From the monthly archives:

May 2010

Processing

by practicallymax on 31 May 2010

My math lecturer, Dr. Matthew Conroy, builds small interactive applications that he posts on the course website for us to use. They’re neat and very visually-based, but he writes them using a programming code built on Java called Processing:

Blue lights on a building reflecting on water

From http://www.sabin-jones.com/arselectronica.html - visit (and visit Processing.org) for many cool applications of Processing

I’ve been interested in getting more into writing applications in this format, so I went to talk to him a bit in his office hours. We were chatting about the various applications that Processing has, and he mentioned how it’s really “smart” and great for use in audio-visual interaction as well as graphics and artwork. He said that people will even set up interactive displays where a computer is both projecting an image as well as reading in user responses and calculating interactions.

!!!

I exclaimed how this is exactly the sort of thing I’ll be looking into while in Amsterdam, and he confirmed that he has indeed seen quite a good body of contributions coming from people from Amsterdam, that that area of the world is really on the forefront of applications like this.

Aside from being a really weird, cool, unexpected coincidence, this has the great benefit that were Greg and I to attempt an instillation while in Amsterdam, we have a jumping-off point of what sort of technology to use!

I’ll definitely be looking into Processing and the applications that it has as we finish up finals and enter the summer. This could be neat!


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Research Question Refinement

by practicallymax on 31 May 2010

In discussing our research question, Greg has offered a new refinement:

How might digital screens alter how people use and perceive space in Amsterdam’s outdoor, public environments?

We are attempting to incorporate the element of creating our own digital screen (or projection) in Amsterdam into our project. Also, Greg has some interesting thoughts in his blog about how a screen might change the very nature of what we encounter in an environment in his blog. These ideas frame the current scope of our research question: we are interested in how people interact with public digital screens, and we’d like to come up with a way of testing this through our own creation.

However, I’ve noticed that it seems to be really tough to narrow and refine our research question at this point in time because what we are researching depends on what we discover in Amsterdam from our observations. This seems to be a tough block to overcome:

  • If we develop an extremely specific research question using our pre-Amsterdam knowledge, we might limit what we are studying to something that is much less interesting or juicy than if we had explored our options (in Amsterdam) before selecting.
  • However, if we don’t develop a specific topic to look for before heading to Amsterdam, we might spend too much time on observing and exploring a wide breadth of options, and have difficulty narrowing down our topic sufficiently in time for more rigorous research.

Conclusion? Stay posted for updates :p


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To Lisa and Patty,

by practicallymax on 31 May 2010

<an extra midterm response because I thought something was really interesting and wanted to write about it a little bit>

While listening to Lisa and Patty’s presentation on parks, and while hearing Rob’s comments about the use of public spaces in Amsterdam, several comments struck a chord with me:

  • The use of public spaces in nonconventional ways
  • There are places that the city hasn’t labeled as a “park” yet people use it as such
  • The nature of people’s interaction with their environment

These statements exactly describe a discipline that I follow known as Parkour. It’s probably better known for internet videos in which young daredevils “freerun” by doing wild flips and dangerous maneuvers off and around buildings. However, the core philosophy, and the element of Parkour that I attempt to pursue, involves interacting with one’s environment in a way that utilizes the capabilities of the human body and three dimensions of the environment rather than the conventional walking in two. People vault, climb, roll, and maneuver around public spaces in an attempt to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible, using space in a very unconventional way and in many cases treating the city as literally an urban playground.

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate this idea is through seeing it in action:

Anyway, this isn’t directly related to progressing anyone’s project or furthering research, but I thought it was cool and interesting and wanted to share. Thanks for reading!


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To John and Sabra and Derek,

by practicallymax on 31 May 2010

<a midterm response>

I enjoyed reading all of your blogs and hearing your different takes on the similar topic of immigrants living in distinct communities: John on Parisians, Sabra on Seattleites, and Derek on Italians.

I think that you’ve all agreed on what is a packed and deep topic to explore. I won’t advise that you all narrow your focus, because I know that you’ve heard that already and are well aware of the importance of developing a specific, pointed question to research. I would, however, like to do somewhat of the opposite, and provide you with some ideas and thoughts that I had while listening to your presentation, in the hopes that you’ll find some of it interesting and might be inspired to further your explanation in a certain direction. Not necessarily any direction that I present, but … well, you get the idea.

The first thing that I thought of while listening to your presentation was about the fact that Muslim communities exist in certain areas of Amsterdam. I was immediately reminded of Avery and Jenn ‘s presentation in which they talked about how public housing is integrated into communities rather than separated into distinct districts. I’m not sure whether you could say that this is a more sophisticated or better way of implementing public housing, or whether it is simply different and has an equal list of benefits and drawbacks, but regardless, it appears that differences in socio-economic status are handled distinctly differently than ethnic differences. I’m sure that the least of these issues is the areas of society that the government has control over, but it seems like this is one of those “uncommon” questions for exactly that reason (it isn’t a clear one to ask). You might find some interest in discussing this topic with Jenn and Avery.

Also, especially for John, who is interested in issues of immigration across different European cities, it could be fascinating and informative to check out the work on the wikis and blogs of the UW Honors in Berlin program for the past few years. I know that they live in a Turkish community and they take a trip to Istanbul during the program because immigration is one of the major themes of that program. This could be background research, a note of interest, or a further comparison to look into after drawing your own conclusion.

