This project is intended to be a single PHP script capable of administering a simple, browser based, multiple question, multiple choice poll for small audiences such as during a presentation or lecture served directly from the presenter's computer. It is driven by MySQL database tables that contain the poll questions, and into which the responses are recorded. Two browser windows are used on the controlling computer: one that is set to “display” on the projector screen, which refreshes once every second to control the poll (if it is set in automatic mode), and one set to “console” which the presenter or associate uses to start the poll, and advance the questions if it is not in automatic mode.
The presenter establishes a local, wireless network and seeds the PollInfo table with the IP address of the controlling computer. Members of the audience connect to the that IP address using their laptops and mobile browsing devices. When a “question” is asked, they are able to respond by selecting one of the responses that will display on their screens as well as the main projection screen.
The current version (0.3.0) allows for displaying different lexia depending on the statistical mode of the responses to the previous question, allowing the presenter to adjust the flow of the presentation based on anonymous feedback from the audience. Since the software is free, open source distributed under the GPL, it can be modified and extended to perform other functions. Here are some facts about the sample data included in this package: the name of the Poll is FOSS, the controlling webserver IP address is 192.168.0.10; from the first question to completion, the poll runs for approximately five minutes, which is 300 seconds; there are n discrete questions, a few of which accept responses from the network interactors via HTTP to the PHP program poller.php; only two did, for a total of approximately ten responses; out of approximately twelve humans; four different Ogg Vorbis codec digital audio files are played during the course of the poll.
After the poll is complete, running the old CGI script (poller.cgi) yields the results:
Results for Question 13: These FOUR FREEDOMS are guaranteed by
A) Creative Commons 0 responses
B) DMCA 0 responses
C) GPLv2 1 responses
D) Linux 0 responses
E) Microsoft Shared Source 0 responses
Results for Question 15: So what is Linux?
A) Finnish detergent 0 responses
B) Monolithic kernel 0 responses
C) Shareware operating system 0 responses
D) Unix-like suite of system programs 0 responses
E) Free, open source operating system 3 responses
Results for Question 43: The Storyspace software Michael Joyce used to create Twelve Blue is
A) Discontinued 0 responses
B) FOSS 1 responses
C) $295 0 responses
D) Shareware 0 responses
Results for Question 74: Are these oven controls designed well?
A) YES 1 responses
B) NO 0 responses
C) Did not read Norman 0 responses
When I used the “What is Linux” question in a presentation with about 50 attendees of the 2007 Computing and Philosophy conference, the responses were mixed. The participants in the Introduction to Texts and Technology seminar all chose “Free, open source operating system,” so it was appropriate to present the GNU material. A future version of the program could skip or condense the GNU segment if the statistical mode of the responses to the question had been correct response.
Please visit the project web site on Sourceforge (http://poller.sourceforge.net/) for more information, including how to download the source code. Included in the 0.3.0 release are the SQL statements used to create the questions for the “FOSS” presentation, and a full dump of the database in order to recreate the state of the webserver at the end of the presentation.