AL Ben Choiniere

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The Augmented Library
AL Project 1 - Irla & Ben
AL Project 2 - Adam, Ben & Hannah
AL Project 3 - Adam, Ben & Kyle


Videos in User-System Interaction
A good example of a ZUI

Mapping Site: Robert Smithson

“…the Non-Site reproduces the gallery’s contradictory attempt to recollect, and so limit, the ‘dedifferential’ site. Thus, where the experience of site is one of limitlessness, the Non-Site establishes itself as a limiting mechanism…”

Smithson’s Non-Sites are maps; not only maps as representations of a physical location, but containers of the pieces of the physical location. Apparently Smithson conceived of the Non-Site while watching dump trucks removing soil and rock from industrial locations. Smithson wrestles with the idea static vs. non static existence. The site or the location is not static When the site is taken away from its physical location it becomes static and the site immediately become a dialectic. This concept of a dialogue between location and its representation is an interesting one. How does the card catalogue shape our concept of the library differently then a hypothetical collection of unreferenced volumes?

“The site, in fact, is an effect of mapping, yet always remains antithetical to the map.”

Despite their antithetical relationship, to reinvent the site, one must reinvent the map. Considering that the human mind maps everything, reorganizing or destroying our mapped concepts can have both delightful and devastating effects. The idea that a physical location is unmapable is, as the article suggests a uniquely postmodern prospect. As humanity reaches a point of complete reference, for example GPS in geographic terms, the extreme complexity that accompanies such a technology becomes the new darkness. The sense of walking through a ‘never ending library’, as we discussed in class last week, is the “disparity between the here and now of immediate perception and the imaginative or imaginary sense of the city as an absent totality”.

Spiral Jetty(excerpts)1970

Robert Smithson being cool

The Library Of Babel-Borges

“Everything: the minutely detailed history of the future, the archangels' autobiographies, the faithful catalogues of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of those catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of the true catalogue, the Gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary on that gospel, the commentary on the commentary on that gospel, the true story of your death, the translation of every book in all languages, the interpolations of every book in all books.”

This passage more then any other, illustrates the existence of humanity, for Borges. Knowledge is the search for the right moments and locations to crash together with the right spark of creativity to create an explosion that is a meaningful thought.

The narrator discusses the disillusionment with existence on the realization of the “certitude that everything has been written negates us or turns us into phantoms.” However, we might be reading the narrator’s words on the cover a book that he claims to be writing on. But, his words are somewhere else in the library, in his own biography perhaps. We could be reading an expert from that. Or perhaps we read any one of an infinite number of incorrect accounts of a lonely man.

Consider for a moment that someone had found the index of indexes, the ‘cyclical book’, or the Crimson Hexagon. I image such a sight would kill anyone who saw it. The excitement of finding the most important answer; that which answers all other questions, would stop your heart or drive you mad. Indeed, what purpose would life have after that discovery?

We should talk about this

Surrender control

I talked to the person working at the counter.
It was almost closing time.
He said something about how he would have to close the library soon.
I decided this might be an interesting discussion.
All of a sudden I heard a piercing and loud buzzing noise.
I asked what that was.
He said it was the noise that signaled to people that the library was closing.
He rang it again.
I asked him where I came from.
He said he did not know.
I told him to count to ten and ring it again. Then I went downstairs and saw where it was coming from. (It also rings on the second and third floors in the same location respectively)
He said he really enjoyed ringing it.
I asked what he did to close up, beside ring the bell.
He said that he had to empty the dehumidifiers, because of the mold problem.
I asked him what he did with the water.
He said that he dumped it in the toilet.
I feel like more could be done with library water.
I ask him what else he does.
He told me that he turns off the lights and computers. Then he locks the doors.
He leaves the desk and starts going down stairs.
I ask if he looks for people.
He tells me that he does… sometimes.
He says that he has turned the lights off on people and only realized when he hears a faint voice say ‘hello?’.

