Category: technology

Orion Live Web Event:  Nanotechnology: Panacea or Pandora’s Box?

Orion Live Web Event: Nanotechnology: Panacea or Pandora’s Box?

I recently got information about a live web event on January 15th that explores the topic of nanotechnology.  I have heard mostly about nanotechnology in terms of medical devices, but this “particles” are regularly added to our food, clothing, and personal care products.  Questions are emerging from this since despite very little being known about their impact on our health or environment.

Nanotechnology is used in sunscreen to make the creams transparent, in creams to deliver an ingredient like Vitamin E.  I also read that milk is a natural example of nano technology, since very small particles of protein are suspended in water.

In the current issue of the magazine Orion, writer Heather Millar visits a team of scientists at Duke University that is currently studying the implications of the use of this new technology.

In the article in Orion she writes:

“The use of man-made nanoparticles has spread into almost every area of our lives: food, clothing, medicine, shampoo, toothpaste, sunscreen, and thousands of other products. Regulatory structures, both here and abroad, are completely unprepared for this onslaught of nanoproducts, because nanoparticles don’t fit into traditional regulatory categories.”

The implications and ethical issues of nanotechnology will be discussed by Millar and a team of experts on January 15, at 4 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Pacific, and is a free web event.  It is free to register, and there is an opportunity to ask questions after the presentation.

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Orion- Nanotechnology: Panacea or Pandora’s Box – Web Event


See yourself?  A Blind Self Portrait Machine

See yourself? A Blind Self Portrait Machine

When is the last time you drew a self-portrait?  If you have not tried in a while, a easier way might be coming soon.

Two creative techies,  Kyle McDonald and Matt Mets have built a machine which can help you draw your own self portrait.  The ideas is that you keep your eyes shut while a a moving platform guides a pen in your hand to draw a self-portrait . A computer provides the “vision”  to track your face and generate a line drawing. The result is a machine-aided drawing of a self-portrait.

The device “Blind Self Portrait” was  installed for the first time at the NYC Resistor interactive show in May of this year which had a theme of Physical meets Digital.

You can see a video and read more about the device on Vimeo.

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Blind Self Portrait Machine on Vimeo


Video of Blind Self Portrait Machine on Vimeo

Trueque Digital:  Sharing Files in a Personal (and In-Person) Way

Trueque Digital: Sharing Files in a Personal (and In-Person) Way

At Camp Pixelache, an event I attended last month in Helsinki, Finland, I met Luis F. Medina who is a new media professor/researcher and cultural producer and one of the founders of the project Trueque Digital (TD).

Trueque Digital started in 2009 was founded by Medina, Fundacion Casa del Bosque, and Pio in the City of Bogotá, Colombia and it explores how sharing files and networking could work in a more personal way. TD is a traveling project where people gather to share digital content under open licenses and public domain.  Each person participating brings a storage device to share information which is hooked up to the computer network for downloading files, and also a wireless network can be used.

While sharing this information (which might include video, music, books, etc.), there are often events and lectures about technology and our culture which might include topics such as open exchange models, p2p networks, net neutrality, culture free issues, hacktivism, and others. The project explores how one individual can give another person files as a digital bartering system.

The project came out of a few friends hanging out and talking, and they wanted to exchange files.  The question, “How can we humanize this experience?” came up,  and this idea inspired the project Trueque Digital.

At a Trueque Digital event, a “Trueque” is setup as a public access space such as at a museum, university, and cultural centers.  Storage items are linked in order to digitally barter legally in the real world.  Right now the group is often invited to setup a Truequ in person,  but they are currentley re-engineering the project to have how-to directions so that it is easier for others to setup a Trueque without the groups’ participation.

The project has several aspects to it.  One aspect is setting up a bartering zone” in which open source software and free culture are promoted.    It also explores hardware recycling.  Many old computers and a small land network are used to share files.  At some events there is a real world of bartering involved, with an exchange of physical objects such as a book exchange occurring in parks.

In his presentation, Medina said that, “With the exchange of digital files there are always copyright issues.  Usually we are fighting for the right to upload – what about the right to upload? “

In his presentation, Medina talked about how the project explores hacker ethics.  It also challenged him and the rest of the founders of the project to acquire new skills through the process of having to problem solve and learn new things to make the project work.

Recent activities of the project include a Digital Barter event in Bogota, Colombia on May 5th in coordination with the Eighth Festival of Latin American Free Software Installation.  The event was organized by the communities of free software and free culture of Bogotá and was supported by organizations,  companies, university groups and other public institutions who are engaged in the promotion of free software and culture.   Trueque Digital was there setting up a Trueque and generating fie exchange. If you are interested in setting up a Trueque in the future, check out their website, directions to set up a Trueque will be added to the site soon.

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Cheap, Fat and Open – an Open Source Synthesizer Project

Cheap, Fat and Open – an Open Source Synthesizer Project

One of the sessions I attended at Camp Pixelache, an event that I attended in Helsinki, Finland a couple of weeks ago,  was the Cheap Fat and Open project presented by Jacob Sikker Remin, from Copenhagen,  who created a small open source synthesizer project called Cheap, Fat, and Open.

Cheap – because it only costs 60 euro – or 75 dollars, FAT – because it has fat sound, and Open – for open source and modular.  It is basically a stylophone that has different sounds, and is small and portable.  You can easily change the sound, pitch, modulation, pitch bender, frequency, and other adjustments.  It also has a small sequencer on it, infared communication, and most importantly – you can reprogram it.  It is backed by Aruduino – and you can easily change and adapt it to make the sounds that you want.

The community for the project is growing – and people can adapt and share their experiments.  The piece is a combination of the old and new combining the raw 8bit / chip tune approach, wireless connectivity, state of the art open source hardware, and expandability.

Who is this designed for?  The website states that , “The project is designed for geeky musicians, the chip tune (8-bit lo fi musician) community, the makers, the circuit benders, interaction designers musical programmers, and anyone else who wishes to experiment with sequenced / networked / low-level musical exploration.”

The synthesizer is not meant to compete with high fidelity sound – it is meant to be lo-fi and easy to use.  One funny story that Remin shared is that a group called 1version out of China developed a smaller prototype of the project and is currently making these available for sale.  As Remin said at the workshop,”  I am very excited that my open source project has made it possible for something to be produced and sold in China.”

On the CFO website, you can read about upcoming demos, workshos, and updates as to how people are using the synthesizer.  Kits are going to be available for sale soon – so you can get all the pieces in one place, or you can get the directions and source them out yourself.



Cheap, Fat, and Open website

Video demo of Cheap, Fat, and Open – on Youtube

Jacob Sikker Remin – Cheap, Fat, and Open – Vimeo Video


Camp Pixelache in Helsinki – A Weekend of Art, Activism, Sustainability and Technology

Camp Pixelache in Helsinki – A Weekend of Art, Activism, Sustainability and Technology

When I read the description about Camp Pixelache this Winter, an event where technology, art, activism and subcultures meet each year in Helsinki, Finland, I said to myself, “These are my people.”  I submitted a presentation topic, and went to present at the event.   I just came back from Helsinki, and have came back with lots of thing to write about, and with lots of friends and new contacts  who are doing projects related to building community, cultural production, art technology, sustainability, and activism from various countries.

This year, Camp Pixelache had a core theme of “Do It With Others” (D.I.W.O) and explored the question of “How can artists, makers, cultural producers, researchers and activists work collaboratively with each other and audiences, to create new co-production models for artifacts/events with sustainability as the core goal?”

A series of presentations around 4 core themes were organized which include Do It With Others (D.I.W.O), Creative Neighborhood Skills, The Art of Gathering Environmental Data, and Social Identity and Augmented Reality.  There also were demonstrations of electronic art and design including various open source, re/upcycling, and other “trashlab” and “hacklab” projects.

Other events at the festival included a keynote presentation, a live performance club event, and a series of professional workshops. The events were held at Arbis, a Swedish-language adult education center that is located close to the Finnish National Museum, in central Helsinki.

I gave a presentation in the early afternoon titled Powerformance which was in the festival’s track, Do It With Others (D.I.W.O.)  In my talk, I talked about the potential that interactive performance has to generate awareness and promote social change.  I made a special stretchable Euro paycheck –which we stretched at the end of my presentation.

The weekend was amazing.  I met so many interesting people and talked to others about art, technology, hope for the future, and other topics. I met others from Sweden, France, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Finland, Portugal and England at the event.

Some of the main speakers and facilitators of the conference tracks included Marc Garrett, (, London), Pedro Soler (, Barcelona) Jennifer Gabrys, (Goldsmiths University, London) and  Owen Kelly  (Arcadia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki) and members of the Bio Art Society of Finland.

The dialogue and presentations were engaging and exciting.  I will be posting for probably several weeks about the people, projects, and presentations that I met, experienced, and saw.     I am currently unpacking, doing laundry, and preparing my receipts.  Tomorrow I will start typing up my notes, compiling the information I got, and also connecting with others that I met at the conference.  Get ready to hear more about Camp Pixelache in future posts!

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Pixelache website


Camp Pixelache Website

Pixelache website

Camp Pixelache Video: