The reViSiT experiment is a scientific user study looking at creativity, flow and skill in computer music software. It is being conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory (Rainbow Group) and Faculty of Music (Centre for Music & Science), using the reViSiT Pro VSTi plugin to look at computer music interaction "in the wild".
Built on the concepts of sampling and soundtracking, reViSiT is an award-winning composition tool that integrates rapid and precise sound and MIDI control into an existing music-making process, regardless of genre. To help users work faster, reViSiT exploits the added control afforded by the computer keyboard, combining it with a simple, yet highly expressive and efficient, text-based musical notation. For more information and sound demos, see the reViSiT website and forum.
The experiment aims to uncover how musicians learn and use music software, so that designers can improve the design of such programs in the future. Our research is based on the theory that creative flow is enabled by specific skills; and that music software, in order to aid the user in being creative, must explicitly support the development of such skills and offer a "fluid" user experience. Our aim is to observe such processes "in the wild", by studying how people use and master reViSiT.
Anyone who wishes to take part registers online and downloads a free copy of reViSiT Professional. As the program is used, it will collect information about the user's interaction, which is periodically (and anonymously) sent back to the Computer Laboratory, in Cambridge. Back at the lab, we combine everyone's data and look for trends that show how the program is supporting learning and skilled use. Examples of what we look for might include the speed of interaction, preference for particular modes of interaction (e.g. mouse or keyboard) or the time spent using particular parts or features of the program - all of which can tell us how well the user is being supported.
No. reViSiT will not upload your music or any data that can be used to identify you - we are only interested in how users interact with the program. As such, all measurements are collected and transmitted anonymously. When you register, you will receive an email containing an activation code. This code not only unlocks the software, but also acts as an anonymous ID that we can use to track how the behaviour of users change over time, without using personal data (such as name, email address, etc.).
Nothing - just be creative! The program will collect the measurements automatically, as you interact with it. Where the Internet is accessible, reViSiT will automatically post the measurements back to our lab, in Cambridge. If no Internet connection is found, reViSiT will offer to create a package that you can run from another computer, which will upload the measurements.
Yes. When you join the experiment, you'll receive a fully-licensed copy of reViSiT Professional to use in your music, which extends upon the award-winning freeware version, with advanced features such as surround sound, flexible audio busses and the long-awaited MIDI-controlled playback.
In the bigger picture, the experiment will help music software designers build better interfaces in the future; so, not only is this simply an opportunity for you to contribute to that effort, but a chance for you to ensure future designs in some way take note of the way you use your computer.
The experiment launched on the 1st of December 2008, and will run for at least a year, so as to observe how user behaviour changes with time and experience.
To sign up, simply fill out the form. Aside from your email address, which is required to receive the activation code, no other identifying information is required. During the process you will be asked to agree to an "informed consent clause", which is required of every experiment conducted at the University of Cambridge that involves external volunteers, and simply states that you are happy you have been told what is involved in the experiment and how your data will be used.
Yes. You can opt-out of the experiment at any time. However, the code for the experiment is an integral part of the current version of reViSiT Professional, which will continue to relay data if used. Don't worry - if you wish to carry on using reViSiT, send us your activation code (by email), and we will eliminate your subsequent data from our analysis.
If, for any reason, you should lose the email containing the activation details for reViSiT, you can use this page to have them resent to your email address.
Flow is a concept in modern psychology, developed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, that describes the mental state someone enters into when they are "fully immersed in" and "energised by" what they are doing. A flow experience is characterized by various factors, such as: concentration and focus, direct and immediate feedback, distorted sense of time, sense of control, loss of self-consciousness, and/or a balance of skill and challenge. The experience is similar to being "in the groove", and has often been linked to music performance and creativity. Our research investigates this phenomenon in the context of computer music, and explores how creative software can support or impede such experiences.
Basically; when you combine a rewarding yet challenging activity with the right tools, the potential for "flow" arises. Based on theory and observations of similar software, our preliminary research suggests that soundtracking software may facilitate "flow experiences". Reports from users of tracker programs, such as reViSiT, describe faster workrates, more impulsive and immersive interaction, and even a distorted sense of time. Additional studies of psychological, cognitive, physical and physiological processes suggest that tracker interfaces may allow many levels of interaction and skill development, allowing the user to effectively develop and balance both skill and challenge. Add it all up, and the components of "flow" emerge. Our experiment hopes to use reViSiT to take a closer look at what's actually going on.
Aside from being commercial software, the Professional Edition of reViSiT extends the free Standard Edition with a number of major features. More information is available here, but the core innovations include:
else can I get reViSiT Professional Edition?