“Spamtrap” is an interactive installation piece that prints, shreds and blacklists spam email. It interacts with spammers by monitoring several email addresses I created specifically to lure in spam and an old unused personal email address I use to lure in spam. I do not use these email addresses for any other communication. I post these individual email addresses on websites and online bulletin boards that cause them to be harvested by spambots and then to start receiving spam.
Because I know that all email sent to these email addresses are spam, I have set the installation to print and then shred each email as it arrives. Simultaneously the installation is feeding spam blacklists on the web with information gathered from all the received spam (a newly added feature). This in turn helps to feed spam filtering systems across the web that are working to reduce the amount of spam we all receive. Click here for more information about Spamtraps.
The installation uses a Pentium II computer connected to a wireless network, personal printer, personal shredder, aluminum rails, Spamtrap email addresses, automatic printing software, email client software, antivirus software, and a SpamCop user account. The paper is recycled after the spam email has been shredded.

Spamtrap. Watch the video documentation.
Loosely related to my Traffic sound art installation.


… “when work is created but then locked up in a silo so that no one else can do anything but look at it passively, it doesn’t reach its full potential.”

It’s been interesting for me to experience just how opposed so many people are to sharing and collaboration. Verbiage to the contrary, like state secrets, ideas and work are not just locked away in silos, they are hidden from all but a select few. The result is often that the work loses opportunities for growth and you have a group of people who go years without any visible meaningful output.
Quote from Eric Steuer, the creative director of Creative Commons, in the article Eric Steuer: Creative Commons.

Collaboration, Twitter, and browser CLI’s [bits]

How to Avoid Collaboration Traps, Create Unity and Get Results
From the book: “Leaders have to infuse this discipline principle throughout the company so that people do not collaborate for the sake of collaboration but are able to say no to collaboration projects of questionable value. To be disciplined about collaboration is to know when not to collaborate”. A review of a book I was interested in.
How to Demo Twitter
Guy Kawasaki: “One of the great challenges for anyone who loves Twitter is to show other people why they should love it too. Often it’s like explaining something you find funny: “You had to be there.” The contextual, ever-changing, and high-volume nature of Twitter makes explaining it difficult. Here are ten tips to help you demo Twitter to your friends, family, and colleagues”.
How to Hack Together a Twitter Client
From Guy Kawasaki again (or a ghost writer): “Sometimes you can make do with what’s available. Take, for example, Twitter clients. Until someone creates my fantasy Twitter client, I am using an application that doesn’t have “Tw” anywhere in its name or heritage. It’s called NetNewsWire”.
The Web Browser Address Bar is the New Command Line
Jeff Atwood focuses on the ways that modern browsers such as Chrome allow you to type Google queries directly in the location field, which allows for classic command-line style commands.

Camera UI Tour

Here’s a sampling of user interfaces across compact cameras from every major digital camera maker: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Casio, Olympus and Fujifilm. User interfaces matter in these cameras more than ever because they’re increasingly the major way you drill down to change settings or switch modes—rather than manually cranking a dial, like on a pro DSLR. Some are pretty good (Canon, Samsung) while some are pretty bad (Casio).

A Visual Tour of Camera Interfaces

Little Bits

A bit like sketching in hardware. Love it.

LittleBits is an opensource library of discrete electronic components pre-assembled in tiny circuit boards. Just as Legos allow you to create complex structures with very little engineering knowledge, littleBits are simple, intuitive, space-sensitive blocks that make prototyping with sophisticated electronics a matter of snapping small magnets together. With a growing number of available modules, littleBits aims to move electronics from late stages of the design process to its earliest ones, and from the hands of experts, to those of artists, makers and designers.


Talent takes hard work

Contrary to the views of the Taiwan Ministry of Education, who believe that genius magically appears in children prior to entering elementary school, a recent New York times column by David Brooks entitled Genius – The Modern View leaves behind the more romantic view of a divine spark, and takes a more prosaic view which emphasizes genius as something to be learned through effort and application.

We, of course, live in a scientific age, and modern research pierces hocus-pocus. In the view that is now dominant, even Mozart’s early abilities were not the product of some innate spiritual gift. His early compositions were nothing special. They were pastiches of other people’s work. Mozart was a good musician at an early age, but he would not stand out among today’s top child-performers.
What Mozart had, we now believe, was the same thing Tiger Woods had – the ability to focus for long periods of time and a father intent on improving his skills. Mozart played a lot of piano at a very young age, so he got his 10,000 hours of practice in early and then he built from there.

In his article he mentions two books that have been recently published on this theme, “The Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle; and “Talent Is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin.

According to Colvin, Ben Franklin would take essays from The Spectator magazine and translate them into verse. Then he’d translate his verse back into prose and examine, sentence by sentence, where his essay was inferior to The Spectator’s original.
Coyle describes a tennis academy in Russia where they enact rallies without a ball. The aim is to focus meticulously on technique. (Try to slow down your golf swing so it takes 90 seconds to finish. See how many errors you detect.)

Genius: The Modern View

The hope of good design

The hope of good design lies in those designers who believe in what they do and will only do what they believe … Contrary to hearsay, it is possible to make a living that way. -Alexander Girard

Elizabeth Gilbert: A new way to think about creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert, best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, muses on the nature of creativity. She suggests that it’s not a rare person that is a genius but rather that there is genius in all of us, waiting to be discovered. I don’t agree with all that she has to say but it is an interesting take on some of the issues surrounding fear and creativity.