Relations In Public – Erving Goffman

“For example, in talking about a social about a social setting such as a suburban residential street or a fashionable New York store, it is possible to speak of someone present as being properly or improperly dressed for the time and place.” I recently had such an experience, that of being considerably underdressed for the occasion. I was attending a lecture at the Clark Museum. It was a nice warm day after a string of rather cold ones, so I decided to wear shorts, slip on shoes and a polo-type shirt. I hadn’t ever been to a lecture at the Clark, and thus had no knowledge of the proper attire for the function. Upon entering the lecture room (which one does from the front of the audience, literally putting the incoming person on stage) I quickly noticed that most of the men in attendance wore sport coats, and none wore shorts. The thoughts that run through one’s (my) head are quite comical in hindsight. I instantly started making excuses for myself, as I joined the refreshment line. With every action I made I was hyper critical as to what it might be saying to further discredit my appearance. By the time I found a seat, I had taken a new mindset. I decided to own it, if I looked like dock jock just off the dinghy in a room full of professors and aesthetes, then fine I would be fine with that, with a nonchalant response to anyone who called me out on it. Finally, I came to the realization that, in all likelihood, no one was judging me, and that I should just relax. It was at this moment that the lecture began and the woman introducing the speaker looked me square in the eye and said, “It’s so nice to see new people attending, I hope they will decide to return.”

Everyware Introduction and Section 1: What is everyware? Pages 1-34

I will comment on this proposal by Don Norman (page 22) “a truly human-centered design would explode the computer’s many function into a “quiet, invisible, unobtrusive” array of networked objects scattered throughout the home: simple, single-purpose “information appliances” in the form of shoes, bookshelves, even teddy bears.” This sort of thing is talked about, and even marketed, all the time but virtually never materializes in a truly unique and useful way. I am reminded different but similar concept; the Internet Appliance, and its Boom and Bomb of the 1990s. All these companies business models were shattered when hackers discovered ways to remove the elegant and restricted operating systems of these devices and replace it with the bloat and openness. See

Will proper Information Appliances fare better? Will the IPhone fare better? As of yet we haven’t see much outside of smart phones and mp3 players.
Speaking of IPhone lets talk about Zooming User Interface (ZUI) as apposed to GUI, and other UIs.

Oh and something about privacy as related to page 2…

Everyware: Section 2: How is everyware different from what we're used to? Pages 37-87

  • “…everyware is not something you sit down in front of, intent on engaging.”-39

I had such a reaction to this because this IS what computing is in the Library. We have all seen people walk into to the Library sit down at the commuters ask it for some information, get it and then go. We have likely done this our selves.

  • “As the media table suggests, such tangible interfaces are ideal for places where conventional methods would be practically or aesthetically inappropriate, or where the audience might

be intimidated by the, or uncomfortable in using them.” -42 The computer nest is ugly. Ok so the new sleek flat screens are less ugly, but they too clash with the rest of the Crossett’s aesthetic. If most people do the same thing on those machines could that task be better done with another interface? Could this interface be more pleasing and better fitting with the feel of the building? Remember, “interaction is intimately connected with the settings in which it occurs.”-Paul Dourish page 72

  • Thesis 12 reminds me of this old joke:

“A guy is sitting in a bar talking to his hand. The bartender asks him what he's doing and the guy says, "I'm using the telephone."

The bartender looks at him as if he's crazy and says, "No, you aren't, you are just talking in your hand."

The guy says, "No, I really am having a phone conversation--I had a micro chip and transmitter installed in my hand last week."

The bartender shrugs and goes about his business. A few minutes later the guy disappears into the bathroom and he's gone about forty-five minutes. The bartender starts to get worried so he goes into the men's room to see if the guy is okay. When he gets there, he finds the guy standing in the middle of the bathroom with both hands in the air, his pants down around his ankles and a roll of toilet paper stuck in his butt. The bartender is flabbergasted and so he asks, "What are you doing now?"

The guy replies, "I'm waiting for a fax." - Source

  • Active floors as described on page 44-45 would be amazing in the stacks. This interface has a lot of potential in a place where people stand, contemplate, kneel, lay down, etc.
  • Thesis 15

About public space, made me think about the Library as a city, where the stacks are like streets and buildings with addresses and maps to locate a specific location. In a city you might do this to find your Cousin Linda who goes to NYU, or a pizza place, where as at the Library you might be looking for Leon Trotsky, or a recipe for coffee hour food. How could a system like the Tokyo lamp posts with RFID tags be implemented? Or a system like GAUDI.I say this not to advocate that we should do these things, but just to consider how they would be done. The effect of which might lead to further and more appropriate ends.

  • Thesis 16

I didn’t mean to,
I wasn’t aware,
I don’t want to be.

  • Speaking about Googling people “…it’s domething we do, rather, when we remember it, back in front or our machine, hours or days after we’re actually made contact.”-86

So perhaps even in our implications, interaction will not be immediately, but delayed. A lot of us observed people going to the library and then quickly leaving. What if we had a system that sent them an email, so when they got back to their room the “library” had already beaten them back there.

Spychips, Tracking Everything Everywhere and Spychips 101 pages 1- 22

These chapters had me laughing more then I was nervous about the potential privacy issues regarding RFID. Don’t get me wrong I can see the potential for tracking and control (in fact I believe it is in the nature of RFID) but these chapters read like the ramblings of a paranoid alarmist. Furthermore, I felt like my mom was warning me about the dangers of the real world. Well I guess that is fitting seeing as how Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre are “suburban moms who’ve taken on some of the largest corporations in the world because we care about the future our children will inherit if this dangerous technology is unopposed.”-3 I am glad that mom is watching out for me, really I am, but mom, and not to sound like a techno-Charlton Heston; RFID doesn’t track people, people track people. However inherent it is in the nature of RFID, it is not the technology that is dangerous, it is what people do with it. Every right has a responsibility. So if we are going to make some new rights for governments, corporations and voyeurs they will just have to adopt some responsibilities. Lets talk about the, RFID Right to Know Act, I think this makes a lot of sense. If I have the right to know where there are GMOs in my food, then…wait they don’t even have to print that. Maybe were not ready for RFID, but it is coming.
Random thoughts:

  • EZ-pass speeding tickets: Go from toll to toll faster then possible by traveling the speed limit and you get a ticket.
  • “In a future world laced with RFID…”-3: What about RFID lace? Take all the RFID tags you can find weave them together in a fabric antenna and rap it around your body. The best defense may be an offence.
  • The bit on Theremin was great, but I would like to remind you of a little project the US government had. SPYCOPY I am sure this collected a lot of important information; however they probably got a lot of pictures soviet butocks copies as well. They could have written an algorithm to filter that out.

Speaking of which here are the code assignments:


Here is my "guess my number program" the only problem I had was printing the value of comp_number if the user got it right. So I just took that out. (I know how to do this now)

 print "I have a number between 1 and 100, can you guess it? \n"
 comp_number = rand(100) +1
 loop do user_number = gets.to_i if comp_number == user_number
 print "it was \n "
 end if comp_number > user_number 
 print "to low \n"else print "to high \n" end

This is the code Jason and I got from the Cookbook. I understand what it is doing and how it should work. However, there seems to be a syntax error that we couldn't figure out.

require 'open-uri' 
require 'cgi'
class HTMLSanitizer
 attr_accessor :html
   @@ignore_tags = ['head', 'script', 'frameset']
   @@inline_tags =  ['span', 'strong', 'i', 'u' ]
   @@block_tags =   ['p', 'div', 'ul', 'ol'     ]
 def initialize(source=)
 @html = open(source).read
   rescue Errno::ENOENT
  @html = source
def plain_text
  @plain_text = @html.gsub(/\s*(<.*?>)/m, '\1')
  return CGI.unescapeHTML (@plain_text)
  def tag_regex(tag)
  def handle_ignore_tags
   @@ignore_tags.each { |tag| @plain_text.gsub!(tag_regex(tag), ' ')}
  def handle_inline_tags
   @@block_tags.each { |tag| @plain_text.gsub!(tag_regex(tag), ' 1')}
  def handle_block_tags { |tag| @plain_text.gsub!(tag_regex(tag), "\n\\1\n")}
  def handle_all_other_tags
   @plain_text.gsub! (/8#x00A;/mi, "\n")
   @plain_text.gsub! (/<.*?>/m, ' ')
   @plain_text.gsub! (/(\n\s*){2}/, "\n\n")

