Intro to Networked Collaboration

My dog as a sensor/actuator system

I was sitting in my living room reading the “Sensors and Actuators” portion of the Distributed Being reading this afternoon. My dog was lying on the couch next to me and it struck me that he is really a living, breathing sensor/actuator system, and he follows a very specific set of rules. First, a few definitions:

  • System = Lucky the dog
  • Default Location = within five feet of Owner.
  • Owner = Erin McIntyre
  • Default Mode = light snooze.
  • Alert Mode = eyes open, ears up, awaiting further information.
  • Greet Mode = tail wagging, feet prancing, toy or shoe in mouth.
  • Excitement Mode = jumping, leaping, tail knocking items off coffee table.
  • Sulking Mode = tail between legs
  • Home Territory = Erin McIntyre’s apartment

The rules:

  • When Sensory Input = Owner moves, Response = System relocates to within five feet of Owner and returns to Default Mode.
  • When Sensory Input = footsteps in hallway outside door of Home Territory, Response = System enters Alert Mode.
    • When Sensory Input = footsteps recede to the doorway of another apartment, Response = System returns to Default Mode.
    • When Sensory Input = footsteps stop in front of Home Territory, Response = System remains in Alert Mode and waits for further information.
    • When Sensory Input = knock on door of Home Territory, Response = System barks loudly and waits for information from Owner.
      • When Sensory Input = Owner opens door, Response = System returns to Default Mode.
      • When Sensory Input = Owner does not respond to bark, Response = System barks again and repeats until Sensory Input = Owner opens door.
    • When Sensory Input = sound of keys entering lock on door of Home Territory, Response = System enters Greet Mode.
  • When Sensory Input = Owner’s boyfriend touches Owner, Response = System inserts self between Owner and Owner’s boyfriend.
  • When Sensory Input = Owner leaves Home Territory, Response = System enters Sulking Mode
  • When Sensory Input = Owner picks up leash, Response = System enters Excitement Mode.
  • When Sensory Input = System leaves Home Territory, Response = no rules apply!

So there you have the rules that govern my dog’s behavior. (Hope you all don’t mind a little humor!) There is very little anyone can do to change these rules. He cannot be hacked and he is not susceptible to software viruses.

I can’t help wondering whether viruses and hackers could pose problems for buildings that function on a Sensor/Actuator system. Much of the Distributed Being reading focused on buildings that are “fluid” or “flexible” or constantly changing in response to environmental input. Isn’t this an enormous opportunity for computer glitches to occur? Having your computer crash is one thing, but having entire sections of your house develop “communication problems” with each other is another thing altogether! I’m picturing the system doing a scan of itself and suddenly recognizing the living room as a piece of malicious software that needs to be removed. Before you know it, walls go flying and your couch ends up on the front lawn! I’m sure this is an exaggeration, but you see where I’m going with this! Aren’t we setting ourselves up for some problems when we make our buildings “intelligent”?

September 28, 2008 Posted by | culture | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Seesmic thoughts

So I finally got to post my video on seesmic. I just want to say that I never thought I’d do something like that. I watch all those videos on youtube of those people talking to the camera and laugh at them. I find it quite odd, yet entertaining.

I have been watching the posts of fellow students and it’s interesting how we can all get to know each other this way. Although we are all taking an online class, we still have some sort of connection.

I do love taking videos and it’s evident because many of them are posted on facebook. But, I usually take videos of things that are more interesting than me talking about myself 😛

September 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Distributed Being response

This text about Distributed being was something else.  I think the author made it more poetically obtuse than effective for explaining ideas.  


I like the concept, in the example of clients being able to design the shapes of their own houses through game development software, of sending “only the data needed to describe the particular configuration of the 3D model” (37).  This is very useful for designers as we are always having to send files to someone online.  However, on the other hand, designing spaces is what architects are paid to do, and just because the house has a nice shape on the outside, does not mean it is optimally functional or livable inside.  The other problem is that sometimes engineers cannot build in real life what looks great in 3D on a computer.


I also enjoy the concept of “training one’s intuition” in order to speed up the creative process.  The author mentions this specifically in relation to designers (who design on computers), but I really think this is impossible for them.  They use the computer as a tool, which is a completely logical instrument.  As user friendly as they are, the computer is still so far away from being even close to “intuitive” that it would take a long time to get to the level of an “idiot savant”  with them.  As a graphic designer, I spend a good portion of my time finding new ways to use new tools and new ways to use old tools.  It’s almost a mechanical problem solving thought process rather than intuitive–it’s like building a motorcycle only it looks 2D when you finish.


The concept of buildings changing in response to weather, lighting, people etc. at first seems mind-boggling.  My first thought was “why?”, though it’s cool, “Why do we need this?”.   Then it occured to me that these technologies are being used in high-tech versions of sustainable building.  Some buildings automatically can reduce lighting, lower shades, open windows, etc. in conjunction with photovoltaic cells in order to optimize the power that is being received with the cells.  The system is run 24/7 by a computer that usually ends up needing it’s own little room.  These kind of systems are pretty interesting, although controversial.  The drawbacks are that they cost a lot of money to install as well being so technologically advanced that one always needs to call a technician to fix breakdowns.  Maybe their best place for these kind of programmable systems is in corporate buildings which consume a lot more energy and therefore have more reason to manage in such a way.


There was one paragraph that went like this: “In the design swarm, the designers exchange information with their clients, and with other stakeholders in the process of building their vision.  They exchange information with other disciplines in the collaborative design process, they may operate with visual artists, composers, graphic designers, planners, publishers, broadcasters of other information, with other architects.  They exchange information with construction engineers installation engineers, project managers, and process managers.  And they want to establish spiraling feedback loops because they wan to learn from each other.”   I thought this was a good link back to the “convergent cultures” of Jenkins.  The different types of media should create these kind of real-time collaborations and “ feedback loops” instead of competing with each other.  They can create synchronized media releases across companies, instead of one corporation having to own yet another kind of media. 

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Posted on Seesmic, mixed feelings so far…

Just made my first posting on Seesmic, and I have to say it’s a bit unsettling to have video of myself floating around on the internet.  Some people have that performer bug – I prefer to be behind the camera.

It’s a very interesting site and interface – is there a way to have multiple person chats at once?  I’m not sure how the site would be beneficial from a business collaboration standpoint – I think Skype is pretty great for video chat in that arena.  I did a little research on other video sites and found some mentions of Stickcam, but I’m not sure if that’s a softcore webcam deal or a bonafide videocasting site.

I look forward to hearing how everyone else feels about the experience – I know there have to be a few actors in our group!

September 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

So i posted my first video and…well i think the website is a cool idea…but a little weird. I guess I’m just not used to the idea of recording myself and seeing everything. Weird…


I think Seemic is a great tool because I can do videos for my family and friends back at home so everyone knows how I am doing. It’s also its a great way to have my parents stop IMing me on AIM 🙂


So that was my little rant and the end.

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 6 Comments

Squeezing People Into One Box

I really enjoyed the Jenkins reading this week, particularly everything under the heading “The Black Box Fallacy.” What I loved so much about it was the emphasis on differentiating between “delivery technologies” and actual media. I think far too often there’s a tendency to conflate the media technology with the medium and as a result bastardize McLuhan’s claim that the medium is the message, thus turning the technology into the message.

People get excited about podcasts as this revolutionary new medium when in fact they’re just a new delivery system for the spoken word. Whether we hear that spoken word around a campfire, through a phonograph, a transistor radio, or via a digital file we’ve downloaded and put on our iPods for later listening, it’s a human’s voice we’re listening to. One could argue convincingly that these permutations each drastically alter the communication happening but I don’t believe that to be absolutely true. The fact that, for example, radio is definitely not the all powerful medium it once was doesn’t diminish the fact that it still plays an important role in our culture. I always fall back on NPR when I want to hear news without the advertising-driven agenda for sensational news. Add the fact that when some kind of catastrophic, apocalyptic event hits, radios may in fact be the last line of human communication. I really love this quote to that point on page 14: “A medium’s content may shift, its audience may change, and its social status may rise or fall, but once a medium establishes itself as satisfying some core human demand, it continues to function with the larger system of communication options.”

