Naming the outputs of our design research: Cloud of Cards, a home cloud kit

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Cloud of Cards, a personal cloud kit. Scattered 19″ hybrid server racks, elements and kit to assemble and play with. (Photo.: Daniela & Tonatiuh)

 

We’re coming close to an end with the joint design research Inhabiting and Interfacing the Clouds and we’re becoming impatient to deliver the results: a diy small scale data center and cloud kit made of various elements (both physical and digital), to freely assemble at home or in your “garage”. Accompanied by two books documenting our work in print-on-demand!

At this stage though, we’ve given new and final titles to the design artifacts and tools that we’ve been working on lately, together with the research team (for the design & code part: Lucien Langton, Léa Pereyre, Christian Babski and myself).

 

Therefore…

 

Cloud of Cards, is a home cloud kit to help re-appropriate your data self. Obviously a distant tribute to House of Cards, the toy project by the Eames (“Toys and games are preludes to serious ideas”), the kit will consist of four artifacts:

19″ Living Rack is an open source server rack with a few functional hybridations, declined in four versions. Cloud of Cards Processing Library consists in a programming tool to help develop cloud applications with the Processing development language. 5 Folders Cloud is a version of the Cloud (ownCloud) with automated behaviors and cascades of events. It is an implementation of the processing library directly linked to the outputs and learnings of the ethnographic research about uses of the cloud. Finally, 5 Connected Objects physically interface the five automated folders in our version the cloud (5 Folders Cloud) with five “smart” objects and try to embody distant data in some kind of everyday domestic presence.

I&IC’s public survey of 356 links related to “Clouds” on Pinboard – last updated 03.2017

Along the design research, we are going through many different types of references that we don’t necessarily post or document on the blog. We usually only post about the ones that we consider relevant to the research process, which doesn’t mean the other ones are not interesting. We’ve just decided not to dig deeper into them at some point, or to keep some of them for later.

Yet, this is a consistent amount of survey that we are leaving on the side of the road and that could possibly be useful for similar or later researches. At least a good starting point… That’s why we’ve created this i&ic_designresearch tag on Pinboard.

Interestingly, some new thematics emerged along the way within these links, like for example on the technological branch, the combination of personal cloud based services, peer to peer protocols and blockchains that were not on the radar when we started our research.

 

Tweetbacks (“Twitter feedbacks”) of SDN Unfrozen Conference

Feedbacks “on the go” of the SDN 2016 Research Conference — to which we took part last week presenting I&IC, all three of us: Nicolas Nova, Christophe Guignard and Patrick Keller — can be read and seen (lots of images as well) on the SDN Twitter account at the following address and/or with the #unfrozen2016 hashtag.

 

I&IC Workshop #2 with James Auger at HEAD, brief: “Cloudy”

At HEAD – Genève today, we started the first workshop of the research project with James Auger (from Auger-Loizeau design studio and the Royal College of Arts in London). We’re going to spend this week with the first year students of the Media Design MA exploring cloud computing, personal cloud systems, objects and user interfaces.

In order to address this, the workshop started with a background description of the project’s purposes, the evolution of computers and network infrastructures, as well as an introduction to the current state of design objects and architectures related to cloud Computing: NAS systems, servers combined with heater, speculative projects related to such technologies. From this broad list of material we wondered about the lack of artefacts that go beyond purely functionalists goals. Cloud computing systems, especially in the context of people’s context is generally a commodity… hence a need for design interventions to re-open this black box.

Following Eames’ quote “A plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose” (as a definition of design), we asked students to start with a basic activity: to create a map of “elements” related to cloud computing. They had to choose a domain of everyday life (cooking, communication, etc.), begin by compiling “their” elements (material scale, cultural, historical, list people’s motivations, objects used to achieve it, situations, behaviors, etc.), sub-themes.

From this we discussed this ecology of elements and what aspects or user contexts they could focus on. Interestingly, students chose very broad topics: religion, communication, cooking, art performances, animal-computer relationships or music-making.   Based on this map, we then asked students to explore the role of cloud computing into these elements by looking at these questions:

  • How elements of the diagram might work with the cloud? How the cloud may influence each of these elements/the relationships between two of these elements?
  • How relationships between the elements on these maps may evolve with cloud computing?
  • What are the new situations/problems that may arise with the cloud? Implications?
  • What kind of objects will be linked to the cloud? Why? (From products to the role of the product and situations that arise)

The (many) answers to these questions led the groups to highlighting design opportunities to be discussed tomorrow.

