Nonobject Short Notes


Just some short notes for myself on this book NONOBJECT by Branko Lukic with words by Barry Katz and a foreword by Bill Moggridge. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Nonobject, a book that reveals quite a number of speculative objects — that are described as experience-centric design research that push the boundaries of possibility. The objects themselves do innovation through design beyond physical boundaries. As the New York Times describes it — the objects are about freeing form from function.

What I appreciate about the objects are the way they take a theme and then stretch it to extremes along a particular experience axis. For example, this set of flatware that has these very long impossibly thin handles to them — made of the impossible, whimsical material “Thinium.”


The book is chockfull of luscious renderings, gooey wordy designer-y descriptions of beautiful CAD models. There are beautiful human models serenely poised over expertly rendered CAD objects. The pages are thick and smooth, like pulled sugar-y ribbon candy. You want to lick the pages and their CAD models to see if they will have an impossibly rich, whimsical taste as well.

There are some curious things in here that tip into the realm of design fiction where the design actually brings me to the point of confusion, where I am unwittingly compelled to suspend my disbelief such as when one sees something and wonders if it isn’t actually real, already on Engadget. These are things that are just on the cusp of believability because they are consistent with the ways that ideas and their materialization evolve. Like — you could believe that a couple of future-forward thinking venture capitalists pooled $5 million to finance the design, tooling and short-tun manufacture of some especially curious bit of digital product concept work.



Most of the things in Nonobject deflect away from design fiction — at least the sort that closes the gap between idea and its possibility. They are truly more like speculative knowledge objects. Things to ponder over and go — hmmmm..curious. Nonobjects don’t make you want to do a google search to find out when the thing is going to be released, or search the leaked items on Gizmodo or something, or place a pre-order. For the Laboratory’s Bureau of Design Provocations, this sort of diegetic prototype is much closer to being there, in the world — than a gooey CAD render could ever be. Evolved visual literacy in this day and age does not CAD renders as much more than what is created by the designer, sitting with their modeling software, satisfying their primal designers’ urges to dream about a world in which everything looks like it should be moving very fast, or have organic, hand-made pebble-like forms, &c.

Some of the nonobjects tip into the realm of plausible. The “Behind the Scenes” camera tips into that sort of thing. A camera that captures what’s in front of the lens in a traditionally way — but also what’s behind. This is intriguing design fiction in that it seems quite possible, despite not existing. And it gets one thinking about the experience for people in the world, not just the form and un-functionality of a spectacular dinette set. But — even this makes one stop for a moment. Wouldn’t there be lots of photos of half of the photographer’s head? As soon as you start down that path, you *sigh and slump..just a concept.

Now, I’m not saying that concept-ing and vision-ing and all that does not serve a useful purpose in advancing design. It raises questions and provides material to ponder priorities and principles. It points to unusual things that help those less versed in the possibilities of design to see more broadly as to what the capabilities of this craft might be. It allows free exploration without material constraints. It’s far-fiction, unabashed dreaming and pondering. It distances itself from the material world, the world of tangible needs, constraints and exists almost exclusively in the imagination.


“All products serve, in one way or another, to protect us from the elements, but by separating ourselves from nature we become separated from ourselves. Take the humble umbrella. It shelters us from the rain, but this implies that the rain is our enemy, a hostile force from which we need to be protected. Kisha brings us into a different kind of relationship with nature. Its upturned, windproof form reaches up like a flower to capture the falling rain, and its hollow handle directs it where it needs to go. The rain nourishes the flower, reminding us that we need nourishing too.”


At some point this sort of concept-ing and vision-ing tips into the obscure poetry of design that is for designers themselves and really misses the opportunity to translate ideas into the material of the world in which humans live and die. Umbrellas have potential and possibility for being better and different, of course. I have to say though — this particular near future umbrella just confuses the bejezus outta me. This would be curious and even a good design-joke if it said less about watering a lone flower than the rhythms of cheap $5 umbrellas that you get on the corner that end up failing and turning inside out. I mean — a design fiction umbrella that could turn inside out if a torrent of wind decided to do so and *still remained functional as an, that’d be something much more legible and perhaps even tip into the category of “wheels-on-luggage” — like..someday we’d say to ourselves: “what took Totes so long to make the wind-accomodator umbrella?” If Totes cooked the Nonobject “Kisha” I’d get very French and *pffft with a *shrug.

This is sort of where I lost a bit of enthusiasm. While I like the direction and motivation here, this did not feel like the sort of design fiction that I lust after. It seemed very designer-ywith a heavy emphasis on the perfect render. Good design fiction in my mind tends more towards believable, pushing towards the suspension of disbelief as a core tenent — because then you enter into that middle space of confusion tending towards possibility, rather than the dead-giveawy of an expert CAD render in Keyshot or Hypershot or Rhino or whatever.

Now, this is a bias. I’m a design fiction guy, a design fiction-y designer. I believe that a design that tells stories about how the world could be, or what it may come to be is one that serves a purpose in a deep, ideological way to make things better. And, in the two or so years that we here have been exploring and producing design fictions we’ve found that they should be props that live in the corners so that the attention they draw to themselves in only a secondary or tertiary fashion. Fetishize them too much and the magic falls apart. Ancillary things aren’t highly rendered on white backgrounds. So — maybe nonobjects are just something entirely different. They aren’t convincing they way I think a good bit of near future science fiction can become a motivator to create (or avoid) the world it describes. In an important way, design fiction is more than fantasy renderings of impossible worlds and their contents. Design fiction is motivated to bring about change; to make things a bit better. Speculating and fantasizing is fine — an important function. But it leaves one wanting for a set of more tangible objectives, goals, principles or scripts to getting from here to a “there” that’s better than what we have now. It motivated by a loose philosophy that underscores the fact that real, material, hand work *can bring about change. When I see CAD renders, that’s only a small step towards that because our visual culture has adopted and become quite sophisticated — when something is rendered, we can tell. And that erodes the important illusion of possibility, the illusion that closes the gap and makes one wonder if this thing is real, or is this story I’m being told journalism? Or fiction?

These are perfectly captured, fantasy objects. For me, they look too fast, too impossible, too much like the Industrial Designer’s dreams rather than props reflecting the complexity of a fraught, much-less than perfect world. It’s singular — one person in charge of everything, which may indeed be the Industrial Design fantasy par excellence.
Continue reading Nonobject Short Notes

Introducing Elephant Path

Elephant Path home

It is rewarding to see some our areas of investigation at Lift Lab burgeoning in relation with our clients and partners. For instance, we now have a good set of tools and reasonably well-documented processes that help qualify and profile territories from their network activity (e.g. GSM, WiFi, Bluetooth, mobility infrastructures, social networks). One specificity of our approach is to produce visualizations that characterize the data at hand very early in the analysis process. It tremendously helps bring the different actors of a project on the same page by opening a dialogue and their interpretations of what they see is often great material for early insights to focus the investigation (see Exploration and engage in the discussion in the Data City essay).

This ability to sketch with data is particularly fruitful when dealing with multidisciplinarity. Indeed, data visualization brings together over a same language very diverse practices and methodologies (e.g. in our projects on network data, we deal with a bestiary of physicists, network engineers, marketing directors, salesmen, architects, geographers, social scientists, innovation specialists, …). Over the last months, we have been very fortunate to partner with our friends at Bestiario who share a common vision : data visualization is part of an innovation process not its outcome. They applied this perspective in their latest product Impure, an engine with an intuitive visual programming language. Impure has particularly revolutionized our ability to quickly communicate the early results our investigation. In a few weeks we have been able to swiftly create interfaces in collaboration with designers that did not have prior programming skill. One outcome of the use of our set of tools is Elephant Path, a concept by Lift Lab, designed and implemented by the young designer Olivier Plante in Impure :

Elephant Path, a social navigation interface based on he thousand of pieces of information inhabitants and visitors share publicly on the web
Our idea of Elephant Path germinated years ago with the emergence of new ways of reading and discovering a territory through its digital activities (see my PhD thesis). It collided with our long interest in the principles of social navigation (see rss4you developed by Nicolas and Robi in the early days of content syndication) that leverage traces of activities with the goal to facilitate locating and evaluating information. In the physical world, a classic example of social navigation is a trail (called elephant path, desire line, social trail or desire path) developed by erosion caused by people making their own shortcuts (a phenomenon we like to observe).

Taking that concept into the informational layers of our cities and regions, we sketched in Impure the possibility to reveal unofficial routes and beaten tracks through the thousand of pieces of information inhabitants and visitors share publicly on the web. Technically, we deployed our own algorithms to extract travel sequences using collections of user-generated content from Wikipedia, Flickr and Geonames. For each region, Elephant Path lists Wikipedia entries and selects some of the monuments, parks, and other popular sites with a story. It consolidates the the Wikipedia entries with geographical coordinates via the Geonames API. Then, it uses the Flickr API to collect the information photographers share at these locations. Finally is applies our own network data analysis algorithms to filter the data, produce travel sequences and measure photogenic levels.

We have done it for both Paris and Barcelona. For each city, Elephant Path provides measures on the main trails, on the photogenic attractions and the months of activity. For instance the information reveals that:

Elephant Path
Paris seems to be a “summer” destination according to their monthly photographic activity. If you are in Paris during that period, the parks (Bois de Boulogne, Parc Monceau and Jardin du Luxembourg) might not be you visiting priorities. Indeed, these sites seem to be more photogenic in Spring and Fall. But if you are at Jardin du Luxembourg, there is some chances that you were in the St-Germain des Prés neighborhood (e.g. Café de Flore) previously and that your stroll there might very well bring you to Centre Pompidou that links the nearby Panthéon with the trendy Marais neighborhood. Barcelona seems to be more of “fall” destination according to the monthly photographic activity. Discover it yourself. [More screenshots]

An interface designed for you to copy and adapt it
But Elephant Path doesn’t end with data visualization, maps and graphs that can be embedded into web pages. It is meant to be open and be appropriated in unexpected ways. The Impure platform offers numerous data access, information processing and visualization capabilities. You can copy the code and data of Elephant Path and improve it in your workspace. Content of the work content is under the terms of a Creative Commons License. Do not hesitate in ripping and adapting it!

Data City: A Text for Visual Complexity, the Book

Early last year Manuel Lima kindly invited me to contribute to his book at Princeton Architectural Press on the topic of Network Visualization. The book VisualComplexity: Mapping Patterns of Information is not available for pre-order. However my essay did not make through the last editor’s pass. My role was provide an overview of the topic “data city”, its future implications and the role of visualization in this context. I tried to give a high-level reflection on the field evaluating its present and future while keeping the text accessible with tangible examples. It was written in January 2010, it is unedited, but you still might find some relevant elements:

City and information

A city has, by default, always been about information and its diffusion. Historically, fixed settlements permitted the development of newspapers and the possibility for the exchange of information. It will continue to do so in the near future given the volume of data modern cities generate and the emerging selection of algorithms and visualizations available to us to extract information.

The digitization of information

Indeed, we are noticing a digitization of the contemporary cities with technologies embedded into its streets and buildings and carried by people and vehicles. This evolution has appended an informational membrane over the urban fabrics that afford citizens new flexibility in conducting their daily activities. Simultaneously, this membrane reports on previously invisible dynamics of a city; providing new means to the multiple actors of the urban life to reshape the spaces, the policies, the flows, the services and the many different aspects that constitute a city. For instance, the aggregated view of mobile phone traffic reveals the “pulse” of a city, detecting anomalies such as traffic congestions in real-time. Similarly, the deployment of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags connects inanimate objects into an Internet of Things. Ben Cerveny, strategic and conceptual advisor to the design studio Stamen, coined this evolutions as ”things informalize” using the following terms: “the city itself is becoming part of the Internet with a world of data moved piece by piece and collided against a open source toolchain and methodology”.

Tools and platforms to reveal the data city

The data collisions described by Ben Cerveny produce multiple layers of urban information accessible to the actors of the city for their appropriation. Mixed with the emergence of accessible cartography (e.g. Open Sreet Maps), descriptive languages (e.g. KML), data visualization platforms (e.g. GeoCommons), and data processing techniques (e.g. Geocoding), today’s representation of cities do not only depict the cityscape, they reveal conditions in the city that were previously hidden in spreadsheets and databases. As the datasets become more complex and their model of representation richer, graphically representing the city has become less a matter of convention and more a matter of invention. Indeed, traditional cartography with primitive line drawing and static images now co-exist with flexible solutions that separate row data from the map, and promote exploration with multiple-scale interactivity and reactive environments. This evolution was particularly striking with the popularity of “mash-ups”, linking information to space and mapping newly accessible urban data on top of interactive imageries.


The popularity of “mash-ups” have determined larger initiatives (e.g. “open data” and “web of data”) to free urban data from their silos and promote the public appropriation. Practically, city and government data have been also moving onto the Web making accessible the locations of infrastructures, crime reports or pollution readings. In consequence, “data scientists”, developers and designers create palettes of city data-based visualizations and application, transforming data and their visualization into a public good. In parallel, other platforms such as Pachube have contributed to the bottom-up generation and upload of city data with visualization platforms such as GeoCommons or IBM’s Many Eyes to communicate and share views. This participation offers the opportunity to change cities urban strategies, with potential innovations creating news way to look at the process of citymaking.

Other ways to share the dynamics of the city have emerged in a less obvious but nevertheless indicative unfolding. For instance, of the past years, Idealista a Spanish online real estate ad platform had been accumulating massive amount of information on the cities housing market. It is only recently they have started to offer, almost in real-time, their analysis of the evolution of the real estate market back to the public, with and API for developers to appropriate the results. This strategy offers a city the kind of insights that previously only tedious administrative survey procedures were producing.

Similarly, as the information is not always well-formatted for the analysis and visualization inquires, some initiatives had to develop “web scrapping” techniques to extract valuable data from the public web sites of local institutions and services providers. For instance, for the Oakland Crimespotting, the developers at Stamen Design parsed the web site of the Oakland City Police to produce an effective interactive visualization of crime data showing residents where crime is occurring and what types of crimes are being reported.

The roles of visualization

Exploration and engage in the discussion
The work of Stamen proved that this type of “interventionist mapping” go beyond the expository. Indeed the use of interactive visualization allow exploration and question-making; broadening the urban policy conversation. In fact, aesthetics plays a fundamental role in engaging the discussion. It is not without a reason may visualization of urban informational layers are exhibited in Museums. Indeed, the application of aesthetics to data does not only try to make citizens aware of what is happening around them, but also figuring out the most elegant ways of making the unseen felt and gather feedback. As a researcher at MIT Senseable City lab, I experienced the fundamental utility of “beautiful” visualization as part of investigation process, to attract attention of cities stakeholders, stimulate the dialogue and stretch the imagination. For instance, very early on in the Tracing the Visitor’s Eye project, we produced visualizations to acquire first-hand feedback from journalists and inhabitants of the Province of Florence. They naturally contextualize our work to the local politics, wondering whether the our results could help move the David statue to more appropriate tourist areas or whether they could better understand the impact of the implementation of low-cost airline in a near-by airport. In contrast, they also helped highlighting the “imperfect mirror to reality” we were projecting, rightfully arguing that the models and data supporting the visualization reveal only a partial perspective on visitors dynamics.

Decision making – integration into existing practices
The critics of mash-ups and raw data visualization is the necessary first step to produce knowledge. It leads to investigation, further linking the data to improve the ways professionals and authorities understand and manage cities. Indeed, architects, transportation engineers, urban planners, policy makers, community groups rely on new types of representations as communication instrument as much as means to analyze urban dynamics. In fact, the application of visualizations that combine the emerging time-space data has proven vital; particularly because language through which designer, planners and decision makers communicate plans is mainly visual.

Responsive environments
Outside the realm of professionals, the flexibility of new data processing and visualization techniques facilitate their communication to the public through multiple mediums, from projection on building facades to the transformation of physical space. Indeed, the cityscape offers plenty of interfaces to display the state of city-scale services such as energy consumption (e.g. green smoke) or road traffic. When communicated in real-time, the information creates a responsive environment capturing city dynamics, supporting the decision-making and adapting to the changing needs of the public. MIT Senseable City Lab’s seminal project WikiCity exemplifies the implementation of this feedback loop mechanism. This urban demo proposed a visualization platform for the citizen of Rome to view on large screens the city’s dynamics in real-time (e.g. presence of crowd, location of buses, awareness of events). This platform enabled people, participating to the Notte Bianca event, to become prime actors themselves, appropriating dynamically the city and the event. Besides the importunity of this type of responsive environment to improve the experience of a city, it raises challenges to design the mechanisms by which these services are provisioned and understand for which activity that citizens utilize them for?


The modern city is built not just upon physical infrastructure, but also upon patterns and flows of information that are growing and evolving. We are only at beginning of the development of the tools and visualizations that allow us to see these complex patterns of information over huge spans of time and space, or in any local context in real-time.
Yet, this data city face major challenges. Particularly, the collection of data and their communication involves the collaboration of multiple actors in different languages at the crossroad of urbanism, information architecture, geography and human sciences. Indeed, it is evident that the understanding of a city goes beyond logging machine states and events. Therefore, the data scientist fascination of the massive amount of data cities produces in “real-time”, should not discard the other points of view necessary to understand the city, its environment and its people. In other words, data alone does not explain and their visualizations do not stand alone.

Why do I blog this: Thanks to Manuel for the invitation. Even though the text did not pass the final cut, it was a very healthy and fun exercise to try to write about my work and domains of investigation in accessible terms.

Science Fiction Prototyping for Technology Innovation

Saturday April 23 1994, 000000

Science-fact and science-fiction all in a productive, creative, inspirational muddle. Jurassic Park meets its science meets its facts and its fictions in a favorite Time magazine cover, April 23, 1994.

This is really exciting to me. It feels like there is serious ((i.e. people with degrees who gather at conferences and congresses and use words like R&D)) comprehension of the way that science-fiction is a kind of science-fact, and science-fact is a kind of science-fiction. In fact, the two are one and the same and the categorization is mostly useful to bookstores who need to divvy up what goes where. There’s an incredibly rich view of the creation and materialization of new ideas if you disallow the hard distinctions. Honestly. It’s not insurgent view; it’s an innovative view. Seeing these kinds of cross-overs and crosstalk and the blurring-of-lines ((as should be the case, I believe — for the good of the whole smash)) makes me want to go to something like this, even after swearing off of this sort of specialist conference.

It’s at least worth looking at this Creative Science Foundation ((big sounding puff there)) the “brain-child” of an intriguing Futurist ((how artisinal)) called Brian David Johnson which has a few links to some intriguing activities and work, including this Morrow Project that Intel ran where they got some writers to write about life in the future.


1st Call For Papers

2nd International Workshop on Creative Science (CS’11)
– Science Fiction Prototyping for Technology Innovation –

Sponsored by Intel & Published by IOS Press

Held in conjunction with The 7th International Conference on Intelligent Environments (IE’11)

Nottingham, UK. 25th-26th of July 2011

Background and Goals: This international workshop will explore the use of science fiction as a means to motivate and direct research into new technologies and consumer products. It does this by creating science fiction stories grounded in current science and engineering research that are written for the explicit purpose of acting as prototypes for people to explore a wide variety of futures. These ‘prototypes’ can be created by scientists and engineers to stretch their work or by, for example, writers, school children and members of the public to influence the work of researchers. The outcomes of these interactions are then fed back, to shape the science research and outputs. In this way science fiction prototypes act as a way of involving the widest section of the population in determining the science research agenda, thereby making science investment, and science output more useful to everyone ranging from companies, through scientists and engineers to the public, consumers and the government that indirectly fund R&D. In this way fictional prototypes provide a powerful interdisciplinary tool to enhance the traditional practices of research, design and market research. The goals of the workshop are to act as a catalyst of this new approach by acting as a forum where researchers from differing disciplines (notably science fact and science fiction) can come together to explore how to develop this area.

Participation: You are cordially invited to participate to the workshop either as a presenter or as someone simply wishing to learn more about this topic and, perhaps, join the discussion as a member of the audience. Participation is possible either by attending the workshop in person, or by participating via the Internet. For presenters (science researchers or writers) we are looking for short imaginative fictional stories (prototypes) of no more than 12 pages (and presentations of 20 minutes) based on recent scientific publications, which would act as motivation (or discussion) or how science research might be directed. Your fictional stories (prototypes) should include a short discussion (no more than 2 pages) of your published work (and how they relate to your story, including references to your work). The fictional stories (prototypes) should conclude with a short summary (half to one page, say) that provides an overall comment on your effort to use your fictional prototype as a means to motivate your future work. References should be included at the end of the paper. All fictional stories (prototypes) accepted will be published by IOS Press.

Thanks to Intel’s generous sponsorship we will pay the workshop registration costs for the 10 best Science Fiction Prototype (SFP) stories, as judged by the reviewing committee. In addition, a Samsung P1000 Galaxy Tab (eg ARM Cortex A8 1GHz, 16GB, 7 inch TFT LCD, 3G, BT 3.0, Android 2.2) will be awarded to the writer of the best Science Fiction Prototype.

Workshop Structure: The workshop will comprise a single day event and will include:
Presentations (papers) from science and engineering researchers on their own scientific papers/projects depicting how they foresee their research might impact future worlds.
Presentations from science fiction writers depicting aspects of their stories that they feel would be feasible and useful for scientists to try to implement.

The Venue: CS’11 will run in conjunction with IE’11 at Nottingham in the heart of England and a popular tourist destination attracting an estimated 1.3 million visitors annually. Many visitors are attracted by Nottingham’s nightlife, its history, the legend of Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest and popular history-based tourist attractions including Nottingham Castle. More details are given on the IE11 web pages .

Important dates:
Paper submission: 28th March 2011 (via the CS’11 paper story submission system)
Notification of acceptance: 25th April 2011
Paper final submission (with revisions): 9th May 2011

Workshop Fees:
Before 9th May 2011
– Regular Participant or Presenter (all non-students) = £144
– Student Participant or Presenter = £120.00
After 9th May 2011
– All categories = £180

Workshop Organisers:
Brian David Johnson (Intel Labs, USA)
Victor Callaghan (University of Essex, UK)
Simon Egerton (Monash University, Malaysia)

Continue reading Science Fiction Prototyping for Technology Innovation

Design Culture Lab: Ethnographic Fiction & Speculative Design Workshop

Wednesday January 12 09:25

A Call for Papers for an intriguing sounding workshop expanding upon and evolving the Design Fiction ideas.

This full-day workshop aims to explore how grounded ethnographic and action research methods can be transformed into fictional and speculative designs that provide people the kinds of experiences and tools that can lead to direct community action in the development and implementation of new pervasive technologies.

Submission of position papers 1 April, 2011
Notifications of acceptance 30 April, 2011
Final papers due 27 May, 2011
Workshop 30 June, 2011


Dr Anne Galloway is Senior Lecturer, Design Research in the School of Design, Victoria University of Wellington.
Dr Ben Kraal is Research Fellow with the People and Systems Lab, Queensland University of Technology.
Professor Jo Tacchi is Deputy Dean, Research and Innovation in the School of Media and Communication, RMIT.

Fun stuff! More here.
Continue reading Design Culture Lab: Ethnographic Fiction & Speculative Design Workshop

Lab Coats In Hollywood

At long last David A. Kirby’s book Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists, and Cinema will hopefully actually finally be released this March 2011. For those of you who haven’t followed the Design Fiction citational and bibliographic rabbit hole, you’ll be delighted to find out that one of the cornerstone insights — the idea of the “diegetic prototype” — was inked by Kirby in his essay “The Future Is Now: Diegetic Prototypes and the Role of Popular Films in Generating Real-world Technological Development”

I introduce the term ‘diegetic prototypes’ to account for the ways in which cinematic depictions of future technologies demonstrate to large public audiences a technology’s need, viability and benevolence. Entertainment producers create diegetic prototypes by influencing dialogue, plot rationalizations, character interactions and narrative structure. These technologies only exist in the fictional world — what film scholars call the diegesis — but they exist as fully functioning objects in that world. The essay builds upon previous work on the notion of prototypes as ‘performative artefacts’. The performative aspects of prototypes are especially evident in diegetic prototypes because a film’s narrative structure contextualizes technologies within the social sphere. Technological objects in cinema are at once both completely artificial — all aspects of their depiction are controlled in production — and normalized within the text as practical objects that function properly and which people actually use as everyday objects.

In this book is the chapter that cornered in my mind the relevance of Kirby’s work to the practice of design. Which is awesome as it’s a kind of closing-of-the-circle between earlier interests of the Laboratory in the study of science, technology and society (a field of study of which Kirby is associated) and are more recent activities trying to understand and practice and advance what design can do to make things better.

The book is an study of the relationship between science and technology consultants and their role in helping Hollywood tell science-based, typically fictional visual stories — sci-fi film! Their role is one that ultimately shapes the way larger movie-going publics come to understand what science and technology is capable of, and even influences desire, hope, aspirations and fears. Think of the ways that sci-fi film becomes part of a larger collective conversation about how the world works, what the future holds (both hopeful and apocalyptic), the viability of space travel, cyberterrorism, new paradigms for computing — so much.

In this book, I’m certain Kirby walks through these topics in what I am sure is a thoughtful, engaging and entertaining read. Anyway — I’m super looking forward to this book and, well — I’ll just go ahead and preorder mine.
Continue reading Lab Coats In Hollywood

Art Center Summer Residency: Learning and the New Ecology of Things

Saturday November 28 12:06

Seems Art Center’s Media Design Program has extended its deadline for applicants for a summer residency — learning and pervasive/ubiquitous/thing-y computing.

Learning and the New Ecology of Things

We are particularly interested in projects that explore learning in a context of pervasive computing, including mobile technologies, social networking, online systems and digital media. We will consider projects for all learning situations but are most interested in post-secondary art and design education, as an extension of our New Ecology of Things initiative.

This unique context is best for research that incorporates design and prototyping as a mode of inquiry. Outcomes may include working prototypes, speculative visions, new pedagogical models and new learning contexts.

The project may consider the full spectrum of pervasive computing’s role, from additions to the traditional studio classroom, to supplemental learning outside of the classroom, to distance learning with a teacher, to completely self-directed learning.

Since the project is focused on pervasive computing, traditional browser-based online learning systems should not be central to the project.

* How do the tangible interactions enabled by pervasive computing change the potentials of eLearning for art and design students who are learning how to make physical artifacts?

* How might art/design critique be affected by the use of pervasive computing?

* What role might tablets, smart phones, sensors, or actuators play in learning?

* What role might social networking play in new learning systems integrated with ubiquitous computing?

* How might contemporary educational practices such as project-based learning and collaborative learning change in a context of pervasive computing?

* What role might tangible interaction play in education for non-artifact-based design such as that for experiences, plans, and systems?

Continue reading Art Center Summer Residency: Learning and the New Ecology of Things