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Wrong way go back: A turnkey interactive multimedia system presenting legal awareness issues to a youth audience

George Borzyskowski
Curtin University of Technology
in association with

Rhonda James
Francis Burt Law Education Centre
Anthony Temple
Temple Interactive Media


The Francis Burt Law Education Centre at Fremantle, is one of two operated by the Law Society of Western Australia. They cater primarily for 12 to 15 year olds, providing legal education through scripted mock trials, role plays, simulations and multimedia computers. Specific areas covered by the Fremantle Centre include convict and colonial history, the criminal justice system, and the impact of 'European' laws on Aboriginal people in Western Australia. Programs are structured to support parts of the Social Studies, History, Legal Studies and Aboriginal Studies courses in both primary and secondary schools. The Fremantle Centre's programs are linked to other school excursion destinations such as the Fremantle Prison Complex, the Roundhouse, the Fremantle Courts and the old Asylum Museum.

The concept of some form of youth oriented health and/or legal awareness multimedia kiosk for public places was first casually discussed between the author and Anthony Temple of Temple Interactive Media, during mid 1992 following the conclusion of production of the Language Partner Japanese 1, video disk based teaching system, a DEET funded initiative, which Temple Interactive Media had project managed and authored for the West Australian Distance Education Consortium and for which this author had been commissioned as designer (Temple, Pinfold, Latchem and Fox, 1992; Temple and Borzyskowski, 1992).

These discussions continued but became more focused following a meeting between the author, Anthony Temple and Professor Hy Resnick of the University of Washington, USA, School of Social Work, in December 1992 at the conclusion of Professor Resnick's residency at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia. At the meeting, Professor Resnick demonstrated a computer based board game metaphor prototype, similar to Monopoly in play called "BUSTED", which he had developed as part of a strategy for the rehabilitation of young offenders.

Also in December 1992, the author was commissioned by the Francis Burt Law Education Centre in Fremantle, Western Australia to produce ALEC - Aboriginal Legislation Education Console, a Year of Indigenous People project; a multimedia system for the delivery of educational content on the impact of the British Legal System on Western Australia's Aboriginal population since European invasion and settlement. This project was produced through the Centre for Teaching and Research in Design at the School of Design, Curtin University and completed in 1993 and demonstrated at the 2nd International Multimedia Symposium (Borzyskowski, 1994).

It seemed appropriate, once work on ALEC was commenced to discuss the possibility of some form of youth oriented legal information system with Ms Sandra Miller, then the Education Centre's coordinator. Further discussions between the author, Mr Temple and Ms Miller resulted in a presentation by the author and Ms Miller of the ALEC system as an example of an educational multimedia application, as part of a proposal to the board of the Louis Johnson Trust which subsequently provided funding for the establishment of a Louis Johnson commemorative room at the Francis Burt Law Education Centre which was to include a youth oriented legal awareness interactive multimedia console.

A preliminary production planning meeting for the new project was held at the Francis Burt Law Education Centre on August the 5th, 1993 which was to determine the approach the multimedia project would follow towards meeting its educational objectives. The meeting was attended by the author, Ms Sandra Miller - centre coordinator, Ms Rhonda James - centre education officer, Ms Marti Noonan of the Western Australian Youth Legal Service and Mr Tony Ryder of the Longmore Juvenile Training Centre. The meeting determined that the focus should be on the 12-17 year old age group, that a patronising approach such as 'Constable Care' or an authority approach should be avoided in order to have a chance of success. Following some further discussions, and predominantly on the advice of Ms Noonan, an experienced worker with young people in crisis, it became clear that the emphasis should be on empowerment and useful survival information.

The task was therefore identified as imparting legal awareness information in a contextually appropriate way, as a range of positive strategies for survival, steering clear of an authoritative, dictatorial or patronising approach which was felt to characterise much of the existing public relations legal and health education material directed at youth by the establishment.

