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Posts about itp (old posts, page 12)

Soundwalk and Week 1 Readings

The Gaits: A High Line Soundwalk

A Soundwalk is a directed walk with a focus on listening to sounds instead of viewing sights. I went on The Gaits Soundwalk, a soundwalk commissioned by the High Line park in NYC. This is an above-ground park built on raised railway tracks abandoned years ago.

The Gaits Soundwalk is experienced with a phone app that only functions when the user's phone is actually on the High Line. I actually thought the app was broken when I arrived at the beginning of the High Line on Gansevoort St. It began making bell noises when I started to ascend the stairs.

For the first five minutes or so the Soundwalk consisted of only intermittent bell noises that would slow down or stop when I stopped walking. As I moved along, the walk got more interesting. The bells sped up, and then an organ was added. I heard water churning at several locations, and while at sections of the walk with seating for viewing parades or other city activity, I heard applause. There were also birds chirping in the section of the walk with a lot of trees. Unfortunately there was construction and scaffolding covering everything so there were no actual birds to be seen. Still, I do appreciate the synchronicity to the environment.

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What is Interaction?

The Art of Interactive Design

In Chris Crawford’s book, The Art of Interactive Design, Crawford defines interactivity in terms of a conversation. Specifically, interactivity is a cyclical process of two actors taking turns listening, thinking, and speaking.

Unfortunately, the word "Interactive" is often explained or defined poorly, and as a result is poorly understood by our culture. The term gets added to products as a buzzword to make them sound better, but often the objects don’t really "interact" in a way as described by Crawford’s definition. There is no "conversation" or cyclical process.

A literal conversation between two people fits this definition literally, but when the interaction is between a human and an electronic device, the steps become input, process, and output. Key point though is that there are two actors, not one. Each actor is some kind of "purposeful creature," so a wall or a rug cannot be interactive.

It isn’t always clear if something is interactive or not. Rather than being a boolean thing, there are different degrees of interactivity. We can evaluate high or low levels of interactivity by evaluating the quality of the listening, thinking, and speaking steps. Excelling in one area does not compensate for failures in another. A common design error when building interactive products is to fail to appreciate this idea.

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Physical Computing

Physical Computing, taught by Tom Igoe.

Class blog posts:

Video & Sound

Video & Sound, taught by Gabe Barcia-Colombo.

Class blog posts:

Networked Media Final Project

My Networked Media class has come to a close. I enjoyed it very much am am grateful for the experience. Shawn van Every is a great professor who who taught us a lot about building websites with node.js and express.

My final project is currently hosted on Digital Ocean and uses a new subdomain I created, apps.ixora.io. I intend to use this domain to permanently host this project and other projects I create in the future.

My final project is a continuation of my midterm project. I achieved my goals of building an easy to use interface for qualitatively exploring the drawings. You can find it here: http://apps.ixora.io/drawings. The source code is available on github.

I put a lot of work into organizing the code in a way that scaled and matched the best practices of node developers. There are still some issues in that area and I will continue to improve it so my next project will have less frustrations. I am also going to work on the front-end to learn more about css and user interface design.

There's still more to learn about these pictures. The most exciting thing about it is that there are so many more hidden gems to discover in this dataset. I'd like to use data science techniques to explore the similarities and differences between countries. Allison Parrish told me about some work done by other researchers on this dataset that I will learn from and build off of. They seem to involve tensorflow which I've been wanting to learn about anyway. I have time to devote to this between now and the fall semester.

And finally, my favorite drawing. I may use this as my Facebook profile picture.

Connected but Alone, Program or Be Programmed, We are all Cyborgs Now

Connected, but Alone

Sherry Turkle is a science and technology professor at MIT who studies the psychology of human relationships with technology. She gave a TED talk in 1996 about how the Internet would teach us about ourselves and help us to live better lives in the real world. In 2012 she gave another TED talk, also about the Internet, but argued that it is changing our lives in ways that we don’t want.

