Tales of Things

Where everything has its memory

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who and what is TalesOfThings.com

    TalesOfThings.com launched in April 2010 and is an online platform which enables users to tag physical objects and share object-related stories and memories through homemade media. The platform is part of an academic research project called TOTeM: Tales of Things and Electronic Memory. TOTeM is funded by the Research Councils UKs Digital Economy programme and brings together researchers from five British universities: Edinburgh College of Art, University College London, Brunel University, The University of Salford, and The University of Dundee. As academics, we work in a range of areas (e.g. digital architecture, geography, computer science, business, design, and social research), but we all share an interest in people, artefacts, memories, time, space, and innovative technologies. Wed like to find out what happens when real objects, real people and real stories get linked via the World Wide Web, and how people make use of TalesOfThings.com in the months and years to come.

  • Whats a tag?

    Tagging technology can be used to physically attach information (including hyperlinks) to real objects or places using a kind of barcode or label. In the case of TOTeM, we mainly employ QR (Quick Response) codes (include image here), though we are also working on RFID tags (Radio Frequency Identification) (include image here). When scanned with a TOTeM-enabled reader (for example, an iPhone with Tales of Things app), these tags can access peoples object stories online. As such, an objects history becomes integral to the thing itself and can be accessed by contemporary and future generations.

  • What kinds of objects?

    We use the term object in its broadest possible sense. Our main request is that you choose something that is personally meaningful to you. Almost everybody has an important object in their life, which they value, not because it is useful or expensive, but because it holds special memories of other people, places, times, events, or ideas. Its the stories behind those objects that were interested in, the ones only you can tell because nobody else would recognise their importance. And of course youre free to choose a number of things and tell a number of stories.

    We only ask two more things of you. First, images of your item or any materials associated with it may not cause harm or offence to others (see terms of use for details). Second, your participation in TOTeM must be legal. For instance, if you are not yourself the owner of your chosen object, you will need the owners permission to tag it!

    In terms of practicalities, it might help if your object is relatively durable and will last long enough to be tagged and scanned. Food items, for example, might be too short-lived to make a meaningful appearance on TalesOfThings.com. In general, however, you could use something big, something small, something soft, something hard, something sticky, something shiny, something static, something moving... even a place could be a thing, as long as you can tag it.

  • What kinds of objects?

    You can stick the TOTeM tag onto a part of the object that isnt immediately visible. But if youd rather not attach a tag to your item at all, then you can always just store the tag nearby.

  • Why tales, and what do you mean by homemade media?

    In the context of social media and Web 2.0, homemade is also often referred to as user-generated content. What we mean is that you record or write a story about your chosen object yourself, either on video, audio, in images, text, or a combination of the above, and upload this tale to the Internet for others to see or hear. We call such stories and memories tales, not because we would necessarily want you to tell tales (in the sense of making things up), but because we feel that the term gives you a wide range of options of how to share your objects history with others. In other words, we hope that your tale will tell others why an object is important to you. The term also makes for a nice acronym, TOTeM, for Tales of Things and Electronic Memory. A totem pole of course contains a number of carvings which traditionally tell a clan or tribes stories and histories. Fitting, dont you think?!

  • Where can I upload my media files?

    There are a number of answers to this, depending on what kind of file you are talking about. Common video hosting sites are Vimeo.com and YouTube.com. They also allow you to upload audio clips. Images can, for instance, be uploaded to flickr.com. The main thing to say is that TalesOfThings.com cannot currently hold a great amount of data itself; its a social networking platform which allows you to embed links to materials you have uploaded elsewhere. We do not have any relationships to sites such as Vimeo or YouTube and do not condone or condemn the ways in which they operate. Fact is that they exist, are free to use and can host larger amounts of data than this is currently the case for TalesOfThings.com itself. You will, in any circumstance, need to abide by their terms of service before uploading any materials.

    TalesOfThings.com does, however, allow you to upload images of your object, as long as they stay within a certain size (currently 2MB). Moreover, the platform enables the insertion of text, so you can type your tales directly into the boxes provided on your profile.

  • Where can I find out more about the TOTeM research project?

    Our aims and objectives are outlined here, and we will aim to feed back findings via TalesOfThings.com. In addition, you can follow us on Facebook Facebook , twitter or our blog

  • Is TalesOfThings.com an ongoing project?

    We hope that the TOTeM project lives on after the initial funding period of three years, with TalesOfThings.com users (i.e. people who have contributed or signed up to the TOTeM platform) continuing to use and develop the website, finding connections with or learning about other users, objects and stories. Further down the line, we may need to secure additional forms of funding. If this is the case, users will be informed about any changes to our terms and conditions. They will be free to review their participation in TOTeM and/or TalesOfThings.com in the light of any new information.

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Did you know?

Download the Mobile App

Tales of Things is a simple way of adding memories to physical objects to share with others.

Print blank tags, stick them to the things that you love and use our Apps to attach text, image and video for others to discover. If your friends use our App to scan use our Apps to scan the tag they can add their memories to your object too!