The feeling of the advisory group was clear, that if there was to be any chance of success with the project that the information presented had to be interesting, useful in a real sense and vernacularised, that is audio visually languaged in a cultural context familiar to and comfortable for young people to relate to. The topics chosen were ones which professional advice indicated had most relevance in terms of information which was felt to be of interest to the target audience. The subject topics to proceed with were identified as sexual behaviour, substance abuse, sexual abuse, legal age for various activities and dealing with the police. Discussions also concluded that in this instance an approach other than the board game metaphor type developed by Professor Resnick of which the Law Education Centre staff had been made aware, might be more appropriate. Consequently in developing a conceptual strategy the author determined to follow a visual design approach which sought to adapt youth subcultural vernacular audio visual forms with which it was hoped the intended audience could feel comfortable when using the system.

The technical specification required that performance attributes were similar to the previously installed ALEC system as discussed in detail presently.

This then constituted the brief for the project which resulted in a commission to the author dated August 23, 1993, through the Centre for Teaching and Research in Design at the School of Design, Curtin University, to proceed with the research, the design development and implementation of the project. Mr Anthony Temple of Temple Interactive media was engaged as content researcher and script developer also to be responsible for system hardware and software technical integration. The author as project leader was responsible for audio visual design, art direction and software authoring and regular liaison was established with Ms Sandra Miller, the then Francis Burt Law Education Centre coordinator and Ms Rhonda James the education officer.

Project development

The concern for appropriate incorporation of youth culture themes as well as the opportunity for providing work experience on a live project resulted in an invitation to year 2, 1993 Multimedia Design Major students at the School of Design under the authors tutelage to participate in the project's development and subsequent production. The resulting student involvement proved to be a key factor both in the project's design approach and its successful conclusion. Joint planning sessions with the author, Anthony Temple and the student group identified the visual themes such as the incorporation of graffiti into the visual approach as well as the comic book style stereotypes which were subsequently incorporated into the authors overall design resolution. It was also determined at the outset, based on the author's recommendation, to employ narration rather than screen text for the information delivery.

Preliminary script research was subcontracted to Temple Interactive Media due to the large volume of reference materials collected during the pre-research phase requiring analysis as well as the experience in educational multimedia development which could be brought to bear on the project. The information forming the basis of the script was sourced from a variety of health and education providers including the Western Australian Health Department, the Western Australian AIDS Council and the Curtin University Drug Research Centre. Due to the requirement for educational validity, legal accuracy and vernacular appropriateness, a procedure for project scripting was established where preliminary script segments were prepared by Temple, these were reviewed by the author and checked by the Law Education Centre staff, subsequently the material was passed on to two of the students, Ms Heather Mundy and Ms Sandra Junckerstorff for rewriting in a youth oriented vernacular conversational format. The final script verification process involved the Law Education Centre Staff, the Youth Legal Service, the Aboriginal Legal Service, Community Policing, the Police Academy and a lawyer on the Francis Burt Law Education Centre education committee.

Another important aspect of student participation in the project was the determination of the console format and presentation environment. Following the authors discussions with the students, Temple Interactive Media and the client, the form of the installation was decided upon as an arcade game style console against a backdrop of graffiti decoration. This work was designed and carried out by Curtin Multimedia Design Students during the 1993-94 summer recess. Student Russel Thorn, under the supervision of Temple Interactive Media, as technical integration consultants, designed and constructed the arcade game style cabinet which now houses the system.

System hardware

This is based on the same components which had been earlier specified by the author for the ALEC system. A number of performance attribute specifications were identified at the start of the project which included turnkey operation, ie. switch on at wall socket in the morning and switch off at night, ease of use ie. no learning curve, visually engaging and responsive so that young users do not get bored, physically self contained and "bullet proof" to withstand continuous use by numerous groups of high school students, and software and hardware robustness.

These required attributes were accommodated by the specification of a multimedia delivery system consisting of an Amiga 4000 (68040 25 MHz) computer equipped with 6 MB RAM and a 340 MB hard disk providing both the required data storage capacity for current content and future upgrade as well as good data transfer speed. A Mitsubishi CT-2862AS S-Video 26" colour TV was specified as the primary audience monitor since it provides a large good resolution screen similar to those used in entertainment arcade consoles, together with the facility for PAL RGB signal input providing excellent image clarity. The equipment was mounted within the timber game console style cabinet and user interaction is facilitated by means of 5 game style buttons mounted on a panel beneath the primary monitor.

