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Research critique: Jennicam

“I’m trying to prove the point that no matter what you look like, you’re still just as interesting as people on the TV or in the magazines.”

During the interview with David Letterman, Jenny brought up something interesting: the fact that there is a whole lot of things to watch on television. The fact that users still tune in to watch someone else’s apartment tells us a little bit more about our voyeuristic tendencies, and our curiosity to consume media of this sort, even though there isn’t really anything inherently interesting on an average day.

From a personal perspective, there isn’t a lot that I do outside of my computer when I am at home, so if i were to broadcast myself, i would tend to do it via OBS or Facebook live.

This experiment also reminded me of a similar project that i saw a couple of years ago, in which a man would take a portrait photographs of himself over a period of 6 years. I dabbled in this idea myself, and even tried out some self portrait stop motion animation just to see how effective it was. I preferred this project as most of the photographs exist without context, something that I’d much rather do in comparison to streaming my house. In fact, Jennifer’s early streams were simply black and white images uploaded in 3 minute increments.

I also believe that teaching internet etiquette and responsible internet use should be included as part of the curriculum as there have been instances of people getting into trouble online for something that was taken out of context. Pewdiepie had recently gotten into trouble for using the N word on one of his live streams. Although it was obvious that the word was uttered in the heat of the moment, the court of public opinion was unwilling to read between the lines, and was quick to grab the proverbial pitchfork. (here is his public apology).

There was another incident involving a Youtuber/ streamer by the username DSPgaming (there’s an encyclopedia dramatica page dedicated to this man). Basically, Phillip Burnell is a let’s player who streams himself playing video games. Unfortunately, during one of his streams, he somehow forgot to switch his camera off after the show, and proceeded to, shall we say, shine his saber. This act was caught on the stream, leading to his ridicule. Incidents like these are permanently on the public domain (Thanks to sites like the wayback machine), and although some like Phil are simply ridiculed, there are others who has had their reputations affected (Pewdiepie fiverr incident) and others who had been arrested (Amos Yee)

The rules of engagement in this scenario would be to play it cool and just “own it ” so to speak . The amazing atheist a.k.a. TJ kirk did it right by plainly admitting his transgressions when it was leaked online. However, Phillip on the other hand, did the exact opposite thing and tried to deny it awkwardly, leading to more ridicule.

In the case of Jennifer Ringley, she ran into a different set  of problems. It all began when she had volunteered to do a striptease on the stream. This continued until she was hacked and sent death threats, telling her to “show more”. Thankfully, she was able to take control of the situation and laugh it off. I’m not sure if this generation of children will be as thick-skinned as she was.

In conclusion, I believe that in this age of moral indignation, self-righteousness and virtue signalling, streamers and other online personalities would have to be extra careful about what they say online, especially for streamers and those hosting podcasts, as the latter instances are almost always impromptu and unrehearsed.


Reflections on the shared broadcasting

Posted by Anam Musta'ein on Thursday, 12 October 2017

This session of the shared broadcasting worked out much better than in OSS, so I was able to do a little bit more. However, I noticed that in both this instance and in the first ever Facebook broadcast, I was unable to speak coherently without having the urge and compulsion to check if the broadcast was working, or if I was broadcasting anything that would be shady. I also refrained from talking a little as my mind kept switching back to the real world, and I was getting a little more conscious about how other people would perceive me if they saw me laughing to myself and talking to an inanimate object. (they wouldn’t know the context of the broadcast)

Upon returning back to school, I met back up with Anam, and noticed that there were some sound feedback looping, but the thing that intrigued me more was the idea of arranging both camera phones back to back and showing a front and back view of the scene as a panorama. Another idea would be to use a couple of mirrors to create a kaleidoscope effect. ( Facebook live might have a couple of filters which may allow this to happen.)

The last idea would be to blindfold someone with a makeshift “VR headset ” and broadcast the person in third person view. The idea is to have someone be disconnected from his own self.

For this to work, a third camera phone would be needed. This camera, which would be mounted on the person’s VR headset would not be broadcasting anything, but would be watching someone else’s broadcast. Both broadcasters would then be walking around with their camera, constantly changing their vantage points so as to disorientate the user. A lot of preparation would be needed for this to work.

Material wise, all I would need are a couple of cardboard pieces, some duct tape, and an elastic band.

