I think it must have been during Thursday morning that someone tweeted a link to an Alexander Chen Google Glass video experiment. I'm afraid I can't remember who it was. The video was pretty cool but I got completely distracted by these two other pieces Chen created. Chen is a Creative Director at Google Creative Lab in New York. You can read a full bio here on his site.
Baroque.me (2011) by Alexander Chen.
Baroque.me visualizes the first Prelude from Bach's Cello Suites. Using the math behind string length and pitch, it came from a simple idea: what if all the notes were drawn as strings? Instead of a stream of classical notation on a page, this interactive project highlights the music's underlying structure and subtle shifts.
Conductor (2011) by Alexander Chen.
Conductor turns the New York subway system into an interactive string instrument. Using the MTA's actual subway schedule, the piece begins in realtime by spawning trains which departed in the last minute, then continues accelerating through a 24 hour loop. The visuals are based on Massimo Vignelli's 1972 diagram.
Catching up with the New Aestheticists and Mr Barnes kindly introduced me to Rainer Kohlberger's brilliant pxl app. There are other things that achieve similar effects, like Poly and Dmesh. With Poly you have to do some actual real work (although not much and it's fun); I'm going to try out Dmesh next. But pxl stands out because you can export your auto-processed artwork as a vectorised pdf file, which makes the results much more useful.
It's effortless, which reduces the perceived value of the outcomes, but the results are, as you can see, great.
(If you're in the UK) Are you following the development of GOV.UK? So far, it's been great. I think the most impressive aspect of it has been how open the development is. The blog is really good: vibrant, busy, has multiple contributors each with their own angle and area of focus. Then there's the nationwide beta testing. Has that happened before? Ever? Anywhere?
Last night I had a brief exchange of DMs with Chris from Front who said he felt "proud to be part of a country that 'gets it' to that extent". I agree. So far, so good.
But that feeling of pride; it's like what we should have felt when the Millenium Dome went up and how we should feel about the run up to this year's Olympics. Despite wanting to feel really positive about both of these things, I didn't/don't. External forces weigh heavy. National cynicism annoys the hell out of me but why does it happen?
The thing with GOV.UK is how the openness, of course, makes you feel like you could have a say. Actually, you can. The national beta testing prompted immediate and actionable feedback.
I suspect it's no coincidence that Ben, who if you don't know by now is part of the GDS Team, had pictures of Festival of Britain paraphenalia on his blog a few days ago. Who knows what it felt like in the UK when the Festival was developing; different times I guess. Perhaps there was a mountain of cynicism directed at that on the run up to 1951. But when you look at what happended, well, it looks pretty damned exciting.
Right now, GOV.UK does, in a 2012-digital-kind-of-way, feel a bit like that.
I've been thinking a bit about Path lately. Partly because I've been really enjoying it, partly because I discovered it around the same time as a couple of other things that I just haven't got into (like Google+) and partly because a few people I either know, or kind of know, have been pondering or even challenging it's usefulness.
Path works for me. I use it with a small group of around five or six people who I mostly know within the Social Media Realm. I think, we use it well and effectively. It's fun. It's a laugh. (I don't know what the other members of this "group" think by the way).
Daniel was asking the other day what it was for and I said it's like the inner sanctum or something. It's an intra-social network and that feels good. Andy, before Christmas, described it as a "bad idea well executed". And Andy knows his internets so those words have stuck with me.
But it's working for me. Consequently, I've been wondering why and a few things fell into place the other night, actually after a big glass of wine:
Thing 1: I don't have many real-world mates.
Thing 2: The small group of active "Path Mates" I have are mostly Dads.
Thing 3: Dave.
Thing 4: Russell M.
(Stick with me).
Thing 1: I have the excuse of being both from across the water and a Dad so having few real-world mates is not sad. I certainly don't mind. I have had real world mates. And then I killed them. Joking. I think I get on well with people but I'm pretty self-sufficient and have an amazing wife who's my best fwiend too. And I've got two fast growing sons; I haven't got time for real-world mates. But that's not to say I don't enjoy social interaction. This is a bit connected to Thing 4, but I'll come to that in a bit. The point is: I like a bit of social interaction but don't have much time or many real-world mates.
Thing 2: It dawned on me the other night that the small group of people I interact with mostly on Path are also Dads. Some are designers but all are Dads. We don't "talk" much about Dad stuff, we might show a few photos of our kids doing cute things, but there's not much Dad chat, a bit of amusing anecdotal stuff. Which reminded me of Dad Club. Dad Club seemed like such a good idea, for camaraderie and the like, but it didn't really work out. I think I read something somewhere that said, in general, Dad Clubs don't work. I went back to Dad Club to see what I'd written. It still makes me laugh. But even I didn't keep it up. Are these things connected?
Thing 3:Jane Fielder from Red Bee Media came over here a few years back and gave a great talk about their work. Fantastic stuff for Life on Mars I remember AND a whole thing about Dave, the TV channel, that they branded. If my memory serves me well, she described the positioning for the channel as something like, "The channel for blokes that want to go down the pub with their mates but can't because they have a family". Right now, Path feels a bit like that.
Thing 4: Did you catch that talk Russell M Davies did on Radio 4 about what's next for the internets and social media? He described social media as "networking for shy people" which I totally get but would suggest you can extend that to "…shy people and Dads (and Mums)".
Connecting the dots and crossing the T's, I have, therefore determined that Path works for me because even if I did have real-world mates I'd not have enough time to go to the pub with them anyway, so use a swanky closed-network app for a bit of trivial blokish banter. And it's a little bit like Dad Club (there's an unspoken understanding) but better because Dad Club was too open; anyone could read the filth you write.
It might not work for Daniel and Andy because right now, they have the freedom that comes with being child-free and they have actual, real-world mates to go to the pub with. Andy certainly does - I'm less sure about Daniel.
If you haven't D, you'd probably better stick with Path, you'll be glad you did soon enough.
I've just re-read this and feel the need to add a disclaimer: Please note that this entry may quite possible be utter bollocks or at the very least be a narrow view on a subject with variable appeal. Also, the "group" I mention is in no way a formal conglomeration of peoples. "They" don't even know they're part of a "group". My main point is that Path's great for a clique short on time. And others things probably too.
2011 was, without doubt, the Year of the Instagram for me. It launched a few months before the end of 2010 but for me it wasn't until early in '11 that I sampled it's delights. Nearly a year (and over 1200 images) later, it's no surprise to hear, I've flippin' loved it. I even got to write about my love of IG here. My year in Instagrams are mostly on Flickr. There's so many it's hard to narrow it down to just twelve but I've had a go and my top snaps include: my amazing family, a pigeon in flight, an aerial asterisk, a young hedgehog, a horror web and a questionable Twitter phenomena.
I decided not to send an actual, proper Christmas cards this year. Instead, I've done like everyone else and made one of these. Seems to be the new fangled thing to do nowadays. Seasonal whatsits to you and your's. I'm off to get drunk with my wife and colleagues.