February 2010 Archives

The Learning Studio at the Exploratorium has a terrific blog.  I somehow found it last year, when a Learning Studio team was working with Tibetan monks, and teaching them a playful way of discovering and learning through science and art.  Here's one of those entries.  More recently, they've been posting about their public events and workshops. I can't get to San Francisco on the spur of the moment to participate, but I can get lots of ideas from reading the entries, looking at photos and videos, and following the comment threads...

Much to delight in with Diana Eng's Fairytale Fashion project. Here's a video from the final fashion show. I really like the first dress (photo above) with electroluminescent wire. So often, electronic elements in clothing have a "because we could do it" air about them - more science project than design sense. Here I feel as if the garment is beautiful, wearable, and improved by the curving lines of light.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your creative process is to go to bed two hours early.
I've been working on a project where I've needed to relearn one bit of software (Final Cut Express) and learn another (LiveType). In the beginning, I was overwhelmed with the possibilities - a creative project, an approaching deadline, two new programs - each can do so much - what should I do or learn first?

Eventually, time ran out, and I decided to make a rough version of the project, using Final Cut only - knowing that it would not be exactly right, and that parts of it would change later.  That let me breathe, and focus on one set of skills at a time. Once the rough version was complete, I had a sense of what I still needed to learn, and what might be fun to add from LiveType, and then I could focus my attention on those particular skills, learn what I needed in an evening, and complete the semi-final version of the project.
"All right, go ahead and take your snack. I'm sure it would be good, but I wouldn't know. I prefer a snack of electricity." CMU's Snackbot robot was written up in the New York Times today with video  and an article "Just Like Mombot used to make."
A short lecture by Jesse Schell given earlier this week at the DICE conference (DICE = Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain and it's a conference for game designers).  I'm interested in what he has to say about reality and authenticity.  We got talking about this before supper, wondering whether you can commodify an escape into authenticity.  (Does it stop being a commodity, or stop being authentic? - I need to finish reading The Gift, and maybe then I'll have better answers.)  Can we have games that make us more present, more attentive in the world? 

Flyfire - a swarm of tiny LED helicopters makes a dynamically-reconfigurable 3D display IN MIDAIR. (wow.)  via BoingBoing
What is is about working on a jigsaw puzzle that makes it such compelling entertainment? We have a 1500 piece puzzle in progress on the coffee table - it's been there for nearly a week.  So far, we have the edges complete, and some of the sky reflected in the water.
You see, interaction is going to change - it has already changed. When people say "mouse and keyboard are fine," and then come up with reasons why an innovation won't work, often the issue is that they've let current tech shape how they see the world.  They're too close to current technology. 

Take three steps back and mouse and keyboard and any particular operating system no longer seem inevitable...
Interesting to read the comments, both on the Singularity Hub blog post I linked to yesterday, and on a New York Times blog post - because I think many of the commenters are totally missing the boat here. When I think about the speed with which Jeff Han's multitouch surface became something that high school students were building for science fairs, and then realize that it will be emerging as an affordable consumer product (iPad), when I think about low cost ubiquitous computing with projection and interaction with mobile devices (as in the Pranav Mistry Sixth Sense TED talk from last year and from this past November in India: ) and then layer in the possibilities offered by Oblong Industries G-speak, I see so much opportunity in this space. We are already experiencing information and communication differently. These immersive, already-or-soon-to-be-low-cost technologies are going to take us further, creating new environments for learning.
At least, new interactions with technology...
I look to the tinker.it site for ideas about interactivity and arduino, for reporting on embodied interfaces and physical computing, and electronics for the rest of us.  In this post, the author thought about looking at interactive art, and some of his frustrations with the field.

Via Cool Tools, I read a review of Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, and now I want to order a copy.  The review's excerpts are clear, well-written, and appealing.   From what I've read so far, ideas and processes he suggests may spark ideas for classroom practice, or ideas for how to work on art in other media.

In the last two days, I've knitted three hats.  Only one had frog eyes, though.
"Is it good for the work?"