Turkle says that our phones are changing who we are. Behaviors that would have been considered crazy 20 years ago are now commonplace. For example, texting during meetings or conversations. We end up alone when we are with other people. When we are with other people we are also connected to multiple other places.

The sum of many little communications does not add up to one real conversation. Our technologies give us a illusion of friendship and companionship without the burden of actual friendship. We need to learn to be comfortable being alone, [technologically] disconnected from other people. Only when we are alone will we be in touch with ourselves and be able to form real connections with others.

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Breitbart, Web We Lost, Harassment, Sluts and Network Cards

Study: Breitbart-led right-wing media ecosystem altered broader media agenda

After the 2016 election the Columbia Journalism Review published a study of social media sharing patterns for Facebook and Twitter. They wanted to understand how different media outlets informed or misinformed voters on the right and left. Instead of finding people to be in self-reinforcing “filter bubbles” or “echo chambers” that reinforce what people already believe, they found that there were asymmetries in how users on left and right were embracing technology. There was a new right-wing media ecosystem that was much more insular and detached from traditional media sources. On the left there were partisan sites but there were stronger connections to mainstream media.

Going forward journalists need to think about how to build (or rebuild) a basis for the public to form a shared belief about what is happening. A common set of facts is a necessary precursor for civil society to have a constructive debate about public policy issues.

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The Long Tail, Free Labor, Network Neutrality, Here Comes Everybody

Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy

Tiziana Terranova is an Italian theorist and activist who writes about the Internet and New Media. In her essay Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy, she writes about the free labor taking place that is critical to the continued functioning of the Internet.

Terranova states that free labor from Internet users is the source of economic value in the digital economy. Free labor is defined as labor that is provided voluntarily, with no remuneration by the beneficiaries. An example of this is the time and effort people put into producing content for YouTube or writing short (or long) messages for Facebook. Internet users seek out these websites specifically to consume the digital content produced by other Internet users. These companies are producing the digital content framework that feeds off of the content and do not produce the actual content themselves.

Free labor and collective knowledge are being voluntarily contributed to capitalist business practices. This essay highlights the essential nature of that free labor to the functioning of the Internet but also refers to it as a “modern sweatshop” or “social factory.”

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Beyond the Mirror World, Surveillance and Capture

Beyond the Mirror World & Surveillance and Capture

Philip Agre is a former professor of information studies at UCLA. He wrote extensively about modern technology and privacy. His work Beyond the Mirror World presents a discussion of data collection and society’s privacy concerns.

Agre defines the mirror world as the world of data. Data is collected from the real world and stored in a database designed by a software engineer. The database contains a representation of the real world, storing characteristics determined by the designer. He points out that the distinction between data objects and the real-life things they represent is being blurred.

This mirror world constructed in a computer can be explored, possibly without the consent of the human beings associated with the being data collected. New strategies for protecting privacy must be developed. Keeping personally identifying information out of databases is critical. Pseudoidentifiers can be used instead, allowing businesses to function and privacy to be protected.

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Societies of Control and The Enduring Ephemeral

Societies of Control

Gilles Deleuze was a french philosopher who was friends with Michel Foucault, the philosopher who wrote about discipline and punishment in society. Deleuze expanded on Foucault’s work by describing a control society, a means of control that is the successor to a discipline society.

Foucault’s discipline society was based on physical enclosures such as prisons or schools, or the idealized Panopticon, with people being constantly monitored. In Deleuze’s control society, technology has allowed control to evolve from physical enclosures to one that provides a complex network of human interaction that is constantly monitored. People are free to interact with each other, but only by using the tools the network provides.

An example here is Facebook. We are free to use Facebook as we with but it is actually limited to the provided functionality and thoroughly monitored and analyzed. We cannot re-engineer Facebook as we wish and it is very hard or difficult to leave completely. Another example is our smartphones. We are always connected to the Internet and have access to massive amounts of information, but with a cost. Our phones are constantly collecting data based on our actions. The freedom is less free.

It is difficult or impossible to remove oneself from these mechanisms of control. It is not like removing oneself from a prison, where once a person leaves the prison the mechanism of control is no longer effective.

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