Design Noir, Introduction pages 15-43

I like the motivation behind this text. In my interpretation the authors are trying to instill a more holistic approach to RF/EM usage. What they don’t talk about is how new implementations which are informed by the “concerns and pleasures of beta-testers, early adopters, electro-connoisseurs and hyper-sensitive” might be like. Perhaps they will be better suited and better serve us, in the environment we (and they) live, but what does that mean? Maybe that can be one of the goals for our work?

Experience Prototyping – IDEO

Reading this I had to remark at the way Experience Prototyping is similar to the ideals of a Bennington education. With the emphasis on first hand interaction, and learn by doing strategies, the connections a clear. Furthermore, the type of investigations that IDEO outlines seem to be multidisciplinary in core. I am really excited to get to the place where we are adopting these strategies to look into the roll, look and feel, user functionality, and implementation of our ideas. In architecture it is often said that ideas mean nothing until you can represent and present them to others, on paper. We ought to hold are selves to a modification of that mantra; our ideas mean nothing until we can prototype them in a meaningful way. Only then will we be getting anywhere, only then will the spinning wheels spin something out. Although this paper made so much sense, almost common sense, it may be one of the most important things we have read so far. Let’s build something, further lets build something that answers questions and asks new ones that we have not though of yet.

The Poetics of Augmented Space - Lev Manovich

When looking back on this piece I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I like the concept of creating interplay of spaces, by treating physical and virtual space on an equal footing. All the same, I can’t follow Manovich with his conclusions that we augment under the umbrella of iconographic representation. He brushes by the difficulties in applying such strategies in a meaningful way. Loos’s “ornament is crime” is not merely a communication technique it is a revolution in ideology. The idea that ornament is representative of the craft age, and thus has no place in the machine age is a paradigm shift. Prior to this (primitive) manufacturing stove to imitate the hand made. After Loos’s manifesto, the mechanized world embraced its’ qualities of precision. Corbusier is famous for extending Loos by saying that design faults hide behind the ornament. This is about purity not iconography. Modern design ought not point to the machine it ought to be the machine. Manovich dances around the major point (for me anyway) and that is; What is the information age, how has this changed the world, what is its importance? The answers are (to some extent) in the text. I think his inclusion of the Borges example is a good example. As we overlay information on the physical world, we run the risk of either a) losing of selves in the “map” or b) creating a map that is so ‘complete’ that it is totally irrelevant. Both prospects are equally devastating. Situation (a) looses sight of the humans who will interact with the information, while situation (b) looses sight of the information which will be displayed. Take Cardiff’s work, if we imagine that the CD tour became so persuasive that the user forgot that they were experiencing someone else’s constructed reality we would be in situation (a). But if the CD tour was so convincing an alternate reality the user could believe that this was the true world, situation (b).

In the information age we humans struggle with losing ourselves and losing our world. So… augmentation of our world can either aid in this, or fight it… that is up to the designer.

Borges example: On Exactitude in Science . . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography. [1]

Conversation Pieces, Chapter One: The Eyes of the Vulgar – Grant Kester

Kester’s discussion is incredibly well informed; in a word the argument has breadth. I was quite happy with Kester’s quest. His goal is to examine different ideologies not to value one over the other. His “intention is to claim, not that West Meets East is a better work of art than House, but that it makes a different set of demands on its audience and on the critic or historian.”(24) This is an important distinction and what I believe to be the true value of this reading. He continues; “While the theoretical framework necessary to analyze House as a work of art is well established, this is not the case for West Meets East. How do we understand the aesthetic significance of the collaborative process itself?”(25) This question is of the highest importance for our class. I say this because the collaborative work is the sort of work we have shown to have value for. Fundamentally, I believe the art world (the critics, historians, dealers, galleries, so on) have a vested interest in ‘allowing’ such work to exist in the art world context. This is because that world is in the end, about control and market. Why do we care about that? Does it matter if our work is accepted by the the art world? Perhaps such 'collaborative work' is less needy in that sense. In the end the question, “What is art?” is all about language, knowledge, power and eroticism.
Or something like that…

Conversation Pieces, Introduction – Grant Kester

While this was an interesting foundation to what we read last week, I found myself more intrigued by possible conclusions Kester has about ‘conversational art’. These conversational pieces are quite different from traditional art practice; “While it is common for a work of art to provoke dialogue among viewers, this typically occurs in response to a finished object. In these projects, [Interview to Aid Drug-addicted Women, The Roof Is on Fire, Routes] on the other hand, conversation becomes an integral part of the work itself.”(8) How then should an art object be jugged, when it is barely an object at all? When the work is a dialogue, an occurrence or a process a very different criterion must be used to speak critically about it. Traditional aesthetic language may not have a place with this work. Further, the question remains; Is it art? Perhaps Michael Fried is right to reject dialogical work. Fried, speaking about minimalist art, claimed that theatricality was threatening visual art. This concept has been argued back and forth, but what can be said is that this conversational/dialogical work is especially theatrical. It is not a “banking style of art”(10). The communication is not deposit/withdrawal, instated it is collaborative between the players and the viewers.

Public Space, Private Time - Vito Acconci

“The function of public art is to de-design” (915)
I have been struggling with this design-art delineation for a long time now. Acconci deals with the issue in a way I have not yet seen. Le Corbusier described a continuum on one extreme end you would have a mathematician and on the other extreme you would have the artist. Architects stand somewhere near the middle. The idea of art, at least public art, being an anti-design is intriguing. Art in this sense serves to untie the bow that has been tied around our eyes by the designed environment. Design is establishment. Acconci is quite political. Design movements themselves are often quite political. The only way art can remain anti-establishment (I mean this in the broadest sense) is to stay “space-less”. Art perverts the designed spaces; it steals them without taking possession of them. His virus metaphors are quite appropriate. I wonder if we have become to design oriented… perhaps we are too concerned with solving a problem. Fundamentally I think we are on the right track. But in the short term we may have become too ‘structural’, when we should be subverting structure.

I think we must do something which challenges the library, computers cluster, and books. People will always have the established relationship with the books, for example. Offering an alterative is important, if not for that reason alone.

“It’s a song you can’t get out of your head” (918)
I would be overjoyed if our work was like pop music.

Data is not information - Nathan Sherdroff "Just the facts."
Ok, so I’m not a detective, is raw data meaningless?
Data needs accurate interpretation; it needs context to become information. Information ought to be more meaningful. It should provide insight into applicable situations. One can see how information is the building blocks of knowledge. Knowledge takes lots of information and organizes it; it is meta-information. Wisdom is knowledge that is highly refined and organized into s deeply personal understanding. The phrase I know blank like the back of my hand, comes to mind.

I have had the experience (and I am sure I am not alone) of learning something from someone, say welding, and then welding so many times that I started to understand the original instructions in a new deeper way. I began to understand the instructions that happen between words; the information, knowledge, and wisdom that can’t be communicated. I have also come to realize that, especially in the case of wisdom, the deeper understanding is so personal, that it is different than the teacher’s wisdom.

During this reading I was also reminded of something I was thinking about over Thanks Giving. “Humans are inherently creative creatures and when we have a chance to create we feel more satisfied and valuable.”- 166 Humans are designers, humans create, and we solve problems… that create new problems… which require new creative solutions. I also believe that because we are inherently social, we are basically co-creative. The only user that can truly maintain the original purpose of specific technology is the original creator (this goes back to the wisdom discussion). Most design objects are used by more individuals then the parental designer. To that end the question really becomes: “how accessibly collaborative is this object going to be”.