hoo boy, how are u all holding up? it’s been a minute! obvi the world is a bit more on fire than usual, and I also had some big personal life transitional things (more on that another day) and other bureaucratic nonsense going on and needed a bit of a break to focus on all that stuff.
for a minute it felt like, ok, lemme give it some space and it’ll be a lil easier to focus on personal projects again, but the secret is… it never gets easier! there’s always some nonsense or mess to deal with, and I should know better by now that you just have to suck it up and make the space.
there’s a lot going on right now, especially for all u readers in the US, but this is also a posi space for creative intervention in technology so, idk, I’m gonna try and thread the needle.
yesterday I had the chance to chat with artist Amay Kataria about his new project MOMIMSAFE, a live stream of his home studio space.
the concept is so perfect for this moment - what better way to show your family and friends that you are safe in these complicated times than with a webcam pointed directly at your workspace 24/7? just add in a printer so that loved ones can send you little tactile messages instead of fielding another call.
the tech is pretty simple. there’s a Nodejs web server handling the messaging system, another one running on a Raspberry Pi to run the printer, a third Nodejs web server handling the camera streaming with a shell script running on a second Raspberry Pi. it all centers on a website where anyone can peek into Kataria’s studio. he says he at least has a little overlap in the mornings and evenings with his mom’s schedule in India and his own in Chicago.
as I’m writing this, I am receiving my 3rd “hey are you doing ok?” text of the day. most of us are disconnected from loved ones right now, and tensions are high. and I cannot bring myself to schedule yet another Zoom call. there’s something perversely alluring about just opening up your space so that anyone can drop in and see that you’re puttering around, safe and sound.
it’s a funny counterpoint to all the problematic surveillance tech (remember back in January when we had time to be outraged about abusive practices at Ring??) to just spin up your own lo-fi version for an intimate audience. it’s a worthwhile conversation to have - can we separate the tech from the potential for abuse by making it smaller, intimate, home-grown?
the project will be exhibited as part of CADAF 2020 from June 25-28. you can also check out the code on Github if you feel like spinning up your own version.
ok so, what about that other side of surveillance? Everest Pipkin has shared a simple open source tool for anonymizing photos taken at protests, as well as identifying metadata. all processing happens in the browser, so no information is stored or sent anywhere. they’ve also helpfully compiled a list of other ways to cover your digital footprint- helpful stuff if you’re planning on going to a protest, or coordinating a walkout with colleagues this week. learn more and try out the tool here.
are you streaming your creative practice now or teaching via webinar? here’s a guide to using OBS for recording or streaming a presentation. OBS is an open source software, and, as is often the case with open source, it can feel a little intimidating to get started. I have been using OBS after a lot of trial and error and bugging live streamers in their chats, and I wish I had come across a simple walkthrough like this one at the start.
and once you’re streaming, Web Captioner is a free tool that does a pretty decent job of live captioning your speech into accessible captions (they even have a dyslexia-friendly font!). it’s not perfect, but I’ve tested it in English and Spanish and it’s pretty accurate. if you’re using OBS to stream, it’s easy to set it up as an overlay, and you could even try adding it to Zoom via a screen share. I’ve been using it on my kind-of-on-hiatus Twitch streams to capture every “shit” and “oh my god if that scorpion gets me” for posterity for all viewers. check it out here.
Robin Sloan has been writing a game development diary that is a great introduction to narrative game development and an interesting experiment in process. week 8 dives in on creating with Ink, a scripting language for writing interactive narrative, with some interesting meditations on designing choices. worth a read!
open calls & residencies!
note: a lot of open calls are still optimistically planning for events and residencies to be held normally starting Fall 2020. be sure to stay up to date as circumstances may change.
New Images Festival has an open call for completed XR projects as well as immersive works that are in development. submissions close June 19. you can learn more and apply here.
the Internet Yami-Ichi is back with a virtual tianguis hosted by Centro de Cultura Digital. curator Doreen Rios (of the essential ANTImateria) will be hosting an Instagram live this Weds June 3 at 5 PM CDT via @CCDmx, and proposals for projects that can be presented and sold via web are due by June 8. learn more and apply here (text in Spanish).
and, if you’d like to be featured in an upcoming issue of the newsletter as part of your job hunt or to make up lost income due to COVID-19, please fill out this form.
Pioneer Works technology resident Johann Diedrick will lead a collaborative workshop on creating soundscapes on June 23. participants will be invited to make their own recordings in their home and then learn how to compose with the open-source audio editing software Audacity. learn more here.
Eyebeam will host its first ever fully digital day camp, open to high school students across the US. students will get to work alongside artist-educators and staff in workshops along the theme of “rituals of care.” students will be invited to explore and create forms of care for themselves and their communities, resulting in a virtual sharing on the last day. applications are due by June 3. learn more here.
get an introduction to interacting with your computer through the terminal via this workshop from Tech Learning Collective:
The command line is pure language, and to exist in it is to practice all the reality-shifting and world manifesting power of metaphor and dialogue. This is a place of empowerment, tangible creativity, and mystic bewilderment. While it can be dangerous, it’s also exceedingly helpful if you know how to listen.
seats are limited, and as always there is a discount for queer-identified and femme people. learn more and register here.
📅 upcoming events!
tomorrow, June 2! Azmina Dhrodia will be live in conversation with Dr. Charlotte Webb to discuss human rights & computation as one of the units that students will study as past of a new MA Internet Inequalities course. you can learn more and register for this free webinar here.
June 12! 8 PM PDT: as part of the Patch Pulse series of audiovisual collaborations, Gray Area will be live streaming a special performance by Xyla and Somni. the event will be streamed for free, and the donation-based ticket sales will go towards directly supporting the artists as well as Gray Area. learn more here.
there are lots of good threads making the rounds re: direct relief orgs for everything that is happening right now, but it’s also worth thinking about donating to orgs like Black Girls Code that seek to increase the number of women of color in the industry by giving girls access to computer science education. you can donate directly here.
the lack of diversity in tech is also way more than a pipeline problem. we know that people from underrepresented groups are more than interested in STEM, but are edged out of their careers later in life thanks to hostile environments and a lack of support and visibility. to that end I wanted to shout out Modern Figures Podcast again this week for elevating the voices of Black female scholars in computing.
also if u are an ally, stop working on shit that u know is bad! if u work for a tech company that is doing suspect shit, it’s never too late to buff ur resumé and do literally anything else!! and as always, if u have the means, support creators u like directly.
just for lulz!
ok we still need a lul:
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. the next newsletter will cover the week of June 8 - 14, but I’m happy to promote events further in the future as well and keep them on the calendar.