Watch the american housing market spiral out of control.
Designed for the Red Bull Music Academy 08, Guten Touch is an interactive installation that involves people into a natural relationship with technology. A two projected display system plus a 3m x 2m multitouch wall showcase applications designed to engage us into human friendly experiences rather than flashy and jaw-dropping visualizations. Space Invaders hitted by foam balls, pixel paintings created with brushes and digital objects holded by hands try to blur boundaries between real and digital.
Concept, Design and Coding by Multitouch Barcelona. Music: Saeglopur – Sigur Ros
Work with raw scientific satellite data which has not yet been cleaned and processed for public consumption
As in Semiconductors previous work ‘Brilliant Noise’ which looked into the sun, they work with raw scientific satellite data which has not yet been cleaned and processed for public consumption. By embracing the artefacts, calibration and phenomena of the capturing process we are reminded of the presence of the human observer who endeavors to extend our perceptions and knowledge through technological innovation.
Commissioned by Animasivo Mexico City, 2009
Gravity is a collaborative application using buildings’ architecture as a projection surface.
This real time interactive animation allows people to send sms text messages to the installation. The words are then embedded into geometric shapes, and are dropped from the top of the projection. The fall as well as their collisions with the building’s environment are physics-driven, making interactions happen between the different sent messages, creating an open participative “exquisite corpse” scene where spectators can react to each other’s sentences.
Original creation and code by Julien. Sound effects by Arnaud.
You don’t need to be more creative, all of you are too creative.
Be a person that always ends up ‘shipping’. If you are proud of what you ‘ship’ and are on time, you will be successful and you will get to do it over and over again. What you do for a living is ‘ship’ and not ‘being creative’.
The resistance gets worse and worse the closer we get to ‘shipping’. Of course we come to the meeting before ship date as our ‘lizard brain’ says I need to speak up now. The genius part (in getting ideas realized) is to get the Lizard brain to shut up long enough to overcome resistance.
Via the swissmiss report on his speech at 99%.
Norman McLaren (April 11, 1914 – January 27, 1987) was a Scottish-born Canadian animator and film director known for his work for the National Film Board of Canada.
Interesting how they comment on not trying to make money delivering the newspaper over the internet — the exact opposite of what is occurring today.
The Rutt-Etra video synthesizer was co-invented by Steve Rutt & Bill Etra. It essentially was an analog computer for video raster manipulation.
I’m not a financial guru nor has this weblog ever had more than a passing interest in finance. The current ‘deprecession’ gives me a giant headache whenever I try to come to terms with what it all means (our lack of knowledge in this very complex subject gives more power to those who have control over the system). I may not agree with their thesis, I think everything is about money, but I do like the following paragraph from Rolling Stone’s ‘The Big Takeover’:
The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just posted the largest quarterly loss in American corporate history — some $61.7 billion. In the final three months of last year, the company lost more than $27 million every hour. That’s $465,000 a minute, a yearly income for a median American household every six seconds, roughly $7,750 a second. And all this happened at the end of eight straight years that America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and explosive tubes of toothpaste. Yet in the end, our government had no mechanism for searching the balance sheets of companies that held life-or-death power over our society and was unable to spot holes in the national economy the size of Libya (whose entire GDP last year was smaller than AIG’s 2008 losses).
Read: The Big Takeover
Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work. – Gustave Flaubert
While the atmosphere is somewhat unchanged, the music is a bit louder and a bit heavy on the easy listening cover tunes, it’s hard to recommend a restaurant that treats it’s customers with such indifference. I was there yesterday hoping to use one of the comfortable couch and tables to work with a Taipei based artist. Alas they reserved those tables for seemingly mystical customers as the waitresses kept saying ok have a seat and the boss kept coming over and saying no. No one ever came to sit in them.
It more inconvenience than anything else and perhaps not worth mentioning but if I can’t rant about the omnipresent poor customer service in Hsinchu here than where can I.
