner stood holding their child with an empty pushchair beside him and their two 3 and 5 year olds running after their mum, it’s the smile on his face that rounds off that image for me. The notion that women aren’t into football is just alien to me and is not borne out by experience.

I followed my first twitter football buddy because her knowledge of the game is outstanding. It’s a delight to immerse yourself fanatically in the aspects of the game and share the experience with someone who has a sound football head on her shoulders, through her I’ve connected with other Chelsea fans and I’ve found that the dimension of shared experience that online communities enables is a newly discovered pleasure. Not once has the question of gender been raised, football is one of those spaces where the great equaliser is your knowledge and appreciation for the game.

Perhaps it’s that my TL is relatively quiet and my football family is generally respectful, this is no accident as it’s heavily filtered and pruned for ignorance. It’s a safe space and there’s not much misogyny that passes through it when casual sexism pops up it’s sometimes startling. On the eve of the Euros I received a jaunty ode to the football widow, pretty certain that this isn’t 1973 my outrage led to a vocal Unfollow but not before an explanation was given about the perniciousnessness of ‘banter’. That exchange became an educational conversation and the following day I drew a line under it and maintained my connection.

This weekend I was reminded of the pockets of ignorance that still need to be challenged within the football fraternity but it wasn’t a surprise to witness men and women calling out someone on his bullshit. There’s some comfort to be had knowing that when you do stand up to it and remind a fool that women like football too you will be supported. Negativity and bullshit ultimately spoil the football experience for all of us; Twitter’s so good for magnifying this.

These were the first Olympics at which every sport had female competitors and it comes a quite a shock to learn that there will no football in Rio given the next level elevation the women’s football teams demonstrated to a global audience. Women’s football rightly claimed its place under the gaze of an audience enthusiastic and determined to watch any elite athletes in any elite sport perform.

What I would expect to experience in the wake of the ‘girls’ games’ is a progressive and inclusive attitude across all strata of the football industry. Disappointingly I’ve noticed the step change downwards happen almost immediately. Timed to coincide with season a current affairs discussion on the BBC aired a yawnsome debate comparing reprobate footballers to golden game Olympians. It was the start of the Premier League 2012/2013 and the subject still had topical currency. From a mixed lineup talking about maternity leave provision the discussion lineup changed to allow pundit Pat Nevin to take part.

Now personally it’s with immense relief that I wasn’t subjected to the views of Katie’s Hopkins on this subject, but I was left aghast by the woman-off man-on ahem substitution. It’s really quite hypocritical on a channel that was home to the most excellent Olympics coverage with commentators obviously selected for their knowledge and analytical abilities. Faye White and Lucy Ward were pundits for the women’s matches and could effectively replace any of those floating out of work managers who show up on the MOTD or Football Focus sofas.

The subsequent discussion was mediated by a host who very apparently had a shallow understanding of football culture -all anecdotes and third hand research. Not good enough on Auntie’s part and I was disappointed to witness the visibility of women who love football be reduced, it’s subtle but meaningful. During the Games the BBC demonstrated that it has access to a number of knowledgeable and authoritative sofa-comfortable women whose contribution to a conversation about football would have been welcome, timely and entirely appropriate. Own goal

The expectations for what the Olympics legacy will bestow upon us are high and now couldn’t be a better time to capitalize on the interest in the women’s game and follow it through to the FA Women’s Super League. Women’s sports receive 5% of sports media coverage it’s clear that lack of access, sponsorship and support are not the only impediments to this footballing nation’s celebration of the women’s game. Habits have to be challenged at all levels of the football industry.

*Chelsea Ladies play Bristol Academy Women on Saturday 22nd September and are fifth in the WSL table.