When Jenkins discusses the various boxes that live in his living room as an example of why this one box to rule them all idea is a farce I can’t help but identify. My setup is relatively streamlined at the moment with four boxes (AV receiver, DVD player, Xbox 360, and Tivo Satellite Receiver). However I think about adding a Mac Mini there or perhaps an Apple TV (I know, you’re thinking I’m indulging in typical male tech fantasizing but I swear I’m approaching a point). The reason I’m thinking about throwing one of those two last devices I mentioned into the mix is because lately my DVD player is collecting dust. I’ve got three unwatched Netflix DVDs that I’ve had for more than a month. The reason for this is web video. However, watching a movie on my laptop or at my desk is a less than ideal option. If I hooked up a computer of some sort to my television then that problem is solved. So you see, it’s not that I’ve stopped enjoying films. But the way that I consume films has changed. As a matter of fact, I could probably eschew all those devices but the computer and maybe the AV receiver and I’d be fine. However, as Jenkins mentions, my “situated context” determines the optimal way to consume media.

In my mind, convergence is less about stuffing all the capabilities of various devices into one omnipotent device than it is about seeing new ways that the media transmitted by those devices can relate to and interact with one another. To briefly touch on Hopkins and tie his article to Jenkins, if people and human interaction are the medium, Facebook and Twitter are simply different delivery systems for that medium. They will never replace face-to-face contact but they can alter (by enhancing and/or diminishing) that contact.

September 20, 2008 Posted by | convergence, culture, tools and methodologies | 4 Comments

On convergence and participation

In Convergence Culture, Jenkins writes, “Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes depending on who’s speaking and what they think they are talking about.” I must say that I was relieved to read this sentence! Over the course of this week the notion of convergence has been simmering on the back burner of my mind, and I’ve been asking myself what exactly we mean when we talk about convergence. Apparently it’s quite subjective! To me, the most interesting interpretation of convergence is the merging of old and new media delivery systems as a result of (or resulting in) a change in cultural participation. For the rest of this post, this is the interpretation of convergence I’ll be using.

A huge example of convergence in our recent media history was ABC’s decision to begin airing full episodes of the network’s shows online. Critics of the move predicted that once viewers began watching full episodes online, they wouldn’t return to watching ABC programming on television. Perhaps, however, it doesn’t matter if viewers begin watching most of their television online. Could this be the beginning of a new convergence trend? reported that in May 2008, ABC viewers watched “a record 815 million minutes of full-length episodes during the month, a 53 percent increase over the previous month and an increase of nearly 110 percent over May 2007. The full report is HERE. My own experience with ABC’s online episodes was one that actually increased my television viewing. I often come home late at night after bartending and want to watch something besides infomercials. I got hooked on “Desperate Housewives,” “Brothers and Sisters,” and “Pushing Daisies” through online episodes, and soon I was making time in my schedule to watch the new episodes as they aired on TV. What a sly way to get me addicted to three ABC shows!

I came across another interesting example of media convergence today. I do some work at Sirius Satellite Radio on the Metropolitan Opera Channel. The Met Channel is a recent project with a goal of making a wide range of full-length Metropolitan Opera recordings available to the listening public. As the channel’s popularity has grown, the demand for older and more obscure operas has increased. This afternoon I was uploading a 1935 recording to the system and my supervisor remarked that this particular opera had never been broadcast. When it was recorded in 1935, the three-plus hours of music were all contained on large wax-like discs that held five minutes of music each. With the improvement of sound restoration technology, it is now possible to merge this extremely old form of media delivery with a very new form—satellite radio. Exciting!

The Hopkins reading intrigued me with its thoughts about participation (and by extension, participatory culture.) To live is to participate. We are, by default, participating. It would follow that there is no non-participatory culture, so all culture must be participatory. The question then becomes not “will I participate?” but “how will I participate?”

September 18, 2008 Posted by | convergence | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Weeks 1-2 comments

First, thanks for emailing your processes. I am thoroughly confused and overwhelmed by all this technology.  I’m 31 years old and feeling very “old fashioned” when confronted by all of these sites.  I must say however that setting up my delicious account has been very helpful in identifying and organizing these sites.  I have been traveling the last 2 weeks and am a bit delinquent in my postings so here’s everything so far… (at least I think it’s everything!)


Discussion Topics from week 1:

  • Referring to the Jenkins quote, “YouTube is the fullest embodiment of convergence culture”…   If convergence occurs in the brain of a consumer and through his/her social interaction, then I think he means that YouTube allows consumers to post their own content (amateur or professional) and seek out the content of others. You can also comment and read others comments on the content. So not only does it allow you to access the information you chose it allows you to interact with other regarding that particular content.
  •  My understanding of “Participatory Culture”  as referenced in the Jenkins reading is simply a shift  from what he called “passive …spectatorship” to a more involved and interactive society where we don’t just sit and wait for our media to be delivered to us, but we seek it out if different ways through different vehicles.
  • I personally am very new to the world of social networks.  Last year I created a LinkedIn account.  I created this account to keep in touch with and build a network of professional colleagues. I put in the most basic information possible and have only updated it once to change my job title.  Same for Facebook. I created a Facebook account for work and entered very little personal information.  Call me a control freak but I’m not comfortable putting all my info out there.  I would also consider the online chat function within Gmail social networking as I use it to keep in occasional contact with former co-workers that I rarely speak to.
  • These technologies and websites (texting, YouTube, MySpace) have certainly influenced the way we interact. I know that when I first head of MySpace I felt like I was “too old” for it.  It was something the “kids” were doing and I wasn’t interested in joining. Now I have profiles on 2 networking sites. I have realized that I am slow to adopt these new technologies and while I am not very willing to disclose my own information I recently have begun to view friends’ profiles in facebook to see what they’re up to since we don’t speak often. And that makes it ok not to speak to each other for extended periods of time and just “keep tabs” on one another with a networking site. I feel like this could be removing us from connecting with each other on a personal intimate level and allowing us to superficially connect with more people in a larger virtual area as geography really is no longer relevant.  Or maybe it’s allowing us to remain connected or to re-connect to someone we might otherwise lose touch with.  I guess you can view it from either perspective.
  • Another thought regarding the generation of users growing up with this constant connectivity.  Professionally, I am seeing the entry level workforce of recent college graduates who only reach decision by consensus whether it’s with friends or parents these young professionals have to get multiple opinions on almost every decision before they can make a move.  Not sure what this means but I’m finding it an interesting side effect of networked life.

September 18, 2008 Posted by | culture, social networking, tools and methodologies | 3 Comments

Shibuya Epiphany/Jenkins Intro

What’s interesting to me at this point is the different communication worlds that we live in based on our age group and the different mental blocks we have to the different kinds of technology.  


I know a 90 year old who is  just overcoming fear of cell-phones and emailing and the encouragement family-members, and can never seem to figure out an AM/FM clock radio with /Cd player.  She tolerates phones in general, and is a devoted greeting card mailer.


I know 30 somethings and 40 somethings who didn’t grow up with computers in school, and basically feel bewildered by the whole machine.  I know other 30 and 40 somethings who have learned as much as possible and have been riding the web wave to a sizeable tech-based income.  It seems that also 35 and under is the main i-pod market. 


I myself am 28 and made no effort to figure out what a blog was until I entered this class.  Yet, I spend a good half of my week figuring out solving software related problems in my work or for clients.  As for communication, I usually phone or email.


I don’t know anyone in the highschool or junior-high age right now, but I’ve heard some vague buzz about the changes Rheingold talks about, like ring-tones that adults can’t hear, about students using texting shortcuts in their school essays.  


I guess all these differences in the uses of these devices among ages groups is also an instance of Rheigold’s “collective intelligence”.  Each of us can’t handle all the technology at once, so we pick and choose and “block out” what we don’t need.


After reading these texts, i wonder what is the significance of this technological impact on consumers.  Will adolescents really grow up to be that different than the former generations just because of their social networks?  Will this kind of stuff fall by the wayside once they enter the work force, because in my world, I know few working adults/parent who text their free time away.  Is this a phenomena localized to a specific age group because they have the time to do it (they are basically at leisure because they are students).



