• "One of the most important things I learnt throughout the process was that through ‘performing’ ideas – including getting members of the audience involved – it was evident whether or not the experience/idea/design would be valuable, exciting or intriguing. During the presentations, you could instantly tell if the project was a success. In some ways this combines presentation with a form of fictional user testing, they were performing to know. Here, prototyping is taken to another level, where ideas are exposed to an audience, events are ‘acted out’ and success is evaluated. Performance as a prototyping medium." I like 'performing to know'
  • "Dam-Drum is a handheld drum machine and sequencer with four unique sounds selected by Dam-Funk. This is a collaboration with Dam and Bleep Labs, who designed and built the drum in Austin, Texas." And that right there is your future of music merch: support your favourite artist by purchasing custom hardware with their sounds in. They only made 100, because exclusivity (or is it because longer runs would be painful to make), but it's got lovely packaging, and is surprisingly functional.
  • "A not-so-long time ago there were no digital books. There were no Kindles or iPads. There were self-contained objects. Objects unnetworked. The only difference now is that they're touching, they're next to one another. The content is the same. But that small act of connection brings with it a potential sea change, change we'll explore as we continue to platform books." A huge thinkbomb from Craig.
  • "Realitat is a research and experimental studio founded by Juan Manuel de J. Escalante in Mexico City. Their recent creation "Microsonic Landscapes" visualizes music with physical form as a representation of an algorithmic exploration of the music. Realitat selected some of their favorite albums, including Nick Drake's Pink Moon and Portishead's Third, and converted them into 3D objects. Each album's soundwave were 3D printed in a cylindrical form layer by layer on a Makerbot 3D printer." I don't normally go in for this sort of thing, but it does look nice.
  • "Three design principles from Lego CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp: When it’s advertised does it make a child say: ‘I want this!’? Once he opens the box, does it make him go: ‘I want more of this’? One month later, does he come back to the toy and still play with it? Or does he put it on the shelf and forget about it?" Useful for things that aren't toys, too.

Upcoming Events: August/September Edition

22 August 2012

I’m talking at three events in the next few weeks, and now they’re all announced, it’s worth sharing them here.

First, on Thursday 23rd August (tomorrow), I’ll be talking at the Turing Festival in Edinburgh, during their Games slot. I’ll be talking about Systemic Media for a Systemic Age.

In an age of systems, systemic media is not just increasingly common but increasingly vital and games happen to be the most immediate, most populist manifestation of that. My belief is that “systems literacy” is the great literacy of the 21st century – and that games are the most powerful place to explore that literacy.

Then, on Friday 7th September, I’ll be talking at dConstruct in Brighton. The talk is called Making Friends: Toys, Toying and Toymaking. It’s about the value of making toys and what you can learn from that practice.

Toymaking is not an idle habit. Toys are a fertile ground for creators to work in. They offer a playful space to experiment and explore. They are a safe ground to experiment with new techniques, skills, or ideas. Though they emerge from no particular purpose, they expose purpose and meaning through their making. Toymaking ranges from making realistic simulations of life to producing highly abstract playthings. And everyone who makes things – out of paper, wood, metal, plastic, or code – has something to gain from making them.

And finally, on Saturday 8th September, I’ll be one of the speakers at the Brighton Mini Maker Faire talks. I’ll be talking about what I seem to spend a lot of my time doing: making things you don’t know how to make.

It turns out, of most of the things I’ve made, I didn’t know how to make when I started them, and I never thought I should be able to make them. When I finished them, neither of those statements were true.

It’s been interesting to think on these topics, and I’m looking forward to all three events. Say hello if you see me there!

  • "The Bullet gem is designed to help you increase your application’s performance by reducing the number of queries it makes. It will watch your queries while you develop your application and notify you when you should add eager loading (N+1 queries), when you’re using eager loading that isn’t necessary and when you should use counter cache."
  • "In the golden age of BASIC, it was easy for anyone to write a program. Now we offer you this exact same capability, but this time with the advanced features of the Nintendo DSi™ system… Many programs are included to ensure that you can fully enjoy using BASIC. The included programs were also written in BASIC, so you can add new features to them in order to enhance your games. You can also take the programs and data you create and convert them to QR codes that can be shared with friends who also have Petit Computer on their Nintendo DSi systems. (Programs included: 12 feature samples,5games, a character picture tool,a background screen creation tool,a graphics tool,and a picture-drawing tool.)" Interesting – especially the music-creation stuff, as Create Digital Music proved.

Links & notes for this month