Thie headset wouldn’t technically be an actual VR headset as it doesn’t use a pair of lenses, and it wouldn’t need to, since virtual reality headsets warp the imagery for immersion purposes, and are used primarily to see things in a first person perspective.




Human+ exhibit


Marc Owens
Avatar Machine
Costume and Video


Of all the items presented in the exhibit, the one that intrigued me the most, in concept was the avatar machine exhibit by Marc Owens. Although I wasn’t able to try the rig myself. I was able to understand how it functions.

Avatar machine is basically a video camera attached to the back of the user. The user is blindfolded, with his only way of navigating through the streets is by camera footage. The idea of this exhibition was to give this individual a third person point of view in real life and see how he/she would navigate.

As someone who has played lots of video games, including third person combat games such as grand theft auto, Arkham Asylum and The Witcher 2, I find it fascinating that such an exhibition exists where you get to play these fantasies out for real. I can only imagine such an experience to be disorienting as you no longer feel like you’re in total control. In fact, one might even develop an out of body experience

Though simple in concept, there are a few tricks when navigating via the avatar machine. First of all, the footage may be slightly delayed due to latency, making the user unsure as to whether they have accomplished a task. Secondly, they may be able to see themselves, but would be have to take note of the fact that the rig is still behind a user. I found footage of someone standing in the middle of the highway with the device. If he had turned his head a little, one of the passing vehicles would have slammed into it, tripping the user into oncoming traffic.

In the end, however, the device looks like fun, and I would think about doing something like that in the considerable future if I have the time.

interactive device: Semester Pitch Proposal


The first idea would be to design a touch based instrument, which is a set of makey makey sensors rigged to a t-shirt. The idea would be to turn the individual into the instrument. Other alternatives include a set of controllers which would be rigged to an MP3 player. The reason why this may be useful is because it eliminates the need to fumble through one’s pocket to manually change tracks.  An additional “lock” feature may be added to prevent any accidental contact.

The second idea would involve the use of a simple animated character that reacts to human interaction. The device would be a touchpad or a set of sensors that triggers a response. A similar device to this would be tamagotchi. Technically the main hurdle in creating such a device would be to setup the led screen. However, the input would be a simple button.

I will be adding a twist to this device in which the character would perform like a clicker device,  rewarding the user with new reactions and emotes based on the number of clicks received and the rate of clicking. For example, the more aggressive the user is with the device, the more movement/ action the animated character would make. This device is a statement on clicker-styled games on iOS/android games.

device of the week #4: Pyro board/ Juicero


The Ruben’s tube is basically a metal tube with a couple of holes, which work similarly in principle to the Bunsen burner. The interesting application comes in when the flames move up when the gases in the pipes are exposed to low to high frequency music . This creates a wavelength effect. The following installation has about 2500 holes installed in a flat 2 dimensional surface, and although the visuals don’t look all that impressive while doing a pitch test, it starts to take form when drum and bass style music is being played.

Although the video doesn’t go into specifics as to how the device is programmed, I feel that the aesthetics of the device is interesting enough to show here.

The next product is something that i would like to talk about, especially when it comes to snake oil-like salesmanship. The reason why I think it is relevant is because people seem to be technologically illiterate about technology in general. The device is the Juicero machine, and it is basically a device that squeezes out a packet of organic juice into your cup. It advertised itself as a device that can be operated on remotely through a wifi signal. The force of the push was also advertised at a whopping 8 tons.

The problem is that the device has to be constantly logged into the wifi network in order to work, and an additional app has to be used in order to operate it. On top of it, the packet itself posed a huge problem. Firstly, it has to be mail ordered, thus making purchases inconvenient. The packet also has a QR code, which has to be scanned before operation, this throws away all hope of using other branded juice packets. To make things worse, the QR code also takes in expiration date information, meaning that packets that have expired cannot be squeezed out, even if it has only expired for a few minutes. This feature, according to Jeff Dunn, was added so it could immediately recall the sachets in the event of a product recall.

The final nail in the coffin was drawn when videos emerged where were squeezing the sachet manually by hand, and without much difficulty. This eliminated the need of paying $699 for the Juicero machine altogether. The company has since reduced the price to $200, and has laid off 25% of the staff. It eventually shut off, after issuing an apology.

I’m not a big fan of adding in wifi signals or adding additional features for the sake of novelty, and less of a fan of people using this novelty to sucker people into donating big bucks into their kickstarter project.




Hyperessay #1

In the past few posts, I’ve gone at great lengths to discuss about the technicalities of open broadcasting. This time, however, I shall instead talk about the psychological components of open broadcasting and interactions.

When live streaming on Facebook for the first time, I was initially hesitant to even start as I’m the kind of person that does not enjoy putting up endless vlog-styled content for the sake of exposure. I’ve never liked it when someone else does it, and I never really enjoyed partaking in it. As a result, most of my posts have been silent, focusing instead of my surroundings.

When it came to communicating with others, the result is slightly less relaxed. I’ve mentioned before that micro-expressions aren’t well captured online, be it because of the camera resolution, or due to bandwidth latency. I’ve learnt to restrain myself from talking too much as I didn’t want to accidentally interrupt the speaker from the other side and truncate or distort the conversation. In real time, any interruptions would be handled fine, but in the third space, both parties are constantly having to ask whether they can hear each other. I found myself speaking in a very rigid and plain manner to make sure the words came through. This phenomena was echoed in the hole in space art exhibition, where many of the users were simplifying their words in order to avoid any potential confusion. Others, who weren’t used to the communication medium found themselves repeatedly yelling “what?” and “can you hear me?”, only to have their peers reply “yes, yes, yes” over and over.

In another example, my teammates and I had communication issues during the cross stream broadcast assignment. Issac, who has the phone, would go around the campus asking people what their personal idols were, and I would be asked via Facebook to include images of them on a virtual collage. However, as time passed, the latency would start to compound, leading him to throw in more orders without me being able to acknowledge in time. The end result would be a one sided dialogue.

More interestingly, however, was something that had happened by accident. While recording the stream, I left my earphones on the table, unaware that the broadcast was playing music through Youtube and getting picked up by OBS. This led to an audio feedback loop which increased in chaos. This reminded me of the BOLD3RRR performance art which was done by Jon Cates back in 2012. I’m a newbie when it comes to music, but if I’m ever to compose music, I would start through procedural generation or trip-hop style sampling.

Pong controller: Documentation

  For our group (nicholas makoto, goh chersee,xinfeng, maung phyo win zaw), we’ve decided to create a color based detection system for the pong controller. To use it, we’ve placed 2 differently colored foam pads, one is green, and the other is purple. The closer the colored pieces are, the more the pong paddle would go in one direction. For this assignment, we’ve decided to use a digital controller, which would cause the paddle to only move in one speed.

The way this works is as follows. The  “suckah” tab is placed over a camera feed and users can then click on a specific color to drawn. The color swatch is attached to the “suckah” tab to let users know what color is being registered. Once that is done, a rectangle is drawn, taking in the top left, right and bottom left and right coordinates. We used a mathematical expression to derive the area of the rectangle and created an if statement which moves the tab if it hits a certain threshold value.

An alternate way of calculating the value which was suggested was to take the differential area values between the green and purple value and use that to determine the position of the paddle, which would effectively make it an analogue controller. We’ve initially decided to use a color sensor, but due to the limitations of calculating and extracting different color values, and cost constraints of getting the sensor itself, we’ve decided against it. All we needed was a proof of concept placeholder that would still accomplish the final result of moving the paddle using a particular color.


Research Critique: The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence



   The world’s longest drunk sentence is exactly as stated on the tin. To be honest, i don’t really have much to say about the entire article, save a portion of it which grew in size exponentially. I’m also not really sure what the point of it was considering that psychography has been a well established phenomena for a long period of time. However, this article had reminded me about a few other things, some of which i shall talk about here.

A few years ago, I came upon a writer by the name of Robert shields, who was a former minister. Robert was afflicted with Hypergraphia, a mental disorder that causes the individual to constantly write, type or sculpt, and  In 20 years, he had been fervently typing every five minutes, taking short naps every few hours. (think of Desmond Hume from the TV show Lost ). Unfortunately, his passed away from a stroke had and explicitly stated in his will not to reveal all 25 million words of his diary until 2057.

  Another prolific writer was a janitor by the name of Henry Darger, who had also passed away silently. Landowners who went in to clear his room were shocked to find 25,000 pages of what would later be referred to as The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion”  . Before passing away, he made it clear to his peers to burn every page of his work in the event of his death. Fortunately, and unfortunately, his request was not honored, and was, for the most part put in display in New York. The common theme in both cases was the fact that both of them never intended to have their private musings be put up in a public forum, sparking the ethics of intrusively psychoanalyzing human behavior. In this exhibition, however, the opposite is true, and instead of having one single mind spouting everything in his or her mind, we have people from all works of life, spouting their inner thoughts anonymously. The problem I see here is that if the names aren’t cataloged, then it’s really hard to get a general sense of the overall human zeitgeist, seeing as to how insignificant the sample size was.

