Digital Blur: Stories from the Edge of Creative Design Practice

Cribbed from John Marshall’s Designed Objects blog, he and I contributed a short, analytic essay on inter/trans/undisciplinarity as it pertains to design practices for this book — Digital Blur: Stories from the Edge of Creative Design Practice. The book is forthcoming in September-ish I am told and contains a collection of conversations and project reviews from some wonderful designers practicing in the edgy, curious, peculiar near future where things are calibrated slightly differently and the world has tipped a little to the side. Can’t wait for this to come out, not so much so I can see what we wrote (I have trouble reading my own writing and I’ve long since forgotten what we said, although I’m sure it is somewhere on the hards drives or clouds) but because these sorts of compilations of projects are great sources of energy and inspiration.

Creative Practice at the Boundaries of Architecture, Design and Art
Edited by Paul Rodgers and Michael Smyth

This book brings together ten of the world’s leading practitioners and thinkers from the fields of art, architecture and design who all share a common desire to exploit the latest computing technologies in their creative practice. The book reveals, for the first time, the working processes of these major practitioners’ work that breaks down traditional creative disciplinary boundaries. inter_multi_trans_actions provides a rich picture, both visually and textually, of the following ten leaders in the field – Jason Bruges Studio, Lucy Bullivant, Greyworld, HeHe, Crispin Jones, the Owl Project, the Pooch (BigDog Interactive), Bengt Sjolen, Troika, and Moritz Waldemeyer.
This book aims to inspire and inform any reader with an interest in design, architecture, art and/or technology and provides essential reading for any practitioner, researcher, educator, and/or other stakeholders involved in the creative arts and industries. The book provides a detailed insight into the techniques of these ten significant creative individuals and how they exploit the latest computing technologies in their work and the impact this will have for creative practice in the future.
• paperback
• ISBN: 978 1 904750 69 7
• 264pp
• 264 x 196mm
• £24.95
• Publication date: September 2009
• Middlesex University Press

Why do I blog this? Another annotation about forthcoming written things and a busy fall season of exciting activities.
Continue reading Digital Blur: Stories from the Edge of Creative Design Practice

Upcoming essay on the asynchronous city


A high altitude imaging system for providing curious asynchronous perspectives of the world for analysis and synthesis. Artist’s interpretation, by Rhys Newman.

Via Nicolas — Upcoming piece about the asynchronous city:

Just for the sake of bringing things to the table before they do: Nicolas Nova and myself are putting a final touch to a pamphlet entitled “A synchronicity: design fictions for asynchronous urban computing” in the Situated Technologies series. Here’s the blurb:

Over the last five years the urban computing field has increasingly emphasized a so-called “real-time, database-enabled city.” Geospatial tracking, location-based services, and visualizations of urban activity tend to focus on the present and the ephemeral. There seems to be a conspicuous “arms” race towards more instantaneity and more temporal proximity between events, people, and places. In Situated Technologies Pamphlets 5, Julian Bleecker and Nicolas Nova invert this common perspective on data-enabled experiences and speculate on the existence of an “asynchronous” city, a place where the database, the wireless signal, the rfid tag, and the geospatial datum are not necessarily the guiding principles of the urban computing dream.

Due for September 2009. A sort of updated version of near future laboratory thinking that builds upon various projects, discussions (and partly going beyond material from my french book). Stay tuned.

Continue reading Upcoming essay on the asynchronous city

Overlap 09

Saturday July 25, 15.08.18

Saturday July 25, 11.12.59

This weekend, I was at this un-conference, event, workshop called The Overlap in the misty Pacific Grove along the coast of California near Monterey. It’s a mix of designers and self-described business types and some who were both, mixing it up with a variety of loosely structured “technologies” to explore, test, probe and be human.

So far we have learned the ins-and-outs of story telling, had an opportunity to share something — mostly some idea we are or would like to explore further. Some of these were propositions for new kinds of services that might exist in the world of things on the line. Others were larger social experiments, such as discovering ways to replace paper cups with something else, which I found to be quite an intriguing problem, especially because it may not be another cup made of some other sort of material, but perhaps a behavior and “practices” shift. (Thinking about design as something that does not necessarily result in an object or material is of course not entirely new, but giving this challenge some specificity in this regard was fun.)

Saturday July 25, 17.19.00

Body Storming to discover in a rapid prototyping fashion (15 minutes to explore, discover, present) what the new news might be.

Social Patterns In Cards, Christian Crumlish's Prototypes

Some prototype cards by Christian Crumlish brought for exploration. These describe some design patterns for social behaviors seen often in online contexts. Much more here. Great stuff.

We devised a technology for ourselves during a lunch break that consisted of a challenge — having a conversation with someone in which you asked no questions. This sounds weird, and it is, which means that it zips you out of your comfort zone and forces you to do more listening and consideration of what you say and ultimately puts conversations onto new trajectories. So, rather than saying half-thought things — “how did you like that?”, “what did that mean to you?”, “where did you study?” — or all the other things that force conversations along typical paths. No where near a proven tactic for provoking and probing and seeing things a little differently or discovering curious vantage points, but an intriguing exercise nonetheless.

The final exercise I participated in with was around the broad range of ideas that might be poorly pigeon holed under “innovation design” or something — strategies and tactics and practices for encouraging new thinking and creating new, non-incremental things/processes/thoughts. It is not surprising that there were some people interested in this area. Most of our activities were around discussions about this, anecdotes, common problems and issues — but, we were challenged to find a mechanism for embodiment of the challenge, or a “technology” of some sort.

Sunday July 26, 15.03.27

Sunday July 26, 16.00.48

What ended up happening was the creation of a prototype children’s story — a story you would want to tell a child who you hoped would become an innovator. Well — we had about 15 minutes but described such a story and dramatized it when we presented. The beats of it were around a restless young girl who keeps being told “no” to the curious things she wants to do — put pickles on her ice cream; play with the man on the moon; paint the carpet purple. Finally when she asks to give the family cat a bath in the toilet, her mom tells her fine — give the cat a bath in the toilet, of course not expecting that such could happen, or in exasperation. The young girl proceeds to do such, succeeding ultimately through clever use of the fact that the bowl prevents the cat from escaping, a sponge-on-a-rope that becomes a distracting toy, liquid soap, and a flusher that provides a suitable rinse. The moral is to reflect on the way filters impede the expression of our imagination based on convention, conformity and all the other things that discipline us as adults. And, this “technology” is worth exploring — the design challenge of writing a children’s story to convey a design principle or as an expression of a design brief.

Besides the story, and whatever you may think of it I was quite intrigued by two things. First, how we moved from the “meta” talk on the subject to an expression in the form of this simple story. We had been talking over lunch and then with another participant who it turns out (quite unexpectedly for me) had been a Navy SEAL. He dropped a few nuggets on us related to the thinking and training that goes into such things which are related — initiative, following ones own compass, improvisation, continuing in the face of exceptionally withering fatigue, the differences between warriors and soldiers, and these sorts of things. Another point that came up was Michael Dila’s description of Innovation Parkour, and a previous exercise at another event in which the challenge was (in a limited time) to convince a group of people to try buttermilk, which is particularly nasty stuff if you’re not already used to it. It became known as the “Buttermilk Insurgency” in which one team managed, in the 15 or 20 minutes allocated, to convince a kitchen staff across the way to make buttermilk pancakes, thus shifting the assumption around forcing someone to drink a towering glass of the stuff. So we discussed this challenge of reframing things and some how that lead to a short discussion of parenting — getting kids to try things that they don’t want and disallowing them from doing things they shouldn’t. This point came up directly — “yeah, and they’ll say — can I wash the cat in the toilet?” Somehow this started the story, where we ourselves reversed our assumptions and looked at it from the positive side. How do you encourage unconventional, presumably preposterous things and not assume failed results?

