Cloud of Cards (ABCD), a home cloud kit


Research and Art direction by Patrick Keller and Nicolas Nova.


Cloud of Cards, a home cloud kit to reappropriate your dataself, is the principal outcome of the joint design and ethnographic research Inhabiting and Interfacing the Cloud(s), accompanied by two books in print-on-demand that document it.

The main results of the project are four artifacts [ A) - B) - C) - D) ], both digital and physical that constitute a set of modular tools (“cards”) that are delivered in the form of an open-source diy kit, freely accessible on www.cloudofcards.org as well as on Github. The purpose of these tools is to give everyone, the community of designers and makers in particular, the possibility to set up their own small size data-center and cloud, manage their data in a decentralized way or develop their own alternative projects upon this personal small scale infrastructure.


 
 

A) 19″ Living Rack


Project developed by Léa Pereyre


19” Living Rack is an open source variation around the standardized 19” computer server rack (or cabinet). Dedicated to be distributed in domestic environments for personal or for small size community uses, the modular base of the standard rack is getting combined with additional functions, to address this renewed small office/home office context.

In making clear reference to the famous Ch. Eames toy, the modular House of Cards project, the 19” Living Rack comes in one technical “Base” that can then be combined and customized into three different types: “Office”, “Home”, and “Garden”, to set up personal and somehow undersized data centers.

For each configuration, air flows have been taken into consideration and act as design and functional factors: the air in the front part of the rack remains temperate before entering the rack and cooling the servers, while the back and top air flows are getting warmed up and dried due to the computers heating process. “Office” functions comes therefore mainly in the front part of the rack, “Home” on the back where elements can be tempered or dried, while “Garden” comes on the top, equipped with moistened plants to clean, re-humidify, perfume and cool down the air.

Cloud of Cards. Early pictures from the final artifacts, a photo shoot with Daniela & Tonatiuh

Photography by Daniela & Tonatiuh.

Design by Léa Pereyre, Lucien Langton and Patrick Keller

A Personal Data Center (evolution, models)

Note: “A Personal Data Center” (working title) is part of a home cloud kit, which was described in a previous post and that will be composed by four various artifacts, both physical and digital.

The kit will be distributed freely at the end of the project.

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After a few design iterations through sketches and a bit of 3D modelling, we recently produced a set of first prototypes of what our domestic 19″ server rack could look like and how it could handle domestic functions as well. As a matter of facts, we can consider this work an alternative approach to what was set up and analyzed at the beginning of our research, when we assembled our own “(small size) personal cloud infrastructure“.

Our approach was fueled by several references, the first one being House of Cards, by Ray and Charles Eames :

 

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The modular, simple and intuitive assembly process guided us for its adequacy within a Do-It-Yourself user context.

“A Personal Cloud”: a home cloud kit for personal data (centers) / “reappropriate your dataself”!

We’re entering the final straight of the research project Inhabiting and Interfacing the Cloud(s) and we can give at this point a first glimpse of the four design artifacts we are working on at the moment. They will constitute the main outcomes of our joint experimental effort (ECAL, HEAD, EPFL-ECAL Lab) and a kind of “personal cloud kit” (explained below). These creations will be accompanied by two books: one will present the results of the ethnographic research about “the cloud”, the other will present the design research process and its results – both in pod/pdf.

We already pointed out in the recent post “Updated Design Scenario” where we were heading. Since then, the different projects were better identified and started to get shaped. Some got eliminated. Prototyping and further technical tests are running in parallel at the moment.

 

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From the original “final scenario” sketch to …

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… a “Personal Cloud Kit”, composed of various physical and digital modular artifacts.

 

What emerged reinforced from the main design scenario is that we seek to deliver four artifacts (some physical, some digital, some combined) which themselves will constitute the building blocks of what we’ll call “A Personal Cloud Kit”. All four parts of this kit will be openly accessible on a dedicated website (e.g. in a similar way to what OpenDesk is doing).

The purpose of this “home kit” is to empower designers, makers and citizens at large who would be interested to start develop their own cloud projects, manage or interact with their data or even to set up small scale personal data centers at their places (homes, offices, garages …)

From design research wrap-up to final artifacts, updated design scenario (in scribble mode, #2)

 

This post consists in an important update to the previous note “From design research wrap-up to final artifacts, a design scenario (in scribble mode, #1)“.

It’s main purpose is to narrow down the previously sketched scenario and become more precise about the possible artifacts we will develop. In doing so, the present description shows a likely path and tries to keep some coherence within the overall design that is segmented in four different areas, often combined (software, hardware furniture, responsive objects, visualization). Yet and even so several objects and functions are described and named in this post, it will continue to serve only as a general blueprint for the last phase of our I&IC joint design research, while the final outputs could still largely evolve, based on the same ideas and plan.

 

These ideas keep their importance though:

Based on the graphic “Motivations <-> Usages <-> Problems” and its description of procedures, based on our “Design Learnings” too, we’ve tried to translate and objectify these into “natural language” of actions (and problems). At this stage, this is still a trial, but we’ve listed five pairs of words that work in opposition (verbs vs. past participles) and that cover the spectrum of functions and procedures: To Care (vs. Neglected!), To Accumulate (vs. Vanished!), To Multiply (vs. Shrinked! ), To Freeze (vs. “Melted!”), To “Pimp” (vs. “Jumbled!”) — all these corresponding to a set of cloud actions and explained with more details below, after the break —

These 5 pairs of terms will drive the development of an alternative, domestic and hopefully objective Cloud (“Our Cloud”), built upon the open source software OwnCloud with the help of our own I&IC OwnCloud Core Processing Library (which will be further edited and editable therefore). This personal Cloud will have the opportunity to be hosted into a new type of diy (and domestic as well) 19″ Cabinet.

The 5 pairs of terms will further drive the implementation of 5 Controllers or Network Data/Bot Objects (“Smart Objects”). The aim of these “controllers” will be to give an everyday physical presence to each user’s personal Cloud, to its 5 main folders, contained files or data and the processes they undergo. The manipulation of some of these objects will include the idea of “natural interface” or “gestures”.

In addition to these 5 physical controllers, 1 or 2 “root objects” could help monitor and possibly moderate the overall behavior of “Our Cloud”.

For the development of these “smart objects”, we’ve decide to take into account the kind of objects or infrastructure that are already present in a domestic environment, things like single functional objects (i.e. lamps, electric plugs, consoles, mirrors, clocks, etc.) and revisit them with a slight sculptural approach. We’ve also decided to consider a “language” that takes into account “invisibility” or “immateriality” (i.e. electricity, electrostatics, magnets, light, reflections, air currents or temperature, dust).

Finally, all of the above should be distributed as open source.