Previously: Casa de socrates
The film Amadeus dramatizes and romanticizes the divine origins of creative genius. Antonio Salieri, representing the talented hack, is cursed to live in the time of Mozart, the gifted and undisciplined genius who writes as though touched by the hand of God … Of course this is hogwash. There are no ‘natural’ geniuses … No-one worked harder than Mozart. By the time he was twenty-eight years old, his hands were deformed because of all the hours he had spent practicing, performing, and gripping a quill pen to compose…
As Mozart himself wrote to a friend, “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.”
From Twyla Tharp’s book ‘The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
“Some books are to be tasted,” he wrote, “others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books…. ” (Clearly Bacon predicted the rise of the graduate research assistant, trudging through the monographic literature for some great professor’s benefit.) – Francis Bacon
I see in the turning of literal pages — pages bound in literal books — a compelling larger value, and perceive in the move away from the book a move away from a certain kind of cultural understanding, one that I’m not confident that we are replacing, never mind improving upon…. The book is part of a system. And that system stands for the labor and taxonomy of human understanding, and to touch a book is to touch that system, however lightly. – Sven Birkerts
Taken from The Reader, commentary on Amazon’s Kindle 2, by Scott McLemee.
We spent this past weekend on a quick getaway at Taiwan’s version of the American farm, Flying Cow Ranch. It’s nice to get some exercise, fresh air, and drink some tasty milk. The weekend was timed to coincide with Camren’s 3rd birthday.
While it’s a nice place to visit it starts to loose it’s appeal after you have been there a few times. But it’s close and there are very few places where you can go and experience some wide open fields. The overpriced pony rides and farm animal feeding provide some fun for the kids. It’s also nice to provide Camren and Catriona with some kind of connection with the food they eat and drink.
They used to have some fun classes at night where you could make butter and ice cream but they were replaced on this trip with DIY pizza which was disappointing. I bake with the kids all the time but how many times do you get to make butter?
Food choices were pretty slim this trip – overpriced Taiwanized Italian pasta, hot pot, or fried chicken and french fries. Non of it was very appealing. Breakfast was a slight improvement with boiled eggs, bread, and yogurt. They used to sell nice fresh brewed coffee at the outside concessions but it was replaced with some kind of boiled tofu junk that you see in 7-11. Perhaps there demographic is changing.
My wife has suggested we go back every month but I think a picnic in the hills near our house might be almost as satisfying. We’ll head back next year to milk the cows though.
More photos in my Flickr set.
This is related to the work I have been involved with lately. From “The ROI of being social at work” by Matthew Hodgson:
MIT research  shows that 40% of creative teams productivity is directly explained by the amount of communication they have with others to discover, gather, and internalise information. In other MIT studies, research shows that employees with the most extensive digital networks are 7% more productive than their colleagues. Furthermore, those with the most cohesive face-to-face networks are 30% more productive.
This reinforces similar research by Aral, Brynjolfsson & Van Alstyne  that highlights the importance of these networks because they “strongly influence information diffusion … and access to novel information”. Availability of these networks, their research shows, is a highly significant predictor of worker productivity.
Since information does not diffuse randomly in organisations, but rather reflects the nature and structure of human relationships, providing the right tools that support human social relationships, communication and interaction, will provide a significant ROI to the enterprise.
1. Pentland, A. 2009. How Social Networks Network Best. Harvard Business Review, Feb, p 37.
2. Aral, Brynjolfsson & Van Alstyne. 2007. Productivity Effects of Information Diffusion in Networks.
Our ongoing saga to enroll Catriona into local school continued Saturday with a parent information meeting held at Beimen elementary in Hsinchu. It was a long and well presented session on how to prepare, and what to expect from the upcoming ‘early’ entrance tests process.
In Taiwan a child must have a birthdate by September 1st in order to attend elementary school in that calendar year. Any child born after that date, no matter how close the date, cannot attend without first being tested. There are no exceptions to this rule. The testing process itself is incredibly laborious and secretive with the result being not whether or not your child is ready for elementary school but whether she/he is ‘gifted’.
Here is how the process could work. You have two children, one born on August 31st, and the other on September 3rd. The child born on August 31st is off to elementary school, the child born on the 3rd of September must be tested in order to prove herself to be a ‘gifted’ child. Gifted is defined as being showing great promise in a particular area, like music, language, math, or dance. In addition the child must pass a group IQ (socio-emotional) and an intellectual test. To pass these tests they must receive a score of 97 or higher. Correspondingly, only 3 out of 100 students who take the test will pass. Furthermore, it was stated that the other children, in this example the child born on the 31st, might score 85 or less.