“Jesus Fucking Christ GET OFF MY ASS—JUST GET OFF MY ASS and for god’s sake USE YOUR FUCKING BLINKERS WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE A TURN WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THING I AM A FUCKING MIND READER Jesus people USE YOUR FUCKING BLINKERS that’s all I have to say people suck life sucks people suck life sucks but technology sucks more why must I take my life into my own hands–won’t somebody help me “

  I feel that without any frame of reference or an infograph of any sort, It’ll be pretty hard to visualize everything and come to any conclusion. The best i was able to do was to search individual words and see if there were any professional thespians planning anything nefarious.

Maybe if possible, servers would be able to extrapolate the origin of the post and to represent all of the data in the form of a real-time typographical map. Another way of working around the information would be to write a program to recognize speech repetition and map human behavior.


Device of the week#3: Makey makey screaming carrot

So apparently this is a thing that exists. Though makey makey is relatively simpler to construct, i found its applications and implications more interesting to me. The idea here is that inanimate objects have anthropomorphic properties imbued into them. For example, the following carrot screams when it is cut, much like what would happen if an actual person is being chopped, and the water fountain would complement users who use the water fountain… and so on. This interaction, if worked on further, could reference more sentences/interaction ideas from the web and “communicate” with the user.  In this instance, the action that is performed is specific (drinking water), so the sensing and affecting is

The makey makey consists of a few connectors, plugs USB cables and a crocodile clip. The user can create a customizable controller or even a conductive surface like pencil sketches. Once the user interacts with the objects, the circuit is completed and a low current would pass through. In order to make the device a little more portable, a wireless system can be setup, with the crocodile clips being hidden a little better.

I can see this device be applied to public benches, automatic doors or lifts, that will react to human presence (ie. react according to how many times its used , or reacting to whether the user is pushing a door marked pull), though there will be those that will argue that doing so will either be invasive or awkward. An example of this that i can think of at the back of my head would be the robot character Gerty from the movie “Moon”. Though that robot had a monotonous voice, it was able to express its emotions through the use of emojis. I can see this replacing greeters in stores too.

Device of the week #2: Tangible Media/ Sensel

The next installation that I would like to talk about is the interactive art device called Tangible media.The device is a new take on the Pinscreen, a popular desk toy that allows you to create a rough 3-D model of an object by pressing it into a bed of flattened pins.

In this build, the pins are connected to a motor controlled by a nearby laptop, the camera from the kinect takes in infra red signals from the user and projects them onto the pinscreen.

This project had me thinking about how I would be able to do something similar with a much smaller budget. Using a webcam, I would then aim it downwards onto my arm and have the setup lighted downwards so that the image registers contrast clearly and keeps the shadows on the corner of the arms, rather than having it one side over the other.  I would then be able to use the rgb values/luma values and use cellchecker in max to get values from each individual pixel before sending them to each individual pin.

There are a few limits with this setup however, although the pins slide up/down fairly well, they are’n’t entirely 3 dimensional and still require the user to look at the installation from one single vantage point. I could see this installation being applied towards representation of data or physical topographical representation in maps. On a much larger scale, i could foresee this being used to redefine topological/partitioned spaces in shopping malls, depending on the kinds of events or roadshows which would be presented in the atrium.

One small device which may use this application would be a morphological tactile surface controller, similar to a keyboard that changes ergonomics, which brings me to the next device…

Another device that tries to use the same principle of a modifiable tactile surface is the customizable MIDI controller. The thing that makes this controller different is in the detection of velocity and dynamics, creating a more nuanced controller that can play notes of varying volume. This principle is also applied to the stylus pad, allowing users to paint more naturally, compared to the rigid wacom intuos 3 stylus, which has to be custom controlled, and has a more limited tilt and pressure sensor which has to be calibrated. The selection of brushes would also be limited there. However, the sensel skips the hassle of brush selection online.

The touch pad itself is intuitive, and is a simple more plug and play configuration. Other configurations include the trap set, keyboard and the MPC controller.