wowow, what a month

here’s some of what i’ve been up to:

  • surya’s radio class is a wrap. here’s my final presentation, what u kno bout free public wifi? i hope to shape this into a blog post and put it up on medium.
  • i’m starting a new 7-week class after spring break called “development in the public interest” with harlo holmes. very excited.
  • i fiiiinally finished fixing the formatting of the p5.serial documentation and created a graphic for the library. now it lives on the p5.js website and can help everyone communicate serially more better!

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 1.33.49 PM

  • anna deveare smith’s theater class is just extraordinary. and also a ton of work and growth and vulnerability all at once. we had to create and perform 5-minute performances about our lives. then, we were paired up and assigned to practice our partner’s piece, which we’ll ultimately perform in front of class. i’m also the blog editor for the class, so i’m responsible for keeping conversations going between meetings. that’s all keeping me pretty busy.
  • tavia’s class is wonderful readings. i missed theory. our final is a 15-page paper, which will be a stretch for me since i haven’t written an academic paper in 5 years. i pitched some ideas to him about affect theory and internet infrastructure. he was into it! it could be an exciting opportunity for me to make some theoretical connections that have been floating around in my brain.
  • i’m applying to be an outreachy intern at mozilla this summer after i didn’t get the engineering internship i applied for with them. part of the application is to find the team and project within mozilla i want to work on this summer and fix a bug for the project. so i’ve been working on a bug for test pilot, an application for prototyping new firefox features. it’s fun. i’ll write a post about it later.
  • i started and ended my internship as a code/electronics teaching assistant in a public middle school classroom. i was really excited because i worked with youth at a creative writing organization in seattle before i moved to nyc, and i think students are brilliant and weird. plus, it took forever to jump through the department of education’s hoops—fingerprints, in-person citizenship verification, lots of online forms—and i was ready to finally dig in. unfortunately, after two weeks in his classroom, my teacher was “reassigned pending investigation.” i had some issues with his teaching, and i guess other folks did too. we’re still trying to figure out whether i’ll join another classroom or push off until this summer.
  • i’m newly a moderator for a facebook group called “jews for decolonization.” this is related to organizing i did in seattle with jewish voice for peace. i think it’s really important work and deeply personal for me. i’m working on some community guidelines to keep conversations in the group of 1,200 respectful and constructive.


596 acres workshop for bronx tech month

itp resident sharon lee de la cruz is co-organizing bronx tech month this month and asked a few folks to present workshops that combine tech with social justice. i’m presenting one on saturday about data and mapping.

half the workshop will focus on 596 acres‘s map of vacant land in new york city. we’ll walk through what 596 is and some of the functionality of the website, including organizing success stories. but in addition to sharing the tool, i’m interested in getting folks to think about how they’d make their own tool using maps and open data sets.

i’m thinking i’ll do a quick demo with an nyc open data set from here >> << and drop it into cartodb. there are a lot of directions we could go from there: i could talk about wireframes and user flows, which i found really helpful in francis’s “designing digital communities” class last semester. or i could talk about the recent propublica story that highlights what’s possible when you start finding discrepancies in data sets.

either way, i want to leave time for folks to brainstorm and sketch together.

i’m also trying to create my presentation using html and reveal.js, both so i can practice and so the website will be available online to folks who might find it useful in the future. we’ll see if i can pull that off by saturday.

UPDATE: workshop is here! i realized as i was presenting it that it’s pretty dense. there’s enough material there to discuss and do activities for a few hours, if you have people break out into groups to brainstorm/sketch along the way. alternatively, it’s definitely possible to just tear through everything, without breakout activities, in 45 minutes or so.

p5 documentation with yuidoc and gh-pages

i mentioned in the last post that i was adding inline documentation for the p5.serialport. this afternoon, jason sigal walked me through formatting the documentation. the p5 website uses yuidoc to automatically generate a formatted reference page based on tags in the raw code. we installed yuidoc but had to try a few different file structures before it would generate the one p5.serialport.js file we wanted, without generating pages for all the other p5 documentation that was also in the folder.

we created a lib folder where we put the p5.serialport.js file. then, the index.html files of all the examples that linked to the p5.serialport.js file had to be relinked and directed through this new lib folder.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 3.26.37 PM

then, we created a yuidoc.json file in the folder that told yuidoc to generate documentation only for the files in the lib folder.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 3.26.31 PM

the outdir folder was the output of this process, and it holds all the files for the new documentation webpage. the page looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 4.54.23 PM

there’s still a lot to do:

  • you can tell that the example functions aren’t correctly spaced.
  • this reference could use a better description at the top of the page
  • we need to figure out how to link to tom igoe’s examples, and add more serial examples in general
  • we’d also like to figure out how to generate this page to look like the rest of the p5 libraries, which requires working with the custom p5 yuidoc template.

as i continue to work on this, i’ll make changes locally, review, and ultimately push the changes back up to shawn’s gh-page for this documentation.

when i think about everything ahead of me, it’s helpful to take a breath and remember that i hadn’t even heard of sublime text when i started this project. i still feel like i’m fumbling around most of the time, but progress is happening. this has been a great way to learn about version control with github and be in touch with lots of awesome folks: shawn who wrote the serial library, lauren who originally created p5, and jason who wrote the sound library.

break recap, and what’s next

  • added some inline documentation for the p5.serial library, so it’ll hopefully be able to join the other libraries on the p5 reference page. working on that was a way for me to dip my toes into git, contribute to an awesome open source community, and spend time reading serial functions line by line. i never fully wrapped my head around serial communication during the semester, and i found writing documentation to be helpful for that.
  • read ursula k leguin’s the dispossessed. into it. i agree with marc below and also with myself below:

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 11.24.03 PM

  • said i was going to summarize a bunch of articles and books about BIG DATA MASS SURVEILLANCE APOCALYPSE, but only summarized one article fully. added many things to my “to read” folder. continued and continue to think everything is related to work foucault and harcourt have already done.
  • spent precious invaluable 1:1 time with a git-obsessed friend who helped me understand a few basic git commands and gh-pages. he also helped me clean up my idf meme generator because he’s a css wizard. still lots to do on that project, but i just can’t overstate the importance of those uninterrupted, 3-hour chunks of working through stuff together.
  • submitted a proposal to the beyond the bars conference at columbia with a thinker/organizer/mom who i respect and admire a ton.

in store for this semester is a magical whirlwind of thinking/making candy to stretch and titillate every corner of my brain and maybe make me very tired, but whatever:

  • social hacking with lauren mccarthy and kyle mcdonald
  • radio gaga with surya mattu
  • personal narratives with anna deveare-smith. because nothing cures social anxiety like a theater class!
  • performance of politics with tavia nyong’o (tisch performance studies) and eric lott (CUNY grad center)
  • software engineering pilot internship. i’ll be a t.a. in a coding class in a brooklyn high school.
  • presenting a workshop about 596 acres at bronx tech month

“watch this space,” as they say.*


*who says that?

radical networks, day 2

the most exciting talk i went to today was sarah gold discussing her alternet project:

“I will give insight in to how a decentralised approach could radically reshape the governance and control of the digital infrastructures we use everyday: How can decentralised technologies provide a unique way of building scalable, trusted networks and systems that can, where appropriate, be owned by everyone? What if these technologies contributed to a democratic Internet of Thingsa digital commons and new forms of citizenship? What are the opportunities for disruption?”

i learned about a bunch of organizations i want to look into, like:

  • unMonastery  Inspired by the template of the Benedictine monastery, their dream was to apply the age-old concept of collective living and working to the internet age. It didn’t have a home yet, but they named it unMonastery. Ultimately the “un” would make up more than the “monastery” – instead of religious ideology, social hierarchy, and gender barriers there would be open-source software, horizontal governance, wi-fi and solar panels. At some point it became semi-jokingly nicknamed “a commune but with the internet.” —from Dazed Digital article
  • Ethereum Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference. Ethereum is how the Internet was supposed to work.

radical networks, day 1

my brain is spinning from day 1 of the radical networks conference. caio from francis’s “designing digital communities” class was there, along with several itp folks. dhruv introduced me to his wonderful friend andy who taught himself how to code, developed a project that helped get resources to people in the wake of hurricane sandy, and now does network stuff for disaster relief. he’s about to go to berlin to work on a project related to the refugee crisis there. i also met someone who was wearing an AMC shirt and it turns out they do really neat work with the open technology initiative.

it was such a pleasure to be in a space with more than a token few queer and trans folks, women, and people of color, where people were asking good, big questions. this is who i want to work with. i’m really looking forward to the second day of the conference tomorrow.