The child born a few weeks later than the others may well overall be better prepared for elementary school but because of a slight happenstance of birth must prove herself to show ‘genius’. Something is amiss in this whole process but we have little choice but to go along with it.
It would be interesting to look at the differences in August and September birth rates. I’m told there are a rise in c sections and premature deliveries during this period.
A great high-level overview of the credit crisis by Jonathan Jarvis, a project which was completed as part of his thesis work in the Media Design Program, a graduate studio at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Diego Stocco turned sandbags from his backyard into a wonderful sound design experiment.
The entire track is created only out of tuned sand tones. No additional sounds or waveforms.
I emphasized the inner notes of the sand grains and mapped them on a sampler as a series of instruments. The grooves are all played live with various techniques, including taping two piezo films to my fingers.
With an eye for brushing up on pertinent literature, I am trying to reread some key books from my small library. Some like George Lakoff’s books are very valuable but so academic I wonder if I will ever get through them. Others from Donald Norman and Tom Kelly are full of ready to use practical tidbits that allow me to at least start talking about them in my practice. I’m going to try to share some of these tidbits (writing aids in memory and I need all the help I can get).
I have Tom Kelley’s latest book, The Ten Faces of Innovation, on order but his book that I do have, The Art of Innovation, is full all kinds of great ideas which have proven relevant to me in the past and now.
I do like to watch people. If I had a wish it would be to be able to be involved in more projects that allowed me to observe the way people live, work, and play. So interesting and so many insights to be found.
It’s a general principle of humankind. Scientists, industrialists, anthropologists, artists, and writers have understood this for centuries, and many entrepreneurs understand it intuitively.
Once you start observing carefully, all kinds of insights and opportunities can open up.
Sometimes-if you are lucky-you can find inspiration for innovation by observing yourself. In many parts of your life, you go through steps so mechanically. so unconsciously, that this is not possible. When you are off the beaten path, however, you are open to discovery: when you travel, especially overseas; when you rent an unfamiliar car; when you try a new sport or experience a new activity. AT those times, you are more open to ask the childlike “Why?” and “Why not?” questions that lead to innovation. … take notes about your impressions, reactions, and questions, Especially the problems, the things that bug you.
New ideas come from being seeing, smelling, hearing-bing there.
Focused observation can be a powerful source of innovation. As you observe people in their natural settings, you should not only look for the nuances of human behavior but also strive to infer motivation and emotion. Good, insightful observation combines careful watching with occasional well-chosen “why?” questions to get at the underlying psychology of a persons interactions with products and services.
Some of my most inspiring moments came when our daughter Catriona started to explore the environment around her. In our house at the time most of the storage was via wire storage shelving with all the heavy pots and pans sitting at the bottom. Instead of discouraging her from touching or playing with them, we used to sit every night on the kitchen floor with pots and pans and other kitchen tools in an effort to make music. Sitting with her I was able to see the limitations placed upon her by her physical development , how she compensated, and was still participated.
In short these nightly playtimes/observations led to a continuing interest in tangible interfaces, a masters thesis, and a number of projects since.
Basic observational research can lead to all kinds of insights and inspiration.
From Chapter 3, The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm
Tim Brown’s Blog on Design Thinking
Overview: Ethnography, Observational Research, and Narrative Inquiry
Observational Field Research
Research Methods Knowledge Base
Let the walls do the talking
Human Centered Design ToolKit
It looks like my post last week proclaiming that the traffic slowdown was proof of Taiwan’s economic slowdown was a bit premature. The drive to work today was rife with the usual idiocy of morning traffic in Hsinchu. The three lane abreast slow moving trucks (blocking the highway exits), left lane to right lane to highway exit changers, and the general huge volume of traffic were all present. If there is a decrease in traffic it wasn’t noticeable today.
There goes the only positive of having a recession.