Like, for example, my current favorite — imagine what someone would say a year ago if you told them that Middle East politics would be inflected by people yammering in 140 character messages. Or, even more plainly — against all the odds of thick, broad, rich forms of networked, digital communication — something like Twitter happens. Which is not a statement about it efficacy or its importance or its permanence — just that things happen, and assuming failure, or saying “it’ll never happen. move onto something else” probably says more about the person who utters this than it does about the discussion they interrupt.

Saturday July 25, 13.36.17

Why are you here?

Saturday July 25, 10.23.33

Testing Ideas.

Anyway, there was much more, but those were some highlights that stuck in my mind. Oh, also the great opportunity to “test” some of the ideas and principles around a few projects that I ended up lumping under the rubric “Epistemological Monkeywrenching.” If nothing else, it forced me to find and articulate the relationships between several projects that compete for my attention. And I think I found the linkages, at least the outlines of the relationships. So, thanks. Thanks to all those 49 people who I met for the first time, and thanks to Dave Gray of XPLANE for the invitation.

Why do I blog this? To capture a few notes before the escape the brain and remind myself why I spent the weekend in the beach woods of Pacific Grove. Overlap 2009. 50 attendees. Meeting 49 new people who I never met before. And the word “design” was part of the material. And I got to ask questions to continue my exploration and design apprenticeship. Notes to self:

See Starfire Director’s Cut (via Erin Liman)

Read more about Paul Rand (via Chris Finlay)

Discover who Chris Conley is (via Chris Finlay)

Asilomar Conference Center is also where quite recently, as reported in the NYT a top secret invite-only event was held by artificial intelligence experts who are now worrying that robots may outsmart humans. (I mean…clearly these scientists NEVER watch ANY sci-fi. Hello? Skynet? BSG? Pfft. Buffoons. Spend a weekend at the Bleecker household with MY DVD collection of nervous Sci-Fi and you’ll be convinced you should become a wood sculpter.)

This is also where “ 1975, the world’s leading biologists also met at Asilomar to discuss the new ability to reshape life by swapping genetic material among organisms. Concerned about possible biohazards and ethical questions, scientists had halted certain experiments. The conference led to guidelines for recombinant DNA research, enabling experimentation to continue.”

And then, also — the Jackson Family had their enormous family reunion here this weekend. And someone had their 80th birthday celebration, as well. So, like — it all matters.

Overlap 09 Lazy Susan from Julian Bleecker on Vimeo.

Continue reading Overlap 09

Experiment With A Bird In The Air-Pump

Last visit to London, I made a quick stop at the National Gallery in London to see this for real, Joseph Wright of Darby’s “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air-Pump”, which has relevance for me from my work and interests in the history and social studies of science. This was one of those odd tourist-y moments for me, I enjoy doing the not-for-tourists activities — think “go local, go native” — rather than “seeing the sights.” Need to get over that, I suppose.

In this case, I got excited a day or two before arriving to London as I was giving a talk in Aberdeen Scotland and sought a digital image of this painting as I was preparing. When I realized the original was at the National Gallery and that I would be able to see it face-to-face, the weekend in London took an entirely new urgency.

The Air Pump was the Cyclotron of its day, in the 18th century, as best explicated by Steven Shapin and Simon Shaffer’s remarkable historical investigation of the late prehistory of modern science in Leviathan and the Air-Pump. I’m turning back to this material, especially as I hash through new thinking on the role of the “invisible” behind-the-scenes technicians of design fictions.


An Experiment on a Bird in the Air-Pump, 1768 by Joseph Wright of Darby.

