Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen will hold another Research Day on January 25. This is a great opportunity for members of the interested public to get an insight into research projects currently in the works. I will have the opportunity to present some of my communication research into cultural networks at the event.
Mouse on Mars together with Peter Kirn of Create Digital Music have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to turn one of the Pd patches I developed for them into a full iOS and, potentially, Android app. I am not part of the campaign or development effort, but of course looking forward to the outcome.
Besides developing the app, this project will also contribute to the porting of the great Rjlib set of Pd abstractions for use in other iOS projects. The patch itself and all code that is not protected by Apple will be made available as open source.
In addition to the benefits of the Pd patch becoming an app and the Rjlib becoming more accessible, this is also a highly interesting social experiment. The discussion on Create Digital Music is a great example of how value is being negotiated in today’s economy, while at the same time, several funders of the campaign have invested more than they were asked for in the respective packages they chose.
I started a new blog to discuss distinction analysis and cognitive processes of communication. It is dedicated to the question of how society observes, and I intend to bring together theoretical considerations and analyses of concrete phenomena.
The blog is at http://www.socialobservers.com.
Electronic Beats and Slices Magazine produced a studio feature and tech talk with Mouse On Mars. Two of the iOS-instruments I custom-built for Mouse On Mars-projects using Pd and Rjdj are shown in detail at the end of the video.
Audio material from some of my recent sonic experiments is now available on Soundcloud.
With the Kinect sensor being available on the open market (i.e. without console) for some time now, several different attempts have been made to use it for the manipulation of graphical user interfaces. The most generic approach is to simply control the operating system, and thereby enable gesture control of any program you have installed. Evoluce, for example, follows this idea. Similarly, Microsoft has demoed Kinect-based gesture control for its “Worldwide Telescope” software.
What’s striking in both of these approaches (and several others you can find on the web) is that the scaling of the hand movement and the corresponding action visible on the screen is very inconsistent. In many cases, your hands have to travel a distance far greater than the perceived distance of the action on the screen. Sometimes, the relative distance is 5:1 – a 5 cm movement in the air results in a 1 cm change in the GUI. Compare this to the good old mouse and you will find that, for efficient human computer interaction, the relative distance of movement is often around 1:3, while a lot of people also use a dynamic multiplier that increases the effect of mouse movement as it gets faster. This matching of small gestures to large effects is the recipe for the user’s satisfying notion of having power over the machine.
A lot of inspiration for Kinect-based interfaces seems to come from the fictitious UI shown in the movie Minority Report. Check out the relevant scenes on YouTube, and you will find that there, the scales are actually quite consistent, and they also include small gestures having larger effects.
Surely, gesture control of software is only at its very early stages, but it would seem to help the development – and its acceptance – to pay some good attention to the scaling of gestures in relation to their effects.
The implementation of Facebook comments has been described by many media outlets as another attempt by the “social network” empire to extend its tentacles into other areas of the web. The feature basically allows visitors to a website to leave a comment on that website with their Facebook identity. The upside of this feature is, once again, added conenience. With Facebook comments on an external website, there is no need to sign up for the commenting system any more, to register one’s email (and confirm it), remember yet another password, and wait for an email confirmation before even being able to post the first comment. For the administrators of the external website, the added convenience is even more significant: As some of the first implementations have shown, Facebook comments practically eliminate spamming and trolling in comments. Every comment entered via this system is linked to the Facebook identity of the commenter, which also means that, at least in the default settings, all of their Facebook friends will see it immediately (or the next time they log on to Facebook, whichever comes first). Commenting and the rest of the commenter’s social activity on Facebook become inseparable.
Now, as desirable as social control for spammers and trolls may be (assuming they have any Facebook friends at all), the repercussions for the average Facebook users are grave. If they have to rely on Facebook comments to voice their opinion on, say, a political article, there’s no way to keep this opinion separated from individual or all of their Facebook friends. Gone are the days when you could simply enjoy meeting a relative for a holiday dinner; now you’ll be aggravated because you had to read their notorious ultra-conservative political statements all year. The One Identity scheme this propagates is a significant departure from the concept of identity as we know it: Typically, the only place where you had to fully integrate all the aspects of your identity was in your own consciousness. Even there, you could try to deceive yourself about things you didn’t like. Facebook now tries to make this impossible. If followed through with all consequences, every aspect of an identity would be kept in one place, visible to all, and searchable by all, indefinitely. The only other option: muteness.