Hardware game style buttons were chosen as the interaction devices, with their representation appearing on the screen graphics . It was confirmed from observing the ALEC system that their use involves a minimal learning curve and minimal confusion on the part of the user. The multimedia authoring system selected in this instance as with ALEC, was SCALA, a program functionally similar to the provenly robust INFOCHANNEL from the SCALA company. This public information software authoring system used widely internationally by major hotel chains, cable television networks and major corporate users including Philips, the Swedish Parliament, Ericsson Telecom, SAS, Ford Motor Company, Renault, ESSO and others. At the time of writing the earlier installed ALEC multimedia hardware/software system has completed 30 months of daily use without a single failure.

Audio visual design

The audio visual style of the presentation itself was designed and produced by the author in addition to the production leadership and authoring (multimedia programming) during January and February 1994 for initial installation in March 1994 and subsequently following additional funding from the Western Australian Lotteries Commission for the Completion of the 'Dealing With The Police' segment, in July and August of 1995 . The intention of echoing youth subcultural vernacular themes observed during the authors research into hacker demos Borzyskowski, 1994), resulted in the incorporation of musical links employing segments of MOD files (a digital music sequencing format similar in some respects to MIDI), which were located in public domain disks and the Multimedia Toolkit CD-ROM (Weird Science, UK 1993). A selection of interesting screen transitions available in the SCALA authoring software were also employed as were an introduction animation at the start of the program and some animated colour effects in the substance abuse section openings. An intentionally casual informality of visual style was developed for the production as a result of examining a range of street graffiti which wore extensively photographed by students Ms Heather Mundy and Ms Liz McKay for the project. This approach was coupled with a non uniformity of visual content style between sections in order to provide a changing audio visual experience for the user; an intended parallel with the variety of content encountered within youth subculture ephemera.

In seeking to identify a theme for the production which could be described as a characteristic of a youth subculture genre, it was indeed found that an inconsistent graphic approach consisting of seemingly disparate borrowed elements, such as previously seen images re-worked, intermingled with odd science fiction style illustrations and texts in motion, together creating a visual variety of incoherent experience, perhaps the most memorable feature of much of this variety of ephemera. This aspect of the genre it would appear conforms closely though it is assumed quite spontaneously to certain positions of postmodernity. Stephan Ronan quoted in an article by R. U. Sirius observes:

The postmodern sensibility is one in which hard reality and belief systems are up for grabs. Without absolutes people put together tentative gestalts by connecting together pieces of existing data into new patterns. Thus postmodern art essentially appropriates ideas, materials, and data from the existing "database" of information and experience to create an "original" (Rucker, Serius, Mu, 1992)
An earlier observation of the same trend, but specifically referring to computer based forms of visual expression by Steven Anzovin calls this approach Blendo. It is an imaging possibility now ubiquitous as a result of computer graphics capability in publishing as well as other forms of graphic imaging. Anzovin relates its roots to the work of the dadaists who appropriated everyday artefacts and created them into art The contemporary practice he quotes as "genre bending", "digital postmodernism," or "synergistic art," and it may well be the first important - or foolish - aesthetic idea to come out of computer graphics" (Anzovin, 1991). This random, nonconformist arrogative style of visual expression was therefore an aspect which the author sought to incorporate into Wrong Way Go Back.

An exercise in this approach is to be seen in the attract loop animation sequence of the production, the animation which continues until someone presses a button to start the program. Here a series of three monochrome photographic images are used, converted to false colour and feather edge blended onto a brick backdrop. On this surface are placed four further animations; a sequence of street graffiti images, a sequence of distorted everyday objects and artefacts, a series of illustrations by student Sandra Junckerstorff and words generic to the project. A paradigm experiment without sound.