Perhaps the traffic purge last week had as much to do with winter vacation as the forced holiday for local employees.
These videos are quite interesting for a look back in time at what my hometown looked like before I was born. Some things change, others stay the same. It seems like an attractive age to grow up there. Amazing.
While the videos are great what I am most enthused about is the fact that there is someone making an effort to give us a glimpse as to what life was in the past. Pex Mackay is sharing video, audio, and short stories to share his life growing up on the Island, surely this is a great application of social media and online story telling. I’m learning the background behind all kinds of accepted cultural euphemisms.
If we could only get more people to do so.
If there is any evidence that work has slowed in Hsinchu it must be the complete lack of traffic around the Science Park last Friday morning and a noticeable let up in traffic this morning on a Monday. Last Friday the areas I drove seemed like a veritable ghost town.
Today it was busy but it felt more like the roads were at capacity versus the clogged conditions I usually experience.
With no products shipping everyone is staying home.
Learning and Working in the Collaborative Age: A New Model for the Workplace. Pixar University’s Randy Nelson explains what schools must do to prepare students for jobs in new media.
I don’t think the talk needs to be pidgeon holed to careers in new media but serves as a commentary for businesses, educators, and people in general. It’s an inspiring talk. Here are some somewhat key passages:
Make your partner look good … (which might be along the same train of thought as killing the devils advocate). Take a piece of work and don’t judge it … take the work and say, here is where I am starting, what can I do with this?
The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.
Proof of Portfolio vs. promise of a resume.
Collaboration is amplification. The amplification you get by connecting a bunch of human beings .. who are listening to each other, interested in each other, bring separate depths to the problem, bring breadth that gives them interest in the entire solution, allows them to communicate on multiple different levels (in writing, in acting, in pictures/imagery) … in all those ways you get a high fidelity notion across a broad range of people.
Be interested, not interesting
Something I am thinking about today.
Through-out grade school I was always taught to write notes on whatever I was reading and to rewrite any other notes as a means to comprehend the material I was studying. I think I read somewhere since that writing involves higher level cognitive processes that aid in memory (I don’t have time to find the source). Even my Mandarin teacher forced me to write ad nauseam pinyin, and later characters, on the white board as a means to remember and to help keep me warm in winter.
Up until the past five years or so most of my learning and research activities were slow – the act of writing, high-lighting, reading books, and bookmarking passages took time. Time which allowed for greater absorption of the data at hand. Generally, you had to read through allot more material to help support your arguments.
Contrast that with the methods I, and many others, use now for the light research activities I am involved in in an almost daily basis. It’s all at the meta level – delicious for reference material, textedit for in-use snip-its of text, Google docs for draft sharing and collaboration, Flickr and iView for images, weblogs and micro-blogs for sharing, Yojimbo for data stores, and Google and host of other sources for research. It’s all fast and shallow with an emphasis on cut ‘n’ paste.
In effect we’ve become curators and convenors of other peoples material. We don’t absorb, we regurgitate. We don’t take the time to allow for that transformation of data to knowledge.
What effects does this have on the ability to concentrate? When I told a doctor I was having trouble focusing he advised to read real books slowly.
I wonder if there is anyway to actually slow down the process and still use digital tools? I’m not convinced I ever truly read anything onscreen as well as in a book. It’s more scanning and collecting.
The Effects of the Shared Writing Process on Reading Comprehension of Second and Third Grade Students.
Improving Reading Comprehension Through Higher Order Thinking Skills (pdf).
An insight on designers’ sketching activities in traditional versus digital media
A father and son drawing letters. Love this. I think this will be on the agenda for tomorrow.
Notes: Graham Wallas in his book the Art of Thought details what is one of the first models of the creative process. In his model creativity may be explained with the following 5 stages (or 4 depending on which literature you agree with):
1) preparation (preparatory work on a problem that focuses the individual’s mind on the problem and explores the problem’s dimensions),
2) incubation (where the problem is internalized into the unconscious mind and nothing appears externally to be happening),
3) intimation (the creative person gets a ‘feeling’ that a solution is on its way),
4) illumination or insight (where the creative idea bursts forth from its preconscious processing into conscious awareness); and
5) verification (where the idea is consciously verified, elaborated, and then applied).
