My favourite type of conference is one that isn't afraid to exert a strong editorial force and suck disparate speakers towards it, towards "Constraint" in this case. Wednesday at Etech proved pretty good at this. One of the themes I drew from the day was the idea that an accumulation of interfaces generates networks. (This is probably an old nod-of-the-head idea, yet for me, it was one of those phrases that immediately consolidated a bunch of random ideas. This is good.) I scrawled a few notes so I thought I'd share them, dig up the URLs, and note where I can why I wrote these things down.
Chris Luebkeman (Arup)
- What would you disassemble in your city, and why?
- Population density breeds collective thought
- Shrinking streetscapes
Joichi Ito (Creative Commons)
- Avoid license proliferation - Yes. Something I was set on doing with The Commons. A bit like the Community Guidelines on Flickr, you want something that's both clear and open to interpretation. Can you imagine getting all the participating institutions across the world to agree on what "no known copyright restrictions" means?
- Nine Inch Nails released Ghosts I-IV under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. It's made them lots of money. - Happy to hear there are more and more examples of artists giving work away differently, and actually benefiting financially
- Include rights information in HTML attributes: RDFa, ccRel
- To read: James Boyle, The Public Domain
- Encourage copyright dedication - Yes, make it proactive. Reminds me of the CC Preserve idea I had talking in Second Life the other day, where one could specify that they'd be happy for libraries, archives or museums (or anyone) to archive their work.
Christa Hockensmith (Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center)
- This woman was a total breath of fresh air. A chemist, over 50, sassy and confident. So refreshing. Really, genuinely funny and brash.
- "Dead Man's Switch"
- "There is no loony scale."
- "It's research - we can do anything!"
- What can explosives do on a small (nano) scale?
- Explosives Camp, June 21-27 - I bumped into Christa over lunch, and asked her if the camp needs volunteers.
- (A quickie presentation)
- Aaron organized people to sing snippets of Daisy Bell via Mechanical Turk, then stitched them together.
- The sound of mess.
David Merrill (MIT Media Lab), Jeevan Kalanithi (Taco Lab LLC)
- Siftables: "Siftables are cookie-sized computers with motion sensing, neighbor detection, graphical display, and wireless communication. They act in concert to form a single interface: users physically manipulate them - piling, grouping, sorting - to interact with digital information and media. Siftables provides a new platform on which to implement tangible, visual and mobile applications."
- Looking for long feedback loops OR manipulation of problem space - I'm not sure humans always do "instant" very well. I enjoy projects that stretch things out a little. Making you wait.
- Ed Hutchins, Distributed Cognition
- Anywhere Tabletop - I still hold that the best UI idea I've come across is from the Final Fantasy movie. Every machine, device, lock etc presents its own holographic touchscreen interface. Highly specific, and complex where required. Assumes knowledge from its user.
- Enjoying the idea of homologous vs heterogenous objects. How can different types of objects co-mingle? Affinity/Clusters. Generative collections. Generated collections. *Gentle* collections.
Molly Steenson (Princeton University School of Architecture)
- Review of Molly's 2006 research conducted in Bangalore on mobile phone sharing practice. Literally looking at how people would share the actual phone, minutes, SMS, and who would pay.
- 2 people become a "place," where you could call one person to reach the other
- Intrigued by the idea of a network as a place. How would this "place" be defined in comparison with the physical place we're all familiar with?
- Have requested more Molly thinking on this :)
Tony Jebara (Columbia University & Sense Networks)
- Semantic location is more than just lat/lon
- What is a semantic map?
- "The matrix forgets."
- Found the product to be remarkably vacuous. Citysense is a "consumer application for real-time nightlife discovery, social navigation, and answering the question "Where is everybody going right now?" I mean, why not just ask someone? You know, like a meatfriend?
- Horrified that what could be a really interesting concept for things like census or demography retreated into the darkness of "user-centred advertising" - "If I like to eat at an Italian restaurant every second Thursday and you do too, chances are we'll buy the same car."
Eric Paulos (Carnegie Mellon University)
- Living Environments Lab
- "Manifesto of open disruption"
- Toxic Avengers, cocaine in Rome
- Pachube, sensor markup language
- Awareness is possible even with tiny knowledge
- Design for disassembly, doubt (experiments), activism (revelation)
- What are the right things to measure?
- Stacy Kuznetsov, Rise of the Expert Amateur (survey)
- "Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand."
Ben Cerveny (Stamen Design)
- Ben's aptitude for floral, yet ultimately direct language was again a pleasure. He's practically a hypnotist when he gets going, and I admire his far-reaching talent for synthesising current trends into a representation of the near(ish) future. However, I usually find myself wishing he could say more about what he actually works on.
- My favourite slide? "Diffusion and the Melange of Identity"
- I would love to be able to watch an exhibition come together before its official opening day; learn who's involved and what they do; find out about pitfalls, what went well and generally see the underbelly, instead of the pristine outburst of the exhibition's opening day. I bet museums don't like that idea.
Benjamin Bratton (University of California, San Diego) [presentation]
- "Our cities are our most important technologies, but they suffer today from a kind of auto-immunity disorder by which we ourselves disfigure them and attack them with defensive measures in the inverted image of a potential threat of future criminal or terrorist violence."
- "exceptional violence"
- Software is more wet than dry
- Aggressive defense (architecture of the US Embassy in Berlin)
- Does permanent war mean there are no citizens?
- Chronic, slow-motion violence - Ever noticed how the current State of Emergency in the US has been set to Orange since forever?
- Read/Write urbanism is post-secular
- "striated thoroughly by rumour"
- "Civilianisation of Warfare"
- "History is on the side of networks"
- Design of open public space [should require] open software
- Accumulation of interfaces generates networks
- Designing modes of citizenship
- Extended Environmental Markup Language
- "The plane is [also inevitably] the invention of the plane crash."
- Accidents of openness
- Twitter in #mumbai: civilian counter-swarm - For every terrorist act on the web, there will be civilian counter action
- Arrangements should be left open by force
- 9/11 is named by the date because we didn't know what it was
- "If you can open it, you don't own it."
- 1632: "The premise involves a small American town of three thousand 'Hillbillies' sent back to April 1631, in an alternate Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years' War."
- Bruno La Tour; Karlsruhe; Atmospheres of Democracy; "Parliament of Things"
All in all, an interesting day.