On other uses for mobiles–

In regards to the games that people can engage in with each other through mobile phones, I thought there was some good potential for other industries.  Agencies that give tours in other countries can give its members mobiles that will tell them info about various hallmarks, and let them have more leisure to roam outside of the group, since each member’s whereabouts could be trackable.


Also, non-profits could use mobiles for treasure hunts where game-players pay/donate a gift in order to participate.




On political prospects–

Jenkins ideas were right on target politically–the Obama campaign is definitely “exploring what it might take to make democracy more participatory” with online contributions and texting the choice vice-presidential candidate to supportors.  This is a good time to be reading this book because if Obama is elected, his campaign’s willingness to make use of these communication technologies can change the way a presidency is enacted forever.

September 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Jenkins/Hopkins readings week 2

These readings are getting to the crux of the idea for me. What is participation? The Hopkins gets to ideas about people expressing themselves and being driven to so do in groups (although quite abstractly).

This is an important one for me, and central to my reason to take this class and learn about these tools.

Can’t imagine a world where I couldn’t talk my head off with other like minded people (although I do know that such places do exist on the planet, and not too far from here).

Many of us relish exchange in today’s world it seems to me, and the growth of coastal cities over the last 30 yrs must attests to that urge in our young people to leave the interior. I just learned today that half the world’s inhabitants live on coasts (so at risk of melting ice and rising seas).  There is a good living to be made on coasts all over the world and the cities that form along them. Hopkins seems to make a case for it as a way to avoid mental illness as well. That is strong, and deep for another class.

Just the fact that there are so many stonewalls once built by Puritans and Libertarians all over colonial New England that find themselves now over-grown in the middle of woods and forests attests to the untenable nature of the misanthrope, and the otherwise self-isolating being living in a fixed ideology. They might be able to get away with it for a few generations, but eventually they’ve got to dive back into the fray!

But, I haven’t yet seen how these networked collaboration tools inspire or enable that kind of thing yet. We will see. I do like Hopkins for endeavoring to explain it from a psychological perspective.

Re: Jenkins, I want to find out more what people think about his statement (bottom of page 3 in my book) that each of us “constructs our own personal mythology from bits and fragments of information extracted from the media flow…”.

This is a fascinating statement to me.  Is that what we are doing every day? Extracting from the media flow?

I guess for me the ‘media flow’ is a catalyst, but it is usually layered over my own decades of reading and the messages and beliefs about identity and values from my family and communities growing up that may shape the personal mythology he refers to.  It may be true that media events are the catalyst for conversations with friends and associates throughout every day, and they do spur us on to discussion that helps us in many ways cement our plans, talks and alliances. But, these are always discussed through the filter of layers and layers of beliefs and value statements going on inside the head and heart. It is also the case that ‘media flow’ is also filtered through the layers and beliefs of those originating it too, which makes me wonder what my choices really are in all of this.

In my case, they are usually in response to books, messages about new books and provocative writers that come my way, or to news events reported on the radio that fuel real life conversations with associates and friends (and increasingly exchanges online but usually with existing friends).  These must get to me through some kind of ‘tagging’ explicit or otherwise that causes me to take notice of something in the airwaves or catch my fancy in scanning reading material online, or in print.

In my business, we are also responding mostly to trends and research that comes to us in some form of media or a real-life conference where I often learn about trends for the first time through a face-to-face speech, presentation, panel discussion, and Q&A. Trends are what inspire us to have conversations with our clients, and to initiate projects and pursue work. I have also been closely involved in the design research process of “making unconscious knowledge conscious” which really means extracting first hand information from people, drawing conclusions from it, and decided for myself what media to commit it to (often times choosing to keep it a trade secret). That may be a case where I am constructing my mythology or world view without the aid of ‘media flow’.

However, I am willing to concede that most personal mythology might be inspired from the ‘media flow’, despite my protestations of self-determination. If that is the case, what can I do to be change in all of this to address any concerns?

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment