I&IC Workshop #5 at ECAL, tips: RaspberryPi’s and the GrovePi+

By Monday, November 16, 2015 Tags: 0120, ECAL, Hardware, Tools Permalink 0

If you are not familiar with the Raspberry Pi and remote access, a previous post was written here and here.


School’s specials:

Your RaspberryPi is preconfigured with an updated version of wheezy (2015.03.20_Dexter_Industries_wheezy.img) specifically designed to work with the GrovePi+.

If during the week you need to re-run updates just type in the following:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Note also that you can access a few tutorials and “how to’s” on the same Dexter Industries website. “Get Started with the Grove Pi” and “Example Projects” have been already linked on our resources section out here.

However beware, the school network might not let you do this, you might have to choose another network for that (like your phone’s).


The easiest way to access your Pi is via VNC with an Ethernet connection. First you need to install VNC viewer for your mac. During the installation process just check install viewer, no need to install server.

Once done and your Raspberry booted, you should be able to VNC into it through Ethernet connection:

Note that :5901 indicates to connect to shared-screen number 1, if you configure other screens the number 2 would be :5902, and so on.

Once connected, to configure wifi go to wpa_gui on your desktop and configure the wifi network details (with your wifi-dongle plugged in ;).

Your RaspberryPi was configured for remote access, to ssh it via Ethernet (if it doesn’t work, unplug your wifi  dongle and plug it back in once done):
ssh pi@


Once connected you can check if you have an active connection:
ping www.google.com

If you don’t, you can check if you Raspberry Pi is at least scanning the right networks:
sudo wpa_cli scan && sleep 5 && wpa_cli scan_results

For more wifi troubleshooting follow this guide


To set screens, or kill them via the command line there are these commands:

sudo tightvncserver :1
sudo tightvncserver -kill :1

If for some reason you need to change the static IP set for ethernet connection, you can edit it via a simple card reader by editing the IP set in cmdline.txt situated in the root folder of your card. (if it doesn’t work, check if your computer has a dynamically allocated IP for ethernet connection, in this case we’ll check it out together)

As the week goes on I’ll update this post with new ressources. Enjoy!

I&IC workshop #5 at ECAL: (esoteric) comments about the cloud (about the brief)

Following the publication of Dev Joshi‘s brief on I&IC documentary blog yesterday, I took today the opportunity to briefly introduce it to the interaction design students that will be involved in the workshop next week. Especially, I focused on some points of the brief that were important but possibly quite new concepts for them. I also extended some implicit ideas with images that could obviously bring ideas about devices to build to access some past data, or “shadows” as Dev’s names them.

What comes out in a very interesting way for our research in Dev’s brief is the idea that the data footprints each of us leaves online on a daily basis (while using all type of digital services) could be considered as past entities of ourselves, or trapped, forgotten, hidden, … (online) fragments of our personalities… waiting to be contacted again.

How many different versions of you are there in the cloud? If they could speak, what would they say?


Yet, interestingly, if the term “digital footprint” is generally used in English to depict this situation (the data traces each of us leaves behind), we rather use in French the term “ombre numérique”  (literally “digital shadow”). That’s why we’ve decided with Dev that it was preferable to use this term as the title for the workshop (The Everlasting Shadows): it is somehow a more vivid expression that could bring quite direct ideas when it comes to think about designing “devices” to “contact” these “digital entities” or make them visible again in some ways.




Philippe Ramette, “L’ombre de celui que j’étais / Shadow of my former self “, 2007. Light installation, mixed media.

I&IC Workshop #5 with Random International at ECAL, brief: “The Everlasting Shadow”

Note: As I mentioned in a previous post, the I&IC design research project enters further developments in the context of new experimental workshops. Being still part of the first phase of our work, these researches are led in collaboration with design partners (peers) and the participation of Interaction Design students (Ba & Ma). They follow the purpose of creating a thematic corpus of design “counter-proposals” to the existing apparatus of the “cloud” (as described in the foundation document about this research).

I therefore publish the brief that Dev Joshi (from the London based collective Random International) recently sent me, in preparation of the coming workshop that will take place at ECAL next week (16-20.11.2015). This workshop will interrogate what the “self” might become in an era of permanent personal data traces left on countless online/cloud based services. These traces, now commonly known as “digital footprints“, or “data shadows” (“ombres numériques” in French) and even sometimes “data ghosts” open interesting questions when it comes to communicate/interface with these “ghosts”, objectify or make them visible.


The Everlasting Shadow

Workshop brief, November 2015.
Random International / Dev Joshi (Head of Creative Technology)





A unique construct, the cloud is always growing but will never fill up and it always looks the same, regardless of the angle from which it is viewed.

People often think of the cloud as something which is lightweight, easy to use, not imposing and perhaps even mercurial in nature. Content streams are always changing, documents viewable at their most current version – everything is fast and new. Looking below the surface, it is clear that this perception isn’t true. The cloud is heavy – it has a huge physical and environmental impact and the permanence of the data is worrying.

Where does all that stuff go, who is there to look after it? When all of your life’s information exists on someone else’s computer, even if you delete, how can you be sure that it is gone? Years of our lives left to rot in forgotten Dropbox accounts; previous versions of ourselves trapped on abandoned MySpace pages with only Tom for company.

The dualism of the ghosts we leave behind in the cloud, these indelible snapshots of ourselves, raise interesting questions about where the self exists in the modern age and of ownership. If ownership over something is the right to destroy it, have we surrendered ourselves to a broken immortality which we cannot control. Have we lost the right to forget and be forgotten?


Questions and staring points

The cloud is always something that belongs to someone else, operating in borrowed time and space. Devise a way of informing others about the physical and digital shadow they leave behind when they use the cloud.

Written records have existed for millennia but great effort is still expended in deciphering ancient texts written in forgotten languages. If everything in the cloud really is forever, how can we ensure it retains its value when the world has forgotten how we communicate?

How many different versions of you are there in the cloud? If they could speak, what would they say?

Your digital ghosts are trapped on islands around the cloud – is there a way to rescue them? Maybe they just need a shelter to live in now that you have moved on?


Output and medium

Could be, but not limited to:

. Making use of existing, static, cloud data (Things in your drop box, old social media accounts)

. Small (desktop) artifacts

. Projection and frames in space – things which hang from the ceiling or are fixed to the wall

. Screen based


Reference pieces







Monday – Introduction and discussion (am briefing)

Tuesday – Bandwidth and bare minimums (am briefing)

Wednesday – The trees that grow on technology island (am briefing)

Thursday – Work day

Friday – Presentation prep and delivery


Further reading

Marcelo Coelho, Karsten Schmidt, Allison E Wood

I&IC Workshop #4 with ALICE at EPFL-ECAL Lab: output > Distributed Data Territories

Note: the post I&IC Workshop #4 with ALICE at EPFL-ECAL Lab, brief: “Inhabiting the Cloud(s)” presents the objectives and brief for this workshop.


The week of workshop with ALICE finished with very interesting results and we took the opportunity to “beam” the students presentation to LIFT15, where Patrick Keller and Nicolas Nova were presenting the research project at the same time. The EPFL architecture laboratory already published a post about the workshop on their blog. The final proposals of the intense week of work were centered around the question of territoriality, and how to spread and distribute cloud/fog infrastructures. You can check out the original brief here and a previous post documenting the work in progress there.


Data territories – a workshop at EPFL-ECAL Lab with ALICE from iiclouds.org design research on Vimeo.




The students Anne-Charlotte Astrup, Francesco Battaini, Tanguy Dyer and Delphine Passaquay presenting their final proposal on friday (06. 02) in the workshop room of the EPFL-ECAL Lab.



Proposing to make these infrastructures visible raised a flood of questions concerning their social and architectural status. Similarly, it questions several fields about the presence of private data in the public space. How do we represent the data center as a public utility? What types of narratives/usage scenarios emerge from such a proposition? By focusing on different but correlated territorial scales, participants were able to produce scenarios for each case.



The overall Inhabiting the Cloud(s) research sketches on the wall.


Swiss territoriality and scale(s)?

The three distinct territorial scales chosen were the following: the national/regional scale, the village/town or city, and the personal/common habitat scale. The proposals were established on the basis of an analysis of the locality where the workshop was held: the small city of Renens and its proximities. The research process focused on preexisting infrastructures which responded to several criteria necessary to implement server rack structures: access to regular and alternative power sources, access to cooling sources (water and air), preexisting cabled networks and/or main and stable access routes (in the mindset that the telegraph/telephone lines were setup along the train lines), and finally seismic stability as well as a certain security from other natural disasters.

Doing so, it also speculates about the fact that data centers could (should?) partly become public utilities.


Water, water mills?

The first proposition was to rehabilitate old water mills along existing rivers on the countryside leading to cities and villages in the role of “data sorting centers” or “data stream buffers” facilities. As there is no cabling this proposition may seem odd, however especially concerning Switzerland’s topography, the idea is interesting as it investigates several culturally rich aspects, not to mention the abundance of water. The analogy between water streams and network flows seems obvious, but water is also a necessary cooling source for data infrastructures. It could also be considered as a potential energy source. One could even go further and speculate on the potential interactions between the building and wildlife, as in the image used to cover this article published by Icon magazine just a few days ago.


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Water Mills, water cooling scenarios and their local position on the map (around the city of Renens).


Disused post offices?

On the scale of the city, the preexisting infrastructure chosen was the Post Office. Postal services are still functioning, but the buildings are deserted of much of their social interaction with the public since the coming of age of internet access. The buildings are also identically structured on a national scale, which could facilitate implementation. They are strategically positioned and already well equipped with network standards. Moreover, it could revive the social role of the village square, or redefine the city as a radial organization around data (versus spirituality). Amongst the implementations discussed were the ability to use the excess heat to create a micro-climate over the square and the possibility of redefining the public space inside the post office as a Hackerspace and Makers Lab, a bit in the same way libraries function.


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The “front” and “back ends” of most villages’ disused post offices offer quite interesting and appropriate spatial organization, if not metaphors.


Neighborhoods’ nuclear shelters (from the cold war period)?