here are the talks i went to today:

“We will be discussing the human element in developing alternative communication networks, primarily community mesh networks. Looking at importance of local soft infrastructures in establishing and sustaining networks. Drawing from our 3 month journey, experiences and insights as non technical people diving into mesh networks in NYC and beyond.” for more info

“The zeal with which humans develop and implement new communications networks is matched only by their ability to forget the legacies and mistakes already made building past networks. Ironically, at least in the U.S., most of our communication networks build atop the remnants of those past networks. This talk will offer a series of ghost stories about the politics, personalities, and ideologies that continue to haunt our machines, and how our new networks might live with or at least keep the ghosts at bay.”

  • caught the end of social justice warrior network, by dan phiffer

“Who believes that any of the current tech start-ups, awash in easy venture capital, have any chance of disrupting fundamental problems like income/wealth inequality or climate resilience? Let’s join together to build social software optimized for political solidarity rather than Monthly Active Users. It’s okay to keep sharing cat pictures, but we can do a better job collectively pursuing real political outcomes. Let’s embrace the label “social justice warrior” and begin living our digital lives as if the revolution has already happened. There are wicked problems that mainstream politics (and existing social networks) may simply be unfit to solve. What kind of network infrastructure would actively facilitate radical change? Why not start building it now?”

  • a history of building new systems on the wreckage of the old, by edward vielmetti
  • i will follow you into the darknet, by a bunch of people
  • a thing about nyc mesh, “a community-owned wi-fi network”

in conclusion:

A photo posted by @ken_jagan on

moma: conceptual art, walid raad, etc.

moma has so much cool stuff up right now. their documentation is much better than mine:

  • Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980 is a really refreshing, not u.s.-centric show of conceptual art, which lines up well with what we’re thinking about right now in my art strategies class
  • walid raad. just listen to him talk about his piece, “pension arts in dubai”
  • picasso’s weird brain and the resulting sculptures. my favorites are his studies of absinthe glasses and stringed instruments that he made between 1912-1915. also, the anatomical sketches (photo below)

that “tabula rasa” piece reminded me of this part from the lippard reading:

tabula rasa

magnum foundation climate project

a thing i am thrilled to be working on:

In December 2015, France will be hosting the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP21. UNFCCC is a universal convention of principle, recognizing the reality of human-induced climate change and placing responsibility on industrialized nations for combating it.

The conference held in Paris is expected to bring together 50,000 participants including delegates representing each country, observers and civil society members. COP21 will be a crucial conference – for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, it’s aim is to achieve a legally binding universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

In partnership with climate justice organizations on the ground at COP21, the Magnum Foundation will produce a campaign that utilizes powerful photography to emotionally connect individuals to critical environmental concerns. The campaign will launch at the city-wide climate festival, ArtCOP21 , with the aim to increase awareness, build momentum, inspire sustainable solutions and engage interventions for the COP21 climate talks.

we’ve had a few brainstorming sessions at this point. i’m excited to be working with two other talented people on engaging high school youth in particular in this conversation, using in-person outreach, toolkits, and social media. more to come as this project progresses.

sustainability metrics

i’m part of itp’s first sustainability committee. so far, the group has:

  • built a website with resources for recycling, prototyping with used materials, and ordering takeout more responsibly
  • produced video psa’s that will go on the screens in the lobby
  • ordered reusable dishes and cutlery to cut (no pun intended ;-)) down on the use of paper goods
  • introduced recycling receptacles on the floor
  • produced signage to educate people about new systems
  • found sources of clean used cardboard so people won’t have to use new plexiglass for prototypes

we’re also in the process of collecting metrics for our floor’s trash production and electricity usage. one way we thought of to measure our efforts is to weigh trash and recycling before we publicize our psa’s, and then weigh again after. this is poetic in proportion to how annoying it is. for all the sexy rhetoric and brownie points that accompany “being green” i am reminded that, at the end of the day, someone has to weigh the trash.

Location Trash Weight Recycling Weight Time
Lobby 0 0.5
Front hall 0 0.5
Toward shop 0 1
Shop 0 0
Big open room 0 2
Other big open room 0.5 1.5
By sinks 2 0.5
Hall to ER 1 1
After ER 0 0
After other bathroom 0 0
Secret back room by Residents 0.5 1.5
Shop bathroom 0
Other bathroom 0.5
done by 9:30