Shiv’s VR Exhibition @ Piksel Fest

I’m pleased to share that some assemblages from Shiv Integer have been included in the Copy / Paste exhibition at the Piksel Festival in Norway.

Copy Paste Poster
Poster of the exhibition

The exhibition, curated by Antonio Roberts (@hellocatfood), is visible online in the Piksel Cyber Salon from 22nd May – 21st June 2020.

The exhibition space, put together by Antonio and the Piksel team, takes place in a virtual room called Hubs by Mozilla. It allows visitors to navigate a virtual 3D space using only their browser or, for a better experience, using a virtual reality (VR) headset like an Oculus Quest or HTC Vive, for example.

Shiv Integer is a generative art project by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez and Julien Deswaef which takes the form of an art bot, rummaging through 3D printing parts freely available under Creative Commons, to create randomly assembled sculptures, then re-published on the same sharing platform, Thingiverse.

Here are some VR photos and videos of the sculptures in context (Screengrabs taken with an Oculus Quest. With another device, things may appear differently).

The list of artists included in the exhibition:

Carol Breen - http://imagemover.co.uk/
Peter Sunde - https://konsthack.se/
Eric Schrijver - https://ericschrijver.nl/
Constant - http://constantvzw.org/site/
Lorna Mills - http://www.digitalmediatree.com/sallymckay/LornaMillsImageDump/
Duncan Poulton - http://duncanpoulton.com/
Matthew Plummer-Fernandez - https://www.plummerfernandez.com/ + Julien Deswaef https://xuv.be/
LoVid - http://www.lovid.org/

Next Iterations

Join me online this Sunday May 17, 2020 to participate in the Next Iterations.

People posing for a group photo in front of a wall at Hangar, Barcelona.
Photo by Donatella Portoghese – Copyleft Constant – Free Art License

Iterations consists of a series of artist residencies, exhibitions, reflection meetings and exchanges that take place between 2017 and 2020. Artists and cultural practitioners are welcomed in situations to experiment with and reflect on what the future of collectivity, sharing and working together in digital and networked contexts can look like.

Iterations supports the use of FLOSS software and open content licenses and encourages everybody to download anything you find on this site.

SUNDAY 17 MAY
12:00 – hello coffee / informal gathering
12:30 – Introduction to the coming days, and the infrastructural setting
13:00 – Launch of Iterations book Jara Rocha and Manetta Berends
14:00 – 14:45 BREAK
14.45 – 15:00 Caterina Morabodywork for transfigurate our back: the future is behind
15.00 – 15.15 Julien DeswaefA license written by machines
15:15 – 16:00 Patricia Reis & Lale Rodgarkia-Dara from Mz Balthazar’s Laboratory (feminist infrastructures of support)
16:00 – 16:15 (OFFTIME)
16:15 – 16:30 Nayari Castillo & Hanns Holger Rutz Collective Divagation (Instructions for Rendevous)
16:30 – 17:15 Kym Ward: networked sonic spell-casting
17:15 – 17:30 (OFFTIME)
17:30 – 17:45Luis Rodil-Fernández...the body of a newborn squeezes itself into the world. Life’s tribulations on the outside begin…
17:45 – 18:00 Zoumana Méité – voice stacking choral
18:00 – 18:15 Fran Quiroga & Andrea Olmedo – Workshop I Communal Ethics
18:15 – 18:30 (OFFTIME)
18:30 – IRCBAR with cocktails by Rica Rickson
20:00 – Jamsession (fade out to night …)With a.o: BeHuKi (Mia Melvær, Maxime Stifinner and Yoan Robin): audio postcard

https://iterations.space

Zoom drawings

Drawing of a portrait in black and white

At the multinational corp, I don’t always get to join meetings where I need to be active. Sometimes, I might just be there in case there is a question for me. So when those meetings are remote, I found a new way to beat the feeling of wasting my time. I draw portraits of my colleagues in video conferences.

They’re still enough to make this quite easy. They don’t notice I’m actually drawing them. And while I stay focused on the conversation, my eyes, brain and hand relax at following these lines.

Drawing of portraits in black and white

How to transition from Twitter to Mastodon

Twitter to Mastodon

In Mastodon lingo, here’s how to leave the birdsite for the fluffy animals federation, without hurting your social karma, while leaving the nazis behind.

If you don’t know the Mastodon, there are articles that will explain you in details what it is about and why it’s better than Twitter or where it comes from and what is the federation. But in a few words, it’s a decentralized social network, driven by a community of free software enthusiasts, that feels very much like twitter, but with added values.

If you are coming from Twitter, these would be some of the reasons to consider switching to Mastodon:

  • It feels friendlier, more conversational and fresh. Just like twitter at the beginning.
  • It puts users first. Its architecture is completely designed from the ground up to protect against harassment and bullying.
  • It’s free from nazis.
  • It’s not driven by corporate greed. There is no central authority aggregating your data and selling it to third parties.
  • It is not addictive tech. It’s not built with email reminders to connect or suggestions to post and give away personal details about yourself.
  • It’s decentralized open source software supported by its community. So it would be very hard for any government or malicious entity to shut it down or censor it completely.

So now that you have an account (follow this guide if you don’t have one yet), here are a few tricks I’ve come across that helped me during the transition.

From Twitter

  1. Find your twitter friends who are already on Mastodon and follow them. Use it to find your friends now, and to find more friends in 3 or 6 months. People join Mastodon all the time. Not every Tweep did the transhumance last April. Some only join today. Find them and make contact on Mastodon.
  2. Craft and pin a tweet that announces you’re moving to Mastodon and link to your new profile. Here is mine for example:

    It’s pinned at the top of my twitter profile so that anyone visiting it can find it.

  3. Since Twitter has recently allowed a lot more characters in twitter names, you could also add your Mastodon user handle next to it. It helps spread the message, one tweet at a time. (A mastodon user handle starts with @your-username and finishes with @the-instance-where-its-located. This is mine: @xuv@mastodon.social @xuv@merveilles.town. It’s like an email address, but with an @ in front of it. PS: don’t send emails to that address. It will not work.)
  4. While you’re still on Twitter, why not follow the official @MastodonProject account. It’ll regularly remind you about your decision to move and provide good stuff to retweet to your friends.

On the move

If tweeting from your phone is your thing, Mastodon has you covered in many ways. There is plenty of apps to choose from. And Mastodon itself behaves very well in mobile browsers (no app needed). But this is what I recommend:

  1. Remove the official Twitter app from your phone. It’s bad anyway. It tracks your location, does not show tweets in a chronological order and tries to figure out everything you are doing with your phone. It also only works with Twitter.
  2. Install Twidere (for Android, also available on F-Droid) instead. And connect it to both your Mastodon and Twitter accounts. You will then have one unified feed, with both tweets and toots from your friends in reverse chronological order. No tracking, no profiling, no machine engineering of your preferences. And when you want to post a message, you can decide to send it to both platforms or not. Your choice. I personally decided to post solely on Mastodon. Though I do still retweet some stuff and reply to @mentions on Twitter… for now.

To Mastodon

Consider Mastodon as a new school you’d be going to or a new city you’d just moved in. You know how it works. There will be things you are familiar with and things you don’t know. There will be new friends to make, but you will probably know a few people there already. But with every move, there will be a little effort needed from your part to make it an enjoyable experience.

Things are a little different on Mastodon than Twitter. But, the rule, I guess, is to be yourself. I believe there is a tone for every social network. Even if probably Mastodon is very similar to Twitter. Try to find out how it’s different. It’s like finding this new café at the corner of the street you just moved in. When is it crowded? What’s the best thing on the menu? Why do people go outside if they they want to take a call?

Here are a few accounts you might find interesting if you like the stuff I like:

Of course there is many more (1.000.000 more). Hop on the federation feed or local feed of your instance once in a while and you will see a flow of many many posts in different languages (you can filter out the languages you don’t want to read in the settings). Especially do this if you just started, it’ll give you a sense of what’s going on in this space. And basically, it’s something you can only do on Mastodon. Then follow new people. Unfollow, if it’s not as interesting as you thought. No one will be offended. This is new ground. Be curious.

And don’t be silent. It’s a social network. It means there is nothing really interesting there if you don’t bring anything. Social network tools are empty by default. So talk to strangers. It’s a potluck, BYOB party, shared lunch. Everyone is bringing something to the table.

Sharing content from Twitter on Mastodon

You will be tempted to share the good things you read on Twitter to Mastodon. And this is perfectly fine. Though to properly do it, start your copy with “RT @username@twitter.com” to credit the original author (just like in the old days of Twitter by the way).

You might also want to use the feature called “Content Warning” (CW) if what you copy might feel offensive to some readers.

People on Mastodon tend to respect their audience more than on Twitter. Some like to put violence, political views and anything related to Twitter (aka. the birdsite) behind a Content Warning.

Sharing content from Mastodon to Twitter

Depending on what you’d like to achieve with this transition, you might want to keep your twitter followers in sync with what you are doing on the Mastodon. I personally don’t do this (if people want the good bits of me, they are welcome to follow me on Mastodon). But you could find interest in using the Mastodon Twitter Poster to manage this automatically for you.

This service [by @renatolond] allows you to connect a Mastodon account and a Twitter account and enable cross-posting between them.

Mastodon Twitter Poster seems really well thought in terms of cross-posting features, respect of privacy levels and overall understanding of both worlds. Though, this is just from reading the doc. I’m curious to have feedback from people who have used it.

And by the way, when you tweet a link to a toot, this is what it looks like:

Yes, Twitter embeds toots perfectly.

Conclusion

If you have the feeling Twitter is getting worst every day, but that the way the medium used to work was fun and promising. If you believe there is a more respectful way to micro-blog, using a platform driven by community decisions, with respect in mind and keeping a safe distance from centralized silos. Now is the time to embark on a new journey.

Hopefully, I’ve demonstrated in this article that the tool set is available to ease that transition. Whether your goal is to completely remove yourself from Twitter at some point or to maintain a presence on both sides until Twitter burns down to ashes is up to you.

But the future is bright and seeing the pace at which Mastodon is growing, we have probably not measured yet completely the impact this will have on the future of social media (start reading about PeerTube and Activity Pub, if you want to grasp what I’m talking about).

Let me know if anything in this article helped you or feels incorrect and don’t hesitate to come say ‘hi’.

A patch for the Github centralization dilemma

Github 404

Github, with its 75,000,000 repositories, has become a central place for open source development and is well-known for having popularized Git among programmers and other code hungry fellas. The irony is not lost on anyone that we are again relying on a centralized service for our decentralized Git workflow. And as with any centralization comes the risk of giving too much power in the hands of just a few.

Of course, a central service such as Github has its benefits. We all know where to search for code. We all also potentially know how the service works and can jump more quickly from one project to another. Third parties can even build upon this resource and push things in new directions, maybe attracting faster early adopters.

But… Centralized services can turn against you. They can censor and be censored. They also can disappear. Maybe Github will not disappear soon, but a user on Github could decide to delete all its repositories and there would not be much you could do about it. You don’t think that has happened? Check RGBDToolkit or Gravit, for example. (You’ll have to put those urls in your preferred search-engine to verify that I’m not bullshitting you and that these projects did exist on Github at some point.)

So, in order to restore balance in the force, I’ve decided to adopt a few habits that I want to share with you. They are not going to solve the centralization problem. But they can maybe provide some safe guards against the major risk exposed in the previous paragraph. These tricks apply for projects you have not created. For your own projects, it’s up to you to decide where you want to host them.

The solution I’m using is based on the mirror feature from Gitlab. Gitlab is an open source clone of Github. It provides the same functionalities, but you can install it on your own server. And many groups are running public instances across the web. Gitlab.com itself, as a company, develops the software and offers hosting of public and private repositories at the same address.

So now, every time I find a nice open source project on Github, and especially the ones with few stars, forks or developers, I create a mirror of it in a public Gitlab repository. The advantage here over just a git clone on my machine or elsewhere is that I’m not just creating a copy of the project at a certain time. The mirror feature will keep watching the original project and pull all the changes that happen after I created the mirror. So I’m confident, that whatever happens to the original repository, all the history and changes will be saved elsewhere.

Because those repositories are just backups, I also disable issue tracking, wikis and any other unnecessary feature that could mislead visitors. The point is not to divert development. There is also a clear mention that those are mirrors and link back to the canonical repository.

So next time, instead of starring a project you like, mirror it. You’ll do everyone a favor. The ones I keep are here. But feel free to choose any other hosting service elsewhere. Let’s keep things distributed.

Git versioning and diff visualizing tools for designers

Git for Designers (1st slide)

Here is the video of my presentation at the Libre Graphics Meeting 2016, in London. For the most part, I expose my quest for a Git based visualizing tool that could help designers integrate a version control workflow.

The slides are viewable from here. You can also download them from this Gitlab repo.

If you find this video interesting or lacking more in-depth information about the subject, please have a look at these detailed blog posts:

  1. Collaborative tools for designers – Part 1
  2. Collaborative tools for designers – Part 2 : Dropbox
  3. Collaborative tools for designers – Part 3: Pixelapse
  4. Collaborative tools for designers – Part 4
  5. Collaborative tools for designers – Part 5: Adobe Creative Cloud
  6. Collaborative tools for designers – Part 6: the Githosters
  7. Github, why u show no more media files

 

“Pointillism”, live coding at #PdCon16~

IOhannes M Zmölnig is an active member of the Pure Data development scene. So it’s of little surprise that he was attending the Pure Data Conference that just happened last week in NYC.

Pointillism IOhannes PdCon16

Pure Data (Pd) is a visual programming language […] for creating interactive computer music and multimedia works.
Wikipedia

You also might have heard about Pd as an alternative to Max/Msp or VVVV.

The conference brought a panel of enthusiasts from all over the world to discuss the development and future of the software. I was especially pleased to hear Mark Edward Grimm‘s experience teaching Pure Data as a multimedia creation tool to some college students here in the US. (See Mark Edward Grimm’s website for more info.)

At night, the same people gathered at the Shapeshifter lab in Brooklyn to enjoy live experimental music from some of the participants. And this is where IOhannes blew my mind, friday night, with a performance he calls Pointillism.

There is a recording of a previous event from 4 years ago that you can watch online. But seeing it live, not knowing what to expect, with a big projection over IOhannes shoulder, was a totally different game. Also, since 4 years, IOhannes has played it multiple times and thus perfected the set up and process at each iteration. (The video here is not doing justice to the performance.)

To explain what is going on, IOhannes is using Pure-data to create a musical instrument. He does this by adding boxes with distinctive functions and linking them together. Everything is done live, in front of the audience, and we can all see what he is doing on a screen cloning his own computer screen. Nothing is hidden.

So far, nothing new here. This is often referred to as live coding.

Where IOhannes plays a trick here, is that he is writing all the boxes by heart and uses a braille font to display their names. This means that nobody in the audience, and barely him, can read what is going on. Nobody reads braille on a screen anyway. Mistakes in the process are almost not permitted because it would be hard to find where they happened. The music itself fiddles around a theme inspired by morse code (IOhannes told me afterwards the music is actually a reading of the dots of each boxes). And sooner or later, the musical and graphical composition becomes a giant knot of boxes, dots and lines, moving in erratic ways. But all ends beautifully in a rapid deconstruction and closes on a black screen.

Needless to say the performer was greeted with a warm applause and had to come back on stage as the crowd would not stop. I’ve rarely seen such joy and amazement in the eyes of the audience at events like this.

IOhannes respects all the rules of the genre but with a twists that makes it accessible for people outside of the community. Pointillism is clever, brilliantly executed and a pleasure to watch. I could not recommend it more to any tech festival looking for a original performance and do hope you’ll be able to experience it live some day.

#IOhannes right side up

A photo posted by Sofy Yuditskaya (@horus_vacui) on

Conversation avec ma banquière

Aujourd’hui, j’ai appelé ma banque pour un problème de carte. Une fois le problème réglé, j’ai eu droit, comme toujours, au petit speech promo sur le dernier produit qui pourrait m’intéresser. Ça s’est déroulé à peu près comme ceci:

− Seriez-vous intéressé par installer l’application EasyBanking pour smartphone et tablette?

− Non merci, ça ne m’intéresse pas.

− Vous savez que vous pouvez faire toutes vos transactions via l’application et ce de manière complètement sécurisée.

− Merci, mais je fais plus confiance à mon ordinateur pour la sécurité de mes données qu’à mon téléphone. Un téléphone, ça se perd facilement.

− L’application est protégée par mot de passe et si vous fermez l’application, il faut le mot de passe pour la réouvrir.

− Merci, mais ça ne m’intéresse pas.

− Vous êtes sûr que vous ne voulez pas essayer, c’est très pratique.

( Comme elle insiste, je me dis que ça va être peut-être intéressant de faire pivoter la conversation. )

− Pouvez-vous me dire quelles sont les permissions demandées par l’application lors de son installation?

− L’application permet uniquement de faire des transferts entre vos comptes personnels ou vers d’autres comptes préalablement sauvegardés. Il n’est donc pas possible de faire des transactions vers des comptes inconnus.

− Non, je vous demandais quelles sont les droits de l’application sur les données de mon téléphone. Là, je suis sur Android et quand j’installe un programme, il demande l’accès à certaines fonctionnalités…

( J’en profite pour regarder en même temps sur le Google Play store et continue. )

− Je vois que l’application demande l’accès aux coordonnées GPS, l’accès aux photos, médias et fichiers, la possibilité de faire des appels téléphoniques et l’accès à la caméra du téléphone. Vous trouvez normal que l’application demande toutes ces permissions?

− Ha, vous avez déjà installé l’application?

− Non, j’ai obtenu ces informations à partir du Google Play et je vous demande  surtout si vous trouvez ça nécessaire que la banque sache constamment où vous vous trouvez et puisse accéder à vos photos?

− Bin, c’est comme avec l’application Facebook.

− Peut-être, mais pourquoi la banque aurait-elle besoin de ces informations?

− Je n’en ai aucune idée.

− Cela ne vous dérange pas que la banque puisse activer la caméra de votre téléphone sans que vous le sachiez?

(Elle hésite.)

−  Je comprends. Vous n’êtes donc pas intéressé par essayer l’application?

− Pour toutes ces raisons, non merci.

Make sharing bookmarks delicious again

Del.icio.us shaarli theme

One of the pioneers of the web 2.0 was the amazing del.icio.us website. It made sharing bookmarks an incredibly rich and fun experience. With its catchy domain name and well conceived minimalist interface, it attracted a horde of web enthusiasts ready to share their best links with the rest of the world.

Although Flickr is often mentioned as the inventor of tagging, del.icio.us ingeniously applied folksonomy to bookmarking, making it the first social network that could compete with search engines in terms of content discovery. And yes, we’re talking about a time when Facebook was not even born, baby.

As you can feel, 12 years later, I’m still excited by the possibilities and the experience del.icio.us offered. Unfortunately, the rest of the story is a sad slow descent into crappy interface design choices and consecutive owner changes. Although it was fun for a while, by 2011, I was actively looking for an alternative. One that for sure I knew was not going to be sold. One that I could keep control over its development.

Luckily, when you’re angry at something on the web, there is a good chance other people are. And hopefully, something good pops out of it. I found my angry creative man ruling his own corner of the web under the name Seb Sauvage. Seb was angry at del.icio.us, stumbleupon, diigo and all the social bookmarking clones he had tried. So he coded his own in the way he always crafts his tools, in a Keep-It-Simple-and-Secure manner. Then released it to the world.

Shaarli, as in share links, is an open source bookmarking application written in php that allows you to keep, tag, organize and share your collections of bookmarks without hassle. It also does import from del.icio.us, so you can switch service easily. All you have to do is export an OPML file and import it in your Shaarli.

Why am I bringing this subject today?

Because, since the beginning of this year, del.icio.us has been actively pushing advertising without anybody realizing it. See this Twitter search (and screenshot), where hundreds of people are sharing the same link to sponsored content. Yes, people linked their delicious account with twitter and forgot about it.

del.icio.us spamming twitter

I had kept my old account alive as a trace of the past. But seeing that it was now used to promote products under my name, I went out to put an end to it and decided to inform others about it.

Ricardo, from Manufactura Independente, picked up the info and moved his account to his own instance of Shaarli. Then, we chatted with a few other designers on how the old delicious user experience needed to be revived. And Ricardo spent last Sunday to make our wish come true: making a delicious theme for Shaarli, like it’s 2004 all over again.

Shaarli is an amazing project now supported by a community of developers on Github. New features and improvements are added regularly. Although it does not have the same convenience as competitors in terms of social functionalities, it does provides an RSS feed so you can subscribe to your friends valuable links or connect it through IFFT or any service that supports it.

The web still needs to be organized. And more than ever it needs to be done in the open. Keeping notes and bookmarks is valuable information not just for oneself, but for everyone. Let’s just not make this a profitable business for one company by keeping it behind walled gardens. It does not have to be complex. The web from 2004 still works great today.

So here are my booksmarks, free for all, since 2004.