From a conversation on creativity and resistance, which I listened to, half by accident, this evening.  I was knitting a hat, and grabbed a podcast from a list.  Turned out to be the podcast I heard - and wrote about - on February 1.  Kept listening, as I wanted to finish the hat, and to see what I could learn from a second hearing.

I like the question: "Is it good for the work?"  It lets me accept the activities I find nourishing, and lets me drop others.
Nearly halfway through the second month.  Six weeks into the new year.  This new blog has become a daily habit, part of the rhythm of my evenings.  Happy to have a space to gather notes and links and quotations, and have the occasion to think about my process each night.

The goal is to complete (and document) as many of these as possible in the next two weeks. (Image courtesy of Hack Pittsburgh.)

Screen shot 2010-02-11 at 11.40.50 PM.png

Today I found out a way for people to write iPhone applications using Processing: http://luckybite.com/iprocessing/

iProcessing is an open programming framework to help people develop native iPhone applications using the Processing language. It is an integration of the Processing.js library and a Javascript application framework for iPhone.
This took me back to the Javascript for Processing site: http://processingjs.org, where I found a web-based integrated development environment (IDE) where you can type code in Processing, test it live, and download the Javascript version, ready for embedding in your web page.  (Look ma, no Java!  It works on my iPhone in Safari!!)

And that site led me to http://hascanvas.com - a site for live creation and sharing of Processing sketches online.

(Without  some fussing, I'm not sure about getting Javascript to display well on this blog - the errors are mine, I'm sure, but I'm too sleepy to debug, so the image above is static...) 

"Every day, think as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself to expand my heart out to others for the benefit of all beings."

--Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet

Sometimes showing up at the page is the hardest part of any project.  Here's the cool thing about that, though - if showing up really is the hardest part, the rest of the work must be the easier part.  Tell yourself this.  Once you get past that moment of clutching fear, once you start in on the thing itself, you can let the work teach you how it should be done.  You can play, explore, feel your way into a new way of doing it... You can have fun.  You showed up. You are there.
This deck of possibilities is like a more open-ended Magic 8-Ball for problem-solving when you are stuck, or are facing a new creative challenge.  I don't have a physical set of the cards, but have installed the dashboard widget (Oblique) and have found an iPhone application version.
Sometimes I can tie my late nights to caffeine - sometimes it's just one idea (or page, or project, or website, or row of knitting) leading to another.
Great stories of persistence in the face of failures over at the Makezine blog.
The snow will slow us down tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to getting less done.

The teapot I drew two days ago inspired a tweet, which in turn, inspired a post, email, and more tweets...

And of course the teapot drawing itself was in response to another post.

Starting is much harder than continuing.  If I can trick myself into getting started each day, if I can make the starting into part of my ordinary routine, then I get things done, and the small amounts add up.
So how far did I move forward with my new project yesterday?  Three very short sentences.

The greater the resistance, the more important the project, I tell myself, and will figure out how to plunge in again tonight.  I persist.  Resistance is not the mark of laziness, but of fear.

What am I afraid of? I don't know.

Can I find a way to trust and revel in the process? The greatest luxury is to take time to make something you'd love to have.
Does your own resistance get greater, the closer you get to completing (committing to) something original?  That's Seth Godin's argument in his recent conversation with Merlin Mann, and in a short conference talk about the "lizard brain."

They don't use these words exactly - but I do think that "Real artists ship," is an important principle. Get stuff done.  Make it.  Build it.  Write it.  Publish it.  Don't just talk around the subject or explain why the obstacles are too great to get something meaningful done.

George Sand got up at five in the morning.  Anthony Trollope wrote his quota of words before work every day.

And as Nick Lowe said, when asked about his approach to songwriting, "Bash it out now, and tart it up later."

This blog gets me to articulate and connect ideas about work, about making stuff, about teaching.  It does not get the creative work itself done, though. Some of that work happens in public, elsewhere, and some of that work is beginning this month. Offline. Today.



my work elsewhere:

my work for sale:

beside myself:

a mini blog made of my recent bookmarks (via del.icio.us)

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