Sabra’s aspect of the presentation, with the pictures she included of the very distinct Chinese buildings in the International District, reminded me of some of the pictures we looked at for the first assignment (assignment 0…). In photos of the houses on the waterfront, we saw that though some variation was apparent in the buildings, the conformed to strict standards as far as the height and general structure. What ways might immigrants to The Netherlands express themselves in the way that immigrants have here, in the architecture, but while existing within the seemingly strict Dutch requirements of conformity? What other fascist of life do immigrants in Amsterdam use to express their heritage?

Overall, though, I’m actually quite excited to see where you three go with this project, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing about the results of your research in a few months! Best of luck.


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Some Updates on the Research Question

by gregbigelow on 28 May 2010

A newly refined question: How might digital screens alter how people use and perceive space in Amsterdam’s outdoor, public environments?

I was inspired by the quote talking about how urban screens introduce a variety of different scales and speeds into a formerly well-ordered and comparatively static environment. In what ways would this difference manifest itself? I mean, once you have an interactive digital screen in front of you, how does a sidewalk become something other than a sidewalk? Or maybe a series of benches usually used for conversation become appropriated as seats for a presentation. Streets become theaters.

In other words, it’s not that we are to look at space in particular, but rather,  investigate how urban screens alter the very landscape of the city by changing its functions and uses for people. And we can explore this through our own wanderings, how people interact with different screens (non-digital billboards and signs vs. digital screens vs. interactive digital screens??) and how they interact with our own work (to be created!).


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A Most Distinguished and Formal Response to Sabra, Derek, and John

May 28, 2010

Dear Comrades, I greatly enjoyed your presentation. I think your research focus on immigrant communities is particularly interesting given how deeply linked it is with globalization. How might identity and community change in an intertwined world? As for your focus, … Continue reading

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very helpful readings

May 27, 2010

In my search for some literature on our subject of interest, I found the following three articles that came extremely close.  They have helped provide a little bit of context in regard to Amsterdam’s public housing situation. “Ethnic Segregation and the Role of Public Housing in Amsterdam” by Sako Musterd & Rinus Deurloo Abstract: Dutch cities are characterized […]

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Research Plan – Transportation Systems in Amsterdam (unrefined)

May 24, 2010

Background After experiencing economic and spatial restructuring in the 60s and 70s, much of the Amsterdam’s major economic activity moved to the outskirts of the city. The city center became focused on tourist activity. The city also hosted large waves of immigration, changing the city’s demographic and cultural make-up. A rising urban population has forced [...]

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The Big Picture (Assignment #3)

May 23, 2010

[Blogger's note: I let the momentum get the best of me with this one and accidentally wrote a long post. I apologize for this. To give your eyes and brain a break from my ramblings, I have dispersed some Paris photos in between paragraphs.] The “group” aspect of this assignment suffers slightly due to my […]

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Preliminary Research Question

May 22, 2010

Our preliminary research question PowerPoint presentation

Social Housing in Amsterdam- form, function and cultural perception
Amsterdam Midterm PowerPoint

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Preliminary research and topic outline

May 22, 2010

How does the city of Amsterdam provide space for recreation, and how does that space define and inform us as to the nature of recreation in Dutch culture? Preliminary research Maps Historical development Size Proximity to city http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Old_maps_of_Amsterdam Major Parks Vondelpark Beatrixpark Amsterdamse Bos http://www.amsterdam.info/parks/ Field Research Communities and organizations responsible for maintenance/ownership How parks […]

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formulating research questions

May 22, 2010
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Assignment 3: Exploring the International District

May 22, 2010

Note: Pictures to come once I find the cord to upload them to my computer. Although our schedules did not enable us to explore Seattle’s International District together, Sabra, John and I did come together as a team to discuss … Continue re…

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YouTube stats

May 22, 2010

I clearly need to keep up with technology trends. I mean, at the very least as a CSE major, this is my duty. Besides it they are wickedly cool. I believe that YouTube (Google) just underwent some pretty major revisions, though I haven’t spent much time on there recently. I saw that the rating system [...]

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Information Dump (with comic book recommendation) (and damn this formatting software!)

May 21, 2010

I’ve been reading through the Urban Screens Reader and am going to put some particularly useful quotes here for reference (my own and anyone else who is interested). I’ll put the most relevant stuff near the top. First, a bit … Continue reading

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Assignment 3: Exploration of the Urban; Foreign and Familiar

May 21, 2010

For my research in Amsterdam, I’m interested in investigating the physical and psychological borders that separate the native Dutch and the immigrant Muslim population. So for the first part of the assignment I wanted to find an area in Seattle that was home to a foreign immigrant population. I chose to explore the International District […]

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Collaboration

May 21, 2010

I’m trying to get in the habit of posting useful relevant things here that could benefit other groups. In this light: groups working on their presentations or projects in any stage should consider some sort of online document collaboration program. These (well, the good ones at least), let you not only give viewing and editing privileges to a specific [...]

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Examination of Urban

May 19, 2010

        Avery and I are interested in exploring the built environment in Amsterdam and the ways in which form effects function.  Avery is particularly interested in how it affects the people using the space- how form can encourage or discourage crime, safety, and a sense of community; I’d like to find something that has relevance […]

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Assignment 3: Research Question

May 19, 2010

Part One: Field Research             Jenn and I have similar interests within the subject of the built environment.  We chose to form a partnership because we easily paralleled our ideas and expectations into one research topic.  The site we found in Seattle to use as a basis for comparison was Rainier Beach.  Specifically, the intersection […]

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On Research

May 18, 2010

In the Ragin readings, one quote in particular really stuck out to me: “As the report becomes more of a finished product … the collection of evidence becomes more focused and more selective. Initial ideas become leads; some leads bear fruit and are pursued vigorously; the story takes shape. Lots of potential evidence and potential [...]

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