Reblog > Internet machine

Note: an interesting “documentary” project/resource for our project is this recent work by designer and researcher Timo Arnall. It was published last May on his website and on different blogs. The focus is obviously here on the data center as a (fascinating?) contemporary artifact, in which the search for technical efficiency, rationality, security, redundancy, clean air, modularity, etc. leads to a specific spatial aesthetic. It is this aesthetic that seems to become the “main character” for this movie that mixes techniques, even so the idea is to reveal/desacralize the “hidden materiality of our data”. This project is planned to be displayed as a multi-screen installation.

While I didn’t have the occasion to see the movie yet, we should keep it in mind and try to display it in the frame of our own research, in particular to the students that will take part to the different I&IC workshops.

 

Via elasticspace

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Internet machine is a multi-screen film about the invisible infrastructures of the internet. The film reveals the hidden materiality of our data by exploring some of the machines through which ‘the cloud’ is transmitted and transformed.

 

Film: 6 min 40 sec, digital 4K, 25fps, stereo.
Installation: Digital projection, 3 x 16:10 screens, each 4.85m x 2.8m.
Medium: Digital photography, photogrammetry and 3D animation.

Reblog > Deterritorialized Living, residency, storyboard for workshop and follow-up #1 (open call)

 

Note: I had the opportunity to lead a workshop last year for fabric | ch at the Tsinghua University in Beijing, for the student of the Tsinghua Art & Sciences Media Laboratory. The workshop took place during a residency at the university and we developed the idea of revisiting the computer cabinet, possibly inhabiting it and developing a symbiotic environment between human and computers. The workshop was short and ideas didn’t have the occasion to unfold very far unfortunately. It even became later an open call during the last Lisbon Architecture Triennale. Yet this workshop undoubtedly constituted the preliminary work before the redaction of this research project and it could continue to be a line of thinking during this project.

Below are the storyboard little sketches I made at that time to introduce this workshop.

 

Via fabric | rblg

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I came back from Beijing more than a month ago now and before Christian Babski will return next week to China for fabric | ch during another month to finish our residency at the Tsinghua University (until mid July), I’m taking a bit of time to write a follow-up about the short workshop/sketch session I headed there with the students of Prof. Zhang Ga, at the Tsinghua Art & Sciences Media Laboratory.

Reblog > Into the Cloud (with zombies)

By Wednesday, September 17, 2014 Tags: 0030, Data, Datacenter, Designers, Energy Permalink 0

Note: Published almost two years ago, this interesting post by Kazys Varnelis

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Via varnelis.net

Today’s New York Times carries a front-page piece by James Glanz on the massive energy waste and pollution produced by data centers. The lovely cloud that we’ve all been seeing icons for lately, turns out is not made of data, but rather of smog.

The basics here aren’t very new. Already six years ago, we heard the apocryphal story of a Second Life avatar consuming as much energy as the average Brazilian. That data centers consume huge amounts of energy and contribute to pollution is well known.

On the other hand, Glanz does make a few critical observations. First, much of this energy use and pollution comes from our need to have data instantly accessible. Underscoring this, the article ends with the following quote:

“That’s what’s driving that massive growth — the end-user expectation of anything, anytime, anywhere,” said David Cappuccio, a managing vice president and chief of research at Gartner, the technology research firm. “We’re what’s causing the problem.”

Second, much of this data is rarely, if ever used, residing on unused, “zombie” servers. Back to our Second Life avatars, like many of my readers, I created a few avatars a half decade ago and haven’t been back since. Do these avatars continue consuming energy, making Second Life an Internet version of the Zombie Apocalypse?

 

 

So the ideology of automobliity—that freedom consists of the ability to go anywhere at anytime—is now reborn, in zombie form, on the Net. Of course it also exists in terms of global travel. I’ve previously mentioned the incongruity between individuals proudly declaring that they live in the city so they don’t drive yet bragging about how much they fly.

For the 5% or so that comprise world’s jet-setting, cloud-dwelling élite, gratification is as much the rule as it ever was for the much-condemned postwar suburbanites, only now it has to be instantaneous and has to demonstrate their ever-more total power. To mix my pop culture references, perhaps that is the lesson we can take away from Mad Men. As Don Draper moves from the suburb to the city, his life loses its trappings of familial responsibility, damaged and conflicted though they may have been, in favor of a designed lifestyle, unbridled sexuality, and his position at a creative workplace. Ever upwards with gratification, ever downwards with responsibility, ever upwards with existential risk.

Survival depends on us ditching this model once and for all.