The image provides a useful backdrop with which to tell the story that Steven Shapin does of the “Invisible Technician” who does the important hand- and craftwork, placing the action of creating knowledge, or matters-of-fact or, to stitch in Bruno Latour’s considerations on these points, the matter-of-concern. Between the reified, established matter-of-fact and the speculation, or imagining of what that might be, is the craftwork of making things — this “invisible technician.”

Parenthetically, at the time I was first studying this bit of social, technical and science history, I was mostly interested in this idea of the invisible technician as a metaphor for the backstage work done within science films — mostly science fiction films — by the moment of the films’ production. I was curious how invisible technicians as described by Shapin could also be the invisible technicians who translate a very imaginary world into one that appears as actuality, as a bit of fact based in science principles. The invisible technician was the production people, mostly in my mind the special effects artisans who are able to create this representation of reality, removing the wires of production to create a truly compelling visual story about what could be. I wanted to learn about special effects as a way of creating visions of a possible world and use the visual story as a point of departure for conversations about more habitable environments. Telling stories, through images, of possible near-future worlds – that about sums up this point.

In the painting, we see the Air-Pump apparatus and its demonstration by a traveling scientist of some sort, visiting a (likely well-to-do) family to share the most recent advances of knowledge of the day. Prior to this was the hard spade work that Robert Boyle and, to a large extent, his assistants, craftsmen, artisans, etc., who had to create the necessary experimental materials to turn the fiction of a vacuum into a demonstrable fact.

As with all good knowledge work, there was perhaps more material effort — making things, enduring material failures, etc. All the things we can comfortably take for granted today were high technology at the time — the 1660s. Blowing glass to create a large containment vessel without the kinds of flaws and defects that would cause it to collapse under the pressure of the atmosphere was very much rocket science. Creating seals to keep the air from leaking was high technology for the leather smiths employed to create cocks and fittings. Etc. The painting shows the result in a fashion, as well as a tableau of the various social and cultural meanings of the absence of matter, something that had religious significance, as does most such bold adventures into the unknown.

Why do I blog this? A canonical image of the relationships amongst knowledges and their circulation, spectacle and theater. Meme propagation in the pre-history of networks, where ideas spread by presentation, in-home sharing and worn boot leather.
Continue reading Experiment With A Bird In The Air-Pump

Call Your Hardware Vendor


This isn’t bad and its not a BSOD rant. Only, well — I guess it is in a matter of speaking. Perhaps not quite an instance of atemporality but there was a bit of a dizzy feeling I got when this crap computer I use every so often told me to call my hardware vendor. Who the heck is that, to start with?

I enjoy these little moments like this. Desperation and the logic chips equivalent of doing a half-hearted shrug, trying to keep on a confident upper lip and then telling me to make a telephone call. Without a number. And to someone that definitely does not exist at all. Maybe they did back in the day, but now? Really? I wonder what they would say. Is it some old pensioner at one of those patch bay phone banks? That would seem consistent with the spirit of this.

Why do I blog this? Working around moments and instances of peculiar behaviors from our logic chip cousins. This might be a moment of atemporality, only not yet. If this showed up on a Netbook in 5 years it might seem positively baffling, I might suspect.
Continue reading Call Your Hardware Vendor

Mail Call

Monday July 20, 12.14.48


Monday July 20, 20.25.01

Four parcels in one day, all good, gooey, design-y stuff.

What’d we get?

1. A collection of four “designmind” journals from Dawn up at Frog Design in Seattle.

2. A parcel from Zero Per Zero consisting of about 15 subway and city maps of various cities around the world — Barcelona rules, FTW.

3. A VHS Tape that is labeled “Back to the Future” — but I suspect it is something else about the future, from Chris Woebken. I’ll have to find a VHS deck at the studio or something to see this for real.

4. Nicolas Nova’s book recently released. Let me use the Laboratory’s brand-spankin’ new Universal Translator to tell you the title: “Les medias geolocalises”

That’s it.

Why do I blog this? We have never received four parcels of such promise in one day.

Continue reading Mail Call

LIS302DL. A 3 Axis Accelerometer

Tuesday July 14, 13.12.21

Ooooh. Those code jockeys in the Laboratory have been mucking about in the ol’ locker room, giving each other rat-tails, chucking firecrackers in the halls and having a good horsin’ around. Smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap booze. Everything. Stink bombs in the girl’s room. Whatever. It’s a regular Lord of the Flies fest on the electronics wing of the Near Future Laboratory. And, look what we found! Some pole dancin’ hardware porn! Step right up! Don’t crowd..

Wednesday July 15, 13.04.33

In reverent honor of my friends and chums who are holding forth with Sketching in Hardware 09 in London and for the solemn sadness I have for not being able to participate this year, I hereby drop some code and hardware science up on this piece of blog with a dozen or so lines of Arduinoness meant to articulate and instrumentalize the wonderful ST Micro LIS302DL 3 axis accelerometer, delivered here via the Sparkfun breakout board. Without further ado, but with plenty of firmware nakedness, here’s the sketch..*slug* this one’s for you, Sketchers..*sob*


// TWI (I2C) sketch to communicate with the LIS302DL accelerometer
// Using the Wire library (created by Nicholas Zambetti)
// On the Arduino board, Analog In 4 is SDA, Analog In 5 is SCL
// These correspond to pin 27 (PC4/ADC4/SDA) and pin 28 (PC5/ADC5/SCL) on the Atmega8 and Atmega168
// The Wire class handles the TWI transactions, abstracting the nitty-gritty to make
// prototyping easy.

// We've got two accelerometers connected. You configure the address of each one
// by some wiring
int address_1 = 0x1C; // SDO on the LIS302DL connected to GND makes it at I2C address 0x1C
int address_2 = 0x1D; // SDO/MISO on the LIS302DL connected to VCC makes it at I2C address 0x1D
void setup()
  // we'll use the serial port to spit out our data

  byte tmp;

  Wire.begin(); // join i2c bus (address optional for master)

  // Read from the "WHO_AM_I" register of the LIS302DL and see if it is at
  // the expected address.
  // If it is not, spit out a useful message on the serial port. We'll get
  // erroneous data from querying this address, though.
  while(Wire.available()) {
   tmp = Wire.receive();
   if(tmp != 0x3B) {
     Serial.print("Problem! Can't find device at address "); Serial.println(address_1, HEX);
   } else {
  // configure the device's CTRL_REG1 register to initialize it
  Wire.send(0x20); // CTRL_REG1 (20h)
  Wire.send(B01000111); // Nominal data rate, Device in active mode, +/- 2g scale, self-tests disabled, all axis's enabled

  // Read from the "WHO_AM_I" register of the second LIS302DL and see if it is at
  // the expected address.
  // If it is not, spit out a useful message on the serial port. We'll get
  // erroneous data from querying this address, though.
  while(Wire.available()) {
   tmp = Wire.receive();
   if(tmp != 0x3B) {
     Serial.print("Problem! Can't find device at address "); Serial.println(address_2, HEX);
   } else {

  // configure the device's CTRL_REG1 register to initialize it
  Wire.send(0x20); // CTRL_REG1 (20h)
  Wire.send(B01000111); // Nominal data rate, Device in active mode, +/- 2g scale, self-tests disabled, all axis's enabled

void loop()
  Serial.print("1:"); read_acceleration(address_1);
  Serial.print("2:"); read_acceleration(address_2);

void read_acceleration(int address) {
  byte z_val_l, z_val_h, x_val_l, x_val_h, y_val_l, y_val_h;
  int z_val, x_val, y_val;
 // Now do a transfer reading one byte from the LIS302DL
 // This data will be the contents of register 0x29, which is OUT_X
 Wire.requestFrom(address, 1);
   x_val = Wire.receive();
 // This data will be the contents of register 0x2B which is OUT_Y
 Wire.requestFrom(address, 1);
    y_val = Wire.receive();

