For one of my last projects with Sigi Torinus as part of my BFA degree I made an iphone App.
I was able to speed up a usually lengthy process by skipping over the coding portion of creating the app. This was made possible by using Buzztouch, a web-based content management software (CMS) out of Montery California that helps build iPhone and Android apps. Buzztouch provides tools that allow people to create mobile apps and provides a back-end database to support those apps over the long-term. They do both of these things for free, for anyone. The source-code that app owners download for each of their applications is released under an open-source license.
Enter an origin and a destination, and the app maps a route between the two. You can increase or decrease the complexity of this route, depending how much time you have to play with. As you navigate your route, suggestions for possible actions to take at a given location appear within step-by-step directions designed to introduce small slippages and minor displacements within an otherwise optimized and efficient route. You can take photos along the way and, upon reaching your destination, send an email sharing with friends your route and the steps you took.
This is all part of the Sentient City Survival Kit, a design research project that explores the social, cultural and political implications of ubiquitous computing for urban environments. It takes as its method the design, fabrication and presentation of a collection of artifacts, spaces and media for survival in the near-future sentient city.
While more paranoid than my own concerns, Shepard’s larger Sentient City Survival Kit certainly provides some contextualizing reference points for the iPhone apps I’m working on. It’s funny how this language around survival is somehow being tethered to mobile computing in both projects. We saw Shepard give a presentation last year when we were at Conflux, and it’s very cool to see some of his ideas being finally realized. I’m hoping for some time to download the Serendipitor this weekend.
I showed this in my Ways of Knowing class this morning — lots of fun!!
Zachary Forest Johnson is (according to his bio page) a cartographer specializing in online maps and information visualizations. He is in the second year of a M.S. program in Cartography and GIS at the U of Wisconsin. In a previous life, he studied Political Science (gaining a BA from the U of Arkansas and a MA from the U of Wisconsin). His other passions include running, politics, typography, and gin and tonics.
Zachary is also the author of the blog indiemaps.com, an interesting blog on contemporary mapping methods using HTML and Java to produce interactive mapping systems and interfaces, various information on historical figures and news. Based on Zachary’s previous education, as outlined above, a certain geo-political undertone can be felt throughout the work; which is a conceptual framework that is at times hard to take at face value (nor should it be) since it is employing abstract data to map something like a countries extent of “freedom” (see Johnson’s “World Freedom Atlas“).
SWEATSHOPPE is a new multimedia performance collaboration between Bruno Levy and Blake Shaw that works at the intersection of art, music and technology. Their project, Light Painting, is pretty slick, using a LED-tipped paint roller along with some custom software and projector to reveal a video projection through painting movements.
Bildr.org could be amazing. The idea is to create a visual Web-based library of componentized instruction sets, “building blocks,” for doing various hardware and software constructions. Put a bunch of these components together, and you have all of the instructions you need to execute a multi-part project.
So, that crazy project you’ve always wanted to do but were never sure how to even start it might finally be able to be realized, if Bildr can come together. The thing is, it will require a lot of input from a ton of knowledgeable people. I can’t count the number of times I’ve spent hours on Google trying to find the exact right answer to a problem I’d been having, whether in PHP, Perl, or Max, but it wasn’t always just finding the right answer, it was trying to figure out how to ask the right question.
Something like Bildr could fix that… by allowing you to assemble your own set of instructions from those little modules of instructions, things could be a lot easier. However, in some ways, it still requires you to know exactly what it takes to do what you want to do, and for me this has always been the gap. How do you know what needs to be asked to solve a specific problem?
Bildr is just starting up and looking for expertise, so you if you know how to do some little bit of programming or building or if you have a very specific knowledge subset of LEDs, for example, contact them.
Graffiti Research Lab, FAT Lab, and a number of likely affiliated technologists, artists, and graffiti writers are spending the week working on an eye-tracking system attached to a pair of plastic frame glasses to write graffiti with light. From what I gather, this would allow them to avoid using those super-powerful lasers.
Follow their adventures on the blog, or on their own twitter-esque microblogging tool, fucktwitter, based on the free software, Laconica.
Although I’d imagine that we could find a better message, the technology is dead simple and very cool results. MAKE also has an upcoming Halloween Special Edition issue… probably too late for us to accomplish a lot this year, but good thing to keep in mind for next year!
Botanicalls is this incredible project I came across sometime last year. Essentially, it uses a microcontroller and sensor along with PHP and an open-source telephone system to allows plants to make phone calls and ask for water when they’re getting dried out. The project, as part ofConflux 2008, has become a walking tour in New York during which, “Participants call the Botanicalls main phoneline and navigate to the location-specific plant. Each tree or plant, speaks in their own ‘Botanicalls’ voice – which is based on their botanical habits and characteristics.” Not only do I think the project is a really great use of simple hardware and technology to create a novel experience, but the way in which they document and visually describe their project is really, really good.
Rebecca Stern from FAT Labs and Sternlab made a hoodie function as a TV-B-Gone. I think we had tossed around the idea of doing this, though her execution is really slick—you just have to zip or unzip the zipper to turn the targeted TV off.