Each of the sections of the completed production accessible through the button menu system have a different visual approach. The 'Relationships, Sex and You' employs a pseudo comic book style approach in which the narration is illustrated by sequences of images (source line drawings produced by student Jud Kieran). The 'Drugs and Abuse' sequence covering 11 major substance categories employs a series of cartoons again drawn by student Jud Kieran colourised and placed into abstract colourised backdrops derived by the author from photographs taken by student Heather Mundy . 'When Can I', a sequence imparting information about legal age on 23 topics, employs colour illustrations by student Heather Mundy against a colour cycling 'hot plasma' like background created by the author. The 'Sexual Abuse' sequence uses enlarged sections of colour photographs specially taken by student, Sandra Junckerstorff, subsequently image processed by the author to produce diffused monochrome versions for the backdrops. 'Dealing With The Police' employs Jud Kieran's cartoon character composited into relevant photographic images produced by the author. The final segment available to users is the 'Cyber Muzak' Juke Box. This is intended to provide light relief but is a concept based very much upon an aspect of computer 'hacker demo' subculture. The juke box image incorporated in the screen layout was provided by 3D computer artist, Mr Harry Gow.

As stated earlier, the presentation is dependant upon narration linked with the images and musical elements for its information delivery function. This having been determined, substantial work was invested in developing a satisfactory yet vernacularised script. Delivery was therefore important and youthful voices of both genders were considered essential. The voices used were those of students Ms Heather Mundy and Mr Ralph Junckerstorff.

The completed software incorporates approximately one hour of narration plus support audio and 325 graphic screens, all in total amounting to approximately 131 MB of digital content data.

As with the ALEC system produced earlier by the author, WRONG WAY GO BACK has been in daily use at the Francis Burt Law Education Centre at Fremantle and has shown itself to be a robust, reliable and according to anecdotal feedback, a contextually effective way of communicating educational content to a young audience.


The design project proved to be a useful opportunity for the author to apply experimental approaches to the delivery of educational content by means of interactive multimedia. The installed system has been used regularly with high school student groups as a follow up to their involvement in a mock criminal trial, and sometimes a visit to the Fremantle Court of Petty Sessions. Ms Rhonda James has indicated that although it is most effective with small groups who can control their own rate and direction of learning, it is sometimes used with groups of up to 20 effectively, but with the involvement of the education officer. It is very popular with users, and the only associated problem being to get users to stop".

As well as its prime installation at the Francis Burt Law Education Centre in Fremantle, Western Australia, the project has ben presented on a number of occasions to a wider audience during 1994 including a professional group conference presentation in Sydney. Reports from the centre staff suggest that the system and its design approach are a successful means of conveying the information content to the intended target audience, however the approach it embodies is yet to be academically evaluated in terms of its appeal to users and information retention as a result of its use.

The author, through the School of Design at Curtin University and Temple Interactive Media are currently seeking ways to develop the project jointly with the Francis Burt Law Education Centre as a multiplatform CD-ROM adaptation for distribution to high schools nationally.


Anzovin, S. (1991). Mondo Blendo - Latest Computer Art Movement. Compute, USA, March, p.43.

Borzyskowski, G. (1994). Dinosaurs, gas and Alec. In C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (Eds), Proceedings of the Second International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, 32-37. Perth, Western Australia, 23-28 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1994/bc/borzyskowski1.html

Borzyskowski, G. (1994). Absolute Anarchy - An Investigation of the Amiga Hacker Demo Genre. Major Project Dissertation for Master of Arts in Design, School of Design, Curtin University of Technology,

Rucker, R., Sirius, R .U. and Queen, Mu (1992). Appropriation, Mondo 200 - A Users Guide To The New Edge, p.24. Thames and Hudson, London.

Temple, A. and Borzyskowski, G. (1992). The look and feel of multimedia: Three interactive case studies. In Promaco Conventions (Ed.), Proceedings of the International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, 149-156. Perth, Western Australia, 27-31 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1992/temple1.html

Temple, A., Pinfold, C., Latchem, C. and Fox, R. (1992). Language Partner Japanese 1: A case study in cooperative multimedia courseware development. In Promaco Conventions (Ed.), Proceedings of the International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, 157-167. Perth, Western Australia, 27-31 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1992/temple2.html

Please cite as: Borzyskowski, G., James, R. and Temple, A. (1996). Wrong way go back: A turnkey interactive multimedia system presenting legal awareness issues to a youth audience. In C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (Eds), Proceedings of the Third International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, 60-64. Perth, Western Australia, 21-25 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1996/ad/borzyskowski.html

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