 // This data will be the contents of register 0x2D, which is OUT_Z
 Wire.requestFrom(address, 1);
    z_val = Wire.receive();

 // I want values that run from {-X to 0} and {0 to +X}, so a little bit math goes on here...
 if(bit_is_set(x_val, 7)) {
   x_val &= B01111111;
   x_val = -1*x_val + 128;
   x_val *= -1;

if(bit_is_set(y_val, 7)) {
   y_val &= B01111111;
   y_val = 128 - y_val;
   y_val *= -1;

 if(bit_is_set(z_val, 7)) {
   z_val &= B01111111;
   z_val = 128 - z_val;
   z_val *= -1;

 Serial.print(x_val); Serial.print(":");Serial.print(y_val); Serial.print(":"); Serial.println(z_val);

Tuesday July 14, 13.09.59

Wednesday July 15, 14.37.44

What’s going on here? Well, straightforward silliness and hardware gafflin’. Two accelerometers on the I2C bus just cause. It looks like this is as many as you can have on there, unless you do some shenanigans or create a second bus with some cleverness.

The hardware spec on the device (Which. You. Should. Read.) explains that, if we’re going to talk to these things using the I2C bus we need to wire CS to the high end of the logic rail, so VCC. This tells the device that we’ll be using I2C protocol. Then we need to address the device. If we connect the MISO (master in, slave out) pin to GND, then the address will be 0x1C. If we connect the MISO pin to VCC, then the address will be 0x1D. So, MISO, in the I2C configuration, controls the least significant bit of the address. This way, without further mucking about, we can have two accelerometers on the bus, which is probably one more than most situations demand, but just in case.

If I were to connect more than two, I would probably go ahead and use the three-wire protocol and have one microcontroller pin per accelerometer dedicated for chip-select (CS). Fortunately, this device supports three-wire protocols, or the SPI protocol.

Tuesday July 14, 13.17.11

The Arduino code example above does some simple preambling — initializing the two devices after making sure they are there. Then it just loops forever, reading accelerometer data from each of the three axes of each one, doing a little simple bitwise arithmetic to make the data from a negative value for negative g (upside down in most situations) to positive g (right side up, in most situations). The initialization stage sets the accelerometer range — that is, the max/min values it will read — to +/- 2g. (The device will support +/- 8g according to the specifications.)

There are some cool additional features that I don’t play with, including some interrupts that can be triggered if the device falls suddenly, or if it is “clicked/tapped” or “double-clicked/double-tapped”, which is kinda cool, I guess. If you can come up with a non-gratuitous scenario. Which is probably harder than it sounds. But, even in your gratuitous-I-double-click-my-glass-of-Porto-to-signal-the-waiter-I-need-more-Porto the device will save you the hassle of trying to do this sort of interaction semantics in firmware and get you back to finishing what you were doing in the first place.

Why do I blog this? Notes on the integration of hardware to firmware to ideas. This time with a “new” accelerometer that has some pretty neat features. After this, we’ll be going to paper-pulp and line drawings for a bit folks.

Companion Species Training Game

Wednesday July 15, 14.35.42

The new-to-me Nintendo DS “Personal Trainer Walking” (heck of a name..) alongside of the Japanese language game whose name I forget and cannot read.

I found out about this Nintendo DS game from Kevin who found out about it from Russell. I literally just got it yesterday, but it’s pretty exciting to see. I can only imagine in my head out the play dynamics unfold, but I’ll be playing with it and have some more thoughts before long.

So far I enjoy the “blind” design of the pedometer part of the concept — not too much display other than this blinking light which changes color when you’ve reached your goal. Simple, direct and not a nagging taunt from a fancy LCD that shows more than you need. You focus on your activities or just being a normal human being without poking and prodding at the device all the time, checking your status in detail, etc. When you’re in the world, be in the world, I say.

Wednesday July 15, 15.47.20

Wednesday July 15, 15.14.44

This one aspect of the design is quite curious — there is an extra pedometer device for your dog! I mean, I get the idea — people walk their dogs and so this is perfect for you and your dog to get some training together. The language in the users manual / guidebook is very funny, and I’m not sure if this is deliberate or perhaps the sensibilities of a Japanese game design company? I know none of the facts and that does not matter so much to me, but maybe it’s my sensitivities to things that fold together different species into what my advisor calls “transpecies” or “companion species” — species that need each other, or play and interact together in curious ways. (cf The Companion Species Manifesto) Thus, I cracked up when I read these items in the guide:

Wednesday July 15, 15.12.07

The meter should only be used by a person or dog. It will not work properly with any other type of animal.

The meter should only be used on a dog when supervised by a person. It should be attached in a location where it is not at risk of being chewed or swallowed.

Great stuff. I’m looking forward to seeing how the DS experience works.

Downside: I’m pre-disappointed that walking is the only physical activity it seems to work with. I ride a bike and want this to count. And there are so many other sorts of physical things that won’t count, I assume.


Russell points out the simplicity of the synchronization ritual, which is fantastic. Point. Press. Watch your pedometer pebble appear from a pipe on the screen and become “alive” on your screen. If you’ve ever tried to synchronize ANYTHING you’ll laugh out loud, as I did. If you’ve ever designed ANYTHING that requires synchronization, take close note of the interaction ritual here. It’s fantastically playful and simple and sensical.

Some related topics: this perpetual Laboratory project, Flavonoid.


Thursday July 09, 21.39.57

The small gaggle of friends of the Laboratory, tagging along to quietly and conveniently celebrate a birthday with a film and some Japanese food delicacies and some laughs. Charlie Becker..wonderful sculpter..he cracks The Laboratory up. This was taken here.

Finally, Objectified came to Los Angeles for a night. The Laboratory was a bit eager and a bit fan-boy-y. Some stages of hunger for the stories perspective and objectives of design, broadly. We felt like a small transition was made — there was a joke that the Laboratory “got”; there were personalities we recognized along with their subtle insider-quirks; &c.

Here are just a couple of short comments for the notebook.
Continue reading Objectified

Conflux Festival 2009 Call Proposals


Conflux is having their 6th annual Conflux Festival! The deadline for submissions is soon — August 15th. At last year’s Conflux we brought our “Drift Deck” technology and had a swell time! Several years back, we did WiFiKu — we walked the streets of New York City neighborhoods and digitally scanning for the names of WiFi “Hot Spots” (Hot Spots…how quaint) and constructed a visual map containing Haiku from these found names. That was back when wireless networks were not as quotidian as they are today and we were all trying to make sense of this new puff of network leaking out into the streets. This year — who knows?


Conflux, the art and technology festival for the creative exploration of urban public space, is pleased to announce the 6th annual Conflux Festival will take place from September 17-20, 2009 and will be hosted by New York University.

In keeping with its commitment to urban artistic exploration, community participation, shared knowledge, and critical civic engagement, Conflux will organize a user-generated open format event on Sunday September 20th, 2009 from 10am-6pm.

Through an open submissions process, ConfluxCity will provide a platform for artists, urban geographers, technologists and others to organize and produce innovative activities dedicated to the examination, celebration and (re)construction of everyday urban life.

Drawing inspiration from Burning Man’s creed of radical self-reliance and BarCamp’s philosophy of openness and participation, ConfluxCity will adopt an open-space approach in which participants will be expected to organize, promote, and host their own activities and events. To facilitate this format, the Conflux Festival headquarters and website will serve as a central communications hub directing festival attendees outward to individual event websites and locations.

To submit a proposal to participate in the festival, please see the submission guidelines at the Conflux Festival website:

The deadline for submissions is August 15, 2009.