TextViz

Dekunle Somade, one of my many bright classmates and friends at ITP, came to me about an idea of his utilizing SMS messages to create a bulletin board for ITP students and others to communicate instantaneously, without the latency of email and unhindered by the email checking habits of the users of the bulletin board. Instead this was a public announcement system for all of ITP.

His idea has a lot of analogues and a lot of people are playing in the field, SMS is one of the few nearly universally adopted technologies in the world. Where smartphones have limitations, SMS messaging doesn’t. A lot of companies are using SMS to connect with customers and allow for experiential advertising. Dekunle’s idea wasn’t really new, but it was a place to start experimenting with a technology that permeates our world.

Where we thought we can provide something new was in the interface and the visualization. So we grouped together and worked on creating a php script backend that fed JSON to a Processing sketch that would visualize the messages.

The site is currently up in a ..very alpha.. state here. I’ll post updates when we get things to work better. The Processing sketch works wonderfully, but unfortunately not in javascript mode as there is a disconnect between Processing 2.0 and Processing.js in their data loading functions. When I figure that out I’ll post both up as well. Just a heads up!

-Ali

Animation

Over the summer I worked on several projects that required a great deal of 3D modeling in Sketchup, and I loved it. I’ve worked with software like Maya before, but Sketchup is amazingly easy and fun to work with. When we signed up for courses this term at ITP the Communications Lab Animation section stood out to me. I was hoping to do more of the 3D modeling I did over the summer, but instead on a grander scale and with friends.

Careful however, about your preconceived notions. I assumed we’d be working with 3D modeling but the reality was much more basic and fun than that. The first project for Animation was a stop motion I worked on with my wife. Around this time I was spending a lot of time at ITP working in the ER and on projects, and as any ITPer can attest, you take on some of the attributes and qualities of the walking dead. This is the inspiration for our little project.

Creating an API for a Tapestry

I recently met Marshall Reese and Nora Ligorano, the creators of the Fiber Optic Tapestry, a digital light sculpture. The Tapestry is a series of small square grids of woven fiber optics lit by super brite LED’s, encased and hung up on the wall. The system is driven by a series of programs written by several collaborators which can be visualizations of static scripts or dynamically pulled data.

The tapestry is gorgeous. If you’ve only seen photos or videos you really haven’t had a chance to appreciate how amazing it is. ¬†Marshall and Nora are building a second version and are looking for more visualizations and animations to be built for the tapestry, and I’m hoping to join their long list of amazing collaborators.

My final project for ICM is to attempt to create a library of sorts of functions and classes that will allow for the creation of scripts for the tapestry, as well as a WYSIWYG environment to ‘draw’ onto the tapestry and animate.

Collaborative coding and creation

School was out this Monday and Tuesday as a result of the Columbus Day holiday which they evidently take very seriously here in New England. Nonetheless I had to work at the Equipment Room, which meant that I had to report to an empty campus and work on an almost empty floor. I say almost because this is ITP, even when the floor is closed the floor is never empty. I ran into my coworker Mark Kleback and Phan Visutyothapibal who were working on a piece of code for a collaborative project. They had decided to “shoot” text out of the screen at the viewer in a matter that resembled the cosmic rays shooting through the universe in this frame from 2001: A Space Odessey:

Cosmic Ray Scene from 2001 Space Odyssey
Cosmic Ray Scene from 2001 Space Odyssey

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A more complex primitive

I’ve been working on a slightly more complex primitive box. Not entirely sure why. Nonetheless I’ve been having some fun with the challenge of wrapping my head around a 3D object, and I’ve managed this little piece of code:

*hint, hold the mouse to see how different the box actually is than the simple primitive.
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