Following yesterday’s post related to esoterism and the Cloud, here is an interesting project and resource by Nathalie D Kane (Future Everything) and Tobias Revell (artist) concerning Haunted Machines!
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.
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
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
Marcelo Coelho, Karsten Schmidt, Allison E Wood
Note: we mentioned the project Dead Drops (2010), by artist Aram Bartholl, in the foundation document of our design research Inhabiting & Interfacing the Cloud(s). The project was about passive memory sticks (usb keys) that were inserted into public streets walls, for anybody to drop or pick files.
A. Bartholl recently published a new project, Keepalive, which also presents a public, situated (rural or into the wild) and almost ritual interaction with files.
Both projects are presented below in more details, but what interests us in these two cases is this different interaction with files that is proposed. Both physical and that brings a different meaning to the interaction itself: a special type of (situated) interaction to access specific files. Something quite different therefore than a general purpose type of interaction (“clic” with a mouse or “tap” with a finger) to access any type of files (current situation with cloud storage).
In the continuity of the workshop we held about physical bot objects that manipulate data, “Botcaves” - Networked Data Objects, this is certainly a track we’ll like to pursue and digg into during the next steps of this project.
Note: fabric | ch, one of our partner on this project, has developed an open source data sharing tool that tries to simplify the procedures of declaring/logging and sharing data (from “connected sensor things”, mainly). This is Datadroppers. The service is somehow similar, yet slightly more versatile than the now vanished Pachube, or the contemporary, but proprietary, Dweet.io (that we’ve already mentioned in the resources section of this blog).
One of the interesting points in this case is that the new web service has been created by designers/coders that are themselves in need of such data service for their own work, promising in some ways that it won’t be commodified.
The other interesting point is the fact that they are formally involved in this design research project as well (through Christian Babski, developer), which should help us match the functions of Datadroppers with OwnCloud: through the use of the documented OwnCloud Core Processing Library and the one of Datadroppers, new paradigms and artifacts in file/data sharing and cloud operations could be envisioned, implemented and tested.
But moreover and mainly, projects made by the design community could be developed that will take advantages of the open resources of Processing (later on, Javascipt as well), OwnCloud and these libraries. Designing tools remains one of the goals of this design research project. Designing artifacts that will use these (improved) tools will be the work of the coming year in our design research…
Note: the post I&IC Workshop #3 with Algopop at ECAL, brief: “Botcaves” presents the objectives and brief for this workshop.
The third workshop we ran in the frame of I&IC with our guest researcher Matthew Plummer-Fernandez (Goldsmiths University) and the 2nd & 3rd year students (Ba) in Media & Interaction Design (ECAL) ended last Friday with interesting results. The workshop focused on small situated computing technologies that could collect, aggregate and/or “manipulate” data in automated ways (bots) and which would certainly need to heavily rely on cloud technologies due to their low storage and computing capacities. So to say “networked data objects” that will soon become very common, thanks to cheap new small computing devices (i.e. Raspberry Pis for diy applications) or sensors (i.e. Arduino, etc.) The title of the workshop was “Botcave”, which objective was explained by Matthew in a previous post.
The choice of this context of work was defined accordingly to our overall research objective, even though we knew that it wouldn’t address directly the “cloud computing” apparatus — something we learned to be a difficult approach during the second workshop –, but that it would nonetheless question its interfaces and the way we experience the whole service. Especially the evolution of this apparatus through new types of everyday interactions and data generation.
Matthew Plummer-Fernandez (#Algopop) during the final presentation at the end of the research workshop.
Through this workshop, Matthew and the students definitely raised the following points and questions (details about the projects are below):
1° Small situated technologies that will soon spread everywhere will become heavy users of cloud based computing and data storage, as they have low storage and computing capacities. While they might just use and manipulate existing data (like some of the workshop projects — i.e. #Good vs. #Evil or Moody Printer) they will altogether and mainly also contribute to produce extra large additional quantities of them (i.e. Robinson Miner). Yet, the amount of meaningful data to be “pushed” and “treated” in the cloud remains a big question mark, as there will be (too) huge amounts of such data –Lucien will probably post something later about this subject: “fog computing“–, this might end up with the need for interdisciplinary teams to rethink cloud architectures.
2° Stored data are becoming “alive” or significant only when “manipulated”. It can be done by “analog users” of course, but in general it is now rather operated by rules and algorithms of different sorts (in the frame of this workshop: automated bots). Are these rules “situated” as well and possibly context aware (context intelligent) –i.e. Robinson Miner? Or are they somehow more abstract and located anywhere in the cloud? Both?
3° These “Networked Data Objects” (and soon “Network Data Everything”) will contribute to “babelize” users interactions and interfaces in all directions, paving the way for new types of combinations and experiences (creolization processes) — i.e. The Beast, The Like Hotline, Simon Coins, The Wifi Cracker could be considered as starting phases of such processes–. Cloud interfaces and computing will then become everyday “things” and when at “house”, new domestic objects with which we’ll have totally different interactions (this last point must still be discussed though as domesticity might not exist anymore according to Space Caviar).
Moody Printer – (Alexia Léchot, Benjamin Botros)
Moody Printer remains a basic conceptual proposal at this stage, where a hacked printer, connected to a Raspberry Pi that stays hidden (it would be located inside the printer), has access to weather information. Similarly to human beings, its “mood” can be affected by such inputs following some basic rules (good – bad, hot – cold, sunny – cloudy -rainy, etc.) The automated process then search for Google images according to its defined “mood” (direct link between “mood”, weather conditions and exhaustive list of words) and then autonomously start to print them.
A different kind of printer combined with weather monitoring.
The Beast – (Nicolas Nahornyj)
Top: Nicolas Nahornyj is presenting his project to the assembly. Bottom: the laptop and “the beast”.
The Beast is a device that asks to be fed with money at random times… It is your new laptop companion. To calm it down for a while, you must insert a coin in the slot provided for that purpose. If you don’t comply, not only will it continue to ask for money in a more frequent basis, but it will also randomly pick up an image that lie around on your hard drive, post it on a popular social network (i.e. Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and then erase this image on your local disk. Slowly, The Beast will remove all images from your hard drive and post them online…
A different kind of slot machine combined with private files stealing.
Robinson – (Anne-Sophie Bazard, Jonas Lacôte, Pierre-Xavier Puissant)
Top: Pierre-Xavier Puissant is looking at the autonomous “minecrafting” of his bot. Bottom: the proposed bot container that take on the idea of cubic construction. It could be placed in your garden, in one of your room, then in your fridge, etc.
Robinson automates the procedural construction of MineCraft environments. To do so, the bot uses local weather information that is monitored by a weather sensor located inside the cubic box, attached to a Raspberry Pi located within the box as well. This sensor is looking for changes in temperature, humidity, etc. that then serve to change the building blocks and rules of constructions inside MineCraft (put your cube inside your fridge and it will start to build icy blocks, put it in a wet environment and it will construct with grass, etc.)
A different kind of thermometer combined with a construction game.
Note: Matthew Plummer-Fernandez also produced two (auto)MineCraft bots during the week of workshop. The first one is building environment according to fluctuations in the course of different market indexes while the second one is trying to build “shapes” to escape this first envirnment. These two bots are downloadable from the Github repository that was realized during the workshop.
#Good vs. #Evil – (Maxime Castelli)
Top: a transformed car racing game. Bottom: a race is going on between two Twitter hashtags, materialized by two cars.
#Good vs. #Evil is a quite straightforward project. It is also a hack of an existing two racing cars game. Yet in this case, the bot is counting iterations of two hashtags on Twitter: #Good and #Evil. At each new iteration of one or the other word, the device gives an electric input to its associated car. The result is a slow and perpetual race car between “good” and “evil” through their online hashtags iterations.
A different kind of data visualization combined with racing cars.
The “Like” Hotline – (Mylène Dreyer, Caroline Buttet, Guillaume Cerdeira)
Top: Caroline Buttet and Mylène Dreyer are explaining their project. The screen of the laptop, which is a Facebook account is beamed on the left outer part of the image. Bottom: Caroline Buttet is using a hacked phone to “like” pages.
The “Like” Hotline is proposing to hack a regular phone and install a hotline bot on it. Connected to its online Facebook account that follows a few personalities and the posts they are making, the bot ask questions to the interlocutor which can then be answered by using the keypad on the phone. After navigating through a few choices, the bot hotline help you like a post on the social network.
A different kind of hotline combined with a social network.
Simoncoin – (Romain Cazier)
Top: Romain Cazier introducing its “coin” project. Bottom: the device combines an old “Simon” memory game with the production of digital coins.
Simoncoin was unfortunately not functional at the end of the week of workshop but was thought out in force details that would be too long to explain in this short presentation. Yet the main idea was to use the game logic of the famous Simon says to generate coins. In a parallel approach to the one of the Bitcoins that are harder and harder to mill, Simoncoins are also more and more difficult to generate due to the inner game logic: each time a level is achieved by a user on the physical installation, a coin is generated and made available to him in the cloud (so as a tweet that says a coin has been generated). The main difference being that it is not the power of the machine that matters, but its user’s ability.
Another different kind of money combined with a game.
The Wifi Oracle - (Bastien Girshig, Martin Hertig)
Top: Bastien Girshig and Martin Hertig (left of Matthew Plummer-Fernandez) presenting. Middle and Bottom: the wifi password cracker slowly diplays the letters of the wifi password.
The Wifi Oracle is an object that you can independently leave in a space. It furtively looks a little bit like a clock, but it won’t display time. Instead, it will look for available wifi networks in the area and start try to crack their protected password (Bastien and Martin found online a ready made process for that). Installed on the Raspberry Pi inside the Oracle, the bot will test all possible combinations and it will take the necessary time do do so. Once the device will have found the working password, it will use its round display to display it within the space it has been left in. Letter by letter and in a slow manner as well.
A different kind of cookoo clock combined with a password cracker.
Lots of thanks to Matthew Plummer-Fernandez for its involvement and great workshop direction; Lucien Langton for its involvment, technical digging into Raspberry Pis, pictures and documentation; Nicolas Nova and Charles Chalas (from HEAD) so as Christophe Guignard, Christian Babski and Alain Bellet for taking part or helping during the final presentation. A special thanks to the students from ECAL involved in the project and the energy they’ve put into it: Anne-Sophie Bazard, Benjamin Botros, Maxime Castelli, Romain Cazier, Guillaume Cerdeira, Mylène Dreyer, Bastien Girshig, Martin Hertig, Jonas Lacôte, Alexia Léchot, Nicolas Nahornyj, Pierre-Xavier Puissant.
From left to right: Bastien Girshig, Martin Hertig (The Wifi Cracker project), Nicolas Nova, Matthew Plummer-Fernandez (#Algopop), a “mystery girl”, Christian Babski (in the background), Patrick Keller, Sebastian Vargas, Pierre Xavier-Puissant (Robinson Miner), Alain Bellet and Lucien Langton (taking the pictures…) during the final presentation on Friday.
Note: I publish here the brief that Matthew Plummer-Fernandez (a.k.a. Algopop) sent me before the workshop he’ll lead next week (17-21.11) with Media & Interaction Design students from 2nd and 3rd year Ba at the ECAL.
This workshop will take place in the frame of the I&IC research project, for which we had the occasion to exchange together prior to the workshop. It will investigate the idea of very low power computing, situated processing, data sensing/storage and automatized data treatment (“bots”) that could be highly distributed into everyday life objects or situations. While doing so, the project will undoubtedly address the idea of “networked objects”, which due to the low capacities of their computing parts will become major consumers of cloud based services (computing power, storage). Yet, following the hypothesis of the research, what kind of non-standard networked objects/situations based on what king of decentralized, personal cloud architecture?
The subject of this workshop explains some recent posts that could serve as resources or tools for this workshop, as the students will work around personal “bots” that will gather, process, host and expose data.
Stay tuned for more!
Algorithmic and autonomous software agents known as bots are increasingly participating in everyday life. Bots can potentially gather data from both physical and digital activity, store and share data in the ‘cloud’, and develop ways to communicate and learn from their databases. In essence bots can animate data, making it useful, interactive, visual or legible. Bots although software-based require hardware from which to run from, and it is this underexplored crossover between the physical and digital presence of bots that this workshop investigates.
You will be asked to design a physical ‘housing’ or ‘interface’, either bespoke or hacked from existing objects, for your personal bots to run from. These botcaves would be present in the home, workspace or other, permitting novel interactions between the digital and physical environments that these bots inhabit.
Raspberry Pis, template bot code, APIs, cloud storage, existing services (Twitter, IFTTT, etc) and physical elements (sensors, lights, cameras, etc) may be used in the workshop.
British/ Colombian Artist and Designer Matthew Plummer-Fernandez makes work that critically and playfully examines sociocultural entanglements with technologies. His current interests span algorithms, bots, automation, copyright, 3D files and file-sharing. He was awarded a Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction for the project Disarming Corruptor; an app for disguising 3D Print files as glitched artefacts. He is also known for his computational approach to aesthetics translated into physical sculpture.
For research purposes he runs Algopop, a popular tumblr that documents the emergence of algorithms in everyday life as well as the artists that respond to this context in their work. This has become the starting point to a practice-based PhD funded by the AHRC at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is also a research associate at the Interaction Research Studio and a visiting tutor. He holds a BEng in Computer Aided Mechanical Engineering from Kings College London and an MA in Design Products from the Royal College of Art.