so much of how we think about technology is about scale, but really these notions are a bit, well, fake. sure, the fantasy of product design and engineering is that you make a thing, it has traction, and it scales to thousands or millions of users without a ton of overhead. but scale these days doesn’t really happen without inflated investments, and aggressive hiring, and neglecting things like user safety and customer service in favor of cranking out new features. lots of users means lots of customer service requests, and when was the last time you really felt a tech company had your back? today I’m thinking of a friend who was stranded with her dog this week because AirBnB support just couldn’t get back to her in time with a real solution. is that what we admire as scale?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to un-scale technology. are there creative ways to make things that are accessible and that matter deeply to a few people? can that be as “worth it” as reaching millions? I still chat daily with friends from a small message board from the early 00s, and I remember being able to DM the site creator when there were community issues or features we wanted. I can’t say I enjoy that kind of deep connection with a platform like Facebook.
my little meditation for this week is: if there’s even 1 person who’ll read your story (or play your game, or click to play your video on Instagram) and even if that person is just you, you would make art for that person!
WereSoCool is a language for binaural, microtonal composition built in Rust by Danny Meyer. it doesn’t assume familiarity with either microtonal music or computer programming, but experience with either will help! you can check out the Github repo here and play with some examples here. you can also check out Danny’s virtual concert series every Thursday at 1PM UTC-4.
there’s a lot of stuff floating around like that new Netflix doc or the Buzzfeed piece that ran yesterday that can get pretty navel-gazing amongst us who are ~in the industry.~ I see lots of people sharing links and leaving hot takes on Twitter and not a lot of people, like, actually doing something (retweets don’t count!). to that, I’m just gonna drop Sasha Costanza-Chock’s Design Justice right here.
Pixelles, a non-profit org dedicated to empowering more women to make and change games, has an open call for speakers to give 45 minute webinars to a mixed audience of Gameloft employees and members of the Pixelles community. the content can discuss representation in games, development techniques, inclusivity & equity, retention, etc., in English or French. speakers will receive a remuneration of $500 CAD. learn more and submit by Sept 23 here!
the curators of “In VR we trust,” are seeking works that deal critically with with VR as a medium and question its value as an artistic tool - “What actual added value does VR have for art and for our society?” 4 selected works will be shown in Düsseldorf and Zeitz and accompanied by discussions, lectures, and an intensive exchange with the other artists. learn more here and submit by Sept 30.
Babycastles has just announced a new residency for this fall, as a platform for making and presenting new work! applications are due Sept 25, so learn more here and start working on that application!
Hackaday is hosting another Circuit Sculpture Challenge! entries are due by November 10. learn more here.
Understanding Media Intensive is a 12-part look at Marshall McLuhan’s "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man," taught by Andrew McLuhan:
In an age where our media environment conditions and structures our reality in increasingly potent ways, Understanding Media provides important foundational knowledge on how our cultural traumas and tropes are embodied in technologies. This course will provide lecture and discussion on Part One of the book, which puts forth a set of tools for exploring human technologies and innovations as a means to regain agency in the midst of our increasingly disorienting online lives.
this sounds like it could be a great way to recenter your relationship with media. learn more here.
Python for Visual Designers will be a 5-week course on using Python to create vector art with code that can be turned into zines and animated gifs! cute! this course is thru Cooper Union, and registration opened up to the public on Sept 8. slots are limited so check it out here!
Char Stiles will be giving a 2-part workshop on shaders via CODAME starting Sept 20! you’ll work with a free, browser-based environment to learn how to code graphics and animations for a variety of fun applications. learn more and register here.
+CODE is a Buenos Aires-based organization with a number of virtual Spanish-language workshops, talks, and seminars on the calendar for this fall! you can check out the available programs here.
School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe also has their roster of online offerings for the fall. check out the full roster here!
📅 upcoming events!
today! 5PM UTC-4! if u haven’t already been charmed by Nicole Byer’s hosting of the Creative Arts awards, maybe some VR talk will get u amped about the Emmy’s! the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Kaleidoscope, and XRMust have organized a panel discussion with the directors of 3 of the 5 360 movies and VR experiences nominated this year. learn more and grab the Zoom link here!
Sept 20 & 27! UTC-4! Black Womxn Time Camp is a 2-day program exploring time, alternative temporalities, time travel, time experiments, temporal shifts and other temporal technologies from the frameworks, rituals, and cultural traditions of Black women, femmes, girls, non-binary, and gender non-conforming folks. learn more and get tix here.
Sept 23-26! the 6th annual Gray Area Festival, Radical Simulation, will be happening ~online~ this year, with membership-based ticketing to provide sustainable support to the Gray Area community. the lineup includes an exhibition curated by Salome Asega, workshops, and artist conversations and video lounges! learn more and become a member here!
just for lulz!
if you have anything in the works that you are excited about (an event, a workshop, a new project), please send me all the details. if you wanna share links or chat, there is now a Discord server that you can use here.