Open Tables [WebApp, MaxMSP, Environment]

Open Tables is a software application and a spatial environment, which researches and facilitates collaborative working between individuals and groups. Built using MaxMSP (physical interfaces) and Ruby on Rails (WebApp) the software behaves like a news aggregator of articles related to a specific topic. The Open Tables team manages topics and RSS feeds related to that topic. Users than navigate the content and mark items relevant or rejected depending whether that particular article relates to the topic. Currently, Open Tables is hosting 5 topics: Sustainability in Education, Researching Recycling, Global Networks and Interactive Everyday, Collaborative Working Environments and most recent work by students of architecture at University of Greenwich in London; Social Enterprise and Ecological Networks in the liberty of Norton Folgate.

What differentiates Open Tables from traditional online forums, as what site may appear at first, is that the core aim of OT is the physical environment where users can interact with the content. The first prototype of Open Tables was launched as a ‘fast architecture’ installation at the Tent London 2008 design event, at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane between 18th and 21st September. Visitors were able to interact with the content through a number of physical "tables" arranged in the space built using recycling object. In addition, digital whiteboard were installed where visitors were able to draw over the content. Most interfaces were built using MaxMSP which communicated with the WebApp, updating content as users were doing so in the space. Other elements included a non-linear way of navigating articles using Knowledge Cartography flash application developed by Marco Quaggiotto.

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