I just finished teaching IML400 in USC for the third time. Over the winter break I had a chance to review my Syllabus and improve it, based on a few new insights I developed at the time. The course title itself is “Creative Coding for the Web”. When I was invited to teach it I was given freedom to propose my own curriculum, so I started by deconstructing its name. The result couldn’t hit closer to home. To me, creativity, programming, and the web are three of the most important things a human of our time should care about, comic books and ice-cream being the other two. They connect rational thinking with human imagination and communication in ways that have changed our world beyond our wildest dreams. My core goals have remained the same (to encourage a design-first culture supported by programming as a new kind of literacy, and the web as the mother of all media), but my approach to introduce them as a source of inspiration to students has become more focused. Here is some of what I’ve learned:
Archive for the 'web' Category
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 two conditions are satisfied:
1. This moment is recorded by me and by at least one stranger.
2. 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.
I have to say AngularJS hasn’t been exactly easy, but there have been several times where I have been surprised finding extremely simple ways to set up certain things, especially when binding event triggered method chains across completely separate scopes. It’s kind of great, even though all those directives are driving me crazy and the learning curve has been steep as hell.
I can’t remember the last time I officially hand crafted a website. To be precise, this is not even a website, it’s just a webpage; I plan to update the rest of the website over the next few weeks, but for now, I feel this is a great first step.
Obviously, my first design goal here is to get visitors to download theBlu, but also to learn about it, to want it, and most importantly, to believe in it as a viable platform to communicate knowledge about biological systems. I think about this branch of digital media as the the simulation of life. And there is also the geographical aspect: mapping the environment where this life occurs. If they manage to simulate life well, computer networks will be the Petri Dish of the future.
And it is also interesting to think about the Darwins of the future, combined perhaps with the Pasteurs of the future and others (of the future too, LoL). Because scale is a controllable variable, in the digital realm, looking into the microscopic drama that unfolds inside a Petri Dish can become a similar experience to sailing across the world’s oceans from Galapagos to Galapagos or whatever. Furthermore, the digital explorer is not limited to just observing and collecting samples, but he or she can control time or even manipulate or create life in a way that in the future will probably be possible in the physical world too, but the big difference is that in the physical world we learn to control nature, when in the digital world (or playground) we figure out how to create something like figure out how to create something like nature.
And on that note, looking back in history to the precursors of other media –Étienne Jules Marey and his relation to animation, for example– do you think stuff like theBlu will be faced by the same lens a few hundred years from now? Does it even make sense to think like this today?
I’m teaching IML400 at USC again this Spring. So fun. I am extremely grateful that my employers at Wemo Media are letting me do this. I am sure they are aware that letting me keep a teaching front will only benefit my involvement in the company.
The semester kicked off in an interesting way with an event featuring the recent work of two thirds of my thesis advisors from the Media Lab. Reas and NickM presented their book 10 PRINT [babble] GOTO 10 and sustained a long and interesting discussion with a bunch of other digital humanists about the digital text and other [digital] things.
Going back to the subject of my class, I have to say I was very happy with the results I got from the Fall 2012 edition. In this page you can find links to the class websites and their final projects. Some of them are fairly interesting in terms of concept and execution —like this one and this one— and over all I believe we reached my goal of helping them learn how to learn. I feel they got to a point where we could have continued with a next semester of serious design and interactive storytelling work. Perhaps in the future I will be able to teach a season two of creative web production, but I am actually not sure I am ready to push the boat into deeper waters yet, so I will remain teaching at an intro level for a while.
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.