Author Archive

Sifteo Cubes – Cadavre exquis

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

While considering creative coding as a digital craft, I think the most striking and emotional part is the realization you know what to do and now you just have to do it.

The notion of the dots getting finally connected is mesmerizing : among all the possibilities a path gets drawn, and the object you want to build exists in the virtual space of your mind. In the Keller and Keller theoretical framework, it would be close to the moment when the umbrella plan gets finally assembled.
Seeing the code as the material this is the moment when you feel how to shape it, assemble it, which parts are going to be thrown away and which are the ones that are going to stay.

Design Idea

I want to share this idea of connecting the dots in a playful way, while having multiple viable solutions.
To implement this idea, I suggest creating a game using a variation on the theme of exquisite corpse.
One person, the “language master” will write down a short sentence. Then for each of the word of the sentence, he will choose 4 other words (similar or not).

Other people, the “language wannabees” will then have to try to reconstruct the original sentence. You can choose to collaborate, and help each others (share knowledge about the language master to increase the chance of success), or on the other hand try to sabotage other’s work (giving crappy advice) to simulate the competitive environment creative coders are living in.

The first one to find the right solution becomes the brand new language master and pick up a new sentence and a set of words.
During the process you might write down unsecessful sentences for further reference.

This can be implemented using a sheet of paper but as we’re trying to live in a digitial era, I did it using sifteo cubes.

The choice of only one solution valid among all the possibilities is arbitrary, and could be extented to any solution the language master likes (or the group if you’re prefer democracy).

[coming soon]

Anti-Deskilling – Improved Electronic kit

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Google, Wikipedia, Instructables… We tend to use our computer as a magic oracle that knows everything. By doing so, we may tend to give
it too much trust, while loosing a part of our critical thinking, and passively accetping its all mighty knowledge.

I propose to redesign a random electronic kit, but pretty badly prepared : no instruction, missing resistors or too many of them. To
counterbalance these complications, I suggest a radical approach : to empower even more the computer. It knows the instructions to build
the kit, but you need to convince it you’re worthy enough to get the next instruction by showing your technical skills, their improvement
and by building your intuitive understanding of the materials you are using.

Various levels of complexity / difficulty / degree of interaction can be used depending on the user, its level, etc.

Set content

– A good part of the componenets required for the kit
– “Useless” extra components
– Prebuild arduino board for measuring resitance/capacitance/inductance
– Software

Technical implementation / Interaction description

The prebuild arduino board should be used as a cheap multimeter that can be interfaced with the custom software.
The custom software will first prompt the user with some clear instructions on how to start soldering the kit.

Quickly, the user will reach a point where a component needed is not present as if, or even worse, the computer wont ask for a precise
component, but instead will only give hints of what is needed : a bigger resistance, a smaller inductance … The user will have then to
“build” the component himself by assembling parts from the “useless” extra components, and use the arduino board to ask the computer if
he’s getting closer of what’s needed.

The user is free to use part from outside the kit to achieve the goal. He might try with everyday life objects : piece of copper,
graphite, conductive ink, aluminum.


Lovely drawing...

Anti-Deskilling - Sketch


I can see a couple of interesting reasons of building the kit this way. First, the user will gain an intuitive and informal knowledge of
the material he can use. Not only he can assmemble new pieces in a creative way, but there is also a new learning curve, for using various
parts (electronic, or not) in an unconventional manner. This idea is closer to the intimate knowledge of the material used by the craftman
versus a cold and mathematical count of colorful stripes on a resistor.
There are other learning paths for the user who doesn’t want to follow blindly the all-mighty computer : you can either improve your
knowledge of the inner working of the kit you’re building, so that you break free from the instructions all-together, or on the opposite
side of the spectrum, improve your knowledge of the inner working of the arduino/softaware tool we propose, and defeat it by building a new
tool that would go through all the expected values and therefore to unlock all the instructions.

In any case, the user must be more creative than if he were following a classical instruction manual, and learn from this experience,
which was the intended goal of the kit.

Inspiration and possible examples

Interactivus Botanicus

Switch - Anne Stevens

Resistor Man - fleck_bucket