Archive for the 'plw' Category

ScriptKit by BuzaMoto

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

We are generally familiar with the idea of programming as writing code, but there are many other ways to program, like making circuit boards for example.Using examples like this as metaphors and having alternative ways to represent and visualize the structure of a computer program can be of great help to understand how it works. This alone has been a good reason to inspire developers and educators in a number of efforts to develop computer programming interfaces that provide a visual aid to writing code. Some examples are MaxMSP, Quartz Composer, vvvv, Morphic, Scratch, and the more recent Light Table of Kickstarter fame.

The programmer’s interaction with the program, however, has remained limited to the traditional inputs available to a computer: the mouse and the keyboard. The keyboard might be one day replaced by voice recognition as the best available input device for writing, and the mouse offers a very limited single point input to the graphical user interface. This limitation is likely to have greatly influenced the design of the visual programming systems I mentioned before, and it is interesting to think in which ways new systems might take advantage of new input interfaces. Since it’s inception, the computer input/output loop remained immutable until very recently. Today the emerging trends of miniaturization, mobility and multiple touch screens have completely rewritten the role computers play in society. In the near future, we can definitely expect computers to exhibit a large variety of form factors and input/output solutions.


With ScriptKit, Buza explores this problem in the realm of the touch interface as represented by Apple’s iPad. In his own words:

ScriptKit is a touchable programming environment for building simple mobile prototypes on iPad using native iOS UI components and social media APIs, available via an intuitive drag and drop interface.

This means ScriptKit not just proposes a new way to design programing interfaces in multiple touch devices. It also incorporates native support for experimentation with available web services through their APIS, making this environment stand out as a practical tool to prototype and test viable networked/mobile touch based software designs.

And by the way, the nice logo with the building blocks was conceived and designed in Los Angeles by me ^_^


Coda: Here are two interesting readings on the design of programming environments (courtesy of DribNet): Learnable Programming and Visual Programming, does it suck?

An exercise in personalization

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Last month I worked with BuzaMoto on a website for the MoMA Armory Show 2012. Mud made the website and I provided the content artwork for the main feature of the site: A personalized virtual BobbleHead creation tool.

These BobbleHeads are offered by MoMA as an extra token for people that buy access to the live stream of the Armory Show closing event: a live performance by mexican chill wave band Neon Indian. In addition to this, the collection of generated BobbleHeads will be projected on stage during the performance.

Aside from it being an interesting fundraising participation system, is an excellent example of a seamless, low-effort online transaction experience. I would probably spend a lot more money on digital content if other online stores made shopping as easy and pleasant as does.

I designed most of the BobbleHeads based on dead celebrity artists (Frida, Picasso, Warhol, Louise Bourgeois, etc.), together with a couple of celebrities from pop culture, one science celebrity, and a monster made from body parts of several cadavers. This flickr link features the complete BobbleHead collection in the form of a wallpaper, including a famous superhero that didn’t make it to the website for obvious copyright reasons.

Here are the two BobbleHeads I made so far:

  • Black on a Saturday morning, featuring the real me,
  • and Maya goes to the gallery, featuring Maya as an art snob.
  • Update: Mud’s post in the BuzaMoto blog.

    Data doodles

    Saturday, August 13th, 2011

    About a month ago, I made a new backup of the data from tinyDoodle. It is available as a text file consisting of 31.2 megabytes of integer coordinates of 2d points that are put together as a very long sequence of line segments. It’s formatted in JSON in a straightforward way. It doesn’t matter to me how silly this application sounds, there is something I still find incredibly compelling about the ability of computers to capture drawing gestures as sets of numbers that can be performed as drawing gestures that are sets of numbers. I think this drawing-to-number quasi-biyection is priceless.

    I was recently talking about how different interaction models determine differences in communication, and how interesting it is for me to look at scenarios where a group of humans is restricted to use non-conventional channels to communicate with each other. Like putting two persons in a room and have them play a game where all they can do is make drawings to each other. Blackboard, paper, whiteboard, it doesn’t matter. Their communication will not be very efficient this way, but they will get very creative at drawing, and maybe come across some ideas that they would have never explored any other way.

    More recently, Buzamoto launched a cool iPad app called Pendipity that offers a similar functionality to tinyDoodle, only better. It features a more advanced, yet very simple, drawing interface, and it implements a seamless chatting experience using a Node.js server. In terms of space, the difference between both systems is clear. When someone initiates a shared Pendipity session, the system will look for another available user to create a drawing team of two, and TinyDoodle is an open space where anybody can access the same drawing at any given time. So tinyDoodle is like a public blackboard, and Pendipity is like a shared notebook where every visitor is paired with someone else to draw on a single page of the notebook at a time. In Pendipity, a different session means a different drawing. In tinyDoodle, there will always be the same single drawing, around thirty something mb long at this point. The drawing is so dense, you actually have to watch it in chunks to make sense of it.

    The following image is a collaboration Buza and I made on Pendipity. We didn’t find out we were drawing together until later, when we talked about it by chance. The idea of collaborating with somebody close to you without knowing who they are is bizarre, to say the least.

    Icon No. 253377

    Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

    Sometimes I just feel like making another icon.


    Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 ceased to exist on Sunday, January 2nd 2011. A number of other PLW-related sites went down as well. E15, E15Web, Modster and Opencode are all gone. A copy of the database collected by remains, however incomplete, since I don’t think there were backups made after the Fall of 2009. All activity and data recorded on 2010 is probably lost. This is especially sad since the tag tables experienced an unprecedented growth during that year, collecting an interesting dataset where relations and patterns between word usage and picture classification could have been observed. went live on April 13th, 2007 in the MIT Media Lab PLW. It survived the PLW’s demise for more than two years, but it seems it was not meant to last forever. Perhaps in the future a static copy of the backed-up database will be hosted for the curious in, but it’s early to tell if that will happen at all.

    So long, I will miss you.

    PictureXS 20102

    Sunday, January 31st, 2010

    I think I created this post just to avoid letting a whole month go without updating this journal. Some subconscious sense of duty must have been triggered in the back of my mind a few hours before the month was over, and it was easy to find a topic when I discovered PictureXS just reached it’s picture number 20102. Something worth mentioning, I guess. Numerologists must acknowledge the significance of this number. Me, I’m just happy I can finally spell “acknowledge” without thinking about it.

    I might close the site soon, and make it static. It has been fun, but I feel PictureXS has grown to be kind of dated, and there are a number of issues in relation to it that I would approach differently today. At the same time, I feel more inclined to start a new site rather than update it or fix it.

    These are a few words that lead to some great picture collections: book, red, blue, pink, cat, snow, robot, face.

    OpenStudio Archives

    Saturday, September 12th, 2009

    Yesterday my friend eomsco inaugurated his flickr account with a bunch of OpenStudio drawings that he saved when OpenStudio was still a functional web application. His drawings are some of the most brilliant cartoons I ever saw in OpenStudio, and it filled me with joy to see them around again. I have my own little collection of OpenStudio drawings in flickr, and I am positive that many others must have interesting similar backups forgotten in some corner of their file systems. For this reason alone it made sense to create an OpenStudio flickr group. Buza, roadrash and burnto have already added some content to the group, and Buza has just uploaded the first 200 in a collection of around 900 user profile pages that he crawled and rendered in early 2008. If you were ever an OpenStudio user, can you find yourself there? Please join the group and share your collections of OpenStudio art if you have them.

    Featured illustration: Who’s there by eomsco.