Archive for the 'internet' Category

IML400 Spring 2015

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

The time has come to teach IML-400 at USC again, and this time around things are a little different. It is the first time I get a batch of students that had to take a prerequisite class, IML300, before they could join my class. This means I can jump ahead and make some assumptions about my students’ general knowledge that will hopefully help us move faster into the fun stuff and really take advantage of the browser as an interactive programming playground.

In addition to this, the class got split in two smaller groups of around twelve students, and I am only teaching one of these groups, while my colleague Raphael Arar is teaching the other one. When talking with Raphael about previous iterations and the future of the class, we decided to design a new Syllabus together based on my previous one, but taking into consideration Raphael’s teaching interests, the more advanced nature of this class, and aspects of the web that are a lot more mature today than they were during my previous iteration of IML400 a year ago. Specifically, I wanted students to put aside the page-based nature of the web we have today, and think about the things they can do using Web Audio and WebGL in emerging contexts like mobile WebVR for example.

I see my class not as design class, but as a creative innovation one. When thinking about new media, user interface, user interaction and user experience design are important things to understand, explore and develop as skills, but we are at a point where some design paradigms —like the page/scroll nature of the web today— have reached a degree of maturity that leaves very little room for the pure, unbiased creative experimentation that will eventually drive the emergence of fresh new media. There is so much more to the web that is coming to us.

Having a partner in crime on this teaching adventure has been the best thing ever happened to me and to this class. We are only a few weeks into the semester and Raphael and I have established a relationship where we exchange impressions about how the class is going every week, and iterate upon our teaching approach together. It’s really great to have someone to talk to at this level 😀




PaperJS vs TwoJS

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Inspired by a morning discussion with Tom White aka dribnet about javascript and 2D vector graphics, I came home tonight determined to find out how far could I get in ten minutes using PaperJS on the one hand, and TwoJS on the other hand, with the sole constraint that somewhere along the way I had to make use of SVG.

For those who don’t know, PaperJS is the web-based heir of Scriptographer, a Javascript plugin for Adobe Illustrator that lived up until CS5. As far as I know, PaperJS is far more powerful than it’s predecesor, and has been designed keeping in mind the interactive, object-oriented nature of the contemporary web browser.

Similarly, TwoJS is a relatively new web-based 2D drawing library inspired by the WebGL javascript library Threejs.

After ten minutes of PaperJS I produced a simple particle raster script that uses an image to draw a collection of SVG shapes over a grid, and I added some color manipulation and particle scattering functionality to produce images like the ones featured below, using pixel data from grayscale photographs of Brigitte Bardot and William Burroughs.

TwoJS took me in a completely different direction. All I did was write a script that pulled SVG code from the loaded page source, and created animations from it. Here are two examples: I<3VR and rolling W.



Has this happened to you?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

I recently rediscovered a video recording iPhone app called 8mm. Evidently, it makes your mobile video look like an old movie filmed with an eight millimeter camera.

Every time I go for a walk I take my phone out to record locations, landscapes, moments, or anything else that calls my attention. Last Wednesday I was walking back to the office when I saw these two guys asking the mailman to take a picture of them using a picturesque Venice wall as a background. I walked right in the middle of their interaction and recorded them as I walked by. The mailman took off in my direction and the other two guys just walked away into Rose Ave.

Then yesterday while browsing through my Tumblr dashboard I stumble upon the picture taken by the mailman in some Hip Hop blog I follow. The original post is here. The blog I follow and the original item were separated by a long list of intermediaries (more than 20).

This is the first time I find myself experiencing a moment where the following three conditions are satisfied:

1. This moment is of absolute no consequence.
2. This moment is recorded by me and by at least one stranger.
3. The stranger’s recording of this moment finds it’s way to me through an online social network.

This might already happen to a lot of people, and I am expecting it to happen a lot more frequently in the future. For now, I am just going to upload my movie somewhere and somehow connect it to that picture.


My 3023 Instagram Photos

Monday, December 31st, 2012

I don’t like to be forced to grant a permanent all purpose license over my content, so I decided to stop posting photos on Instagram after the recent update to their terms of service.

I will not delete my account, and I might change my mind about this, but I don’t plan to take any more photos on Instagram. This makes me a bit sad, because there is definitely no substitute for me to post casual descriptions of my life to share with many of my close friends.

From now on, I’ll probably limit myself to use Instagram the same way I use facebook, to keep in touch with friends, leave occasional comments, and “like” some of their stuff.

Two years and 3023 photos. I was two pictures short from having 55×55=3025 Instagram photos. Who cares, perfection is always elusive. On the other hand, 3023 is a pretty sweet prime number.


Khan Academy Bots

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

A few months ago, before I got all busy with theBlu, I made a set of robot avatars for the Khan Academy. They are part of the academy’s incentive program. Like in many games, users accumulate points by finishing tasks provided by the system, and these points can then be used to collect badges or upgrade the user’s avatar. The only difference is that in this case the user’s merit is to have learned something, as opposed to having reached a given goal established by the rules of a game.

I think the Khan Academy is a great resource not just for learning. It is also wonderful for refreshing knowledge one once already had. I’ve used it like that a couple of times, and a few other times just to learn about stuff –their explanation of SOPA/PIPA is pretty good– but I haven’t found an opportunity to collect enough points to deserve one of my own avatars in my profile. Maybe one day, I don’t really care. I just hope their incentive program is very successful and a lot of people learn a lot and choose my robots so that the Khan Academy feels inspired to commission me with more drawings, because I love this kind of work.

PS: My illustration set in flickr features full res images of all the robots and some other creatures that didn’t make it into the final selection.

TheBlu in Times Square

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Last month, I worked on the design and implementation of a system to connect mobile phones with a custom version of theBlu client that ran on the NASDAQ screen in Times Square. This was part of a celebration put together on May 4th by Wemo Media to introduce theBlu to the world. If you’d like to see how it went, Wired has published a video covering the event.

After extensive research, I chose JQueryMobile to build the mobile web app. I had never used JQueryMobile before, and I was happy to find it accessible and robust. It’s a good mobile UI framework if you ever need one.

Also, I got my first iPhone to use for development purposes (yeah right). As an all time iPad user, I always thought I would never appreciate an iPhone fully, and for the longest time pretended to be happy with vintage cellphones where texting is a task only possible for people born after 1990, but after half a month of iPhone bliss, I find myself using the iPad a lot less and texting like a superhero, using Instagram like there is no tomorrow and finally having a reasonable replacement for my lost iPod. I’m not too happy with the camera though—I think it’s a bit dumb.

In TheBlu

Monday, March 5th, 2012

The last month and a half I’ve been working with Wemo Media in TheBlu. TheBlu is an unusual mix of social media, peripheral entertainment, virtual marketplace, and crowd-sourced digital studio. It’s a new effort in the ongoing quest to find a functional combination between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. I was called at the end of January to provide Art Direction, and to work on User Interface and User Experience Design. This means I’ve mostly been using good old Illustrator/Photoshop/AfterEffects for mockups and asset deliverables, and Javascript/HTML/CSS for prototyping and implementation. I still have to get my hands on the actual 3D part of the whole thing. I hope it will not take too long.