Taghacking

Grassroots mapping (kite, camera, coke)

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Grassrooots Mapping: Field Mapping Training from TungstenMonkey on Vimeo.

Grassrootsmapping.org:

Seeking to invert the traditional power structure of cartography, the grassroots mappers use helium balloons and kites to loft their own “community satellites” made with inexpensive digital cameras. The resulting images are georeferenced and stitched into maps which are 100x higher resolution that those offered by Google, at extremely low cost.

Huh. There’s so much in this video I won’t even comment much. This pretty much sums up the awesomeness that open source & hacking can be.

Bruce Sterling at Reboot11 (some belated quotes)

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Earlier this summer I went to Reboot11 (and loved it). Sadly, I never really got around to write down all the stuff we talked about there. But here’s a few quotes from the particularly great Bruce Sterling talk.

The quotes are actually not from the talk itself but from David Weinberger’s live blogging summary:

Sterling on geeks and favela chic in the context of different “quadrants of the future”:

The other side of Reboot in power is low-end: Favela chic. You’ve lost everything but you’re wired to the gill and still big on Facebook. Everything you believe as geeks is Favela thinking. This venue is itself a stuffed animal. The unsustainable is the only frontier you are. You’re old in old-new structure, a steam punk appropriation.

What can I say? He’s spot on. I’m writing this from our coworking space Studio70, a lofty, industrial-style Berlin backyard office, where we all sit on table differently arranged every day, working from our laptops, shoving data and information back and forth. We’re sharing desks and meeting room, improvising with every new gadget and feature we build in here, in the room next door a makerbot is being assembled. In other words: it’s a steam punk appropriation.

And on sustainable lifestyle in a geek context:

You’re going to be dead much longer than you’re alive. So you need to do stuff that you can do better than your dead great grandfather. How can you do this, he asks. A geek-friendly approach to consumption. For people of your generation, objects are print-outs. They’re frozen social relationships. Think of objects in terms of hours of time and volumes of space. It’s a good design approach. Because if you’re picking these things up — washing it, storing it, curating it — these possessions are really embodied social relationships: made by peole, designed by people, sold by people, etc. Relationships that happen to have material form. You might argue that you ought to buy cheap things or organic. That’s not the way forward. Economizing is not social. If you economize, you’re starving someone else. You need to reassess the objects in your space and time.

Also, here’s the whole talk, and so worth watching:

Impressions of ITP Springshow

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ITP is a program at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts, and it looks simply awesome. Taken directly from their own mission statement, the ITP’s mission is “to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies — how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people’s lives. Perhaps the best way to describe us is as a Center for the Recently Possible.”

Twice a year, the students showcase their works, most recently (yesterday) it was ITP Springshow 2009. I’m very glad I could make it there. The vibe is just great, it’s creative and it oozes innovation. The folks studying there are a mix of artists, tinkerers & hardware hackers, it seems.

When I walked in, I saw Clay Shirky hugging a needy object. (Which, if you ask me, is a great start to any show. Also gives you an idea about the kind of stuff you get to see here.) Other projects I found noteworthy or just cool were The Gotham Guide, a QR code based mobile tour guide; a visualization of the rat and bedbug populations in New York City; A Simple Mug, a project to visualize the impact a re-usable coffee mug can have on our environment; an iPhone app that lets you travel back in time through maps; The Mud Tub (seen in the video below), an experimental organic interface that lets users control a computer by digging through mud; a cheap water-testing device for UNICEF & Africa; a service that broadcasts the public Twitter timeline in audio format; a gorgeous wind-sensitive LED light show; a hybrid of Andean textile Art & 8-bit aesthetics; International finance data interpreted as fish; a digital underwater creature that reacts to being watched; Flowzilla, a mobile rapping app; a Greasemonkey script to play Wikipaths like we did when I studied in Sydney; a modified Altoids box to channel women’s frustration; Root Boots that allow you to re-connect to nature; A service for phone calls from the past; A hug measuring jacket; A micro-locative game about heights in the city; a social light switch (which reminded me of the Good Night Lamp, which I also love); a jacket for those who need long-term intravenous injections; and many others.

The Mud Tub, an experimental organic interface

I had a blast. If you have a chance, go see the next show.

There’s also a complete list of projects shown.