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October 2005

Design Code

Here's what I want to do: (add it to the list buddy...)

I want to create a repository for code related to design. Actual if-then-else type stuff that other interested folks can download and modify. The code would fall into several categories:

  • Iteration/form finding
    Algorithms that can iterate through a massive number of formal permutations which can be evaluated and fed back for further exploration.
  • Optimization
    Finding the optimal configuration based on specified criteria (accessibility, size, cost, etc.)
  • Visualization
    Finding new qualities of existing designs.
  • Collaboration
    Tools to allow designers to fluidly cooperate in a design process.
  • Tons more, I'm sure...

The idea here isn't that we create enough code and then the computer does all the design for us. It's more a matter of not reinventing the wheel all the time (as designers are wont to do,) but sharing the knowledge that's already been created and using that as a base to work from. This means faster progress and more interesting (and hopefully more useful) tools. It would be like a SourceForge for designers.

Posted on 3:53 PM by westr015 Design

October 2005

Tagging advice

Wired News had an article a few days ago about how to go about tagging on sites like . The advice seems straight-forward enough: keep it simple. Don't add too many tags or multiple tags that have overlapping meanings. An example from the article: if you use web and development , you don't need to include webdev , and vice versa. What the article leaves out, however, are the methods by which the successful taggers choose their words. If webdev is somehow a more meaningful term (and not necessarily a more popular one), how do I find that out?

Chanchal Gupta's Collaborative Rank site is one possible answer. It's a serch engine for bookmarks that ranks results according to a tagger's reputation. The idea here being that if I bookmark a page and then a mass of others bookmark the same page with the same kind of tags, my bookmarks rank high. This method offers some new clarity to bookmarks and could be a way to learn what tags are the most valuable.

Posted on 11:00 AM by westr015 Social Software

October 2005

Psychogeography still going strong

The idea of mapping and exploring the messy psychological, social, and cultural landscape of a city has a certain attraction, such that it keeps resurfacing, now about 40 years since a few groups of European artists, philosophers and writers first started exploring cities in this way. Art Interactive has an exhibition of work by the artist group Glowlab that explores this murky, but promising, way of looking at a city.

Link: Glowlab at Art Interactive

Posted on 11:11 AM by westr015 Architecture

October 2005

Adding Horsepower to Google Maps

The Eyebeam Open Research Group has been busy. They've developed a software packeage that ties Google Maps together with Macromedia 's Flash technology. This allows for all of the nifty things like markers the Google's built into their maps api plus all of the vector drawing and animation capability of Flash. You can see an example of the new software in action on Eyebeam's interactive NYC Subway Map .

Link: VGMap

Posted on 10:54 AM by westr015 Web Technologies

October 2005


Speaking of reactive spaces, Jody Zellen has a new piece at the Pace Gallery called Trigger . It's similar to the project Jessica and I were working on for the Elise Co workshop in that it's a projection of human forms into a space. The pdf has a good explanation of the project.

Posted on 10:45 AM by westr015 Art

October 2005

Elise Co Workshop: Working Days

Staurday and Sunday have been working days for the workshop participants. Elise has been helping us weigh the merits of various technological solutions for achieving the effects we're after. The most valuable results of the workshop, for me, are the ideas that have been generated in group discussions and within the various groups. Here's a picture from one of the Saturday discussions.

Elise and students discussing the merits of various types of fans.

Posted on 7:25 PM by westr015

October 2005

Elise Co Workshop: Technology

Elise is giving us a talk about the basic technology that can make reactive spaces possible: circuits, microcontrollers, software, etc. It all comes down to input, processing, and output.

Important points:

  • Interesting effects can be gained by simple means.
  • Each of the three phases of input, processing, and output is crucial.

Posted on 1:58 PM by westr015 Architecture

October 2005

Elise Co Workshop: Examples

Here are some example projects that workshop participants brought up:

Posted on 1:50 PM by westr015 Architecture

October 2005

Elise Co Workshop Gets Started

The workshop group (there are 14 of us, a mix of graduates and undergraduates) will be meeting today at 3 o'clock to look at some example projects and deliberate about what it is we're actually going to be doing. So far we've got a box of lights, switches, dimmers, color gels, extension cords and some Lycra . Since we have such a short time for the workshop, we'll be using materials like this to mock up reactive spaces. In other words, we'll be simulating the behavior of technology we don't have the time to put together.