On the scale of the office or housing building, the nuclear shelter was immediately proposed. In Switzerland, every home is to have a nuclear bomb shelter. This situation is unique in the world, and most obviously, better serves local metal groups and wine cellar enthusiasts then security. Nevertheless, however awkward this may seem, these shelters are almost a blueprint for a personal data center. Every one of them is equipped with high-end air filtering systems, generators for use in case of power outings, and solidity and stability standards set to resist a nuclear attack. This couldn’t become a model for the other countries though…


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The building would therefore embed the capacity to develop it’s own thermal ecosystem alongside the usage of private, communal and public dataspaces.


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This last proposition is finally interesting as it would redefine the organization of the habitat as a radial one, a bit like the students-researchers suggested earlier above for the city. The building could therefore become a transition space in itself between public space, community space and private space. Different directions were also explored with a particular interest on the vernacular “chalet” as a possible candidate for an alpine “meshed data harvesting facilities” scenario.

For now, we’ll stick to the dream that one day, every family in Switzerland will be able to send their kids play in the data center downstairs. But remember: No Ovomaltine on the ethernet hub!





Many thanks to the ALICE team in general and to Prof. Dieter Dietz in particular, Thomas Favre-Bulle for leading the workshop, Caroline Dionne and Rudi Nieveen for organizing it. Thanks to Nicolas Henchoz for hosting us in the EPFL-ECAL Lab, Patrick Keller and Nicolas Nova for their introduction to the stakes of the overall project, Lucien Langton for its hard work, good advices and documentation along the week and last but not least to the students, Anne-Charlotte Astrup, Francesco Battaini, Tanguy Dyer and Delphine Passaquay for their great work and deep thinking proposals.

I&IC Workshop #4 with ALICE at EPFL-ECAL Lab, Work in progress


Above: an illustration of the third scaled model presented further.


As the week unrolls the workshop is starting to produce scenarios. Wednesday (yesterday) we had a quick presentation of the work in progress, which is documented briefly in the current post. Students Delphine Passaquay, Tanguy Dyer, Francesco Battaini & Anne-Charlotte Astrup working on Inhabiting the Cloud(s) as a team developed a global perspective on the subject. Their approach is focusing on four distinct territorial scales in order to question the centralized data center model. While the proposal doesn’t have a name yet, it however clearly speculates about a distributed isotrope network. The student architects focused on the preexisting urban infrastructure in order to establish their proposal.

I&IC Workshop #4 with ALICE at EPFL-ECAL Lab, brief: “Inhabiting the Cloud(s)”

Note: we will start a new I&IC workshop in two weeks (02-06.02) that will be led by the architects of ALICE laboratory (EPFL), under the direction of Prof. Dieter Dietz, doctoral assistant Thomas Favre-Bulle, architect scientist-lecturer Caroline Dionne and architect studio director Rudi Nieveen. During this workshop, we will mainly investigate the territorial dimension(s) of the cloud, so as distributed “domestic” scenarios that will develop symbiosis between small decentralized personal data centers and the act of inhabiting. We will also look toward a possible urban dimension for these data centers. The workshop is open to master and bachelor students of architecture (EPFL), on a voluntary basis (it is not part of the cursus).

A second workshop will also be organized by ALICE during the same week on a related topic (see the downloadable pdf below). Both workshops will take place at the EPFL-ECAL Lab.

I introduce below the brief that has been distributed to the students by ALICE.


Inhabiting the Cloud(s)


Wondering about interaction design, architecture and the virtual? Wish to improve your reactivity and design skills?

Cloud interfaces are now part of our daily experience: we use them as storage space for our music, our work, our contacts, and so on. Clouds are intangible, virtual “spaces” and yet, their efficacy relies on humongous data-centres located in remote areas and subjected to strict spatial configurations, climate conditions and access control.
Inhabiting the cloud(s) is a five days exploratory workshop on the theme of cloud interfacing, data-centres and their architectural, urban and territorial manifestations.
Working from the scale of the “shelter” and the (digital) “cabinet”, projects will address issues of inhabited social space, virtualization and urban practices. Cloud(s) and their potential materialization(s) will be explored through “on the spot” models, drawings and 3D printing. The aim is to produce a series of prototypes and user-centered scenarios.

Participation is free and open to all SAR students.

ATTENTION: Places are limited to 10, register now!
Info and registration: caroline.dionne@epfl.ch & thomas.favre-bulle@epfl.ch


Download the two briefs (Inhabiting the Cloud(s) & Montreux Jazz Pavilion)


Laboratory profile

The key hypothesis of ALICE’s research and teaching activities places space within the focus of human and technological processes. Can the complex ties between human societies, technology and the environment become tangible once translated into spatial parameters? How can these be reflected in a synthetic design process? ALICE strives for collective, open processes and non-deterministic design methodologies, driven by the will to integrate analytical, data based approaches and design thinking into actual project proposals and holistic scenarios.




“Botcaves” on #algopop

Matthew Plummer-Fernandez just took the occasion to publish the results of the workshop he led at ECAL on #algopop (“studying the appearance of algorithms in popular culture and everyday life”)!