The implied theory behind Wallas’ model — that creative thinking is a subconscious process that cannot be directed, and that creative and analytical thinking are complementary — is reflected to varying degrees in other models of creativity.
The ‘spark’ is always surrounded by heavy bouts of dry analytical work and though it seems next to impossible to convince those whose lively hood includes applying for IP, it’s all in the latter. An idea has little value unless released to the world and executed upon.
View Larger Map
The above map is an approximation of a new Hsinchu park that encompasses a series of hiking trails, look out points, large fields, and general ‘get the heck out the noisy city’ ephemera. I don’t know the exact name due to my stumbling through the characters but it’s really worth the effort if you can find it. It has the feel of a closely held secret. I’ve been going there off and on prior to it’s recent opening and it’s truly a great escape. And it’s only a short distance from our house. Amazing.
Someone deserves a big bonus this year for making this area happen.
It feels much bigger than what I drew on that map.
Our efforts to enroll our daughter in local school for the September 2009 semester have largely failed. She is just past the September cut off date for admission and this rule is seemingly the one rule in Taiwan that you cannot gain some flexibility. I think the following passage, from Mandarin for BC schools, generally illustrates why we feel it’s important for her to be educated in a bilingual environment and why it should be Mandarin. It is the major reason why we stay in Taiwan.
“Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world (1 in 6 people speak it worldwide) and currently the second most prevalent language of business, after English. As the “Gateway to the Pacific” we believe that providing a Mandarin language option for our children will provide them with significant advantages, both from a global citizenship and economic perspective. Foreign countries have prepared their children for decades by teaching them English as a second language, it is our desire to also reach beyond our official second language of French and provide options.
Even educators such as Mr. Emery Dosdall, former BC deputy education minister who now heads a new provincial government office charged with improving relations between BC and Asia-Pacific countries, recently stated: “French is great…but as a language of industry, I’d certainly recommend…Mandarin. They’re going to create great opportunities for your children in the future”. He goes on to say that, “Parents who really want to give their children an edge in the global economy should be clamouring for Mandarin immersion”.
There are cognitive advantages as well: as a level III* difficulty language (it takes about four times longer to learn Mandarin than French or Spanish), Mandarin’s complexity stimulates the brain more than, and differently from, other languages, thus improving the child’s ability to learn other subjects as well, including English and mathematics.
For optimal results, starting as early as possible, ideally in Kindergarten, is the key to success in second language mastery. An early start will also ensure our children can speak without an accent.
Though there is presently a Grade 4 entrance Mandarin program at Jamieson Elementary School in Vancouver (which is the only formal bilingual program besides French in BC), starting so late means those early critical years for developing oral fluency are lost. A K/Grade 1 start would certainly enhance the acquisition and development of oral fluency in this already difficult to learn language.
*The Foreign Service Institute, a major US government language school, ranks languages according to the length of time needed for a native English speaker to achieve oral fluency in a language. For French, it is 24 weeks. For Mandarin, it is 88 weeks, or about 4 times longer. See for further details: http://www.nvtc.gov/lotw/months/november/learningExpectations.html”
I’m less interested in the practical applications as I am the positive effects it has on her as a person.
Via MandarinForBCSchools.org. I’ve removed my usual blockquote quotes for readability.
Forever at the Victoria & Albert Museum from Universal Everything on Vimeo.
I wish I could see this. Universal Everything has installed a piece in the John Madejski Garden at the Victoria & Albert Museum. It’s entitled ‘Forever’ and consists of a large video wall displaying endless animations responding to an ever changing soundtrack.
Forever is an art project formed from generative music and generative visuals and is a commission for the museum’s new digital programme,” explains Schmidt. “Simon Pyke has composed the music and sound – he’s created hundreds of different soundscapes, drums, all in the same key so that anything can be mixed together. It will evolve over the two months it’s on, so you’ll never hear, or see, the same thing twice. It’s based on the same kinds of micro-patterns as Mozart’s generative minuets, but on a more detailed level. When the sound is intense it will trigger pulses on the visual side and visual elements will also feed back into the music.