The example project I suggested was a project called Listening Post by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin. It's basically a series (a couple hundred) small LCD screens that pull chatter (actual conversations) off of the internet and display them. If you watch the video you'll see how the changing text is choreographed and overlayed with sound to create a really amazing effect. The project is interesting to me because it links physical space to network space, but also because of the way the light and sound dictate the mood of the space the wall is in.

Posted on 2:19 PM by westr015

October 2005

Elise Co Lecture

I'm taking these notes straight to the blog today during Elise Co 's lecture today at CALA . Elise is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab who is currently working as a consultant combining electronic/computational ideas into day to day experience. She'll be teaching a workshop over the next couple of days that I'll be participating in. I will be writing about the experience over the next few days here.

Topic: Reactive Space

  • Using the computer to automate all different kinds of media.
  • Light-up shoes - change color depending on a person's behavior - a personal color for each wearer - kinetic light
  • Lumiloop - a modular system of display panels that can be linked together into a bracelet - link these panels together to define the behavior of the displays
  • Puddlejumper - a raincoat that lights up as raindrops hit its surface - simple silkscreened switches on the coat - indiglow lights
  • Materiality of technology - softening technology, integrating into frabric, etc. - handcrafted qualities, roughness vs. precision
  • Elise's "factory" is her one bedroom apartment in Switzerland - programming station, assembly/sewing station, soldering/wiring station
  • How the timeline of a project works - calm in the middle, scrambling at the beginning and end - finished the puddlejumper 10 minutes before the FedEx guy took it away
  • Samsung project - issues of space, as opposed to devices - branding project for Samsung - custom designed lamps with color changing LED s - 42 of them! - placed around the various Samsung products - each lamp measured the popularity of each product, both in the physical space and a website associated with the showroom
  • Recent explorations of kniting

Link: Elise Co

Posted on 12:43 PM by westr015 Art

October 2005

Speed and Sketching

The Whitney ARTPORT has a new piece from John F. Simon, Jr. called Mobility Agents . It's a sketching tool that is influenced by the speed of the sketcher's movements and several different configurations of lines. Now available online for playing.

Mobility Agents

Posted on 1:45 PM by westr015 Art

October 2005

Wireless Cities Conference

Why is it that I always find out about these things at the last minute? Anyway, there is going to be what sounds like a great conference this thursday and friday (6th and 7th of October.) Hosted by the Digital Technology Center the conference is entitled "Wireless Cities...Community Context Conference". The conversation will center around municiple wi-fi networks and the potential for people to use them in ways that reenforce community.

Guess where I heard about this? From Intermedia Arts C'mon U of M, let's broadcast that information of your's!

Conference Website

Posted on 4:30 PM by westr015 U of M

October 2005

What's the deal with this crappy web design?

It could be the lack of time, or just bad taste, but I need to spiff this site up a bit. I don't think it needs an overhaul, maybe just a new font. Anyone have any ideas?

Posted on 3:49 PM by westr015 Administrivia

October 2005

Social software from a kit of parts

Marc Andreessen (of Netscape fame) is always up to some thing. His latest feat is a site called Ning . Ning is a sort of roll-your-own social software development site, or playground as Andreessen calls it. You can create a new social application, a la Friendster and the like, by duplicating an example application and hacking to your hearts content. Folks have already created local restaurant rating sites, social mapping sites... you name it.

Via BoingBoing | Direct Link

Posted on 3:45 PM by westr015 Social Software

October 2005

David Byrne plays building like instrument

Regine, at blogs about David Byrne's hacking a building into a musical instrument. The art of hacking is an interesting lens with which to view architecture. It's always a positive thing, to me, to see people treating buildings not as monumental, unchangable things, but ideas made manifest that are infinitely hackable once the underlying structure is known.

Blog Post | Direct Link

Posted on 3:18 PM by westr015 Architecture

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